Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Feeling good.

The virus I had recently really was pretty nasty and it's taken a few weeks for me to get over it properly. Finally feeling almost a hundred percent again I set off yesterday to mess about in some rockpools. I decided to try and tick a tiny species off my target list for my Scottish saltwater species hunt, the two spotted goby. This little fish can reach a maximum length of a whopping 6cm and most that can be seen in rockpools are much smaller. My trusty #26 hooks to 1lb nylon packed off I went to try and locate some trapped in the rockpools at the end of Ravensheugh Beach where I have caught them previously. Unfortunately after peering into several dozen rockpools I hadn't found any two spotted gobies and they are fairly easy to pick out as unlike their cousins they tend to sit up above the bottom and move around constantly. They also have a deep red back with four cream coloured saddle markings on it that means they stand out like a sore thumb. I had intended to head west along the beach to try for flatfish but as it was a nice big spring tide I decided to explore more rockpools to the east instead.

Lovely day to be out ambling about on the rocks hunting tiny fish. This is the view from St Baldred's Cradle, a rocky peninsula that sits to the west of the mouth of the River Tyne. Berwick Law and the Bass Rock are on the horizon. The beautiful golden sands of Ravensheugh Beach stretch off towards Seacliff.

The new ground I was working my way along had some absolutely cracking deep rockpools but alas they didn't seem to hold any fish. I had a tiny piece of Isome on my hook but even tiny pieces normally draw out any fish. I thought my day's fishing was going to turn into a pleasant ramble when a tiny long spined sea scorpion appeared and first of all tried to eat the split shot placed a few centimetres above my hook. Raising the micro lure up in front of it, the little fish obligingly gobbled it up and the first fish of the session was quickly hoisted up into my hand.

A tiny reward for my efforts. Note the little white barbule on the corner of its mouth. Short spined sea scorpions don't have this. Useful little identification tip that. 

I carried on working my way along the rocks searching for the elusive little gobies, dangling my piece of isome in front of weeds around the edges and dropping it in front of gaps under submerged rocks. If possible I flicked the rig in under rocks or used a slope on the bottom to let it find its way under them. Not all fish are as bold as the long spined sea scorpion and I find getting the rig under rocks this way encourages more cautious fish that might be hiding under them to bite. When I do this I let the line go a little slack and watch for it tightening up to indicate a bite. Doing this in a fairly shallow rockpool under a large flat rock my line twitched a little then slowly began to tighten. Pulling the rod tip out away from the rock I felt a small fish on and it was thrashing around a fair bit. Pulling it out from under the rock and lifting it up I realised it was a butterfish, only my second ever. I was very excited to say the least and come the end of the year this type of capture may prove crucial in determining whether or not I reach my goal of fifty species from Scottish saltwater.

Eleven spots are better than two!

On a bit of a high I carried on exploring but failed to locate any two spotted gobies or any other fish for that matter so I headed off to Dunbar to grab lunch and spend the afternoon harassing flatfish in the harbour there hoping to catch some flounder. A sandwich and some mango slices quickly devoured I headed to "flattie corner" which I am now renaming "plaice place" as they seem to have taken it over, outnumbering the flounder by a ratio of 6:1. Over a couple of hours I caught a dozen small plaice and two flounders. All taken on a 3g cheburashka rigged with a #10 undressed assist baited with a Gulp! Angleworm slowly twitched back near the bottom with lots of pauses. After the first hour I did try and experiment and tried to tempt them with a small 3g metal fitted with an assist hook for ten minutes but as I knew the fish were there and didn't get a single bite on it I soon switched back to the angleworm on the cheburashka lead and started catching fish again.

Much nicer than last weeks blustery conditions. Fishing was much easier and the fish were more obliging too. There were lots of small sandeels in the water as well which is a good sign.
"Plaice place". THE place to catch plaice.
My first flounder of the year didn't mess about and swallowed the angleworm whole. That's the 20lb braid of the undressed assist hanging out of its mouth. Don't be fooled by the orange spots. It has no nodules on its head and a row of small raised dots either side of its lateral line.

I then headed around to the old part of the harbour to do some drop shotting, although I gave the angleworm a break and fished a few other lures. Much to my delight the flounders proved not to be that fussy and happily attacked most things I put on my hook, providing good sport over the next hour or so.

Mid tide in the old harbour, a good time to target flounder. Mainly because my 2.3m net handle can reach the water. Handy for scooping out larger flounders.
This one found a pearl EcoGearAqua Katsu Mebaru Shirasu irresistible. Tongue twister material.
I really like the Aquawave range of lures. This flounder liked the 2.8 inch Straight.
These lures are super stretchy and supple. A tiny twitch on the rod tip makes them wriggle like a ragworm.
Next up I tried some Marukyu Isome. I recently found a pack while sorting out my gear. Hidden away in the bottom of a box they were still effective after over a year in an opened resealable packet.

Just before 17:00 my mate Nick came down for an hour to fish with me. This coincided with high water and also the bites drying up. Typical! We persisted though and as we chatted we moved around until Nick found the fish, landing a couple of flounder in quick succession.

Nick gets in on the action with a small flounder. His faithful dog Jen often goes fishing with him. She even barks when his float goes under.

Soon it was time to head off and end what had turned out to be a great day's fishing. A slow morning had only produced two fish but I was over the moon about catching the butterfish. A pretty rare capture and I've now caught two of them but I guess if you spend as much time as I do mucking about in rockpools occasionally you'll get lucky and catch something unusual. Fishing #26 hooks to 1lb nylon baited with tiny pieces of Isome helps too no doubt. The afternoon was great too and twenty flatfish was my final tally, not bad at all and the flounders took my 2015 Scottish saltwater species tally up to twelve. The amount of sandeels in the harbour was also a pleasant surprise. Like leaves appearing on the trees, sea lettuce growing in the rockpools and bugs getting splattered on my windscreen as I drive up and down the A1 they are a sure signs that summer is approaching and that more saltwater opportunities will be opening up soon.

Tight lines, Scott.


  1. Well done Scott, great post, the most enjoyable way to catch flounders too.

    1. Thanks Col. It is indeed. The little plaice are cool too. I think this summer is going to be epic. Need to meet up and do some Yarrell's blenny hunting and wrassing at Burntisland.

    2. Looking forward to that , I'm going to give your assist hooks a go , better presentation off the chebaruska's for small eyed hooks?

    3. Yes. #10 hooks won't fit on the cheburashka leads I have.

  2. Sounds like your mojo's back squire...

    1. Yes mate. That virus really knocked the stuffing out of me. Good to just feel well. Catch up soon again. :-)

  3. Hi Scott,
    where on earth did you get size 10 assist hooks from, or did you make them up yourself?

    1. Hi Ian. I make them up myself just whipping 20lb Power Pro on and a touch of superglue. I'm going to make more in bigger sizes to fish with heavier Cheburashka leads and larger lures. I really like them and the undressed assists mean you can position a hook exactly where you want in a lure. You also have unlimited weight and hook combinations. I think I'll be using jigheads a lot less going forward. :-D

  4. Excellent. That's the second good idea of yours I'm pinching! :-)
    All the best, Ian.

  5. Ha! Your loop method to attach small hooks for drop-shotting ;-) I'm saving them all up for Gran Canaria in June. Not many rock-pools in Nottingham! Cheers, Ian.