Sunday, August 20, 2017

Most Wanted : Crete revisited.

I've not done a "Most Wanted" post for a while but as I'm returning to Crete at the end of the month for a fortnight's holiday with my partner Lillian I thought it was a good opportunity to look at a few potential targets. As always some ultra light tackle will be going in the suitcase and there a few species I'd love to catch while I'm there that I've never caught before that are already on my "Most Wanted" list. I'll start of with two such species that I've been given some new information on location wise.

Atlantic Stargazer.

A member of the weever family this venomous fish will require careful handling should I be lucky enough to catch one. My mate Andy, who holidays on Crete regularly, has caught a few of these over the years and has kindly told me where he caught them.

Swallowtail Seaperch.

Another species that Andy has caught whilst on Crete. He caught one earlier this year fishing over a reef whilst on a day trip out on a boat . The boat happens to leave from the village we'll be staying in for the second half of our holiday. Hopefully I'll be able to catch one myself.

I've also decided to add a couple of new species to my "Most Wanted" list. Here they are..

Red Scorpionfish.

Another venomous fish. You'd think after being stung by a greater weever whilst on Lanzarote earlier this year might put me off catching poisonous fish?! Wrong! Scorpionfish are awesome and this rather colourful variety is no exception. I think this is another potential capture I can make whilst out on a boat.

Albacore Tuna.

Admittedly I may be pushing my luck with this one. I now know what my "Bonito Basher" is capable of though and my mate Andy has given me a deep water mark to try where he saw juveniles hitting baitfish. I'd love to be able to add a "Tuna Tamer" logo onto my Rock Rover rod too. I might employ a wire trace this time.

I'm really looking forward to this holiday. We love Crete and this will be our third visit to the island. This time we are flying into Chania and will be exploring the western end of the island for the first time. The weather here has generally been poor this year and I've been working a fair bit of overtime at work too so some sun, relaxation and wetting a line in the Mediterranean again will be great. Hopefully I'll catch a few fish, rack up a few species over the two weeks and if I get lucky I'll catch some of the species above.

Tight lines, Scott.

Overdue.

This post is overdue. Downloading and then uploading over three and a half thousand photos from Photobucket to Blogger and then editing over seven thousand links in five years' worth of posts has been time consuming. Anyway, earlier this year I felt catching up with me mate Lee was overdue so I was happy when an opportunity arose for him to come up to work at the Edinburgh Angling Centre open weekend in his capacity as Tronix pro staff. Of course some time off after the event was sorted out so we could go away fishing for a few days. The weather was very kind to us after the open weekend at the start of last month so we decided to go off on a little tour of Northern Scotland. Before heading up north however we headed west to catch a few grey gurnards on light game tackle and then visited a second mark in Oban to try and catch some rock cook wrasse, a species Lee had never caught before. At Kelly's Pier on Loch Etive we met up with my mate Gareth and fishing from the end of its old wooden pier we managed to catch a few grey gurnards on light game tackle.

Some of the grey gurnard in Loch Etive are almost jet black.

After catching quite a few grey gurnards I decided to fish another area nearby and pestered the gobies with my micro fishing setup. After catching a two spotted goby on a chianti float rig and some painted gobies ledgering hard on the bottom with a 3g drilled bullet, something a little bigger took my tiny bait and had my super light rod bent over as it charged off trying to get into some nearby bladderwrack.

Fish like this black goby are great fun on my micro fishing setup.

By mid afternoon we'd had our fill of gurnards and gobies and headed to the second mark in Oban. Conditions there were different to any other time I've fished the mark and the fishing was disappointingly pretty poor as a result. I still managed to catch a rock cook wrasse.

Stunning markings. I hoped Lee would catch one too.

After an hour or so Gareth had to head home but Lee and I stayed for a couple of extra hours, hoping that the fishing would improve as the tide dropped. Unfortunately it didn't really and apart from a few poor cod and goldsinny wrasse it was tough going. Lee did spot a couple more rock cook wrasse but sadly couldn't tempt them to take his Gulp fish fry. With a long journey north still to make we headed off up to Drumnadrochit where we stayed the night. In the morning we continued our drive up to Scrabster, stopping for a short break on the coast at Helmsdale where we stretched our legs and fished in its picturesque harbour. Like most harbours on the east coast of Scotland it contained lots of small coalfish. We also managed to catch a flounder each before completing the drive north.

