Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Getting jiggy with it.

As is often the case the weather forecast for the weekend changed completely by the time it arrived. This presented a sun filled and dry window of opportunity on Sunday to head down to the borders and visit St Abbs Head for a few hours. My mate Nick was free and keen to join me so I picked him up in Dunbar just after 9:00 and off we went. I had four different marks in mind, numbered them all and asked Nick to pick a number from one to four. His selection corresponded to a mark I call "the rock". It is down beneath the lighthouse and is, as the name suggests, a large rock separated from the rest of the cliff by a narrow, water filled gully which you have to step over to get onto it.

St Abbs lighthouse and fog horn.
"The Rock".

My plan for the day was to mess about with some metal jigs rigged with the assists hooks I have been beavering away on my fly tying vice making. I had two setups with me, one light and one  ultra light but having caught some decent pollock in the area before I started fishing with the light setup. I forgot to pack some suitable lure clips in my bag for the heavier jigs however so I improvised and slipped the metal up my leader and then tied my assist hook on. This worked a treat and jigging the metal up and then letting it fall through the water it was being attacked by coalfish on the drop.

The jig was a bit big for the size of fish that were attacking it but was still reasonably effective. 

Nick meanwhile was after bigger fish and was patiently going through a few different soft lures to try and find one.

Nick wasn't interested in the coalfish. He wanted a rod buckling pollock.

I was quite happy catching coalfish and also tried free spooling, fishing on the drop by casting out, leaving the bail arm open and letting the braid go out through my forefinger and thumb. The object of this is to allow the lure to sink as close to vertically as you can to give a more natural fall. I kept my little finger on the bail arm ready to quickly close it over and strike at bites. This method was quite difficult to do and maintain contact to feel for bites so will require more practice but I still had some success and managed to catch a few more coalfish. To be honest though shoals of coalfish seem to be pretty aggressive and will hit most lures on the drop so it's hard to assess if using different techniques makes a great deal of difference where they are concerned. After a while and with the size of the coalfish caught being fairly consistent I decided to switch to a paddletail on a Cheburashka lead and joined Nick in his search for a pollock.  Fishing this using a slow steady retrieve didn't produce any bites though so after a while casting around from various spots I switched to my ultra light setup and searched the sea bed with a Gulp! sandworm on a drop shot rig. This produced another coalfish and a small pollock which both took the ragworm imitation on the drop before it hit the bottom.

This pollock didn't do any dives so I thought I had hooked another coalfish until it came to the surface.

Nick meanwhile was still searching out a bigger fish and hadn't caught anything by the time I switched back to fishing metals. Dropping from a 25g to a 8g metal which was better matched to the size of the fish present saw me catching a couple more coalfish on consecutive casts.

Tide approaching low water I climbed down onto a nice little ledge to be able to land fish more easily.

Nick then caught his first fish of the day but unfortunately not the big pollock he was after, instead catching a coalfish on a metal jig.

Nick's rod finally gets bend. 

Dark clouds then came rolling over the cliffs behind us, the forecast rain on its way we though. But it didn't rain. Instead we were treated to a light shower of hailstones. Not wanting to be down the cliff on soaking wet slippery rocks if the sky really opened up we quickly packed up and climbed back over the gully and up to the top of the cliffs.

When the sky turned from blue to grey and dropped a few hail stones on us we figured it was time to go.

I didn't think I would get out at the weekend so it was nice to be able to visit St Abbs Head for the first time this year. I really like fishing there as it's a stunning stretch of coastline. It reminds me of Cornwall and to have that kind of terrain and fishing an hour from Edinburgh is great. Catching coalfish on isn't particularly difficult but they do provide an obliging target to practice fishing metal jigs using different on the drop styles which is an area of my fishing I'm keen to explore and improve so I'll be doing more of it in the future so in that respect it was a fun and productive session. We didn't come into contact with any big pollock but when there are a few more sandeels around  Nick and I will be back to St Abbs Head to target them and explore the area more hopefully.

Tight lines, Scott.

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