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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Jersey and the red mullet mission

Having already visited the channel island of Jersey twice this year, its fair to say I can't keep myself away and this time I was on a personal mission to catch a red mullet, a species which had so far eluded me. To give myself the best chance, I'd been in contact with a mate of mine Dan Ferguson, a Jersey local and good all round angler and we'd arranged to have a long weekend of intense fishing. Please take a minute to check out Dan's blog as well :

Immediately on arrival, it was straight to business and thanks to Rob Dingle, we had some lovely fresh worms to use, thanks again Rob! We hit the mark on the rising tide, myself concentrating all my attention on the red mullet and sole, whilst Dan stuck out a few ray baits on a special rig I'd shown him designed for long casting. It payed off for him as well and after a doggie on his first cast, he was into this cracking blonde ray of 12lb 12oz, which smashed his shore caught PB and gained him some valuable points towards his club competition. This would only be the start of what would turn out to be a damn good weekend for Dan, I think the powers of my hat had somehow transferred to him. Anyhow, the worm baits just weren't producing for me on the night with only a few pout, doggies and a lone pollack to show for my efforts. Dan however had another blonde ray of 12lb 5oz to make a fine brace and after switching to a worm bait, he managed a pout and a sole, the first one I have seen live and a species I'm still on the hunt for.

After a couple of hours sleep it was back out again, this time targeting bass and pollock on the lures. We'd kindly been invited to go out on friend David Sullivan's boat, so would have been rude not to take him up on his offer and he'd picked a prime morning for it. The session turned out to be a good one for me with 6 bass falling to my blue savage gear sandeels, the best going 2lb 11oz, not huge but great fun all the same. David also managed a bass as well as a few pollack. Dan's luck from the previous night had deserted him though and he resorted to last minute wrasse tactics to avoid a dreaded blank.

Back on dry land for 12ish, it was time for Dan's 24 hour club competition and he had his game plan sorted. We first hit a wrasse mark where we'd meet Dan's mate Ritchie and his missus Hannah. Not much was caught with myself getting a small ballan on the SP's and Hannah showing us lads how to do it with a nice wrasse of 3lb+. Dan continued to be out of luck but I kept telling him that it was all building up to be a productive evening session for him...... wouldn't you have guessed it, that's exactly what happened. Fishing a conger mark of Dan's in the evening produced a cracking pollack for him, which doubled his previous shore caught PB, dropping the scales to 7lb 12oz, a real beauty and again some brilliant points towards his club comp. As if that wasn't enough he then landed a conger of 20lb 8oz on the following cast before things went quiet for the night, just one more strap conger being landed and myself narrowly avoiding a blank with the rat of the sea, mr dogfish.

The third day of the Jersey trip came round all to fast. Again just a couple of hours sleep before we again headed out to try and get a wrasse big enough to weigh in for the comp. Dan did manage a few to around the 3lb mark but unfortunately none large enough to meet the qualifying weight. I spent an hour or so venturing further afield with my plugging rod which produced a single schoolie before returning and having a bash at the wrasse myself. In no time it was 11 o'clock and we were off to the weigh in. There was a few really good fish brought to the scales, notably some lovely mullet over 5lbs, a double figure undulate ray, a good rockling and of course red mullet and sole, one of which had been landed by mate Rob Dingle. The plan was then hatched for another shot at the red's and we were joined by Rob for the evening. After a few hours digging worm we headed off once more full of hope. Dan once again landed sole, two of them this time  whilst I had finally got my first new species of the trip, but not the one I was after, it was in fact a 5-bearded rockling (Species 66 of 2012) We also managed a number of pout and doggies but nothing of decent size.

Me looking rather tired with my mullet
Dan also looking tired
It was now the final full day of fishing on my Jersey trip and for the first time, the wind had picked up bringing with it a nice bit of swell. During the morning we found shelter in the harbour and focused our attentions on the mullet, using bread as both a groundbait and hook bait. Dan was first into the fish landing a thick lip of around the 1.5lb mark. After switching to ledger tactics, I was soon hitting into the fish as well, first losing one on the surface and then going on to land two mullet in quick succession. Then they disappeared so we started chucking a few SP's around. Both of us got a few wrasse with Dan getting the pick of the bunch, this fish pictured was roughly 3lbs.

After yet another hours digging we decided we both needed a short rest so off to the pub we went. A pint has rarely tasted so good and it was definitely well deserved. It was over all to soon though and back out we went for one last go at the red mullet. A different mark this time and with a nice swell rolling in, the thoughts were that the bottom would be getting nicely stirred up and fingers crossed, the reds would have moved in to feed. I'd made a few new rigs up for the occasion designed so that all baits would be hard on the bottom and this time i'd blinged up the snoods with luminous beads, a little thing i'd noticed Dan had been using when he'd got his sole. It started much like the other night sessions with pout and dogfish turning up, so after a few hours we had a little chill. Rods went out and we sat back to watch a bit of facejacker on Dan's phone. Half way through the Brian Badonde part my baitrunner started going so I jumped up and hit the run. The fish must have been swimming straight towards me as I couldn't feel anything until close in when it suddenly decided to go the other way and put up a spirited fight. I didn't want to presume anything but I was getting a little excited as this was possibly the fish I'd  been after.

Gritting my teeth I clambered down to the edge of the rocks and lifted it out of the water. There it was, mission over, my first red mullet and a fish I'd put a lot of time and effort into catching, success was sweet. In the heat of the moment and in the spirit of Brian Badonde I just had to scream out 'BBBEESSSSS!' Mine would not be the only one landed either as shortly after mine, Dan pulled one out as well, a good fish at 1lb 11oz and some more valuable points for his club comp and also caught a small bass. I did think I had a second red mullet as well before the session was out, but it was in fact a pollack of around 2lb. With that, the session and my fishing in Jersey came to an end, yet another brilliant trip.

I can't thank Dan enough for his time and effort over the 4 days but left him with a few crates of stella for his troubles. It's great to fish with someone roughly my age that is just as enthusiastic about the sport as I am and it certainly will be great to return to Jersey next year, can't wait. Was great to meet and fish with a few new faces over there as well, Rob and Ritchie for example. Was also good to see the MrFish crew again, Mick, Bob, Mike and Lee. Always great to have a chat with you guys. Until next time though, take it easy and keep catching,

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,