Monday, October 01, 2018

Unwelcome break.

On my drive home from Devon I took a slight detour and stopped at Welcome Break services near Oxford. I'm now able to report that anglers aren't welcome at all, at least not if they intend to stealthily do some fishing using a piece of line, split shot, a barbless hook and small chunks from the crust of a Subway sandwich. This fact only became apparent after I'd caught about a dozen goldfish from the large water feature at the bottom of the service stations' food court area when I was rudely interrupted and had to make a sharp exit.

Goldfish come in all shapes and sizes. From the traditional fairground prize type... silver ones.
This one is a shubunkin, an ornamental goldfish with a long tail and the odd metallic scale.
This one is bog standard brown goldfish. This is what they should actually look like and what ornamental goldfish revert back to if they breed without a selection process.

Anyway, just to clarify, anglers aren't welcome to take a break at Welcome Break services near Oxford. If they do they might get chased from said rest stop by site management and security just like I was. You have been warned!

Tight lines, Scott.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Good heavens!

After the fairly disappointing fishing of the first half of my south coast adventure I drove west to Devon to do a bit of coarse fishing. I headed to Angler's Paradise to try and catch my first koi carp and golden rudd. I say Angler's Paradise but really I didn't fish the specimen lakes around the main complex as they are for residents of the holiday homes situated there only. As I was staying in a campsite down the road I was limited to fishing the day ticket waters that are situated nearby and over four days I fished two lakes in Angler's Eldorado and one in Angler's Shangri La. My visit got off to a great start and within the first few hours fishing I'd caught both my targets from the "Koi lake". The novelty of catching golden rudd quickly wore off however as the Koi lake is absolutely full of them.

Not technically a new species but still my first golden rudd.
My first ever koi carp was caught on single maggot fished on the bottom under a waggler.
Freelining maggots to cruising fish worked very well too. I simply cast onto a lily pad and slowly pulled it off into the water as a cruising carp approached.
Sight fishing was great fun and my third koi carp also fell to freelined maggots.

Things went a bit quiet on the Koi lake after my third koi carp so I moved to the neighbouring Tench and Orfe pond. Starting with single maggot under a waggler I quickly discovered that it was full of lots of small... 

...tench and...

Over the remaining days of my trip I switched to fishing a method feeder and had an enjoyable time. Fishing hair rigged double corn produced plenty of nice carp and I was pleasantly surprised that there were koi carp in all three of the lakes I fished.

I mainly fished down the margins to various water features.
Nothing fancy just double corn and micro pellets.
It usually didn't take too long for my rod tip to pull round.
All the fish were in great condition including this nice common carp.
In amongst the mirror carp I caught this stunning looking fully scaled fish.
I caught the odd small tench too including this lovely golden one.
I'm pretty sure I caught more koi carp than common carp and mirror carp put together.
With their colourful patterns they are beautiful looking fish.
I caught quite a few of these orange and black ones.

Before I knew it another south coast adventure had come to an end and I was heading back up the road. I must say I was very impressed with both the Angler's Eldorado and Angler's Shangri La day ticket waters and as I fancy a few sessions targeting the catfish and specimen carp in the two ponds I didn't fish in the Angler's Eldorado complex I may be back down there again next year at some point.

Tight lines, Scott.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Chance encounter.

Last month I spent a week camping and fishing on the south coast. My trip was split into two halves with the first three days being spent in Dorset. On two of those days I had booked myself a space aboard Weymouth skipper Colin Penny's boat Flamer IV. On both days we were due to spend some time drifting over the famous Shambles sand banks and I was hoping to catch my first ever brill while doing so. Sadly however the first day's fishing was very poor and due to a deterioration in the weather the second day was cancelled. Obviously this was a major disappointment but I ended up driving along to Swanage Pier twice where I relaxed, kept things simple and enjoyed a couple of fun sessions fishing rigs with small hooks baited with ragworm on ultralight tackle. On my first visit the end of the pier was off limits due to restoration work being carried out but fishing further up than I usually do I was still hopeful something odd might turn up, with a black faced blenny at the top of my wish list. I caught no little surprises though and the main species caught by some distance was corkwing wrasse. If I said there are lots of them underneath Swanage Pier it would be a massive understatement! In amongst the endless corkwings, the odd tompot blenny and a few dozen pouting I did manage to catch a few Baillon's wrasse too which brought a smile to my face. With their colourful markings I think they just pip the rock cook to the title of the nicest looking of the wrasse species that can be caught in the UK.

