I hope everyone had a great Christmas with lots of fishing related presents for everyone and hopefully you have all enjoyed a great start to 2019 as I got off to a flier.
Good start Great Weather
First trip out was on the 2nd of January along with my friend from the South of England we had a great weather day with little or no wind and some sun, we headed for a mark that had fishedwell on the bigger tides and thrown up some great fishing with large numbers or dogfish,thornback and the odd spurdog.
First Cast Bingo
We need not have worried as I had a bite first cast and promptly landed a doggie so happy first fish of 2019 for me. Third cast and I had a proper thumping bite and after catching up with the fish a good fight ensued and a Spurdog of around 4lbs hit the surface so a good result in daylight and with having someone with me I managed to get a photo of me with the fish.
Slower start ,New Rod
My friend took a while but when he did he started to catch a steady stream of doggies on the new Tip Tornado Sport Graphex he was trying for the day, the rod handled the lively doggies with ease pulling them up from 60 odd foot of water that was in front of us. We had a ball with many double shots of doggies from myself on the T1000 and SLOH 20, the action got a little slower come darkness and the top of the tide.
Turning tide , Things Start to Happen
However the action picked up after the tide turned and I managed to land a couple of decent sized whiting . Another spurdog and as luck would have it the T1000 tip hammered down and the fish slack lined me, as soon as I wound down on the rod I knew it was a better stamp fish, it fought hard to keep on the bottom but the power of the T1000 slowly but surely persuaded the fish to rise up in the water, once near the top the fish charged first right then left and was finally beached it after agreat fight and a lovely conditioned spurdog of around 7lb was my prize, once again I was lucky to have a cameraman to do the honours.
My friend for some reason just could not get himself into a spur and continued to catch doggie after doggie on our mackerel,sandeel and squid baits. I managed one Thornback ray later on in the session I guess that the Doggies were so active that the Ray’s just didn’t have a chance to get onto the bait presented on various rigs with 1/0 hooks big enough to handle the fish and my favourite loop rig providing me with lots of action.
Mountain Hopping in the Sun
Next trip out saw myself and my regular fishing partner Paul Stewart head for a mark that.I had not visited before but Paul had had success from in the past. Target for the night was again Common Skate. The walk to the mark was a bit on eye opener for me as it consisted on a hike of about 500m of finest Scottish bog then a quick mountaineering course consisting of four assents and descents of the alps, great fun in the mid afternoon sun, we however made the mark without too much trouble but it did cross my mind that we all carry far too much gear.
We got settled on the mark and the big baits launched into the depths, the bottom was a long way down, about 100 feet or so with the whole mackerel baits taking 20 seconds or so to hit bottom. We were using very similar gear Paul had a WR300 and TTR rods paired with Penn two speed level drag reels full of 100lb braid, myself a TTR paired with a 9000C with carbontex drag washer and 80lb braid tipped off with 10m of 150lb mono leader. My choice of trace is a very long 6’ pulley rig and a 10/0 meat hook on 200lb mono, Paul’s choice of end gear is similar however he uses 12/0 or 14/0 hooks and 100lb braid to the swivel, more on that a little later.
What’s about Rod
I always use my second rod as a see what’s swimming about, this time my T1000 and 6500 CT reel loaded with 18lb mono and my favourite loop rig baited with the usual mackerel sandeel cocktails and out it went, not a touch for the first couple of casts so I shortened up on the cast and third cast hooked up a doggie, over the next couple of casts I hooked up another couple of doggies before it went very quiet……game on.
We had a moonless night to contend with and we didn’t have too long before Paul’s WR300 tip nodded down and his ratchet screamed off, he grabbed onto the rod and tightened down on the drag the fish just continued to strip line off the reel as if it would never stop, Paul tightened down just a little too much and had to take a small step forward before he managed to let the drag off a little, the fish slowed and eventually stopped taking line after what seemed like an age and the tug of war ensued,
Paul gained line on the fish putting as much pressure on the fish as he could, the fish decided it was not going to give up and took line again but was quickly brought back toward myself who had by this time made my way onto the rock shelve 6ft below our fishing platform to man handle the fish onto the ledge. The fish was successful landed after a 20 minute fight onto the ledge she was measured and pictures taken a lovely female fish of 150lb and another wonderful memory for us both.
Back out and Fingers crossed
We got the baits out again and continued the session and tried to calm down a little after the fun and games. My general rod went off not long after and anther doggie was landed, in fact I had a further three before yes you guessed it cue Jaws music….it went very quiet again. I was to the right of Paul and my TTR gave a good solid nod, I was on the bottom of the rod straight away click click went the 9000C and it promptly stopped and picked up the rod and waited with baited breath not the slightest movement through the braid, very strange ,then bang down went Paul’s WR300 tip and the reel really did scream off .
Paul tightened up the lever drag on the reel till he felt he could give it no more, the fish just swam and swam more and more line peeled off his reel he literally could not stop the fish, the WR300 was bent into a huge battle curve and still the fish swam on, I could sense that Paul was starting to get a tad worried that he could not stop the fish, we need not have worried as the fish slowed and eventually came to a halt after it took at least 80m of line on that first run.
To me to you.
Paul started to drag the fish in toward us gaining vital meters of line, the fish lunged again and took most of the line Paul had gained back, this was either a very big fish or a very angry male fish. Paul once again gained some semblance of control of the fish and started to gain more precious line back onto his reel,
Set back to forget
The fight was about 15 minutes in and the worst thing happened ping went the braid and Paul lost the fish unseen in the darkness, we think it had brushed its tail across the braid and away it went, that is one reason I prefer to use 10m of heavy mono as a leader guess Paul will be using one next time out. The hooks by the way are all de barbed before use and the fish will shed the hook quickly, just a shame we didn’t get a glimpse of the fish, it could have been a real big fish.
With that our mood started to resemble the dank Scotch mist that had rolled in off the hills. It didn’t take too long for the adrenaline to subside in us both and we packed up shortly after, facing the crossing of the alps in now total darkness wet and slimy due to the drizzle seemed like a huge challenge after the lost fish but with lots of care and slowly ,slowly we reached the sanctuary of the bog and promptly got a wee bit lost heading 150m in the wrong direction till we eventually got our bearings.
One more trip
I did manage one more fishing trip this month but Loch Etive was doing what’s is famous for, fishing bad really bad and the constant high winds and rain did nothing to help, I managed one bite last cast and the fish promptly spat the hook on the way in, that’s fishing I suppose and it certainly get you back to reality.
The last two weekends in January are devoted to a cause that should be in every fisherman’s heart the RNLI, I’m a radio ham and run a special event station from my old home town of Silloth’s RNLI boathouse. I’m sure some of you may have fished not far from the boat house on the promenade. With the help of my other ham radio friends we managed to contact over 1700 other ham radio operators across the world from as far apart as Hawaii, Japan, Australia, USA and Canada, Peru, Argentina etc. This helps spread the word of the work our brave volunteer crews undertake around the coast of the UK.
Hope you all get that special fish in 2019, be safe out there and enjoy your fishing.
Best wishes for 2019