Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Creatures of habit.

Last Monday morning after breakfast whilst I waited on the local tackle shop opening I had a few casts around Stranraer Harbour. As well as killing time  it was nice to try somewhere new as you never know what you might catch. The water was quite coloured up but I fished away for half an hour or so and managed to catch a solitary long spined sea scorpion before heading to get a box of ragworm. I suspect if the water clarity had been better it might have produced some more fish.

A grey start to the day.
Long spined sea scorpions are pretty funky looking fish. They look like little gargoyles.

As the afternoon approached the clouds soon started to disappear but it was still fairly windy. It had been my intention to head down to the Mull of Galloway to target small wrasse from the rocks on its northern side, another spot I've never fished from before, but I was unsure what the conditions would be like down there so I popped to Portpatrick first.

Clouds all gone but because of the wind blowing down the coast and the accompanying slight swell I decided to have a fish in shelter of the harbour.

In the past amongst other species I've had from Portpatrick harbour I've caught sand gobies and rock gobies and the capture of  either would have added to my annual tally so I setup to try for them. My scaled down one up one down rig with #14 hooks and tiny chunks of ragworm wasn't tempting anything to bite though so I worked my way around the harbour until I ended up fishing in its mouth. There is a lot more kelp and snags in it though so I switched to a one up rig and eventually caught my first wrasse of the year, a small ballan.

Wrasse love ragworm. I could have fished with the ever reliable Angleworm too but really if I have the choice of that or quality ragworm then the bait wins every time.

I carried on fishing but feeling quite frustrated by the lack of further action I decided to bite the bullet and head down to the Mull of Galloway to see what the sea state was like. Getting down there I found that the north coast of it was a bit too rough to fish for wrasse and whilst the southern side looked a lot calmer most of it was inaccessible or involved dangerous climbing. Given my recent rock climbing misadventures I decided against that and instead parked the car at East Tarbet and headed north from there to try and find a sheltered gully to fish.

The Mull of Galloway lighthouse in the distance. It was a pleasant walk along the clifftop footpath and I did head down the grassy slopes to the rocks to try a couple of spots but the water just wasn't deep enough really and I had no luck finding any wrasse.

It was turning into a bit of a frustrating day really and after some head scratching I headed back up to Portpatrick. This time I explored some gullies to the north of the harbour and managed to catch an additional three ballan wrasse. It was hard work though and I had to do a fair amount of rockhopping to find them. Still it was good to cover some new ground that I'll no doubt return to during future visits to the village. 

I love ballan wrasse. Even small ones scrap hard and you need to react fast to get them away from their lairs quickly.

Later in the evening I returned to the mouth of the harbour and managed to catch a small coalfish, a small pollock and a couple of corkwing wrasse, another welcome addition to my 2015 Scottish saltwater species hunt.

A nice male corkwing wrasse.

I fished on for a while hoping that as light began to fade later in the evening some shore rockling might start feeding as I've caught them there before. I switched to a running ledger with a bigger hook baited with a large chunk of mackerel from a couple of fillets I'd kept from the fish we'd caught the day before. This didn't produce any bites though and feeling quite tired from the day's fishing, driving, clifftop walks and clambering around on rocks, I packed up and headed back to the B&B. The wind was forecast to drop off the following day and I was heading to the Isle of Whithorn to target small wrasse again as well as tompot blennies at a spot my mate Martin and I had caught them at last year.

After checking out of the B&B and picking up another box of ragworm last Tuesday morning I made the drive around Luce Bay and down to Isle of Whithorn. It was a lovely sunny day and as forecast the wind had almost died off completely although it was blowing onshore so when I got down to the rocks I found there was a little bit of a swell running. I also found someone already in the spot I wanted to fish but luckily he was just leaving.

An old gentleman tends to his lobster pots. Pulling an empty pot up from the gully I wanted to fish in he decided to drop it elsewhere which was great for me.

With goldsinny and rockcook wrasse in mind and to combat the tackle hungry kelp I went with a single #14 hook at the end of a very short snood on a one up rig baited with a little piece of ragworm. Things were slow to start with but once the tide started to flood I started getting some positive bites which I soon started converted into hooked fish. Ballan and corkwing wrasse were the first to be caught but eventually I caught a few goldsinny wrasse too.

