Myself and Eddie Wong went up to Loch Dornie for a couple of nights, targetting pollack, but the weather soon put paid to that, it poured down relentlessy with high winds so we restricted ourselves to fishing Loch Dornie, where we found thornbacks aplenty with big average sizes too. Eddie started off with a Thornie estimated at 13lbs. We moved to another mark where we were catching a fish a drop until the tide eased. After a good nights sleep, aided by a few beers we returned to the same mark in the morning.
Back at the same mark, I immediately got my best Thornback of the trip of about 12lb, with Eddie catching a codling of about 2lb whilst feathering for mackerel. I caught another Thornback of about 10lb then we decided to pack it up and go home. So all in all, a successful trip (apart from the rain) with plenty of double Thornies, Dogfish, Codling, Whiting, Pollack and Mackerel. It was worth the trip and we will be back!
I had entered the Reel Sea Fishing summer species challenge online earlier in the year and the target is to tick off as many of the species on their list between March and September. I’ve already
caught spurdog and thornback ray earlier this year, but had to catch them again and photograph within the timescales permitted.
The weather forecast was not really favourable for many venues from the boat this weekend, so I opted for my usual winter stomping ground of Loch Sunart – a banker venue for thornbacks and spurries………… or so I thought! My plan was simple. Get up very early and hitch the boat up, early Corran ferry, get out to my usual mark and bang out both species, and then head out further West to anchor up in deeper water and see if I could add a conger eel to my tally.
Rising at 4am, I was on the 6.30 ferry and had lines down near Resipole just over an hour later – and waited, and waited. No spurs at this mark, only LSDs munching my baits every drop. Deciding that a move was in order, I upped anchor and relocated to the world famous “Goldie’s hole” nearer Salen. Sadly, once again no spurs but plenty LSD and small whiting. I did manage a couple of Thornback rays though, so not a complete washout.
Around 1.30 I got the anchor up again and headed down past the fish farms to deeper water nearer to Laga bay. The exact point where I had previously caught a few congers now had three orange buoys from the fish farm on it, so I moved about 50 yards away and got the peg down in 380ft of water. The LSDs were in abundance here too. No matter how big the baits were, they still got wolfed. One other thornback followed, but no congers or spurries to be seen.
I fished two heavy rods (Daiwa TDXS1230 with Daiwa LD50 reels) and a lighter one with smaller baits (Daiwa Kenzaki 12-20 with Daiwa Saltist LD30 twin speed reel). My Loch Sunart standard traces
are 150lb mono with luminous beads crimped hard up against an 8/0 size circle hook. I fish these either in a 2 up/1 down or a 3 down formation. The beads form the biting trace and keep the sharp
spurrie teeth away from the mono.
After re-baiting several times with calamari squid and fresh mackerel, I settled back for a bit of a snooze as it had been a long day. I had just closed my eyes at around 3.55 when I heard a couple of clicks on the ratchet of the saltiest reel. “Luvverly Jubberly” thought I (mistake!). Here comes a nice conger or spurrie thought I (Mistake!). The rod doubled over in the holder with a very familiar nodding and 50lb braid started coming off the reel. A skate had taken my bait – and sods law meant that it was the lighter 12lb class rod!
I’ve had a fair few skate in my time, and it was soon obvious that this one was a decent size. An hour and five minutes of bent rod fun later, I finally managed to get it off of the bottom and a few turns of braid on the line. This was a decent fish and no mistake. My thoughts soon turned to what I would actually do with it when I got it to the surface as I was solo on the boat? I had gaffs out, return net at the ready and a T-bar disgorger, pliers and gloves all close at hand. I had previously managed to land and return a 177lb skate close by in similar circumstances, so knew the score. As the leader knot passed through the top eye of my very tired and well worked rod, I caught a glimpse of the giant white underside of the fish below the boat. Big skate!
As this female came to the surface an hour and forty minutes after first being hooked, I managed to get one gaff in and safely removed the hook. I got the other gaff in cleanly and then had a
couple of goes at lifting the fish in. There comes a time when a man has to admit defeat – and this was it! There was no way this big girl was coming in. Even if I had got it on board, I would have
had to get it back out again after measuring. No chance! A quick selfie pic – which no way showed the true scale of the fish (that gaff is two and a half feet long for comparison) – and it was time
to say goodbye to my new girlfriend and let her return to the deep.
I got the boat cleaned up a bit and decided to return to an earlier mark in the hope of a spurrie, but failed miserably and got packed up around 7.30 after twelve hours afloat. This was not the end of my day though and after a quick call to my DRM (Domestic & Revenue Manageress) – or wife as she is sometimes known, I came up with plan B.
