Friday, 18 October 2013

A 4-year wait ends in style : Day 1 back in Wales

Back in North Wales for a long weekend, my choice of mark was heavily reliant on the weather. I would ideally liked to have fished for tope for the whole duration, but a predicted 4ft swell at the mark I wanted to fish meant that it wasn't even worth going to check it was fishable for the first few days.

So day 1, I stayed on Anglesey for the day fishing at a wrasse mark of mine on the north coast during the day and then moving to the west coast for a bash at the rays/huss. The hours of light saw plenty of ballans caught with the largest being around the 3lb mark. Other species landed including pout, Pollack, rockling, poor cod, corkwing and goldsinney wrasse.

1st ray of the session
As the light faded it was time to switch venue. For this session I was joined by mates Rich (flyfish) and Ash. Getting down early to the mark in an attempt to get a few whiting for bait, I was soon rewarded with a couple before the lads arrived as well as a lonely dab.
As the tide dropped, it was soon time to start preparing the ray gear and conditions were far better than I could have hoped for, the tide, wind and swell being as close to perfect as I've ever seen, things were looking very good. Whilst me and Ash concentrated on them, Rich set his sights on the congers.

My first ray of the evening came swiftly after casting out a double sandeel bait, a small thorny of around 3lb. This was shortly followed by a second and then a third, all in this size bracket. Whilst I was bagging up on rays though, Ash was struggling to wade through the local doggie population, pulling them out one after the other throughout the period of slack water. Rich then started to get a little action, firstly a few small taps which never developed and then after a recast, a proper pull down and a fish on for a short period of time, which managed to throw the hook before we could get a look.

13lb 6oz of Thornback - New PB
As the low water approached my confidence grew and true to form, right on the prime time my rod slowly pulled round. Picking the rod up, the fish continued to pull away from me, so I struck instantly, this was a good fish. Playing it as hard as I dared to the edge, I soon found myself stuck on a ledge around 15 yards out, with the fish doing a good job of staying deep. After giving a little slack though, the fish popped up over the ledge and Rich risked getting wet feet in order to grab it from the oncoming swell and lift it onto the rocks. BOOM, this was the double i'd been after for 4 years whilst at University, but just how big was it. Well on Rich's scales it went 14lb, but fortunately there was another bloke close by to lend us his more accurate scales for a second opinion, pulling his scales down to 13lb 6oz, what a fish!
At this point, I was very tempted to quit whilst I was ahead, but lets be honest, I would have been stupid to do that. As it happens, I was wise to continue with the following few hours resulting in another small thorny, my first ever blonde ray from this mark and a sixth thorny which was another nice fish of around the 7lb mark.

Eventually though, enough was enough and with 7 rays including a massive new PB I couldn't have asked for a better return.

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,

I'm talkin bout Sharking!

After a nice weekend at home, it was time to depart the North again for Devon, where I would be visiting my granddad and of course wetting a line. Having booked myself and younger brother on charter boat Bite Adventures for the Wednesday, we had a few days to kill before we'd head down there for the day to target some large toothy critters, yes i'm talking bout Sharks.

Targeting bass on the lures on both Monday and Tuesday, we struggled with the conditions, with just one bass being caught on my surface lure. Sam did have a rather interesting take in the estuary though, a subtle suck of his patchinko underwater and a sudden strong pull, but on striking....nothing. Usually this sort of take would be associated with a larger fish, so Sam was a bit gutted but we'll never know, it will remain a mystery, could this have been another big one that got away from him??

The Wednesday soon came round though and after a 4am wake up, we arrived down in the Cornish town of Penzance, eagerly anticipating a day of sharking, after all the previous 2 trips that had sailed had seen nearly 30 sharks landed.

After a quick heads up from the skipper Chippy and deck hand Will, we were on route to the mark where on arrival we set about getting some mackerel for bait whilst the guys sorted the chum bags. Next up, we had to draw lots, a series of pegs numbered 1-7 relating to the order in which we would be taking the runs. I drew number 1, lucky or what.....especially looking back on the day.

