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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mission accomplished thanks to some friendly guidance

I had to wave goodbye to the South on Thursday morning and make my way back up to the North Wales coast, hoping to pick up a package of lures I had ordered especially for my Ireland trip. On arrival back in Bangor though I found out my package had been delayed, brilliant. All was not as bad as it seemed though as being Thursday it was Andy's fishing night, so we had arranged to hit an Anglesey mark to try our luck with the blonde rays. Now I've walked the area with my lure rod but never really new exactly where to go with the beachcasters. As I was there a good 6 hours early it was straight on the phone to Andy for a bit more info on where to head and after a second call to Terry I eventually sussed out the ledge I wanted to fish. Unfortunately it was already taken so I had to improvise and move along the coast a bit keeping an eye wide open for a suitable ledge to fish off. I found one nearby and set up with one rod with an up and over running ledger rig and the other with a standard pulley rig. Both rigs were baited with sandeel/squid and mounted on 4/0 sakuma extras. After not a sniff in over an hour and losing one of my rigs to a snag, I decided to move marks to pass the time until Andy arrived. I chose sewer pipe as my mark and as expected I had a good few wrasse down the edge but again the distance rod remained action free. Whilst there I had a visit from Terry in which we discussed a few plans for Ireland and generally chatted rubbish about all things fishy. Before I knew it the time had come to re-visit mark one and meet Andy.
This time round the preferred ledge was free so I began rigging up hoping that my fortune had changed for the better. One rod out and starting on rod 2, over the hill came Andy. We had a tactical talk and out went rod 2 again baited with sandeel/squid. It wasn't a long wait before I got my first bite and brought in a nice little spotted ray (as seen in Andy's report). This got us a little excited and expectant of a good haul, but as always seems to be the case, it was to be the only ray of the night. Andy had the right idea by switching to a set of feathers in the hope of some fresh bait and when he had one bump off first chuck, it wasn't long before I joined him. In around 30 minutes I notched up a small haul of fish; 2 mackerel, 3 launce (including a new PB in picture) and a lone pollock. Now with some fresh bait available, it was back out with a side of macky and we started getting some regular bites, as expected though in came a number of annoying doggies which varied from being rather large ones to almost anorexic ones. With only dogs showing now, I decided to have a drop down the side and caught a number of small wrasse including ballans and corkwings before the darkness came in and the wrasse action died. I tried switching baits to chunks of mackerel hoping for a rockling or just something different but nothing was happening so I just lobbed it out and left it. Andy had also switched tactics on one of his rods and opted for a bit of scratching, resulting in a number of whiting which made a handy fresh bait. It was very slow going and watching my tips motionless for long periods was making me see things. I thought my scratching rod was knocking but everytime I concentrated on it nothing would happen. As I lost interest in it though it shot round and this time it was definitely a fish. I struck into it and felt a small resistance and thought I was into a whiting just like the ones Andy was catching. To my great delight though it turned out to be a small grey gurnard (species 47)
My only other highlight was this huge spider crab that took fancy to my macky fillet. To put its size into perspective, the ruler its attempting to destroy is 45cm long so its fair to say it was rather large, another PB :)
With this the session ended, another very enjoyable session with some great company in which all sorts of tips and marks were exchanged. Not a bad result in the end with another new species and a couple of PB's and a great new mark to add to my personal log book. Will definitely be back out with Andy soon as he's been a pleasure to fish with on the few occasions we've managed to get out. One day we'll smash it up!