A great example of the stunning markings on the head of a Baillon's wrasse.

Swanage Pier is the only venue that I'm aware of in the UK where these can be caught with any reliability and I even managed to catch the same one three times during my first day there. It had a small deformity just behind it's left eye in case you're wondering how I know it was the same one. I dare say if you took good photos you could use their facial markings to identify individual fish.

Arriving to begin my second session the end of the pier had re-opened and walking down the steps onto its lower deck there were already a few people fishing in the open area in the middle of the deck. As I got closer I thought I recognised an angler that I knew but had never met in person before so I went over and said hello. The person I'd accidentally bumped into was Adam Kirby, an angler with over thirty years' experience in several disciplines who now focuses on lure fishing.

Adam with an impressive lure caught grey gurnard.

Adam currently contributes to Sea Angler magazine and is a member of the Prostaff team with UK tackle company Tronix. He is also very passionate about light rock fishing in it's purest form and recently published the 500th post on his excellent "Light Rock Fishing" blog. More important than any of that though I'd also been told by several mutual friends who had already met him that he was a really nice guy and I'm happy to report that he is! We got on very well and enjoyed fishing together, talking about fishing and species hunting too. Adam also caught a Baillon's Wrasse whilst he was on the pier but with a little more skill and finesse than my lazy efforts with bait, catching it on a tiny Mushi creature lure mounted on a equally tiny jighead worked slowly along the bottom.

Baillon's wrasse light rock fishing style!

Pretty soon it was time to leave as the pier was being closed for the evening. On the way back to the car we carried on chatting and exchanged some mark information for various species. It was a real pleasure meeting Adam, the chance encounter being the highlight of my stay in Dorset really and I hope we can fish together again in the future.

Tight lines, Scott.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Slippery customers.

Butterfish were probably the first fish I ever encountered. As a child I lived next to the sea and remember messing around when the tide was out, turning over stones and occasionally finding one underneath. When I became a speies hunting angler I never thought they'd be a realistic fishing target but over the last few years I've managed to catch a few. Back in July I even managed to catch three of them during the one session at Burntisland Harbour.

One of the three butterfish I caught.

Believe it or not the butterfish is a member of the blenny family and speaking of blennies I also caught a Yarrell's blenny during the session too. Burntisland regularly produces both these rarely caught species so it's definitely the place to visit if you're involved in a species hunt and want a good chance of catching either of them or indeed both!

Tight lines, Scott.

Friday, September 07, 2018

They're great.

It's been a while since I put a post up. It's not that I've not been out fishing, I just hadn't done anything that interesting for a while or really caught anything of note. At the start of the summer I spent a fair bit of time having a go at fly fishing for trout at various fisheries. Fishing lures was the most successful approach with one pattern in particular proving to be very effective.

The Ally McCoist lure. They're great!

It was almost entirely rainbow trout and blue trout that fell for Ally McCoist but it also produced my first tiger trout. They're a hybrid of brown trout and brook trout and are a pretty cool looking fish with their tiger like markings.

My first tiger trout.

Despite enjoying a reasonable amount of success I have to be honest and say that I'm not a massive fan of this style of fishing. I still need to catch a golden trout and a brook trout though so I'll no doubt be tying on an Ally McCoist and doing a roly poly retrieve again at some point.

Tight lines, Scott.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Species Hunting on Cyprus.

Earlier this month I had a week's holiday in Protaras on the island of Cyprus with my partner Lillian. My fishing expectations weren't very high as before I went I had been warned that the fishing wasn't as good as other parts of the Mediterranean. The chances of catching something new including a lionfish were good though so I was excited about that prospect at least. I only took a small amount of ultra light tackle with me to fish two styles, light rock fishing and to do a bit of bait fishing too. I treated myself to a new reel prior to the trip and loaded it up with fresh braid.