Species 80 - Cuckoo Ray
All four shark rods out, surely now it was just a matter of being patient, but what better way to pass the time than to drop a bait to the bottom to see if I could bag a Megrim sole, another species I was desperate to catch. It wasn't long either before myself and younger brother were bagging up big time, mostly with more macky and some huge garfish that were hitting the baits on the drop, but when we did find the bottom 200ft down, we were getting some good variety with ling, haddock, whiting, cuckoo wrasse, pouting, poor cod and doggies. After a while though, I was into something that felt like a flattie, just a heavy dead weight in other words. Desperately hoping it was a megrim, I soon spotted the rounded shape appearing in the super clear water, before realising it was actually a small ray. The closer it got the more excited I got as I noticed the pattern on the wings, it was a Cuckoo Ray! Far rarer than the megrim I was hoping for so a real bonus for my hunt for 100, he megrim can wait :)

Pictures taken, we were back on the mackerel for half an hour or so before I got the shout I was waiting for. 'Who's number 1? We have a shark on!'
Quickly passing my rod to Sam I got the butt pad on and Chippy passed me the shark rod... Fish on and it felt very powerful!
After a good initial run, it went very heavy and stopped pulling. Chippy said that it had likely got wrapped up, a common occurrence when sharking. I was still struggling though and the slog still lasted seven minutes due to the dead weight. When the fish was boatside, I was told by the skipper he was going to unwrap it and let it run again. I was thinking please don't, im gonna struggle if it goes again. Luckily for me, the fish whilst thrashing on the top had thrown the hook, but was still wrapped in the line, keeping it on the surface. A quick tail grab by Chippy and the fish was on the deck for some photos. At an estimated 85lb, I was well chuffed, my second largest fish ever and my second new species of the day.

BOOM : Species 81 - Blue Shark

Only one more run was had on the day, so I was very fortunate in picking peg number 1. My brother unfortunately didn't get a chance at a shark but enjoyed the day nevertheless. Maybe next time.

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,

Freshwater Predator weekend

With my summer in Jersey over, it was time to go back up North for a bit of a relax at home. Obviously this does not mean the fishing stops, it simply means a change from saltwater to fresh and in particularly pike fishing, a firm favourite of mine.

One of the best things about heading home is I get to do a bit of fishing with my younger brother Sam, who is just as keen as me, especially for his lure fishing. For some reason though, when we both hit the canal for the pike, I always seem to be the lucky one, or so he claims, I'd prefer to think that there was a bit more skill involved.

Anyway over 5 sessions with Sam, I managed to pull out six pike of which the largest was around 7lb whilst Sam, although getting takes could not land a fish to save his life........theres a definite pattern here lol. Check out some of the footage I shot over the weekend on the links below.

And a few pics:

Thanks for reading and tight lines,

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Species 79 - Pilchard

No, it's not from a tin.

This pilchard is a definite sign that british waters are starting to warm up. In fact I reckon its the invasion of these pilchards into british waters that is attracting the tuna that have been sighted on numerous occasions this year.

It was caught off the south west coast of Jersey whilst I was crewing for Tony on the Anna 2 and was one of three pilchards taken between six anglers on board. This one ended up being used as tope bait rather than grilled and eaten but nevertheless, it was species 79 for me and one step closer to the overall target.

Species 78 - 15 Spined Stickleback

Well it's certainly not one of the largest fish I've caught on my species hunt but it is definitely one of the coolest.

To catch this little monster, I had to borrow some tackle from a friend of mine, Scott Hutchison, scaling down to a size 26 hook that had been pre-tied to 1lb nylon. On the hook was the smallest fleck of mackerel you could imagine, but when you've seen the size of their mouths its plain to see why going that small was necessary.

To me these fish look quite similar to pike, which is probably why I like them so much, but they only grow to a maximum size of around 150mm. This particular fish was caught in St Helier harbour, I think this must be a breeding ground for them as between myself and Scott we noticed quite a few of these hanging around the weed along the edges of the pontoons.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Species 77 - White Bream

Now this is probably my rarest capture to date in British waters. It came as a bit of a surprise whilst myself and friend Dan Ferguson were fishing for mullet.

