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 :)