Saturday, 30 June 2012

From dusk till dawn.

Jake and I headed down to Torness Power Station midweek to have a go for bass during dusk and dawn and to fish around at the inlet during darkness to see what might be around. When we arrived the tide was on its way out and there were a couple of other people fishing. There was a fair swell running and the waves were coming up over the reef. We setup, waded out a bit onto the reef and started fishing just as light started to fade, although due to heavy cloud cover and mist it was already pretty dim anyway. I opted for a bombarda and tiny Slug-Go whilst Jake went with a baby Slug-Go on a jighead. After a few casts I had a knock and then Jake hooked a bass. We both thought that this would signal the start of a period of action but it didn't. After Jake lost some end gear in the gulley he was working which was begining to empty a bit we moved for a while to another spot on the reef. This didn't produce anything after a while so we decided to head around to the inlet area.

Upon arrival we started fishing from the helicopter platform. I set up a two hook flapper rig, put on a couple of Gulp! Sandworms and lobbed it out in the hope that something maybe be moving around on the bottom under the cover of darkness. Jake meanwhile did a spot of LRF and soon caught a small pollock. We then heard splashing in the shadows directly below us and Jake was soon catching the culprits, small coalfish.

More active at night, coalfish are good fun on ultra light gear.

Whilst Jake continued having fun with the coalfish, with the odd pollock taking his green Power Isome too, I was getting a few taps on my rod and decided to reel in to check the lures. Both were bitten off up to the hook so I knew there were a few crabs around at least! I switched over to some larger red Gulp! 6" Nightcrawlers to put a bit more scent into the water and hopefully prevent the crabs from eating them so quickly. Once those were out on the bottom I decided to have a go for a coalfish with my 2' Ron Thompson Ice Fishing rod for a laugh. After a bit of perseverance I finally hooked one but it didn't really put that much of a bend into the little rod. It's obviously tougher than I thought! After a decent rattle on my rod I reeled in only to find the lures half destroyed by the crabs again so we decided to have a quick go in the rockpools where I'd caught a few long spined sea scorpions and the leopard spotted gobies earlier in the week. There was very little activity though but we did spot a few fish darting around and Jake managed to catch one sea scorpion. We then headed back around to the outflow for dawn.

With the tide almost fully out and nobody else around we were in his spirits. The sky was still overcast though and it was still pretty misty. We both started off fishing baby Slug-Gos on jigheads, casting up the current and working them back close to the bottom but neither of us had any luck. I decided to try a few hard lures and after trying a Maria Chase BW in Holo and a I decided to try a cheap lure I picked up for £5 at the North Wales bumble. I'd never used it before so was pleasantly surprised when on the third cast a small bass took it.

My first bass on a hard lure for quite some time!

I called Jake over and he quickly switched over to his favourite Yo-Zuri Pins Minnow. A few casts later and he was in too. Jake caught another two bass in fairly quick succession on it and I had a couple of knocks too but after that the action stopped again. By this point it was fairly light, although we didn't get to enjoy a nice sunrise due to all the clouds and mist! We fished on for another hour or so but by this point we were both pretty tired so we headed back up the road.

Tight lines, Hutch.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Sunday bass session.

On Sunday we headed down into East Lothian to try for bass. The wind had switched to the west which meant much calmer seas to fish! We had planned on meeting some friends and fellow The Lure Forum members at the mark. When we arrived we met up with Martin Allison, who had already caught a couple of bass on a soft plastic lure. After saying hello Scott and I both rigged up with 4.5" Slug-Gos in Arkansas Shiner mounted on 10.5g 2/0 AGM Football jigheads. As on our previous sessions we cast cross current and allowed the lure to trickle back along the bottom with a gentle retrieve. The action was fast and furious, Martin had just landed another bass when I felt the familiar taps of an interested fish. I resisted the urge to strike and allowed the bite to develop. Tap, tap whack! Fish on, and my first bass of the session was soon landed after a fun fight in the current!

The first of many.

