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,