Sunday, 8 December 2013

7/12/13 Colourful Clowns Of The Sea.

My mate Brian was keen to have a bash at vertical lure fishing with soft plastics and as the water clarity 'out there' was still very good, I suggested that we give it a try  on the inshore reef marks again hunting wrasse. Of course, there was always an outside chance of stumbling across a bass shoal.
We did take some bait with us, just in case, but the general consensus of opinion locally is that we need a good blow to stir things up a bit, and improve the general bottom fishing for cod and whiting , which has been rather poor of late.
The  6m tide meant staying in the general area of a mark( #9) that actually benefits from the larger tidal movements, and still allows vertical fishing with s.p lures with a manageable (up to 3oz) nose weight.
I tend to avoid expensive jig heads, and opt instead for a plain drilled bullet on the short 2ft mono trace  tied direct to the braid. The bullet is fixed  against the lure with a silicone rig stop. The lure is rigged 'texas' style with a 'worm' style hook (lure guru Pete Cook recommends 'Nogales Monster Class 'and they're excellent) tied direct to the trace. The rig is fairly snag free but, as your fishing tight to the bottom on sometimes,  extremely rough terrain, losses must be expected.
Rod and reel wise, I prefer a short bait caster style rod (mine's a 6ft 6in jigging rod rated at 40/60g) matched to a tiny Abu 4501 multiplier loaded with 20lb braid, though any light spinning gear will suffice. This outfit means that even the smaller wrasse, bass and pollack will give good sport, and it is great fun.
My lure choice leans towards 4-6 inch green or purple (anything dark) worms for the wrasse, moving to lighter coloured shad style lures IF a bass shoal is located . The bass , if feeding, seem to be less fussy but, size of lure seems to be important and if its possible to 'match the hatch', for example, if you know that small sprats are about, then do so with something about 4in long and silver or white.
 When going for the wrasse, pinning the lure on the sea bed seems to be the way to go. I leave the multiplier out of gear with my thumb resting on the spool and am constantly feeding line to achieve this, retrieving should the depth reduce.
Rod action is so subtle that it's barely noticeable and the rocking motion of the boat actually needs to be counteracted sometimes . Prior to going out I rigged a worm bait in the marina and watched how it behaved. Even a slight 4in movement on the rod tip made the lure look very realistic and enticing.
I find that keeping the lure as vertical as possible underneath the boat enables you to hook more fish , and the nose weight should be adjusted accordingly.
When rigged with a heavy, say 3oz bullet weight, the rig appears to look 'wrong'. However, it doesn't seem to put the fish off at all and in fact, I believe that the disturbance caused by the heavy weight bumping the sea bed actually attracts the wrasse.
Again, with the bass, albeit if they choose to feed, the action seems to require less subtlety and in fact at times by simply retrieving the lure slowly, they can be induced to take up in the water column.
Wrasse takes sometimes need a little bit of time to develop, especially when using a 'shrouded' hook but the bass will more than likely hit the lure quite hard and will be hooked at the first indication.
As soon as we arrived at the mark it was clear on the sounder that pockets of wrasse were present and we hit them straight away and before long, lost count.
 The wrasse came steadily throughout the day .Most were in the 2lb bracket, with the odd better fish, in a variety of colours and a couple of stray bass also turned up to add variety. A short move to my 'basking shark' mark gave Brian the biggest of the day with a new personal best fish of 5lb on the nose and indeed, this mark did seem to produce bigger specimens but in less numbers.
As darkness approached I did notice some bird activity over our original mark and suggested a return. On arrival, the sounder 'came alive' with a small dense shoal of  what was obviously bass and we were immediately amongst them taking a couple each , Brian got a good'n, before we lost the shoal after the second drift.
We continued to scan the area but to no avail and although,I'd been  careful trying to skirt around where I thought they were located when returning to re-drift but, I either spooked them, or they were moving extremely fast because no sooner had we located them, than they were gone-vanished completely.
By then it was completely dark and time to return home but we'd had a good session and Brian commented how much he'd enjoyed doing something a bit different which I found personally, extremely satisfying.
This sort of fishing does provide an welcome winter alternative to conventional bait fishing methods when conditions suit, and does have the capability of producing a cod or two as my marina neighbours brothers Clive and  Kim Hodges have recently proved.
Wrasse, probably because they aren't usually considered to be a table fish, are not everyone's cup of tea granted, but they do provide superb sport on light gear and, as Brian pointed out to me, are a bit more fun than hauling up doggies and channels whilst waiting for the conditions to improve for cod hunting.
Personally, I enjoy fishing for anything (doggies included) but will be curious to see how far the wrasse fishing can be pushed and just how big we can get them locally.Pete reckons they hang around all year and there are 'monsters' out there with 8 pounders being caught in nets. An 8lb ballan wrasse...wouldn't that be something.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

4/12/13 Jupiter's Moon...One Year On.

