Thursday, November 29, 2012

A spur of the moment visit.

At the end of last week fellow fishing addict and species hunter Ross Johnson sent me a text from Peterhead breakwater, where he was trying to catch a ling, to ask if I'd like to go to Oban with him to fish at the start of this week for three days including a session afloat on Loch Etive. I replied that whilst I couldn't go for three days, I would like to fish Loch Etive as it would be an opportunity for me to target a thornback ray to add to my species tally and when I got back from Rutland Water on Sunday I started looking at the forecasts.

The weather forecast for Monday was truly horrific so I sent a text to Ross and told him to have another day targeting ling on Peterhead breakwater and travel down on Tuesday. After an extra day trying for ling but catching mainly small codling he came down and arrived in the early afternoon. The plan was to pop down the coast to a few rockpools to try and get him a two spotted goby. Unfortunately when we got down there the tide had beaten us to the rockpools so we popped into Mike's tackle shop on the way back and picked up a few bits and pieces for our boat trip the following day before heading home to make a few rigs and sort out our gear before going out for something to eat.

Yesterday morning we were up early at 5am. It looked like a nice morning and the forecast for Loch Etive were good, sunny all day with very little wind but it would still be very cold. After driving west over 100 miles we were met on the shore near Taynuilt by Doug Bannatyne of Taynuilt Fishing Club Boats, whom we had rented a boat from for the day.

We arrived just after the sun had risen over the mountains. Stunning. Bloody cold though!

Gear soon loaded into the boat, off we went. On the advice of Doug we started in Airds Bay tied up to a buoy off of the south eastern shore. Mackerel and squid baits dropped down 180 feet, we patiently waited for bites. After a while with no real action Ross decided to drop down a scaled down "one up one down" rig with small hooks and straight away had a few small whiting, poor cod and pouting. I did likewise, bites were coming as soon as it hit the bottom and I started catching them too. All small but good fun whilst we waited for bites on the bigger baits. Ross caught a small thornback ray on his mini rig which was encouraging as I wanted one too.

The smallest thornback ray Ross has ever caught!

Ross then caught a grey gurnard. After catching another thornback I hoped I'd get one but the bites dried up a bit so we moved to another buoy. In quick succession Ross caught another two small thornback rays. I couldn't seem to stop catching whiting though! Most of them had parasites on them which I picked off before putting them back. 

Poor little buggers.

We also thought it was quite strange that with so many small fish in the area that there didn't seem to be any spurdogs around. Perhaps they prefer the taste of whiting tipped with parasite to mackerel tipped with squid! At this point we realised almost three hours had passed and decided to move north to drift near the quarry at Bonawe. We switched to luminous Hokkai traces weighted down with luminous pirks with the hooks all baited up. After a few drifts with no action at all we moved opposite the quarry and tied up to a buoy near some fish cages but again our jigging went unrewarded so we decided to head back to the first buoy we'd had the most fish from in Airds Bay. I was still hoping to catch a thornback ray and Ross was hoping that a few spurdogs would turn up but all we caught was small fish again. For the last hour we headed to new buoy close to where we launched from but again this produced no fish. As a last throw of the dice we decided to head out for a drift in middle of bay. It was over 200 foot deep here and after switching to a running ledger on my boat rod I hooked into a slightly bigger fish that turned out to be another whiting. After 10 minutes or so it was time to head back so I reeled up and began tidying up a bit. Ross was just about to reel up too when he had a few good bites which he let develop a bit before striking into a fish. As it came up from the depths we soon realised that it was what he'd wanted to fish Loch Etive for, a dark and nicely spotted spurdog.

He's talkin' about sharkin'! Lucky bugger!
Nasty sharp spurs on both these shark's dorsal fins give them their name.

Whilst I was disappointed not to add any new species to my tally I was so pleased that Ross had got one to add to his on his last cast. Neither of us could believe his luck and it made the journey home a bit easier.

Ross had to head home this afternoon but before he left we headed down the coast again to try and get him a two spotted goby. Fishing a #26 hook it wasn't long before the gobies started appearing and thirty minutes, a few common gobies and a change from a tiny piece of Isome to a tiny chunk of ragworm later, Ross had another new species balanced on the tip of his finger.

