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Friday, 6 October 2017

Oh Ireland!

Been a couple days back home from my holidays in Ireland and one thing I have to say is that I will definitely be going there again!
I went with my girlfriend Claire and we spent a week in County Kerry. This was most certainly not a fishing holiday but the travel rods went into the suitcase of course...
I didn't have any serious targets or 'must catch' fish list in mind, though I definitely wanted to get some wrasse and if possible a bass or two. Moreover I'd be taking the LRF gear as well so any of the smaller predators would be very welcome especially with some scad among them!
I had done some homework before the trip and had scores of points on Google maps ready to be sussed out...Most areas were exposed rocky coastlines and beaches with the occasional harbour/pier for the light stuff. I had heard only the best and was fired up to get started!
The weather was ok to begin with and we got a couple decent days but I only fished a bit here and there with the LRF and managed to catch my first Irish fish... Not a scad but a coalie 😆
Little did I know that the weather would turn bad and I'd get few chances to fish the more exposed marks I wanted.
Not a scad!
The first area we stayed in was Valentia Island and from Google Earth and the web I could tell that it would be very suitable for wrasse fishing, plus having some piers/harbours close by would offer ample opportunities to fish the light gear.
This being the open Atlantic, the swell was present at various intensities throughout the week and I only managed one HRF session for wrasse before the swell build up.
What a session it was though!
After a bit of a hike in the wind and rain with Claire we found the path down the rocks and on first look it was pretty rough (but still fishable). Thankfully we found a hollow at the rocks and out of the wind to settle down and fish from.
I was using my Spro Mobile Stick 80MH paired with the Shimano Stradic FK C3000 and the rig of choice being the good old Texas rig with a 20g tungsten bullet weight, glass bead and #1 wide gape offset hook. I would be using 3" Gulp Alive swimming mullets in a simple drag and pause retrieve.
From the first cast the fish showed their presence but instead of wrasse I got some pollock! Definitely not what I was looking for there..! Soon enough though, I started getting the familiar sharp taps of wrasse and after setting the hook a different fight ensued...
It didn't take long to get the first ballan out and there were many more to come!
All of them around the 2lbs mark but fighting hard and in a ravenous mood... Haven't had similar wrasse-fishing since I left the Channel Islands...


Them lips!

On the act!

Decent size...

Cant say no to them!

Big gob!
Conditions were lively...

I love wrasse!

That was my most memorable session of the trip. The next day the swell intensified considerably and
I had to find sheltered areas to fish. This meant more LRF and I had good sessions with mackerel, coalies and smaller ballan and corkwing wrasse but unfortunately no scad!

Dingle harbour breakwater.

Lovely corkwing.

Loads of mackies about.
My LRF setup was a 7'2'' (0.5-7g) Snowbee Kuroshio travel LRF rod paired with my Shimano Stradic 1000fc and using mainly small cheburashkas and metals. I didnt take too many softplastics with me as the space was limited and again I relied mostly on the Gulp.
We spent the last couple days on the Dingle peninsula and in retrospect we could've spent the whole week there as it simply has got it all!
Got pollock from the rocky points, wrasse in the harbour and while I snuck out before breakfast for a few casts, had a feisty bass on the trusty Megabass Zonk Gataride. Unfortunately this was gonna be our last day in Dingle and I didnt get the chance to fish there more... What a place.!

Before breakfast.
It was a great holiday in all and got some useful observations/notes for the next time:
  • much cheaper and convenient to get the ferry there in my own car. Too much unnecessary hassle renting one there..
  • No need for fancy rigs and many lures. 
  • A tubular tip LRF rod might have been more suitable as when I encountered a bass following my tiny softplastics, I couldn't use a topwater or a jerkbait to potentially tease it into striking.
  • Just 2 setups would be enough. a 1-10g for light game (but capable of something heavier) and a sort of 10-30g for the bigger stuff. 
  • Swell forecast more important than weather forecast...
 I'm working on the videos now and should be up next week sometime!

Tight Lines!

Friday, 22 September 2017

Wee LRF session for coalies and wrasse.

