Monday, September 17, 2012

Fish fanatic? Fishing machine more like!

Just a quick post to highlight a superb achievement by my fishing fanatic friend, Ross Johnson, who on Saturday achieved his goal of catching sixty saltwater species in 2012. Not only did he achieve this goal though, he did it in some style by catching a tope of an estimated 40lb from the shore.

He's talkin' about sharkin'!

Ross has now set himself a new target of seventy species in 2012! With over three months left to get an additional ten species and with the time, effort and miles he puts into his species hunting I've no doubt if anyone can do it Ross can.

Once again a massive congratulations to Ross and if you haven't checked out his blog yet I suggest you take a look.

Tight lines, Scott.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Stinky fingered fishing.

Popped out earlier this week and just for a trip down memory lane I armed myself with a small box of ragworm and assaulted a couple of marks. Employing some of the skills I've picked up during my exploration of fishing ultra light it was a mix of those tactics but with bait and I had a great day. I started off at Dunbar Harbour and yet again found myself trying to locate the ever elusive viviparous blennies that I still have nightmares about Lillian catching last year. I've still to catch one after numerous attempts at the same spot and will keep trying but after thirty minutes of bottom bouncing a baited jighead today I conceded defeat again. After changing tactics it wasn't long before I caught a long spined sea scorpion by jigging a chunk of ragworm down the side.

Despite being regular fed an exquisite diet of the finest Japanese lures the inhabitants of the harbour still like ragworm.

I then decided to head around the harbour and on the way over I spotted a box of pot bait left by one of the fishing boats for use in the creels of the numerous small lobster boats that also operate out of the harbour. In amongst all the dabs, whiting, flounder and plaice was a dover sole. I've never seen one before and was bemused in particular by its odd mouth.

A very strange looking fish indeed.
With little apparent jaw movement and a tiny mouth how on earth do they feed?

I popped it back and headed round to my next spot, "blenny corner". After quickly catching four of them I walked round a little further to "flattie corner" and soon managed a few plaice after switching to a #14 hook with a few split shot a couple of inches above it and slowly working it across the bottom with a few pauses. Hoping to catch a flounder as well to up my species tally I carried on, catching another long spined sea scorpion and a couple of coalfish as well as a few more plaice before deciding to head around to "shellfish falls" in the old harbour to see if there were any pot bellied blennies lurking there.

A lot of thought goes into naming spots like "blenny corner"!
I didn't catch any plaice in Dunbar harbour last year, only flounder. Almost the opposite is true this year.
An ever obliging greedy little coalfish.
This little fellow shot out of nowhere and muscled past several plaice to grab my bait. I love their aggression.

No sign of any big bloated blennies at "shellfish falls" so I started exploring all the likely hiding places along the harbour walls. I had soon caught a few more blennies, long spined sea scorpions and coalfish when I caught my first ever short spined sea scorpion from Dunbar harbour.

Note the relatively short spines and elongated body in comparison to the fish above.
Tipping the head back gently shows the distinct throat membrane of the short spined variety of sea scorpion.

Next up I headed further down the coast to Torness Power Station inlet area in search of leopard spotted gobies as I wanted to get a few photos of them. I caught a few more long spined sea scorpions and blennies before I located a pocket of the gobies and managed to catch two of them. When I first saw them in the water approaching my bait I could make out all their lovely colours but when I caught them and lifted them out they very quickly turned a dark shade. I popped them into a shallow rockpool to relax again and they soon returned to a lighter pink shade, showing off all their beautiful markings.

Nice things come in small packages.

Looking at these stunning little fish is a real pleasure and after admiring them I carefully popped them back where I caught them and they both slowly swam back down to the bottom before disappearing back under the big rock they had come out from underneath. I couldn't think of a better way to end the session and headed home quite pleased with the days haul.