They all count when you are a species hunter!


Whilst Ross had been micro fishing I had been amusing myself trying to catch a small flounder that we spotted in a long shallow rockpool and after a while dangling a small chunk of Isome in front of its mouth, it gave in, ate my offering and was quickly hooked and hoisted up.

Pretty strange to find it there in the rockpool not that I was complaining.

After dropping me off back in town Ross had to head off so we said goodbye and I wished him luck trying to catch a ling over the next few weeks. Fishing Loch Etive from the boat was great and I'll certainly be doing it again although I may try in warmer weather next time! It's always a pleasure fishing with Ross and I have a feeling he may be back up here before the year is out so we may be fishing together again fairly soon which I have no doubt will be fun whatever the target species!

Tight lines, Scott.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Zed's a pred baby, Zed's a pred.

Zander, also known as zeds. A freshwater predator introduced to the East Anglian drainage system in the 1960's and a species that I find quite intriguing for some reason. I was planning to try for them next year, until my mate Martin asked me a few weeks ago if I fancied a weekend on Rutland Water down in England targeting them. Often overlooked by some predator anglers who instead prefer to target the more widely distributed pike and perch. Whilst they grow bigger than perch, they don't grow to the same size as pike and in addition they're also not renowned as being much of a fighter when hooked which is maybe the reason why some don't target them, these facts haven't dampened my interest in this species though so I happily said I would go with him so we could hopefully both catch our first one.

Off we went on Friday, fully aware that some harsh weather was forecast but determined to fish anyway. Sure enough when we woke up on Saturday morning it was very foggy as predicted, so much so that we weren't even sure we would get out in the boat. Upon arrival at Rutland Water we had to wait for about an hour for the fog to lift a bit before we were allowed to get in the boat, set off and begin fishing.

Martin pilots out boat out of the marina and into uncharted territory.
When does mist become fog? The shore begins to vanish.
Slug-Go rigged on a 25g jighead with a #8 stinger attached and ready to go.

We started fishing near the concrete tower in the main bay and after a few drifts the fish finder marked structure below us and a few fish. Using 25-35g jigheads to keep in contact with the bottom as the boat drifted and working our lures slowly it wasn't that long before Martin hooked and landed his first ever zander. It looked like it had been in a fight or two.

Battle scarred with a heavily damaged dorsal fin and a few scars and wounds on it's flank.

At this point the fog began to close in again. So much so that we could hardly see the shore in any direction. We decided to stay near the tower and a short time later Martin had a second smaller fish in the boat.

Smaller but in much nicer condition. Martin was chuffed and things looked promising.

Just after he had returned it I hooked a small one too and brought it up to the surface. Rather than wait for him to grab the net though I decided to lift it up the foot or so into the boat and you can probably guess what happened next. A splash. I watched as my would be first ever zander shot off and escaped. So near yet so far. Having just hooked three fish in a relatively short period we were fairly confident we'd get a few more but as the fog began the lift again due to the wind picking up a fair bit, the fish that had been showing up on the fish finder disappeared. We tried a few more drifts around the tower to try and locate them again before moving to the north arm of the reservoir to try our luck there. As the day went on however the wind got stronger and stronger and it started raining. With virtually no action at all on both our rods I started to wonder if I would end up blanking and really regret my earlier decision to lift the fish I had hooked resulting in its subsequent escape. We decided it was time for a hot drink and a rethink!

I try to see the funny side of things over a mug of soup.
After a short break we decided the tower where we had seen the only action was our best option and headed back.

By this point we were both looking like a couple of drowned rats and my hands were pretty numb. It was now so windy that we were using two drogues to try and slow the drifts down. With less than hour left we finally picked up a few fish on the finder and after several drifts over the area and trying various lures as well as a spot of drop shotting I finally hooked another fish on a 5" Xorus Dandy Bass in Ayu. Martin was ready with the net this time and after a nervous moment my first zander was in the boat.

A small specimen but I didn't care. Mission accomplished and the sense of relief was overwhelming!