Chartreuse Gulp fish fry caught this one.

Mines took a piece of angleworm.

When we arrived in Scrabster we had a quick fish around the harbour before heading to check into our B&B. We had been given fair warning by Gareth about the amount of dabs we'd likely catch and he wasn't exaggerating. It was all we caught in fact with Gulp products proving irresistible as usual.

This one took a natural hellgramite fished on a drop shot rig.

In the evening after checking in to our accommodation we went to look for a spot to fish in the evening for three bearded rockling, a species I've never caught before. I'd spotted some nice looking gullies to the north of Fresgoe Harbour on Google Maps so we explored there for a while. Most of the coastline was high cliffs but eventually we found a ledge above a nice deep gully that I thought looked promising for us to return to as it got dark. Lee wasn't too comfortable with the mark as it involved a little bit of scrambling to get down to the ledge but we went down anyway and whilst there I had a few casts.

A few coalfish soon put a bend in my rod.

In the evening after a chat about fishing from the dodgy cliff ledge and bit of Googling to see if I could find reports of three bearded rockling captures in the area we changed our choice of mark and decided to fish from much safer exposed flat rocks below Scrabster lighthouse. It was a much more sensible choice of venue really and access was relatively easy. Once on the rocks I fished a mackerel bait at fairly close range on a bait rod and whilst waiting for bites fished small jigs on my light game setup. Lee meanwhile fished a heavier jigging setup. We both caught a few fish over the course of the evening.

A nice little copper coloured pollock.
A few little cod took my light game jig.

Lee caught a nice grey gurnard on a jig and incredibly also caught five or six dabs on it too! Meanwhile all fishing my bait in close amongst the snags in an attempt to catch a three bearded rockling resulted in was heavy tackle losses. Eventually however I did get a nice fish on my bait rod when a short spined sea scorpion took my mackerel strip.

Lee caught this grey gurnard on a 40g slow jig.

Almost every cast close in resulted in a lost rig but eventually I got my rig back with a fish on it.

We fished on until after midnight by which point it was rather cold so we called it a night. The next day after breakfast we headed west along to Durness stopping at a few fishy looking places on the way. At Skerray Bay we caught a few small coalfish on micro jigs and stumbled upon a tiny outdoor art gallery in a crumbling old building.

I thought this painting was pretty good.

Further along the coast we stopped at a outcrop just after Heilam that jutted out into Loch Eriboll. It looked promising and the water on the western side was nice and deep but sadly the fishing was pretty slow. Working our way around it we eventually found a spot where we got a few bites and Lee caught a nice goldsinny wrasse. The fishing still wasn't great though and I ended up getting distracted by a nice butterfly.

Nice vivid colours on this little chap.

Nice colours on this too.

As we drove further west the scenery just got better and better and as we passed several stunning golden sandy beaches we wished we had more time to explore further.

At times the stunning coastline made it easy...

...to forget we were in Scotland.

After reaching Durness we began heading south back to Edinburgh. Along the way we passed dozens of small highland lochs and when we passed one that was right next to a parking place we couldn't resit being a little naughty and had a cheeky session targeting highland brown trout. Small hard plugs were soon being put to use with good results and a few small highland brownies were caught.

One of the nice little trout plugs Lee let me use.

One of the highland loch's nice little brown trout.


We made one final stop on our way back, stopping in Ullapool for an hour or so. After catching lots of little cod, whiting and poor cod from back of the ferry port we had some haddock served with chips. It had been a good trip and whilst I probably did as much driving as we did fishing it was good to catch up with Lee and visit a part of Scotland neither of us have been to before. I'd love to go back and explore the area further. Luckily I won't have to wait too long to see Lee again, we're off to Gran Canaria in December with our mate Ross. Another reunion that's long overdue as it's been a few years since the three of us fished together. Light game in the salt and a few sessions targeting large mouth bass in the island's many reservoirs will be the perfect way for the three of us to remedy that.

Tight lines, Scott.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Fancy meeting you here!

I popped over to Burntisland yesterday afternoon. The sun was out, if only briefly, but the wind was blowing down the Forth and the water inside was a little coloured up which meant overall the the fishing was pretty poor. It wasn't a complete waste of time though as I did bump into my mate Col and caught this funky Yarrell's blenny.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Mixing it up.

