Saturday, October 24, 2015

Missing the boat?

After Sunday's superb skate trip aboard "Reel Deal" with Willie and Gordon I headed out locally on Tuesday to try and add yet more, but much smaller species to this year's tally. I had two targets in mind and arranged to fish a few marks around East Lothian with my mate Mikey. First stop was Eyemouth Harbour where I was hoping to locate a fifteen spined stickleback. The water in the harbour was the clearest I've ever seen it but alas there was a distinct lack of fish. I had to resort to fishing in an isolated pool of water trapped amongst some boulders to open my account. The fish had spines but it wasn't a stickleback. 

This little brute charged out of a crack to wolf my piece of Angleworm.

Next on our little tour of East Lothian was Dunbar Harbour, again I did a spot of stickleback hunting whilst Mikey focused on flatfish. The tide was about half way in and whilst the bladderwrack on the walls was partially covered I couldn't see any of my target species to lower my rig in front of. There were dozens of two spotted gobies though so I amused myself trying to catch them using a micro fishing float rig. They were being quite fussy though and my tiny pieces of mackerel and squid had to be twitched by lifting the float ever so slightly to get them biting. 

Not quite small enough but the closest fish yet to fitting on my one yen coin.

After I caught a couple I joined Mikey pestering the flatfish and we caught a few small flounder and plaice. By early evening I still hadn't spotted any sticklebacks moving around in the weed and the flatfish were being less aggressive with their bites. With the sun getting fairly low in the sky it was time to head to our final mark, Ravenshuegh Beach. My target there was the lesser weever and the conditions once we walked down to it looked great, the sea being flat calm with small waves gently rolling in. I went with half a set of herring hooks, four small hooks with small blobs of fluorescent paint at the top of their shanks and baited two of them with tiny strips of mackerel and the other two with slithers of squid. Mikey meanwhile decided to fish Angleworm on a split shot rig. Twitching our rigs back towards us bites were few and far between to begin with as we wandered along the beach but once it got dark we finally got a few. When I  connected with one it was a small fish and reeling it in I had high hopes but it wasn't my target species and instead I beached a palm sized flat fish. Shining my head torch on it I did get a little surprise though when I discovered it was a plaice, quite an unusual capture for the area. 

The first plaice I've caught from East Lothian outwith the little corner that produces them in Dunbar Harbour.

After a while the few bites we were getting petered out again so we ended the session. I haven't seen a fifteen spined stickleback for a few weeks now and I'm wondering if I perhaps have missed the opportunity to catch one? I've also had about half a dozen attempts at catching a lesser weever on marks I know hold them. I don't think they are present in great numbers but I'm also not sure if they are resident all year round or only move inshore when the water temperature rises in the summer? I have a pair of waders on order that I plan to use in my efforts to catch both these species so I'll have a few more attempts but my thoughts are beginning to turn to switching my focus to conger eels and three bearded rocklings, two species that I can definitely expect to catch over the coming colder months. 

Tight lines, Scott.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The real deal.

My mate Martin recently put me in touch with his fellow Ayr Sea Angling Club member Willie who very generously invited me out for a day targeting skate aboard his boat "reel deal".On Sunday I set of at 5:00 to get myself down to Ardfern on the Sound of Jura where Willie and Gordon were waiting for me having fished down there the previous day. With no traffic on the road I made the journey in good time and we launched just after 8:30. It was a lovely day as we cruised south towards our first mark.

Conditions were perfect.

It didn't take us long at all to get to the first spot and we were soon tied up on a buoy that had been left in place by the lads the day before. Six large baits were soon prepared for the skate rods and were lowered down over four hundred feet to the sea floor. With the opportunity to also perhaps catch a black mouthed dogfish or a cuckoo ray I fished a second lighter rod, opting for a spreader boom at the business end. Plenty of luminous beads were placed on my snoods and two #2/0 Sakuma Manta hooks were baited with sandeel, a favourite bait of dogfish. The lads assured me that catching a black mouthed dogfish was simply a matter of playing the numbers game and ploughing through the lesser spotted dogfish. Sure enough I was soon catching a few of the much more abundant of the two sharks. While I plugged away there was no action on the skate rods and when the tide increased we did a bait change to find that our the end tackle was picking up lots of weed so we lifted the anchor and moved to a second mark.