It would be the last fish of a hard day's fishing and to be honest I think we were both very relieved to have caught, myself in particular! This feeling was magnified tenfold when upon returning and tying up the boat in the marina we were told that due to the gale force winds forecast for the following day no boats would be launching. That night we headed down to the pub and talked over the days events and both agreed we'd been quite lucky to even get out fishing at all due to the fog. We laughed about me almost blanking due to my haste trying to land my first zander before retiring to our hotel. This morning we thought about trying to fish somewhere else but decided to head up the road early instead. Despite the weather and the trip being cut short we both enjoyed our first zander trip and it's definitely a species that we'll both be targeting again with a trip to Europe next year a possiblity.

Tight lines, Scott.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Method in my madness.

After a pleasant trip to Eliburn Reservior a few weeks ago I decided to return and have a go for some of the other species that the water holds. After a recent trip with Keith we arranged to fish it yesterday. With the water temperature dropping and tench and carp in mind I decided that since the fish may well be feeding on the bottom I would use the method feeder as my approach. I've never used this before so after watching a load of videos online, visiting the Glasgow Angling Centre to get myself some of the tackle neccessary and borrowing the rest from my mate Jake as well as a load of advice off I went yesterday morning and arrived at just after ten. Keith was due to join me about noon.

Not the sunny day the forecast had predicted but still a fairly pleasant morning despite a few light showers.

I started the session by setting up my feeder rod and cast in my first small ball of method mix with a single pop up corn and a single piece of corn tucked inside just to the left of my peg in front of an overhanging tree. I set this on an alarm and then proceeded to set up a float rod to fish maggots under a waggler. After plumbing the depth a couple of rods out and setting my float so that my single maggot was on the bottom it wasn't long before I had landed a couple of gudgeon.

I like gudgeon. They are a pretty cool little fish.

Just after I returned the second one the bite alarm on my feeder rod gave a couple of peeps before sounding solidly. I quickly lifted it and felt the weight of a fish. It wasn't a big fish and after a very short fight it was on the surface and I soon had my first ever tench in my net! Given that was my first ever cast of a method feeder I now had high hopes that it would hopefully produce more fish over the rest of the session!

A nice tench, my first fish on a method feeder.

Carefully putting the fish back with one thrash of its massive tail it had returned to the cloudy depths. At this point I noticed a robin had landed in the tree next to me and seemed to be watching me. I took a few pictures and it took a moment or two for me to realise that it was actually watching something else!

A sure sign that winter is on the way and that you've left the lid off your maggots.

I put the lid back on my maggots to avoid the cheeky bird from attempting an assault and no doubt tipping them everywhere in the process. I then cast out the method feeder again to roughly the same spot before returning to my maggot drowning, catching a third gudgeon almost immediately. I then decided to try presenting my maggot a bit further up in the water column and after trying different depths for a while and playing with my shotting pattern to decrease the rate at which my bait was falling I had a few bites before finally hooking a fish that I initially thought was a roach but as it came closer I realised it wasn't.

Another new species but which one?

I wasn't sure what it was and while I was inspecting it I laid my float rod down. Still unsure about what it was I decided to pop it into my net and keep it in the hope that another angler may pass who could help me identify it. When I picked up my float rod again I realised that my maggot had fallen into the margin and when I lifted it up I had a cheeky little perch on the end!

A small shoal of these was hiding amongst the weeds growing in front of my peg.

After amusing myself a little catching three more of them the bailiff arrived and after paying him for my days fishing I showed him my mystery fish. He thought it was either a small bream or a hybrid of some description. Keith arrived at this point and he also thought it was a small bream or a hybrid. I popped it back and continued fishing. Fishing in the afternoon was fairly slow however and despite several method feeders full of mix being cast into the swim and my alarm beeping a couple of times we only managed a further five fish between us all on the float with Keith managing three roach and myself a single roach and a second mystery fish.

This small roach took a maggot fished just under my float.
My final fish of the day. But what is it, Bream or Hybrid? A bit of further research required.