I've now been running my Warrior 175 Export 'Jupiter's Moon' for just over a year , have completed nearly 50 trips  in her, and clocked up close to 120 hours of engine running time, so it would be a good time to reflect, and try to give an objective appraisal on how she's performed.
The biggest problem when trying to source information about boats prior to considering a purchase, is getting objective information from owners. Everybody, it would seem, loves their particular boat and in some respects ,why shouldn't they.They have ,in all likelihood, spent a considerable amount of hard earned cash on their 'pride and joy'.
Reputation goes a long way in the boating world particularly in the small fishing boat sector. Our local manufacturer is Orkney boats of Arundel, their factory being just a couple of miles from the marina where I park my boat. They're a very popular craft round our way and, rightly so, because  despite being expensive, In my opinion they do build some very fine boats to a very high standard , 'word' gets around, and similarly, by their very nature boats frequently get passed on second hand and stay in the locale.
I did come very close indeed to buying another Orkney. It was the price that prevented me from doing so, and the fact that I'd discovered Warriors. Well, I'd seen one on the water and plenty of photographs and spiel about them on the internet!
There are no Warriors at all in Littlehampton but, in other parts of the country they are  extremely popular.They have a very high production rate, have enjoyed a long production run,and command  high second hand prices on the boat market. It was mainly for these reasons that I chose to buy one myself. Surely, all those Warrior buyers couldn't be wrong....could they?
Buying 'new' is a considerable financial gamble, and will only be of benefit if I choose to keep the boat long term.I'll let you know on this score.
 I did go for a test ride in a standard 175 at the Southampton boat show but, in reality, this was a meaningless exercise and I probably did it just because I thought I should do so before agreeing to buy. In truth, I'd already decided to buy one anyway. I remember leaving the show feeling very impressed with the 175 but, in reality a ten minute spin in any fast fishing boat on flat water would have impressed me on that day.
The only prior decision I'd made about what type of boat I was going to buy was that, despite keeping her on a mooring at a marina, I wanted a boat that could be trailered . This , as you'll see from the fun I've had travelling to catch sharks this year, did indeed prove to be the right move but there is also the fact that being able to easily recover the boat myself to carry out maintenance and repairs has also been a big advantage.
Which leads me conveniently on to the first major problem I had with 'Jupiter' . Very early on in my ownership, in fact after she'd only just  had her first ten hour service, my fuel line fractured. Luckily, I'd noticed the petrol spilling on the surface water whilst still on the marina so I quickly dragged her out and investigated the problem.
The main fuel line had been very badly routed causing it to be restricted and eventually split. Not only was the Suzuki design very poor, but the fuel line material wasn't really up to the job so I replaced the whole line myself with something much stronger, chose a better route and have just kept a close eye on it. Not really something you'd expect on a ten grand motor.
To be honest, I couldn't be bothered messing around with the warranty and as it was such a quick and easy fix I just did it myself. At least it had been an excuse to get a good look under the engine cowling and see what was what with my engine.
This leads me nicely on to servicing. The engine comes with a three year warranty but, you have to have it serviced by an 'approved' Suzuki dealer and get the book stamped to maintain said warranty.
I've no complaints at all about the mechanic that services my engine but, like all marine engineers, his services aren't cheap, especially when you consider exactly what he does and this is compounded by the amount of use I'm giving my engine, which in itself is no bad thing in as all things mechanical benefit from being used. It just means that the service interval occurs more frequently.
 After nine months of use, i'd had two services already at a total cost of about £600. At this rate, I could buy a new engine soon enough.
Now I accept that for those of you who aren't mechanically minded you're probably happy to pay the price but personally, I'm not and, despite the perceived risk, will in future service the engine myself at a fraction of the cost, bin the warranty and accept the consequences. However I would say that, unless you're quite experienced with wielding spanners and know your way around engines in general, leave it to someone who does. I'll let you know in two years time if this has been the right decision.
Apart from the fuel line fault and a very slight vibration at 4000 r.p.m which I've grown used to, the main engine has performed very well so far, returns an overall fuel consumption of about a litre per nautical mile, is smooth and quiet and has more than enough power for my needs.
The 6hp auxillery engine has not been used in an emergency yet, but is started and properly warmed up regularly, pushes the boat as well as can be expected and despite sitting on the back for a year still looks like new.
 I do need to remember to drain the carb before removing for transportation however as it does leak and gives one a bit of a headache when stored inside the van on long journeys. To be fair, it does advise this procedure in the handbook.
Ah, the handbook, yes! There's a thing.
 You would have thought that in this day an age you'd be able to rely 100% on the information printed within a handbook for an outboard engine costing a grand, wouldn't you? Not in the Suzuki 6hp one I'm afraid.
It mistakenly misleads you into thinking that the flushing plug is in fact the engine oil drain plug! There's even an incorrectly annotated diagram to accompany the text. Follow the instructions and the least you'd do would be to create a terrible oily mess, and for those with less savvy, you might even flush your oil ways out with water-definitely not good for your engine.
 Luckily, I spotted it immediately but, in all honesty, its a poor show.
 In similar fashion to the main engine, I've chosen to abandon the warranty on the 6hp too. Its simple enough to do myself and the cost of paying a mechanic to do three full services would pay for a new engine!
Right, I've torn the outboards to pieces, what about the boat.
First of all, don't be deceived into thinking that it will be an 'easy ride' launching and recovering your 175 using your average family saloon as tow vehicle. The package weighs close to a ton and a half without an auxillery, some fuel, and a bit of fishing kit on board. It can be done, but you will need to choose your slipway with some care. A 4wd vehicle would be a big advantage with a boat of this size.
 I manage with my 2WD VW T4 van but it does take some 'learned' skills,careful use of my van's clutch,  and forward thinking. I must say that, the roller trailer is a work of art and actually getting the boat on and off  is very easy process indeed, and you only need to just get the bottom of the tyres wet to do this.
I've no complaints about the 'on road' manners whatsoever. The 'rig' stays exactly where you want it to-safe and sound and my van has coped admirably with some very steep, and tight Devon and Cornwall back roads. A little bit more power would be nice but I'm not going to change vehicles and will just live with it nursing my clutch in the process.
I do have some minor criticisms of the boat itself.
 Warrior supply a rod rail/bait board as an optional extra but when fitted, two of the rear rod tube holders are unusable-doh. The bait board gets in the way and takes care of that. With hindsight, it would have been nice if Warrior had told me this and I'd have repositioned the holders from new. Luckily I've got eight more to choose from.
A piece of trim continually falls off, one of the switch panel backlights has failed, and the seat boxes allow deck water to get underneath the seal but these are all easily remedied issues albeit, a tad shoddy.
When originally specced up, I wanted a search light fitted and this has proved to be invaluable on really dark nights although, when there's a moon, I allow my night vision to naturally adapt. However, the lamp fitting bracket is painted mild steel and has rusted. Again, a bit shoddy.

