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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Possibly the best fight I've ever had on my plugging rod :D

As promised here is the report from yesterdays fantastic wrasse bashing session. The day started when I picked Stevie G up at 1ish to go get some crabs. We had an hour routing round and got enough peeler for our session, so we headed up to the North coast expecting big things. Arriving on the mark shortly after mid-water, we both set up with a 1-up rotten bottom rig with a size 1/0 sakuma hook and crab for bait. Steve wandered over to some ledges on our right, whilst I climbed down to sea level to drop straight down into the deeper gully. Almost as soon as I'd hit bottom on my first drop I had a typical wrasse bite, one tap and then a slow arching of the rod. Striking into the fish it took off on a small run and unfortunately managed to throw the hook. Promising signs though! Second cast was to produce a shock though. Again I dropped down into the gully fishing as tight to the side as possible. Another bite came fairly soon and at first I presumed it was another wrasse. I waited until the right moment and hit on. There was a considerable force on the other end though and it was going mental. My plugging rod was arched over double and I could do nothing but be patient and take my opportunities to gain line when they came. Thinking I was into a possibly PB breaking wrasse I got extremely excited. The fish was not tiring and even in mid-water it continued to surge back down to the snags. At this point I started realising that it may not be a wrasse, as from experience the big wrasse tend to almost give up once you've got them up in the water. As the fish neared the surface, I caught a first sight of it and I must admit I thought I'd got a ling. One last dive confirmed its true identity though, it was a conger of all things on half a peeler. I always take a net with me wrassing, so landing the fish was not to bad once it was on the surface. I shouted over to Steve to come and see the fish, not telling him what it was until he caught sight of it for himself. Steve's words were as follows 'You are a spawny t**t' lol. Took a few pics and released the fish asap. That was probably the best fight of my life, what an epic battle. 6 minutes tug-of war with 10lb leader and size 1/0 hook took it's toll though and I soon replaced the rig with some heavier line just incase of a repeat hook up. Shortly after, I was back into some of the big ballans that frequent this area as well as a couple of nice pollock which couldn't
resist half a juicy peeler. This fish on the left  my biggest of the day at a tad under 4lb. It was one of around a dozen 3lb+ fish landed between myself and Steve in around a 4 hour period. I just love the colour variations between wrasse, no two fish are ever the same and the belly on this fish although sagging, had a lovely bright orange spotted pattern on it. Stevie G's best fish of the day came around mid-way though the session. After he had hooked and lost a few monsters that had taken him to ground he started getting the hang of it and was
 pulling in a steady flow of 2-3lbers with this fish on the left being his best
 of the day at a tad over 3lb. He was getting some interesting little taps though and eventually got a hook up to this corkwing (right) which we had to inspect for a while due to some odd markings on the tail and the belly. We thought for a second he may have had a rarer species of wrasse but after a short discussion we decided it was just a corkwing lol.    Steve then had a short period of fluff chucking which resulted in a dozen or so macky, plenty for his next few breakfasts atleast :) We left at around 7.30ish in hope of catching the second half of the Spain v Portugal game which wasn't worth getting back for in the end.
Another enjoyable day with my knots taking a real testing from the savage beasts below. Thanks for reading

