Saturday, July 19, 2014

Unfinished business.

Last Sunday I headed down to the Isle of Whithorn with my mate Martin for a relaxing session targeting wrasse. We arrived at about 9:00 armed with a few ragworm and crabs and made our way along the coast until we found a nice looking gully to fish in. Martin started off fishing ragworm under a float and I started off with a very simple one up rig with a short snood formed by tying a blood loop. We had a great morning and by early afternoon had both caught ballan, corkwing, goldsinny and rock cook wrasse as well as a few pollock, a coalfish, a poor cod and a common blenny. Not a bad bit of species hunting and all from a relatively small area.

My first fish of the day was a corkwing wrasse.
A ballan wrasse puts a nice bend in my light rod.
A few more ballan wrasse followed.
Smaller hooks and pieces of ragworm were required to catch the resident goldsinny wrasse.
I love catching rock cook wrasse. Their facial markings are beautiful.

This meant I had completed my grand slam attempt that I began five days earlier albeit in a much slower time than my sub three hour one I managed up at Lochaline last year. Martin by this point had switched to a rig similar to mine and had tried using small hardback crabs as bait to see if he could tempt a large ballan but smaller fish did a good job of quickly attacking and eating them without in the main getting themselves hooked.

In the afternoon I decided to throw some small metals about into the tidal flow and see what else was around. There were literally hundreds of sandeels swimming past against the tidal flow and after a while I spotted what I thought was a bass swimming past underneath them. Casting my metal in the general direction where it had been heading I had no luck tempting it. I was however getting the odd tiny tap which I suspected was the sandeels so I tied on the smallest metal I had in an attempt to catch one. As most of them were under 20cm it took a while to get one but eventually my persistence paid off and I finally hooked one.

Which type of Sandeel was it though? No dark spot on its nose which is a distinguishing feature on a launce. A lesser sandeel perhaps? Looking back at photos of last years sandeel captures has planted a seed of doubt in my mind about some of their identities too. Further research into UK Sandeel species is certainly required.

Shortly afterwards I saw a bass take a sandeel from the surface and shouted over to Martin who came over and started fishing a Savage Gear Sandeel. He had no luck catching a bass from the tidal flow but dropping down closer in he soon caught a small pollock at close range that gave a good account of itself in the current.

A feisty little pollock.

It went a bit quiet after that, although I did manage a second sandeel, so we went back to where we had started fishing and switched back to worm baits. Martin told me that he'd read reports of tompot blennies being caught in the vicinity so we were both hopeful that one of those or some other unusual mini species might beat the hordes of small wrasse to our ragworm chunks. Mid afternoon Martin hooked yet another small fish and as he reeled it in he was saying out loud "It's a tompot, it's a tompot." over and over. Amazingly when it came into view it was! Quickly swung up to hand, Martin was very pleased to get himself a new species and I was quite jealous having never caught one from Scottish waters. We carried on fishing and after a while my envious feelings were taken care of when I hooked a small fish that felt a little different and it turned out to be another tompot blenny.

My first Scottish tompot blenny. A "tampot blenny".
Like the stereotypical Scot, "Tam" had shaggy ginger hair.

Fishing on we both caught another tompot blenny each and a few more small wrasse before we both switched to fishing float tactics for the last hour or so. This produced one or two more small wrasse and we packed up at 18:00 and headed up the road. Ten species between the two of us wasn't a bad result and it was another thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing days fishing. The coast around Isle of Whithorn certainly deserves further exploration and I might have to return on smaller tides and have a go after dark for a three bearded rockling. Martin has also been reminded about my desire to target smoothhounds down the south west coast and hopefully we can arrange that so I'll probably be back down there soon targeting something new.

Tight lines, Scott.

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