That brings me to todays short session. As mentioned at the start of the post I had originally come over to get a package and this time I'd had an email to tell me it was due for arrival around midday, about time. Anyway I made the 90 minute trip over to pick it up and thought I may as well have another bash at the blondes. Conditions were very different to the session a few days previous with a good chop on the water and the tide this time on the flood . I whacked out 2 rods with pulleys and just left them to do there thing. I had left them a good 45minutes and was starting to think about packing it in. Typically though this is when my rod arched over and the line slowly started inching from the spool. I picked up the rod, waited for a good pull and struck into a nice weight. A nervous and exciting few moments at the side and I started to see the wings appear beneath me, first the spots and then the blatent blonde ray patterns, I had got my target :) (species 48) I took my time landing it safely and got a couple of nice photos before releasing it to be caught again another day. My scales unfortunately ran out of batteries the previous session and I had completely forgotten to change them so I couldn't weigh it. At a guess though I would say it was around the 8lb mark which seems to be a number I can't go beyond when ray fishing. This would be my only bite of the 2.5 hour session but did I care, not one bit. What a lovely fish to save a blank and yet another species I'd never caught. This year just gets better and better. I am starting to believe that this target of 60 species may be achievable. 

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,

Friday, July 13, 2012

The day of the mini giants

It was my last night in the South West and I had managed to arrange a session with Dave Campbell and another lure angler Matthew Pickup. Before I met them at 4pm though, I decided to head to a mark local to my granddads in Kingsbridge with the LRF gear in hope of a lure caught rockling. After looking around the various gullies and pools, all I could catch sight of was blennies and the occasional larger looking fish hiding in the small undercut rock ledges. Using tactics I'd learned from Jake Schogler during the Cornigh lure festival, I started to dunk my rod down into the gullies with around an inch of line between the rod tip and the jighead that was rigged with small red isome. Once the rod tip was in the cracks I would use my fingers on the line to make the lure jiggle up and down and create an irresistable movement to the minis. It was often split seconds in the cracks before I was slowly releasing line and striking into what innevitably was a blennie or some sort of goby. Eventually though I managed a few giant gobies, topped by a monster at over 20cm, a new PB. Spotting another larger looking mini in a gully, I again dropped down the lure and let it swing under a small boulder. The initial bite was instant so I left it to take the lure properly before lifting into it It was pulling rather well for a small fish so I presumed it was another large giant goby but when I pulled it out of its hole I was more than happy to see it was a very large blennie. On the measure it went and it was PB number 2 of the session at 17cm beating my previous best by 1cm lol, in blennie terms though thats a big difference.
I chad only been out an hour and had now managed 2 PB's so was well chuffed but it wasn't the last of the day. After getting a whole load of giant gobies, 9 in total, I watched a scorpion fish take my isome. When it came to the surface I new it was an ok sized one and I've yet to catch a really good sized one. In fact
it was PB number 3 of the day. Only 17cm but as mentioned I had never  really had any half decent sized scorpions and this one was particularly chunky. I got a nice close up with the isome and then decided it was time to go and meet the others for a go at the bass. We got to our chosen mark shorty after 4pm and fished it right the way through to just before last light. So as not to drag the report on too much, I can say that it wasn't the most productive session with myself landing just a single wrasse on the SP's and Dave and Matt getting a similar result with a number of wrasse and Dave getting a number of launce on surface lures. No bass showed at all which was a slight disappointment but the conditions were really against us so it was nice just to catch anything.

