Monday, October 28, 2019

One species closer.

After hearing several reports in work from anglers throughout August that they'd been catching lesser weever from various beaches in East Lothian whilst targetting flounders I headed down in September for a couple of sessions to try and catch one myself having never caught one from a Scottish venue before. I met up with my mate Nick and over two evenings we caught five between us, ledgering small ragworm sections using ultra light tackle in the wash at very close range.

Belhaven Beach was our chosen venue, towards the end of the flooding tide as the day drew to an end.
My first Scottish lesser weever. They might be venomous but they’re also quite a pretty little fish with a nice pearlescent herring bone pattern along their flanks and their distinctive jet black dorsal fin.  

Much to our surprise every single one we caught buried itself right in front of us when we released them. One of them even stuck it’s little venomous dorsal fin up out of the beach’s fine sand. 

A little black warning sign jutting up.

Towards the end of the second session I hooked into a nice fish that certainly wasn’t a lesser weever that put up a rather spirited scrap in about six inches of water. I knew it was a flatfish straight away and a nice flounder was soon landed. 

At 36cm this was great fun on a very light 8' 6" rod rated at just 3-15g.

The two sessions had been very enjoyable and the question of the possibility of catching one hundred species of fish in Scottish waters came up at the end of the second as we walked back up the beach to the car. At the time I wasn’t even sure how many I’d caught over the years and I’ll come back to this in a future blog post but a few days later I'd have opportunty to catch a new species and in Scottish waters too so whatever my tally sat at I was hopeful I’d be another one closer to a hundred. 

Tight lines, Scott.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Hitting the rocks.

After enjoying my holidays to Kefalonia and Madeira earlier this year I decided it was time to hit the coast locally, something I had not done for way too long. I headed down to East Lothian to catch up with my mate Nick and we decided to have a go for pollock from the rocky coast of Eyemouth.

A glorious day to be out on the rocks.

Well the weather was great but sadly the fishing was not, with neither of us catching any pollock. After a while and a quick change of tactics from metal jigs to a soft plastic worm on a drop shot rig I did get a few tentative taps straight down the side which I though might be a small wrasse. After changing from an unscented plastic to tried and trusted angleworm on my hook I soon caught the culprit. As it turned out the fish wasn't a wrasse after all but when I realised what it was it did put a big smile on my face.

A rather big long spined sea scorpion. I always enjoy catching this funky looking mini species.

After a trying a couple more spots with no luck we called it a day, scrambled back up the rocks and headed home. It was great to catch up with Nick, getting a little sunburnt in the process and despite not catching our target species the specimen sea scorpion with its devilish appearance left me with a determination to get out locally more often. 

Tight lines, Scott.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Even more species hunting on Madeira.

After getting back from Kefalonia I didn't do any fishing locally but luckily I also didn't have to wait too long before I was packing my fishing gear into my suitcase again. Less than five weeks later, at the beginning of July, I drove down south to fly down to Madeira for a spot of species hunting with two of my good friends and fellow anglers, Lee and Ross. Having myself already visited the beautiful Portuguese island twice before I had a pretty good knowledge of marks for us to fish both visited previously and also some new ones for us to investigate. Lee had been with me the first time I went to Madeira, for Ross it was his first time, but we were all looking forward to seeing each other again after about eighteen months apart, having a great time and were hopeful that us visiting later in the year than any of my previous visits would mean better fishing. Well, Madeira did not disappoint!

Madeira is a beautiful place.
With lots of interesting wildlife.
It's famous for flowers and the town streets get decorated with them during festivals.
The locals don't mess about when it comes to cooking large quantities of well seasoned meat on large skewers.
They also make a tasty beverage called Poncha that should be enjoyed responsibly.
If you're really lucky you'll bump into friendly locals who'll show you incredible hospitality and generously offer to take you out fishing on their boat where you'll have an epic time catching dentex!

Wait a minute! Perhaps I should rewind a bit and explain how on earth Lee, Ross and I found ourselves out in a boat catching dentex with Team Portugal member and world championship winning shore angler Nuno Barradas and his partner Fabyy. 

Ross with our hosts Nuno and Fabyy. Two of the friendliest people I've ever met and very good anglers too.

