Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The art of fishing.

Passing a corporate office building's concrete pond the other day, where I have done a spot of stealth angling in the past, I spotted a type of ornamental fish I've never caught before. The last time I visited this pond with tackle I also had a brush with Scotland's finest so to avoid incriminating myself by giving away the exact location I've used a couple of nice art filters on the photos in this post.

The solitary blue orfe stood out like a sore thumb amongst his golden shoal mates.

I managed to last just over twenty four hours before returning to the pond with a spool of line, swan shot, hooks and a small tub of maggots. When I arrived I couldn't believe my luck when my pale target was at one end of the pond on its own away from his more colourful mates. Lowering my hook baited with double maggot down the pond's sloping wall I slowly coaxed the fish over towards my trap by tossing in a constant supply of single maggots. A bit of patience and good aiming eventually paid off when the fish reached my simple rig and my hook bait disappeared into its greedy mouth. After a bit of thrashing around the fish was quickly hoisted up, unhooked, photographed and returned.

My first blue orfe.

My heart was pounding and happy to have caught something new I didn't hang around, making a quick escape into the night. Fishing doesn't get any simpler really and having a session where your not supposed to can be exciting as well. I think I'll up the ante next time. If my memory serves me correctly there are koi carp in Edinburgh's Botanical Gardens...

Tight lines, Scott.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Still putting a smile on my face.

I've been working a lot since starting my new job in the recently opened Edinburgh Angling Centre. As a result I haven't managed to get out that much. When I have wet a line I've hit the East Lothian coast. The fishing has been mixed but I've caught a fish or two that have put a smile on my face. A trip to St Abbs for a couple of hour's light game fun produced dozens of small coalfish but I also caught this nice little copper coloured pollock.

Juvenile pollock sometimes look much nicer than adults in my opinion.

A return to St Abbs a week later with my mate Garf with light game tackle saw us catching more small coalfish. I managed a couple of flounders too and hooked a very large pollock at the back of the outer wall that made me glad I had taken my net with me. Pity it had been left in the boot of the car at the top of the hill! The fish though beaten made good its escape when we tried to land it. Probably the biggest fish I've hooked on light game tackle. Not the first time I've been caught out by a surprise bonus beast and I should have learnt by now to always take my net!

One of the fish that didn't get away.

A few hours last down at Dunbar with some ragworm from work saw me catching dozens of coalfish again. They're good fun but I'd have prefered some flounders as they give a better account of themselves. Something else eventually managed to beat the coalfish to my bait though and had me smiling again.

My first ever ballan wrasse from inside Dunbar Harbour. I've had so many species from this venue now it's quite incredible.

Finally, I had a text from my mate Martin  recently telling me to look up the rockclimbing goby. A fascinating fish indeed but the text reminded me of another fish he told me to check out some time ago that always makes me smile. It's called the sarcastic fringehead.

The sarcastic fringehead is a very aggressive fish that puts its rather large mouth with its colourful interior to unusual use during territorial disputes. Check out this video to see it in action.

Anyway, I may be fishing less at the moment but it still gives me pleasure. Some of the goals I set myself this year have fallen by the wayside but I think over the coming months I'll focus on catching three new species which would take me to twelve for the year. From saltwater I'll be after a fifteen spined stickleback and a a three bearded rockling. Before I try for them though I think I'll hit some small streams in the evenings after work to try to catch my first bullhead.

Tight lines, Scott.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Light game fun in Croatia : Pula.

When we arrived in Pula to begin the final part of our holiday last month we dropped our stuff off at our accommodation and then I returned the hire car. Our apartment was located on the outskirts of the city and was quite far from the middle of town and the sea but we took a leisurely walk down and had a stroll around. As we explored we passed a scale model of Pula. 

Pula has one of the best examples of a Roman amphitheatre outside of Italy. 
The real thing was nearby and it was quite impressive. Being surrounded most of the way round by other buildings it was difficult to get a good photograph of it. Some gardens to the north of it seemed to offer us the best view.

Walking down to the waterfront nearby there were lots of tour boats and some large fishing boats moored as well as a large marina full of yachts. There were also incredible amounts of mullet swimming around near the surface. I've never seen so many mullet in fact and they were of a reasonable size. I thought of the fun I could have catching them but being aware of the fact that fishing in Croatian harbours isn't permitted I was pretty sure the area was off limits and was left feeling a bit frustrated. We spent some more time wandering around the city's narrow streets in the evening before having dinner and heading back to our apartment. 

The next day we jumped on a bus and headed to the Stoja Peninsula. Located to the south of Pula it is home to a large campsite. We headed all the way through it and found a quiet spot on the rocks where Lillian could relax and I could fish. I quickly caught lots of rainbow wrasse and painted combers. After a while we moved to another spot where I discovered it was a bit shallower and I was hopeful that perhaps I'd catch something different. All it produced to begin with however was more rainbow wrasse and painted combers. I was getting a little frustrated by the lack of variety so I tried jigging some small metals and paddletails on jig heads but sadly this didn't produce anything at all. Switching back to soft lures on a drop shot rig had me catching fish again and just before we left for lunch my persistence was rewarded when I caught a nice little gilthead seabream. 

A great looking spot. Not a great variety of species though. 
What a cracking little fish. A most welcome change from the wrasse and combers.  