Been on my holidays for a week or so now but due to the rainy weather and the lack of time I didn't manage to get any fishing done. That was until Wednesday though as I was just gagging to cast a line!
It was an overcast day with a constant drizzle and I decided to drive my folks to see the South part of the island. We stoped at a wee pier there and it would be rude not to fish a bit! It was still drizzly so my parents sat in the car while I got the LRF setup and started fishing. I started with the Japanese bream rig hoping to get some wrasse or flatfish but instead found the coalies! They were pretty keen as usual and I soon started getting them in. They were of mixed sizes with tiny ones and half pounders hitting the soft plastics near the bottom mostly.
At some point I made a cast and put the rod down on the pier-wall in order to climb over and just then the rod got dragged towards the sea!! I grabbed it and struck into a better fish! After a fun tussle I had a lovely ballan on the rock wall. A quick pic and sent it back..
I love wrasse!!

They certainly like the chinu rig..

After releasing the wrasse my dad came out of the car (with a bag 😆) and he wanted me to keep some fish for next day's dinner. As it was his birthday and they hadn't tried coalie before we started keeping them. Had a few more coalies on the chinu rig but after a while the bite slowed down and I decided to switch to a metal as I thought that the fish needed something different.. This worked and the coalies kept coming, it was apparent that they were hitting higher up in the water column as well by then.
It was approaching sunset by now and the wind and rain died down thus I put on an Ima Pugachev's cobra 60 and started walking the dog on the surface. Straight away I started getting multiple hits on the lure as the coalies loved it! Got some more of them and its interesting to note that I only got the larger sized coalies OTT...
Soon it was time to go as we had a good number of fish in the bag for a proper fry up and I had exhausted the usual ''one more cast'' excuse! A very enjoyable session even though the weather wasn't that nice...
Below some pics and the videos of the session.

Surface hunters..

No tiddlers OTT...

Its so much fun getting them OTT and to me its a pity this kind of fishing is not more widespread in our waters as it really hikes the entertainment in LRF...
Who needs driving to Lochaline for coalies when you live in Skye! lol

Tight Lines

Gear used
Rod: MajorCraft Crostage CRK-T782AJI
Reel: Shimano Stradic 1000Fc
Mainline: Unitika Night Game PE 0.3
Leader: Toray Excellent fluorocarbon 6.8lbs
Lures: Berkley 2" Sandworm on GO-Phish chinu rig, 7g metals, Ima Pugachev's cobra 60

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Topwater action on guiding trip.

Well we're into September now, which I consider the beginning of the best period for fishing in general! The past couple sessions indicated that the fish are aggressive and very keen to come to the surface when conditions allow (even when marginally).
I had Lewis from Edinburgh visiting the other day and he was very keen on getting some topwater action! The weather forecast for the week was horrendous! with supposedly 30-40mph westerlies for most of the week, but thankfully as it usually happens up here, it wasn't very accurate and by Friday the winds were dying down.
We met up shortly after daybreak and would fish from the high tide onwards on a shallow bay.
On arrival there was quite a bit of swell running (residue from the previous days winds) but I was sure it would dissipate with the ebb...
We gave topwaters a go but it was still too bouncy for the lures to work properly and the fish to come up, thus we soon clipped on various softplastics on 14g-20g cheburashkas and started fishing close to the bottom.
Soon the bites started coming and along with them the pollock!
Some decent fish around 3-5lbs and after a while Lewis hooked up to a better one that took plenty of drag and snagged him up... I got the rod and changed angle, after waiting a bit I gave the line a few pulls directly with my hand and realised the fish was out! Passed the rod to Lewis and after a few pumps and winds the fish was in the net! Lewis told me his previous PB was 6lbs and after weighing this one it appeared it was bigger at 6.13lbs! Now that's a good start to the day...

New PB!

More than one fish had actually been caught before and had healing prick-wounds, this is because being a shallow mark, most of the fish survive... A testament to the value of good C&R!
The fish were being quite fussy in the morning, preferring gentle and slow animation near the bottom along with natural coloured sps and lightish weights. Other presentations even with soft/active lures but on heavier weights or garish colours didn't get much attention. We didn't use metals as the coalies are usually in big numbers on this mark.

Caught before...

Another survivor...