Meanwhile Scott had switched to a bombardo and small white eel setup and quickly hooked up and landed a bass and the action kept on going with a steady stream of schoolies flinging themselves at the lures. The bigger fish were proving elusive but I kept with the Slug-Go, even though it meant I was getting fewer fish, in the hope I could winkle out one of the bigger bass. Scott meanwhile was enjoying the action and was now trying 3" Slug-Gos fished on the bombarda with great effect. A few more fish fell to that and then when the action slowed down he switched back to the small eel which had the disired effect, more bass! Meanwhile two more The Lure Forum members, Richie Walton and Paul Mouat had pitched up and were soon landing schoolies too! My friend Richie from Eyemouth also turned up to try for his first bass. After trying some Slug-Gos he rigged up a small 8g metal jig and within a few casts was into his first bass! He was really pleased and landed a further three more before he had to leave. After landing his 14th bass of the session Scott then decided to go after the blennys and it wasn't long before he had caught his 200th blenny of the year.

Blenny #200 of 2012 for Scott.

After catching a couple more fish on the 3.5" Sluggo I then swapped over to my LRF kit and rigged up a 3" Slug-Go on a 2.3g #8 Shirasu Fine jighead. As the bigger fish seemed to be absent I decided to enjoy some fun catching schoolies! They are good sport on the LRF kit, each one giving a good account of themselves in the current. The action continued for another hour before the fish moved off and although we landed nothing larger than 2lb it was great great fun! Can't wait to go back and do it again!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Slug-Go delivers yet again including another PB!

With the conditions looking good yesterday Jake and I headed down the coast for an early morning bass session. When we arrived the tide was ebbing and would turn in a few hours time. Armed with bass gear, a load of Slug-Gos and some of the new Hogy Sandeels, we started lobbing them around and it wasn't long before Jake had picked up where he left off last time and soon had the bass munching his Slug-Go as he worked it through the current.

Slug-Go strikes again!
Jake soon landed a second slightly bigger fish.

Next it was my turn. I cast out across the current and worked the Slug-Go back towards a submerged rock feature and as it passed it I felt a solid take. Rod with a nice bend in it I started reeling it in. Apart from a few rather gentle head shakes the fish was guided up into a gully with the aid of a wave and landed very quickly and I was actually quite surprised by its size!

Didn't put up much of a fight but at just over 54cm and 3lb 12oz this was a new PB!
A quick kiss before returning it!

Jake continued catching a steady stream of decent sized bass but as I wasn't, I decided to switch over to a Hogy Sandeel and hooked a bass almost straight away. It put up a great fight and I thought it may be better than my first so was surprised when it turned out to be a very feisty fish of only about 2lb. Shortly afterwards I hooked another fish and thought it fought a bit differently to my first two fish so I didn't know what to expect size wise! I certainly was however expecting to see another bass and was surprised to find out it was in fact a small pollock.

My first ever pollock from this mark fell to a Hogy Sandeel.

Meanwhile Jake was on a roll and clearly has working a Slug-Go down to a fine art and soon had caught his 50th bass of 2012. I carried on practising my technique! Jake then got bored of all the bass he was catching and decided to catch something else.

Jake catches the second pollock of the day.

The tide turned and it was at this point that a large shoal of bass began chasing tiny sandeels very close in and feeding on the surface right in front of us. A few other people fishing with controller floats and small white eels seemed to be catching smaller schoolies whilst Jake's Slug-Go was still sorting out the better fish. Whilst Jake continued catching several bass about the 2lb mark and I was trying to get my Slug-Go to do likewise, Jake hooked another bigger fish and after putting up a very good fight with several spirited runs he landed it with the help of a wave.

Jakes best bass of the day. 53cm and 3lb 14oz.

Sortly afterwards all my persistence with the Slug-Go finally paid off and I caught my third bass of the session. It gave a very good account of itself in the current which had me thinking it was a better fish than it actually was.

My third bass of the session. Despite being the smallest fish we caught at about 1.5lb it put up a good scrap in the current.
My Slug-Go skills are improving steadily!

The action died off considerably after this and after fishing on for a while we called it a day. An absolutely superb session with the Slug-Gos yet again sorting out the better sized fish. A new PB for me and also a fish each over 50cm that we can both enter into the Team Bass 2012 competition being run on The Lure Forum. We also saw a few mullet grazing in the weed beneath our feet and a couple of shoals of small sea trout swimming by so I dare say next trip along with more bass they'll also be in our sights on some ultra light tackle!

