Thursday, 28 June 2012

28/6/12 The Mullet Are Back

Because mullet lie at the root of all my fishing , and you could argue, my choice of lifestyle,they hold a special place in my heart.I don't suppose I'll ever tire of fishing for them although nowadays with my interests in other fields of angling, I choose to target them less and less.
It's almost July , and this is only my second crack at them.
I employed my usual short session , low tide, spot the fish tactics along the west bank and having located a small shoal to have a go at,the first bite was actually on the second trot down in the decreasing flow, and the first fish of the year only a few minutes later in the shape of this plucky fighting 2 1/2 pounder!The fight dispersed the remaining shoal members so I relocated to one of my favourite 'point' swims as the tide began to slacken off.
Bites weren't exactly plentiful, but i soon managed to connect with a second slightly smaller fish which unfortunately let go after about ten seconds and as the tide began its push proper, the fish disappeared and the bites tailed off to nothing. I'd been fishing for less than two hours.

27/6/12 Alternative Boat Fishing

Mark runs a small boat angling club in Bognor and he'd invited me out on his own craft this evening to show me the ropes of lure fishing for bass on the inshore reefs situated just off this stretch of coastline.The reef is, in fact, the beginning of the huge system that stretches out to sea in a south easterly direction culminating in the famous Kingmere rocks.
Mark's boat is a classic 'Regis'.A 16ft open design commonly seen locally and put to use both in the commercial and leisure fishing sectors. The boat is kept in a beach side pound, and hand launched over the shingle, using a trolley and rubber mats to prevent the wheels bogging down, and employing an electric or diesel winch for recovery.With three of us on board , and to assist with the handling of the boat, the whole operation was carried out successfully with no major issues, though thankfully, the sea was relatively calm.
We mostly fished the inner reef with surface and shallow diving plugs but the bass weren't really having it.Both Skipper Mark and me had some follows-mine of a 'Skitterpop' which I've still yet to catch a bass on.(This year maybe)But the only hook ups were three small pollack to my Husky Jerk and a mackerel to the third crew member-another Mark.
The trip however, was thoroughly enjoyable and an insight into what's on offer over that way, as well as being a bit of an introduction for me to some lure techniques, and lures that I've not experienced before.
Thanks must go to Skipper Mark for the invite and I suspect that Scooby 2 will be paying some regular visits to this area in the future trying to unlock some of its secrets.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

26/6/12 A Tough Day.

Mackerel, scad , wrasse, pout, the inevitable dogfish, and a really nice bream touching 3lb came aboard the boat today but, despite travelling quite a few miles back and forth across the local area, only one example of my target fish eventually turned up.It was this very welcome three pounder , caught on a Dexter wedge,  only yards from the harbour entrance and a very opportune capture at that.
I'll admit i tend to struggle a bit with early mornings especially after I've finished a tour of duty, and then working through my first rota day immediately afterwards.Fortunately, it's all for a good cause- a new part time training job that hopefully will be suitable for future employment once I retire from the Fire Service.
Getting up at 4-00 to catch the best of the ebb was therefore no easy task, but it did mean that by 5-00 i was out on  mark 6 and, having caught mackerel and scad on the first drop of the feathers, had a lively live bait under the usual float rig, and a full bait tank.
Clive had mentioned to me that bass became more difficult to catch on live baits in the middle of summer - he wasn't wrong.I thoroughly scanned both ends and the middle of the reef with my float rig, whilst simultaneously lure fishing on a second rod, but not one single fish showed.
As the slack set in I moved over towards Bognor to explore the area around  9 and the Bognor rocks with lures but only the wrasse and pout  were caught. Interestingly, local lure maestro Pete was out with a couple of mates in his 'Regis', fishing what looked to be soft plastics . I should find out how he fared shortly as I'm being taken out this evening by Mark(another Bognor lure angler) to find out how these boys do their thing over there.
Feeling a little deflated, and not a little tired,I decided to return to the middle reef and set down the anchor to fish with big mackerel dead baits. Alan and Ted were in attendance and did do rather well, both catching decent bass on fillet and head baits as i later found out, but only a doggie,and the bream(on a 4/0) fell for my baits.
By the time the flood proper had set in, and with little action on the middle reef, I upped sticks again, and returned to #9 thinking that the better flow would give me more action with lures. I was wrong. Despite Pete and his crew still fishing the mark, only one more wrasse took a fancy to my jigged shad before I decided to give in and return home just after lunch.

