Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The joy of catching little fish.

After work last Friday I popped over to Burntisland for a few hours fishing with a few of the Fish Club guys. It wasn't an official meet but with four of us there ironically it was the best turn out yet! Col and Brian had already caught a few wrasse by the time Dan and I arrived and it didn't take us too long to get a few bites too. The fish were being a bit finicky though and after struggling to connect with tentative taps on scented soft plastics we started fishing little pieces of ragworm and raw prawn which the fish took a little more aggressively leading to a few being caught. At one point Brian hooked a ballan wrasse that headed towards my line so I started reeling in. I didn't get my line out of the way quickly enough though which resulted in a tangle. I just gave Brian enough slack line so he could land the fish. Initially we thought that the fish had simply got my line wrapped around it but when unhooking it Brian told me it had my hook inside its mouth as well as his which had us both scratching our heads a bit. Quite a bizarre event really and we weren't sure what exactly had just occurred.

Brian's fish or 50/50? I let Brian claim it.

I then decided to try and catch a Yarrell's blenny inside the harbour. Fishing away I caught a coalfish, a goldsinny wrasse and a corkwing wrasse whilst trying. The corkwing was a nicely coloured male.

Col's favourite wrasse is the corkwing and they are very pretty fish but I think he might change his mind when he catches his first rockcook.

As the evening progressed some nice fish were being caught by the boys over the back of the harbour and Dan also caught his first goldsinny wrasse. I kept trying inside the harbour and I eventually got a nice surprise when I caught my second butterfish of the year. Its markings were much more vivid than the one I winkled out of a rockpool back in April.

Not sure how this pretty little fish got my #10 hook in its mouth but it did!

Things started to slow down a bit and after a while Col and Brian decided to head off but Dan and I fished on for about an hour or so. I returned to the harbour wall to fish down the outside and tried some mussel ledgered on a #6 hook. This produced a few bites which eventually resulted in a small cod being caught. Dan meanwhile fished a vibe metal to try and tempt a mackerel and soon had one on briefly before it managed to shake his hook. We headed off shortly afterwards bringing an end to a nice evening session. It was good to catch up with Dan and Brian whom I've not fished with for some time. It was also good to fish with Col without doing any dodgy climbing other than up onto the harbour wall. 

On Tuesday afternoon I returned on my own for another go for a Yarrell's blenny. Fishing little pieces of raw prawn and mussel on #14 hooks things were pretty slow until I caught a common blenny and a coalfish. These were followed by my second butterfish from Burntisland from pretty much the same spot as the first four days previously.

It would seem that Burntisland Harbour is a good spot to target butterfish. I really like them and they always remind me of turning over rocks as a child, finding them but struggling to pick them up. Big hands help with handling them now. 

I carried on fishing but bites were pretty few and far between and not very strong. When I got a better one however the fish got hooked and it turned out to be my target species. A Yarrell's blenny was quickly swung up the harbour wall into my waiting hand before being quickly unhooked, photographed and then popped into my little observation tank for a few more snaps. I was over the moon and grinning like a Cheshire cat I admired the fish through the thin plastic of my water filled empty chocolate box.

Only my second ever Yarrell's blenny. I was rather excited to catch one again. They are a pretty strange looking species.
Submerged in my mini aquarium the full funkiness of my little brown and pink fish's hair becomes apparent. Ferrero Rocher I am in your debt once again!

Still on a bit of a high I popped the cool looking blenny back and in a daze like state started fishing down the outside of the harbour wall for a while but as it was overcast and the sea was a little lumpy I only managed two fish, a ballan wrasse and a long spined sea scorpion.

In my excitement I'd lost focus. Ballan wrasse are great but I've caught them already this year.
I've caught plenty of these cheeky little chaps too.

Calming down a little I realised that if I'm going to stand a chance of catching fifty species from Scottish saltwater this year then I need to try and catch species I've not had already where possible. I should really have been trying to catch a sand goby, a species I've caught before in Burntisland Harbour, to take this year's tally up to thirty so I quickly changed to a suitable rig and started doing so. I spent the next little while casting out into the harbour and slowly working tiny baits on #18 hooks along the sandy bottom but it soon became clear that getting through the shoals of juvenile coalfish would prove very difficult so I gave up and headed home still on a bit of high from catching the Yarrell's blenny. Focusing on my little challenge aside, sometimes catching small fish can make me very happy. I know that sometimes other anglers find this an odd concept but I enjoy it and true angling success should be measured in pleasure experienced, not in pounds and ounces. 

Tight lines, Scott.


  1. Really enjoy your blog.
    Please tell Brian and Col that Paulr from the Wild Fishing Forum says hi.
    I stay on the Tarbat Ness peninsula, which is nae bad for sea fishing.

    1. Thanks Paul. I'm sure Brian and Col will read this comment. Looks nice up there and is further north than I've ever fished (on the mainland anyway). What do you catch around the peninsula? Anything odd? :-D

  2. Well done catching the yarrells Scott, I see you managed to get it to behave for the camera too!

    1. Thanks Brian. I took dozens of photos in the little tank. It wasn't behaving half the time and I was glad I had the lid for it!

  3. It's amazing how those antennae show up on the yarrells. Had a few rockcooks in Skye last year, would be good to achieve the one day wrasse slam though.was only the corkwwing short last year.

    1. Yeah. Easily the strangest "hair" on any blenny I've seen. It looks like an lettuce leaf. Forgot you caught rockcook last year. As we've discussed Lochaline West Pier is the place to do the "grand slam" as well as catch a variety of other species. With a cuckoo wrasse still to catch for my fifty species challenge I'll be heading up there at some point. :-)