Sunday, July 29, 2012

Variety is the spice of life.

My mate Jake picked me up at 8:45 yesterday morning, we headed down into East Lothian and to be honest we didn't decide where we were actually going until we were half way there! We parked up and walked down the path, through a small dark tunnel and arrived on the sandy shore of Cove harbour.

The sun was shining and the water was crystal clear. We started of exploring close in amongst the rocks and weed. There was no sign of life though and just as we were about to move I spotted a submerged large flat rock and dropped my Isome down the edge. I was soon getting little taps and then a more solid little bite resulted in a small blenny being hoisted out. I repeated this and was rewarded with a small long spined sea scorpion.

Jigheads? What are those?

Jake had a go at the same spot but didn't have any luck. He then waded out onto a skeer of rock and I headed round to the outer harbour wall. I managed another blenny but the lack of action was quite surprising as it just screamed fish. Perhaps it was just too bright. Jake came around to join me and we decided to head to another spot.

On the walk back up to the car we looked over to a rocky peninsula to the north west and discussed its potential. By the time we had reached the top of the path we had decided to go and check it out. After a walk down a dirt road, hopping over a few fences, walking along the edge of a field and climbing down a grassy embankment we were finally on the rocky platform. However it was a lot shallower than we thought it would be, with boulder fields stretching out as far as we could see. Jake cast out a Ribster but lost it in a snag on his first cast. After trying Isome at close range with no reward we quickly decided to leave although I think it looked like a good mark to try for bass with surface/shallow diving plugs in the right conditions so we may be back there!

Heading back up the grassy path and back to the car we were both pretty sweaty and Jake was also a bit grumpy as well. He only had about another hour or so to fish and was facing a dreaded blank. We decided to head to the outflow at Torness Power Station to try for a bass or worst case scenario raid the rockpools for a blenny.

Arriving on the reef Jake went with his Major Craft Crostage and started lobbing his new found favourite Lunker City lure, the Ribster in Arkansas Shiner. I went with my Shimano Diaflash and half a large pink Isome. After 10-15 min Jake hooked a fish and had a nice bend in his rod and a big grin on his face. I looked over anticipating the fish coming to the surface as bass normally do fairly quickly but it didn't. Strange I thought then the reason became apparent when the fish finally did come up. It wasn't a bass! Jake had caught a nice ballan wrasse!

Blank busted and the grumpy angler cracks a smile!
Quite an unusual catch from this mark although Jake has caught them before many years ago but on ragworm.
Jake's last Arkansas Shiner Ribster. He would lose it shortly afterwards. Just as well he's ordered a few more packs!

We fished on for a while longer but no bass were caught and Jake had to head up the road. Blank avoided though he was a happy man. I wanted to fish some more though and got Jake to drop me off in Dunbar where I headed down to the harbour. I sent local angler and fellow The Lure Forum member Nick Aitken a text to see if he fancied joining me as he lives near the harbour. He text back to say he was on his way home from work and would pop down when he got back. To pass the time whilst waiting for Nick I headed to flattie corner and stuck with my #14 hook with two 0.8g split shot and put a tiny section of pink Isome on. Casting out I was quickly into a small flounder. Couple of casts later a second. Then a small plaice, my first from this harbour. By the time Nick arrived I had caught five flounders and four plaice. I caught another two flounders and gave Nick a #14 hook so he could join in the fun but whilst he was getting plenty of follows they were tormenting him and he just couldn't manage to catch one although he did hook one but it came off. Here are a few photos of the flatfish. Can you correctly identify all seven?

The correct answers are at the bottom of the report.

Next up I got a little surprise. After travelling 250 miles during the week to get a sand goby I caught one from Dunbar harbour! I couldn't believe it! Anyway, nice to know they are still in there.

Where have you been every other time I came to Dunbar harbour trying to catch you this year?!
At this point Nick suggested a move so we headed over the back of the harbour to target wrasse. On the way we passed some nice big rockpools that I'd never fished before and I couldn't resist! It wasn't long before one of the regular inhabitants of the rockpools at Dunbar appeared and greedily scoffed the little chunk of Isome.

Possibly the most aggressive salt water species of fish I've encountered. 9 times out of 10 they just charge out into the open and smash your lure.

After that we headed out to the end of a rock skeer and started fishing 3-4" soft plastics down the edge. It wasn't long before we were both getting bites but we couldn't get any hook ups. Shortly afterwards we spotted the culprits. Two small ballans were coming out from underneath a huge boulder and nipping away at the lures. This continued for a while and then I decided enough was enough and switched from my Shimano Speedmaster Drop Shot rod to my Diaflash and dropped down the split shot rig I had been using previously. I missed the first couple of bites but let the third one develop a bit more and the fish hooked itself. Drag locked up the Diaflash had a nice bend in it but I just raised it up to stop the wrasse getting back into its lair. Soon pulled out away from the weed it was hoisted up into my hand.

My first Scottish ballan wrasse for a while. Lovely!

I soon followed it up with a second wrasse from the same spot. 

Nice dark brown fish with a bright orange underside.

At this point Nick, who had persisted with the larger soft plastics, switched over to an Isome on a #4 aberdeen hook. After this change he was still getting bites but no hook ups. I then pulled out a third wrasse.

Chocolate and Lime. My favourite!

Seeing this Nick quickly switched over to the #14 hook I had given him earlier and carried on trying. He soon hooked a wrasse but it charged into some kelp and came off. I then went to check on our exit from the mark as the tide was flooding in behind us and would soon be cutting us off. It had a little bit to go though so I returned to close to where Nick was but decided to try dropping my Isome into a nice big gap in the kelp. I let it land on a large rock and just let it sit there. A small fish appeared and tentatively had a little nibble. I gave the Isome a little twitch. It had another nibble. I then raised it up off the bottom slightly and that did the trick nicely! I quickly lifted the fish out to discover it was a leopard spotted goby!

Looks like a black goby I hear you say.

These can look very dark and it can be vary hard to make out their markings when they are out of the water. I popped it into a small rockpool to reveal the beautiful electric blue edges on its fins.

Hard to believe it's the same fish isn't it?

I felt a bit sorry for the goby as it looked like the local wrasse had been nipping at its tail fin as it was in a bit of a ragged mess! I popped it back where I caught it from and returned to Nick. He was still patiently trying to catch a wrasse and whilst I was trying to sort out the tangled mess that the goby had made of my split shot rig he finally hooked and landed one. Nick having only really taken up fishing with soft lures this year having enjoyed many years as a successful bait fisherman had just caught his first wrasse on one and was a very happy man.

Nick's first lure caught ballan wrasse. The first of many no doubt.

At this point we had to leave the mark before we got trapped and we timed our exit to perfection really! It was about 6pm and I had to go and catch my train up the road so we called it a day. We walked up the road and Nick went home to order a few packs of #14 hooks! All in all a great days fishing. A few different marks. Two great guys to fish them with. Seven species and 23 fish caught between the three of us. Happy days!

Tight lines, Scott.

Flatfish I.D. challenge answer.

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