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Cornish Lure Festival :D

What a fantastic event and what luck we had with the weather (apart from Friday night of course) First of all a huge congratulations to Craig on taking the bass section with an awesome fish of over 10lb and 74cm, a worthy winner and also a big well done to the runners up. Big congratulations also to Josh for taking the species prize with an incredible 14 and again to the runners up. I narrowly missed out on a placed finish by 1 species, next time maybe :)
Before I get into the report though I'd best not forget to mention a few people for helping me along the way and joining me on a few sessions. Those people are Rodd, Steve, Jake and Scott as well as Ryan and friends who I met whilst bass fishing and many others I had a chat with over the course of the weekend, it really was a quality festival and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Friday - After signing in at Plymouth just after midday I was off on my travels into Cornwall for the first time and full of hope. I had a few marks penciled in to try for both bass and for the species so I had a rough plan of action. At my first stop I met a bloke in the car-park that told me he had caught a bass of over 9lb the week previous and pointed out a few spots in the area that were worth trying, a promising start. I started off with the LRF gear targeting wrasse in the gulleys and started getting a few taps, eventually managing a hook up on my teaser. To my surprise though it wasn't a wrasse as I had expected but a small mullet, what a way to start my trip. After this the nibbles stopped, so I turned my attentions to the bass. In front of me was a lovely weedy reef, so I clipped on my seaspin proQ 120 and began working the surface just the other side of it. I must have been non-stop casting for around half an hour with not a sign of a fish but the lure was working nicely, so I couldn't bring myself to change (bad habit) Persistence did pay off though and a rise came, the fish missing the lure at first pickings so I began twitching it faster as I always try and do after the initial rise and as usual, the fish had another go again missing..... it didn't come back a third time though,  a change of venue was in order. I took the advice the bloke I'd chatted to and headed just the other side of Looe. I got down to the mark and was distracted again by a number of deep pools and gullies, so minis were my target.

First drop I had my second species in the form of a blenny before finding a lovely deep hole where I could see a few fish swimming around. I dropped down a chunk of isome on a fine metal shirasu jig-head and immediately a blennie took interest, from nowhere though a larger fish shot across the pool engulfing my lure with ease. I struck straight away and the fish was hooked. I thought I'd got a rockling at first but as I pulled it up I realised what it was, a giant goby (species 45), my first ever and a fish that was high on my 'to catch list' :) well chuffed! The only other fish I had on the first day was a small sea scorpion. Whilst at this mark though I bumped into a number of LRF'ers including Josh, Toby, Scott and Jake. So day 1 down, 4 species landed, not brilliant but I was underway.

Saturday - The second day dawned and it was another species day with some bassing planned for the evening rising tide. I started like alot of fellow LRF'ers at Mevagissey. I was first there at around 6am and the previous nights lash down had heavily coloured the water in the harbour. Luckily though the outside was gin clear and flat, perfect for the mini's. Before I targeted them though I had a few chucks off the front, casting across the murky water and retrieving it back into the clear stuff. The pollock were jumping on my tiny x-layer almost every chuck and after having around a dozen of them I managed to get a mackerel to tick off as well. I then moved to the back dropping down the margins for the wrasse and sure enough after being frustrated for a while by small taps, a fish was hooked, a  little corkwing taking my tally to 7.

