Friday, November 21, 2014

Would you like Fries' with that?

Inspired by my discussion last Sunday night with the diver about unusual, rarely targeted/caught species, I decided on Tuesday to drive west to fish from the shore of Loch Fyne. My target for the day was a small fish called a Fries' goby that is quite rare in terms of its distribution but is quite common in some Scottish sea lochs. It is seen by divers and seems to have some kind of symbiotic relationship with another sea bed resident, the Norwegian lobster, living in borrows in muddy areas. 

This beautifully coloured goby only grows to about 10cm. Most anglers simply wouldn't be interested in trying to catch one. To a species hunter like me however, all fish are interesting and worth trying to catch.

A few factors make targeting this particular goby tricky so solving those problems is interesting too. The size of the target dictates that small baits be used so keeping them on the equally small hooks when casting them out is an issue. The muddy habitat where they live normally only occurs below a depth of 15m which at the spot I chose was quite far from the shore so tackle capable of casting out this distance is needed but I also wanted to maintain bite detection too so a compromise was required. I decided to adopt the following approach. I chose a sensitive lure rod rated to cast 10-40g as I felt given that because it was a fairly small tide, leads closer to the top end of that range would hold bottom. I used an 8lb braided mainline to aid casting distance and bite detection. My end tackle consisted of a scaled down three hook flapper rig made from a 15lb main body, very short 6lb snoods with #14 hooks. I clipped a 1oz lead to the end of that. For bait I decided to use the leftover raw prawns I had from my session on Sunday. I cut these in half lengthwise and bound the long thin halves up with fine bait elastic. Small chunks were snipped off and used as required. I did this to hopefully keep them on the hooks during the cast and on impact with the water and it worked quite well. Casting out as far as i could, trying to find areas of mud, things were slow to begin with and catching a trio of invertebrates had me chuckling away to myself and wondering if there were any fish around let alone my target.

It was an overcast day but it was quite mild with hardly any wind. I could see the bright white buildings of the small town of Inveraray across the water to my east.
The first thing I caught was a small common starfish that was followed by...
...a rather grumpy shore crab and then...
...a hermit crab who badly needed a new "home". His current one had a large hole in the side.

Casting around in different directions eventually some fish took an interest in my baits. Fishing at a fair distance into deep water I was still able to detect the little bites on my light rod and quickly struck at them to try and avoid deep hooking the culprits.  Upon feeling any extra weight I wound in quickly to get my rig and any hooked fish up over the weed covered ledge out in front of me that is typical of many Scottish sea lochs and I managed to start landing a few small fish.

A tiny cod was my first fish of the day. Proof that my approach could produce small fish at distance from deep water.
A few small dab followed with mouths much smaller than the cod. A sign that my hooks and baits were small enough. 
I also caught a few black gobies, another encouraging indication that my approach should work if I could cast my rig into an area that contained any Fries' gobies.

As light started to fade I caught a few more small fish and I decided to call it a day when the sun set.

This small haddock was my final fish of the session.
Quite a nice sunset to look at whilst packing up.

So no Fries's goby but I was quite happy to try out this approach and was encouraged by the results. To be honest I'm not entirely sure I'm fishing in exactly the right area. Further sessions will no doubt be required and perhaps a different spot on the shore might produce my target. Maybe distance is the key though in which case a different approach might be required. I really don't want to go as heavy as a beachcasting setup so perhaps a vertical assault from afloat may be required. Food for thought and if I do eventually catch the little colourful goby it will be a very satisfying capture indeed. 

Tight lines, Scott.

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