Just before reaching the harbour entrance , I spotted some gulls 'working' the sea and made a quick detour to investigate.Fish could clearly be seen disturbing the surface so the bait caster outfit was hastily re-rigged with a Dexter,and this bass hit on the second cast to save the day. By the time I'd sorted the fish out, the shoal had disappeared completely.
So, a hard days fishing for little return but some valuable lessons learned as ever.
I met up with Ted and Alan this morning as Ted needed to use my trailer to lift his Orkney out of the river to carry out anti fouling.With the boat on dry land i had some time to pick their brains.Both these guys have been fishing locally for many, many years and certainly know their onions and yet, their methods are simple in the extreme. I doubt if either of them bother with lures or live baits-too much hassle.What they seem to be able to do is fish in the right place at the right time , for whatever species is about and that's where their experience counts.
For big reef bass they use mackerel baits(fillets and heads) on a 6/0 leger-much the same in fact as Alex does, but they cite the period around low water as being the hot time which is very interesting indeed.Perhaps this is the way forward with Clive's 'summer bass-who knows.
Another piece of the fishing jig saw fits into place but, the more I learn, the less I know, and I don't  suppose I'll ever get that jig saw finished.Where would the fun be in that!

Tide- HW 0406  5.2m

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

20/6/12 Tope , Rays, and a Rather Nice Boat.

Making the most of the good weather (it's raining hard and gusting to 45 knots outside this evening)I set off yesterday morning with the intention of returning to the 'Half Way' mark in search of tope.
Before leaving the marina however, I had a quick natter with Roger whilst casting admiring glances over his ride- 'About Time' 
Roger's  Orkney 'Day Angler 21' with inboard diesel power is  my 'dream boat' and , looking rather like an overgrown 'Scooby 2' with all  the curves and proportions in the right places, is undoubtedly the most aesthetically pleasing vessel on the moorings,apart from my own boat of course!
 I'll admit my opinion is slightly biased-Orkneys of this vintage just look so 'right' to me.'Beauty' as they say 'Is in the eye of the beholder'.
Naturally it's not all about looks.A boat like Roger's would be more than capable of dealing with anything I'm likely to throw at it,yet still be able to be handled solo which is my preference.Don't get me wrong-Scooby 2 is proving to be a fabulous little boat and ideal for this early learning period in my career afloat but, at the end of the day she is still , a small craft, and sometimes I'll admit i do feel a little insecure.
Of course , a bigger boat will have drawbacks. Not the least of which are extra mooring costs and I probably wouldn't be able to drag it up to Loch Lomond on a trailer behind the Camper. But it might surprise the reader to learn that fuel costs are not actually that much of an issue. 'About Time ' consumes approximately a litre of fuel per mile which , at a cruising speed of 17kts, is pretty good going.I'm not too sure about the future of marine diesel but, at themoment, it's a whole lot cheaper that road fuels.Maintenance on an inboard diesel with out leg shouldn't be too much of a problem for me as it's all fairly simple technology although probably not quite 'Land Rover' simple.
Whatever , progressing to a boat like this will demand some careful consideration. 

