Sunday, June 30, 2013

...It's official! The mackerel are in!

After work on Friday I popped five minutes along the road to the place where my love of fishing was rekindled a few years ago. My mate Naz took me "Mackie Bashing" there and I haven't looked back. Whilst the heavy beachcaster, six feather trace, 6oz bomb and aching arms from winching in half a dozen fish at a time have been exchanged for a Japanese ultra light solid tipped rod, zero stretch super thin braid, a small 7g metal casting jig and an ache free enjoyable scrap the target is still the same, the humble, and very tasty, mackerel.

Granton Breakwater stretches out into the River Forth. A few fish have been caught there recently including some unusual species for the area I'm told including goldsinny wrasse, ling and lesser spotted dogfish.

Arriving on the breakwater I could see quite a few other anglers fishing already and decided to start fairly close to the shore and work my way along a few metres after every cast. My thinking was that the mackerel would chase their prey close into the beach and hopefully this methodical approach would see me locate them. Far better to do this than go to the end of the breakwater and stand in the same place hoping they swim by I think! Anyway, I plodded along flicking out my little metal, a Yoshikawa Jig that my mate Lee Goddard recommended after catching a few fish on one, and it flew out like a little missile, the wind at my back no doubt assisting me.

Look just like a little sandeel.

I soon got to the first angler who was also spinning with a metal lure but he told me he hadn't caught anything yet. Walking past him and starting my search again I cast out and let the lure sink down before slowly retrieving it, pausing every now and then to let it flutter down in the water. As I approached the next group of anglers they caught a couple of mackerel on their bait rods. A good sign so I kept working my way along towards them. Midway through a retrieve and with the lure fluttering down I felt a few knocks through my sensitive rod and after the third or forth my rod bent over nicely. The mackerel on the end of my line put up a great scrap and my rod had a proper bend in it especially as the fish got closer and shot off to my left and the back across to my right. Soon though I brought it to the surface in front of me and lifted up a fairly decent mackerel, quickly dispatching it as it was coming home with me.

Perfect size for a hearty supper.

Quite content with adding another species to my 2013 tally, having enjoyed the scrap it gave, not keen on catching more than I can eat due to them not coping very well with being handled and also starting to feel quite cold due to the blustery wind, I headed home for a tasty supper.

Tight lines, Scott.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Who fishes wins.

On Tuesday this week I met up with two of my mates, Keith and Mark, for a trip to the Trossachs to fish a new venue for perch and pike. Keith's new job as a bus driver/tour guide has taken him past many stunning places that he is now desperate to go and fish. Before picking Mark up at about noon, Keith and I headed down the coast to Dunbar to mess about for an hour or so. We started off in the harbour and while the large spring low meant most of it was dry and the rest was covered by only maybe a foot of water or less experience told me there may still be fish there. As predicted a few tiny flatfish were around but something else caught my eye, lots of sand gobies in certain spots. Alas I didn't have any of my smaller hooks with me and despite trying for a while couldn't hook any of them on my #8 jighead, the smallest I had available. Having made a mental note of the areas where they were most plentiful for a return visit the next day we headed over the back of the harbour to explore the exposed rockpools. Dropping  small sections of Isome mounted on jigheads into them saw us catch a few long spined seas scorpions and time flew by as we enjoyed the sunshine and hopped around the rocks looking for the little aggressive fish. So much so that we lost track of time and were late leaving to go and pick up Mark.

Loads of attitude for such a small species.

A short drive up to Haddington later and with Mark ready to go and quickly loading his gear into the car were soon back on the road. As we were soon pretty much on one of the routes Keith takes people on guided tours he inevitably slipped into guide mode and told us some interesting historical facts related to the various battles and key events that had taken place at certain spots as we were passing them which I found very interesting. He also told us about some of the stupid questions that people ask him as well. When we passed the David Stirling Memorial after leaving the M9 I decided to stop so I could have a quick break from driving and also having passed it a couple of times before I thought it would be nice to take a closer look.

The David Stirling Memorial stands on the Hill of Row near Doune.
David Stirling. Founder of the Special Air Service. Also a keen angler.
Don't believe me? Here is the proof.