All the above are , in the grand scheme of things,  minor critisms that can be easily remedied-others may not feel the same way having bought a brand new boat  but,'each to their own'
  The overall build quality of the Warrior  and its fittings , especially when compared to other boats(Orkneys excepted) is excellent. Mine still looks like new, apart a few tiny knocks which must be expected, and its quite common to see old Warriors still looking very good indeed after some years of use.
On the sea which is, I suppose where things really count, I've got no complaints. Apparently , the heavier standard 175 handles better according to those 'in the know' because of the extra weight. I'm not 'in the know', so can't comment.
 This boat is certainly fast enough (I average 20kts-she'll do 30 plus if I've got the balls for it),and is  able to maintain a good speed when things 'kick up' a bit and feels very sure footed.
She planes quickly and easily and holds a 'level' ride , keeping things very smooth. Slamming? what slamming? I drive her so she doesn't slam. Go get a 'cathedral' hull if you wanna 'slam'.
Freeboard is excellent, which is extremely important for someone of my dimensions , and in fact one guest crew of normal stature actually commented that it was a bit too high for him and would make returning his bass a little awkward.
She sits well at anchor and behaves herself in a following sea though its rare that a following sea can catch me up
Beam and head seas are just brushed aside and, from my experience, despite popular 'forum' opinion, she's a relatively 'dry' boat  compared to many I've ridden in, though the excellent optional folding canopy is a massive boon and provides good protection from weather at both ends of the spectrum when fishing as well as motoring.
The seats are a brilliant design,and  driving position(custom fit) and visibility are all first class. In thick fog, I can stand to helm  and easily get the best  possible vision over the cuddy roof. I could fit a wiper to one of the screens and indeed this has been suggested but personally, I don't think it will be necessary. I can see out fine-Rain-X sees to that.
Its fashionable on the forums to 'knock' Lowrance electronics. The standard package has proved to be easy to use and it's caught me plenty of fish and got me where I wanna go so I've no complaints.
Anchoring through the hatch is easy though, if you're any wider than me it might become an issue.
A cushion on the forward seat, which you kneel on when hauling, would be a welcome addition.
Choosing the Export version mainly for the removable fuel tanks and uncluttered deck has given me a huge , usable 'working' space which I've begun to really appreciate. I've fished three people with no problems on two occasions, one a long distance 28nm shark run,  though obviously two anglers would be more comfortable. Weight distribution is nowhere near as critical as you might think on a boat of this size and the final testament-bigger boats on the marina don't go out any more, nor stay out any longer than I do and believe me, I'm careful.
Despite the high original cost, and to be fair, she wasn't cheap, the first year of ownership has really broadened my fishing horizons and I've been able to do a lot more than I expected mainly because, with the speeds available to me, long distances are no longer an issue.
Boats are very personal things and most people tend to go with what they have, and learn to love them. I actually believe that , with notable exceptions which are generally widely known about, there are very few 'bad' boats manufactured nowadays.
I've tried to highlight the 175's faults in this 'review' , and also attempted to be objective but its been tricky as I've had so much enjoyment with her this past year. Long term ownership is beginning to look more likely. What's unlikely, unless I suddenly become very wealthy and get bored of catching sharks, Is that I'll want to 'down grade' to a bigger boat. There's a lot to be said for being happy with  your' lot'.
Overall, I'm very happy indeed with 'Jupiter', in fact, as a truly functional 'fishing machine', glitches aside,
 I cannot find fault with her..............but I would say that wouldn't I.......after all.......she's mine!

Don't forget...Got anything to say??? Leave a comment or drop me an email. ''

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

2/12/13 Big Pigs.

Today's plan involved a dual approach of both drifting with lures, and fishing at anchor with baits. One of my marina neighbours Mark, had inspired me with a tale of a 6lb wrasse that he'd caught, albeit on ragworm,  and that, as well as the fact that there was still a chance that the bass shoals would  be about, and it was a BIG 6m tide with plenty of (clear)water movement had me digging into my collection of soft plastic lures.
By the time I reached mark #6 ,my starting point, the ebb tide was well and truly underway, and  with up to 2kt drift speed I was soon looking to increase nose weights to keep the lures fishing relatively vertical. It was immediately clear from the sounder , that fish were present although in small numbers and, first run through produced a ballan of about 3lb on a Fiiiish minnow so , a good start.
Strangely, that was the only take on that part of the reef so I gradually headed west scanning the rocks and continually searching with my lures until I reached mark 9.
I've got a lot of confidence in this mark primarily because of its rugged nature, but also because I've picked up so much from here in the past and once again fish were showing on the sounder. To begin with I was getting a few bumps and a dropped fish or two but , a change to a darker green home brewed shad seem improve things with a couple more decent wrasse to the boat and a Pollack.
A change again to a very dark (purple)grub worm lure, and things really kicked off. The wrasse took the smaller lure much more confidently and I soon lost count of the chunky 3-5lb ballans that were coming up punctuated with the odd Pollack.
Occasionally, I managed to locate a  bigger shoal of 'something' that showed no interest whatsoever in ,whatever I literally, dropped right on their heads. Judging from what I've seen on the sounder before, and caught in good numbers, I'm pretty sure I'd located bass shoals but despite re-drifting them several times, they just were not interested in anything I showed them.
Perhaps the 8 degree celcius surface water temperature was having an effect on them.
 I later discovered that a fellow marina bass enthusiast had located the same the previous day, but had to wait for the tide to flood before getting a take.
I wasn't too bothered with the lack of bass as these ballans really give a tremendous account of themselves fighting all the way up to the boat especially on the light baitcaster outfit I was using.
Despite my continued enthusiasm at (trying) to catch them, I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that, given their undeniably handsome good looks, sometimes, our beloved 'labrax' can be a bit lacklustre in the 'fight' department. I can't comment too much on their eating qualities because most of mine go back,but the words 'overrated' and 'fashionable' spring to mind.(That should stir a few of you up)
Eventually takes on #9 slowed down so I moved west yet again to some really interesting ground near #7 and found my colourful friends in attendance yet again on the small worm lures this time getting a really good fish at 5lb 12oz- a new personal best for the specie. That's a 24in landing net frame.
As the big tide reached its slack low period I noticed , what at first I thought was a basking shark fin in the distance. I must have sharks permanently on my brain because I immediately shot over to investigate only to discover that the 'shark fin' was an abandoned black pot buoy marker uncovered by the big tide.
Quite by accident , on reaching the buoy I spotted a flash of green on the sounder , had stumbled across yet another piece of interesting ground to add to my mark list and yet again, it produced a couple more nice wrasse.
As darkness fell I decide to call a halt to the lure fishing, it had  been great fun, and head over to #28 to anchor up with baits and wait a couple of hours for the tide to flood enough for me to be able to get across the bar safely.
I really enjoy night fishing and always soak up the atmosphere when I get the chance to do some. Once the tide had turned a few decent sized whiting took my small baits along with the inevitable dogs and fat pout but my big strip of cuttle was pretty much left to soak, untaken. Still, it was a pleasant way to pass the time and I soon had enough  whiting for tea, and water over the bar to get home, making good use of my spotlight to safely navigate without tangling with any hidden fixed gear on a very black night indeed.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

