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Friday, November 30, 2012

The end is in sight!

The end of the year is creeping up now and species hunting in particular is getting very difficult. With temperatures starting to plummet, many of the species that have spent the summer around the coastal waters of Britain are now moving off to deeper, more bait rich ground. There are however a few fish I haven't yet landed that are still targetable. To give myself a good chance of bagging a couple of these, I went up to Scotland again, firstly to the Aberdeen area where I would attempt to catch a ling and then to Loch Etive where I'd have a dabble for a spurdog.

So first stop was visiting my mate Ad in
Aberdeen for a long weekend. The promise of good sized cod and a reasonable chance of ling was to good to refuse, so off I went on a 5 hour car drive north, arriving just in time for an evening session. After a quick stretch of the legs and some of Ad's home cooked cod green curry, we were off to the mark. Baiting up with large combinations of macky, black lug, squid and crab it wasn't too long before we had a few taps, whatever it was though was not large enough to inhale the 6/0 hooks we were using. It was a good while before I had my first proper bite which resulted in my first Scottish cod of the trip, unfortunately only a small one at around 1.5lb. The next cast produced another small codling and Ad got off the mark as well. The session came to an end shortly after though when the swell picked up and we had to get off the mark quickly to avoid getting cut off. Over the following few days we tried for the bigger cod again and also ventured up to Peterhead South breakwater, the mark where I'd be targeting a ling. The highlight of these few sessions was a very big tadpole fish for Ad weighing 15.5oz, a species he'd never caught before and only the second one I have seen. The ling proved to be elusive for the duration but I won't give up on catching one just yet.

The long weekend was over before i knew it and a trip down to Edinburgh ensued where I'd be meeting up with good friend and mini-species legend, Scott Hutchison. After a night of rig making and research, the 5am alarm bells rang and we were both up and on our journey to Loch Etive, where we had booked a boat for the day through The aim of the trip was for us both to tick off a new species for the year, myself desperate to get a spurdog and Scott wanting a thornback ray. We arrived in Taynuillt for first light with this scene to greet us and after a chat with the boat owner Doug Bannatyne, we were on our way to our first mark. As expected, the depth in Etive is incredible, even within casting distance from the shore we were in over 100ft of water. We tied up to a buoy and dropped down, as line kept peeling off the spool we were both wondering when we would find bottom but at 185ft we were down there. For 30 minutes the bigger baited hokkai's remained actionless so a change of plan was needed. I tackled up my plugging rod with a one-up one-down rig blinged up with plenty of lumi-beads. A 4oz bomb was all that was needed to hold bottom and in no time at all I had my first fish on. After pumping it up from the depths up came a small thorny, a good way to get off the mark. Next drop
and it was species number 2 for the day,  a lovely grey gurnard and probably the biggest one I've caught to date. Scott had now joined me with the lighter rod and it became a quite productive few hours, the majority of fish being pouting, poor cod or whiting. After a quick spot at another spot during which  I boated another 3 thornies, we decided to go and try a drift by the quarry, it was fruitless. Time was flying by and we were starting to get a little agitated by the constant hoards of manky parasite ridden whiting and poor cod. With just an hour left we headed back to the slipway where we launched just to try and see if Scott could get his thornback. After 20 minutes of nothing I suggested steaming out to the middle of Airds Bay just to see how deep it was. At over 200ft it was the deepest spot we'd fished on the day and I decided to drop down my bigger hokkai baited rig again and leave it. With a
Spurdog : Species 68
 few minutes left Scott landed a bigger whiting and began preparing the engine for motoring back to shore. Whilst he was though, I noticed a few knocks on my rod..... I left it to develop before striking and setting the hooks, fish on. After playing it up for what seemed like forever, we eventually caught sight of it and it was the species i'd come for, a spurdog. Scott quickly grabbed the net and slipped it under my fish, I'd done it, scraped one at the last possible chance and I cannot describe how happy as well as relieved I was. With that came the end of our trip and it was back to Edinburgh.

The morning of my last day in Scotland dawned and due to a drop in the wind, it gave us a chance to get down to Torness once more to try for one of the 2-spot gobies. Both Scott and Jake have had plenty of these little beauties on there previous visits so confidence was high even though it was bloody freezing. Scott kindly donated me one of his mini-fish special hooks, a size 26 tied on 0.5lb fluoro and it was go time. We both scanned the pools for the mini's and within a few seconds I had my first fish, a common goby. Then I noticed a small flounder so informed Scott and left him to try and catch it. Sure enough he did and it brought with it the first sign of a 2-spot. Out from underneath a boulder shot two of them, very interested in my power isome but not willing to take it properly. After trying for ages I nearly gave up but Scott decided to see if he could find me some bait. How he found a ragworm I'll never know but he did within minutes and so on went a slither of fresh worm. Straight away the mini's went for it and in seconds I had what we'd come for, a two-spot goby and my 69th species of the year.

The session and my trip was over, 2 new species and a cracking week in Scotland once again. Both Ad and Scott had been great hosts and I look forward to fishing with them again soon, maybe sooner than they think.  So that leaves me with just 1 species left to catch, but what will it be? Thoughts at the moment are that Ling would probably be the best to target but if your reading this and can see a species I've yet to catch that you can advise me on then please leave a comment.

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,