Tight lines, Hutch.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Dunbar rockhopping and mini species hunt.

Jake and I headed down to Dunbar yesterday to try for wrasse and pollock at the back of the harbour. We clambered around on the rocks to the east and west of the new harbour for a couple of hours but unfortunately there was no sign of any fish despite us lobbing a Slug-Go or two around and dropping Power Isome down the sides.

No fish being caught but watching the boats come and go and the nice weather was quite relaxing.

We decided to spend the last hour of the session doing a spot of mini species hunting inside the harbour and the usual suspects were caught at the usual spots, some of which Jake and I have given names.

I caught this long spined sea scorpion near the mouth of the harbour.
"Blenny Corner" open for business again. This one took my Isome.
Jake avoids a blank thanks to this cheeky little chap!

Jake then spotted a long slender fish which we're sure was a 15 spined stickleback and he had a very frustrating time trying to tempt it with a small chunk of Power Isome, but it soon dissapearred beneath the floating bladderwrack that was growing on the harbour wall. I then popped around to the old harbour for ten minutes to another little hot spot. 

Just before we left I quickly teased this bigger blenny out from beneath "Shellfish Falls".

Not the most productive session we've enjoyed recently and the lack of fish over the back was a bit dissapointing but the mini species saved us from blanking again and as always brought a smile to our faces!

Tight lines, Hutch.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Bass PB smashed by Slug-Go!

Scott and I both had an afternoon to spare yesterday so we elected to head down the coast in search of bass. The easterly wind had dropped off a bit and as we drove past Portobello beach the sea was quite calm, this boded well for an ultra light approach. When we got to our mark the sea however had other ideas! A combination of the days of onshore winds, currents, the reef and ebbing tide had created some big, grey, angry North Sea waves. The previous few sessions at this mark had also been conducted in rough conditions and Slug-Gos had been working so I planned to continue with the same approach. Scott had been keen to experiment with Slug-Gos fished weightless and as he had just had his beloved Nories Rockfish Bottom Ultra Light with him decided to stick with this LRF approach. I had my newly repaired Graphiteleader Corto EX LRF set up so started alongside Scott except instead of a Slug-Go I was using a Small Power Isome on a 2.3g Shirasu fine jig head. 

After a few minutes it quickly became apparent that the conditions were stacked against LRF bass fishing so we decided to change tactics. I geared up my heavier rod with a 4.5" Slug-Go in Arkansas Shiner, mounted on a AGM 10.5g #2/0 Football jighead and began to work the lure in the strong surf and currents. I was experimenting with a minimalist retrieve, this was just a case of casting up tide and allowing the lure to sink slowly with the current whilst retrieving just enough to maintain contact with the lure. As I feel the lure tapping the bottom I would give a couple of twitches up and then allow the lure to fall back. After about 20 minutes of fishing, pausing briefly to educate some anglers on the minimum size bass regulations, I had my first bite. The fish attacked as the lure swung around in the current and did its best to use the big waves to escape. Soon it was up on the surface and ready to be landed. It was just a small bass and it wallowed below me as I waited for a wave to help me land it. The bass took full advantage of the pause and shook its head, spat the lure and was gone. I wasn't too disappointed as I was sure there would be more around so continued to fish on. A few minutes later I hooked and lost another small bass in a similar way to the first fish. Slightly frustrated but pleased by the action i carried on working the Slug-Go. Third times a charm and a few casts later another small schoolie was brought to my feet only this time a large wave helped out and it was soon at my feet. I had a hold of the leader and Scott laughed and told me to get a hold of the fish before I lost it! It did spit the lure as I grabbed it but was going nowhere this time!

Third time lucky.

Scott meanwhile had been working a weightless Slug-go in the current but the conditions were proving too rough to work the lure properly and he was struggling to get the lure down to any depth. He then rigged up a 3" Jewel Bait Sculpin Hypertail lure in Rootbeer Pepper on an AGM 3.5g #2 Finesse jighead and began casting up the current and working it back, twitching it along the sea bed. It wasn't long before Scott's rod hooped over and his first bass of the session was hooked! The bass, all be it a small, put up a good fight on his light gear which brought a big smile to Scott's face. Soon the fish was below him but again while waiting for a wave to help land it the fish shook its head and spat the lure! Scott was far from being disappointed though and found it hilarious that the cute blenny imitation had caught a bass and fished on.