So, after an enjoyable but fairly uneventful fishing wise start to our week we were out on the second evening of the trip looking at a couple of new marks that I thought might produce barracuda, a species we were all keen to catch. Driving past the first mark we could see from the motorway above it that it was already very busy so we went to the second. Unfortunately we couldn't find an access point so we decided to head back to the first mark and see if there was in fact enough room. When we got down it was still very busy with local anglers and it turned out most of them were fishing jigs for squid. Amongst them all Ross instantly recognised Nuno as he had been over in North Wales for the world shore fishing championships last year and had visited the tackle shop that Ross had been working in at the time. It's a small world after all! We all got talking and Nuno very generously invited the three of us out in his boat the with himself and his partner Fabyy, an offer simply too good to turn down so of course we accepted. Early next morning we all met down at Funchal Marina, headed out to sea and along the coast where we had an epic couple of hours fishing for dentex using live squid as bait. It was a great experience and we knew afterwards that unless something truly incredible happened, it would probably end up be the fishing highlight of the week.

As the week continued we fished various marks all over the island and were racking up the species as we did. Some places we'd fished before but we also explored some new spots that on the whole fished really well too and between the three of us we caught some nice fish using a variety of methods.

Lee's fished exclusively with light game jigs most of the week and was rewarded with some nice fish like this pink dentex with its funky fins.
A nice male parrotfish for Ross. If memory serves it took a chunk of raw prawn ledgered on the bottom down the inside of the harbour wall.
In the same harbour this cracking derbio took a freelined bread flake. It went off like a rocket, stripping line of my reel multiple times. Awesome sport on my ultra light tackle!
After seeing a huge stingray swim past a breakwater we were fishing on a deadbait was rigged up and cast out on Ross's heavy lure rod. This produced two small stingrays in quick succession, one each for Ross and Lee. Sadly a third run didn't materialise so I never got the chance to catch one myself.
An early morning session fishing metal jigs into fairly deep water from a rock mark produced a few nice white trevally and this cracking striped seabream for Ross.
Night time sessions after dark were quite productive too. Lee's not usually a fan of fishing a drop shot rig but this white seabream was caught on a Gulp Fish Fry rigged on one.
A very happy species hunter with his first ever African striped grunt! Caught on the last after dark session of the holiday just before we were about to call it a night. Lee and Ross had both caught a few of these earlier in the trip and I took a fair amount of abuse for failing to do likewise so I was over the moon to catch my second new species of the trip.
Just for good measure I caught a second African striped grunt a few casts later. A nice looking fish that seem to only feed after dark.

By the end of the week we had racked up a very respectable thirty seven species between the three of us.

Here's what I caught with new species in bold...

  1. African Striped Grunt
  2. Atlantic Lizardfish
  3. Axillary Seabream
  4. Bastard Grunt
  5. Black Goby
  6. Black Seabream
  7. Canary Damsel
  8. Cardinalfish
  9. Chub Mackerel
  10. Common Dentex
  11. Common Two Banded Seabream
  12. Couch's Seabream
  13. Diamond Lizardfish
  14. Emerald Wrasse
  15. Guinean Puffer
  16. Lesser Weever
  17. Macronesian Sharpnose Puffer
  18. Madeira Goby
  19. Madeira Rockfish
  20. Mediterranean Rainbow Wrasse
  21. Ornate Wrasse
  22. Pandora Seabream
  23. Rock Goby
  24. Rockpool Blenny
  25. Salema
  26. Thick Lipped Grey Mullet
  27. Thin Lipped Grey Mullet
  28. White Seabream

Lee and Ross also added these to our group tally...
  1. Blue Runner
  2. Bogue
  3. European Stingray
  4. Gilthead Seabream
  5. Golden Grey Mullet
  6. Pink Dentex
  7. Saddled Seabream
  8. Striped Seabream
  9. White Trevally
As always it had been superb spending time with my two great friends and also it was nice to make two new friends in Nuno and Fabyy. After our initial chance encounter and the subsequent early morning boat adventure we'd met up with them again a few more times during the holiday. We did some lure fishing for bluefish and barracuda at sunrise one morning from the shore but sadly this didn't produce the target sepcies and all we caught was some crazy lizardfish that attacked lures almost as big as themselves. We also met up with them a couple of times in the afternoon and had a great time in their company eating some traditional island food. I was really taken back by their incredibly warm hospitality and generosity.  They are both really lovely people and when we return we'll certainly be meeting up with them again for sure. Over lunch we even talked about catching the ferry to Porto Santo together for a couple of days to do some fishing there. Madeira is an amazing place and I can't wait to get back down there again!

Tight lines, Scott.