We'd been shirvying a spot for around an hour and had been getting good sport on the float from thick lip mullet to around the 4lb mark. Then out of nowhere, a shoal of tiny bream appeared in and around the boulders below where we stood. Dan jokingly said to me, 'oh they could be white bream.' On closer inspection though he was right, even at the minute size they were, the black spot on the tail was very distinctive. Obviously being the opportunist, I soon switched tactics to freelining. By casting a bit further than usual and just letting it swing back in towards the boulders as it sank, I managed to get the bait to settle out of view in amongst the boulders. Leaving a little slack, I watched my line in anticipation, waiting for that bow of line to start tightening up.

A few seconds after settling, a knock followed by a good pull gave me a good enough reason to strike and set the hook....... fish on. I was convinced it was another mullet as the fish ran up and down the boulders in front of me. As it tired though and started moving up in the water I realised it was no mullet, it was a bream, a bloody white bream and a good one at that. As Dan finally slid the net under it, the celebrations began. At 1lb 9oz it was a good specimen sized fish with the British record being a little over the 2lb mark. Well and truly stoked, I finished fishing for the day and sat watching Dan getting frustrated at the mullet that kept stealing his bait.

Species 76 : Thin Lipped Mullet

This thin-lipped mullet came less than 24 hours after the capture of my red bream. Spurred on by what was my first new species for a month, I spent the evening making up mullet spinners using a design shown to me by a few friends.

I had already tried for these thin lips once with not even so much as a follow so I wasn't expecting them to be jumping on the hook but on this particular day there were a lot of other mullet milling around, both golden greys and thick lips so I was confident that i'd get the one I was after.

My approach was to go light so out came the LRF set up with my 1000 size reel loaded with 6lb braid and a 4lb fluoro leader. The spinner was tied straight to this leader and then a white power isome worm mounted on my size 2 sakuma stinger hook.

My first pluck came on just the 2nd cast and a few follows from my target species came on the next few casts. On cast 8 though, after sliding the power isome worm further up the hook, I got the take I was after. A great 5-10min scrap ensued during which I had to walk the fish back to dry land. It was my thin-lip and a good one at 4lb 2oz.

I carried on fishing the spot adding a small golden grey to my daily tally but no other thin lips were to be seen.

Species 75 : Red Bream

Decided just to post the photos of my new species for the moment so I can properly catch up.

This red bream was caught due to some opportunist angling whilst I was working. One of our on-board anglers had the first one whilst we were drifting a reef 7 miles offshore. I quickly set up a rod and on the following drift  bagged one of my own.

After this one drift, I was no longer allowed to fish but that didn't bother me, i'd got what I was after :)

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Catch Up - Part 1

I'm really starting to lag again with these blog posts so apologies to any of you that have been regularly checking for updates. Anyway to cut a long story short, since my last post I've had an absolute ball of a time - I'll just post up a load of photos for you to see rather than bore you. These are from end of June only

Thursday, 13 June 2013

A little update from Jersey

The past month or so in the channel islands can be summed up by four words 'crap weather, good fishing.' We've had to cancel 12 fishing trips in the past fortnight due to strong winds, which although is bad for my savings, means I've had plenty of free time to have a good search around the island for new marks and of course catch a few fish.

One of my main targets recently has been black bream, a fish that until mid last year I had never caught. Well it's fair to say that since then, I've had more than my fair share, in fact, when we have managed to get out on the boat, we've been getting regular hauls of 60-100 bream in a 2-3hour session and not very many of these fish have been sub 1lb. You will have guessed that most of these fish have been caught by the anglers we've had on board, but when given the all clear by the skipper, I have managed to bag a few quality fish myself, the best so far going 3lb 9oz (pictured top left), another PB. Not all my bream have come from the boat though and over the past few days I managed to locate a shoal of them, well at least for an hour or so, the best two from an 8 fish haul going 1lb 14oz and 2lb 3oz (top right)

Another fish I've had a good go at are the mullet. Although I've failed miserably to even tempt a bite from the golden greys thus far, I've had a few thick lips to a rather nice 4lb 6oz whilst my mate Chris has also managed to land a new PB of 3lb 14oz. Dan who I have also been targeting the mullet with has like me had no luck with the golden greys as yet but has had some wrasse to a cracking 5lb 4oz in the process.
Species 74 - Shore Clingfish
One of the things I have been doing whilst waiting for the mullet is using my light gear. Baiting up small hooks with white rag section, I've kept myself occupied landing a number of different species that include ballan and corkwing wrasse, various goby and blenny species and best of all, my 3rd new species of 2013, a shore clingfish! Although this is no monster, it was extremely welcome, its a species I had never seen in the flesh before so it came as a real surprise.