Anchored up again more big baits were lowered to the bottom and we waited for signs of skate showing an interest in them but after a while with no movement on any of the rod tips we reeled them up. There was very little left of the baits as they had been ravaged by the small slater like crustaceans that are found in the area so more fresh ones were prepared and dropped down. Gordon then began fishing a lighter rod too and after a couple of lesser spotted dogfish he caught a black mouthed dogfish.

Gordon shows off his black mouthed dogfish. It was a very cool looking shark.
The inside of their mouths is indeed black.

Some species hunters get frustrated when a fellow angler fishing along side them catches a fish they are after. I prefer to see it as an encouraging sign that the target is present and can be caught so I kept fishing away. By that point I had used up all my sandeel so I switched to mackerel strips on my hooks and caught a few more lesser spotted dogfish and a couple of thornback rays. 

A nice change from the procession of lesser spotted dogfish. 

With not much happening on the skate rods I was now pretty focused on catching a black mouthed dogfish but I soon forgot about them when a bit of interest was eventually shown in one of the big baits. Gordon put a butt pad and harness on me, Willie handed me the rod and the battle commenced.

Skate fights can last over an hour and are physically demanding. As the fight had only just started I managed a smile for the camera.

Having played skate before I knew what to expect, including the banter from the lads. In amongst the "Why are you taking so long?" and "It must be a big dogfish!" patter they kindly gave me a few pointers on my stance and my pumping and winding technique. I found this a big help and after getting the fish off the bottom only for it to swim back down again a few times I eventually got it off the bottom and kept it off, slowly gaining line and getting into a nice rhythm. The fish, a large male, eventually appeared from the depths and was quickly brought on board by Willie and Gordon before quickly being measured, photographed and returned. 

Despite taking on board the advice given and improving my technique my muscles were still aching but it was well worth the effort.
I love watching them go back. A few strokes of their wings and they gracefully glide back towards the bottom.

I was a very happy angler and had added another saltwater species to my tally from Scotland this year. No rest for the wicked though and I wanted to add another by catching my first black mouthed dogfish. As a few clouds rolled overhead Willie joined Gordon and I fishing a lighter rod and after a few obligatory lesser spotted dogfish he caught what he suspected was a ray as he retrieved it but it turned out to be a small skate. 

At just over 6lb this was easily the smallest skate I've seen caught by quite a margin.

The tide then really started to pick up and as it got stronger it was harder to hold bottom and the dogfish bites dried up. One of the big baits was picked up by something and Willie had a fish on for a brief period but it dropped the bait. He suspected it might have been a conger just holding on. Soon it was time to wind up the skate baits and head back in. 

Another cracking view as the sun disappears behind some clouds as we headed back to dry land.

It had been a great day and I can't thank Willie enough for the opportunity to spend the day out on his boat. When it comes to anglers who know their stuff the boys from the Ayr Sea Angling Club are certainly the real deal, great guys too who have gone out of their way to help me catch fish on several occasions this year. Without their generosity, experience, knowledge and advice I don't think I'd have reached my target of fifty Scottish saltwater species this year, let alone be approaching sixty and I hope I get the opportunity to fish with them again in the not too distant future.

Tight lines, Scott.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

After last Tuesday's sucessful boat trip I was pretty tired but with conditions looking great the next day I decided to head back up to Scotstown Beach for another attempt at catching a turbot. My mate Ad joined me again, I met him in Aberdeen and off we went. Parking his car up near the Pirate's Graveyard I spotted a bookmark tucked into his driver's side sun visor just before we got out. It had a picture of the Irish writer Samuel Beckett on it and the quote I've used for this post's title. I thought it summed up the trip really and with conditions being a bit better down on the beach we found a few nice looking depressions in the sand to fish as the tide flooded over them and I had "failed better" in no time at all.