About 20 minutes later I had a gentle bite and struck into a much heavier fish! The Rod hooped over and the fish started to strip some line kiting away in the current. Then after a couple more runs the fish started to come to the surface. This was proving quite a tricky fish to land and it used the receding swell to try to dive back to cover. The fish came into view and it was apparent that it was a really good fish. Soon it was beaten and lay below me in the swell. Eventually after a couple of aborted attempts a wave lifted the fish up over the ledge and there in my hands lay a beautiful silver dream! A new PB Bass of 59.5cm and weighing 4lb 12oz! After a few photos I released the fish and watched as she swam strongly away into the churning water.

Big Barry. Caught at last!
The bass recovers slightly in a shallow pool.
A final trophy shot before releasing the fish.

I was blown away by it and really happy to break my PB so early in the year! It was also extremely satisfying to get it on a Slug-Go as I had been convinced this would sort out the bigger fish eventually and it's always good when a plan comes together! Scott had switched back over to a Slug-Go this time rigged on an AGM 7g #3/0 Shaky jighead and after trying a few different ways of working it was soon into a bass! Again the schoolie fought like a tiger on the light gear but was soon landed with the help of a wave and there lay Scott's first bass on a Slug-Go!

Scott's third fish on a Slug-Go in a week. He's cracked it!

Another target achieved Scott's blenny sense started tingling and off he went to the nearby rockpools to offer them some Power Isome, quickly racking up twelve blennies and a long spined scorpion in the process.

Scott loves blennies. He just can't resist them!
Blennies love Power Isome! Even tiny ones can't resist it!
The odd long spined scorpion manages to muscle in amongst all the blennies!

Soon it was time to head home and as we headed back to the car we discussed my new bass PB and Scott hooking a bass on the blenny like Sculpin Hypertail lure and the need to try them again, perhaps getting a larger size and fishing them on heavier jigheads. I couldn't help but feel that we had done very well to get any bass in the conditions let alone a new PB! But boy am i glad I did!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Monday, 11 June 2012

All along the towpath.

Jake and I met up yesterday afternoon for a couple of hours up the Union Canal targeting pike with our favourite soft plastic, the deadly 9.5cm Savage Gear Soft 4Play in Dirty Roach. Both of us elected to lob them with ultra light tackle and fish them using the weightless Savage Gear "Ready to fish" rigs. 

The weather was overcast and there was the odd light shower but despite this the water was quite clear so I thought it looked promising and hopefully the pike wouldn't be as lethargic as they had been last time when the sun was shining brightly. We worked our way along the towpath and things were very slow with no signs of any activity at all until we reached a point where we had seen a few pike during our last trip. Jake had a follow but like last time the fish seemed a little lethargic, just following behind the lure then stopping and staring at it without actually striking. Jake had a few more casts to try and tempt it but it eventually swam back under the overhanging branches of the tree it had come out from. I had a couple of casts to the other side of the tree and felt what I thought was a snag but then it started to strip some line. Fish on, but it didn't feel quite right and the fight was strange. Only when the pike came into view did we realise it was foul hooked in the underside of its jaw. I played it carefully to the edge so as not to rip the hooks out and damage the fish and Jake chinned it out for me.

At last!

We fished the area for a bit longer but had no further action so we doubled back and started heading towards the car. Again there was no any sign of any fish for a while. We got about half way back to the car when I hooked a second fish at a spot where I'd hooked and lost a big fish several weeks ago. A very subtle take but the pike was hooked in the corner of the mouth this time and put up a spirited little fight before Jake chinned it out and we unhooked it over on the grass.

Slightly bigger second fish. Same happy bloke.

Savage Gear 4 Play in Dirty Roach destroyed I switched over to the Perch colour and we carried on. A bit further along Jake had a follow from a decent perch so he quickly scaled down and rigged up a Gulp! 1" Minnow on a small jighead and tried to tempt it again but unfortunately had no luck doing so. Time was soon up and we headed back to the car. Quite a contrast to all the action we had during our last session on the canal and a rare blank for Jake.

Tight lines, Hutch.

Friday, 8 June 2012

West coast wrasse hunt.