My new Daiwa Fuego LT 2500 loaded with 0.3PE Sunline Small Game. Lovely.

I fished for an hour or so every day and as I had been forewarned overall the fishing was pretty tough. During the first session it soon became apparent that there were a few puffers around. I wouldn't have minded these so much if I'd caught a silver cheeked toadfish but instead all I caught was a puffer species I'd caught before whilst on holiday on Crete.

The yellow spotted puffer. A species that's originally from the Red Sea. Known as Lessepsian migrants they are named after Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French diplomat who proposed the building of the Suez Canal, the commercial waterway they use to make their way north to the Mediterranean.

Over the first few days pretty much all I caught was yellow spotted puffers, with just a solitary rainbow wrasse and a couple of small parrotfish managing to find my lures and bait before them. Most of the coast was extremely shallow and the water was incredibly clear too. I'm not sure if this had anything to do with the lack of fish but I soldiered on trying several different spots.

The coast looked great but there didn't seem to be many fish around. Fishing in the sun is still hard to beat even when you're not catching much..

Eventually trying new spots paid off when I found an area that held loads of fish. Unfortunately it was a series of ponds full of koi carp outside a sushi restaurant. How annoying!

I've been known to carry out covert fishing operations in corporate ponds in the past and I was slightly tempted to carry out a dawn raid but they were just too cute and friendly so I let them be.

Despite the seeming lack of fish in the sea the locals were out having a go almost everywhere we went which was slightly encouraging and as ever Lillian was very generous allowing me to fish whenever I thought there might be a chance of catching something. At Ayia Napa harbour we saw a few bluespotted cornetfish as we walked around so I got permission to try and catch one.

A local float fishing at the mouth of Aiya Napa Harbour with a very long pole.
A tourist fishing at the mouth of Aiya Napa Harbour with lures on an ultra light setup.

Fishing small curly tail soft plastics on a 2.3g #10 jighead quickly near the surface I soon had several elongated fish following and having a go at my lure. After several hits I hooked up with a couple of small barracuda and then after a quiet spell where the fish seemed to loose interest I caught a small bluespotted cornetfish, a truly bizarre looking fish and a very slimy one too. I was very pleased to catch my first new species of the trip.

My first ever bluespotted cornetfish.

Midway through our holiday I decided to use the depth charts on Navionics' website to some deeper water, something I probably should have done sooner to be honest. I located a mark with good depth close in down the coast towards Cape Greco and had a few sessions there in the evenings as it got cooler. I was hoping to catch a lionfish there but had no luck sadly. The mark was a bit more productive though and I caught quite a lot of combers. Mostly the common variety but I also caught a few painted comber too, with the odd Atlantic lizardfish and some more yellow spotted puffers taking my drop shotted scented lures too. I also hooked something a little larger that I suspect was a bream but it managed to throw the hook unfortunately so I didn't find out what it was.

A nice colourful painted comber.

On the morning of our final day on the island we stopped at a small harbour on our way to Larnaca so I could have a few final casts. Unsurprisingly it was full of yellow spotted puffers although I did manage to add a couple of goby species to my trip tally as well. I also spotted a small wrasse that I couldn't positively identify but the puffers and gobies were way more aggressive and repeatedly beat the wrasse to my bait. Just before we left to get some lunch I fished over a very shallow sandy area and was pleasantly surprised when I caught my second new species of the trip.

My first Red Sea goatfish, yet another Lessepsian migrant.

Incredibly I picked a restaurant for lunch that was right next to Larnaca harbour and as we had an hour or so to kill after we had eaten before having to make the short drive to the airport I got the green light for a few more final casts. This proven fruitful and saw me adding a few more species to my tally in the shape of a few rock gobies, some axillary seabream, a plain red mullet and a marbled rabbitfish. From under the shade of the pontoon I was fishing on I then caught my final new species of the trip, another little invader from the Red Sea.

I knew this was a cardinalfish but I had to do some Googling in the airport departure lounge to discover it was a pharaoh cardinalfish.

