Wednesday, October 31, 2012

More micro fishing for gobies.

A few weeks ago I went to Ravensheugh beach with my mate Jake to target turbot. When we got to beach Jake saw some small fish in a rockpool. After a while we agreed they were gobies and tried to catch a few. Jake almost managed to get one but it fell off his #20 hook as he was lifting it up. After a fruitless hour or so searching for turbot on the beach at the mouth of a small stream I returned to the rockpool and after a lot of perseverance I managed to catch one of them. At this point I realised I didn't have my camera with me so I popped it into my empty water bottle. I then caught a second and then I caught a tiny dragonet. Jake then returned having worked his way along the beach a fair bit and back along again.

I worked the stream whilst Jake wandered along the beach.

We popped the tiny fish into a small rockpool to look at them and I took a couple of pictures using Jake's camera. Still unsure about the exact species of goby I had caught we headed off as Jake wanted to try for bass at Torness Power Station outflow.

At the time I thought they may be painted gobies due to the saddle markings. But it turns out they were two spotted gobies. You can just make out the spots.
Still not sure quite how I hooked this dragonet. It was about the size of my thumbnail!

A short walk back to the car and a drive down the coast and we were at the outflow. Once there Jake soon caught a few bass, first of all using a Hansen Pilgrim spoon and then, after losing that, on a Lunker City Ribster fished on a jighead.

One of a few bass Jake caught, much to the annoyance of others who weren't catching that many.

I meanwhile had been exploring and had spotted some more gobies in a large sandy bottomed rockpool and when we left I told Jake I'd like to get some smaller hooks and return to find out what they were. Jake visited twice in the last week and had managed to catch some two spotted gobies confirming the identity of the two I had caught and had also caught a small goby that we were pretty sure was a common goby.

Jake and I were reasonably certain he'd caught his first common goby and would later have this confirmed.

On Monday some new Gamakatsu 6315 #26 hooks to nylon arrived so yesterday we headed down again to catch a few more and get confirmation. Upon arrival I headed straight to the rockpool to get started. Jake went to try for a bass. The only rod I had with me was the "beast tamer". I was focused on goby hunting and nothing else!

My Ron Thompson Ice Fishing Pimple Lux 60cm Medium. 2 foot of goby stopping power!
Weapons of micro destruction!
Ultra fine wire hooks to increase my chances of hooking the tiny fish.
Tiny pieces of Power Isome and Gulp! Sandworm were the lures of choice. Split shot was placed a few inches above to help keep it down as it was fairly windy.

It took me a while to get them interested in my tiny chunks of Power Isome and Gulp! Sandworm but just after Jake came over to see how I was doing I managed to catch a two spotted goby, my 29th saltwater species on lures this year. Jake hadn't managed any bass but he then spotted a small flounder in the rockpool and soon had it hooked on a pink Ecogear Minnow SS. That's the first time I've seen one caught in a rockpool! I then moved along a bit to a spot where Jake had whipped the gobies up into a frenzy by jigging his brightly coloured lure around. After jigging my Isome around lightly amongst them I managed to catch a small goby. Careful examination would confirm it as being a common goby. A new species for me and my 30th saltwater species on lures this year. I was over the moon having reached my goal for the year.

Isn't he cute.
Rockpool flounder caught on the Rockfish UL.
Ecogear Minnow SS proved to tempting for this stranded flounder.
My first ever common goby.
Nine soft ray fins in the second dorsal fin along with other features confirms this as a common goby. Sand gobies have at least ten.

I had a small clear plastic tank with me that gave us an opportunity to study the gobies closely. We examined them carefully admiring their markings and subtle colourations before we both took turns with the "beast tamer" catching some more. Both of us ending up with one two spotted goby and three common gobies each.

Viewing gobies like this lets you see every detail.
Note the pale blue markings on this common gobies
The examination tank. This enabled us to take our time and confirm that all the gobies we'd caught were two spotted gobies or common gobies.

A few of the bass anglers took an interest in what we were doing too and had a look at our catches before I released them all again. Micro fishing is great fun and it's strange to think that it's taken us so long to investigate the gobies as we've spotted them there before. We just assumed they were sand gobies I suppose. In future we'll be investigating any gobies we spot as there are quite a few more species in the U.K. for us still to catch!

Tight lines, Scott.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Doing the conger. My first run and a couple of nice surprises!