On Tuesday we teamed up with our friend and fellow The Lure Forum member Martin Allison planning to target some wrasse species. Martin had very kindly offered to take us to some marks that had produced goldsinny, rock cook, corkwing and ballan wrasse. We were all looking to increase our species tally for the year and it was a great opportunity to meet up again and fish together.

I picked Scott up at 05:30 and we headed through to Greenock which was to be our first port of call. After just over an hours drive we arrived at the marina and met Martin. He was already fishing using bait for the mini wrasse at this mark and we would soon joined in gishing small lures using our LRF gear. Scott and I both went with Power Isome mounted on jigheads, I used a 2.3g #8 Shirasu Fine and Scott was on a 1.8g #10 Decoy Rocket.

We started by dropping our lures down the side of the walls and jigging them next to the kelpy growth. After a few minutes Martin called us over to show us the first goldsinny wrasse of the day! He was fishing a paternoster with #10 hooks baited with tiny sections of ragworm and after a pic or two, the fish was released. Great stuff, we knew our target species were around, now all we had to do was persuade them to have a go on the lures.

Martin shows us how its done with this goldsinny wrasse.

Next it was Scott's turn to hook a fish and I looked round to see his Diaflash rod hooped over. By the bend in his rod we could tell it was no small wrasse and soon a feisty wee pollock was landed!

Scott's first fish of the session, a scrappy little pollock

This continued to be the pattern for the next half hour with Martin landing a string of goldsinnys and dabs and Scott landing another couple of little pollock. I was starting to get a bit frustrated by this stage so I scaled down further to a 1.8g #10 Decoy Rocket jighead and rigged a section of red Gulp! Sandworm on it. We started to fish over the kelp which was now being covered by the flooding tide. Scott was taking a much more vertical approach while I was casting and bouncing the lure across the top of the kelp. I started to get a few taps as the tiny wrasse shot out of the kelp and had a go at the lure but I just couldn't get them to hook up. Scott gave a shout and was into a small wrasse. It turned out to be a corkwing which had the good grace to stay hooked as it was swung up the wall.

Scott's first ever corkwing wrasse.

Brilliant! A new species for an extremely pleased Scott and it was quickly photographed and returned. Martin then landed a corkwing too as well as a steady stream of Goldsinnys. Scott then winkled out a long spined sea scorpion from the kelp, much to Martin's surprise as they are not that commonly caught at this mark.

This little blighter had bolted into the kelp and Scott was lucky to get him out of it!
A quick throat shot for comparison against the Short Spined specimen Scott caught up at Portree.

With mounting frustration I went smaller still and put on a 1g #12 jig head from AGM discount Tackle, this I rigged with a Berkley Gulp! 1" Fish Fry. I went over to near where Scott was fishing and noticed two large boulders beneath my feet. I dropped the lure down in between them and soon saw a tiny goldsinny poke its head out and grab the lure, only to quickly spit it out before I could react! Argh! This game of "tease the angler" continued for about 20 minutes until I finally hooked it! It was reeled and lifted up with the utmost care and there in my hand lay my first ever goldsinny wrasse! I was very pleased to get of the mark with one of our target species at last!

I have you now!

Scott really wanted a Goldsinny too and spent ages trying to tempt one only to experience the frustration I had just endured! I meanwhile was after a corkwing and had swapped back to the Decoy Rocket jighead with a chunk of Gulp! Sandworm.

Two wrasse wranglers in action.

We were running out of time as we had to leave to go to another mark for bigger ballan wrasse. Scott had now downsized to a size 18 hook, 0.8g split shot and tiny section of pink Power Isome and was still being teased mercilessly by the goldsinnies. I was working my lure across the kelp when a small fish darted out of the kelp and grabbed the lure, fish on and my first corkwing this year was soon landed! Martin did the honours with a photo then we released the fish.

My first corkwing of 2012.

Just as Martin and I were breaking down our tackle in readiness to move we heard a triumphant "Yes!". Scott had hooked and landed a goldsinny although it fell of the hook and very nearly wiggled back to the sea! Luckily Scott reacted quickly enough to grab it for a quick souvenir shot!

Second new species for Scott. Look at those teeth!