Tight Lines,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

1 mark, 2 days, 2 styles of fishing, same result....Bass

Anglesey 25th & 26th June 2012

My first session this week took place on Anglesey with the lures. I met Terry in Beaumaris and headed off to a mark I hadn't fished yet this year, but was confident of a fish or two. After a nice downhill trek to the mark we set up the rods and began having a walk along the coast chucking the lures as we went. Switching between surface lures and shallow divers I got my first fish of the day on just my second cast, not what we were after though, a small pollock. After a good hour I was losing my confidence in the bass so after having a quick word with Terry, we headed off to our left to fish off a deeper stretch of coastline. After scouting a bit we decided on a spot and began chucking again. As it was a little deeper I decided to try a slightly deeper running lure, the zonk gataride in katakuchi colour (blue top, silver flanks, red belly for anyone not familiar) These lures fly so against the wind I launched it out a fair distance and began my retrieve. About half way in a small tap and then a solid take, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz sounded as the braid left the spool. I was very conscious about setting the drag right as due to running out of my usual 20lb fluoro leader I had to settle for some 10lb stuff I use when after wrasse, not ideal. As I played it gently to the side though, there Terry was on hand to guide my prize into a little gully where he could grab it. I didn't bother weighing/measuring it as it wasn't as big as others I've had this year so after a few quick photos I released the fish back into the depths. At a guess I would have said it was around the 3.5-4lb mark. The Zonk had proven its worth once again and certainly put a big smile on my face for the rest of the evening. Terry soon followed suit and whacked on his Zonk and sure enough got his first fish of the session soon after the changeover. I failed to catch for the rest of the evening but Terry managed to winkle out a second bass just as the light was fading. In typical style, he'd noticed a few fish surfacing for sandeels and had switched to a Patchinko surface lure. I watched on as his first few casts got some interest in the form of a missed take and then the proceeding cast got a hook up and his 2nd bass. As soon as they switched on though, they disappeared so after a further hours plugging into the darkness, we called it a night and headed back. This was a tester on the legs though, as after a seemingly easy descent, the mile or more walking straight back up the hill certainly got the heart pumping. Worth it though just for that one stunning fish.

The day after saw me returning to the exact spot from the previous evening. This time I had left the plugging rod at home and lugged down the beachcaster, a bucket of crab and plenty of spare leads hoping for some more silver and maybe something new for the species list. After a much more strenuous walk down I found myself dealing with a brisk breeze and a slightly choppy sea, not what I had hoped for, but nevertheless I ploughed on hopeful. I set up with a portsmouth loop rig armed with a lovely helping of fresh peeler and launched it out across a bay to the west of me. After a fruitless first cast, I wound in rebaited and repeated the process, this time casting slightly shorter. After a short wait, I had my first knock and then a nice pull round. Initially my lead was snagged up but after a quick tug it came free, luckily with the fish still attached. Up it came in front of me, with its silver flanks catching the suns rays, a nice little bass of around 1lb. For the next few chucks I continued to get fish of this size, finishing with 4 bass in 6 casts. My seventh cast however produced this codling of around 1.5lb which went home for tea, tasted lovely pan fried in some breadcrumbs. Unfortunately the following cast I snagged up again, losing both my snoods but retaining the lead. I thought enough was enough though and headed back happy again after a good couple of hours. The walk back was agonizing on the legs, especially considering I was carrying a good amount of gear  this time round and had done the same walk less than 12 hours previous. But again the long walk was worth the effort and at least I had dinner lined up :)

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Two 4lb+ Wrasse on SP's and my bream mission is finally at an end! :D

Quite a bit of action to report from the last fortnight. I'll start off with a session on the wrasse and pollock on the ranges. Myself, Ad and Jon headed off to catch the tide from mid-water up to high. We had opted to fish with a deep spinning method for the pollock using weedless hooks to avoid snags, but had brought a pack of rag as back-up just in case the fish weren't taking lures. I gave Ad and Jon a few tips on how to best rig up and off we went. I was into pollock from the off with this 3lb 5oz fish coming on just my 2nd cast. We had a little wager between us which involved the last man to catch a 40cm + fish on lures would have to eat a ragworm :s Luckily my 1st fish went over 50cm so I was safe early on. The best laugh I've had for a while came courtesy of Jon though shortly after, when on his first cast his rod snapped in half. The noise and his reaction were absolutely priceless and left myself and Ad in stitches whilst he stood rather devastated staring at his shattered butt section lol. I lent him my LRF rod and let him go off with some baited feathers to try for some wrasse though to keep him occupied. After the first half hour I'd managed  6 pollock whilst the others remained fishless (we like to call this situation pulling a 'federer') but before I managed number 7 Ad finally managed to get off the mark with a pollock of his own. Jon was then into his first fish of the session on my fairy-wand of a rod, 0-5g casting weight :) which is always fun to watch and eventually this ballan popped up. I caught a few more pollock before deciding I'd have a go on bait and stole back my LRF rod from Jon. I left my plugging rod set up for Jon with the deep spinning gear and he got his first pollock first cast on my set-up lol. Meanwhie, I'd moved round the corner and was getting a wrasse a chuck on rag with Ad watching on looking confused as to how I was catching so many lol. The best catch on the bait though was this double header of rock-cooks, my only double of the day. Ad eventually succumbed to my tactics and started getting a few wrasse of his own. We called it a day though just after high in order to get back in time to watch the England game.

