Thursday, January 16, 2014

Taking the ruffe with the smooth.

Last week I went fishing with my mate Nick down at the Ghegan Rock again. It was a pretty poor night's fishing and we both blanked. He told me it was his third blank in a row, something he considers to be a bit of a disaster. No angler likes blanking but it's just part of fishing and you have to take the rough with the smooth. On Sunday afternoon I fished at Balmaha Pier on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond for a few hours to try and catch a ruffe. I must have tried there about a dozen times now and the little fish that's supposed to be the most prevalent in the loch is proving very elusive indeed. I ended up blanking for the second consecutive time but I did see two ruffe being caught by another angler so I was at least encouraged to know that they were actually there to be caught! Interestingly he also caught two powan, another species I've never caught. I was planning on a visit to Portpatrick Harbour to try for a three bearded rockling on Tuesday but instead opted for another trip west to have a crack at ruffe again and if I accidentally caught a powan I certainly wouldn't complain. Arriving just before sunrise I had the place to myself, set up my feeder rod and began fishing. Loading my 30g black cap with hemp and maggots I fished a single maggot on my #18 barbless hook on a simple running ledger arrangement. It was a damp misty morning and luckily it didn't take too long for me to catch my first freshwater species of 2014 dispelling in the process any concerns I had in the back of my mind about reaching Nick's milestone of three blanks in a row. Two is bad enough!

Of to a good start with this lovely little pristine roach.

Shortly after this as more light flooded through the mist I suddenly realised that I wasn't alone after all and would be sharing my swim with another angler. I knew straight away that just like on Sunday I'd be out fished by him. The simple fact being he's much more proficient than I'll ever be at catching fish. It was nice watching him do his thing and he'd soon overtaken my tally.

A real fishing expert.

Undeterred by being second best I continued fishing and caught a few more roach before catching what I initially thought was a small bream but upon closer inspection I realised it was in fact a bream/roach hybrid.

I've yet to catch a bream in Scottish water. At least I know there must be some bream in Loch Lomond I suppose!

Just after I put the hybrid back and cast out again the feeder hardly had a chance to settle when the tip arched right over. Grabbing the rod and lifting into it I could feel the weight of a decent fish. I took my time playing it and when it came into view I realised it was a rather nice powan. I've read that they are fragile fish and do not like being kept in nets so after landing it I took a couple of quick photos before carefully putting it back, cradling the fish until it swam off.

The powan is only found in a few Scottish waters and numbers have dropped in Loch Lomond due to egg predation by my target species the ruffe.
They have a very odd looking mouth. Somewhat like that of a herring.

I was quite pleased to catch my first new species of the year but I carried on fishing hoping a much smaller spiky fish would be next to take my bait becoming my second new species of the year in the process. After a few more roach however I decided to change from maggot to a small section of chopped worm on the hook. This resulted in fewer bites but when I finally connected with a good one I knew what had taken it was far too large to be a ruffe and had soon landed a  perch.

Ruffe love worms allegedly but so does their cousin.

A nice looking fish and whilst it was certainly a bit more colourful than the last ones I caught form the Grand Union Canal it wasn't a patch on a Loch Lubnaig perch. Those really are hard to beat in the appearance stakes and I'm looking forward to fishing there again at some point this year. Anyway, longing for stunning Lubnaig perch aside, I fished on until the light began to fade and caught a few more roach but alas the little blighter I was after yet again failed to fall foul of my efforts.

A rather nice roach to end the session with. He doesn't seem to happy about it though.

So despite another failure on the ruffe front it was still a pleasurable day's fishing, I was certainly glad not to reach the dreaded three blanks in a row and it was very nice to catch a fairly rare new species. In a way it felt like my ruffe hunting efforts had finally been rewarded, even if not with a ruffe! I'll certainly be back to Balmaha Pier to try again but may have to start thinking outside the box. I may try fishing into darkness next time as I've read that ruffe will feed nocturnally. I might also try some rigs that have multiple hooks. This is something I've been thinking about for a little while. It's quite odd that in coarse fishing almost all rigs are designed around a single hook. I'm not sure why this is and over a clean snag free bottom I don't really see why this wouldn't produce more fish without any other issues preventing it doing so. Purist coarse anglers might very well be horrified by this suggestion but if it increases my chances of catching my first ruffe I don't care!

Tight lines, Scott.


  1. Great stuff Scott, well done catching the Powan, that's a result.

    1. Just in the right place at the right time Brian although it did cough up a few maggots so the feeder certainly did its job. :-D