We then headed half an hour down the road to our next mark in the hope of targeting ballan wrasse. The weather had really improved by this point and it was pleasantly warm and bright. The mark was very nice looking indeed with clear water covering big boulders, fingers of rock and bands of kelp, classic wrasse habitat. Martin gave us a quick tour showing us likely areas and then tackled up with a float set up to try to establish if there were any wrasse around. I decided to have a play with a 4.5" Slug-Go on a 10.5g jighead. After a few casts I started getting some knocks as I was retrieving the lure over a large boulder. Next cast again I got a couple of knocks so I stopped the retrieve and just let the lure sit still on top of the boulder. Tap, tap ... Whack! A wrasse grabbed the Slug-Go and zoomed off to my left, I struck and my lure flew off to my right! Close but no cigar! I then went back to the LRF gear as Martin had been landing a few small pollock! I rigged the 2.3g #8 Shirasu Fine jighead with a red medium Power Isome and was soon into some more small pollock! The biggest going about 1.5lb which put a good bend in the Corto EX and a big smile on my face! Scott meanwhile was having a bash for mackerel to see if they had started arriving and managed to catch one before carefully unhooking it and releasing it with minimal hand contact. After my tenth pollock I decided to go and fish further along the mark where Martin had just caught a ballan wrasse, Scott opted to keep fishing where he was, switching to his LRF gear and a baby Slug-Go and was soon into a small pollock as I headed along, his first ever fish on a Slug-Go! By the time I had reached Martin he had caught another ballan of about 2lb and needing no further encouragement I started to target them again!

Still using my LRF gear I went with a red Gulp! Sandworm on the jighead and started casting and retrieving it amongst the weedy gullies. A few casts later I had a sudden take and the fish powered off arching the light rod over. This time the hook held and after a fun fight my first ballan of 2012 was landed! After a spiky photograph the fish was released leaving me feeling extremely pleased!

Lovely subtle turquoise markings on this dark brown ballan.

Scott meanwhile was making his way towards us poking around in some gullies and rockpools looking for any mini species that they might hold. I continued to fish on and 10 minutes later had another bite and hooked into a much bigger fish. The rod bent in a good arc and I really had to apply pressure to bully the fish up. It then made a powerful run towards some large rocks before I turned it. It was another ballan and as it came into view through the clear water it looked like a new PB! After one more line stripping run it was beaten and came in to my hands waving its pectoral fins in greeting! Fantastic! My new biggest ballan measuring 35cm and a really good fight on my light set up!

My new PB ballan wrasse.

Scott had joined us by this stage and while I was re-rigging I heard a tell tale whoop and Scott was into his first ballan of the day! His Diaflash rod was really bent over and he really had to work hard to keep the powerful wrasse from diving into the rocks! After a good battle Scott landed a lovely 36cm ballan wrasse and a new PB

Another PB! Scott was thrilled!

What a session it was turning out to be, even when the tip of my Corto EX broke as I was casting, it still couldn't put a dampener on it. I went back to my heavier gear and started playing with the Slug-Gos again. Martin had changed over to an AGM 3" Stick Worm in Junebug on a 3.5g jighead and was trying for wrasse. This instead saw him find a seam of big pollack and he started to land some good fish! The biggest was a lovely bronze 4lber which really ripped some line off his reel and put a good bend in his Century HPR before it was finally landed.

Martin's best pollock put a great fight.

I however could only muster a tiny pollack on an Ecogear Aqua Swim Shrimp, but I was quite pleased with this as I had never caught on this lure before. Scott then announced he wanted some mackerel for his dinner and using some form of voodoo and a Savage Gear Psycho Sprat almost instantaneously caught two big mackerel.

Scott's dinner quickly sorted!

Martin and I joined in and cast to the horizon in search of them but we didn't have Scott's luck locating them and failed to catch any mackerel. That was about the last action of the day and we headed back extremely pleased with ourselves!

A fantastic days fishing and many thanks to Martin who made it all possible with his craft and knowledge of the marks!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Edinburgh : Street Piking

On Monday Scott and I found ourselves in the vicinity of the Union Canal due to a job we were doing. With the work over by 11.00 and having had the foresight to bring our tackle, we headed to the canal for a short session. I went with my LRF kit, my 7'9" Graphiteleader Corto Ex rod, Shimano Technium 3000SFC reel spooled with Sunline Super PE 0.6 braid and Scott went with a heavier setup of his 9' Daiwa Powermesh X-Spin rod, Daiwa Exceler X-3000 reel spooled with 20lb Power Pro braid.

