Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Two out of three ain't bad.

When I got back from Menorca and updated my saltwater species tally for the year I noticed that I had reached ninety five species and had a though. Perhaps I could realistically hit a total of one hundred if I did a bit of planning, got a few breaks with the weather and a slice of luck? Looking at potential targets that I haven't caught during 2014 (or haven't ever caught for that matter) I came up with a shortlist of species that I could try and catch and have subsequently decided these will be my focus for the rest of the year. Three of the species on this shortlist, two spotted goby, golden grey mullet and thick lipped grey mullet, I had caught previously around East Lothian so on Sunday I took advantage of a calm spell in the weather and headed off to try and catch the three of them. First stop was the rather nice Ravensheugh Beach at low water to try and catch a two spotted goby from the rockpools at the eastern end.

Ravensheugh Beach is also known to produce the odd turbot, another species I've not caught this year, so I may return in the near future.

Making my way to the rocks at the end of the beach I tied a #18 hook onto the end of my line and squeezed on a single 2g shot a few inches above it. On the hook went a tiny sliver of squid and I began working my way around the various rockpools. To start with I couldn't see any two spotted gobies but after catching a few long spined sea scorpions I was exploring my third rockpool when I finally spotted two of the little fish. 

No sign of my target in this fairly deep pool but a nice big boulder in it provided a place to hide for...
...several of these super aggressive little predators.

Having located the fish I was after, which is usually the hardest thing to do in fishing, I set about trying to catch one. Lowering my bait down in front of the tiny fishes they swam over to inspect it but didn't seem interested at all and after a while trying to tempt them I decided to move on and try and locate some more in other rockpools. I soon spotted a single specimen in the next pool poking its head out from beneath a large rock but again it didn't seem to be in the mood so I moved again. The next rockpool was a lot bigger and dropping my bait into the middle of it saw three two spotted gobies appear from the weed around the edges, swim up and start fighting over it. This was a lot more promising but I feared they might struggle to get the #18 hook into their tiny mouths. I normally use #26 hooks for these tiny species but I've run out and after a while I was cursing the fact I hadn't ordered more. Just when I was thinking about quiting and heading off to target mullet I finally managed to hook one and quickly hoisted it up out of the rockpool.

This small gobies are pretty easy to spot as they have a dark red back with light brown saddles. They don't seem to spook either so once located a bit of perseverance (and a suitably tiny hook) normally sees them caught. Note also the nice blue spots down the fishes flank. These appear much brighter when the fish is in the water.

Quite pleased that my efforts had been rewarded I headed back to the car and drove down the A1, stopping briefly to buy some bread and sardines to make up some groundbait to hopefully attract a few mullet down at Torness Power Station outflow. Conditions didn't look ideal when I got down there however, with a slight swell running and the water ever so slightly clouded up as a result. I decided to give it a go anyway and set about making up my groundbait as I waited for the tide to flood over the area I planned to fish. As I started setting up my tackle I spooned in some groundbait and after a while a few juvenile mullet began appearing and started nibbling away at the chunks of bread floating on the surface. Tackle wise I went with an 8g bolo float, 6lb mainline and a #10 hook at the end of a 4lb hooklength. Squeezing on a bread flake about the size of a 5p piece and casting it out I sat patiently watching for the float to register bites. Over the next two hours or so I kept the groundbait going in, rebaiting my hook regularly and my patience was finally rewarded when I got a cracking bite, my float shooting under and staying there. Fish on and it was much bigger than the small ones I'd seen near the surface. I was surprised it didn't make any runs but instead it just thrashed around for quite some time in front of me. After a nervous moment when I thought it was going to swim into the rocks I was fishing from I managed to get it in my net.

Mullet are hard fighting fish. They have a lot of stamina too and don't give up easily. Luckily this one was well hooked. 

I carried on fishing hoping that a golden grey mullet would be next to sink my float and complete my hat trick of species for the day. My float did go under a second time but unfortunately the fish threw the hook after a few seconds of persistent thrashing. It felt like a bigger mullet than my first though so in all likelihood it was another thick lipped mullet. Just after high water I ran out of groundbait and then slices for my hookbaits so I packed up and headed off. Two out of three ain't bad and I'm confident I can return when conditions are better and catch a golden grey mullet. I now have only three species to catch to reach the one hundred mark and just over seven weeks to get them. Neap tides this weekend should have seen me out on Sunday night trying to catch a five bearded rockling and a viviparous blenny during slack water from Anstruther's White Pier but the incredibly strong easterly winds currently forecast may make this impossible. I may have to wait until the weather calms down again to resume my saltwater species hunting.

Tight lines, Scott.


  1. Well done Scott, another couple of species ticked off the list, I had a go for the Mullet earlier in the year, they drove me nuts!

    1. Thanks Brian. I think the weather will be the deciding factor really if I am to reach my goal. Mullet are very frustrating fish. The one I caught on Sunday didn't mess about though and was hooked inside its mouth. Did you have a go with fly gear?

    2. No Scott, I was float fishing, got a couple of good bites but struck into thin air! Frustrating when you can see them at your feet, some of them looked pretty big too.