Sunday, August 20, 2017

Overdue.

This post is overdue. Downloading and then uploading over three and a half thousand photos from Photobucket to Blogger and then editing over seven thousand links in five years' worth of posts has been time consuming. Anyway, earlier this year I felt catching up with me mate Lee was overdue so I was happy when an opportunity arose for him to come up to work at the Edinburgh Angling Centre open weekend in his capacity as Tronix pro staff. Of course some time off after the event was sorted out so we could go away fishing for a few days. The weather was very kind to us after the open weekend at the start of last month so we decided to go off on a little tour of Northern Scotland. Before heading up north however we headed west to catch a few grey gurnards on light game tackle and then visited a second mark in Oban to try and catch some rock cook wrasse, a species Lee had never caught before. At Kelly's Pier on Loch Etive we met up with my mate Gareth and fishing from the end of its old wooden pier we managed to catch a few grey gurnards on light game tackle.

Some of the grey gurnard in Loch Etive are almost jet black.

After catching quite a few grey gurnards I decided to fish another area nearby and pestered the gobies with my micro fishing setup. After catching a two spotted goby on a chianti float rig and some painted gobies ledgering hard on the bottom with a 3g drilled bullet, something a little bigger took my tiny bait and had my super light rod bent over as it charged off trying to get into some nearby bladderwrack.

Fish like this black goby are great fun on my micro fishing setup.

By mid afternoon we'd had our fill of gurnards and gobies and headed to the second mark in Oban. Conditions there were different to any other time I've fished the mark and the fishing was disappointingly pretty poor as a result. I still managed to catch a rock cook wrasse.

Stunning markings. I hoped Lee would catch one too.

After an hour or so Gareth had to head home but Lee and I stayed for a couple of extra hours, hoping that the fishing would improve as the tide dropped. Unfortunately it didn't really and apart from a few poor cod and goldsinny wrasse it was tough going. Lee did spot a couple more rock cook wrasse but sadly couldn't tempt them to take his Gulp fish fry. With a long journey north still to make we headed off up to Drumnadrochit where we stayed the night. In the morning we continued our drive up to Scrabster, stopping for a short break on the coast at Helmsdale where we stretched our legs and fished in its picturesque harbour. Like most harbours on the east coast of Scotland it contained lots of small coalfish. We also managed to catch a flounder each before completing the drive north.

Chartreuse Gulp fish fry caught this one.

Mines took a piece of angleworm.

When we arrived in Scrabster we had a quick fish around the harbour before heading to check into our B&B. We had been given fair warning by Gareth about the amount of dabs we'd likely catch and he wasn't exaggerating. It was all we caught in fact with Gulp products proving irresistible as usual.

This one took a natural hellgramite fished on a drop shot rig.

In the evening after checking in to our accommodation we went to look for a spot to fish in the evening for three bearded rockling, a species I've never caught before. I'd spotted some nice looking gullies to the north of Fresgoe Harbour on Google Maps so we explored there for a while. Most of the coastline was high cliffs but eventually we found a ledge above a nice deep gully that I thought looked promising for us to return to as it got dark. Lee wasn't too comfortable with the mark as it involved a little bit of scrambling to get down to the ledge but we went down anyway and whilst there I had a few casts.

A few coalfish soon put a bend in my rod.

In the evening after a chat about fishing from the dodgy cliff ledge and bit of Googling to see if I could find reports of three bearded rockling captures in the area we changed our choice of mark and decided to fish from much safer exposed flat rocks below Scrabster lighthouse. It was a much more sensible choice of venue really and access was relatively easy. Once on the rocks I fished a mackerel bait at fairly close range on a bait rod and whilst waiting for bites fished small jigs on my light game setup. Lee meanwhile fished a heavier jigging setup. We both caught a few fish over the course of the evening.

A nice little copper coloured pollock.
A few little cod took my light game jig.

Lee caught a nice grey gurnard on a jig and incredibly also caught five or six dabs on it too! Meanwhile all fishing my bait in close amongst the snags in an attempt to catch a three bearded rockling resulted in was heavy tackle losses. Eventually however I did get a nice fish on my bait rod when a short spined sea scorpion took my mackerel strip.

Lee caught this grey gurnard on a 40g slow jig.

Almost every cast close in resulted in a lost rig but eventually I got my rig back with a fish on it.

We fished on until after midnight by which point it was rather cold so we called it a night. The next day after breakfast we headed west along to Durness stopping at a few fishy looking places on the way. At Skerray Bay we caught a few small coalfish on micro jigs and stumbled upon a tiny outdoor art gallery in a crumbling old building.

I thought this painting was pretty good.

Further along the coast we stopped at a outcrop just after Heilam that jutted out into Loch Eriboll. It looked promising and the water on the western side was nice and deep but sadly the fishing was pretty slow. Working our way around it we eventually found a spot where we got a few bites and Lee caught a nice goldsinny wrasse. The fishing still wasn't great though and I ended up getting distracted by a nice butterfly.

Nice vivid colours on this little chap.

Nice colours on this too.

As we drove further west the scenery just got better and better and as we passed several stunning golden sandy beaches we wished we had more time to explore further.

At times the stunning coastline made it easy...

...to forget we were in Scotland.