A Sunday session saw me and Eddie (EddiePara from WSF) have a go on the lures at a few of my marks. Unfortunately the conditions were far from perfect at either of the marks with the clarity and weed being a massive problem and we both ended with a blank despite our best efforts. It was an enjoyable day out none the less and special mention goes to eddies 2 dogs, Jasper whose gas problems on the day left me with no nostrel hairs and Whitby whose little legs had a proper runout on the big boulders and steep descents/ascents to the marks. The day was rounded off nicely though with a quick stop at the pub on the way home but due to the heavy drinking the night before I had to be a big girl and stick to a coke lol. I'm 100% sure the next time will be more productive and look forward to it.

My next session took place up at bull bay. It was another session on the lures, this time with big wrasse in mind. I was using my plugging outfit as usual with a 12lb fluoro leader and a small 3" grub on a weedless hook at the business end. I was getting plenty of plucks for the first hour or so with just a few small pollock and micro-ballans to show for my efforts. As the tide neared high though, the fish started getting bigger and bigger. I had a few around the 2lb mark first before hooking into something a little more substantial. My rod bent over nicely and the fish was taking a good bit of drag, which I had set loosely due to the 12lb leader. After the initial rampage though the fish started moving up in the water and I was poised with the net ready to land it. In it slipped and it was a nice fish, lovely orange and red colours, weighed 4lb 1oz and measured 45cm. Photographed on the measure, back it went and powerfully surged back down to the depths to get larger for next time. It had only been a matter of minutes before I got my next slamming take. This was another quality fish and again fought like a demon on its way to the surface. It gave up though mid-water much to my joy making it far easier to net. It was the biggest so far and was a completely different colour to the other one with green and brown patches all over. It measured just 1cm longer than the previous one at 46cm but it was solid and weighed in at 4lb 7oz, a new lure caught wrasse PB by an ounce. I had six 5lb+ fish from this mark though last year so it won't be long before hopefully I get one that size on the soft plastics.

My last session to report came just yesterday. I set my alarm for 3am in order to get to my Lleyn plugging mark for first light. My plan was to do a few hours lure fishing for bass and then skip to pwllheli beach to have another go at these black bream. The bass session was reasonably succesful with a total of 4 fish being landed in the 2 hours I was there. Nothing to shout about though with the biggest being roughly 1.75lbs. I was in fine spirits though as I moved to the beach and unlike the last time I was there, the water was gin clear and like a mill pond. I used a self-made 3 hook flapper with 12lb fluorocarbon snoods and 3 bright yellow beads positioned above size 6 sakuma hooks. Above the rig I put a small float to pop it up off the bottom, a recommendation I'd had from a few more experienced species hunters :) With the hooks baited with slithers of squid, I cast out around 60 yards and set the rod vertical to avoid the weed. After 15 mins, I saw a little movement on the rod tip followed by a number of rattles and then a couple of much stronger pulls. I took the rod off the stand and after a few more taps I lifted into the fish. There was a heavy weight on the end and I thought I'd missed it and pulled into some weed, but I noticed whilst heaving in the weed in the taps were still there and the fish was still on. I must admit I got a little excited and as it got closer the weed dropped off leaving me with just the fish connected. I was constantly staring at the water for any signs and as the silver flanks appeared in the surf, I knew I had my target at the 3rd attempt (Black bream - species 43) I was extremely happy and did my best to get some photos as I was on my own (not surprising though considering the early start) Managed to get this nice one with the dunes in the background so without further ado I slipped it back into the surf. I was feeling the early start though by now so instead of continuing I left feeling very satisfied with a cracking mornings fishing. The species are getting harder and harder to target now but theres still a small number I am confident of catching. After that though I'm gonna need as much help from the weather and fellow anglers as I can get.