Back on the road again we stopped in Callander to acquire our permits and then headed further west up and over a large hill on some quite windy roads before reaching Aberfoyle after which the road was single track with passing places and we passed some absolutely stunning lochs at the side of the road as we went, soon arriving at Keith's chosen one, Loch Chon. Parking the car in a large passing place we tackled up and headed down to the waters edge. At this point we decided to split up. Keith headed towards the head of the loch whilst Mark and I worked our way down the eastern shore.

Some sections of the eastern shore were quite lovely.

Whilst the scenery was stunning, Mark and I had covered a fair amount of the shore without so much as a nibble and I was beginning to think that it was going to be one of those days when Mark called out that he had hooked a fish but just as I looked over it splashed in front of him and came off. Mark thought it was a small pike that had taken his Savage Gear Cannibal Shad and was quite gutted to have lost what would have been his first pike. Slightly encouraged however by at least finding out there were some fish around we continued working our way along the shore but no further action came our way. I began trying different lures and after a while I decided to throw caution to the wind and switched to a rather large 19cm Savage Gear 4Play in a rainbow trout pattern in the hope of tempting a big pike. The loch was still fairly shallow in front of us and I waded out a bit until I could see the drop off but it didn't look terribly deep beyond it and generally speaking the area we had covered had been rather featureless so we decided to head further along the shore to a spot where a small stream flowed in and there seemed to be a deeper drop off closer in. Casting out past this and slowly working the lure back, letting it sink down until I thought it was close to the bottom before cranking the reel's handle a few times, after about four or five retrieves the lure had come up over the drop off and had almost reached my rod tip when a pike suddenly appeared up over the drop off and lurched upwards grabbing the middle two sections of the lure before turning and charging off striping line from my reel as it went. Having waited so long for a bite I didn't want to lose the fish so I didn't put too much pressure on it and after a few small runs my first fish from Loch Chon was landed. I called to Mark and he came over to take a photo of me with it.

Obviously a tasty trout was irresistible.

Having seen the lure the pike had taken Mark quickly switched to a Savage Gear 4Play he had in the rather garish orange and yellow with black stripes "Golden Ambulance" pattern and we carried on fishing where I had caught the pike for a while before moving on. We then reached a large bay that was very shallow. I decided to have a break whilst Mark, who wasn't wearing waders, hopped out onto some rocks to get a bit of extra distance on his casts.

Mark gets ready to cast out his Savage Gear 4Play in "Golden Ambulance".

We were quite far down the loch by this point and I could no longer see Keithand with no signal on our mobile phones we couldn't get in touch with him to find out where he was or how he had been getting on. After speaking to Mark we decided to head back up the loch to see if we could see him on the opposite shore and I thought I could but wasn't sure so I decided to shout to see if he could hear me and respond.  He did and we soon had a conversation going although the rather large delayed echos of my voice were very strange. I asked what he had caught. "Perch and pike." was the reply. He asked what we had caught. "One pike." I shouted back. Mark and I decided at this point to walk back up and around to where he was and were soon past the point where we had all started before splitting up. As soon as we got near the head of the loch it quickly became apparent that there were a lot more fish holding features and when we saw some nice big weed beds we decided to pause and have a quick cast over the back of them. I went with a Relax Kopyto Shad and after a few casts using a slow steady retrieve I felt a solid take near the edge of a weed bed to my left and struck into a fish.

My second pike of the day was soon landed. Slightly smaller than my first.

Mark obviously was still keen to catch his first pike so we stayed at that spot for a little while but he had no luck. We then started working our way around towards Keith who had now started working his way back around towards us as well. Fishing as we went I hooked a third pike, much smaller then the previous two. Just after releasing it Keith arrived and when we explained what a relatively tough time we'd been having he was quite surprised. He'd obviously not heard me shouting "One pike." and instead told us he thought I had shouted "Lost count."! He explained that he had caught fish pretty much as soon as he had left us and had caught over thirty perch and four pike around the head of the loch, all taken on Lake Fork Live Baby Shads.

One of Keith's perch.
A nice jack too.

Basically his choice of heading to the top end of the loch had been a much better one than our decision to head down the eastern shore. There were much more fish holding features, large bays, deeper water and lots of weed beds. Luck of the draw really I suppose. He then went into guide mode again, fishing this time, giving Mark and I a tour of the spots where he'd caught the most perch, his pike and also told us that whilst he had been reeling in two of his perch they had been attacked by pike. With this most informative insight into the areas best fish holding locations Mark and I were soon into our first perch of the day and whilst Mark was after a pike I think by this point he was just glad to bust the blank!