Plan B was to drive home via Loch Etive (and Norie’s chippy in Oban – great haggis supper) and see what conditions were like there. I arrived at Taynuilt bang on low water at 10.40pm as some other
anglers were packing up on Kelly’s pier. I launched the boat around 11pm and made my way up the loch to where the first fish farm was and tied up to a buoy as it was now pitch black. I got all three
rods down and fitted tip lights to aid with bite detection. After around forty minutes or so, I had landed and returned five small spurdogs. My original intention was to stay out for the full tide
which would make recovering the boat fairly easy at 5.30am on Sunday morning, but it had been a long enough shift and I got the boat recovered around 1am without any hassle and was home just after
Long shift, but job done. The RSF Summer Species Challenge hunt details can be found here if anyone else wants to enter;
Scott phoned me on Saturday, saying he had a couple of days off and if I fancied a days fishing, to which I agreed and we decided on fishing the Solway area due to recent reports of decent catches of fish.
So after a 5am start we headed off South to catch the 07.30 low tide. We arrived at the venue to see a reasonably calm sea, although this wasn't to last! - As soon as the tide turned the wind got up and it was nice to take shelter out of the prevailing wind when we could! Fishing at the start as a little quiet, but my reassurances to Scott that it would 'pick up' soon eventually paid off, as if a switch was turned on, the bites started. My rod rattled at what I thought was a flattie bite, holding the rod waiting for another bite, the tip swung round with aggressive force and I struck into a decent weight, my thoughts of fllounder went out the window as I battled a fish to the surface, a nice plump bass of around the 3lb mark. Scott's rod rattled next and he had soon beached a nice brace of 2 flounders, whilst I was attempting to bait a second trace to get back in the water, I looked at my rod to see it bouncing about in the stand - I grabbed it and it was almost pulled out of my hands, struck and battled my first Smoothhound of the day to the shore, not the usual stamp of fish here but still great on light gear, fish of around the 5/6lb mark.
We fished on here till we were washed off our stance and opted to move further round the rocks. Again the bites were fairly instant and it wasn't long before Scott's rod was bouncing in the stand, he struck and was into a nice bend in his rod. After a short tussle, he beached his first 'shore caught' smoothound, again around the 5/6lb mark, couple of photo's then released. The fishing was constant from here on with a fish a cast, pretty much as soon as the bait hit the water. We tried our luck with heavier rods, baited with mackerel in the hope of a Tope, but only managed several dogfish. A great days fishing with plenty of fish and Scott accomplishing his goal of catching a smoothie from the shore. We fished about an hour of the drop and decided to head home.
As the club match was put back. Robert nico Shane and myself went fishing on Saturday. We went on a species hunt. Shane managed a plaice but Robert hooked into a Tope about 25lbs and lost it at the top of the water it snapped his hook line. Then he had another one on and landed it. It weighted at 18lbs 02ozs. Nico had a few founders and missed 2 Tope runs fished the tide up to high tide nothing else then we headed home. JW
Stephen and myself opted for a wee session down near Kirkudbright on the Bank holiday Sunday 24th May - weather forecast was for North westerly winds 15 - 25mph fishing a flooding tide.
We arrived at the venue and had a wee scout about of the area, the wind that was forecast was somewhat greater than originally specified, I would say it was more like 25-40mph and blowing pretty much straight from the North. Unfortunately with that direction it pretty much scuppers most venues, so we stuck it out anyway.
We set up our rods and put the first couple of baits out in the sea, of course you're always full of high hopes at a good venue for a bite on the first cast, or maybe the 2nd! - but alas not this day, fishing was somewhat slow to say the least, with in most cases the baits were coming back in, in pretty much the same fashion they went out! I opted for a wee move 100 yards along the shore, try something different! - Stephen stayed where we were and after about 10 minutes of me moving I hear a scream of delight!! and see him struggling to wind in a weight on his line, pulling from the surf was a nice plump bass, upon weighing it it topped the scales at 9lb 1oz, after a couple of photos it was released back into the sea.
This was pretty much it from then on, apart from Stephen managing a small flounder. We retreated out of the wind finally into a wee shingly bay where it was just nice to be out of the wind for a change. It wasn't until we had decided to pack up and leave as the tide had just turned that I got my first bite of the day. Turned out to be a wee plump flounder, I packed this rod away and turned to my second rod only to see a nice wee thump on that, striking I bring in a dogfish, on that note we pack up and head home!
Despite a low attendance from club members the visit went ahead. First we visited the coastguard station. Where Alex took us through all the procedures and duties the Coastguard team undertakes, from coastal incidents and also to inland search and rescue. Pictured here was the cliff lifting equipment, which Alex explained to us how it was set up and used.
Then it was across the road to the lifeboat station where again we were taken through all the procedures and duties that these guys, who are all volunteers, undertake. An added bonus was we were taken out in the lifeboat. One of the crew was wearing a dry suit so we were shown a man overboard procedure where one of the crew kindly jumped into the water twice! To show us how they go about rescuing bodies from the sea. We were shown the innards of the cockpit with all the dials and machinery that goes on inside, from radar and sonars to radio frequency directors, It was prety interesting as to what all the equipment does.
All in all it was an excellent night and hopefully we'll not need the assistance from these guys but it is comforting to know that they are there.