Friday, October 26, 2012

Doing the conger. My first run and a couple of nice surprises!

I've never caught a conger eel so with the nights drawing in I've been planning a few sessions for a while now and a week or two ago I had a look at the tides and decided to fish a couple of sessions over high water at the inlet area down at Torness Power Station.

On Monday night I headed down for the first of these with Keith and on the way we stopped at Dunbar harbour for an hour or so. He recently spotted a strange fish down there so we were hoping to see it again and maybe even try to catch it but all we found in the harbour were five seals, the most I've ever seen in any harbour, and a few coalfish. I managed to catch four of them on my ultra light gear before we jumped back in the car and went to try for conger.

Being caught was probably a nice break from the marauding seals for this Dunbar Harbour coalfish!

After a short drive and a five minute walk we arrived on the platform we'd be fishing from and we quickly set up our rods. I soon had a couple if big mackerel flappers nose hooked on circle hooks and ledgered on the bottom close in whilst Keith went for a smaller mackerel bait on a pennel arrangement to try and tempt a codling. Whilst we waited for my reels to start clicking and his rod tip to start nodding we both fished small lures around the platform for coalfish. I was using my Nories Rockfish Bottom Ultralight and after a while I felt my line go tight fairly close to the structure. At first I thought I was snagged but soon realised it was a good fish when it started stripping line rather rapidly! Holding the rod high I tightened up my drag very slightly and after a run or two I knew from the tell tale surging dives that I was into a decent pollock. Unable to see the fish I guessed it was about 3lb. After a few more less aggressive dives I was able to tighten up a little more and cautiously bring it up to the surface, aware of the fact the my Shirasu Fine jighead may well bend out should I apply too much pressure. When it appeared from the depths I soon realised it was slightly bigger than 3lb! Carefully working my way around the platform to the side, Keith climbed down onto the rocks and after a nervous moment when the fish seemed to revive slightly and I thought it would head for the rocks beneath it, my prize was in his clutches and soon up on the platform in mine!

This 5lb 12oz pollock is now my biggest capture on ultra light tackle. I love my Nories Rockfish Bottom Ultralight!

Shorty afterwards one of my reels started clicking signalling a run on one of my conger rods. Still buzzing from landing the pollock on my ultra light outfit I lifted the rod, pausing briefly before reeling into the fish but unfortunately failed to hook it. Exciting all the same though and at least I know there are some congers or other large fish around, although given the size of the bait I'm fairly confident it was an eel. We carried on, changing our baits periodically, but didn't see any more action on the bait rods apart from a few small knocks on one of mine which I thought was small fish or crabs eating my large bait so left it alone. On lures I managed a further three small pollock all around half a pound and Keith avoided a blank with a small coalfish. About an hour and a half after high water we decided to head home and packed up. Upon retrieving my second bait though I found it had been chewed by something big. Several distinct bite marks up the bait indicated that perhaps an eel had been mouthing it. Again encouraging. I left looking forward to heading back the following night for another crack at conger.

On Tuesday night my mate Jake was supposed to be joining me but he forgot his beloved hoops were playing the mighty Barcelona in the Champions League and being a bit of a masochist wanted to watch them being beaten instead of fishing. Luckily for me Keith was keen to fish again so just before 7pm he picked me up, off we went and were soon at Torness Power Station getting the gear out of his car. On the walk down to the mark we spotted an owl flying low over the long grass and watched as it circled before swooping down to catch something. A pretty impressive sight and a nice way to start the session. Anyway, we were soon on the platform fishing, employing the same tactics as the previous night. I did however decide to fish a mackerel fillet instead of a flapper to see if this would prove to be an easier mouthful for any passing congers. I also decided to fish smaller mackerel baits on a three hook flapper rig to see what else was around. Keith gave me a clip on bell to signal bites on this rod and it was a good idea because I was busy working a Slug-Go over a kelp bed in search of pollock when it started tinkling and my first ever east coast lesser spotted dogfish was soon hooked, reeled in and hoisted up.

I'm talkin' about sharkin'!
How adorable.

With no further action on any of the bait rods despite a couple of bait changes we passed the time catching coalfish on Power Isome. Keith opting for red sections fished on a 2.3g #8 Shirasu Fine jighead whilst I drop shotted pink sections closer to the bottom in case anything else was around. The coalfish seemed to prefer Keith's presentation though and he outfished me nine to two.

Keith inspects a small coalfish just in case it's something more exotic only to confirm it was indeed a small coalfish.
News reaches the Celtic team about my failure to catch a conger eel.

So two congerless conger sessions! A bit dissappointing not to even get any runs on the second night but that's fishing. The dogfish was a nice bonus though and Keith and I had a good laugh catching the coalfish so all in all another enjoyable night session and my quest for shore caught conger will continue in the future.

Tight lines, Scott.

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