30/11/13 The One Pike.

I spent a very pleasant day today in the company of my piking buddy Dave W on our most favourite stretch of river, and fishing for our most favourite winter freshwater adversary.
Dave's done extremely well of late here with three nice doubles in the last couple of trips so, It was with high hopes that we fished, particularly as the river was in near perfect condition.
The problem was, nobody had told the pike this and the only take of the day was a very long, thin distinctively marked seven pounder that took a shine to my sardine and turned out to be a recapture from Dave's previous trip from a swim about a couple of hundred yards upstream.
Once again we are reminded of the small number of pike in this water.

Friday, 29 November 2013

27/11/13 Mixed Species and a P.B cod.

I had two choices for this trip. I'd been tipped off that some good bass were about but that the shoals were tight and could be tricky to locate(vertical fishing with lures??) OR, I could follow my own instinct and have another go for blonde rays on one of the big sand banks 'out west'.
I chose to pursue the latter but couldn't resist  a quick 'scan' of a very shallow reef en route to the mark. Nothing showed and, as I felt  like having a nice 'lazy' day at anchor anyway, rather than the hard work of drifting with plastic, I dropped the pick and settled down comfortably on the 'numbers'.
Small tides and bass don't really compute in my world but, it's only when the tides are relatively small that its possible to anchor up and fish these shallow sand banks. I'd done well in January with blondes but, something that someone with far more experience than myself had mentioned to me had firmly stuck in my mind;
'There's always the chance of a stray bass or cod turning up'
How right that man was. The bites were slow in materialising with just a couple of cat shark(read; dogfish) nibbling at my whole squid baits during the prolonged slack period that is characteristic of such small tides but, once the flood started pushing properly, something better came along in the shape of the target specie- a blonde ray.
Not a 'biggun' but it confirmed at least, that I was in the right place. It was quickly followed by a nice spotted ray but that turned out to be the final showing of the 'squashed sharks'.
A violent take followed and with a head banging fight giving the game away immediately, I knew I had something pelagic on the other end. Up came a bass of between six and seven pounds which was cleanly released at the side of the boat (lol it slipped the hook).
As the tide really 'filled in' another wrench on the rod tip had me thinking a second bass was on the way up however, this one didn't stop fighting after a few 'head bangs' and I was pleased as punch to see the appearance of a decent sized cod hit the surface and successfully slide into my waiting net. This one wasn't going back. A new p.b cod at 17-08 which tasted absolutely spectacular dipped in beer batter for the following day's tea.
Somehow, chip shop cod will never be the same again. Let's have some more of that!

November-Very average fishing until...........

Not, it must be said, a very productive month's fishing at all which is why I'm condensing reports of these trips into one entry.
Firstly, a  short run out in the boat in search of a cod and , concentrating on BIG baits, I managed to land just two dogfish. However, all was not wasted because, one of our local charter skippers was very close by and doing  very well with conger-a species I'd like to turn some time to in the future.
Thanks Dick for sharing all the necessary information. I'll be back on this one.

Following on from that I had another visit to the lake in search of pike and blanked. Well, that's not strictly true as I did catch a rather nice roach of close to a pound on a pole rig baited with maggot intending to trap live bait for the session. Unfortunately, the roach was just too nice to use, and I set it free. The only other action was two perch that were probably too tiny to even attract a bigger fellow of their own specie.



Later in the month I travelled to central France with my mate Dave Nevatt to visit a place he's recently bought down there with , both a river running through it(Charente), and a pond. Dave's caught barbel, bream and carp there this year so it all sounded idyllic, and indeed was but..............with me in attendance....the fish just did not want to play ball. I fished super hard for four days for two bites,the smallest barbel I've ever seen................and a bream , which Dave landed himself.
It was good to be able to help my mate out with some work on his new 'project' and I suspect it will be well worth a revisit in warmer temperatures as it's a beautiful spot.

 To well and truly put the icing on the cake, while i'd been away, the U.K weather had been kind and some of my mates had been 'avin' it away big time with some superb catches of bass and a few cod-well done Clive.

Back home again and I desperately needed some decent fish action so, with strong winds confining the boat to it's mooring, it was time for another trip up to the river but, with a change of specie in mind.
I like chub fishing with bread. It's clean, simple and interesting and the 'new' stretch of river that I'm exploring this season has got 'heritage' when it comes to good old 'chevin'.Travelling light I selected a narrow 'streamy' stretch with lots of interesting, 'tight' 'chubby' looking swims to drop my liquidised loaded feeder into.
First cast-bang a chub, not big but a good start and a reminder of what it felt like to have a fish on the end of my line. In short, I tried four different swims  for three chub- none of them big , up to two and a half pounds but, terrific fun and again, something I shall return to again soon.
Back in the game again.

