Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wet and windy in the west.

My workmate Stewart has recently stopped playing football, hanging up his boots at the ripe old age of twenty three, this has left him looking for something to do with his Sundays. After enjoying a couple of days out with me fishing recently he was keen to go again last weekend. The weather looked pretty miserable across the country when I checked the forecast at the end of last week so I decided we should head west and spend the day out on Loch Etive to hopefully catch some shark species. The weather outlook there was not any better than anywhere else but I figured we would be able to move around to find a bit of shelter during any bad spells and if things got really bad we could always hide in the longliner's cuddy.

It was an early start on Sunday morning and we arrived at Aird's Bay just after nine, quickly loaded our gear into the boat and started the session by tying up on a large grey buoy in the bay. The target there was thornback rays so I set us both up with a simple running ledger with a strip of mackerel on a #3/0 circle hook with the snood decorated with a few luminous beads. Things were slow though so we switched to a sandeel wrapped in squid to see if we could change our fortunes. Sadly apart from a solitary shore crab for Stewart we didn't though so we both changed to a three up rig with slightly smaller #1/0 circles and small chunks of mackerel to see if there were any whiting around. After another hour or so though we still hadn't made contact with any fish so I suggested we moved up to the front of Bonawe Quarry and fished on the drift to try and open our accounts. This soon proved to be a good move when we both caught a few small cod.

Not much comes back out of a cod's big mouth.

After several drifts and still keen to locate some sharks we headed further up the loch to the next small bay and tied up to another buoy. I switched back to a running ledger but it soon became apparent that there was nothing happening and when the wind picked up, the rain started to fall rather heavily and almost horizontally we took shelter in the cuddy.

Miserable conditions.
Stewart watches his rod tip from the shelter of the cuddy.

We struggled on as the boat swung around but after half an hour or so we decided to head back to Aird's Bay to hopefully find a calmer spot. On the way I got a good soaking as spray came over the sides which Stewart found hilarious. The wind dropped off and the sun appeared as we got half way across the bay so we tied up to another big grey buoy and I started to dry out a bit.

Here comes the sun.

After a while I finally had a couple of bites before connecting with a third. A small but obviously very hungry whiting had taken my fairly large piece of mackerel.

Last time I fished in Aird's bay there were loads of whiting and poor cod around.

I was expecting more to follow but it went quiet again. The sun may have appeared but there was still a strong wind moving the boat about a fair bit which made bite detection tricky. Reeling up the slack line as the boat moved towards my lead I lifted it up out of the soft bottom and felt a little extra resistance. Reeling up I felt a dead weight and soon had a small thornback ray that had taken my sandeel wrapped in squid bait in the boat.

Heads or tails? Both missing. Maybe Stewart can take photography lessons on Sundays?
A rather thorny tail on this thornback.

Stewart still wasn't having any luck and I was keen to see him catch a ray too so we swapped rods. No more action for a while though and with time running out we headed over towards the shore where we'd launched from and drifted fairly close in. Despite being close to the shore we were still fishing in just over 100ft of water. The bottom there was mixed though with some soft and some rocky areas. As Stewart hadn't caught anything for a while he took the rod with the three up rig. I took the running ledger rod and put on a fairly big mackerel strip. Almost completely dry by this point the sky opened again and we got another soaking. I then felt a knock and lifted into it. Fish on. Up came a nice chunky short spined sea scorpion.

Probably the biggest I've ever caught but I don't bother with weighing or measuring anymore. I aways enjoy catching fish regardless of their size.

This was followed a few minutes later by a second. Time was soon up so we made the very short journey back to the shore bringing what was a good session to an end even it was slow at times and the weather mainly poor. I love catching rays and scorpion fish are a favourite of mine too so I was chuffed with those. Stewart enjoyed himself again and I think he's going to get into fishing so it'll be good to add him to my growing circle of fishing mates. I was a bit disappointed he never caught any sharks but it was good to see him catch a couple of cod on his first day fishing afloat. I think we will be having a work day out afloat on Loch Etive over the summer on one of the larger charter boats so hopefully he'll get a few then if we don't go back there sooner.

Tight lines, Scott.

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