Another enjoyable days fishing at this venue was soon over and we packed up as darkness fell. Two anglers on the opposite side of the reservior did catch a few carp however so at least I know they are still active and will be back again soon to try again for my first carp. I think next time though I'll just fish the method feeder and focus on that. Massive thanks to Jake for all his advice and lending me a load of his carp gear. Maybe next time he can join me.

Tight lines, Scott.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Battling against the elements in Jersey.

A few months ago I'd discussed a possible trip to Jersey with my friends Lee Goddard and Ross Johnson whom I first met over in Angelsey back in May at the North Wales Bumble. We decided to go and booked travel and accomodation and whilst they were driving down from Wales and taking the ferry, I was flying down via Gatwick arriving slightly earlier and leaving a day later. A week before we went the weather forecasts for our trip didn't look great but we tried to remain positive and were looking forward to fishing together again and having a laugh whatever mother nature would serve up!

The first day of the trip was last Thursday and after an early start to my journey and two fairly short flights I arrived on Jersey at 9:30. I jumped on a bus and headed into St Helier before catching a second one to Gorey, where the hostel we would be staying was located. On way there I had a text from Lee to say that their ferry had been cancelled due to the rough conditions and that hopefully they'd be on the next one at 5:30 following day. This wasn't great news but I knew at least they could do a spot of fishing to pass the time. Luckily for me I had arranged to meet fellow The Lure Forum member Martin Riddock who picked me up from near Gorey Castle and was good enough to show me a few places to fish near Gorey before dropping me off at the hostel. Before he left we agreed to meet up on Tuesday in the morning before I left as he fancied giving LRF a go.

Gorey Castle. My adventure would begin on the rocks at the back.
No it's not Jersey being nuked! Just a downpour in the distance. Wouldn't be the last either. Many of them hailstones!

After dumping my gear in the room I took my LRF gear and headed down to the back of Gorey Castle to start exploring. The wind and rain made things very difficult to fish the open sea though so I started exploring the rockpools. It wasn't long at all before I caught a rock goby. In the next rockpool a common blenny snaffled my Gulp! Sandworm. I worked my way around the rocks and soon caught another rock goby.

My first fish of the trip. A rock goby.
This Jersey blenny seemed rather shy compared to his Scottish cousins.

Then I spotted a nice rocky outcrop and started to make my way over to it. On the way there however I spotted some smaller gobies in a fairly large rectangular pool. I tied on a #26 hook and put on a tiny piece of pink Power Isome. After a bit of teasing I managed to hook one but it fell off as I lifted it from the water. I soon hooked another though and swung it up to my hand to discover it was a two spotted goby. I popped it back and kept trying in the hope that a new goby species might be in there for me and soon I caught another one. It had strange markings and certainly wasn't a common or two spotted goby. I began checking it and as soon as I inspected its first dorsal fin I realised it was in fact a tiny rock goby.

A bit like buses these two spotted gobies. I've started spotting them everywhere!
The smallest rock goby I've caught. Nothing escapes the #26 hooks!

Light was beginning to fade and I decided to head into St Helier to try around the marinas for scad. By the time I got there the wind was battering the place and heavy showers of hailstones were raining down. I tried in the Elizabeth Marina and also from the Albert Pier but apart from one or two strange bites near the bottom there was very little sign of any fish. Cold, wet and quite tired I called it a night and headed back to the hostel hoping that Lee and Ross would arrive soon so I wasn't going it solo for much longer.

On Friday morning I woke to find I had received a text from Lee during the night saying that they were on the boat over. They were due to arrive just after 10:00 but by 12:00 there was still no sign if them. I tried calling both of them but couldn't get them so I sent a text to say where I'd be and left a message with reception too. I walked down to the shore and just as I got down there and started climbing onto some rocks Lee rang me from the hostel to say they had popped into Mr Fish on the way and Ross would come down to pick me up. Together at last! After they'd told me about their nightmare crossing and how ill Lee had been we headed off to a mark to target giant gobies as Lee had never caught one before. It was a fairly slow start despite spotting some movement in a big rockpool the fish were very shy, hiding under large rocks and refusing to come out. Ross was first to get a fairly small one and then turned his attention to some tiny gobies he thought might be two spotted gobies. After exploring the area for a while I headed back to first pool. After a bit of patience and sticking my rod tip under a few rocks to deliver the Isome I managed to catch two giant gobies.