I thoroughly enjoyed the session and it was very interesting mixing up the use of bait with some of the ultra light tactics. I think I caught more fish than I would have done on lures but I'm also sure that I caught more fish than I would have done fishing the bait in a more traditional style. I had forgotten how much bait stinks up your hands, clothes and car though so unless someone genetically engineers fruity flavoured ragworm I'll be sticking to Isome for the foreseeable future!

Tight lines, Scott.

An idiot's guide to U.K. wrasse species.

As targeting wrasse is growing in popularity in the U.K. I thought I'd put together a little guide containing some information about this beautiful group of fish as well as a guide to identifying the five main species and also three additional species that are rarely caught but have been found in U.K. waters.

Wrasse themselves are relatively easy to identify and identifying the different species is also fairly straightforward too. Colouration can vary though especially in ballan wrasse which is one of the main reasons I personally enjoy catching them so much. In putting together this guide I myself have been learning more about wrasse and some of the information in this guide has been taken from the following excellent sources.

Whilst I have used many of my own photographs I have also used a selection of superb photos by other photographers and anglers. I have credited each and have also added the web address to the source. I would wholeheartedly recommend you take the time to have a look at these links as they contain many other breathtaking photographs that are well worth viewing and those photos taken by anglers also contain some excellent catch reports and other useful angling information.

I'll start with some general information about wrasse. As a group of fish they have some peculiar characteristics and habits that you may find interesting.

Normally found over rocky ground and in weed beds, wrasse are territorial. Often found in the same spot repeatedly by divers they are also very inquisitive. In coastal areas they will move up and down the shoreline with the tide feeding. Wrasse are a very slow growing fish. A large ballan wrasse can be almost 30 years old.

Wrasse have one long dorsal fin which is comprised of two fins joined together. The first at the front is made up of hard membrane bound spines whilst the second part at the rear is a lobe made up of softer fin rays. They have an anal fin that is similarly made up of hard spines in the front section and softer ones towards the tail. Powerful pectoral fins along with a large tail mean that wrasse can move at great speed when hunting or to evade predators. Wrasse have fairly large well defined scales, have tough rubbery lips and as well as teeth in there jaws some wrasse have teeth in their throats too. This means they can eat a wide variety of food but their main food source is normally shellfish and crustaceans which they can easily grind and crush up.

Wrasse are cleaner fish, eating parasites like sea lice, from other fish. As a result they are now caught and farmed commercially to clean farmed fish and their cages providing an environmentally friendly alternative to the use of chemicals.

Wrasse are active during the day and sleep at night. They have been seen doing so on their sides by divers. They also darken their colouration when doing so. They can also do this when they feel threatened and will often do it when they are caught.

Wrasse build nests when breeding. Normally built by the males and guarded by the females although sometimes the male will guard the nest. Nests are made from a variety of materials including weed, algae, shells fragments and gravel. Smaller wrasse species often make their nests in crevices. The often brighter colours of male wrasse may intensify during their breeding season. Some wrasse species live in a harem with one male breeding with several females whilst in other species the fish form breeding pairs. Some species of wrasse are hermaphroditic. This means the females can change into males. In some species, ballan and cuckoo are examples, all are born females and change into males later in their development. Other species are born male or female but the females can still change into males.

I shall now take a look at how to identify the five main U.K. wrasse species.

Ballan Wrasse.

Ballan wrasse can grow to over 60 cm making them by far the biggest of the wrasse species found in U.K. They have a very stout appearance and a large head, snout and lips. They are an example of a hermaphroditic fish with all ballan wrasse being born female and changing into males at a later stage in their life. They are the most common and also the most varied in terms of their colouration as is shown below. Some are normally two or more colours. Some are solidly coloured like the 1st below, whilst others are mottled like the 2nd fish or spotted like the 3rd. Some also have a lighter row of scales along the lateral line like the 4th fish below. This doesn't mean identifying them becomes problematic however because all other wrasse species have there own markings which can vary slightly but are all very distinct as you will also see below.