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fantastic Pembroke Part 3 : Species bashing

The third day of my trip saw us targeting a variety of species. I am on a quest for 60 species this year from the UK shoreline so Ben had kindly set aside a day of my trip to concentrate on all things mini. We fished at a local mark to Ben who had informed me that the mark throws up trigger fish, a species I have never even thought about targeting. Armed with a few leftover rag, squid and fresh macky we started fishing just before low water. The rigs we were using were
 just half a set of size 12 sabikis, so in essence a 3-up baited flapper
rig with a 1.5oz bomb to get it firmly on the bottom. Bites came thick and fast for the first hour with Ben leading the way with a rock goby, myself catching the same shortly after. The new species started to appear though and before long I had my black goby (species 39 -top right). Ben had a really nice take on squid but the fish spat the hook before we could see what it was. Fishing a little closer to the wall though I kept getting tiny little rattles, eventually managing to hook one of the critters. Up from the depths came my first rod caught
butterfish (species 40) a cracking looking fish and it made me very
happy. Ben was still getting plenty of fish just off the wall managing a few small ballans and pollock before he managed a new one for his species tally this year, a gold-sinny wrasse. As if 2 new species wasn't enough I continued to pull out a vast amount of rock gobies before eventually getting a cracking take from this sand-smelt (species 41 - right) Another species ticked off the list. As the tide slackened the fish turned off with exception to the goby population down there, so we called it and headed off to another mark where Ben was confident I'd catch my first tub gurnard of 2012.

 After a short lunch break, we were on our new mark and ready to go. One up one down rigs were the plan with a 4oz rolling lead to keep it firmly pinned down. We both started with macky, myself opting to tip with squid to add a bit of movement to the bait. Ben had a bite almost instantly but the fish seemed to just hit it and leave it. Whilst he was holding his rod though, I got my first good knock and landed our target species, a tub gurnard (species 42). Re-baiting we continued to fish into an area that we were finding productive and Ben was soon into his 1st tub as well (up right) After the hectic start though the fishing went very quiet with one dab for me being the only other fish landed. We cut our losses and after another successful trip we headed home for some much needed food and rest. Yet again 3rd day running Pembroke didn't disappoint.

 On my 4th and final day we again targeted the smoothies after having some great fun a few days earlier. We spent a few hours collecting crab and then headed off to yet another different mark to try and get one of these doubles. To cut the story short, we managed another 2 smoothies each, no big ones unfortunately but I just love how much power they have in comparison to other fish of their size, just incredible. With the end of theis session came the end of my trip but I can definitely say I'll be back fairly soon, maybe to target some bream and that elusive trigger fish. The trip was a great success throughout with 18 species caught in total between us, myself landing 3 fish I've never caught before and smashing my Starry Smoothhound PB. Again a massive thanks to Ben for putting me on the fish every day, definitely a top lad and angler and I'm so jelous that he is surrounded by such a fantastic and diverse area of coastline. Back to North Wales it is now for a month or so though before I start on my adventures to Ireland, South Devon and Jersey.

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fantastic Pembroke Part 2 : Lure fishing adventures

Day 2 on my visit to Pembroke started with a trip to one of Ben's plugging marks. He'd only fished it on one previous occasion and had winkled out a few bass, so with the lovely weather we both thought we were in with a good chance. We arrived shortly before the midday high water and were greeted by a number of fish hitting the surface, some of them being fairly hefty. We guessed they were sea trout and maybe even salmon with some of the smaller fish jumping a good 3-4ft clear of the water. Full of excitement we both clipped on surface lures, myself opting for a free-bee I was given to test, the
Seaspin Pro-Q 120 in flashing plate whilst Ben opted for a range of poppers including the ever faithful chugbug. The lure I was
 using had a fantastic walk the dog action and after 10 minutes or so I
 had my first rise, the fish unfortunately not committing to the take. A few casts later though and I was in business. After a short fight I got it a couple of metres from the rocks only to see the fish spit the lure, was this going to be one of those days. I continued with the Pro -Q 120 and it did pay off eventually when a bass of around 1.75lb was safely landed, photographed and released (top right). The surface action went quiet for me, but Ben was getting a few rises, finally managing a hook up but as with my first fish it threw the lure a few metres from the rocks. I did manage an action photo though before the fish escaped (right). The sea trout were now leaping freely so instead of targeting the bass I
 clipped on the trusty toby and began working it with some pace trying to induce a take, that failed lol. Then it was the turn of the dexter wedge. With the dexter being a little heavier I was able to cast far further and work a much greater area. Just as I'd switched lure, a couple of Bens mates joined us, one of them being Rob who I met last time I visited. I had a quick chat and chucked my lure out in the proccess. 5 turns of the handle and a solid take, it was as if the fish could sense their arrival lol. It was giving a great acount for itself taking me round a rock in front of me and continually pulling my line with some lovely strong lunging runs. It did not want to be landed, but after tightening the drag a little I started gaining a bit more line back, eventually getting the fish close enough for Ben to grab it. It was not the beast I was hoping for but a fine conditioned silver bar of just over the 3lb mark ( above left) It had a huge mouth for its size and a gut to match. We all continued to plug away for a further half hour before calling it quits and returning back to the car.