My good mate Mick (Pinchers)Pinchbeck recently sent me some pics of fish he's been catching out in his own boat and I couldn't resist sticking this one on the blog.A truly excellent specimen spurdog-not that common a specie around our way and something i'd love to latch on to one day myself. Well done Mick.

30/10/13 Stillwater Piking not something I get to try that often but, with the recent heavy rain leaving my favourite rivers high and dirty, it was time to try something different, and explore a new lake venue.

The fishing was pretty slow and three takes, possibly all the same fish , produced only one small jack pike to my paternostered sardine dead baits so, decidedly average fishing.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

26/10/13 Superpike.

I took my piking buddy Dave with me today for a trip to the 'new' river venue and, on his first cast,he managed to winkle out this big old gal of 23lb 6oz on a rather manky mackerel dead bait. A fantastic start and a very encouraging indication of the potential of this section of river-what a fish.
Rather unusually, we decided to stay put in one swim for the duration of the short five hour session and this was the only take that we experienced.
She was  a rather old and slightly battle scarred one eyed specimen but certainly full in the body and gave a powerful account of herself probably due to the relatively high water temperatures for the time of year .Fortunately, she recovered quickly and went back strongly which is always a pleasant sight .Let's hope we get a few more of these this season-well done Dave.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

22/10/13 Surf Skool.

Back out in the surf for a daytime trip today.I'd left it a bit late starting and the tide was already well into the flood when I arrived and, it really was blowing a hoolie. The Southerly was strong enough to make it difficult to stand still and casting directly into the wind wasn't exactly easy.
Luckily, I'd switched to a fixed spool reel loaded with braid for this one and It certainly made getting the bait out achievable.
I only had time for four casts and it was the first one that produced the only bite of the session-a sharp rap on the rod tip , enhanced no doubt by the stretch free braid, produced this little schoolie bass to  save a blank.
I would have ventured out again this evening but the wind has died, and the sea has almost flattened off so I've decided against it. Judging by the weather forecast, I don't think it'll be long before those strong winds return.
Please take the time to leave a comment or ask questions on the blog or, if you prefer, drop me an email on

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

20/10/13 Surf's Up!

Surf's Up indeed. With massive southerly winds there is absolutely no chance of getting out in the boat but, It's that time again for some surf bassing.
Low tide was about 6 p.m and that's when I headed out, for the first time this year,from the back of my house in search of bass. I wanted to check out the sea bed in the intertidal zone before darkness fell so that I would be able to negotiate a safe passage landwards. The big tide meant that i'd be moving inshore quite quickly and I wanted to make sure I had a level playing field on which to retreat so selected a clean run of sand all the way to the shingle bank.
Wading out to knee depth I had a full moon to keep me company, and provide some decent light and, with the lack of weed present, felt I was in with a chance.Armed with whole squid on a 4/0-6/0 pennel, the strong wind directly in my face did give some 'bird's nest'  trouble when casting-or maybe i'm just out of practise.
The tide had flooded more than half way when the bite finally came. A sudden drop back that saw me instantly winding furiously to connect , and connect I did. A 58cm fish(about five pounds) in prime condition despite a curious shape.If it wasn't the 'wrong' time of year I'd have said she'd just spawned but, its probably just a deformity.
I had one more cast before 'calling it' but the tide was fast reaching the shingle and I've never really done that well at this time so, job done, I called time.
A wild night to be out!
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18/10/13 Further Exploration

I investigated the river again today on my new club ticket, once more taking a lure rod with me for company. A much slower, deeper section of slow moving water that i'm eager to get busy with baits on, and looks more than capable of producing big pike.
I caught a real tiddler on virtually the first cast but didn't locate any more, though I suspect they will appear and I have indeed been gathering reports of pike from various sources which is promising.
Its always exciting fishing a new venue and hopefully, there will be plenty to blog this winter.
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Friday, 11 October 2013

10/10/13 Pastures New


I've decided that's its high time I fished a different stretch of my favourite river for pike this season and have selected about six miles to target upstream of the tidal zone.
Naturally, the river  here is completely different beast to what I'm usually accustomed to . It will be strange having a consistent uni-directional flow , and to not have to consider a six foot change in depth whilst fishing .
Armed with a completely useless club 'map', and a very useful large scale O/S sheet, I set off up the river today lightly adorned with just a spinning outfit with the intention of exploring about half the water that is available to me.
In places the river is so tiny that it would be entirely possible to jump to the opposite bank but,there are also some interesting looking deep glides along with pools and even a rather attractive weir pool that looks likely to contain my favourite predator .
Casting occasionally I did track down a couple of small pike (one exceedingly small) and neither fish was hooked on the first follow.The larger fish actually took the shad 'jigged' under rod tip right in the margin-a tactic I've used before with this very versatile style of lure.
I covered approximately three miles of  the secluded and rather beautiful river as it twisted and turned though the local countryside, though most was, due to the dense vegetation, quite difficult to access. This situation should improve as the winter progresses.
Deer,kingfisher, heron and what appeared to be yellowhammer and snipe(I'm no bird watcher) kept me company along the way- a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

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5-6/10/13 Jupiter Gets Porbeagles.