Although it was Roger who'd guided me to the general area where 'Half Way' lies last summer and sold it very much as a smoothound mark,  it gave me my first struggle with a fish of substantial size in the shape of a half decent tope.
However, although not usually noted for big fish it is, currently, the only mark that I have in my repertoire to target the species that is within my ten mile comfort zone.
True to form the tope turned up, and gave me good sport with several fish to high doubles ,(weights estimated as all fish were 't' barred at the side of the boat), along with  a double figure thornback, and undulate rays to 14lb.Unfortunately, none of the bigger 'sharks' showed  but,  it was satisfying to be able to relocate the tope again almost a year after first encountering them.
Curiously the fishing improved over the slack water period which is not usually the case with other species.As I was using big mackerel baits(heads and whole side fillets on 10/0 circles to 200lb mono just in case)it was necessary to allow runs to develop 'on the clicker' before tightening down which was highly entertaining-the larger fish, in their enthusiasm to feed, displaying some pretty thrilling runs.Conversely the rays give a very gentle take and need to be given time for the circle hook to do its job-although one can easily be caught out by the sudden sight of your rod trying to leap over the gunwale if you've set the drag incorrectly.
A few mackerel and a scad sporadically hit the feathers which I'd also sent down on a second rod whilst at anchor to keep the bait box stocked up.
I should have really stayed on the mark, and fished the ebb, but thoughts of yesterday's bass that mates ,Alex and Alan had taken were on my mind so, I made the mistake of heading over to #6 to see if I could snaffle some despite Alan reporting over the radio,that no bass had shown during the morning.
When i arrived, the mark was crowded with boats, which I hate so , after a few unproductive drifts with lures dodging the anchored fleet, I fled to #5 anchoring in the 'elbow' and hoping for more of the hounds and rays which turned up on yesterday's flood tide.
Today's ebb didn't produce the same results and I'm wondering if it was because i was positioned up tide of the reef this time.Do the fish seek shelter/food down tide of a reef?
 For whatever reason things just didn't feel right, a solitary bream and dogfish was caught before I got a bit restless and headed over to explore the rock at #9 with jigs and gills.
I covered the mark quite thoroughly, but the tide wasn't at it's strongest and although three pollack and a ballan wrasse took the lures, once again, the bass eluded me.
I had intended to stay out over low water, and meet up with new mate Mark who was beach launching a dinghy in the area and heading out for an evening's lure fishing but, the wind appeared to be building  and .subsequently, I 'bottled out', and ran for home in order to make the bar which I did with just inches to spare.Back at the marina and Martin, who was also out at the same time on 'Cap'n Cod, agreed that it was a wise decision to come in however, by the time i got home  the sea, once again,in typical fashion, had calmed down.
Mark did get out with crew and succeeded in catching some bass to good size on cast plugs fished relatively close in-news that has made me even more determined to try for bass using these methods.Now all I need is some more decent weather.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

19/6/12 Hounds and Rays

A couple of days ago  Andy and me had a first crack at the mullet in the river but with little success. Although I'd seen good numbers of fish about during a mid day 'recce', the fish just weren't there come the late afternoon/evening period and apart from one small bass to Andy's bread bait, nothing more showed up.
Today . i took the boat over to marks 5 and 6 starting at 0900 off just inside the elbow at 5 and off the main reef. Tidy little mark this-probably mixed ground and donated to the collection by Neil, who I'd seen the previous afternoon in Tropicana-Thanks again mate.
First drop down produced a really nice double figure smoothound-my first of the year.Terrific fight as always and a real pleasure to get reacquainted with these fantastic little sharks.The tide soon slowed but not before another first for the year appeared in the shape of another double, but this time an undulate.
At slack tide, I decided to make an attempt to  fill the live bait tank but had to work really hard for just half a dozen, or so, mackerel. As the tide ebbed, one of these fellahs was sent down under the big float rig and virtually the entire reef was drifted (weaving amongst the other boats in residence) without a sniff from a bass.
Alex, on the other hand, who was anchored up and fishing his usual mackie fillets, had managed to nab a couple so i elected to follow suit and drop the pin about half way between the two marks.
The bass never did show but, a run of rays both thornback and undulate to 14lb, another good hound and some nuisance tiddler bream kept the fishing interesting in the cracking weather.
I decided to call it a day at 3-30 in order to make the bar, but several others, Alex and Pinch among them,stayed out in the sunshine and fished on into what turned out to be a beautiful evening.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