I suppose I'd better mention the bass as well for all you silver lovers out there. It has been very tough to locate them of late but I have had a couple, nothing big but it sure puts a smile on my face when I feel that lure stop and watch the rod arch over. I have also picked up a few Pollack in the process and even a few wrasse to around the 3lb mark. My mates Dan and Ben on the other hand had a couple of nice fish during one of our sessions that both went around the 5lb mark, one just under, one just over.

The last thing I'll mention is a little video I put together. It was done as a little bit of fun and follows me LRF rockpool fishing for Giant Gobies, there is even a little bit of underwater footage thrown in there that was shot using my gopro. Here is a link to the video though, I hope you like it!

Giant Goby Video - Click this text

Well, that's all for now, the next few weeks I'll be hoping for that golden grey mullet and also some tope and smoothhounds!
Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,

Sunday, 19 May 2013

April in Jersey (At long last)

Well I've been getting a bit behind with my posts of late, a lack of internet access and a busy working schedule being the main reasons for this. Eventually though, I've sorted myself some Wi-Fi and its time to do some catching up.

So..... April!
As many of you will know, during the first week of April, I made a switch to the channel islands to spend the summer working on a charter boat as a deck hand. However, with the first booking of the year not being until the 14th April, I was supposed to spend the first week settling in to Jersey life, learning the ropess on the boat and finding myself some digs. In reality though, it was essentially a week for exploring and finding marks that I'd be fishing later in the year, whilst doing a bit of fishing in the process of course. My catches during this period were fairly decent, with plenty of wrasse, garfish, turbot and mini species falling to my light gear tactics.

The time soon came though for my first day on the boat.
PB smashing Turbot - 8lb 4oz
My first Brill - 6lb dead
PB Whiting - 2lb 15oz
Monster 4lb 9oz Whiting
15lb 8oz Blonde - Andreas

Up and out by 7.30am, I met with the skipper to sort out the gear for our first party of anglers, a German trio that had come to the channel islands for 5 days to catch one thing, Turbot. This really excited me as I'd never fished for turbot off a boat and my PB was a measly 10oz. Anyway, over the 5 day period we got out on all but 1 day and its fair to say we did pretty damn good. Here are a few photo's of the catch.

New PB Pollack - 11lb 12oz
As for the rest of April, let's just say it was a fun time to be on the boat. We had a real mix of people from all over Europe and fished many different tactics over different types of ground for a wide variety of species. The highlight of April for me though came on my birthday, a wrecking trip with Tom, Brian, Chris and Peter, a group of anglers that joined together each year from different areas of the country to fish in Jersey. I had never done wreck fishing before, so again I was not sure what to expect, although my hopes were high for at least one decent fish...... if of course the guys would allow me to wet a line.

New PB Ling - !5lb 14oz
For the first few hours it was relatively quiet with just a few Pollack coming aboard to just under the 10lb mark and during this period I was unable to fish as I had rigs to make for later. As the tide eased though, the lads gave me the all clear to have a fish and I was quickly setting up to join them. After a number of fruitless drifts on live eel, I decided to make the switch to artificials, a rhubarb and custard sidewinder being the lure of choice. Two drifts later I got smashed, rod bending over double and an immediate adrenaline surge. After a really good fight, the fish was up on the surface with the skipper doing the honours with the net. It was a massive new PB Pollack of 11lb 12oz, well and truly chuffed, but it was to get better. Having changed tactics to bumping half a mackerel along the bottom, I was soon back into another heavy fish. We knew it could of been one of a few things so when it revealed itself as a nice ling, again my face lit up. At 15lb 14oz, it was again a massive new PB, beating my previous best by over 12lbs. With that I stopped fishing and returned to my duties as deck-hand, cant say I minded to much though.