At the beginning of this year I had a burning ambition to consistently catch tope from my local area and the thought of catching a 'proper' shark from my new boat was a distant dream.
At that time my sole encounter with larger U.K ' toothy ones'(I've caught bronze whaler shark from a surf beach in Namibia) had been one tope of about 50lb that I was reluctant to bring on board my little Orkney 520 a couple of seasons back.
How times have changed. The tope fishing saga is documented in the blog and, the blue shark fishing has been, by my modest standards, a runaway success but, I was still desperate to catch a North Cornwall porbeagle shark from my Warrior .
I was lucky enough to catch  my first ever porbeagle, in July, towing Wayne's Wilson Flyer to Boscastle, but I truly wanted to get one alongside 'Jupiter' and time ,was running out.
 My U.K 50lb Rovex and 4/0 Senator had coped with that first big shark, but they had been pushed to the limit so,  whilst down in Falmouth on the last 'blue' trip, I managed to meet up with Paul from 'Rokmax', try out, and purchase a pair of superb 'Star' brand  30/50 one piece stand up sticks from the U.S.A which are completely different to anything that's regularly available in our country.
I've matched these up with a brace of left hand 6/0 Senators, one of which I converted myself with parts from U.K Penn supplier-Mick Simons. These outfits are far more powerful than my  50s ,despite the confusing nominal line ratings, and should cope admirably with anything I'm likely to encounter in British waters including hopefully, one day, a local thresher shark.
I've spent a lot of time this year researching how to go about catching the North Cornwall porbeagle sharks and by far the most difficult problem to solve, is actually getting the boat down to the isolated grounds that I choose to fish.
Boscastle slip is simply too small for my Warrior and the risk of damaging the boat when launching there is too high. Bude, although very close to the target area is, it would appear from advice I've been given by the local anglers,  a treacherous launch with a fierce surf break. The Bideford and Barstaple based slips are simply too  restricted by the tide to be convenient which leaves Ilfracombe, and it's picturesque harbour.
The disadvantage with Ilfracombe is it's sheer distance from the marks. The journey is 28 nautical miles and,  one has to negotiate Hartland Point , and it's legendary tide race caused by the Bristol Channel emptying its not inconsiderable contents into the Atlantic ocean twice daily on the ebb tide.
The decision to actually go on this trip was very much made at the last minute . I'd spotted a three day weather window in my leave slot that coincided with favourable tide times i.e running to and from the mark with the tide, and had contacted Wayne , to see if he was up for it, just two days prior to leaving.
The weather held, the boat was on its trailer having just had an engine service anyway, Wayne was good to go, I had plenty of chum, so we hitched her up and went for it-just like that.
Ilfracombe is indeed a superb facility. The slipway is excellent and the tide 'window' is approximately three hours either side of high water which is  reassuring if are forced to cut short a trip.The harbour dries but, is soft sand , there are very convenient visitor's moorings available and the prices are extremely reasonable indeed, especially compared to those that we're accustomed to in Sussex.
 We launched the boat  on  Friday afternoon and my good friend, and Ilfracombe contact  Nick (Pix) Dabney lent us his tender so we could get to and from the mooring.
Saturday dawned and there was still residue swell  from recent westerly winds but, at least the breeze itself had died so we set off on our mission. Everything was fine on the journey down until we reached Hartland and then 'all hell' let loose.
Of course, it didn't look too bad from a distance but as we approached the tide race the extent of the turmoil was apparent, and we soon found ourselves in a huge, by my standards, sea. Despite continuing to make a good ground speed running with the tide at about 10kts, the boat was bucking quite violently and I decided to 'bail out' of the maelstrom, making a quick turn and running alongside the race until I felt it safe to resume the originally intended course.
It was an exhilarating experience which hugely added to my confidence in the boat and certainly honed my handling skills and, I can honestly say that, at no time, did I feel at all threatened. However, it was prudent to take , what I judged at the time, to be the safe option and Wayne agreed.
Down tide of the point the sea calmed considerably and we soon arrived at our destination, settled  on our chosen drift line, and set our chum trail. Unfortunately, we waited all day for one solitary run-a tope of about 20lb to one of Wayne's baits but, that is shark fishing.
What was noticeable compared to our last visit, were the small number of bait fish . Our feathers were completely ignored and we reasoned that this may be the reason for our lack of shark takes.They simply, may not have been there, at least, in any significant numbers.
The run home with the flood was much kinder and, skirting the coastline closely ,we actually ran directly through the middle of the Hartland race experiencing minimal chop over the reef at the mark.A startling contrast to our experience on the ebb tide.
Day two arrived and I'd invited Nick along for the ride not only to try to catch his first shark (he'd had four failed attempts) but also to see how three aboard would work out. Good teamwork ensured no problems on that score.
This time around we steered well clear of the Hartland race which considerably added to the distance travelled and , judging by what we could see of the race, may not have been strictly necessary but ,It's always better to be safe than sorry, especially in alien waters.
We started our drift slightly north of the previous day's  and still had a steady knot or two of drift speed running with the ebb. We were each allocated a rod on float gear and  ,as skipper,I was also charged with a  rod simply dropped with a weight attached twenty feet or so directly under the boat.