After reaching Durness we began heading south back to Edinburgh. Along the way we passed dozens of small highland lochs and when we passed one that was right next to a parking place we couldn't resit being a little naughty and had a cheeky session targeting highland brown trout. Small hard plugs were soon being put to use with good results and a few small highland brownies were caught.

One of the nice little trout plugs Lee let me use.

One of the highland loch's nice little brown trout.


We made one final stop on our way back, stopping in Ullapool for an hour or so. After catching lots of little cod, whiting and poor cod from back of the ferry port we had some haddock served with chips. It had been a good trip and whilst I probably did as much driving as we did fishing it was good to catch up with Lee and visit a part of Scotland neither of us have been to before. I'd love to go back and explore the area further. Luckily I won't have to wait too long to see Lee again, we're off to Gran Canaria in December with our mate Ross. Another reunion that's long overdue as it's been a few years since the three of us fished together. Light game in the salt and a few sessions targeting large mouth bass in the island's many reservoirs will be the perfect way for the three of us to remedy that.

Tight lines, Scott.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Fancy meeting you here!

I popped over to Burntisland yesterday afternoon. The sun was out, if only briefly, but the wind was blowing down the Forth and the water inside was a little coloured up which meant overall the the fishing was pretty poor. It wasn't a complete waste of time though as I did bump into my mate Col and caught this funky Yarrell's blenny.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Mixing it up.

I've been out a few times over the last week. Visiting different marks, employing different tactics and catching a few different species. Last Monday despite easterly winds I jumped in the car and headed down to St Abbs. There wasn't much happening inside the harbour where it was relatively sheltered but I found a shoal of coalfish in the rough sea on the outside.

Micro jigs on light game tackle. Great fun.  

At the weekend I had a couple of hours at a new spot on Loch Fyne. My target was Fries' Goby and I fished a scaled down three hook flapper rig on light tackle. A packet of Dynabait dehydrated ragworm was the bait of choice and after getting distracted catching a load of goldsinny wrasse straight down the side of the old pier I was fishing from I remembered why I was there and shifted my attention to further out on the sea floor. A few pin whiting and micro codling took my small baits at range and then I got excited when I reeled in a small fish and a goby appeared from the depths. Alas it was only a rather large sand goby and sadly it was the only goby of the session.

Quite a large and darkly coloured sand goby had me briefly excited.

Yesterday I met up with my mate Gareth down at the outflow at Torness Power Station to target bass. When we arrived just after high water there were lots of mullet around and to be honest I wished we had some bread with us. Ignoring the mullet I tried fishing small jigs to begin with, casting them up the current and letting them be swept down in a fairly natural manner before jigging them back up towards me but this didn't attract any interest. A switch from lure to bait had the odd mullet inspecting the little piece of dehydrated ragworm on my hook a few times but they just didn't want to fully commit, turning away at the last moment. Gareth had a break after a while and caught some blennies from nearby rockpools. I persisted and made a few changes to my end tackle, reducing the breaking strain of my hook length to 4lb and fine tuning my presentation a little weight wise to make it sink a bit more naturally. Eventually I caught a couple of thick lipped grey mullet and then a couple of bass.

The fish were all under 1lb but the strong current exaggerated their fighting abilities.

I then decided to turn my attention to catching a few blennies but I was soon on net duties to make sure nothing escaped when Gareth caught some fish from the outflow, again on small pieces of ragworm.

A nice little thick lipped mullet...
...was quickly followed by a nice little bass.

Having caught his target and added to a species hunt he's involved in this year, Gareth was keen to add another so we shifted our attention to long spined sea scorpions and headed off to explore some nearby rockpools. At this time of year though, and also due to the unnaturally high sea temperatures in the vicinity of the outflow, the rockpools were all choked full of sea lettuce. This made locating likely fish holding spots tricky. When we did find some nooks and crannies to try they all had blennies hiding in them.

Shanny served on a bed of salad.

Blennies are cool but at the outflow they really are everywhere so I suggested we head up to the rockpools at the back of Dunbar harbour to try there where normally the long spined sea scorpion is fairly common. In the first there few rockpools we tried however all we caught was more blennies so we headed to further out onto the rocks to a very big deep rockpool exposed by the tide. From this one we managed to catch a few of the mini species we were after.

I love the long spined sea scorpions gung-ho approach to feeding. They just charge out and attack, repeatedly, until they get hooked.

As we fished away we caught a few more long spined sea scorpions and as we did I mentioned to Gareth that I'd caught a leopard spotted goby there once a couple of years ago. Right on cue one came out of a crack and had a go at the 3g drilled bullet on my rig before settling on a rock. I lowered my bait into position right in front of it and it lurched forward, eagerly swallowing my little chunk of ragworm. This was followed by a second much larger specimen which I'm pretty sure was a potential British record breaker.

At 13cm this is a specimen leopard spotted goby. With no scales I couldn't find out if it was a record breaker.

We then got a good soaking when a heavy rain shower passed over us. Before we headed up to the harbour to target flounder I spotted a third leopard spotted goby in the big rockpool and pointed it out to Gareth. A small piece of ragworm was dropped down in close proximity to its mouth and Gareth had soon added another species to his tally, his first ever leopard spotted goby as well. We had half an hour or so fishing inside the harbour where there were lots of tiny flounder around but no signs of any bigger ones and when the sky opened again we decided to call it a day.

Tight lines, Scott.