Like the inhabitants of Loch Lubnaig, the Loch Chon perch were in pristine condition (apart from those who had been mauled by pike that is!).
How long have you had this perch? This isn't the predator you're looking for.

Keith's mini tour of predator hot spots continued and we made our way down the western side of the loch. On the way we had to cross a small stream which posed a problem for waderless Mark so Keith and I helped out.

With no waders Keith and I took turns to help Mark get across this small stream flowing into the head of the loch.

After catching a few more perch, by this point it was getting quite late so we started to make our way back around to the starting point. Mark was obviously still keen on getting himself a pike though so carried on having the odd cast as we went. By this point the midges were out in force and the nets were on.

Mark uses his "Golden Ambulance" 4Play to search for fishy patients.

As we got close to our starting point Keith hooked a pike on a Lake Fork Live Baby Shad and after carefully playing it, allowing it to run a few times as the jighead he was using can bend out sometimes under pressure, I waded in and after a few aborted attempts lifted it out for him. The small #4 jighead was barely hooked in the outside of its mouth and if he had tried to bully it I'm pretty sure it would have thrown the hook with a violent thrash.

Keith's fifth pike of the day was long and lean with a few battle scars.
A nice way to end the day for Keith.

Mark was still trying to catch one but despite a few casts at the nice weedy spot where I'd caught my second pike he still had no luck and parked the "Golden Ambulance" before we headed back to the car. Whilst it was a shame that Mark had hooked and lost his first pike, all in all it was a very successful first trip to a new water with fifty five perch and eight pike landed. The decision to split up obviously paid off too even if Mark and I had spent a lot of time fishing with little reward whilst Keith enjoyed constant action. The lack of mobile phone reception meant that the text Keith had sent early in the afternoon to say he had found some fish didn't reach my phone until we were well on the way home! I wish I had thought of shouting up the loch to him a bit earlier than I did or perhaps I can pick up some cheap radios from somewhere so that on future trips to new venues we can get regular updates from each other should we decide to split up again to cover more ground. Anyway another nice freshwater venue to visit in future and some of the other waters we passed on the way will need to be explored too which I'm looking forward to as well.

Tight lines, Scott.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Are the mackerel in yet?...

It always makes me laugh when lazy buggers ask this question on various message boards. It should result in a ban from said forums if you ask me. Instead of relying on others wetting their lines and finding out people should go out and find out for themselves! Anyway, rant over, I went out on Wednesday to see if there were any mackerel around armed with my ultra light gear and a silver 7g IMA Gun metal to thrash the water with. Before targeting mackerel however I had a bone to pick with the sand gobies I had spotted the day before whilst at Dunbar Harbour with Keith. Setting up a simple running ledger with a small 5g drilled bullet lead and tempting the tiny gobies with a small piece of pink Isome threaded onto a #22 hook I cast it out and slowly twitched it back along the bottom. It wasn't long before I had some flatfish chasing the lure and soon landed one which turned out to be my first plaice of the year.

My first plaice of 2013. Just the right size to blend into the Isome packet's artwork.

This was followed by a second small plaice before I managed to attract a goby or two in a little patch of sand that seemed to hold a few of them. After a few attempts I managed to hook one and quickly hoisted it up only to find out upon closer inspection that it was in fact a common goby, a species that I've already caught this year, so I kept casting out and twitching the lure back through the little goby hot spot. Again I missed a few bites. These small gobies have a habit of nipping at the lure and thrashing it about as if they are trying to tear chunks out of the tiny piece of fruity plastic. Being very patient eventually paid off though and I got my target species.

Last year I went all the way to Oban to catch a sand goby only to get one from Dunbar Harbour a few days later.

Quite pleased with myself I decided to try and catch a few more but as the tide began to flood into the harbour lots of small coalfish appeared and it was very hard to target the gobies without them grabbing my lure. After catching five of them I decided to head off west to Seacliff Beach to fish from the rocks for mackerel.