As usual the salted chum sent out a superb trail and we sat back and waited on the almost flat calm sea.The ebb tide finished with no action and, as the boat turned for the flood ,we drifted closer to the shore and into slightly shallower 60ft depths, and within earshot of the waves breaking over the rocky coastline.
It was Nick's bait(the deepest and furthest set) that first to go with a short burst of 'music' before I managed to quickly, grab the rod, and reduce any resistance to zero by knocking off the clicker. Nothing happened.
 I felt the line tension momentarily but I couldn't be sure it was a bite. I handed Nick the rod anyway and kitted him out with the butt pad just in case.
Still nothing happened for , what seemed like a long time, but  I just sensed there was a shark there and,although both Wayne and Nick felt the gear had snagged the sea bed, we instructed Nick to gently tighten up and slowly wind in .
It did indeed appear, as the boat continued to drift, that the gear  had been snagged as it only gradually moved up tide but  then suddenly Nick reported that he'd felt a couple of solid thumps,the rod took on the fighting curve and 'our man' was 'IN'. The shark must have been dozing.!
The expression on Nick's face as he felt the power of the fish was priceless- a look of complete surprise especially as the fish stole line at a considerable pace on it's first run. Nick was having the time of his life and after about twenty minutes had the shark under control and near enough to the boat for us to get a decent look-a nice shark of about 80-90lb we estimated.
We'd had to run up the engine to take evasive action when the shark dived under the hull, and it was interesting to see the trail line on the plotter and how the fish had towed us around before we managed to gain the upper hand .
With Wayne filming I had my first chance at playing 'skipper', donning the gloves and getting 'up close and personal' with the porbeagle which was released by cutting the trace as close as possible to the fish.It was , yet again, a fantastic sight seeing the shark swim free and Nick was naturally elated,and not a little beaten up by his capture.His first shark and nearly double the size of his previous personal best fish of any specie, and the first porbeagle to Jupiter. I was chuffed to bits.In fact, we all were.
Very soon afterwards the bait on my second rod was bitten cleanly in half accompanied by a short violent burst on the ratchet.It's entirely possible that the culprit could have been a shark but, i'll never know for sure.
With time running out before we would have to leave to get back to port in daylight, I casually mentioned that it would be nice to get another one before going home and, almost immediately, the close in bait was taken , Wayne set the hook, and passed the rod to me.
A less spectacular fight than my own first porgie but nevertheless a whole heap of fun, and I handed the rod back to Wayne as the shark approached the boat to give him a 'bit of a play' and allow me once again to carry out the 'release'. A slightly bigger shark this time possibly approaching 100lb and again, cleanly released.
Unfortunately we didn't get another chance to even drop a bait down but, we'd all experienced a bit of action and it was immensely satisfying to get , not only Nick his first ever shark, but to realise the ambition of getting a porbeagle in Jupiter. A feat that rounds off a superb first year's sharking for me and one that I've found immensely rewarding.
The run home was super quick and smooth and was  carried out on just one tank of fuel at an average speed of 18kts for the hour and half run.
There would have been a third day but Wayne and me decided that we'd achieved our aim, learned loads in the process and, as there obviously weren't that many shark around, possibly due to lack of bait fish, we decided to pull the boat out, and head home that evening.
Mission accomplished.
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28/9/13 The Pike Season Begins.

Dave and me visited our favourite river stretch today, albeit a day or two early, for the beginning of the traditional winter pike season.
The game plan was for Dave to catch live bait on the feeder, and this worked a treat with the net soon being full of prime roach of a reasonable bait size-nice to see. Unfortunately, and rather surprisingly for the time of year there weren't that many active pike or at least, we failed to find them so the vast majority of those roach were returned.
Early in the session a 'jack' took a shine to our bait net and I think the same fish chased my sardine dead bait on the retrieve, and subsequently followed a curly tail that I put in front of it but, hooking up didn't happen.
The day ended with us taking a pike each on the live roach so at least we didn't blank but it was slow going.
I'm in the mood for a change for this year's pike fishing so will be joining another club which has a completely different stretch,  non-tidal , to explore.
As a footnote to this entry my work colleague Paul Holden, who is a very keen and successful match angler on the river, reported that his wife Gail,had recently taken a spectacular 96lb catch of  bream from this stretch, with specimens to over 6lb . A superb achievement indeed, and a good indication of the quality of bait fish present.

 Gail's bream haul.


24/9/13 Autumn Breaming

During the blue shark sortie to Falmouth the 100hour oil change warning light on Jupiter illuminated and , once again, it was time for another scheduled service. It hasn't taken long. Just nine months and my big Suzuki motor once again needs it's internal organs checked out-a scenario that I predicted would not occur until at least November. After the Cornish trip, I'd left her on the hard standing at the marina hoping that Mechanic Adrian would be able to fit her in whilst we were away on our annual hols to France but, it didn't pan out. Hearing that a few bream had been about locally, I decided to drop her in for a quick trip and see if I could make up for the lack of the specie during the spring period. A simple trip really, just anchoring directly on East Ditch and staying there for the duration. I did get a dozen or so bream to 2lb ,and my mackerel feather string, permanently fishing scored four mackerel so no complaints there. The charters continue to do well with the plaice on our local marks which is something I intend to try myself soon and, the first of the cod are showing occasionally -an indication of the seasonal change.

Friday, 6 September 2013

2-4/9/13 Autumn Blues

It's officially autumn , the days are noticeably drawing in and time is running out for targeting Cornish blue sharks.
I had a free week before my annual holiday to France and with decent weather forecast, decided to treat myself to a few days after the toothy critters and towed the Warrior down to Falmouth for the second time this year. Joining me on this trip was piking buddy and shark virgin-Dave Wilkins.Regular sharking partner Wayne Comben was too knackered after battling with his monster Hampshire thresher.
I'd already prepared 75 litres of salted chum for this one and it proved to be a wise move indeed as the mackerel were extremely difficult to locate.
Day one saw flat calm conditions and was, to be honest, quite slow going. Three shark were brought to the boat (Dave popped his cherry) one of which was in the 70lb bracket.However, we were kept occupied by catching some huge garfish(superb shark bait)on mullet float tackle and being entertained by a variety of interesting wildlife. Two large sunfish also took a shine to our chum trail coming right up to the boat and proceeded to give us a very interesting display at close quarters by allowing gulls to pick them clean of lice. Some curious looking mackerel sized shoals of 'something' were regularly seen leaping clear of water obviously being harassed by a predator of some form, and what looked to me like barracuda, could occasionally be seen breaching. On the run home a minke whale was spotted and, highlight of the trip, a massive pod of dolphins was located and , as I slowed down to about 12kts, decided to join us for a mile or so playing in the boat wake and putting on a fine show.
Day two was in similar low wind conditions but still produced four shark-the smallest at about 40lb and again, one nice fish in the 70lb bracket.
Day three dawned with cloudy skies, some rain and up to 10kts of wind forecast to assist our drift and spread the chum trail more effectively. As on previous days, we spent some time trying to locate mackerel and although we picked some up, it was hard work and their absence is slightly worrying. Lucklily i'd taken a few frozen baits from home and, along with the excellent half garfish baits,both scad and frozen mackerel proved to be successful.
 This last day's drift took us almost 10 miles but, the chum trail didn't start to work until well into the afternoon with a good stamp of shark showing. Seven was the tally with a 70 and an 80 included,until on the very last garfish bait of the day ,a cracking of female, of over the 'ton' ,showed at the surface and then proceeded to take the closest bait and provide a fitting finale to the trip.
I've recently been using 14/0 circle hooks for these blues having got a little fed up with having to cut traces when using 'J' hooks in the past. With the barbs completely flattened, they proved to be a great success with an almost 100% hook up rate and similar results with clean lip hooking. Also,contrary to popular belief, they proved to be easily removed with a decent sized T bar at the side of the boat so I can highly recommend them for this type of small boat sharking.
On the first day at the slipway it was great to meet up with fellow WSF member Andy (Ork 520 ) who runs a charter business in his Warrior 165 'Obsession' covering the local area. We remained in contact on the 'wireless' over the three days and, if anyone fancies trying for these shark from a small boat I'd highly recommend his services as he was on the shark too. He's here; Boat Fishing in Cornwall | Specialised Charters - Tel: 07779 999125
With Dave having to leave for home I had planned to tow the Warrior up to the North coast and have another go at the porbeagles but the weather conspired against me and it wasn't going to happen.....maybe next time.