A nice little brown and biege mottled ballan wrasse was my first fish of the day. 
All of the goldsinny wrasse I caught were beautifully coloured with golden undersides and vivid dark spots on the leading edge of their dorsal fin and top edge of their tail roots.

A few more ballan, corkwing and goldsinny wrasse followed although I caught no where near the amount of fish that I did when Martin and I visited mid July last year. After a quiet spell I started getting more bites again though and landed a few more wrasse. Eventually I caught my first rockcook of the year.

Again a particularly vibrant example. Not sure if I prefer these or male cuckoo wrasse. Both are quiet stunning when their livery is bold.

With the wrasse species having added another four species to my annual tally I swapped my hook for a slightly bigger one and used a larger piece of ragworm to try and tempt a tompot blenny. After a few more ballan wrasse I caught a blenny and got excited for a brief moment before hoisting it to hand and realising it wasn't the right one.

A common blenny. The one I was after is much rarer in Scottish waters.

Last year Martin and I caught two tompot blennies each so with it being only mid afternoon I was confident I'd get one if I just kept plugging away. I also remembered that we caught them after the tide rose past a certain level and not long after it reached a similar height I caught one. This brought a huge smile to my face.

Tompot blennies are funky looking fish. I was over the moon to catch another Scottish one. Another species ticked off that may prove pivotal in my quest to catch fifty from Scottish saltwater this year. 

Mission accomplished really and I was in two minds about what to do with the rest of the afternoon. Should I stay where I was and try fishing other methods to see what else might turn up or head off somewhere else? In the end I decided to head up the coast to try somewhere new. Walking back to the car I bumped into another angler who was on his way down to the rocks I had just left to try and catch some mackerel. He told me that there was a nice little pier along the coast at Garlieston so I headed up there to use up the last of my ragworm.

Fish are creatures of habit and so am but I try not to be all of the time. Fishing new spots is a great way to perhaps discover somewhere else that produces fish. You might also get a surprise species too. 

Fishing a one up one down rig with #10 hooks I didn't have any joy fishing it out onto the sandy bottom around the end of the harbour. Dropping it down closer in onto some patches of small rocks resulted in a steady stream of kamikaze shore crabs and a dozen common blennies before a female corkwing wrasse took my final piece of bait.

Once I managed to get my hook back off them rather than make good their escape the shore crabs become rather aggressive, arching up and spoiling for a fight.
A nice little fish to end the trip on.

All in all a productive three days fishing if a little slow at times. Five species added to my tally whilst out in Spike's boat with Martin and another five added whilst out species hunting on my own. That's twenty eight down and twenty two left to catch, a much better position to be as the half way point in the year approaches than when I left Edinburgh last Saturday night. Looking at my list of remaining viable targets I can see more visits to Dumfries & Galloway on the cards.  Portpatrick, Killantringan, Mull of Galloway and another day out in Spike's boat all offer opportunities to add quite a few things to my tally. Some of these trips will be to places I've fished before but some will involve trying new spots too. I better start planning when I can fit these trips in!

Tight lines, Scott.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Back on track.

After talking about it a few times last year but failing to actually organise it, my mate Martin and I headed down to Drummore on Sunday armed with some crab to spend a day out in local skipper Spike's boat "Go West" targeting starry smoothhounds. As well as fishing with Martin again, which I always enjoy, it was a great opportunity for me to add a few species to my fifty saltwater species from around Scotland challenge tally.

I think Spike's boat should be called "Go South West".  It's all relative though I suppose. 

Gear loaded aboard we were soon drifting over a drop off not far from the shore to catch some fresh mackerel for bait. There were plenty of small ones around a small bait box soon had enough in it to keep us going for most of the day and off we went to drop anchor. Both of us fished two rods, one with a ledgered half mackerel bait for larger sharks like tope, bull huss and thornback rays and a second for smoothhounds and other smaller species. Martin's half mackerel bait must have landed right next to a thornback ray as it took the bait almost as soon as it hit the bottom. After putting that back and casting out a fresh bait he fished a one up one down rig on his second rod with both hooks baited with crab to try and tempt a starry smoothhound. I went with a three up rig and baited my hooks with mackerel strips to try and catch some gurnards. Inevitably we both caught a few lesser spotted dogfish before we eventually caught what we were targeting.

