Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Size matters!

With no sign of the strong winds of late dying down any time soon I headed out yesterday to spend a few hours fishing in the rockpools around Torness Power Station. The large sea defences there offered me good protection from the icy cold gales blowing from the south west. I had three targets in mind although I also hoped that a bonus species might show up. Two of them were mini species and the third is what I would class as a micro species. Some anglers would no doubt frown upon such activities but when you are on a species hunt you can't ignore the smaller ones and besides I enjoy messing around in rockpools and find it can offer insights that benefit other areas of my fishing.

A long spined sea scorpion was first on my radar although their short spined cousin and leopard spotted gobies have also been caught in the area I was fishing. I decided to experiment a little with my end gear and fished a running ledger style setup with a 1g egg weight, 1mm bead, a micro swivel and a three inch hooklength to a #10 hook instead of using a split shot rig. I like using these types of presentations in rockpools as when the lead hits the bottom I think the noise it makes can attract the attention of any fish in the vicinity and then the bait takes a few seconds longer to sink down giving in the chance to pass enticingly into a fish's line of sight. Dropping the rig in next to various boulders and cracks it didn't take long for my target to charge out in a typically boisterous fashion and swallow my Gulp! Angleworm.

A perfect little ambush predator.

The next few rockpools also produced a couple of long spined sea scorpions and seeing each appear, stop in front of the lure and swallow it whole it was noticeable how easily they did this compared to when I use a split shot rig. As I mentioned above, this is one of the things I like about sight fishing in rockpools, you can learn quite a lot about rigs and tactics that can be applied when you scale up again to target larger fish on heavier tackle.

Next up I headed to another spot to catch an even smaller fish, a common goby. The rockpool where they live sometimes has two spotted gobies in it as well but there was no sign of them yesterday. Common gobies have a maximum size of only 6.5cm and an average size of 2-4cm so their tiny mouths require a seriously small hook. Onto my swivel went a #26 to 1lb nylon hook length baited with a tiny chunk of Angleworm. I find the best way to catch these bottom dwellers is to very slowly drag your rig along the bottom. This kicks up sand and normally has small groups of the diminutive fish following and fighting over it. Before too long I caught a couple of them. 

I find all fish interesting and small ones are no exception.

The last species on my list was the common blenny. A firm favourite of mine due to their cheeky character they are without doubt the easiest fish to catch at the power station outflow and are present in astonishing numbers. The artificially warm water from the outflow also sends them into a feeding frenzy when it floods into the boulders of the sea defences when the tide comes in. I have also seen a bootlace conger eels feeding in amongst them too but again only my target was caught. I don't think rig or bait choice matters in instances like this and this in itself is an important lesson, i.e. the warmer the water the more fish feed and the easier it becomes to catch them.

Common blennies are nasty little fish and will try and bite you. They have powerful jaws and will clamp on if successful. The par boiled examples found at Torness Power Station outflow area can be particularly feisty and this is probably another side effect of the warm water. All this being said though I've never had one break my skin. 

After catching a few more I decided to call it a day and headed up the road for something to eat. It was good to get out again though and I enjoyed targeting these small fish, even learning a little more about the benefits of using free running leads in rigs in the process. Fishing in rockpools might not be everyone's cup of tea but I think more anglers should try it. They might be pleasantly surprised how much fun can be had and it might just improve their fishing too.

Tight lines, Scott.

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