In the evening we had a slow wander about town again before having dinner and a few drinks. It was fairly busy with lots going on but it didn't feel crowded and the atmosphere was relaxed. I think Pula was probably my favourite of the three Croatian cities we had visited. 

The next day we head to Verudela to visit an Aquarium. This one was located inside an old fortress which was quite good. There were lots of great displays and I saw some species that were found locally that I'd never heard of before, the longstriped blenny and the longsnouted wrasse. I tried to take photos of them both in their tanks but didn't manage to get any good ones. It's sometimes hard to take photos using a phone's camera in aquariums with the subjects swimming about constantly behind glass and the glare of multiple light sources reflecting off of it. Here are a couple of photos of them I found online. 

A longsnouted wrasse. A wrasse with a long snout!  I think this one is a male in breeding colours. I hoped I'd get lucky before we left Pula and catch one.
A longstriped blenny. Another highly original name choice.
 This seahorse was a much easier subject capture due to the fact it stayed motionless. Lillian loves seahorses. They mate for life she always tells me. 

After lunch we went for a walk around the coastline of the area. We soon found a nice quiet spot and clambered down onto the rocks from the clifftop path. Once again rainbow wrasse and painted combers made up the bulk of my catch but I also caught a few annular seabream and some nice East Atlantic peacock wrasse. 

A nice example of an East Atlantic peacock wrasse. Lovely shades of blue throughout its fins and big rubbery lips. 

Trying a second spot further round the coast I soon found out the water was incredibly deep. It was taking about forty five seconds for my seven gram drop shot lead to reach the sea floor after splashing down! It was the deepest water I had fished during the trip by a fair margin so again I was hopeful that it might throw up some different species but disappointingly, despite trying a few different methods, I didn't enjoy a great deal of action. As well as a few rainbow wrasse and painted combers I did catch a couple of small garfish that took my lure as I reeled in which was pretty cool. Even though they were tiny they put up a bit of a fight, launching themselves out of the water a few times.

Garfish are pretty weird fish. They stink as well. Their acrobatics are impressive though. 

After a while we headed back to Pula and the evening was spent in town again. The following day was our last full one in Croatia and in the morning we headed into town to see the Temple of Augustus. We'd passed it several times in the evenings without realising what it was or how old it was.

The Temple of Augustus has certainly stood the test of time. It's over two thousand years old!

Before heading to lunch we went for a walk along the waterfront. I was quite surprised to see quite a lot of mullet in an area well away from the marina and where there were no other boats moored. We popped to a shop and got a small loaf of bread and headed back. Freelining a small flake proved very effective and three thin lipped grey mullet were quickly caught and released. Seeing some large white seabream swimming deeper down I tried drop shotting a piece of Angleworm and caught a small common two banded seabream.

When fish are competing for food they become easier to catch. This applies to mullet as well, a fish some anglers will tell you are hard to catch which isn't always true.

A nice little common two banded seabream on good old Angleworm.

Whilst I was having fun I wasn't entirely sure if I was in an area where fishing was prohibited and not wanting to push my luck I packed up and we went for lunch. There was a Croatian dish I was keen to try. I doesn't look very nice but I fancied a change from fried squid, which we'd been eating regularly during the holiday. 

Black cuttlefish risotto. Looks a bit nasty but tastes amazing. 

Afterwards we jumped on a bus and headed back to Verudela. We went to the deep water mark where I was again hopeful I'd catch some bigger fish or perhaps a new species but sadly the fishing was pretty poor again. After a while I ended up joining Lillian under a tree and we relaxed in the shade for a while before deciding to walk all the way back to the apartment instead of catching the bus. On the way back I spotted a nice shady area and had my final casts of the trip. As well as a few painted combers and rainbow wrasse I caught a few greater weevers and also some little seabream too.

I think this is the smallest couch's seabream I've ever caught.
My last fish of the trip was this common pandora. 

In the evening we went out for dinner to a nice restaurant called Dva Ferala where we had eaten a couple of nights before to have another wonderful meal and a few drinks. The next morning we packed our bags and headed to the airport to fly home. We were sad to leave but it had been a great holiday and we had enjoyed our time exploring a little bit of Croatia. Lillian as always was very tolerant of my angling addiction and let me fish every day and I had a lot of fun. I didn't set myself any goals for the trip but I ended up catching twenty five species including two new ones which was great. Here's a summary of what I caught. The two new species are in bold.
  1. Annular Seabream
  2. Axillary Seabream
  3. Black Goby
  4. Boxlip Mullet
  5. Brown Comber
  6. Bucchichi's Goby
  7. Common Pandora
  8. Common Two Banded Seabream
  9. Couch's Seabream
  10. Damselfish
  11. East Atlantic Peacock Wrasse
  12. Five Spotted Wrasse
  13. Garfish
  14. Gilthead Seabream
  15. Golden Grey Mullet
  16. Greater Weever
  17. Madeira Rockfish
  18. Ocellated Wrasse
  19. Ornate Wrasse
  20. Painted Comber
  21. Peacock Blenny
  22. Rainbow Wrasse
  23. Rusty Blenny
  24. Saddled Seabream
  25. Thin Lipped Grey Mullet
I'd love to return to Croatia and explore some more of it. It's a beautiful place and if I did go back I think I'd start off in Zagreb and explore the country's interior region, it would be a great opportunity to target freshwater species abroad again.

Tight lines, Scott.