My first dogfish of the year gets a kiss. 
A nice smoothhound eventually beat the dogfish to Martin's crab baits. 
I added a second species to this year's tally with a grey gurnard in nice condition. 

We both caught a few more dogfish and after a few more grey gurnard I switched to a crab bait on a running ledger which eventually saw me catch my first ever starry smoothhound.

My first new species of the trip. 

A few more dogfish later Martin and I both landed a couple of nice sharks at the same time.

A nice thornback ray for me, a fourth species added to this year's tally and yet another smoothhound for Martin. 

Shortly afterwards I caught a smaller ray. When it came into view though I could tell from its markings that it wasn't a thornback and got a bit excited. Quickly lifting it into the boat my suspicions were confirmed and I had struck lucky with a spotted ray. 

Quite a rare capture. Spike told us he'd only ever seen two or three boated. I was extremely happy to catch my second new species of the trip and add a fifth to this year's tally. 

With no tope or bull huss showing interest in our bigger baits we upped anchor and tried a few drifts fishing with smaller hooks to see what else might turn up. This saw us catching some whiting and a few more mackerel. Dropping anchor at a second mark didn't  see anything else being caught except a succession of whiting and dogfish. Slightly disappointed not to catch any tope or bull huss it had still been a good day and when we got back< to Drummore we discovered that none of the other boats had caught any tope either. After loading up our cars and saying goodbye to Martin he headed up the road but I headed north to Stranraer where I'd be staying the next two nights. I had Monday and Tuesday off of work and my species hunting in Dumfries & Galloway wasn't over just yet.

Tight lines, Scott.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


I met up with my mate Col on Tuesday for a day's light game fun in the crystal clear waters of St Abbs Head. It was Col's first time up there and we started out on the large rock beneath the lighthouse. Col was keen to catch his first ballan wrasse of the year so fished a large Gulp Sandworm wacky rigged on a drop shot rig at close range. I started off fishing metals and had three coalfish on my first three casts. They seemed to wise up after that and after catching a few more I switched to a Z-Man paddle tail rigged weedless on a cheburashka lead. I worked this close to the bottom but reeling it up past the kelp on the rocks below me at the end of my retrieves was what resulted in yet more coalfish.

I've been using these lures a fair bit recently. The are very durable but nice and soft with a great action even when worked slowly.

Col then caught a coalfish too before we decided to move around the rock to try another spot. I switched to a small junebug stickbait on my weedless cheburashka rig and started dead sticking it on the bottom to try and tempt any wrasse that might be down there. After a while I had a solid take but I could tell it wasn't a wrasse and after a couple of dives a nice pollock was on the surface and quickly netted by Col.

Stickbaits are a classic wrasse lure. Less is more too I find. Just give them the odd little twitch. This pollock found it irresistible and hoovered it up.
A nice fish on light game tackle. Fishing vertically into deep water always gives you an advantage in the fight though.

Shortly afterwards both Col and I had a few very distinctive bites that we were both sure were from ballans. The type of bite that to me suggests a wrasse isn't feeding but is instead pecking at what it sees as an intruder into its territory that it wants gone.

Col gets comfortable and patiently feels for more short sharp taps.

Col's persistence eventually paid off when a few bites in rapid succession resulted in a hooked fish. I grabbed the net and his first ballan wrasse of the year was soon being unhooked.

This little burgundy ballan had a mouth crambed full of crushed up food so was obviously in feeding mode. Not sure how it managed to fit Col's Gulp in there as well, the greedy swine.

I then switched to a drop shot rig to try and get myself one too but stuck with my stickbait on a weedless hook. Neither of us had any further luck though and after a quiet spell we decided to head to the other end of the cliffs to try another mark. On the way back up to the top of the cliff however we spotted an area down to our right that looked like a great wrasse holding spot.

Submerged boulders and weed. Must be full of wrasse surely?

Getting down looked a bit tricky but Col was confident we could do it so we gave it a bash.

Col leads the way. Why follow a path when you can blaze a trail?