Giant gobies are the biggest of the U.K. goby species.
I popped it into a small rockpool to show the lads.

Then as I worked my way over to where Lee and Ross were I caught a smaller giant goby followed by a rock goby. Lee then managed to catch his first giant goby and was quite pleased. Ross had been busy still trying to find and catch smaller gobies but hadn't been successful. 

Not all giant gobies are giant!
After searching the area for a while Lee gets his first ever giant goby.

We then decided we'd had enough of the giant gobies and went to visit Mr Fish where we met the guys who work in the shop and had a chat. Lovely blokes and we could have chatted all night long! We were planning to target undulate rays that night and Ross wanted to scratch with smaller hooks to see what else was around in the hope of picking up something new. With ragworm, sandeel and squid purchased as well as a few lures and other bits and pieces off we went to Bouley Bay. I was fishing two bait rods and also intended to try a bit of LRF but bites started coming from the off. I caught a dogfish. Ross and Lee caught some as well but are not fans of the species due to them taking baits intended for other targets but I think they are nice fish and don't mind catching them at all. A short time later one of my rods started nodding again and I picked it up and struck, hooking the fish. It didn't feel like a big fish so I thought it may be another dogfish. It wasn't until it came into view we realised it was a small undulate ray. As I pulled it in over the rocks I caught my other line and pulled it in a fair distance. After taking some photos of the ray and putting it back I proceeded to sort out my second rod only to find I had a fish on it. Reeling it in I knew it was something small but to our surprise it was a topknot that had swallowed half of my sandeel wrapped in squid including a #4/0 hook!

Lee says he hates dogfish. Could have fooled me.
First new species of the trip and an absolute cracker too.
Strange yet beautiful markings are fascinating to look at.
Pure luck but I don't care!
A quite bizarre fish and my second new species of the trip.
One of my dogfish. I like them!

After the initial action packed start to the night it went quiet for a while apart from a group of Portuguese anglers who were huddled closely together at the corner of the breakwater catching squid. Ross caught a few pouting and I had a go for sand smelt in the harbour but they just weren't interested in my tiny pieces of Power Isome or ragworm. As the night progressed most of the Portuguese anglers drifted away but when only one remained he caught a big squid that must have been about 4lb. As we packed up all our gear I decided I'd like to try squiding on my LRF gear! A trip to Mr Fish would be required to buy some small jigs.

On Saturday morning we went into St Helier and headed to the Victoria Pier. I decided to drop shot Gulp! Sandworm sections. It was soon apparent that the spot we were fishing held a healthy goby population. I soon caught a few black and rock gobies. I also hooked a whiting which came of on the surface. This would have added to my lure caught tally for 2012 and it was the second time I've hooked one on a lure only to loose it on the surface. I then caught a small ballan wrasse and Ross had a couple of corkwing wrasse. Lee caught a few sand gobies. Another species he is less than fond of!

A black goby. Note the elongated first dorsal fin. A key identifying feature.
This small ballan made a nice change from gobies!
Male corkwing wrasse are very pretty fish.

In the early afternoon we headed to Mr Fish again to meet up with fellow species hunter Andy Marquis who'd made the trip over from the island of Guernsey to fish with us. Whilst in the shop we all got some LRF squid jigs. Lee still wasn't feeling 100% after being ill on the ferry and had a massive headache so we went back to the hostel so he could have a few hours sleep. Whilst Ross went to dig some lugworm, Andy and I fished from a rock at the back of Gorey Castle and had a chat about fishing. The spot looked quite promising with rocks and weed mixed with sandy areas. We were both drop shotting but there was little action apart from some persistent if tiny bites. These were fairly constant so we scaled down our hooks. Andy went to a #14 whilst I went even smaller and tied on a #20. The bites kept coming and because they felt a little strange we persevered to try and catch a culprit hoping for something odd. When I finally hooked one I was disappointed though to find out it was a sand goby.

Amazing that we could even feel their bites.