At around 9 a few more people started to appear. First to join me were Rodd and Steve fresh from a morning on the bass. It was the first time I'd met them both but they were both more than happy to share a few of their marks with me and kindly offered to show me a spot later in the day where I could hopefully get my first bass of the festival. A very friendly gesture that was just what I needed, after all when your chasing fish in unknown areas, what better way to find them than to get advice from people who know the area. Thanks again guys if you read this. It was down to business again though with the mini's and shortly after I'd started fishing again we were joined by Scott and Jake. I'll be completely honest and say that if it wasn't for these two I probably would never have taken up LRF, it was their reports that made me want to try it out and now I'm hooked on it. Plus they are both fountains of knowledge in the smaller species department and I've learnt alot from watching them and listening to their little tips. With the breakwater now getting a little busier I had a little move along towards the point. Changing again to the shirasu head and isome the first few drops produced a couple of scorpion fish. It wasnt long though before the tiny rattles came back and when I hooked up after a long annoying wait to strike I was into my 8th species, a pout. The next drop more rattles and this time it was another new one and one I definitely hadn't expected, a dragonette (species 46) The
mini bashing continued until around 12.30 finishing with 5 dragonettes, a similar number of pout and a few other things, but nothing else new. I had arranged to follow Rodd and Steve to the mark but having pulled out I had a call from my brother and completely missed them leaving. After I'd put the phone down I was a little confused, where had they gone? Anyway after returning to Scott and Jake, Scott managed to get a location up on his phone and I had a road name to go for. A short drive saw me arrive at where I thought the beach was but turned out I'd gone to the wrong one. After walking aimlessly for around 30mins, I found myself back at the car and trying to remember the name of the road I needed to find. It popped back into my head and somehow I managed to locate them all be it about an hour later than planned. Again both Rodd and Steve were very helpful in guiding me around the mark and pointing out certain spots to go. I started chucking a few hard plastics about, everything from my patch's to feedshallows but all working the top few feet of water. After having no luck for half an hour I switched to try for a ballan at one of the spots I'd been shown. I tried a few different lures but as soon as the x-layer went on I had an instant hook up.  
giving me plenty of stick I tried my best to keep it up but inevitably it took me to ground. Without panicking I let some line off to give the fish slack. I waited for around a minute before I felt some movement again. With a quick wind down and strike upwards the fish came free and now I was in the driving seat. It went well though and took it's toll on my lure clip which had to be changed, but I got the fish in so that a few mug shots could be taken. I then made the trek to the far end of the mark to fish over some weedy ground that just looked extemely bassy. I was joined down the other end after a while by Steve and Mike. I saw no action at all on my surface lures but Steve, after seeing a few fish in front of him, had a few half hearted takes unfortunately without a hook up. Mike who was a bit further along was pulling wrasse in with no problem and after myself and Steve had decided to move on, we walked back past Mike just after he'd had a lovely fish of over 3lb. As we walked back we had a few chucks here and there to no avail so in the end, I decided enough was enough and headed off on an hours drive to try for the bass once more at the mark I'd missed one on the first day. As I neared the mark I noticed a group of lure fisherman on a particular spot. I pulled up and watched for 5 minutes in which time I saw them land a couple of bass. Needless to say I was geared up and running down to the mark in no time and after a quick chat and realising one of the lads was Ryan Timberlake from the forum. I looked over to see what lures they were using and the savage gear eels seemed to be working for all of them, so on mine went, 2nd cast, bang, Bass on! Pictured and measured at a wee 42cm it was my 11th species on what had been a great day. I stayed for around an hour, landing 6 bass in total on 5 different lures
before leaving the guys to it.

Sunday - It's a long report already so I'll cut Sunday short. I had no new species which was slightly disappointing but again I had fun fishing with Jake and Scott and a few other lads. The only other thing that must be mentioned is how jammy Jake is. After strongly making out he is so unlucky in raffles, you just knew that he was gonna win something but oh no, he didn't just win a prize, he was the first ticket drawn out and so managed to blag a new rod lol. I think I might try that trick next time lol.

Anyway, that is my Cornish Lure Festival report,
I hope you enjoyed the read and stuck it out despite me prolonging it somewhat.
Again a massive congratulations to all the winners, top angling guys!

Tight Lines,

P.s I almost forgot, Rodd makes a damn good home made curry. If he offers you some take it :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