Getting to the rocks below was quite difficult but we slowly made our way down, wedging ourselves into a crack and easing down it and then carefully making our way down a steep slopping rocky section. Sadly however our efforts weren't rewarded and after losing some end tackle to snags we decided to climb back up which turned out to be even more tricky than the climb down. Loose soil and crumbling rocks that had slowed our descent seemed to be a lot worse and Col slipped at one point. Luckily he managed the stop his fall before he reached me and I dodged the falling rocks that had given way causing him to slip. The final few meters slowly working our way back up the crevice was simply hellish. Back up on the well worn path we caught our breath and reflected on our decision to go down. A lesson learned and I don't think we'll be going down there again at least not using that particular route.

Safely back in the car we drove along to St Abbs but the rock mark that I wanted to go to can only be accessed over low water so we spent an hour or so sight fishing for flounders in the crystal clear waters of St Abbs Harbour. It didn't take us long to catch a few.

Flounders love a tasty worm. Or a lure that looks like one. Col caught this one using a Crazy Fish Cruel Leech. If I didn't have way too many lures already I might have bought myself some.
Another flounder comes to the surface. Mouths of harbours are bottlenecks that flounders must swim through when they move from one part of the harbour to another. This makes them a great place to try and tempt passing fish.
This chunky chap had a big set of juicy lips.
It also had a few "birth marks" too. These spots are caused when pigments that are meant to be on their "backs" form on their "stomachs". I have in the past caught a flounder that was entirely brown due to this.

Before long the tide had dropped enough for us to visit the second rock mark. Making our way along to the start of the clifftop path we then took the slowly slopping path down to the shingle beach of Starney Bay before making the easy scramble over the rocks to the point on the bay's eastern side.

The path down was still easily negotiable despite a recent large landslip. No where near as risky as our earlier escapades so two adrenaline junkies like us took it in our stride.

Once out on the rocks we both fished Gulp on a drop shot rig to try and tempt any wrasse that might have been around. We didn't have any joy but eventually Col was rewarded with another species.

The sea floor where we were fishing has large sandy areas that sometimes produce the odd flounder as Col discovered.

Towards the end of the session we both switched to other methods. Col went with a small pink curly tail grub on a jighead and I jigged a light game metal fitted with an assist hook close to the bottom. Casting around I caught a few coalfish before Col hooked a nice fish at range. It turned out to be a cod but unfortunately while we were getting ready to land it the fish thrashed on the surface and threw the hook before slowly swimming back down through the kelp to freedom. After that I had a few more small coalfish and then a couple of nice pollock smashed my metal on the drop as it was just about to hit the bottom. Both fish gave a great account of themselves but the fight the second one in particular put up was awesome. Because the water was not as deep here the fish made a few charges to the left and right instead of the usual dives down. Col and I both watched the fish making these surges at an incredible speed. The final run to my right almost saw the fish go round the rocks into a gully where I don't doubt my braid would have stood no chance against the barnacles but luckily for me the fish ran out of steam, I turned it and once I got its head up out of the water it was beaten.

A truely awesome adversary. Having a bent rod and a screaming drag is one thing but seeing the fish charging around underwater made the battle even more epic.
I'm really enjoying fishing light game metals at the moment I must say.

I was buzzing after that fight but we left soon after as Col had a train to catch. It had been a great day out with some nice fish being caught and Col and I had learnt a valuable lesson about foolishly taking our lives into our own hands for the sake of a few fish. I'd also kind of forgotten how strong pollock can be too and my third one has renewed my respect for them and their pure raw power. They are an underrated species in my mind as are ballan wrasse. Both offer fantastic sport on the right tackle and I'm looking forward to catching them over the next few months. Before that though I have sharks in my sights and I'm off to Dumfries tomorrow for a session out in local skipper Spike's boat with my mate Martin to hopefully catch a few of them. I also have Monday and Tuesday off as well so if the weather is reasonable I might stay down there to target some other species from the shore as well.

Tight lines, Scott.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The swimming wounded.

The second meeting of Fish Club took place last Sunday. Unfortunately there were fewer anglers in attendance than the first meeting with just new member Ryan available and turning up to join me at Dunbar to fish for flounders. Not what I'd hoped for but on the bright side that's now two new anglers I've met through starting the group and if I get someone new coming along to every session the group will grow and hopefully so will the numbers attending future outings. Anyway, it was nice to meet up with Ryan for the first time and we were soon chatting and fishing away. The fishing was pretty slow  though until Ryan decided to give drop shotting a try for the first time and caught a small flounder on his first cast using the method. After that fish bites were pretty much non existent however so we headed around to the old harbour to try there. There wasn't much happening there either so I switched to a Carolina rig and slowly moved it along the bottom close to the harbour wall hoping to catch a blenny. Eventually I got a decent bite, hooked the fish that had decided my half section of Angleworm was a tasty snack and got a pleasant surprise when it emerged from the depths into view.