Ballan come in a multitude of colours as the examples above illustrate.

Corkwing Wrasse.

Corkwing are just one of the smaller species that are common in U.K. waters growing to about 28cm. The corkwing wrasse has a much shorter, deeper body than the ballan wrasse, a much smaller more pointed head and a smaller mouth. The preopercular bone (the one behind the eye on the gill plate) has a rough edge. The corkwing is the only wrasse of the five common species to have this feature, evident in the middle image below. Males are normally brown in colour with light blue highlights on their backs and also on their fins. Very vivid lime green, yellow, orange and blue stripes on the face and gill plates make the males unmistakable. The females whilst similar in shape lack the bright colours of the males and by comparison are quite bland. An example of a female corkwing is shown in the third image of the group below. A dark spot behind the eye and just below the centre of the tail root is another reliable means of positively identifying corkwing wrasse. This is not always distinct though and the fact the fish can darken its colouration when caught is a possible reason for this.

Male corwings are very pretty fish indeed. Females can be mistaken for ballans. If in doubt and the two spots are faint then rely on the rough preopercular bone to decide.

Goldsinny Wrasse.

The smallest of the common U.K. wrasse species growing to only 14cm. Goldsinny wrasse are quite slender too and are normally light, dark or reddish brown in colouration sometimes with a very subtle blue tinge to their undersides. They have a dark spot at the leading edge of their dorsal fin and also at the top of their tail root which makes them easy to identify.

Small teeth used to grind barnacles and any unfortunate crustacean that is unlucky enough to become a meal for this small wrasse species.

Rock Cook Wrasse.

With a maximum size of about 18cm the rock cook is another small wrasse species and is also the rarest of the five U.K. wrasse species. It can normally be found alongside goldsinny wrasse. Similar in shape to the corkwing wrasse except it has a much smaller head and mouth. They have a brown back with a paler underside, blue/violet flecks on the back and fins and overall a nice golden tinge. Along with the blue/violet stripes on the face below their eye and two darker vertical bands on the tail root and at the edge of the tail the colouration of the rock cook makes this species unmistakable.

Another stunning wrasse. Well worth the effort tracking one down!

Cuckoo Wrasse.

Cuckoo wrasse can grow to 35cm making them the second biggest U.K. species behind the ballan wrasse. A long slender fish they are the most easily recognisable wrasse species despite the males and females looking as if they are two separate species! Females (top) are light pink or orange with light blue edges to fins and three dark spots on back with pale halos at the rear or the dorsal fin. Males (middle and bottom) are also orange but their heads can be greenish in colour and they have pronounced bright electric blue markings over their heads and flanks and a bright blue end to their tail. These markings can be quite vivid as is brilliantly shown in the bottom photo.

Male cuckoo wrasse are my favourite due to their absolutely stunning colours.

That concludes my look at the five most common wrasse species found in U.K. waters. There are three other species that are are also found in U.K. waters however, mainly of the south coast of England. Out of interest I have decided to include them although the chances of ever catching them are very remote even if you decide to deliberately target them.

Baillon's Wrasse.

Predominantly found in the Mediterranean and a fairly small wrasse growing to just 22cm, the Baillon's wrasse is similar in shape to a corkwing wrasse but it has a longer snout and a larger mouth. The colouration is also quite distinct. They have a very distinct pink/red mouth and edges to their fins and tail which is a key feature in identifying them. In addition a dark spot two thirds of the way back on dorsal fin and a second just below the middle of the tail root is present and is also a unique spot combination that can be used to identify the species. They are pale yellow in colour with three dark brown bands running the length of the flank and back. When stressed they can become darker with a much more mottled colouration. They have violet  patches on their gill plates and small orange spots under their eyes and theis colouration can also be seen slightly on the underside of their flanks.

Another beautiful wrasse. Note the lovely facial markings.

Scale Rayed Wrasse.