That pretty much sums up April,
Hope you enjoyed reading,
Tight Lines,

Sunday, 10 March 2013

A welcome break!

Had another 2 day break from work recently and as you'd expect, I made the most of my time off with a bit.... ok a lot of fishing. Here's what went down

The first day kicked off with a 6am alarm, waking me with just enough time to get to Holyhead for a charter boat trip I'd booked with mate Steve on-board MyWay with Gethyn. Due to the time of year, we didn't deceive ourselves with high expectations, but we were both secretly hopeful of a bit of rod bending action from the spurs out in Holyhead deeps. After a hour or so steaming out to the mark, the first drops saw the majority of us on the boat pick up a doggie or two, that was all of us except the skipper of course, who decided to show us all how it was done with a spurdog of around 7-8lb. After the great start though, it turned out to be a slow day. There were a few more decent fish landed including another spurdog of around 12lbs, a thorny and a decent huss for my mate Steve. My best fish of the day was a nice whiting of over a pound, probably a new PB, but this one was lucky and went free, most likely to be eaten by a huss in the near future can see from the photo that something had already had a go at it. In all though, it was a great day out on the water and couldn't have asked for nicer weather. If there's one thing I took away from this trip though, its that Geth really knows his stuff when it comes to boat angling, when targeting spurs fish the baits just off the bottom to avoid the doggy plague! Will hopefully be out with Geth again before I head South for 7 months!

As we steamed back, I was still well in the mood to fish and decided that I wanted to challenge myself, in the end coming to the conclusion that I was gonna target a tadpole fish. Having only caught one before, I didn't really have much to go off, but after a quick check of my old blog posts from last year, I saw that I'd had my last one in very similar conditions exactly one year and two days previous, how convenient :)
Fishing with my mate magic, we braved the cold and headed to the ranges with a couple of rods each. My aim for the night was to land a few new species for the year, namely tadpole fish and rockling, although I'd also be using had my heavier duty set up for congers. I chose to use a very simple 1-up, 1-down running ledger rig with rag tipped with macky for bait and a few lumi beads just for that added attraction in the depths. To say the fishing was good would be lying, but after an hour or so, I finally got some action in the form of my first rockling of 2013, a small one of the shore variety. It was a good 2 hours before I'd see any more action but sure enough, almost dead on low tide I noticed a small tap on the rod tip. I lifted my rod off the tripod and felt the line for any more bites. It wasn't long before the tap turned into a decent knock so I lifted into the fish. Knowing it was something small, I immediately got a little excited, but nowhere near as excited as I was when I saw that I had successfully caught the fish I had been targeting, A TADPOLE FISH! My happiness was easy to see and magic was amazed that I had landed one of these, having talked about them none stop since we'd arrived. I think this was the first one he'd seen and he was in agreement that they are cool fish, although another friend of mine, having seen the pics, has funnily referred to it as...... the most miserable looking fish he'd ever seen lol.

On a real high and despite the lack of further action, I decided to pack down my conger rod, leaving just my rockling rig out. It was sods law though that the next fish I'd land (which turned out to be the last) was of course a conger, which luckily had been hooked perfectly in the top lip. Getting magic to steer it onto the rocks for me, I soon had it in my grasp, the first landed conger I'd landed on this particular mark, having hooked and lost a few really good fish previously. With no more action for a further hour we decided enough was enough and off home we went. Not a particularly hectic session but ticked off all three of my nights targets, so definitely can't complain.

The following day, a new target was made, this time to do a little LRF'ing for scorpion fish and blennies. Magic was again keen to come along for a fish and had never tried this method of fishing before, so it was great to see him catch a few fish and a new species. Although the fishing was again hard work, we did pull out a handful of scorpion fish between us, with magic getting the pick of the bunch with this fella taken on red power isome. I am particularly proud of this photo as well, really want one like this myself now.

Anyway, that's all for now,
Thanks for reading and tight lines,