My first viviparous blenny from the old harbour, in daylight and on a lure, well Gulp anyway.
It had the end part missing from its tail and it was a fairly fresh looking wound but the fish was still a lively little slimy chap.

Quite pleased with my slippery bonus fish we carried on fishing and eventually the sun managed to start poking through the clouds. Its arrival in the sky seemed to wake up the flounders and pretty soon we were both catching lots of them on drop shotted Angleworm and Isome and having fun watching some of them appear from the bottom to investigate what was disturbing the bottom and then swimming up to grab our scented worm like offerings.

A second small flounder for Ryan.
My first few flounders were fairly small too but good fun on my light game tackle.
Yet another small flounder for Ryan. We were both hopeful we would catch some slightly bigger one.

As the afternoon went on the clouds thinned out even further and as the tide dropped the sunlight and clear water meant we could see a few bigger ones moving around on the bottom. It was quite exciting watching them appearing from the silt and shooting over to attack. One flounder in particular had a very aggressive go at my drop shot lead before suddenly turning and lurching up to attack my white Isome which it engulfed rather quickly, hooking itself in the process. 

A nice fish and the second one of the day to be sporting an injury. This time it was older and well healed around a chunk that had been removed from one side.

Not long after this Ryan caught a flounder that a mouth shaped abrasion on both sides of it and we discussed the tough eat or be eaten life of some fish. As the water levels dropped out of the old harbour we moved around to the bridge and standing on it watched a few flounders as they swam out of the old harbour and into the deeper water of the main harbour. I spotted a larger one that was quite well camouflaged sitting motionless on the flat concrete bottom and dropped my rig down in front of it. Being honest I was just trying to get it to move so some people standing next to us could see it but it obligingly came up, took my Isome and was soon being more closely inspected by some of the interested spectators. It was rather amusing and a nice way to end the session.

It was a really nice day by the time we left and truth be told I think we both would have liked to have fished for a bit longer if we could have but we had to go.

So a slow and rather grey start to the day had turned into a fantastic bright sunny flounder filled session and I think it's safe to say Ryan is now a convert to drop shotting for flounder. I enjoyed his company and it was a pleasure fishing with him. Hopefully he can come to Fish Club meetings on a regular basis. The next one will be on the 28th of June and I have a session targetting wrasse in mind if the conditions are right so if you fancy coming along please get in touch.

Tight lines, Scott.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Species hunting adventures around Nessebar : Part 2.

After breakfast on the fourth day of our holiday we took a bus to Ravda, the next town down the coast, so we could take a leisurely stroll along the coast back to Nessebar. It was only a few miles away but walking on sand slows your pace and with the sun beating down we were in no rush so we made a few stops to hide in the shade and enjoy cold drinks. I had my fishing gear with me as well and took the opportunity to try and catch some fish at a few rocky breakwaters we passed, having a few casts at each while Lillian chilled out and read a book. The water was fairly shallow everywhere I tried though and casting out onto the fairly clean sand resulted in little action. Fishing closer in near the rocks predictably saw the usual suspects being caught, mainly five spotted and ocellated wrasse, but including a few grey wrasse as well, a welcome addition to my species tally.

The five spots on the dorsal fin that give this species its name aren't always that apparent but on this one they were. 
Usually the last two are much more well defined.
This ocellated wrasse had a particularly vivid colouration on its gill plate markings.
The grey wrasse has a very dark blue, almost black spot on the bottom of its tail root although again in some specimens it is more defined than others.

Lazily plodding along soon we arrived at an old rusty wreck and had a couple more cold drinks and a light and tasty shopska salad in a nearby beach side restaurant.

Beautiful Nessebar.

