Lockdown finally easing

Well I have to say that didn’t expect to be locked down for over 4 months, not being able to get out and enjoy our great outdoors opened up another avenue to help with being house bound. I started to play with a few pieces of paracord that I had laying about in the house, I got some more colours and and soon started to make various patterns and designs of bracelets, necklaces lanyards and dog leads. It certainly helped pass the time until I managed to get out locally and start to collect crab, the easing of travel restrictions came just at the peak of the peel so I managed to get a load frozen down for hopefully a good winter chasing a few cod.

Various Paracord Projects

Various designs of bracelets, dog leads, key rings, lanyards etc are available from myself, contact me via Facebook or my blog contact.

Well eventually we’re we’re allowed to once again and venture a little further than local travel, so armed with the last of the fresh crab I had managed to keep from popping I headed over the border to meet up with my cousin John for a go for a smoothie at our old fishing grounds on the Solway. I was an Earl start to get down for 07:15 and get down onto the beach and get the rods in the water but it was a nice morning with light easterly breeze and warm sunshine. So with crab bait on a pennel clipped down rig cast out into the distance on the T1000 and a loop rig baited with worm and fish cocktail baits cast in a little closer on the TTR the wait was on to see if any smoothies were kicking about.

It didn’t take to long and John was first in with a good bite that turned out to be a dab.

John into action with a dab on his first cast

It didn’t take me long either as I had with single dab on the distance rig and a double shot on the loop rig

Loop rig doing the job an double shot of dabs.

Next cast I had a very small bite on the T1000 and I thought that it maybe yet another dab but it turned out to be small male thornback ray

Well nice to find a fish or two after lockdown

We had a move just before the bottom of the tide and we both managed another couple of dabs and that was about it, not really the smoothie bonanza that we enjoyed last year but still great to be able to travel meet up and enjoy our sport once again, you really don’t appreciate these simple pleasures until you have them removed. Hopefully it will not be too long till my next outing and blog. Remember if your looking for your favourite football club coloured key rings or dog lead get in touch.

Couple more dabs one for John the other for myself, just great to be out and fishing again.

January/February 2020

Well it’s been a while since my last post but I have not been out fishing since October when I was out with Nathan, the weather certainly has not been very kind with high winds and loads of rain putting me off going out fishing. However the last two weekends in January are reserved for a special event radio station that I run to raise awareness of the work that the RNLI undertake around the UK, as a holder of a full amateur radio licence Ofcom allows me to hold the call sign GB1LBC. We run two radio stations from Silloth RNLI boat house, this year we contacted over 2000 other radio “hams” from across the globe from New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China, USA, Falkland Island to name but a few to spread the word of the brave people of the RNLI. Hopefully as many of you are anglers we will never have to call upon their services.

Ham Radio Supporting the RNLI.

Well my friend Iain came up from the London area to visit his parents and wanted a shot at a shore common skate, after a wee briefing from yours truly just to give him a flavour of what to expect if we did get lucky and manage to hook into one we headed off up to the west highlands of Scotland. We got a break in the weather got set up on the mark and settled in, the first few casts with smaller baits were coming back untouched, sometimes an indication that maybe something bigger was knocking about so out went a skate bait, mackerel mounted on a de barbed 12/0 hook tied to a long pull rig made from 200lb mono, rod my trusty TT-R paired with the ABU9000C loaded with 80lb braid. The weather then decided to give us three seasons in two hours from bright sunlight to howling wind, hailstones and snow flurries until it finally settled down the wind dropped away and we had a lovely evening going into darkness. The smaller baits were now looking like at least the crabs were getting a little more active, even the big bait was coming back after something was having a good chew at them. Just on darkness my T1000 tip nodded twice and slowly the tip went down a little, a bite at last on the small bait, I wound down onto the fish, the tip bent over and I pumped the rod a few time and got the fish moving it felt much better than it turned out to be, a micro thornback ray popped onto the surface at least the blank was off and we could go home anytime we liked.

Blank off micro ray saves the day.

Hopefully the fish were on the feed and the T1000 was cast back out and the skate bait was changed as well. It was not long before the T1000 tip rattled again, a much better bite this time and a nice fat doggie was landed, Iain commented that the fish looked ready to lay eggs as it really was fat, maybe getting near to egg laying time for them.