A nice view from the road leading down to Seacliff Beach. Tantallon Castle, the Bass Rock and the Isle of May.
Seacliff Beach from the rocks at the western end. Well worth the £2 it costs to access it!

Arriving at the back of the big rock that the tiny harbour there is cut out of I tied on a fresh 6lb leader and my IMA Gun metal lure before launching it towards the horizon and deeper water. Working it back at different depths and fan casting to try and locate any mackerel that may have been there it quickly became apparent that there weren't any around. I did however locate a pocket of small coalfish quite close in and caught five of them in quick succession.

Slightly bigger than the tiny ones I caught at Dunbar but no monster that's for sure. Still fun though.

Slightly disappointed that I might not be enjoying grilled mackerel for my supper I stopped off at North Berwick on the way home and headed along to the mark known locally as "The Horseshoe" to have another go for them. The result was the same though and despite there being several other anglers there trying to catch them in the more traditional manner, lobbing a set of feathers using fairly heavy gear, no mackerel were caught. In fact the only fish I saw being caught were a few sandeels that a puffin kept appearing in front of me with in its mouth. Alas every time it did and I reached for my camera it dove back down to hunt again so I couldn't get a photo of the little bird with the brightly coloured beak. Still it was nice to see one so close though. I headed home quite pleased with the days efforts as the sand goby and plaice had taken my 2013 species tally to 40 and despite not catching any mackerel it's always better to go out and enjoy trying to catch them and find out for yourself if they are in or not!

Tight lines, Scott.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Most Wanted : Black Mouthed Dogfish.

Sharks are cool, fascinating creatures. I don't think anyone would dispute this fact. Some anglers do however have a strong dislike for a particular species of shark, namely the lesser spotted dogfish, commonly referred to as the doggy. In some areas these can reach plague proportions and anglers targeting other fish can have their baits picked up by the resident doggies much to their annoyance. Personally I don't mind catching them and at the end of the day I believe all fish deserve respect, even the humble bait stealing doggy.

My first ever lesser spotted dogfish. I still enjoy catching them even when I'm not targeting them.

A less well known and much less common cousin of the lesser spotted dogfish is the black mouthed dogfish. So named because, you've guessed it, the inside of its mouth is black. It has the same very abrasive skin as its spotted cousin but is darker in colour with rather nice markings down its flanks, has larger eyes and a longer pointed snout, the top of which is covered in highly sensitive prey detecting sensors.

A very nice looking member of the shark family I'm sure you'll agree.

As my "Most Wanted" list didn't have any sharks on it and since I've also set myself the goal of catching ten shark species this year I thought this was something I needed to address. There are other shark species that I'd like to catch for the first time too but this one is just a little unusual and that's why it joins the other species on my list of highly sought after catches. I know that black mouthed dogfish are sometimes caught on the west coast of Scotland and that's where I shall probably head to try and catch one.

Tight lines, Scott.

Most Wanted : Garfish.

Another rather unusual looking fish is the latest addition to my "Most Wanted" hitlist and it's also a fish that some anglers do not like. A bit of a theme is emerging on that front and I guess I like to side with the underdogs in that respect. All fish are equal in my eyes. Why don't anglers like them? Because they smell bad allegedly. Whilst I saw one last year during a trip to Jersey cruising around in a harbour I've never seen one close up so I couldn't say how badly but hopefully I'll find out sooner or later.

They scrap well too on ultra light gear I'm reliably informed.

A member of the needlefish family of fish, these long thin fish have a very long hard beak full of little teeth. This rather bony mouth makes them quite hard to land as they can often throw hooks due to the hook not having a proper hold. An oily fish similar to mackerel that is supposed to taste nice but many people are put off by the fact it has green bones. Small metal lures worked quickly and close to the surface seem to be a good way to catch them and I'll be trying to track some down next week when I head off to the south coast of England for ten days where I hope to start catching some of my other Most Wanted targets as well.

Tight lines, Scott.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fisherman's Friends.

No, this post has nothing to do with the brand of strong menthol lozenges produced by Lofthouse company in Fleetwood, Lancashire, England that no self respecting skipper will leave port without. It's me being soft and reflecting upon how lucky I am to have met many people I now consider friends through my love of fishing. I suppose this is true when you indulge in any hobby but for me my rather obsessive love of fishing has led me to meet some fantastic people who all to some degree also have an angling addiction problem too.

