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.

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