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.


  1. Oh man that looks like a lot of fun ! Those rocks look,great for lrf !

    1. It was and they are but great care must be taken! :-)

  2. Some good fishing there lads! good to see the wrasse are back..

    1. Thanks mate. Few getting caught now over here I'm reliably informed. Caught a few myself the other day but much further afield. Just waiting on the weather to brighten up and I'll be after some more East Lothian wrasse though. :-)