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30/8/13 A Pike Angler's Bait

My friend and fellow Sussex river pike enthusiast Lionel Mills had been on my case for a while to take him out in the boat in order to stock up his freezer with mackerel for pike bait.This evening we gave it a go but our tally of mackerel fell a long way short of Lionel's target of 100 baits. I think we managed about 10 between us although I was able to find him plenty of good sized pouting on the reefs for him to experiment with this winter.Hopefully, they'll be to the pikes' liking. By way of a consolation, this little fellah took a shine to my stinger lure-the first I've ever captured in this way. In spite of the general lack success, my crew commented that he'd really enjoyed the outing and we both enjoyed the stimulating conservation about our favourite freshwater quarry.

23/8/13 Fishing With Clive

A rare trip out with Clive who is a neighbour at the marina, and seasoned boat angler. We began our conquest vertical lure fishing on # but with little to show for our efforts.A couple of smallish bass and wrasse fell to our soft plastics but it was hard going and, as the tide turned to a favourable direction, we feathered up some mackerel for the live bait tank and headed to # with our float gear. Fish were showing on the reef and Clive did have a scorching take but sadly, it didn't produce the desired result and proved to be our only chance of the session. A difficult time of year for these bass.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

20/8/13 Bass Save The Day

My initial plan today was to stay local and try once again for some bass but having told Alex, my crew for the day, about yesterday's turbot, he was keen to get down there and try to bag his first of the specie, and I was game for some further experimenting.
The 5.9m tide was however, pushing the envelope a little and we left the bank #46 , after thoroughly scanning it, having caught a bass and a plaice each but no sign of a turbo.
 I'm not entirely convinced that the size of tide was to blame as drift speed weren't that quick but it was easy to cite as a reason and talk each other into a change of tactics but, it may demand further investigation.
We'd left the harbour at 10 am and intended to stay out over the lock out which meant fishing into the early evening-my favourite bass time.
My special mark at #6 probably hadn't been disturbed all day, most of the boats taking advantage of the fine weather, looked as if they'd chosen the Kingmere area, so it was selected as a spot to drop the pick and fish some big baits as the tide began to flood.
I'd chosen to slide a live mackerel on a fixed line on one of my rods, something that Alex had not seen succeed before, and I soon had a blistering run which, after positively the finest fight I've had from any bass, produced this eight pounder.I did think , at one point, that this line stealing torpedo was a tope and was surprised to see 'silver' when it reached the boat.
Unfortunately the circle hook had settled in the gills and the fish had to be dispatched but will not go wasted and produced two very fine fillets indeed.
Some smaller bass , bream and cats fell to mackerel sections to finish off yet another successful day's fishing.

19/8/13 Top Turbot Teasing.

Today was a day for taking a risk, and doing some experimenting.
Perceived wisdom states that targeting turbot on a sand bank such as mark 46 should be done on a smaller tide however, whilst I agree that plaice prefer their baits to be speeding past at no more that a knot and a half, turbot may be a little different.
Wayne's lent me a stack of Boat Fishing Monthly magazines with a few articles penned which suggest that turbot don't mind faster drift speeds. I'm not a great fan of angling magazines. Usually, publications such as Sea Angler are merely tackle catalogues with low quality writing but BFM is actually a breath of fresh air and of a reasonable literary standard, so I did take a bit of notice of what was being said.
Today's tide was a 'middling' 5.6m at L.A which is usually considered too big for this sort of fishing but, with so few chances available for me to get a turbot, and with little else going on locally, I was determined to give it a try.
I'd also been put on to a 'bling' rig by Neil that had worked well for one of his clients, out fishing the other crew members on plain traces by a considerable margin.
I'd constructed my own interpretation of the rig and was eager to test it's effectiveness. In addition to the normal running leger , It comprises an additional weight in the form of a drilled bullet , followed by a bar spinner blade, a series of yellow and orange beads, and finished of with a 4/0 fixed pennel on a 12 inch hook length-the whole rig being about 4 feet in length.
Despite the size of the tide and the shallow nature of the bank, drift speeds weren't excessive -perhaps averaging 2.5 kts but, this may have been held back somewhat by a breeze blowing against the ebbing tide .
Wayne joined me for the trip and soon kicked off proceedings with a bass, and then a turbot which turned out to be his first ever of the species. Sunsequently a steady procession of five turbot took a shine to my bling rig. None of them were particularly big , 4lb maybe, but a couple were taken for eating and provided a delicious evening meal.
Over the slack water period we had a ray each -Wayne's an 11lb small eyed  which is a boat first for me, and mine a 13lb undulate to add to a very interesting day's fishing and particularly satisfying to discover something new.