I've been out a few times over the last week. Visiting different marks, employing different tactics and catching a few different species. Last Monday despite easterly winds I jumped in the car and headed down to St Abbs. There wasn't much happening inside the harbour where it was relatively sheltered but I found a shoal of coalfish in the rough sea on the outside.

Micro jigs on light game tackle. Great fun.  

At the weekend I had a couple of hours at a new spot on Loch Fyne. My target was Fries' Goby and I fished a scaled down three hook flapper rig on light tackle. A packet of Dynabait dehydrated ragworm was the bait of choice and after getting distracted catching a load of goldsinny wrasse straight down the side of the old pier I was fishing from I remembered why I was there and shifted my attention to further out on the sea floor. A few pin whiting and micro codling took my small baits at range and then I got excited when I reeled in a small fish and a goby appeared from the depths. Alas it was only a rather large sand goby and sadly it was the only goby of the session.

Quite a large and darkly coloured sand goby had me briefly excited.

Yesterday I met up with my mate Gareth down at the outflow at Torness Power Station to target bass. When we arrived just after high water there were lots of mullet around and to be honest I wished we had some bread with us. Ignoring the mullet I tried fishing small jigs to begin with, casting them up the current and letting them be swept down in a fairly natural manner before jigging them back up towards me but this didn't attract any interest. A switch from lure to bait had the odd mullet inspecting the little piece of dehydrated ragworm on my hook a few times but they just didn't want to fully commit, turning away at the last moment. Gareth had a break after a while and caught some blennies from nearby rockpools. I persisted and made a few changes to my end tackle, reducing the breaking strain of my hook length to 4lb and fine tuning my presentation a little weight wise to make it sink a bit more naturally. Eventually I caught a couple of thick lipped grey mullet and then a couple of bass.

The fish were all under 1lb but the strong current exaggerated their fighting abilities.

I then decided to turn my attention to catching a few blennies but I was soon on net duties to make sure nothing escaped when Gareth caught some fish from the outflow, again on small pieces of ragworm.

A nice little thick lipped mullet...
...was quickly followed by a nice little bass.

Having caught his target and added to a species hunt he's involved in this year, Gareth was keen to add another so we shifted our attention to long spined sea scorpions and headed off to explore some nearby rockpools. At this time of year though, and also due to the unnaturally high sea temperatures in the vicinity of the outflow, the rockpools were all choked full of sea lettuce. This made locating likely fish holding spots tricky. When we did find some nooks and crannies to try they all had blennies hiding in them.

Shanny served on a bed of salad.

Blennies are cool but at the outflow they really are everywhere so I suggested we head up to the rockpools at the back of Dunbar harbour to try there where normally the long spined sea scorpion is fairly common. In the first there few rockpools we tried however all we caught was more blennies so we headed to further out onto the rocks to a very big deep rockpool exposed by the tide. From this one we managed to catch a few of the mini species we were after.

I love the long spined sea scorpions gung-ho approach to feeding. They just charge out and attack, repeatedly, until they get hooked.

As we fished away we caught a few more long spined sea scorpions and as we did I mentioned to Gareth that I'd caught a leopard spotted goby there once a couple of years ago. Right on cue one came out of a crack and had a go at the 3g drilled bullet on my rig before settling on a rock. I lowered my bait into position right in front of it and it lurched forward, eagerly swallowing my little chunk of ragworm. This was followed by a second much larger specimen which I'm pretty sure was a potential British record breaker.

At 13cm this is a specimen leopard spotted goby. With no scales I couldn't find out if it was a record breaker.

We then got a good soaking when a heavy rain shower passed over us. Before we headed up to the harbour to target flounder I spotted a third leopard spotted goby in the big rockpool and pointed it out to Gareth. A small piece of ragworm was dropped down in close proximity to its mouth and Gareth had soon added another species to his tally, his first ever leopard spotted goby as well. We had half an hour or so fishing inside the harbour where there were lots of tiny flounder around but no signs of any bigger ones and when the sky opened again we decided to call it a day.

Tight lines, Scott.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Enter the dragonet.

Last Monday I arranged to meet up with my mate Gareth at Loch Fyne for an afternoon fishing bait on light gear. The target for the day was common dragonets. Gareth had never caught one before, despite a few attempts to catch one, so was keen to catch his first. I just think they're pretty cool. I arrived early in the morning and began fishing a mark that has in the past consistently produced them for me so I was quietly confident we'd catch some. I had some raw prawns with me for bait but I also took along a pack of dehydrated ragworm after a regular customer at work had told me he'd found them to be very effective. After a catching a few pin whiting on small chunks of raw prawn I decided to give the Dynabait a try on my size 12 hooks.