Definately a better fail than my last turbot session. Note my lucky fishing cap with Pirate's Graveyard symbols on it.
My 57th saltwater species from scottish venues this year.

Shortly afterwards Ad hooked a small turbot too but unfortunately it managed to thrash in the breaking surf a few metres in front of him, threw the hook and swam off. A few casts later he landed a nice flounder though after it made a little spirited run parallel to the beach.

Ad's first fish of the session was a nice plump flounder.

As the tide picked up so did the weed however which soon became a pain so we headed off to try and find a fifteen spined stickleback. We visited Boddam Harbour and then Port Erroll Harbour but with a slight swell running outside both the water inside was moving around too which I find seems to result in fewer fifteen spined sticklebacks being around. If they are present they seem to hide themselves away. I was by this point rather tired and Ad wanted to go and get his cod fishing gear ready for his evening session that night so we called it a day. After returning to Aberdeen I said goodbye to Ad but he suggested that on my way back to the capital Stonehaven Harbour might be worth a look, in particular its innermost area which would be full and probably well sheltered. I popped down and the weedy areas looked like a perfect habitat for my target but I didn't manage to locate any of them before jumping back in the car and heading home. I guess I'll just have to keep trying and perhaps eventually I'll fail a little better when it comes to catching fifteen spined sticklebacks too.

Tight lines, Scott.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

I love it when a plan comes together.

On Tuesday I headed down to Port Logan again to have another day out fishing with local skipper Spike along with two of my mates, Stewart and Mikey. It was a lovely day especially for mid October and I had two main targets in mind, red gurnard and ling, but with a few skate being caught down there this year Spike suggested it was worth trying for one over slack water. Before we targeted anything however we had to catch some fresh bait. This proved difficult but after a bit of perseverance we got a couple of dozen mackerel and headed out to the first mark. Whilst the lads relaxed and waited for runs I fished a second rod to see what else I could pick up. As I've already said I was hoping to pick up a red gurnard or a ling but really we weren't on a mark that produces them so I wasn't surprised when all I caught were whiting and dogfish. When Stewart wound in his big bait to change it for a fresh one he discovered a small bull huss had snaffled it. This was a new species for him and whilst he's still not entirely comfortable handling sharks there was no way he wasn't getting his photo taken with his first bull huss. 

Just a baby but it left Stewart wondering how strong a bigger one would be. 

After a while our bait supply began to dwindle so we headed inshore to find some more mackerel. This proved to be incredibly difficult at the first spot we tried so we moved to a second. This is where I got a big slice of luck. Working my unbaited mackerel feathers at different depths to try and locate the fish I hooked one close to the bottom and was pleasantly surprised to see a red gurnard come up which was rapidly swung into the boat. 

The difficult task of bait box replenishment had produced one of my two targets and Scottish saltwater species number fifty five.  

This bonus capture had me on a bit of a high especially as the fish had taken the dressed hook with no bait on it. After a while jigging away on the drift we eventually caught a few mackerel and anchored up at another mark to try for tope. Again I fished a second rod and after a few cod, dogfish and a haddock I caught a small ling, adding a second species to my 2015 Scottish saltwater tally.

Mission accomplished! 

Over the moon I carried on scratching around but we were all hopeful one of our tope baits would get picked up. After a while Mikey's rod started nodding but it looked like a dogfish bite to begin with. Allowing it to develop though the tip movements got a bit bigger and lifting his rod Mikey wound in to find a bit of weight on the end. A nice bull huss was soon on the surface at the side which I leaned over and lifted into the boat for him.

Mikey's first ever bull huss was a good size and as ever didn't want to cooperate while being photographed.

With no interest being shown towards our baits by tope we headed back nearer to port and anchored fairly close in over some rougher ground. Stewart float fished mackerel strips and sandeel for pollock whilst Mikey fished Sidewinder paddletails for them. I meanwhile added a weak link to a three up rig and fished the rocky bottom with mackerel strips. We all caught a few fish including a cracking pollock for Stewart that had his rod nicely bent and his drag doing some work. Mikey caught a few pollock too and I caught a few smaller pollock and some cuckoo wrasse including one beautifully marked male.