Can you even still buy these?

This week on my two days off and also after work on Thursday I went fishing with three of my fishing pals, meeting up with a different one each day. Unfortunately my best fishing friend of all Jake couldn't make any of these trips. He was supposed to be coming along on one of them but unfortunately his van broke down whilst he was working that day which meant he couldn't make it. We'll catch up soon enough though no doubt!

On Tuesday I headed down to St Abbs Head to meet up with local rockhopping angler Richie to try our luck from the rocks beneath the lighthouse up there. Before meeting him however I popped into Dunbar on my way down the coast and enjoyed an hour or so messing about in the rockpools and in the harbour at "flattie corner". There were plenty of long spined sea scorpions around. Dangling chunks of Isome on a 0.9g #10  Ecogear Shirasu Fine jighead in likely looking spots I had in no time at all racked up ten of them and a solitary blenny. A few casts over the clean sandy bottom of the harbour soon had loads of little flat fish in pursuit of my lure and two of them were soon hooked and landed. I was hoping for a plaice as last year Dunbar harbour was full of them but both of them were flounders.

I caught these two oddly coloured long spined sea scorpions from the same hiding place.
Blennies are ace. If you don't like them there's something wrong with you.
Small but perfectly formed, these little flounder are pretty cool too. Watching groups of them chase your lure and fight over it is great fun.

Quite pleased with my fish filled start to the evening I jumped back in the car and drove down to meet up with Richie hoping to catch some bigger fish. After a short drive up to the car park next to the lighthouse we were soon making our way down a fairly well worn path to the rocks below. The climb down to the mark was fairly easy.

The lighthouse and fog horn on the cliff top high up above us.

Once down there we were met by the hundreds of sea birds who are resident on some of the cliff faces down there. The gully in front of us was almost like a busy airport with birds flying out to sea and returning with small baitfish in their mouths before swooping up and perching on tiny ledges closely huddled together. Some of the birds also flew down and landed in the water fairly close in. Some of the landing were not very graceful to say the least and a few were so bad they had me in fits of laughter. Setting up our gear Richie headed to the point and fishing a small metal with a piece of red Gulp! Sandworm attached had soon caught a few coalfish and a couple of pollock. I was keen on fishing the gully with a Lunker City Swimmin Ribster on a weedless jighead smeared in Captain Mike's Sardine scent and was twitching it along the bottom in front of me. I had just had a couple of bites that I was sure was a wrasse when Richie hooked a nice fish, his rod bent right over and the fish started stripping line from his reel.

Richie puts his ultra light rod and his reel's drag through their paces.

After a few power dives the fish was played out and came to the surface. Landing it would be tricky from our elevated position but I scrambled down the rocks as far as I could and handlined the fish up for Richie. It was a cracking pollock and Richie was very pleased.

Richie's best pollock so far this year.

After Richie had returned the fish I went back to where I had been fishing and cast back to the spot where I had registered the bites. I didn't get anymore though so I joined Richie at the point and switched to a new style of jighead I've bought to try, a 3g #6 AquaWave Rock Bait, and threaded on a long section of red Gulp! Sandworm. Richie was on a bit of a roll by now and had caught a few more nice coalfish but for some reason I just wasn't having any joy so I switched to a small metal and finally caught a coalfish too. I then hooked a decent coalfish that went ballistic just as it got close but it managed to throw the hook just as I was about to try and lift it up. Richie then hooked another nice fish, its headshakes led him to believe it was a cod but unfortunately he lost it. We carried on fishing for a while and I caught a few more coalfish and a single pollock whilst Richie tried fishing in the gully where I had been earlier but before we knew it the sun had begun to dip over the horizon and we decided to call it a night and climb back up to the top while it was still light.

Time to climb back up before it gets dark.

On the way back up we spotted a few gullies that had some nice big boulders in them that look like they'll be great for wrasse so I'd like to figure out how to access those spots. I really enjoy fishing in places like that. Rockpooling and messing around in harbours is great fun but there's something special about fishing from secluded rock marks surrounded by cliffs that I really love. I really want to spend a lot more time up St Abbs Head this summer as I feel it has massive potential for both lure and bait fishing especially if you are prepared to try different tactics than those normally employed by others who fish that type of mark. It's the type of place you could spend a lifetime exploring and still only barely scratch the surface. I'm sure Richie will be up for a few more trips up there to explore it with me. So my first fishing trip to St Abbs over, I drove Richie back to his van and we both headed home.