An elongated wrasse similar to the cuckoo wrasse. Growing up to 25cm this species also has very distinct markings. Reddish or orange brown in colour with a lighter underside. Distinctive darker line running along the back which has a kink in it towards the tail. Above this line and below the dorsal fin is a row of lighter spots ending with a few dark blotches towards the tail. Yellow highlights on the tips of the dorsal fin and a light grey area over the top of the head also make this wrasse very distinct indeed.

Found off the southern coast of England it is also found as far north as the Atlantic off the coast of Norway.

Rainbow Wrasse.

A very long slender wrasse that can reach a length of 30cm. Whilst mainly found in the Mediterranean and possibly the least likely to be found in U.K. water this fish has been seen on rare occasions off the Cornish coast. Another example of a hermaphroditic species with all being born female. Females again are less colourful than males having a dark brown upper half and a pale underside that can vary in shade with some being light brown whilst others almost white as in the first image below. Females fins are reddish brown in colour and the tail is normally a pale green/yellow colour. When females change into males they change their colouration quite drastically as is shown in the third image below. Dull shades of brown are replaced with a bright turquoise upper back, a vivid orange midsection and a jet black stripe behind the pectoral fin.

A great example of the sex change process in action. Female top. Male bottom. The wrasse in the middle is making the transition from female to male and its colouration is in an intermediate state.

That concludes my idiot's guide to U.K. wrasse species. I hope that you have found this brief look at wrasse as interesting as I found doing the research for it and writing it and perhaps this guide may even be of practical use to you!

Happy wrassing, Scott.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

A deal is a deal.

I headed down to Dunbar yesterday to fulfil my end of the deal I made with Keith, I got a spot of fly fishing with him in exchange for me guiding him to a blenny! I jumped on the train and twenty minutes later I was in Dunbar and soon arrived at the harbour at about 9:30. My mate Jake would be joining us in the early afternoon. At this point I got a text from Keith to say he wouldn't be down until the afternoon either. It was a bit windy so I headed to the most sheltered part of the harbour which is a spot where I've seen viviparous blennies caught before. I clipped on a 1.8g #10 Decoy Rocket jighead, threaded on half a large pink Power Isome, cast out over an area where the bottom of the harbour is littered with discarded prawn shells and slowly worked it back with lots of pauses and the odd twitch. I was soon getting the odd little bite and after a while hooked one of the culprits which came off as I lifted it up, but a few casts later I hooked another which made it all the way up the harbour wall.

A coalfish. Not the fish I was looking for.

As it was apparent that getting through the coalfish may be a problem I decided to visit a few other spots around the harbour. I switched to a simple split shot and #14 hook setup and tried for flatfish first but despite getting a few follows I couldn't get a positive take and the wind was making things a nightmare so I headed down the back of the harbour onto the rocks to fish in the gullies and rockpools. It was a bit more sheltered there and I was soon catching a few long spined sea scorpions.

Sea Scorpions have wonderful variety in their colouration and are full of character.

I love catching them and watching them charge out and grab your Isome chunk in such an aggressive manner is quite amusing. At this point Jake arrived so I went and met him. We headed to the sheltered corner of the harbour where I had started the day. Jake fished with his new method of choice, the drop shot rig. He went down a set of stairs to get out of the wind. At this point Keith arrived and I gave him one of my ultra light setups to use for the day. Things were pretty slow and apart from a coalfish for Jake and I the bites were pretty non existent. I also had to get Keith a blenny and with the tide out that ruled out "blenny corner" and "shellfish falls" and the rockpools at the back of the harbour are dominated by sea scorpions. After a quick discussion we decided to head down the coast to the inlet area at Torness Power station. Jake wanted to continue his quest for a Scottish record corkwing wrasse and I thought that the gullies and rockpools nearby would give Keith a great chance of getting his first ever blenny. After a bit of guidance from me about likely hiding places, off Keith went exploring and it didn't take him long at all to get a fish.

Keith gets his first ever long spined sea scorpion.