We were a couple hours into the ebb now and the gullies started emptying, moreover the swell died down a bit and I thought it was a good time to try with the topwaters again. After trying several lures in the same area, we managed to raise a couple pollock on the Ima Popkey.. The fish seemed annoyed more than anything to this 'intense' lure but just seeing them respond was an indication that they were now closer in and higher in the water column.
We decided to move to a different spot and concentrate on the topwaters. The waves didn't allow all the WTD lures to walk properly and only a few could 'bite' well enough to have a nice and constant action. I clipped the Tacklehouse Vulture and Lewis had a cast near some weed collected at the mouth of a gully. Soon enough a fish splashed and hit the Vulture. The first fish of the day on topwaters was soon on the rocks and that was just the beginning...!
We kept at it and Lewis managed to get plenty more fish! The hookup rate was much better than on my previous session,on this day though the time was much more appropriate and most of the fish got caught on the first treble indicating active feeding...
The size of the fish was very good as well with fish of 3-4lbs and even some bigger ones hitting the lures! We both agreed that while the chances of getting, say a double figure fish were slim, catching this kind of size pollock on a 5-25ish gram rod was all the fun you could want!
As mentioned only a few topwaters worked better amongst the waves including the tacklehouse Vulture, Ima Popkey, HTO Climax while when the water calmed down, the Salt Skimmer (and its Chinese copy) were very effective.


Not only little ones OTT!

Another decent one on topwaters!
After the fish quitened down and the sun came out of the clouds, we decided to hit one more mark with softplastics and again the fish obliged. Lewis lost a big one that kelped him but got plenty more decent pollock after! They prefered again finesse presentations on light leads and a dark 4" paddletail did most of the damage.

Fish on!

After a few more fish it was time to call it a day and head home.
This was a fantastic fishing session that panned out as planned and I thoroughly enjoyed Lewis's company. Below is the video of the surface action for the day.

Tight Lines!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

A bit of LRF in Lochaline.

On my last day off I fancied a wee roadtrip with my girl and decided to drive down to Lochaline as the weather was nice.
Its been a while since I was there last and to be honest I kinda hoped for some similar action with coalies to last time... Thus I picked up a couple LRF rods and my hardcase full of mini-topwater lures and off we went...
Since the weather was decent I was also thinking to get some good footage of them as I didn't film them last time I was there.. If that didn't work I had a plan B of targeting wrasse on the deep pier and finally put to use some of the gear a Japanese friend send me back in Spring...
On arrival conditions looked perfect although the wind was stronger than expected. Straight away I started casting some metals about but it soon became apparent that the fish weren't there..
I persisted but to no avail.. A bit disappointed decided to stop for a break and a picnic and then went to the other pier for Plan B...
I prepped the two rods and put on the little sinkers my friend sent me. They are used in a system similar to gliding kabura where the weight is movable and the hook/lure has more freedom to move and its mainly used for bream fishing (Kurodai-chinu). I rigged one with a 2" gulp Sandworm on a #6 inline (plugging single) chinu hook and the other with a 2" Jackall Peke Ring just to see if the fish showed a preference. Glad they didn't and we soon started getting lots of bites from the wrasse near the legs of the pier. I got the first one up while Claire was struggling with her timing on the strike. A few more fish followed to me and noticing that they liked a longer pause I told her to cut down on the jiggling...😁
Soon after she hooked up to a little female cuckoo wrasse.. I left my rod down to get pics/unhook etc and when I went back to pick up my rod I realised I had a small fish on.. I brought it up and was pleasantly surprised to see a Leopard Spotted goby with my Peke Ring in its mouth! A first time capture for me...
We kept at it but after missing a strong bite and getting a couple more small cuckoos we decided to call it a day and head home..
It was unfortunate that the vast shoals of coalies weren't there as last time but it was still an enjoyable little session.

A few around this size.. pure fun!

A very effective presentation.

Oh hello!

Glad she didn't blank!

They go so well on the LRF gear!

Another predator!

Fishing duo...