Carrying on as we almost reached the scaffolding pole pier a few clouds began to appear for the first time and before long the sky had turned almost completely grey. It actually looked like it might rain rather heavily at any moment. The forecast had said scattered thunder storms so no more fishing was done and we upped the pace a bit and headed back to the hotel although it never did actually rain. After dinner in the evening I popped out at night and fished around the inner most part of the main harbour. This saw me catching some bighead gobies on a small Z-Man paddletail rigged weedless on a cheburashka lead. Working it slowly close to the bottom saw me catch lots of rather big angry gobies.

Aptly named and you can't half feel when one bites. They have very strong jaws indeed which have quite a few little sharp teeth in them too.

On the way back to the hotel I bought Lillian a box of chocolates. Not because I'm a generous boyfriend though but because I wanted to use the clear plastic lid as a little makeshift observation tank the following day.

In the morning I got up early and headed back to the main harbour to try and catch some of the little blennies I had seen a couple of days previously but had been unable to catch. Picking a few small mussels off of the harbour wall and putting tiny chunks onto #26 hooks I was soon putting my little aquarium to great use and had caught another new species of blenny.

Another new blenny species in my little observation tank.
Pretty orange facial markings and fins but which species of blenny I was photographing was a mystery.

Rather excited I headed back to wake Lillian up to tell her the news and try and find out which blenny species I had caught. Rather ironically when I consulted my Fish of Britain and Europe pocket guide and did some Googling it turned out that my mystery blenny was actually a mystery blenny (parablennius incognitus).

That afternoon we then headed back over to the old town for another relaxing ramble around, this time looking for a few potential presents to take home for family and friends. In between browsing all manner of souvenirs we had a look at some of the old religious buildings dotted around the island.

Nessebar has several dozen of these very old churches on it.
Not really my thing but I can appreciate the beauty in their architecture.

After getting back to the hotel Lillian was feeling a bit worn out by all the souvenir hunting and wanted a nap so I headed to the north port again with my little plastic tank to get some more photos of tentacled blennies. They were most obliging again although catching the males proved more tricky. Reading up on them later I discovered that males live with a group of females.

A female tentacled blenny.
The females have a different structure to their tentacles.
A male tentacled blenny. These are larger than the females.
The male's tentacles are much more impressive.

Before heading back I also fished Angleworm on a drop shot rig and caught a few more round gobies and ocellated wrasse. I also tried some paddletails mounted on a weedless hook on a cheburashka lead which the bigmouth gobies quickly destroyed although I'm guessing that's what they were as they all avoided the hook.

Another round goby. Their black spot makes them very easy to identify.
Before and after. Whatever it was made light work of my paddletails.

On the second last day of our holiday Lillian and I went on a coach trip. This took us to the Balkan Mountains where we visited the small villiage of Zheravna, an architectural reserve of national importance.

Some of the village's old wooden houses are hundreds of years old.
Quaint little cobbled streets.
The village is still inhabited though but the villager's houses blend in quite well and don't spoil the feel of the place.

After a pleasant lunch in the village we boarded the coach and set off again. Our next stop on our tour was Blue Mountain which we would ascend on a chair lift. The chairs had probably seen better days and some in the group stayed at the bottom but Lillian and I took our chances.

Going up. Blue mountain looks a bit grey to me though?
The Balkan Mountains.
On our way back down to the bottom.
Don't look down, just point your camera.

All feet soon back on solid ground we were soon on the road again. On the way back the coach stopped one last time at a winery and we all enjoyed some lovely award winning wines before yet another couple of hours on the coach before being returned to our hotel. It had been a long day and whilst the stops had been good we had spent more time on the warm bus travelling to them and were both very tired as a result. We had planned on going down to a bar to relax with a few beers and watching the Champion's League Final but both of us feel asleep.

On the final day of the holiday I got up early to try and get the last three species I required to reach my goal of fifteen. I decided to fish from the rocks at the back of the main harbour breakwater. Fishing in the main harbour past the innermost part is not allowed and I was perhaps being a bit mischievous but security saw me walking through the harbour and fishing from the rocks several times and didn't say anything so I guess it was OK. The water was much deeper there but at close range the wrasse and gobies were once again the dominant species. Casting out further onto clean ground however did see me catch something else, over a dozen greater weever, which were a bit of a nightmare unhooking so after the first two I debarbed my hook to make it easier.