Ross returned at this point and he had a go for a two spotted goby for a bit in the rockpool where I had caught mine a couple of days earlier but after half an hour he admitted defeat. We went back up to hostel to find Lee up and feeling a bit better. Ross wanted to fish a rock mark for red mullet and sole which involved a bit of a climb and Lee didn't feel up to it and Andy suggested we could target scad instead so Lee and I went with him whilst Ross went off on his own. The three of us headed to mouth of the Elizabeth marina but it was way too windy so we headed back to Gorey to fish under the breakwater lights. No joy there though so we headed to Bouley Bay again. Fishing there was slow too. A few small pollock were caught and then I turned my attention to the sand smelt again. It took me a while but once I had my first another four soon followed. Lee then hooked a topknot but it escaped as he brought it to the surface. He was pretty gutted to say the least. We then had a go at squiding but had no joy. Even the small group of Portuguese anglers targeting them caught very few. A garfish then swam into the harbour but wasn't interested in the small metals I cast towards it. Lee caught a few more pollock but was still cursing his luck over the lost topknot. We called it a night about midnight and headed back to the hostel. When we got there Ross was already in bed sleeping. We wondered how he'd got on but would have to wait until the morning to find out.

Small pollock kept Lee busy on a tough night.
It took me a while to figure out how to get the sand smelt interested and biting before cracking it and catching my third new species of the trip

When we got up on Sunday morning Ross told us he'd had no luck with red mullet and sole and had instead caught a load of shore rockling, three bearded rockling and pouting. Andy had to leave early due to his ferry being cancelled and having to catch an earlier one so we thanked him for making the effort to come over and said goodbye, not before buying a load of drop shot leads from him though! We then headed to "White Rock" for three hours to try for bass and wrasse. Conditions were tough again but we had a go anyway. Despite it being very windy Ross caught two bass in quick succession and Lee managed a single ballan wrasse. I lost quite a bit of tackle to snags and Ross and I had a break whilst Lee seemed to be feeling a lot better and was enjoying his fishing for the first time.

One of Ross's rockling from the previous night.

White Rock on the north coast.
Lee's only reward for his efforts. We both had a few shy bites but this wrasse was a bit more aggressive.
Lee searches for more wrasse. Ross watches from the top of the hill.

Later that afternoon we had arranged to meet up with two well known anglers, Steve Mullins and Roger Mortimer, to dig some bait for another crack at red mullet. We met up with them at 2pm and after digging enough lugworm for the evening they took us to the first mark. Fishing was quite slow though and whilst Steve worked his way along the shore trying for bass on hard lures Roger who was also fishing a bait rod told us a few fishing stories to keep us entertained whilst we waited for bites. None were forthcoming however and when Steve returned we packed up and headed back to the cars. Roger had to go at this point but he said he could fish with us again in the morning which we happily said yes to. Steve took us to another mark and after we were set up he wished us luck and left us to it. Again the fishing was slow with no red mullet caught and only a few dogfish and pout saving us all from blanking. It was quite a nice evening though and we all agreed that whilst the days fishing had been tough we'd all enjoyed it!

Gorey Harbour as the tide goes out. Lugworm lookout!

On Monday morning we met up with Roger Mortimer again and had a spot of breakfast before going fishing. Whilst enjoying a bacon, sausage and egg roll we all listened to more of Rogers fishing stories. As well as being a great angler he's a lovely bloke and listening to him recall his fishing experiences was a real pleasure. Breakfast over off we went and were soon at the mark, a nice sheltered bay on the north east coast. Ross wanted another go for a red mullet and was fishing two bait rods. Roger was fishing one rod and was first to catch. A nice little bream. Meanwhile Lee and I were trying for wrasse down the sides but were having no luck so I tried drop shotting Power Isome a bit further out to try for a bream. Ross then hooked something and was ecstatic when he reeled it in to find a Baillon's wrasse had taken his lugworm bait.

Finally a new species for Ross. A nice fish too!
Pink lips and fins along with bright orange markings make Baillon's wrasse quite distinct.

I managed a couple of small pollock before the wind suddenly decided to swing round into the bay and it started raining heavily signalling a change of location. We said goodbye to Roger who had to head off to go to his work. He took a quick group photo of us before we climbed back up to the cars and went our separate ways.