The gift pack!
Regarding the presentation, the weight is not lead or tungsten and sinks slower but it allows more movement and better feel to the lure. Also I had only one snag while fishing amidst thick structure and I'm sure this is due to the sinker having a slower sink-rate. I could have used smaller hooks to fish more effectively for the little fish but I was hoping on getting a better wrasse out.
Really gutted for not encountering the coalies again though and Im not sure why they werent about. Not that many of them up here as well right now and it might be a seasonal thing.. Some other time hopefully...
Anyway I'm sure ill get to use them again soon as I got holidays coming up and going to Ireland at the end of the month!

Tight Lines!

Gear used
Rod: MajorCraft Crostage CRK-T782AJI
Reel: Shimano Stradic 1000Fc
Mainline: Unitika Night Game PE 0.3
Leader: Toray Excellent fluorocarbon 6.8lbs
Lures: Berkley 2" Sandworm, Jackall Peke Ring

Monday, 28 August 2017

A whole day with topwaters!

The other day on my day off I had a break in the weather and decided to fish mostly topwaters for pollock! I was intending to wake up at first light but the tide state was unfavourable for the mark intended and thus I got a few more hours sleep and went fishing later...!😀
Now I knew this wasn't ideal time for topwater work but the tide was right and I thought it still worthwhile..
On the first spot I had to wait a bit for the tide to ebb and I witnessed as the gullies were slowly emptying and water trickling out just at the lip of the kelpy ledge. ideal ambush conditions... I clipped on a Dam Effzet stickwalker (a sort of pencil-popper) and made the first cast near the edge of the ledge... I had a fish boil at it straight away and on the second cast a fish went airborne and slapped the lure hard with its head, catapulting it a few meters away!!
This repeated itself a good few times before I finally managed to catch a fish..
Lure rotation was very important as the fish would soon get 'tired' of the same lure passing overhead and would require a change. Nevertheless after a good number of attacks, the surface action died down (usually when fish get pricked by the hooks they wise-up) and it was time to move to a different area.

I then fished with the LRF gear for a while and this saw me catch my first Skye whiting and a couple mackerel along with the usual 'interference' of pollock...
In late afternoon I drove to my last mark for the day where its a shallow bay with access to deeper water nearby and plenty of rocks and kelp. Perfect topwater fishing ground..
From the off it was clear that the fish were spread out in a wide area and were very aggressive towards the lures as they were hitting them constantly! Again though this didn't translate to hooked fish and I speculate that the fish weren't really feeding but just going for reaction bites out of aggression. Some of the hits on the WTD's were brutal! I suspect that in similar conditions early in the morning or around dusk (or even with some cloud cover as it was broad daylight) the hook ups would have been more...
Moreover as the water was slightly choppy at times, the more stable lures seemed to 'stick' better to the fish and the ones with narrower actions. Wide swaying lures would incite a lot of interest but the fish wouldnt stick..! Food for thought..
Of course this is where a good selection of various topwaters will make the difference.
Regarding the type/speed of retrieve, short burts of 'thrashing' the lure at the surface seemed to drive them wild and also when the lure was approaching drifting bits of kelp or seaweed etc, it was taken even static!
I hooked a couple fish and had one cut the line just infront of me (and taking my lure) but just seeing those violent strikes and the pollock going airborne was really enough for me!

A wee whiting...

Towards the end of the session I moved to a sheltered rock-wall that the fish tend to hold very close to and it was there that I had some fish leaping out of the water mere meters away from me! Absolutely heart-racing stuff! And many of these fish weren't the usual couple pounders but actually pretty decent fish..
Soon after I hooked up close in to a decent one on my trusty Ima Salt Skimmer and as I tried to land it on the rocks (left the net in the car 😞) it thrashed and managed to break the leader and take my Skimmer with it!
Gutted but filled with sights of leaping pollock, I decided to call it a day..
Below the video of the day... There were many more strikes during the day but it would be tiring to include them all in this...!

Thanks for reading and Tight Lines!

Gear used.
Rod: APIA Foojin'R Best Bower 96 MLX
Reel: Shimano Stradic FK C3000
Mainline: Unitika Shore Game X8 PE 1.2
Leader: Daiwa Tournament FC fluorocarbon 18lbs
Lures: Ima Salt Skimmer. Tacklehouse Vulture, Dam Effzet stickwalker, Duel Silver dog, Lucky Craft Gunfish, Zara saltwater Spook