Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cloudy with a chance of Yarrell's blenny.

With the recent change in the weather seemingly signalling the end of what has been a great summer my mind is starting to think about getting through another winter. Winter is not a season I particularly enjoy. It's obviously not pleasant fishing in the cold but unlike some anglers who down tools and complain about not being able to fish, I do try to make the most of what opportunities are available and fish all year round. This normally means a shift from saltwater to freshwater. Anyway, my mood was buoyed the other day when I took a look at Streamside Diary to find that fellow blogger Col had caught a Yarrell's blenny whilst fishing in Burntisland Harbour. They say chasing fish is usually not a good thing but blennies are territorial and usual where there is one there are more so on Wednesday off I went to try an emulate Col's catch.  

Burntisland Harbour. Like many Scottish harbours it is sadly pretty run down with several areas shut off including an old condemned wooden pier that is slowly rotting away.

Col kindly gave me very specific details about where he had caught the little pink fish so I fished in a fairly small area. A drop shot rig incorporating a #18 hook and a small section of Gulp! Angleworm was lowered down and it didn't take too long for my rod tip to start rattling away as the resident mini species attacked it. First to get hooked was a blenny but not the rarely caught one I was after. This was followed by a second, a goldsinny wrasse and a couple of small coalfish. 

A common blenny. Aptly named as they are very common indeed and loose all control when presented with most things on a hook. I was hopeful his cousin would be around and have a similarly ravenous/aggressive nature. 
My first ever goldsinny wrasse from Scotland's East Coast was quite a chunky one.

This great start to the session had me thinking that whilst the leaves might well be falling off of the trees maybe there was perhaps still some fun to be had with summer species yet. As low water approached however all activity ceased and after over an hour with no bites I decided to have a break, grab some lunch and try another spot before returning to my Yarrell's blenny swim later in the day. 

After a sandwich and a bottle of water I headed along to the far end of the long sea defences that run east from the harbour, clambered over onto the rocks there and cast out. The bottom was mixed and after loosing a few drop shot leads to patches of boulders I found a few cleaner areas to fish over and was soon getting a few tiny bites when I left the lead stationary and kept tension in the line. Hooking the culprits proved tricky but my persistence paid off eventually and I caught three of the tiny bottom dwelling fish that had been nibbling away at my tiny piece of Angleworm. 

The little rattles on my rod tip were caused by sand gobies. An unexpected bonus being a new addition to this year's species tally. 

With not much else happening though I headed back along to the harbour. When I started fishing again the tide was creeping back up the harbour walls and I was soon getting a few bites. Connecting with a few of them I caught a few more common blennies, goldsinny wrasse and coalfish before catching a corkwing wrasse. 

A very darkly coloured little fellow. 

Then a seal pup appeared right in front of me causing another unwanted cessation in action. 

Hello baby seal. How cute. Now bugger off!

After a short while I started getting bites again and a few strong ones at that. Some ballan wrasse had moved in and I caught four of them in a row. I also pulled the hook on a larger fish, also a ballan I think, one of the downsides of using such a small hook I suppose but at the end of the day I wasn't targeting ballan wrasse. 

Good fun on ultra light tackle but I've watched wrasse chase blennies before so I was keen for them to move off again. No doubt my target, if down there, would be hiding in a crevice whilst these were feeding in the area.

By the time light started to fade in the evening the wrasse and blennies had all become inactive and all I was catching was small coalfish. As it got darker they became even more active and I caught more and more of them. A tiny cod added a final species to my tally for the day but not the one I was after.

Oh well, despite failing to get a Yarrell's blenny it had been a fairly enjoyable day fishing somewhere new. It was a bit slow at times but I think that was due to the tidal state more than anything else. I think it probably fishes better on a bigger tide and over high water. The variety of species caught has also given me food for thought regarding the current state of saltwater fishing. Summer might be over but it would seem nobody told the fish so I will go back, perhaps with some bait, for another go before they hear the news.

Tight lines, Scott.


  1. Nice one scott , really nice to see the corkwing in particular. What size 18 hooks were you using?

    1. Cheers Col. :-D

      I normally use Sabpolo Wormer hooks but they only go down to #10. Being very fine wire they can also be prone to breaking after pulling them from a snag or two.

      Whilst on holiday I stumbled across a similar pattern that are a little stronger. They are also much cheaper than the Sabpolo hooks and cover sizes #4 - #18. Too good to be true I thought and sure enough when I got home I couldn't find a UK stockist. :-/

      I did find a supplier in the EU though and an order is making its way to me as I type. I'll email you the details. ;-)

  2. Hiya Scott, I've somehow managed to delete your email but I did get a chance to read it first. Thanks for the goby confirmation. Hoping to give Weymouth a try soon though this weekend plan to try West Bay near Bridport, weather permitting.

    Re Barbel, I'm afraid I'm far from the person to ask for advice! I've only ever caught four but would thoroughly recommend getting yourself on the wye if you can - magical river and the chub and scenery will blow you away. Btw you might be surprised to hear that silver bream and motherless minnow are prolific down this way.

    I really like those pumpkinseeds too, but id love a bitterling, if I can drag my hide a bit further than the South West.

    All the best


    1. Next time I'm planning a trip down your way Russell I'll let you know and maybe we could meet up. :-)

  3. That'd be good mate, there's some wonderful fishing this way.