This five spotted wrasse had a bit of a chubby face.
It also had well defined forth and fifth spots on its dorsal fin.
A dark spot at the leading edge of the dorsal fin is another distinguishing feature of the grey wrasse. Like the one on the tail root it can be feint on some of them however.
Some of the markings on larger grey wrasse are almost floral in appearance, resembling lichen. They can also have blue markings under the eye too although in this one they are very subtle.
Greater weever are pretty fish. I love the electric blue markings on them. Handle them with extreme care but preferably don't touch them at all, shaking them off of the hook with forceps instead. The black dorsal fin and the spines at the top of their gill plates are venomous.

I fished away making my way right along to the end of the breakwater where the large boulders gave way to concrete blocks. Carefully I climbed over them only to find someone else was already fishing there.

I wasn't the only one fishing. I did wonder what exactly he was hoping to catch. Monster gobies probably!

Soon it was time to head back but on the way I popped into the tackle shop to ask about freshwater fishing and the owner kindly showed me on Google Maps a few places to try for perch, pike and zander. Later that morning after one final visit to the old town to buy presents and returning them to our hotel I grabbed my gear and Lillian and I had a slow walk along to Sunny Beach so I could fish the spots I had been shown. First stop was the River Hadjiyska that flows out into the Black Sea on Sunny Beach.  It was almost completely full of reeds and thick weed though and we struggled to find an open spot I could fish. Ambling along a path that followed the river inland we eventually located a bit of water I could try but no sooner had I cast out than something caught my eye slithering through the water to my left.

Snake! "The name's Plisken."

Deciding it probably wasn't wise to be fishing in a snake infested area we headed back towards Sunny Beach and crossing a bridge I spotted a narrow section of the river's edge that I could cast a lure up. On my first retrieve a small pike shot out from the reeds and attacked my lure. As they sometimes do though, it missed completely. It was a persistent fish though and four or five failed lunges later it managed to hit my lure properly and after being played out was carefully hoisted up.

The river was full of reeds so I was forced to fish in the margins. Not a bad thing really. Some anglers neglect them which I've learnt can be a big mistake where pike are concerned.
Pike aren't too smart. This jack had about six goes before finally hitting my lure and getting hooked. 

With one species left to catch we headed up to the lake I had been shown. I suspected there were probably perch in it so started dropshotting small lures around the reeds. This didn't attract any bites so I changed to a smaller hook and switched to a piece of Angleworm. Exploring a few different areas soon saw me getting a few taps almost right under my feet and finally I hooked a fish.

Fish on. I was expecting a small perch but got a colourful surprise instead.
Species number fifteen was a pumpkinseed. They are a lovely looking and most obliging little fish. Once I had caught a few more Lillian decreed that fishing was over for the trip which I thought was fair enough.

Packing up my gear for the last time we walked back to our hotel. On the way we passed this rather impressive memorial.

A reminder that sadly we'd be flying home soon. 

Our flight back the following day was an early one and we were being picked up from the hotel just after 04:00 so in the evening we packed our cases and then went out for another lovely yet incredibly cheap meal washed down with a final few Bulgarian beers and a couple of cocktails.

Another holiday coming to an end and another beer being enjoyed.

Another great holiday over I had probably done a little more fishing than I had originally intended but Lillian is very understanding. That's a bit of an understatement really as I do get away with murder on the fishing front although I think letting her eat the contents that come in my makeshift observation tanks goes some way to appeasing her and is perhaps the only reason she puts up with me.

Here's a summary of everything I caught, new species are in bold.

  1. Bighead Goby x 19
  2. Black Goby x 15
  3. Five Spotted Wrasse x 23
  4. Greater Weever x 14
  5. Grey Wrasse x 24
  6. Knout Goby x 1
  7. Mystery Blenny x 7
  8. Ocellated Wrasse x 47
  9. Peacock Blenny x 2
  10. Pike x 1
  11. Pumpkinseed x 5
  12. Red Mullet x 4
  13. Round Goby x 39
  14. Rusty Blenny x 18
  15. Tentacled Blenny x 20
I had a lot of fun fishing with light game tackle all week and catching lots of mini species but unless gobies, small wrasse and blennies are your thing I'd perhaps be slightly reluctant to recommend the Black Sea resorts of Bulgaria as a fishing destination. Nessebar is a beautiful place however and for a cheap holiday in the sun I think it's hard to beat. I dare say I may return in the future.

Tight lines, Scott.