I was a bit skeptic but keeping an open mind I gave them a try anyway.
Taking one out of the packet it had quite a strong odour but being bone dry there was no mess.
Following the instructions on the packet you are supposed to rehydrate them but I opted to use it straight out of the packet. My reasoningbeing that it would perhaps stay on the hook on the cast better and would get rehydrated soon enough.

While waiting for Gareth to arrive I caught a few more pin whiting and dabs and then I caught a common dragonet and quickly text Gareth to let him know that our target species was around. I carried on fishing away, alternating between small chunks of raw prawn and small pieces of dried ragworm and caught lots of fish on both. I even had a treble shot of mackerel on the dried ragworm that intercepted my rig as it fell to the seafloor. It wasn't much fun pulling them up through bladdwrack on a rod rated to 15g! When Gareth arrived we happily fished away and after a couple of hours catching lots of pin whiting, the odd dab and a few black gobies he shouted over to let me know he'd caught his first common dragonet.  I really should have taken a trophy shot for him. Sorry mate! Here's a photo of the one I caught instead!

Weird little fish. 

Sadly no more dragonets were caught before the end of the session but our objective for the day had been accomplished so we both left happy enough. I'll be catching up with Gareth again soon and I'll also be keeping a few packets of the dried ragworm in the boot of my car from now on too as I was very impressed with them.

Tight lines, Scott.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

From Russia with fins.

My mate Robert text me earlier this month to say he'd caught a Pacific pink salmon whilst out fishing on a Scottish river. I thought he was winding me up to start with and quickly replied "Tinny be silly!". He insisted he was being serious and sent me the photo below. Doing a bit of research into them I realised he wasn't joking at all.

It was indeed a Pacific pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha). Also known as humpback salmon, a few are now being caught by anglers in UK river systems.

It seems Russia carried out a huge stocking programme about sixty years ago and the species, having subsequently turned up in some Norwegian and Icelandic river systems, is now showing up in ours too. Of course, being a foreign invader, the fish pictured above was quickly dealt with. For some reason when I was told this, John Smeaton, a hero of the foiled 2007 terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport, came to mind.

"They can try and come to Britain and they can try to disrupt us any way they want."

So, humpback salmon, you have been warned. Try to enter our rivers to terrorise the native fish populations and as the bold John Smeaton put it, "We'll set about ye!".

Tight lines, Scott.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Nothing fishy going on...

Without warning last month Photobucket decided to change their terms and conditions and are now expecting people to pay the princely sum of $399 a year for the ability to link to their photos from third party websites. I only found out when I got an email from them.

Only took them five years to notice.

I've been using Photobucket to store the photos for this blog since I started writing it over five years ago and have about three and a half thousand images stored on their site. Had the fees introduced been reasonable I might have been open to paying but there is no way I'm paying $399! This means I'll have to upload all of my images to blogger and edit every single post one by one to remove all of the links to Photobucket. This year's posts are now all done and I'll carry on working my way back through previous years' posts when I have the time. In the mean time I can only apologise if you try to view any of my older posts and see Photobucket's ransom demands where my photos should be.

Tight lines, Scott.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Push it to the limit.

On Monday I headed west to fish two different places with my tanago rod. First stop was the River Forth where my target was the humble minnow. Normally there are lots around down the edge but for some reason there didn't seem to be any around at all. There were however a few small fish taking flies off the surface slightly further out so I decided to find out what they were. After catching and quickly returning a few small salmon parr I caught a little dace.

Dace are a lovely looking fish. I think I'll go back again soon with my float rod and centrepin to spend a day specifically targetting them.

My next stop was Magiscroft coarse fishery near Cumbernauld. Before using my tanago rod I fished maggot under an insert waggler out close to an island using a light float setup. My first two casts both quickly produced small mirror carp. Then, after a few roach and perch, I caught a few more carp which led me to believe the pond had been stocked with them recently.

Good fun on a very light float setup.
Lots of pristine roach too.

After a while I decided to switch to my tanago rod and dropped my pole float down right under its tip. With single maggot on a #26 Gamakatsu 6315 hook to 0.75lb nylon at the business end I was soon pulling out lots of small perch and the odd roach.