We didn't weight it but this pollock was a new personal best for Stewart. 
My nicest cuckoo wrasse. For most this would have been a lovely fish to end the day on but I couldn't resist trying something else just before we hit dry land again. 

On the way back in I clipped on a two down rig with Nordic bend hooks on it. Once we entered Port Logan I had a few casts to see if I could tempt a small turbot. Spike had told us earlier in the day that he had seen them swimming away on the clean sandy bottom whilst launching and retrieving his boat. I knew I was pushing my luck and as it turned out I had used it all up earlier in the day.  A turbot would have been the icing on the cake but adding two species to this year's tally had made the trip a massive success in my eyes anyway and seeing the lads getting their first bull huss was great too. The red gurnard and ling had left me with only four species remaining to catch to reach sixty in my Scottish saltwater species challenge. I think the boat fishing out of Port Logan might start to taper off now as winter sets in so the next time I visit the area I'll be shore fishing for conger eels and three bearded rockling. Something to keep me busy after dark over the coming months. I better dig out my thermals and stock up on headtorch batteries.

Tight lines, Scott.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Far's a' the fish?

On Sunday I headed North to spend the day fishing with my mate Ad who lives in the granite city. Turbot was our target so we headed to one of the beaches to the north of Peterhead that is well known for producing them. Ad had caught a few small turbot there recently so we knew  they were around and were fairly optimistic. Arriving on the beach conditions looked fairly good despite a fairly strong wind blowing across the shoreline.

A lovely deserted beach.

It soon became obvious however that suspended weed would be a problem as we picked it from our rigs after each retrieval. Fishing mackerel baits I soon caught a few flounders and then after an hour or so Ad caught a tiny palm sized turbot.

The average size of the flounders was good and they were all in prime condition.
Ad's tiny little turbot was very cool. Their camouflage is stunning and I was hopeful I'd get one too.

As we fished away the wind picked up and the weed soon became too problematic with out rigs gathering it an unmanageable rate so we decided to head up north to try another beach there. Before leaving however we visited the old graveyard nearby.

This old graveyard near St Fergus is known as the Pirate's Graveyard.
Some of the gravestones are very old indeed and have various symbols carved on them. It's easy to see why you could come to the conclusion that the people buried there might have been pirates. 
Almost 300 years and no doubt the odd battering from the wind and rain have worn them away slightly but a skull and crossed bones feature on many of the old gravestones. The people buried in the graveyard weren't really pirates I was disappointed to discover and these symbols were incorporated into the stonework as a reminder to the living of their own mortality.

Back in the car we headed to the Moray coastline. After a pleasant drive we soon arrived at Cullen and hit the beach there, another place that produces turbot. With the wind now at our backs fishing was a much more pleasurable, almost weed free experience and we caught about a dozen flounders between us.

Another lovely sandy beach offering excellent flatfish opportunities although it's also popular with dog owners and people out enjoying a stroll. We headed along to the far end where there was a bit less footfall.

After a while no turbot had taken our baits though so we decided to go and target something else. To finish up our session we popped along the coast to Portknockie Harbour. While it was still light I spent a bit of time staring at the weed on the harbour walls trying to spot a fifteen spined stickleback. Ad fished on the harbour's sandy bottom and caught a plaice and a common dragonet. I couldn't spot any fifteen spined sticklebacks but did spot an amusing piece of Doric graffiti.

Where's all the fish? Finding them is usually the hard part. 

As light faded we fished switched our focus one final time and dropped some big baits down around the harbour mouth to try and tempt a conger eel. These were quickly attacked by crabs though which rapidly set to work destroying them. With a long drive back down the road to make we packed up just before 20:00 and set off. It was good to catch up with Ad again and fish a couple beaches together. With a few potential targets up there that would add to my Scottish saltwater species tally I'll be back up there again before the end of the year to fish with him again. 