On Wednesday afternoon I met up with Mark, one of the lads I've been going up to Applecross with in Aug the last few years. This years fishing trip isn't looking likely so instead we've agreed to meet up a few times and go fishing for the day. Wednesday was the first time this year we've met up and we decided to go for a spot of lure fishing for freshwater predators and hopefully get Mark his first ever pike and perch. First stop was the Falkirk Wheel section of the Forth & Clyde Canal but when we got there the sun was shining, a fairly constant wind was blowing straight along the canal and the water was quite coloured up too, all of which made me think we might struggle a bit.

Lovely day but not ideal conditions for catching pike.

My concerns were soon justified and after an hour or so of working our way along the canal trying different lures we decided to move to another stretch about eight miles further west that had a few more natural water features and shady spots that I hoped would hold some fish.

I was hopeful that some pike would be lurking under the lily pads or in the reeds and shade provided by overhanging trees on the opposite bank.

Arriving there we spoke to another angler who told us that he hadn't caught anything. Not the news we wanted but with a few more clouds now overhead and the wind dying down slightly I was hopeful we would get some interest in our lures. Working our way along it was a while before I finally spotted some fish, a few roach and called along to Mark to let him know there were some signs of life at last. Finishing my next retrieve I was just about to lift my lure out when a small jack quickly appeared from the middle of the canal and had a rather half hearted go at it before hovering next to it. Letting it drop to the bottom I gave it a few tiny twitches and the little pike had a second and then a third more aggressive go at it. Not sure if it had the hook in its mouth or not I gently struck and succeeded in hooking it. Soon landed, it was a little bit of encouragement that perhaps there were a few pike around that were active after all, so we decided to continue fishing the canal for a bit longer to try and get Mark a pike too.

A small jack but a most welcome one.

We continued heading along towards a large basin with quite a lot of lily pads and reed beds on the far side. Mark then hooked a fish and his rod tip started nodding away. I told him to take his time and just as I got the net ready it came to the surface and we were both quite surprised to see an eel! Instead of waiting for the net Mark just lifted it out onto the bank. Having caught one recently I knew how difficult they can be to handle but Mark told me he knew how to calm them down. What happened next had me in stitches. Mark placed the eel on its back and began rubbing it from head to tail. This had the desired effect rather quickly and the fish was soon rather limp and easy to handle. After a quick photo of the "Eel Stroker" with his victim, the eel was popped back and quickly came around before it slowly slithered off through the rocks and other debris on the bottom.

Mark the eel stroker with a fairly limp easy to handle eel. I wish I had known about this technique when I caught one the other week!

Shortly afterwards I had a small pike nipping at my lure again and let Mark have a go in the spot where I thought it was. He had no luck trying to tempt it though so we started heading back to the car. I had one more small jack follow my lure and again Mark had a few casts in the vicinity without reward so we decided to head to our next venue, Loch Lubnaig, to try and get Mark his first perch. Having been there recently with Jake and caught over twenty between us I was very confident getting Mark one would be easier than the search for pike had turned out to be. Having learnt an itchy lesson during that visit I had brought both of us midge nets ready for the little buggers should they appear and we were quickly fishing at my favourite spot. My rod was already set up and I cockily told Mark I'd probably have a perch by the time he had set up his. Pretty soon Mark was fishing next to me though and the lack of bites was quite worrying at first until I felt a few taps and then the weight of a fish. I smiled over at Mark who was concentrating on his own fishing and hadn't noticed the bend in my rod. With the fish at my feet I was just about to lift it out of the water when it spat the jighead out of its mouth and shot off back into the weeds in front of us. Bugger. I was hopeful it would be the first of a few but after a while with no more bites we decided to move along the shore to the small peninsula at the bend in the loch. Once there we carried on searching and after a while Mark called over to me that he was in. I didn't want a second perch to escape so I quickly reeled in and ran over with the net and Mark soon had his first ever perch safely in it.