So the fishing had been tough but I still managed to catch seventeen species including three new ones which are in bold below. Also worth noting that just over a third of the species caught are Lessepsian migrants and I've underlined these below.
  1. Atlantic Lizardfish
  2. Axillary Seabream
  3. Black Goby
  4. Blue Spotted Cornetfish
  5. Bucchich's Goby 
  6. Common Comber
  7. Marbled Rabbitfish
  8. Mediterranean Rainbow Wrasse
  9. Ornate Wrasse
  10. Painted Comber 
  11. Parrotfish
  12. Pharaoh Cardinalfish
  13. Plain Red Mullet
  14. Red Sea Goatfish
  15. Rock Goby
  16. Yellow Spotted Puffer
  17. Yellowtail Barracuda

So whilst we had an enjoyable holiday on the beautiful island of Cyprus I'm not sure I could recommend it for the saltwater shore fishing. I think if I were to return I'd have a go fishing in the islands freshwater instead.

Tight lines, Scott.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

When the boat comes in.

Last month I visited Dunbar to have a fun session targeting coalfish after dark. As well as shoals of coalfish there were a few velvet swimmer crabs paddling around near the surface and also some oddly shaped small fish. I recalled spotting one of these distinctive looking fish a few years ago and I had an idea then what they were. After seeing a few I set about trying to catch one to see if I was right but had no luck. Everytime I put a jighead near one it swam down out of sight and besides the 2.3g #10 jigheads I was using were probably too big! Since that session I've been back a few times armed with a 3g controller float, some tanago hooks and a couple of raw prawns to bait them up with to try to catch one. Last week during a session there were a few of these small fish around again and with a bit of patience I successfully moved my rig into position without spooking the largest of them. With a bit of very gentle twitching I had the fish showing a little interest and then it took one of the miniscule baits on my three hook rig. Worried about it coming off it was very quickly wound in and swung up to my hand before being unhooked and popped into a small clear plastic tub for some photographs.

My suspicions were correct. The fish was a hooknose, also known as a pogge or an armed bullhead.
It's an odd little fish that has a hard bony body and the underside of its head is covered in small barbules which it uses to search for food on the seafloor.

Looking at the fish I was a little puzzled as to what a bottom dwelling species was doing swimming around near the surface and I suspect these are being brought into the harbour on shrimp boats along with their haul before being thrown over the side as they sort out their catch. Pure speculation of course and really I wasn't too fussy about how they had found their way into Dunbar Harbour, it was just nice to catch my first new species of the year.  

Tight lines, Scott.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Most wanted : Cyprus.

I'm off to Cyrus in April for a week's holiday with my girlfriend Lillian. I'll be doing some fishing whilst there and as it's our first time on the island I've been investigating what species I'm likely to catch. As well as many Mediterranean species that I'm already familiar with there are a few odd looking invaders from the Red Sea that I may encounter. I first heard about two of these because my mate Dimitrios caught them when he fished there last year.

The rather bizarre looking bluespotted cornetfish...
...and the equally weird silver cheeked toadfish.

It's another invasive species however that I've decided to add to my "Most Wanted" target list and it's one that you may recognise because they are a very popular exhibit in many aquariums.

The lionfish. Both beautiful and dangerous, in amongst its long elaborate fins are eighteen venomous spines.
In red above are the spines to avoid. Thirteen in the first dorsal fin, one at the front of each pelvic fin and three at the front of the anal fin.

Most invasive species are not welcome but apparently lionfish are a most unwanted migrant because of the devastation they can cause when they move into a new environment. They have very few predators and can breed quickly, spawning as often as every four days. They are also a voracious predator, eating huge amounts of small fish and crustaceans. All this means they are extremely successful at colonising new territory at the expense of its native species. Over the last few years lionfish seem to have done exactly this along the south west coast of Cyprus which means there's a chance for me to catch one.

If I do catch any lionfish I'll obviously need to handle them extremely carefully and although I usually release the fish I catch I think I'll do my bit to reduce their numbers by keeping any landed, this decision has been made easier by the fact that they supposedly make a very tasty meal. So, I'm really looking forward to visiting Cyprus for the first time and perhaps catching and eating something a little different too.

Tight lines, Scott.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

In hot water.