Tight lines, Scott.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Whilst out fifteen spined stickleback hunting last week at a new spot I accidentally stumbled across something quite exciting, a topknot. As the tide was dropping a small flatfish appeared from a submerged horizontal crack in a weed covered rock face. I recognised what it was due to its shape and the markings on its back but before I could drop my baited hook in front of it the funky flatfish swam off down the rock towards the bottom of the harbour.

Topknot are ace! I've only ever caught one and that was a total fluke. Compared to other bottom dwelling flatfish they have adopted a bit of an alternative lifestyle, living in cracks or clinging upside down on overhanging ledges which makes them difficult to target.

Needless to say I dropped my bait down after it but had no luck tempting it. So, I didn't catch it but usually with most fish species I find that where there is one there are usually more so I may have discovered a topknot holding area in a local harbour which is brilliant. I'm normally very open about where I fish but on this occasion I'm going to keep the location to myself and a few trusted friends. It goes without saying that I'd love to catch my first Scottish topknot so I'll be back to explore this mark further soon!

Tight lines, Scott. 

Friday, October 09, 2015

Fish know when they've been tanago'd.

My tanago hooks and floats arrived last Friday and I popped down to Dunbar Harbour on Tuesday to try them out. It was a bit windy so instead of using the tiny floats I went with a slightly bigger pole float. Putting a minute piece of ragworm on the point of the hook I dropped it down next to the floating bladderwrack lining the harbour wall to try and tempt a fifteen spined stickleback out of it. I was expecting a bit of a wait before getting bites but my little float soon dipped under the surface and lifting my rid tip I felt a small fish putting up a little scrap. Reeling in I found a two spotted goby on the end. 


This set the tone for the next hour or so and I'd soon caught over a dozen of them and a few small coalfish. I'm not sure if all these two spotted gobies have always been in Dunbar Harbour or if they are a new arrival. One thing is for sure though, the tanago hooks are absolutely deadly and are a brilliant addition to my micro species hunting arsenal. I didn't catch or see any fifteen spined sticklebacks but there was a bit of movement in the water due to the rough seas outside the harbour. I'm sure as soon as I can locate a fifteen spined stickleback and present a small bait on one of these hooks it'll be tanago'd too.

Tight lines, Scott.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

...I'm having such a good time.

When my mate Martin arranged a day out on his mate Scott's boat for us I hadn't reached my target of fifty saltwater species from Scottish venues. When the three of us left Port Logan aboard Scott's boat on Sunday I had already caught fifty two so the pressure was off as far as I was concerned and I was just looking forward to enjoying a bit of fishing in good company. That being said the species hunter in me knew there were still a few species that I could catch during the session that would add to my tally and at the first spot Scott guaranteed that I'd catch a bull huss. He wasn't wrong and before too long I was reeling one in. Being notorious for dropping baits at the side of boats Martin netted it for me. Just as well too as the hook fell out as soon as it went into it. Their strength is quite something else and it was a particularly feisty one, proving very hard to handle, and photograph.

A very badly behaved bull huss.

Lemon sole was another and much more unusual species that Scott had caught at the first mark so I fished a three down rig on a 6-12lb class setup. I had added luminous beads, sequins and a piece of split shot to each snood and put a small piece of ragworm on the #8 hooks. This produced a few other species but no lemon sole or anything else that added to my 2015 tally. After a while we raised the anchor and headed to a second mark where we did some drifting. Scott had caught a lemon sole there too and told us it was a good spot for red and tub  gurnards as well, two additional species that I'd not caught so far this year. Again Scott was spot on and he soon boated a red gurnard, jokingly apologising for doing so. Of course after this every other fish the lads hooked was a red or tub gurnard until it reached the surface and morphed into a haddock, dogfish or something else. Like any other gurnards that might have been down there though, I wasn't biting. 

No more gurnard were caught drifting at the second mark and the action along with the gurnard wind ups slowed down after a while so we finished up the session drifting in a bay to the south of Port Logan. On the first drift Martin caught a tub gurnard on a set of mackerel baited daylights and the gurnard related teasing resumed. I switched to a two up rig with some yellow beads on the snoods, baited with tapered strips of mackerel hooked through the thin end. Over the next few drifts I caught a few more small fish before hooking something a little bigger. I jokingly told Martin to get the net ready for my tub but when a tub gurnard did actually appear I didn't wait for it and swung it in instead.