When we got to the canal we were surprised to see the water was crystal clear! This is very unusual as the canal is normally a pretty murky place and is constantly stirred up by the barges that travel along it. The clear water and bright sunshine meant we could see all the features we normally fish over such as tangles of mountain bikes, traffic cones, shopping trolleys and the odd lamp post!

We both went with the same lure, a Savage Gear 9.5cm Soft 4Play in Dirty Roach, but with 2 different approaches. Scott rigged his with an AGM 7g #2/0 Ultra Ball jighead and I rigged mine weightless on the Savage Gear "ready to fish " single treble hook rig. We began working our lures along the canal and it was great to see them working in the clear water. The lures are so life like that small roach were following the lure about trying to shoal up with it! It wasn't long before Scott spotted a Jack lazily following his lure across the canal. It stopped following and hung motionless in the middle of the canal, Scott made another cast bringing the lure right past it with a slow twitched retrieve but the pike just turned and looked at it before swimming slowly back to the reeds. Frustrating but exiting to be able to see the pikes reactions to the lure! A few minutes later, while searching the far bank with my lure a jack suddenly fired out from the reeds and seized the lure. He shook his head and instantly spat the lure out then went and sulked in the weeds. I consoled myself with the fact that at least this pike had played ball and continued to fish on.

As we both worked our way down the canal we kept getting follows from pike but they were very lethargic and the bright clear conditions were not helping even though it made it pleasant to fish in! 12 pike follows later and half a mile down the canal a young guy approached me saying he could see a wee jack sitting in a reed bed. He showed me where it was and left me to get on with it. The jack was very small, so I rigged up Berkley gulp 1" minnow on a Ecogear 2.3g #8 Shirasu Fine jighead. I cast over him and brought the lure past him with a twitchy slow retrieve. In a flash he seized it, I set the hook and he tried to dive back into the weed bed but being tiny I just reeled him in! Unfortunately the little pike had other ideas and just as I was about to lift him out launched into a little tail walk and threw the hooks!

Meanwhile Scott had been experimenting with some other lures and had manged to get a couple of jacks to attack but with the same results as me, no hook ups. I decided to stick with the micro lures and see if the small perch we had passed were interested. Scott pointed out yet another tiny jack lurking right in close to the reeds. Needing no encouragement I jigged the little lure in front of his face and he totally nailed it! I quickly lifted him out of the water and held possibly the smallest pike I have ever caught!

This micro pike is my new personal worst!

Oh well at least the blank was off! A few minutes later a wee perch fell for the minnow, my first ever perch from the Union Canal! Brilliant! I have a real soft spot for perch no matter how small.

My first Union Canal perch, perfection in miniature.

Another ten minutes later I had another slightly larger jack on the Gulp! 1" Minnow who gave a spirited little fight on my light gear before he was unhooked, photographed and released.

This jack couldn't resist a Berkley Gulp! 1" Minnow!

As we approached our starting point I changed lures and went back to the soft 4 play to try and tempt the first fish I saw again. I had just cast my lure beneath an over hanging tree on the far bank and given a couple of twitches when an unseen pike shot out at speed and grabbed the lure! This time he was well hooked and tore off heading for the reeds. It was a better fish and put a nice bend in my rod. The reel played its part too, with the smooth drag giving line as he darted for cover. After a couple of runs and some impressive tail walking he was soon landed, photographed and returned.

This pike though small put up a great fight on the LRF gear.

It was a bigger pike about 2.5lb which was enormous fun on my light gear! The pike had torn the Soft 4Play off its mount and it was no where to be seen, so I reached into my back pocket for my little lure box. It wasn't there! I checked my other pockets with that horrible cold realisation that my little treasure trove was no longer in my possession! I quickly ran back along the canal to where I remembered last having it but sadly I couldn't find it. In all likelihood someone had found it and taken it! It was a blow to lose some of my lures and I had a few that I'd owned for years in the box. I doubt whoever found it would appreciate what they had.