4/6/12 Bassquest

Some very large bass can be caught on my local inshore reef systems and indeed, i've had a couple myself but, they're not easy to find, and it takes some practice and application to work out the best tide times, and where to put the boat.
I've been wanting to progress more with bass and, in particular ,fishing with live baits on the drift, which does seem to pick out the real lunkers.However, boat owners I know who are consistently successful with the method, and there aren't that many,have had a few more years at it than me, so it's going to take time-all part of the fun.
I didn't  leave the marina until 1400 as the winds were still a little too strong from the North and 'outside,' it looked a bit too bumpy.However the forecast predicted a drop in wind speeds and some favoutrable conditions for the afternoon and early evening which was good news as I'd not be able to get back over the bar at the river entrance until 2000.
Initially it was very rough when i reached the mark about five miles out but, apart from a glitch when a storm passed by, 'windguru' once again seem to know their onions as they were spot on with the windspeed forecast.The wind eventually dropped leaving the late afternoon and evening conditions very pleasent indeed.
As soon as I dropped down my feathers on #6 , up came a joey mackerel, and within minutes I had half a dozen swimming happily in my bait tank with a few more taken for dead baits and the pot.My confidence was high but, I wasn't to be rewarded with my target.
Concentrating solely on fishing the float rig I tried my hardest at three seperate reef marks#6,5, and 9, covering the ground as thoroughly as possible.There was one possible take but, it didn't result in a hook up-disappointing but not entirely unexpected as I didn't really have the best of the tide to play with. The majority of my fishing time was over the low water period and it's accompanying slack water.
Very few other boats were out but I do know of two who were similarly going after bass on different marks- and not the small variety that hit the 'stinger 'lures. I'll update this entry when I find out if they did any better than me which I suspect they might have.
It would have been 'easy' fishing to bag up on bream, which are still about in numbers, or hit the smoothounds which again are showing well on some of the mixed ground marks and , with hindsight, these would probably have been a better choice if only to save the bassing for better timing of the tide but,I chose the more difficult option.
Update;  Neil and Mick, without crew on 'Spirit', were fishing soft ground probably near #13 and did lose a big bass which took a live bait-however Mick scored a beautiful undulate to make up for her loss.
Clive and Kim probably headed for #4 to target flatties and rays and did very well on both counts although they did pick up some small bass on the return journey.
All useful information.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

1/6/12 Taking It Easy

Sometimes its just a pleasure to quickly nip out in the boat, drop the anchor on a convenient mark, and spend a couple of hours not really trying or thinking too much about the fishing and just enjoy what turns up.

Unfortunately, i'd managed to damage Scooby's cuddy quite badly when i took her out of the river for the Lomond trip by accidentally colliding with 'Cap'n Cod' at the marina. Thankfully Martin's boat was unmarked, and he was extremely 'civilised' about the whole event and grateful that I'd even taken the trouble to tell him what had happened. Apparently, others would do less.......

An ex employee of Orkney Boats-Andrew had been carrying out some rather nifty repair work to the boat on my drive yesterday whilst I looked on and learned, and this morning after work, with Steve's help, I slid her back in the water managing to carefully avoid hitting any other vessels on returning to the marina,I'm very happy to add.

Having got myself 'sorted' I ventured out of the harbour in near perfect conditions and settled on the 'ditch' for an afternoon of relaxation and therapy.It was a bite a chuck from the 'off' with nothing particularly spectacular showing up but that's not the point. It was fun. Bream , pout, mackerel , wrasse and even a scad put in an appearance but ,only a few hundred yards south of me the big news on the wireless was of a blue shark circling 'Jennifer's Pride'-apparently a real rarity in these waters.

The skipper did apparently try to tempt the beast but it was having none of it. It does go to show however, that you really never know what's going to turn up out there!