He very quickly caught a few more before I got one and just when it seemed the blennies were going to prove elusive we spotted a few in a big rockpool. After persisting for a while I managed to catch one. A particularly aggressive little fish who refused to stop biting my fingers despite the fact they barely fit in his mouth!

With my fingers out of range this nasty little fish started attacking the rocks!

At this point Jake popped over briefly to see how we were doing. The tide was not quite far enough in for him to fish the spot he wanted to and the wind was making things difficult for him so he had a little break and explored the rockpools with us before returning to target corkwings. Keith continued trying to catch the blennies and rather than get in the way I started fishing the gaps in some boulders nearby in search of leopard spotted gobies. No sign of them to start with but a few did appear before hiding again without being tempted by my jiggling lure unlike the long spined sea scorpions also lurking down there and I caught three of them in quick succession.

Two slightly bigger fish.

I could now see that Keith was getting a little frustrated so I returned to see how he was getting on. The blennies were biting at his lure but he was struggling to hook them as they were quite small so I changed over to a split shot rig and soon caught one of them. I handed my rod to him so he could have a go with the smaller hook and after dropping a couple of them whilst lifting them up he finally got one. Mission accomplished!

Keith's first and much anticipated blenny!

We then headed over to where Jake was to find that he'd had no luck. Just after we got there though he hooked a decent fish but it came off as he reeled it in. He thought it may have been a decent wrasse. Keith and I both decided to try for a mackerel and I gave him a 7g Toby whilst I clipped on a small hard plastic lure. After a few casts I felt a bump or two before hooking a fish but it came off after about ten seconds. No further action and I had to get back up the road so Keith and I left and Jake stayed on for a bit hoping the flooding tide would produce a corkwing or two but unfortunately it didn't.

Another fun LRF session and Keith's first one. Not ideal conditions but he still managed six fish and two new species as his exploration of saltwater fishing continues. Next time Keith is choosing the venue and I'm looking forward to perhaps doing a spot of coarse angling and it'll be his turn to get me a new species or two!

Tight lines, Scott.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Mini sessions, mini species, mini report.

Lillian's Mum came down to visit on Mon and I wasn't expecting to do any fishing for a couple of days. However with the very nice, if a little windy weather, we decided to visit a few coastal spots and the ultra light gear went in the back of the car just in case! On Monday we went down to East Lothian and headed to North Berwick. Lillian and her Mum went to look at the antiques shops on the high street so I had an hours fishing off the rocks at the back of the harbour. Fishing down the sides I was hoping for something unusual but all I managed was a blenny which spat the hook on its way up and a long spined sea scorpion which I managed to hoist up successfully.

Blennies sometimes come off. Sea scorpions do not!

On Tuesday we went to Cramond Island, a small tidal island about 3/4 of a mile of shore that can be accessed via a causeway two hours either side of low water. After having a look around I had thirty minutes rockpooling whilst Lillian and her Mum relaxed in a sheltered spot behind one of the many derelict military installations. I saw a few fish darting under rocks as I approached the rockpools and after a while caught a single blenny. 

Many people get stranded on the island when the tide cuts it off. Mostly intentionally for an overnight drinking session during the summer.
Once housing machine guns during times of war, these concrete buildings now serve as accommodation for those spending the night.
Most people think that drunken youths and a few rats are all that live on the island.  I was pleased to discover a healthy blenny population lives there too!

Opportunistic fishing at its best and I'm thinking about maybe getting a travel ultra light rod and just leaving it in the car with a reel, a few pieces of end tackle and a few packets of Isome so I'm never without gear should an unexpected chance to fish arise.

Tight lines, Scott.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Inlet species hunt.