I've never caught a conger eel so with the nights drawing in I've been planning a few sessions for a while now and a week or two ago I had a look at the tides and decided to fish a couple of sessions over high water at the inlet area down at Torness Power Station.

On Monday night I headed down for the first of these with Keith and on the way we stopped at Dunbar harbour for an hour or so. He recently spotted a strange fish down there so we were hoping to see it again and maybe even try to catch it but all we found in the harbour were five seals, the most I've ever seen in any harbour, and a few coalfish. I managed to catch four of them on my ultra light gear before we jumped back in the car and went to try for conger.

Being caught was probably a nice break from the marauding seals for this Dunbar Harbour coalfish!

After a short drive and a five minute walk we arrived on the platform we'd be fishing from and we quickly set up our rods. I soon had a couple if big mackerel flappers nose hooked on circle hooks and ledgered on the bottom close in whilst Keith went for a smaller mackerel bait on a pennel arrangement to try and tempt a codling. Whilst we waited for my reels to start clicking and his rod tip to start nodding we both fished small lures around the platform for coalfish. I was using my Nories Rockfish Bottom Ultralight and after a while I felt my line go tight fairly close to the structure. At first I thought I was snagged but soon realised it was a good fish when it started stripping line rather rapidly! Holding the rod high I tightened up my drag very slightly and after a run or two I knew from the tell tale surging dives that I was into a decent pollock. Unable to see the fish I guessed it was about 3lb. After a few more less aggressive dives I was able to tighten up a little more and cautiously bring it up to the surface, aware of the fact the my Shirasu Fine jighead may well bend out should I apply too much pressure. When it appeared from the depths I soon realised it was slightly bigger than 3lb! Carefully working my way around the platform to the side, Keith climbed down onto the rocks and after a nervous moment when the fish seemed to revive slightly and I thought it would head for the rocks beneath it, my prize was in his clutches and soon up on the platform in mine!

This 5lb 12oz pollock is now my biggest capture on ultra light tackle. I love my Nories Rockfish Bottom Ultralight!

Shorty afterwards one of my reels started clicking signalling a run on one of my conger rods. Still buzzing from landing the pollock on my ultra light outfit I lifted the rod, pausing briefly before reeling into the fish but unfortunately failed to hook it. Exciting all the same though and at least I know there are some congers or other large fish around, although given the size of the bait I'm fairly confident it was an eel. We carried on, changing our baits periodically, but didn't see any more action on the bait rods apart from a few small knocks on one of mine which I thought was small fish or crabs eating my large bait so left it alone. On lures I managed a further three small pollock all around half a pound and Keith avoided a blank with a small coalfish. About an hour and a half after high water we decided to head home and packed up. Upon retrieving my second bait though I found it had been chewed by something big. Several distinct bite marks up the bait indicated that perhaps an eel had been mouthing it. Again encouraging. I left looking forward to heading back the following night for another crack at conger.

On Tuesday night my mate Jake was supposed to be joining me but he forgot his beloved hoops were playing the mighty Barcelona in the Champions League and being a bit of a masochist wanted to watch them being beaten instead of fishing. Luckily for me Keith was keen to fish again so just before 7pm he picked me up, off we went and were soon at Torness Power Station getting the gear out of his car. On the walk down to the mark we spotted an owl flying low over the long grass and watched as it circled before swooping down to catch something. A pretty impressive sight and a nice way to start the session. Anyway, we were soon on the platform fishing, employing the same tactics as the previous night. I did however decide to fish a mackerel fillet instead of a flapper to see if this would prove to be an easier mouthful for any passing congers. I also decided to fish smaller mackerel baits on a three hook flapper rig to see what else was around. Keith gave me a clip on bell to signal bites on this rod and it was a good idea because I was busy working a Slug-Go over a kelp bed in search of pollock when it started tinkling and my first ever east coast lesser spotted dogfish was soon hooked, reeled in and hoisted up.

I'm talkin' about sharkin'!
How adorable.

With no further action on any of the bait rods despite a couple of bait changes we passed the time catching coalfish on Power Isome. Keith opting for red sections fished on a 2.3g #8 Shirasu Fine jighead whilst I drop shotted pink sections closer to the bottom in case anything else was around. The coalfish seemed to prefer Keith's presentation though and he outfished me nine to two.

Keith inspects a small coalfish just in case it's something more exotic only to confirm it was indeed a small coalfish.
News reaches the Celtic team about my failure to catch a conger eel.

