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.

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