Thursday, October 22, 2020

In before the lock?

I popped down the A1 a couple of times a fortnight ago with two of my workmates. The first trip to St Abbs Head with Callum was all about catching some ballan wrasse and Callum had his heart set on catching "A big one." having already caught a few smaller ballan wrasse on previous outings he'd had. After walking up to the cliffs from the village we started the session by trying a new mark that proved to be a little tricky to access due to the slightly damp underfoot conditions. Clambering about on damp rocks isn't a great idea down there and the new spot turned out to be fairly shallow and hellishly snaggy, so we headed back up to the path and I took Callum to another mark where I've caught a few decent ballan wrasse in the past. After making our way down a grassy slope and hopping down a few rocks, we found a fairly flat ledge, got comfortable and set up our gear. Fishing light tackle was the approach taken with plan A being dropping blow lug down the side at close range on one hook paternoster rigs. I had my bait in the water first and before Callum had even finished getting setting up I was asking him to net the first ballan wrasse of the day, a nice fish just over a couple of pounds.

As well as their colourful markings and eyes, I love their big juicy lips.

I've never really fished for ballan wrasse on the east coast so late in the year so catching one straight away was a most welcome and pleasant surprise, and made me reasonably confident that we'd catch more. About twenty minutes later Callum got an aggressive bite and hooked the culprit. A big fish quickly had his rod bent over, his drag clicker screaming and his heart pounding. After a few spirited runs towards the kelp the fish was beaten and when it came to the surface I was in position with the net to help Callum land a new personal best ballan wrasse. 

"A big one!" We didn't have scales with us but at 46.5 cm Callum's new PB ballan wrasse was probably just over 4lb.
A cracking fish with some beautiful markings. A fantastic capture on a light rod rated 3-18g as well!

Having accomplished my guiding objective for the day I left Callum to target wrasse and turned my attention to scratching around on the bottom using small hooks baited with chunks of raw prawn to see if I could pick up something unusual. All I managed were about a dozen small coalfish however before a pod of dolphins swam by and after that all action, unsurprisingly, ground to a halt. After a couple of hours with nothing further being caught we headed back to the car. On our way back up the road we decided to pop into Torness Power Station's outflow to target bass and mullet, species Callum had never caught before. The water was pretty coloured up however, and sadly we didn't have any joy ledgering lug worm for bass or free lining bread flake for mullet.

The following day I headed to Coldingham Bay, St Abbs Harbour and then Torness Power Station's outflow with another workmate, Ruaridh. To begin with we scratched around using light gear and small hooks baited with raw prawn but at the first two venues things were pretty slow. At Coldingham Bay we didn't catch anything at all but when we visited St Abbs Harbour we did eventually manage to catch a few fish in the shape of some coalfish, a small cod and also Ruaridh's first ever blenny.

Ruaridh patiently fishing away.
Ruaridh's first ever blenny! I remember catching mine and whilst I've caught hundreds since it still seems like it was yesterday.

After trying a few different areas around the various parts of the harbour we switched to working lures along the bottom in an attempt to catch some flounders but this didn't produce any bites. I then decided to scale down and catch some sand gobies using tanago hooks and after catching a few I also caught a couple of tiny plaice as well on the tiny baits I was slowly twitching along the harbour's sandy flour.

The distinctive orange markings of an adult were absent on this tiny juvenile plaice but the bony nodules running along the head were not.

To finish the day we visited Torness Power Station's outflow. The water clarity had improved a lot over the previous twenty-four hours, and we decided to focus our efforts on catching mullet on freelined bread flake. This method was new to Ruaridh along with the frustrations of using it to try to catch our target. Things were made more difficult by the fact that neither of us had a pair of polarized sunglasses with us but eventually I managed to catch two thick lipped mullet that took my bread and pulled my rod tip over as they felt my hook and swam off into the current.

Frustrating and full of fight. Mullet are great fun.

Sadly, despite his perseverance Ruaridh didn't manage to catch one before it started to get dark, so we called it a day. To his credit he took the constant baiting up only for the fish to steal his bread pretty well and is keen to go back again for another attempt at catching his first mullet so a return trip will be made. Last week the weather wasn’t great for that but the mullet are there all year round so hopefully we'll get back down there at some point. That being said I'm not sure what fishing I'll be doing in the weeks ahead. I’ll have to do any fishing "locally" until the end of October due to the recent travel restrictions introduced in Scotland’s central belt but I have a horrible feeling that before too long some stricter travel restrictions may be put in place that will really  limit my opportunities. I really, really hope I’m wrong.

Tight lines, Scott.

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