My first tub gurnard of 2015 was in fine condition. I didn't realise it at the time but it was also my 100th saltwater species of 2015, equalling last years total.

Of course I was still hopeful that a red gurnard would take one of my mackerel baits next but instead it was a plaice followed fairly quickly by a short spined sea scorpion.

Not big by any stretch of the imagination but this was still my biggest plaice from Scottish waters so far. 
Another cracking looking fish and also my biggest ever short spined sea scorpion. 

Soon it was time to head back to Port Logan. It had been a thoroughly enjoyable day's fishing and I'd added two species to my 2015 Scottish saltwater species tally, taking it to fifty four. Between us we'd caught fifteen species in total which isn't bad going for October. It was nice to fish with Scott for the first time too, it was very generous of him to take Martin and I out and I'd like to fish with him again if the opportunity ever arises. Over the last few years Martin has become a great friend and I always enjoy fishing with him. He had again gone out of his way to help me out with my species hunting by arranging the day and it's not the first time either. As well as offering info and encouragement he's put me in touch with some great anglers who've also done their best to help me too. On the way home another of Martin's friends happened to call him and a trip to Crinan was mentioned. Skate, conger eel and black mouthed dogfish are all potential catches and, as you've probably guessed, Martin mentioned me and another enjoyable day out fishing afloat is perhaps on the cards as a result. I'm sure if I do get a place on the boat I'll have another good time and maybe I can edge closer to sixty in the process.

Tight lines, Scott.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Don't stop me now...

With only one species left to catch from Scottish saltwater to reach my goal of fifty I decided to head west on Tuesday. I arranged to meet up with Oban angler Jonny who I have been exchanging emails with for a while now. He got in touch to ask me about my rock cook wrasse captures from Ganavan just to the north of Oban when he first got into light game and we've kept in touch ever since. After making the drive through and picking him up we headed to one of his mini species marks to try and find some fifteen spined sticklebacks. When we arrived Jonny spotted a couple of small ones but they quickly disappeared into the kelp fronds never to be seen again. The crystal clear water was teeming with poor cod, there were also a few goldsinny wrasse around and a healthy population of leopard spotted gobies as well. Fishing was fun and rather frantic but it was very hard to get through all the poor cod. Jonny has also caught a couple of Connemara clingfish at the mark in the past so we stuck it out for a couple of hours, trying to get our rigs down into likely looking hiding holes. I knew catching one would be highly unlikely but you never know, I never thought I'd catch scad, herring and two spotted gobies from Dunbar Harbour but had done exactly that only two days previously!

Royal Mail still haven't delivered my Tanago hooks. My one yen coin has arrived though and my quest for a fish that will fit onto it got off to a reasonable start with a small leopard spotted goby that managed to cram a #10 hook into its mouth.

As expected, after a couple of hours and several dozen poor cod, no Connemara clingfish had been caught. No more fifteen spined stickleback were sighted either so I suggested we head up to Kelly's Pier at Taynuilt on the southern shore of Loch Etive. I thought this would be another good spot to hunt fifteen spined sticklebacks as the entire length of the pier is lined with bladderwrack and the rotting wooden pilings at the end of it are covered in it too providing a perfect habitat for the weed impersonating fish. Upon arrival we spotted some tiny gobies moving along the sand, heading to slightly deeper water as the tide finished ebbing. By the time we had set up rigs with #26 hooks though they had all disappeared from the area we had seen them over so we started fishing from the small wooden jetty and before long Jonny had caught a small goby. I was expecting it to be a sand goby or small black goby but when he showed it to me I was excited because I suspected it was in fact a painted goby. I had my little observation tank with me, we popped it in to get a better look and my suspicions were confirmed. Obviously this was quite a rare capture but when Jonny caught a second I was sure I would get one too. To begin with I struggled to locate one but with a bit of perseverance and after trying a few different spots I eventually caught one myself by fishing my tiny bait close to one of the pilings. To say I was over the moon would be an understatement.

