Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Subtle tweaks.

With sea trout in mind I headed down the A1 again yesterday. This time my destination was Eyemouth where the River Eye runs into the harbour. At the top of it a sluice gate diverts the flow into a channel that runs down the eastern side of the harbour. This means that lots of sea trout make their way into the harbour and can't find the channel, instead heading up the main harbour towards the sluice gate where they get stuck providing a nice opportunity for a species hunter like me to turn up and, in theory, easily catch a few of them. Trout being trout though I expected that should they be around I'd have a few of them throw my hook.

The view down the harbour from the sluice gate next to the slipway. The channel that the sluice gate diverts the river into is over to the right and it runs parallel to the harbour but not all the sea trout that enter the harbour can find it. 

I rigged up an 1.3" Aquawave Shad on a 1.3g #10 Decoy Rocket jighead and fished my way up from the car park to the top of the harbour. A few small coalfish were tempted by its nice action as I cast it out, let it sink and then slowly retrieved it steadily.

Small plump coalfish. 

Once at the top of the harbour I soon had a few small sea trout coming from the bottom attacking my lure, their silver flanks flashing as they swam up, had a swipe, turned and quickly shot off. They were tail nipping though so I switched to a smaller lure. This saw me hook a few but I failed to land any of them. Trout have a reputation as being "soft mouthed" but if you ask me the exact opposite is true, the structure of their mouths is very bony and lacks the soft membranes that other species have or other soft places for a hook to easily penetrate. I really could have used a jighead with a fine wire hook to get a better hook set in their tough little mouths and I often think that when a trout thrashes the weight of a jighead allows them to easily throw a poorly set hook. A bit frustrated I decided to try something different. I removed the jighead and slid a 1g bullet lead onto my leader, tied on a #14 hook and inserted it into my lure placing it a little further back than the jighead hook had been.

The lure is the same, a Cultiva Pin Worm, a little lure I've used to catch small brown trout before. The two presentations at first glance looks the same but I would discover the bottom presentation had a few benefits.

Top: 1.3g #10 Decoy Rocket jighead.
Bottom: Free running 1g drilled bullet. #14 Owner Pin Hook.

Almost straight away I hooked a small sea trout on this new presentation. As I landed it and the little silver fish thrashed wildly and the bullet lead shot up my leader. My mate Martin swears by inline metals for sea trout and I can see why as they cannot use the weight to throw the hook. It was also nicely hooked in the bottom jaw. 

Got you!

This little change to the way I was fishing the tiny lure drastically increased my catch rate, I then proceeded to hook a few more and landed most of them. Every single fish was hooked in a similar place, in the gap between its tongue and bottom lip.

Well hooked. 

The weight of the hook and the fact the lure was free to rotate meant the hook was facing down as I retrieved the lure and obviously I had accidentally stumbled upon a great way for my little hook to find a chink in the armour of a trout's mouth. I ended up catching seven of the little trout before deciding to move to another spot further down the harbour to see what else was lurking in it.

The biggest little sea trout of the seven landed. A very nice looking little fish indeed. Cleanly hooked in the bottom jaw again.

Heading around the harbour the wind was howling so I sought shelter down on a floating pontoon and started fishing an Angleworm on a drop shot rig to see if there were any flounder or mini species near the bottom. I caught a few small coalfish but nothing else seemed to be present or interested.

Nothing fishy going on. Apart from the every present East Coast coalfish. I shall try again in the summer and who knows what might be down amongst all those pilings. Hundreds of coalfish in all likelihood but you never know.

After a while I decided to head back up the road but I took a detour on the way to visit Gullane Bents to try for flatfish. I had a quick walk down but the wind made fishing virtually impossibly with the ultra light tackle I had with me so after a dozen casts I went back to the car and headed back up the A1.

Another lovely golden East Lothian beach. I'll be back.

On the way home I made one final stop, visiting Mike's Tackle Shop in Portobello to pick up a permit for the Water of Leith. As per usual I somehow managed to spend a few quid on tackle that I didn't even realise I needed before I went in as well. You can never have too many lures I suppose right?

In the past I've fished this water with soft plastics on jigheads which was a bit naughty as it clearly states bait or fly fishing only.  This year I'm going to try chucking some grey dusters I tie around.

Trout can be frustrating fish at the best of times but at least with a fly their is no weight for them to use to throw the hook and as it faces down it should in theory find the sweet spot on their bottom jaw. Come to think of it perhaps my little soft plastic rigging revelation is something that most fly fisherman have been taking advantage of for decades? Oh well! 

Tight lines, Scott.


  1. Another enjoyable report Scott. I like the way you 'think outside the box' to ensure you not only connect with fish, but land them too!


    1. Thanks David. I think I enjoy figuring these types of little problems out as much as I like catching fish! Very satisfying when you make a little change and it works.