I had my first session of the year last week. I met up with an angler I met at work and we headed down to the hot water outflow at Torness Power Station to bother the resident mullet. Freelined bread flake on ultra light tackle was the chosen approach and it proved to be very successful but the first few fish we caught were not the intended target species. The resident juvenile bass wanted some of our Warburtons too and we ended up catching more of them on bread than we caught mullet.

Good fun on ultra light tackle in the outflow's current.
Eventually we caught a few thick lipped mullet. Szymon had never caught a mullet before and it was nice to see him catch his first.
I also caught a couple of nice golden grey mullet too. Szymon was hopeful he'd get one as well as he'd never caught one before but didn't get lucky.

Once the tide turned things in the outflow slowed down so I changed my rig and ledgered little pieces of Dynabait ragworm down amongst the submerged sea defence boulders. As always the blennies that live in the artificially warm water were most obliging and catching the cheeky little blighters was a nice end to a good session. Szymon's interested in catching a few new saltwater species this year so I suspect we might fish together again.

Tight lines, Scott. 

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

2017. Is less more?

I'm a bit late with this review of last year's fishing but better late than never I suppose. 2017 saw me getting out less but when I did manage to wet a line I still enjoyed some great fishing, most of which took place during several trips abroad but I'm going to include a couple of UK highlights too. Finding the time to write blog posts at the moment is difficult due to work and other commitments so I'm going to keep this review short and sweet.

Catching an Atlantic Bonito on light rock fishing tackle.

Caught on a rod rated to 7g this 60cm bonito weighing approximately 7lb is easily the most epic battle with a fish I've ever had. Absolutely awesome! Massive thanks to my mate Nick who clambered down some slippery rocks to land it for me!

Trying a new style of fishing.

To target tiny species I bought myself a "Tanago" rod. Tanago are a small species of fish that the Japanese target, usually with the use of a tiny delicate float and equally tiny very specialised hooks.
To start off I did target tiny fish like minnows and three spined sticklebacks.
After a few session I got curious and wanted to see what the rod could cope with. A session at Magiscroft saw me catching some bigger fish including some small carp which was great fun and the rod coped admirably. 

Species hunting on Crete.

I had lots of fun species hunting during a two week holiday on Crete last summer. One of the new species I caught was this small common dolphinfish which was great fun on an ultra light rod.
I caught forty seven species in total including a few very colourful ones like this cleaver wrasse...
...and this swallowtail seaperch which was another species I'd never caught before.
This Atlantic stargazer, another new species I caught, took a small jig was probably my favourite capture of the trip.

South coast species hunt.

In October I headed to the Devon, Cornwall and Dorset for a five day species hunt. I based myself in Ilfracombe where I caught my first three bearded rockling, a species I've been after for a while.
Mevagissey Harbour's outer breakwater in Cornwall is a fantastic venue for species hunting and I always try and visit it when I'm down there.  The fishing was tough when I popped down for a day but my visit did produce a nice surprise in the shape of my first ever reticulated dragonet.

Getting the lads together on Gran canaria.

It had been far too long since I'd last fished with both Ross and Lee. The three of us first met six years ago on Anglesey and the three of us getting together for a week long holiday on Gran Canaria in December we had a great time.
The fishing wasn't anything special really, pretty much what we've come to expect from a week in the Canaries, but I did catch three new species during the week. One of them was a new species of blenny named Molly Miller which was my favourite of the three. I still don't know where this blenny gets its name.
Molly Miller is a bit of a punk and sports a funky mohican.

So looking back I've added a few more fishing memories to my collection and caught a few fish in good company. I guess fishing less doesn't mean you can't get more out of the fishing you do! I think this year is going to be quite similar. I'm still doing lots of hours at work and have also got some work planned in my flat throughout 2018 but I'm going to try to hopefully get out when I can and also I'd like to try to add one or two species to my UK tally this year if the opportunity to do so arises. Doing overtime regularly means I'm also looking forward to more foreign fishing adventures this year and have a week's fishing on a Greek island with Lee and Ross, a week's holiday on Cyprus with my girlfriend Lillian and what I think will be an epic three week trip to Japan, again with my girlfriend Lillian, to look forward to.

Tight lines, Scott.