I employed a chop stick style grip on my 15g rod.

The main reason for my visit was to hopefully catch some gudgeon. They're a cool freshwater mini species and it had been a while since I'd caught one. Eventually, my persistance paid off when one beat the small perch and roach to my wriggling bait on the bottom. As gudgeon go it was pretty big and on my super light rod I'd go as far as to say it even put up a bit of a scrap!

A cracking gudgeon.

Keen to catch some more I carried on fishing close in but for a while all I caught was more perch and roach. Then, suddenly, my float shot under as something larger began chrging about the swim in front of me. My tiny rod was bent right over and I was worried about my hook bending out but after a few minutes playing the fish, dropping the rod to give it some line when I felt it necessary, I managed to tire out the fish and another small carp was drawn into my net.

This little fully scaled mirror really pushed my tanago rod to the limit.

I fished on for a while and caught a few more perch and roach but sadly no more gudgeon. I'm really enjoying fishing with my tanago rod at the moment. It's a very direct and fun way to fish. The small carp I caught on it has forced me to rethink what it's capable of. I'll be out using it again soon, targetting some saltwater species on a trip to Loch Etive and Oban with a few of my mates.

Tight lines, Scott.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Strictly no fishing!

This is Edinburgh Park, a large business park in the South Gyle area of the capital. In front of it there is a long pond called Loch Ross. I was reliably informed it contained fish.
On Sunday afternoon I decided to visit armed with my tanago rod, a chianti float rig and a pocket full of maggots. After half an hour or so sight fishing for the three spined sticklebacks and some lovely rudd that were in the pond I was approached by one of the site's security guards who politely informed me that there is to be strictly no fishing in the ponds. Pity, I love rudd.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Yet another rod added to my collection.

Last year after spending a day catching sticklebacks I decided to get myself a new rod for sessions targeting such small fish. After a bit of research online I treated myself to the smallest Shimotsuke Kiyotaki in the range, at only 180cm in length and weighing in at an incredible 15g I thought it was just what I was after for close range micro fishing. I think I'm correct when I say that technically it is actually a tenkara rod for use targeting small trout in small streams but to begin with I'll be using it to fish a variety of delicate bait presentations for little fish. This week I finally decided to do just that and have had several short sessions. My first was in Forthquarter Park behind the Edinburgh College's Granton campus. 

A lovely little pond in a nice park. Not sure if fishing is permitted.

The following evening after work I went out again with two of my mates, Gordon and Tomasz, to see if Inverleith Pond had any sticklebacks in it. Fishing the same float rig I managed a few including a few males resplendent in their full breeding livery.

The ambition of most Japanese tanago anglers is to catch a tanago (bitterling) that fits on a one yen coin. Completely wrong species of course but the smallest fish I caught almost fit on mine.

The following evening after work I went out again with two of my mates, Gordon and Tomasz, to see if Inverleith Pond had any sticklebacks in it. Fishing the same float rig I managed a few including a few males resplendent in their full breeding livery.

Lovely turquiose colour to this horny little stickleback's eyes and a bright red chin too. Mating season in full swing.

After an hour or so we walked to a nearby stretch of the Water of Leith where we found a pool to fish. I managed to pull out a few sticklebacks and a couple of small minnows. Tomasz was keen to try and tempt a brown trout so I let him borrow my "Bonito Basher". He set up a running ledger, was soon getting bites and before long he'd caught a fish. It was his first ever minnow and a fairly big one at that so a photograph was in order.

This greedy minnow took a #12 hook baited with double maggot.

Catching sticklebacks and minnows is fun but I wanted to see how my rod would handle some bigger fish so I headed to Eliburn Reservoir in Livingston on Wednesday evening. I've not fished there for a while and walking around it trying to find a peg to fish was tricky as there was a lot of weed around the margins. To be frank the venue's pegs could use a good raking out and all the weed made fishing tough. I ended up having to try and fish out beyond the weed and this meant I was fishing further out and deeper than was comfortable using the rod. Things were quite slow but eventually I managed a couple of perch.

Lots of these in Eliburn.

The rod handled these no problem at all and I'm still left curious just what it can handle. It was good to be out fishing again even if the sessions were very short. I'll be using the new rod again soon and will be targeting slightly bigger fish on it. I also have a strange desire to catch some gudgeon so it will be put to good use targeting them as well.

Tight lines, Scott.