Oh well It was still an enjoyable few hours and although someone had made off with some of my lures and Scott had blanked it was still good to experience the clear water action of the canal. It beats working all day that's for sure!

Tight lines, Schogsky.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Loch Lubnaig : Char quest continues!

Jake and I had a job to finish yesterday that gave us the opportunity to visit Loch Lubnaig again. Jake's not the type to ever admit defeat and he has a score to settle with the resident arctic char population who have been tormenting him recently.

We arrived and headed straight to the spot where I caught two of them last time we fished it. Same tactics were employed, ultra light gear and pink Jackson Cymos which the fish  in the loch love. After a while with no action at all we decided to head up the loch towards a weedy spot where Jake caught a few perch last time with the intention of return to the starting point later. We reached the area and started working the lures through the weed beds. I quickly became annoyed having to pull the lure through the weed and weed off the lure so I switched to a weedless Decoy Violence jighead and a 2.5" Lunker City Fin-S shad in Watermelon Candy Shad.

Still no action so we decided to head a bit further along the bank to a spot we've never tried before. The water was a bit deeper here and immediately in front of us to bottom was a fairly clean boulder field but a bit further out was a large weed bed. We started working along this and as Jake was retrieving his lure it was hit very close in by a perch, just in front of him. His drag was set lightly so the little perch started stripping line much to our amusement. He was enjoying this little scrap and I jokingly told him to tightened up before it spooled him! After a quick photo it was returned to grow bigger.

This cheeky perch gave Jake an epic battle.
Jake then caught another two in quick succession. Again both of them taking the lure very close in, probably following it in from the weeds before striking.

Another stripey fish falls to the pink Jackson Cymo.
Jake makes it a hat trick of perch.

Meanwhile I was not getting any attention on my Lake Fork Live Baby Shad in Golden Shiner on a 3.5g #4 AGM Finesse jighead so I decided to start heading back to where we started to try for trout and arctic char whilst Jake happily continued targeting perch.

I got back to where we started and carried on with the soft plastics retrieving them very slowly with a few pauses and twitches. After quite a while I was beginning to think I was going to blank when I felt a little jolt and hooked a small perch quite close in just beyond the drop off. This was my first perch from Loch Lubnaig so I was quite pleased.

My first Loch Lubnaig perch! Due to the absence of pike the loch holds some huge perch, or so we've been told.

At this point Jake came back around to rejoin me and asked what I had caught. I told him it was a char..., pausing briefly to wind him up before adding, ...ming little perch. Luckily he saw the funny side.

Then as we we were fishing we heard a low pitched drone. Over the horizon came a bomber. Flying very low it flew over our heads before heading up the loch and north up the glen. Obviously on a radar avoidance training exercise. An awesome sight indeed!

The bomber approaches.

With Jake's focus now switched back to targeting arctic char, he waded out a bit and began working along the bank. This time in the opposite direction down the loch. I headed past him, and very quietly past the group of relaxing highland cow bulls that live in the field next to the loch, to some rocks a bit further along next to the road.

Highland cow bulls including a jet black one. Just looks weird!

I climbed up onto them to survey the area. It looked it may hold a few perch. Fairly deep and a few weeds but instead of large beds they were a bit more spaced out, perfect I thought! I started working my lure through the gaps very slowly. Moving along the rocks exploring the gaps in the weeds. Again as the lure was close in I hooked a perch. It was very small, yet had managed to get most of the lure into it's greedy little mouth! It took me a bit longer to unhook it so I put it straight back without taking a photo. A few cast later I caught another, slightly bigger perch.

With no pink vibe lures wizzing by to distract them, the perch were loving the Lake Fork Live Baby Shad in Golden Shiner.
Lovely fins.Some odd scars on it though. Perhaps from a monster Lubnaig perch!

Meanwhile Jake had also caught another two perch, a small brown trout and had also hooked another two brown trout that had thrown the hooks but alas the arctic char were not playing ball again.

Another nice perch for Jake.
Tell your cousins that Jake will be back for them!

Looks like another, perhaps longer visit will be on the cards soon. I know what Jake will be targeting, I on the other hand may take some "heavier" lure gear and throw some larger soft plastics to try and tempt out a bigger perch!

Tight lines, Hutch.