With the day free on Saturday I headed down to Torness Power Station to fish the inlet side with my mate Jake. When we arrived the tide was fully out and being a big spring we had access to a lot of rockpools and gullies that are normally covered. I had a look around some rockpools whilst Jake went further down and explored a kelpy area. We made our way along to the power station but unusually there was no sign of any fish. None were found in the long gully where we've caught a lot of sea scorpions in the past and no sign of any leopard spotted gobies in the deep water between the boulders where they've been caught in the past. We climbed down to the western side of the outflow and started fishing down the side of the kelp covered drop off with drop shot rigs. Jake got snagged though and whilst he tied on a new rig I fished in front of a nice overhang. After a short time a coalfish appeared but didn't seem too interested in my Gulp! Sandworm. Then a long spined sea scorpion popped out and gobbled my lure. I thought it was well hooked as none of the lure was visible but as I lifted it up it promptly spat the lure out and swam off back into the crack. Jake then cast out away from the drop off and as he worked his lure back it was taken by a mackerel which was quickly landed and dispatched so Jake could have it for his dinner.

Drop shotting proving to be very versatile.

I put a 7g silver Toby on and soon had a few bumps from mackerel at range but didn't get any hook ups. We then went to the opposite side and after searching the area with my Toby I soon located the mackerel shoal fairly close in and soon caught four mackerel. Two larger ones were dispatched so I too could have mackerel for my dinner as well and the other two smaller ones were shaken off the hook with minimal contact to avoid damaging their sensitive skin. Jake then caught a second mackerel so with our dinners sorted we stopped targeting them despite them being great fun on ultra light gear.

If only they grew a bit bigger!

My mate Nick has caught a couple of Yarrell's blennies from the inlet area so before the tide flooded over it Jake decided to see if he could get one. This meant getting a bit wet though but a species hunter has got to do what a species hunter has got to do!

Jake gets a quick shower whilst trying to get a new species down in the corner.

No reward for his soaking though so we headed up onto the gantry that crosses the inlet to try for corkwing wrasse as the tide flooded over the kelp covered shelf we had been standing on earlier. Jake was in first when he caught a small coalfish.

This greedy little coalfish swallowed the whole section of Gulp! Sandworm.

Shortly after returning the coalfish Jake caught his first corkwing wrasse of the day. We thought it may have been a small ballan wrasse at first due to it's colouration but closer examination confirmed it as a female corkwing wrasse.

The dark spots behind the eye and on the root of the tail confirms this is a female corkwing wrasse.

I was finding fishing from the gantry quite uncomfortable so I climbed down onto the rocks below to fish from there. We were both quite excited about catching a few more corkwing wrasse but the action stopped completely for a while and whilst Jake persisted trying to catch more I headed over to the sea defence boulders to try for a leopard spotted goby before the area was covered by the tide. As I clambered over there I looked up to see Jake's rod nodding away and he was soon lifting up a small pollock.

The forth species of the session.

I began exploring in between the boulders and whilst there was no sign of any gobies I caught a blenny, my first for a while.

This blenny was almost black when I caught it. Thirty seconds later it's completely changed colour.

Then as I dropped my Isome down into a gap I spotted a small fish with the unmistakable electric blue marking of a leopard spotted goby. I quickly changed from a drop shot rig to a #16 hook and some split shot and dropped a tiny section of pink Power Isome down into the hole. My plan was scuppered however when a big blenny appeared and scared it off, before turning his nose up at my offering and disappearing again. At this point Jake called down to tell me he had caught another corkwing wrasse so I headed back up to the gantry again. The wrasse seemed to be active again and after a few bites we both caught another one each.

No question about the fact this is Jake's second corkwing wrasse due to its vivid markings.
I get in on the act with my first corkwing wrasse from the inlet area.
Who said punk was dead?

Just when we thought we would see an increase in action though yet again it all stopped for a while so I headed to try for a Yarrell's blenny from the gantry above where Jake had tried earlier. Holding my lure above the bottom I soon had a few bites and hooked a fish. Quite excited, I called along to Jake but as I hoisted the fish up I could see it wasn't my first ever Yarrell's blenny. A greedy little long spined sea scorpion was the culprit. I tried for a while longer but didn't get any more bites so I headed back along to where Jake was and he hadn't had any further action either so we called it a day, headed back to the car and drove back up the A1 to Edinburgh. When I got home I popped out and got a few ingredients and Lillian and I had the mackerel for our dinner.

