Monday, July 15, 2013

South Coast Fishathon Part 1 : Devon.

Back in January when I thought about what I wanted to achieve this year it quickly became apparent that many of the fish I wanted to catch can only be found around the south coast of England. I decided that a week long trip down there would be a great way to go and try and catch them. Planning my trip around the Cornish Lure Festival in July I also booked Colin Penny's boat, Flamer IV out of Weymouth for a couple of days and a few weeks before the trip and with my mate Jake still undecided about going down I started firming up my plans. In the end I decided to extend my trip to ten days and not to take part in the Cornish Lure Festival species hunt, the main reason being that I wanted to meet up with someone in Dorset on the last day of the competition and this meant I had to leave Cornwall and be in Dorset on the Saturday night. The week before going down Jake finally decided that he would be heading down for the competition and would be meeting up with his mate Dan Sales and fishing it with him so I told him I'd meet up with them at some point.

So with all my gear sorted, my B&B accommodation booked and a fairly well organised itinerary that would take me to Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and finally East Sussex, on Tuesday 1st July I was up at 4:30 and packed my stuff into the car. The drive down was not to bad but I was glad to arrive in Plymouth just after 14:00, where I'd be for 24 hours. The weather was not very nice and the last time I was there it was pretty similar but I headed down to Sutton Harbour Marina anyway to target the mini species that reside there. Fishing Power Isome and Gulp! Sandworm on a dropshot rig and also on jigheads I was soon into some fish and quickly added three species to my 2013 tally.

Sutton Harbour Marina on a grey miserable day.
I soon forgot about the weather when a chunky tompot blenny became my first fish of the trip.
Followed by a couple of small goldsinny wrasse.
Addition #1 to my 2013 species tally.
Rock gobies rock.
Addition #2 to my 2013 species tally.
Black gobies are cool too.
Addition #3 to my 2013 species tally.

Quite happy with a couple of hours messing around I decided to head to nearby Wembury to explore the rockpools. Local angler Malcolm Ruff, who would be joining me on Flamer IV the following week and was meeting up with in the morning, had been down there the night before and had caught a few mini species including a Montagu's blenny and a giant goby, two species I was keen to catch, the first in particular. Driving along the small single track roads the visibility was terrible due to the mist and for some reason it reminded me of the moors scene from An American Werewolf in London. Anyway, when I finally got to the National Trust car park I was quite surprised to see a few folk surfing but my eyes were quickly drawn to the rockpools, they looked great!

Good evening Wembury!
Rockpooling heaven. The search for Montagu's blenny and giant gobies begins.

To start with I couldn't seem to locate any fish but moving out over the rocks I soon found some deeper rockpools and rockpools that had some nice looking cover in them that I was soon working my lure in front of that began producing common blennies. Rather than put them back into their rockpools straight away I kept them beside me in a small shallow pool so I wouldn't keep catching the same ones over again just in case there was a Montagu's blenny in there.

Not the blenny I was looking for.

After catching quite a few of them I came across a rather large and quite deep rockpool that looked amazing. Even better than that though I spotted a rather large giant goby just sitting on the bottom! Casting my jighead mounted Isome past him I dropped it down right in front of his face. The reaction was instantaneous, jighead and Isome guzzled in a flash and I had a giant goby thrashing about trying to get into the weeds around the edge of the pool. Quickly tamed and hoisted up though he was a fine specimen indeed.

A bit of a brute even for a giant goby.
Addition #4 to my 2013 species tally.

Giant goby. Giant lips.

I continued my search hoping that a Montagu's blenny would appear but alas it did not. I wasn't too disappointed though as I had a couple of marks to try in Cornwall for them and had been told they were relatively common on them. Besides an exploration of the western side of the beach turned up a further three giant gobies and I love catching them. They can sometimes be found in what looks like quite small gaps too so if you ever go looking for them don't walk past smaller shallower rockpools. Potential hiding places is what to look for.

The gap under the front edge of the smaller rock held a giant goby.

So I was very pleased to add a forth species to my 2013 tally but rather tired I headed back to the B&B and got there at about 21:00 and went straight to bed.

On Wednesday morning after a hearty breakfast I met up with Malcolm for more mini species bashing at Sutton Harbour Marina. First off we went to a spot that I fished last year that was very comfortable to fish and had produced lots of fish. Upon arrival however we found that the pontoon that I had fished from was no longer there! Undeterred we fished from the wall above flipping our end gear into the recess in the harbour wall where the fish were located. Malcolm was fishing more traditional gear and ragworm for bait on a one hook flapper rig whilst I went for Isome on a drop shot rig using my ultra light gear. I had a few fish on the board before Malcolm got going but we were soon both catching plenty of fish and I switched to ragworm after a while to see if it would produce more bites. It didn't really which just goes to show just how effective Isome is!

A black goby from the hole in the wall.
My first ballan wrasse of the trip. Small but perfectly formed.

We then headed to another spot and were soon catching lots of blennies and goldsinny wrasse. Malcolm is taking part in a few species hunting competitions and a goldsinny was a new addition to his tally so he was quite pleased to catch one. I then caught a tiny plaice that somehow managed to get a #12 hook in its tiny mouth.

Another burly tompot blenny.
Malcolm adds a species to his tally for a shore based species hunting competition he is taking part in.
A tiny plaice. I jokingly said to Malcolm that hopeful I'd catch a slightly bigger one when out on Colin's boat in a weeks time.

Next we headed around to a different spot, another comfortable place to fish from and Malcolm told me that usually at this time of year small black bream were a common catch from there so I was keen to have a go for them as I've never caught one before. On the way there we passed the Mayflower Steps.

This archway marks the spot close to the site on the Barbican from which it is believed the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for North America in 1620.

Fishing for the black bream about thirty yards out from the wall didn't see us catching any or even register any bites at all so after a while we tried straight down the wall close in which straight away saw us both catching a few fish.

Fishing close in saw us catch a few mini species. First for me was a long spined sea scorpion.
Ballan wrasse too including this nice little olive green specimen.
Some lovely corkwing wrasse as well.

Suddenly we heard a loud noise and looked up to see a large navy chopper fly over our heads and land inside the Royal Citadel, a dramatic 17th century fortress built to defend the coastline from the Dutch that is still used by the military today. 

A large navy chopper flies overhead and lands inside the Royal Citadel.

Time was getting on and Malcolm had to go to work so we packed up and began walking back to the cars. On the way Malcolm pointed out a few other spots he had fished and told me what he had caught there. It was great meeting up with a fellow species hunter and I think Malcolm was pleasantly surprised by the number of mini species that can be caught from inside the Marina. I've no doubt that he may have a quick session or two there in the future. Back at our cars I said goodbye and told Malcom I was looking forward to fishing together again on our boat trip in a weeks time. Malcolm headed off to work and I made the fairly short drive west to Cornwall for the next part of my south coast fishathon.

Tight lines, Scott.

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