Mark was very pleased with his first perch. I was quite relieved.
Another lovely Loch Lubnaig perch. Mark caught it on a Savage Gear Cannibal Shad.

Mark thought the perch was a lovely looking fish and was now keen to catch some more. I just wanted to catch my first one of the evening so we both kept searching the area. After deciding to try some metal lures I finally found a weedy area that held some fish and caught one on Jake's favourite lure for the venue, a Jackson Cymo, and soon after followed it up with a second perch after switching to my favourite lure for perch, the Lake Fork Live Baby Shad in golden shiner.

I continue working my lure through the weeds.
Finally I land a perch. Again a small but most welcome catch.

Shortly afterwards I caught a third small perch and by now the wind had dropped right off and the surface of the loch was like a sheet of glass, so much so we could see loads of trout rising all around us. Checking the time though it was getting quite late and I was just about to tell Mark it was probably time to call it a night and head home when his rod hooped over into another fish. He could tell it was a good one and after landing it he brought it over and we popped it in the net and kept it in the water while Mark got his camera to take a photo of it.

As light fades and the midges appear Mark dons his net and keeps trying for a second perch.
A much bigger specimen than his first he was over the moon. Just reward for his efforts.
Dusk over Lubnaig. What a backdrop to fish in front of.

Popping his perch back and watching it quickly shoot of over the drop off in front of us Mark was quite pleased and we both agreed it was the perfect way to end the session so we packed up and headed back to the car. The fishing may have been quite hard going but it was great to catch up with Mark again and whilst it's a shame that we probably won't be going to Applecross for our annual week long break the prospect of a day trip here and there is quite exciting and will allow me to take Mark to some more nice venues that will see him enjoying his fishing and hopefully catching a few more new species too.

After work on Thursday afternoon I met up with Keith, who I haven't fished with for a while as he's just started a new job, for a totally stress free evening drowning maggots at Eliburn Reservoir. Upon arrival we were shocked to find that we had the entire venue to ourselves and so we picked the newly refurbished and very comfortable double peg on the western side at the bottom end. With trees behind us providing some shade and hardly any wind the conditions were absolutely ideal for a spot of waggler fishing. The action was immediate and fishing about a rod length out and feeding maggots constantly kept the fish coming at a steady rate. Perch in particular were out in force and after a few of them, a roach each and an ide for me, Keith landed a rather nice rudd, the first I've seen caught from the venue.

Eliburn Rudd. Lovely.
Keith with his nice golden nugget.

After this we caught a load more perch, it didn't seem to matter what we did they kept coming and it seems they have almost reached plague proportions in the venue. They were all a fairly consistent small size until I caught one that was a bit of a bruiser by comparison.

A monster perch by Eliburn standards though as I've said before I'm sure there are bigger perch lurking in there waiting to be caught.

At this point a fleet of ducklings swam through our swim and gobbled up some of the maggots we were tossing in. We didn't mind and tossed them a few more handfuls which they greedily gobbled up as their mother watched from a distance.

How cute.

A few young lads turned up and set up opposite us. After a while it became apparent that they weren't catching anything. Keith and I have discussed this before and we still cannot work out how people struggle to catch fish there, especially when there are so many perch in it at the moment! Keith then caught an ide, I had a roach/bream hybrid and we both caught a load more perch with the odd roach managing to beat the little rampant spiky predators to our baits. When we had just about run out of maggots we started to pack up our gear and I had one last cast. Packing up the last few pieces of my gear into my seatbox I saw my float disappear out of the corner of my eye and gently lifted into a nice fish which turned out to be a roach.

A plump Eliburn roach. A nice way to end the session.

It was good to catch up with Keith again and whilst the bulk of the fish we caught were small perch, over fifty between us, with a few other species in amongst them the relaxing session was exactly what I had been looking for and I'm looking forward to meeting up with him again soon for a trip to Magiscroft to try for some carp. I'm also looking forward to fishing some new freshwater destinations with him because his new job has taken him to some potentially great places to fish where he has been doing a bit of reconnaissance and gathering information by speaking to the locals. More trips to the Trossachs and the Highlands await!

So three quite different sessions with three good friends. I'm looking forward to fishing with these three guys again soon, also with some of my other fisherman's friends in the future as well and hopefully meeting some new ones to go fishing with too.

Tight lines, Scott.