Saturday, August 08, 2015

The lesser of two sandeels.

My mate Ryan recently caught a couple of lesser weevers and a turbot from an East Lothian beach so on Monday evening after work I headed down to have a go myself. Conditions looked good when I arrived at about 21:30 and the tide would soon turn and start flooding. I started off with good old tried and tested, catches anything that swims, Angleworm on a drop shot rig. Casting it out, holding my light game rod feeling for bites, drawing it a few feet closer in and repeating this until the rig was under my rod tip before moving along the beach to cast it out again, I was sure something would attack it eventually. Nothing did however. After a couple of hours and with the moon rising into the dark night sky I admitted defeat and trudged back to the car.

On Wednesday afternoon I decided to try again but from a different beach and looking at the weather forecast decided that Gullane Bents would be a good choice. I arrived just after low water and headed west along the beach to a rocky peninsula I've fished from in the past with heavy bait gear. There were a few terns diving into the water catching sandeels so as I was armed with a light game outfit again I decided to try fishing a small metal very slowly close to the bottom in the hope the a buried weever or turbot might emerge and attack it. After an hour or so moving around trying to cover lots of ground with no interest shown in my lure I switched to Angleworm on a drop shot rig and worked the area again hopeful that its strong scent might draw one of my target species out of the fine sandy botttom. Rather frustratingly however this also failed to produce any interest either so I started slowly working my way back along the beach. Soon arriving at a nice rock formation that jutted out into the bay I went out to the end of it and started covering as much ground as I could. Eventually the tide began forcing me back towards the beach. When I got about halfway back I finally had a good firm bite and the fish hooked itself. I was fishing the metal again at the time so was slightly surprised to see a small flounder had taken it.

A small milestone. My first flounder on a light game metal.

Confidence in my chosen approach restored somewhat I carried on fishing the metal and once I had been forced back onto the beach I carried on slowly working my way east along it. After a while I had my second positive take and hook up of the session, on the drop just after casting out. The fish on the end barely put a bend in my rod so I knew it was something small. As I carefully reeled it in I thought it might be the poisonous of my two targets but as it came into view I could see it was in fact a sandeel. Quickly unhooked I was about to throw it back when I noticed it lacked the dark spot on the snout that a greater sandeel has so thought I'd better inspect it more closely. I was glad I did because I soon realised it was in fact a lesser sandeel.

Its protrusible upper jaw gave away its identity. The greater sandeel lacks this.
Quite a large lesser sandeel. Of specimen proportions actually.
The metal that caught both fish. A 5g Reins Palpuntin. It's a great little lure but it's also quite an expensive little metal that I'd be hesitant to fish near any snags. Perfect for use over clean ground.

Quite pleased to have unexpectedly added a species to this year's Scottish saltwater tally I carried on working my way along the beach. When I got to the far end I switched to Angleworm on a drop shot rig and worked my way back along to where I had first arrived on the beach. The sun, which had been fighting a losing battle with the clouds all day, managed to break through a small gap in them illuminating a patch of the sea.

A Scottish summer evening in all its glory.

I had a few more casts but when it started raining I decided it was time to head home. Another failure on the weever and turbot front and with only two bites over several hours of fishing it was hard going too. Catching the flounder on the metal was pretty cool though and the surprise lesser sandeel might prove vital in reaching my goal of fifty species from Scottish saltwater this year. I'll be back to try for lesser weevers and turbot again soon although I might try fishing baits for them next time.

Tight lines, Scott.

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