Mini-bashing on the LRF gear

With some great success on the mini species front on bait at another close by mark, we decided to give the mark a go with some LRF tactics. I lent Ben some size 12 jigheads and Ben lent me the Power Isome. We were in to fish as soon as the lures hit bottom, with me catching around 15 rock gobies and half a dozen black gobies (left) which is a new one for the TLF species hunt. Ben was having much the same but he'd opted to try bait first, getting gobies and the odd wrasse and pollock. Seeing the number of fish I was catching though he soon changed and managed a number of rock gobies himself (a new species for his species tally - up right). We stayed for around 2 hours in total calling it quits when the local kids decided that the spot we were fishing was a good one for jumping in off. Not to mention the idiot jetskiers that thought it was clever to drive straight through some other anglers lines. A fun session was had though and we left rather chuffed.

Hope you enjoyed the read,
Tight Lines,

Fantastic Pembroke : Part 1 - First day goes smoothly

I have to start off by saying a massive thanks to Ben Edwards for putting me on the fish all week. Without Ben I would have been struggling on where to start, with the coastline in the area being so diverse.  Also thanks to his parents and brother for putting me up for 4 nights and keeping me well fed, was much appreciated. Now for the report!
The 3.5hour drive down from North Wales was made bearable by the thought of catching my first smoothhounds of 2012 and having never caught a common that was my main target during our hound sessions. I had crab leftover from a few previous sessions saving us the job of bait collecting so after making a few rigs and offloading all of Ben's uni stuff at his house, we headed off to the mark. Single 3/0 pennel was the chosen rig with a 5oz gripper to hold bottom. After missing my first decent bite it was Ben who was in to the first
 fish of the session and it was a gooden. His rod nicely arched over and the fish taking line at will when it decided to run. The fish came into view around 10m out and it was a cracking smoothie, at an estimate in the 15lb range. The fish stayed deep as I stood at the waters edge poised with the net, it was so nearly up and then disaster, the hook pulled, the lead shooting past my head in the proccess. This got me very excited so re-baiting I chucked out again and sat waiting. I was rewarded as soon as the tide started running with just my second ever shore caught hound, a starry of around 3lb equalling my PB (Species 37 - top right) The hounds were now in a
feeding frenzy and I was only left waiting 15minutes or so before I'd have another fish on. The second fish being another starry at a slightly bigger 5-6lb and another PB. My third fish though would smash my PB for the 2nd time in three fish and was this Starry pictured right. The fish wighed in at 9lb 15oz and put up a cracking fight, annoying though that it was just 1oz short of a double. As if things couldn't get any better, I then managed my first ever Common  Smoothhound (species 38), only a small one at around 4lb but yet another species to add to the list on my hunt for 60. We did have a dabble for tope whilst we were there but after catching some fresh macky for bait we failed to even get a run on the tope front. Maybe still a bit early but a species I'm desperate to tick off this year so I'll be putting in alot of time and effort to get one.
 Still on a bit of a buzz and with crab leftover, we decided to head out again the same night, choosing a different mark but targeting the hounds again. Again we were into fish from the off, the first of my 4 coming very early on, another small common. This was shadowed though by my new PB Common the cast after. It was only 7lb 13oz but I was absolutely ecstatic. Not to be out-done Ben was next into a fish with a little common of his own, which I think I was more excited about than he was lol. He's used to catching smoothies you see so unless its a double it doesn't really matter to him. He managed
 his starry soon after as well (left) A fish of around the 4-5lb mark which was around the average on the night. I landed a couple more small ones including one of each species before we decided to call it a day. What a first day! 2 new PB's, 2 new species for the hunt and 1 species I've never caught before. I went to bed a very happy man, all be it a very tired man also having been up for over 20 hours.

Hope you enjoyed part 1, more to follow shortly,
Tight Lines,