Thai Spicy Mackerel Salad - Yum Pla Too. Yum indeed!

So a good days species hunting with a nice varied session with six species caught and a seventh spotted. I still think the area has even more potential and more time will be spent exploring it soon.

Tight lines, Scott.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Little greedy predators.

A while ago I contacted fellow blogger "Frazerio" who writes the excellent "I Am Therefore I Fish" blog and asked him if he would like to meet up. It turns out his real name is Keith and the following deal was struck. In exchange for Keith taking me fly fishing on the River Esk I promised him his first ever blenny. I know who got the best end of that agreement. Blennies rule! Anyway, after several emails and other things getting in the way we finally met up for an hour a few weeks ago and fished the River Esk for just over an hour. I say fished but it was more like casting practice for me and Keith got the only fish of the short session, a small brown trout. I enjoyed the day though and we agreed to meet up again. The following week I was away to Applecross so we met again on Thurs last week and I suggested a trip to the Forth & Clyde Canal to target predators on soft plastics. First stop was the section of the canal next to the Falkirk Wheel that never fails to produce a few fish. I also wanted the chance to catch up with Tony the perch again should he be around!

We fished the basin next to the wheel and whilst there were plenty of roach around the predators weren't so plentiful so we headed along to the pontoons east of the basin. It was a good move and I soon had the first fish of the day safely on the dock, a small perch. Up until that point Keith had been using a Sidewinder Shimer Eel to target pike but was keen to try the lure I had just caught my perch with. I unclipped the Lake Fork Live Baby Shad in Golden Shiner and 3.5g #4 AGM Finesse jighead and gave it to him to try. I removed my fine wire perch trace and put on a heavier wire so I could scale up slightly and target pike. Having got off the mark I was keen to fish a few Relax Kopyto shads that I recently ordered from Germany. I went with "Crystal Glitter Black" as I felt it resembled the roach with its nice red accents and fished it on a 7g #2/0 AGM Football jighead. Even at very slow retrieve speeds this lure has a fantastic tail action and a lovely roll to it as well. Add a few twitches and its an awesome lure. The pike agree and on only second cast with it and I was in!

Mistaken for a roach... Kopyto Shad was swallowed whole by this little greedy jack...
...with a big greedy mouth.

As we worked our way along the pontoon casting along the edge of it before fishing in between the boats and to the other side we soon had a few more fish hooked and lost before Keith landed his first fish of the day, a tiny pike.

How big are those hands!
We then had a short break and grabbed some lunch before heading west to a couple of spots on the canal past Banknock. At the first spot there was a nice little stream flowing into the canal and a couple of other anglers were fishing in the flow there so we headed a bit further along. Action was quite slow until Keith landed his second small jack of the day.

Another little pike falls victim to the irresistible Lake Fork Live Baby Shad.
I then had a go with some weedless surface lures over some lily pads on the far side and had a couple of swirls near my lure which got my adrenaline pumping but no takes. We then headed to a second stretch and whilst I continued to target pike, Keith had soon located a shoal of perch and quickly landed one.

Nice little perch for Keith meaning he'd caught a fish at each spot we fished.

I switched back to a Lake Fork Live Baby Shad and had a bite or two but couldn't hook one until we headed back towards the car. With my last cast I felt a solid little take as I slowly worked the lure back towards me and my second perch of the day was soon lifted up into my hand.

Last cast before we left produced this little angry perch.

Another enjoyable session with Keith and this week I plan to make good on my part of our deal which means a saltwater session. I'm looking forward to a little bit of species hunting around Dunbar harbour. Keith is just looking forward to catching his first blenny!

Tight lines, Scott.