Species number fifty from Scottish saltwater in 2015. Mission accomplished!

Without the use of a little tank we may have struggled to positively identify them so I was glad I had brought it with me. The light coloured saddles and the distinctive colouration on the dorsal fins, deep red and light blue stripes over black spots, are their key distinguishing features. These were more prominent on Jonny's painted goby.

Very attractive markings and quite distinctive too.

After popping the fish back and taking a brief moment to reflect on my achievement I rejoined Jonny and we decided to find out what a shoal of small fish congregated around one of the  jetty's wooden pilings were. As we were right at the end of the pier we were slightly surprised to discover that they were three spined stickleback. They were very easy to catch, eagerly attacking a little piece of  Isome on my #26 hook.

Similar to fish like trout, common eels and flounder, three spined sticklebacks can be found in fresh or saltwater. This is a fact I had completely forgotten and whilst I was hoping that species number fifty one was going to be a stickleback I was expecting it to be the three spined's longer, even more spiny cousin.
I spent a little time amusing myself and caught a few more, trying to catch the small ones. This one was the smallest but still not small enough to fit on my one yen coin.

We fished away and after a few breaks wandering along the pier trying to spot fifteen spined sticklebacks unsuccessfully we scaled up a bit and had a few casts off the end of the jetty into the deeper water there which produced a few grey gurnards and small cod. As the tide began to flood and more of the bladderwrack along the side of the pier became submerged I spent a bit more time slowly working my way along it looking for my target but didn't spot any. Returning to fish on the jetty again we got a laugh watching a common eel fighting with a crab before snaking off into the weed as we caught a few more three spined sticklebacks. Then I caught a rather large two spotted goby and put my tank to good use again.

A bit of an old warrior, his spots were not very visible but you can make out the pale blue spots along his lateral line. At 6cm this two spotted goby was a real monster. Far too big to get my coin out.

Jonny had never caught one before so spent a bit of time trying and soon got one as well. By early evening there was a fair amount of water around the pier and a few slightly bigger fish started to arrive, mainly skulking in the shadows under the pier although the odd fish ventured out to search the sandy bottom for food. I couldn't believe my eyes however when I spotted one doing so which had the unmistakable banding of a pouting. Eagerly casting my tiny hook towards the fish it ignored my bait a few times and continued swimming around the area. I recast a couple more times, trying to put my rig in its path so it would come across it as it foraged. It ignored it a few more times before finally stopping and pausing briefly before taking it. Striking quickly the fish was hooked and was quickly wound in and swung up to hand.

Species number fifty two and only my second pouting from Scottish water, both were caught at this spot though.

Catching the pouting had been quite a bizarre, almost surreal, turn of events and I couldn't quite believe my luck. As light began to fade I had another look along the side of the pier for a fifteen spined stickleback.

While I pinched myself repeatedly and stared at the bladderwrack for long thin fish, Jonny fished the deep water at the end of the jetty in front of a rather stunning vista.

Soon it was getting dark and as I seemed to be on a roll I suggested we try one last spot for fifteen spined stickleback. We jumped in the car and went around the loch to Bonawe Quarry. I thought we would at least see some fifteen spined sticklebacks as the last time I fished it with my mate Mike we saw several, their eyes reflecting the light back from our headtorches giving their positions away.  My luck it would seem had all been used up however and we left after thirty minutes or so without finding any to target. After dropping Jonny off I made the long drive home quite happy with how the day's fishing had panned out. Like the session before it had been full of surprises and whilst I had failed to catch my target I had added three species to my 2015 Scottish saltwater tally. It was nice to meet up with Jonny for the first time and I hope we can meet up again. I seem to be enjoying a bit of good fortune at the moment, have caught some unexpected species that have seen me reach my goal and with some boat trips planned soon I'm started to wonder how many more species I can add to my tally before the end of the year. Perhaps reaching sixty might be achievable?

Tight lines, Scott.