So two congerless conger sessions! A bit dissappointing not to even get any runs on the second night but that's fishing. The dogfish was a nice bonus though and Keith and I had a good laugh catching the coalfish so all in all another enjoyable night session and my quest for shore caught conger will continue in the future.

Tight lines, Scott.

A relaxing afternoon drowning maggots.

For a little change yesterday I headed to Livingston to drown maggots in Eliburn Reservoir with Keith. We arrived at about noon and fished a peg near the dam end of the venue. I plumbed the depth a rod length out and set my #20 hook ten feet below my waggler so my bait would be on the bottom and started fishing. Keith fished his maggots a few feet off the bottom to see what was further up in the water column. The bulk of my shot went directly under my float so that the maggot would slowly fall through the water column so I could get takes on the drop. It was quite a sunny day and after feeding the swim with a few maggots every five minutes we were both soon getting bites and catching fish and after Keith caught a couple of roach I got my first fish of the session, a gudgeon, which was a new species for me.

Lovely little fish with beautiful colours that photos don't really do justice to.
A downturned mouth with two barbules underneath that it uses for seeking food amongst the debris on the bottom.

I then caught a couple of roach and Keith commented that he was surprised we hadn't caught a perch yet. Right on cue his float went under and he soon had rectified that situation!

One of my roach. Very pretty fish indeed.
Speak of the devil and a spiky little fish with attitude doth appear!

We carried on fishing, Keith catching roach and perch whilst I caught a string of gudgeon off the bottom. Then we spotted a few larger fish cruising just below the surface and after a quick adjustment to the depth setting of our floats we were soon trying to catch them. Keith thought they could be ide so I was quite excited as I've never caught one before. We both missed a few bites as the fish circled hoovering up the free maggots as we tossed them in yet managing to avoid our hook baits for a bit before we finally hooked a few of what turned out to be more, slightly bigger roach. 

Another lovely silver roach in great condition.

Before we left we fished at the top end of the reservoir for thirty minutes where the burn flows in. The supply of food being washed in was obviously a draw for the perch population as our first three casts produced three of them.

The view from the small bridge at the top end. Plenty of small perch lurk at this end of the reservoir.

A few more roach were caught too before we headed off. A quite relaxing and very enjoyable days fishing and I'd certainly like to catch a few of the other species that the venue holds so will certainly be back.

Tight lines, Scott.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Mackerel jacuzzi.

The weather was quite nice yesterday so I went for a walk with my girlfriend, my sister and her partner. On the advice of a mate the chosen route was from St Abbs to Eyemouth via a coastal path that runs along the clifftops and down to some nice beaches. Obviously the opportunity to do a quick spot of fishing was a possibility so I took an ultralight rod and popped the bare minimum of tackle along with a single pack of large pink Isome into my pocket. We arrived in St Abbs just after 12pm and set off along the path. After a short walk the path headed down to surfers' mecca Coldingham Bay before heading back up again and running along the clifftop. As we walked along I made a few mental notes on potential marks for future visits.

The whole coast looks very fishy.

About half way along the girls wanted a break so whilst they sat on a large bit of driftwood for twenty minutes I went to see what was in the rockpools nearby. Blennies and long spined sea scorpions unsurprisingly and they were being very shy, darting off under rocks and into weed and I couldn't tempt any of them to take my offering so we headed on our way again. As we approached Eyemouth and headed along the cliffs at the back of the caravan park I spotted a lot of surface activity and quickly hopped down the rocks. A massive shoal of mackerel was swimming just under the surface and very close in. 

The shoal erupts on the surface to my left just as I'm about to cast into it.

I can only assume that something was underneath hunting them. It wasn't long before I had hooked one and followed that up with another two before the shoal moved off out of range. I headed back up the rocks to the path with our dinner.

The humble mackerel. Great sport on ultra light tackle and delicious too.

We then headed down to Eyemouth harbour and while the girls enjoyed a hot drink in small cafe I had a go in the harbour. Not much sign of any fish though apart from a few small coalfish that weren't interested in my lure. Probably more concerned by the resident seal.

The inner harbour. Easy access fishing via pontoons.
I wasn't the only one after the fish.

The girls then rejoined me and we jumped on the bus back to St Abbs. A very enjoyable walk with the nice bonus of stumbling on the mackerel jacuzzi at just the right time at an accessible spot and catching our dinner. Good to see such a big shoal of mackerel relatively late in the year. I'll also be back to this stretch of coastline to do further exploration with some heavier tackle for sure.

Tight lines, Scott.