South Devon 4th-5th July

The original plan on my visit to South Devon was to visit my granddad and do a bit of fishing each day. However this was scrapped early on due to a minor car malfunction. I just about arrived in Kingsbridge on July 2nd with my car making all sorts of noises, so that was immediately booked into the garage the following morning. It turned out I had managed to lose 2 bolts from one of my front wheels putting so much stress on the others that they had widened the holes they had been screwed into, not good! This meant new bolts were needed and they hadn't got any in stock, in fact I'd be without my car until at least Thursday until the replacements were delivered. This meant Tuesday and Wednesday were set to be days of wondering what I could have been doing instead of what I would have been doing. Tuesday flew by though with no fishing done but I had an enjoyable day exchanging stories with my granddad. The phone rang though midday and granddad had managed to get a good friend of his Roger to take me out for a fish in the estuary. Roger had been mentioned a few times in my granddads stories and not surprising considering he had once held the British record for Gilthead bream at a staggering 9.5lb and is still the current holder of the British record turbot, which stands at a massive 33lb 12oz so it was fair to say I was going to be in good company :) Wednesday morning came and an 8am meet with Roger saw us head out into the estuary in search of a gilthead. After trying a few spots to no avail we switched to a nice bay and moored up. We both managed a couple of schoolies before the water became a bit to coloured and weedy and a move to slightly deeper water was needed. Once again moored up, we baited up the running ledger rigs with freshly dug blow lug and chucked out hopeful. I managed to miss my first bite but the second bite was a bit different. I was getting very small flatfish like knocks but they became constant so I struck. After lifting into the fish I could tell it was  no flattie and didn't feel like a schoolie either. A powerful thump...thump headshake made Roger think I'd got our target and he was right, a nice little Gilthead popped up at around the 1.5-2lb mark (species 44). Very happy now and relieved, we decided to stop for some bait collecting, peeler and a top up of lug was the plan and it didn't take us too long to get the required amount. Now fishing the rising tide we were very optimistic, but the giltheads were not playing fair. Roger managed a handful of schoolies as well as a silver eel but my rod tip stayed motionless bar a few tiny rattles. We called it a day at mid-water and headed back to Kingsbridge. A cracking day was had and it was brilliant to watch a very good angler in action and take some tips away with me as well as a few marks.

Thursday morning the call came in about my car, all sorted :) Things were looking up and since I'd been invited to do a days bassing with fellow lure nut Dave Campbell and his mate Doug, I was in a great mood. Midday came and although my car was now running nicely, Dave had kindly offered to give me a lift there and back which I'd have been silly to refuse. At the mark for around 1pm Dave gave me and Doug a few tips and left us to it. I'd decided to head off to the right where I could see a few kelp beds breaching the surface amidst a few rocky patches, very bassy looking ground. With Dave strongly advising surface lures I got the Seaspin ProQ 120 out and began chucking. The lure was working nicely around the weed and after a dozen or so casts I started feeling confident which always helps. I turned round to see if I could see where the others had gone and sure enough there was Dave, the opposite side of a gully to me with his rod bent over nicely and a schoolie pulling the other way after attacking his frosty, exciting stuff. My first cast after seeing Dave land his 1st of the day I had a rise but the fish completely missed the lure lol. The cast after I worked the same area and up came another fish and missed the lure once again, so I started manically jerking the rod causing the lure to wiggle more tightly. The fish came back for seconds and thirds again missing, before finally at the 4th attempt it was on. A tidy scrap saw me land this lovely conditioned fish above right of just under 48cm and at a guess around the 2.5lb mark, success! The proceeding cast saw me land bass number 2 which was slightly smaller but again fought nicely. This would turn out to be my last bass of the day unfortunately, with just one small pollock being my only other catch. Dave managed a bit more success adding another bass to his tally on the frosty and was having similar trouble to me with fish attacking and missing the lures. I do believe he also caught a launce, a smelt and possibly one more species. Doug was very unucky to blank having hooked and lost a fish, but I think it was fair to say we had all enjoyed the afternoon in a lovely spot. I'm sure it won't be the last session with Dave during my stay in the South.

I arrived back home just before 7, had some munch and decided to head back out. The reason being my granddad is a catch for a means fisherman and thinks releasing a nice bass is a crime, so he was not to happy about me releasing 2 nice plump ones lol. I felt I ought to try and get one for him to keep the peace lol. I chose a venue that I tried last time I was down that had looked extremely bassy. After the walk and climb down I began chucking my katakuchi zonk around and within a dozen casts I had a nice take and pulled in what was now my 3rd bass of the day and thank god it was a keeper at 43cm. In my opinion just about the ideal size as well. I carried on for around 90 minutes landing 3 bass in total, 2 of which had to go back as they were undersized and loosing one at my feet. At the days end I could safely say, I was happy, my granddad was happy and it was time to start organising my gear ready for the Cornish lure festival over the weekend.

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,