Matching hoodies kindly given to us by Mick at Mr Fish.

Back in the car and both the headlamps on Ross's car had stopped working so we headed into St Helier to find a garage to get the problem looked at. After that was done we decided to have an hour or so down at Victoria Pier again to see what may turn up. We tried a new spot but apart from a small dragonet that Ross caught on a rather big lugworm bait the action was slow so we headed back round to the spot we'd fished before. I was hopeful of a whiting but once again the area was full of gobies. I caught nine black gobies and nine rock gobies before we decided to head up to Bouley Bay again so Lee could try for another topknot, I fancied a go at squiding, Ross's mate Dan Ferguson was going to join us and Ross was going to have a final go for red mullet. Whilst I waited for the Portuguese to start catching squid I drop shotted the inside of the harbour to see what may turn up. Lee and I managed a few small pollock and the Portuguese were having very little success squiding so we decided to join Ross and Dan on the rocks. When we got over there Ross said there were some small fish in some of the rockpools so we went to have a closer look. I was pretty sure they were gobies and also that they were a species I'd never seen or caught before. Out came the #26 hooks and Ross and I soon had caught one each on tiny chunks of pink Power Isome. Inspecting them closely I was sure they were painted gobies due to the blue markings on their dorsal fins. A new species for both of us.

You can't see the colours on the dorsal fin in this photo but I didn't have my observation tank with me!

Soon it was time for Ross and Lee to head off to catch their ferry and as I was staying the night and flying home the following evening Dan, who has caught several conger over 30lb, suggested he and I head off to try for one with also the chance of some rays turning up. After saying goodbye to Ross and Lee we jumped in Dan's van and headed north. After a short walk we arrived and set up three bait rods. Fishing one large bait for conger and two smaller baits for rays the action was pretty non stop. A steady stream of bites and you can probably guess which species was responsible! First cast saw two dogfish hooked on a pennel rigged double snadeel bait.

First cast. Two dogfish on one bait. A first for me.

This would set the scene and ten dogfish in total were caught. A single pouting made a nice change and a fresh conger bait but towards the end of the session I caught a lovely ray. At first sight I though it was a spotted ray but it was actually a small blonde ray.

My second ray of the trip and my fifth new species.
Another beautiful shark species. I may be "Talkin' about sharkin'!" more often in the future.

I must say that Dan was very generous with his time, effort and bait, was happy to let me do most of the fishing and helped me enormously by rebaiting the hooks as the resident dogfish munched their way through everything we cast out. After a climb back to the car that seemed a lot steeper than the climb down Dan drove me back to the hostel.

Tuesday morning and after sorting out my stuff I was picked up by Martin and we headed off for a spot of LRF. The wind had dropped slightly and it was a reasonably sunny day. Having had the most success at Victoria Pier we headed there and after explaining drop shotting to Martin and setting up his rod we were soon fishing the bottom in search of gobies. It wasn't long before I caught a few and after missing a few bites and switching to a slightly smaller hook Martin had soon caught his first ever rock goby. After just over an hour or so of catching gobies we decided to try some small metals for an hour at another part of the pier but this didn't produce any action. Martin had to head to work and kindly dropped me off at Mr Fish on his way. I think Martin may have caught the LRF bug and hopefully next time I visit Jersey we can fish together again.

I had a further two hours to kill before catching my bus to the airport so I left the majority of my stuff in the shop and after a bit of advice from one of the guys headed for a bite to eat before trying my luck for flounders from a long concrete waste pipe that runs out into the bay. I started at the end and worked my way back to the shore but the water was a bit cloudy and I didn't have any luck. I collected my gear from Mr Fish and began my journey home five species better off.

Whilst the weather really made the fishing difficult and at times painfully slow I still enjoyed the trip and it was nice to spend time with the lads again. Ross's previous trips helped us locate some fish and the helpful advice from the guys at Mr Fish and a few local anglers also played a huge part in us making the most of our time on Jersey. I'll be back for sure and I know you can't predict the weather but I think next time I'll go in the summer!

Tight lines, Scott.