Fat female Doggie put in appearance.

Couple more casts on the T1000 without any bites before doggie number two found my bait once again a good size female also very fat so maybe it’s spawning time. Iain also hooked a good sized doggie but managed to loose it in a snag close in on the rock shelf , he did mange to get out of the snag and recover a load of end gear to add to the collection he gathered at low water from the same shelf , more on that later. High water came and went without any more action, we decided that we would give it about an hour over high water so out went a fresh bait on the T1000, Iain was down to one rod now a well and the session was just about over till bang out of the blue the TT-R tip slammed down twice in rapid succession and the 9000C ratchet gave a quick bust, I call Iain over to take the rod tighten the clutch and off the fish went. Well it went and went and went, I did try to warn Iain just how hard the fish runs but I’m sure he thought I was over egging it so to speak, the look on his face was priceless, the reel kept giving line as he hung on for dear life, there really is no way you can do anything with the fish until it runs out of steam. I gently reminded Iain that he unfortunately had to get all that line the fish had taken on its first run, he started to pump the fish in, meter by meter he gained line back the TT-R going into its fighting curve pulling the fish back toward us until the fish decided I’m off again. Once again Iain had a worried face as the reel gave line back off the clutch. The fish stopped and Iain went back to work on the fish, it’s vitally important to keep the fish moving, if it goes to ground it’s game over until it decides it’s moving again.

It was at this point Iain might have been having second thoughts !

The fish got closer and closer until it hit the shelf, the rod went solid pull as hard as you like the fish was jammed solid onto something on the shelf. We put the reel back on the ratchet and gave the fish slack line, after a couple of minutes the fish was off and moving again, we gave the fish more line, got Iain settled in on the rod again and back on the fight, pump and wind, pump and wind, he gained more and more line on the fish until yes you guess it bump the rod locked up again solid. So reel back on the ratchet and hopefully this time the fish will clear whatever it was hung up on. The fight had been going on for the best part on 40 minutes by this time so it took a while for the fish to move off once again and it seamed like the fish was head down tide so it’s possible that the angle on the fish had change a chance perhaps? It took the opportunity to move the T1000 down tide and left it on Iain’s rod stand. Iain once again went back to work on the fish pump and wind, pump and wind…..yes it locked up solid again, I glanced over and saw my T1000 nearly out of the rod stand, we put the skate rod back on the ratchet and I headed for my T1000 could I have maybe hooked up a big spurdog, no as I recover line as bets as I could the skate rod ratchet click as I wound, more problems the skate had tangled my other rod. Eventually after pumping away at the T1000 the 20lb line parted with a crack at least it was now out of the way and would not trouble us again. Iain once again went to work on the fish and would you believe it we gained line more and more line, the fish was rising in the water, I caught a glance of the huge fish though the clear water and dived for the gaff, a little manoeuvring from Iain and I managed to slip the gaff into the fishes wing. Well it took around an hour to get her to the side and boy was it worth it 190lb female common skate, Iain was shattered just going to show that there is some truth in the “soft southern sandy drinkers” myth, to be fair he is a Glasgow boy born and bread but he been down south long enough to qualify as a southern. I’m sure he will have three wheetabix for breakfast next time and won’t mind the leg pulling either. Surly this is what memories are made of, fishing with friends for a fish of a lifetime congratulations Iain.

Iain with 190lb Common Skate, fish of a lifetime, well done matey!

Yet Another New One For Nathan

Well after the last trip out with Nathan who manage to get his first common skate from the shore it took a while for me to come back to reality. I also had the pleasure of being my regular fishing mate Paul Stewart’s best man at his wedding, so I guess he will need to start to accumulate some fishing permission tokens before we head out again.

Slightly more formal dress code at Mr & Mrs Paul & Kim’s wedding

Tides were big the week Nathan and I headed for his next target species, a shore spurdog. We had the last three hours of the dropping tide and a rising tide going into darkness and my confidence was high that the mark would produce a good number of our intended fish, shame the fish didn’t read the script. The weather was really very nice warm with light winds and first cast I had a really good solid bite on the T1000 and it turn out to be a blank saving doggie, at times they can be a really pain and at others a life saver.

Blank off and first cast success, the humble doggie saves the day

Rigs were quite simple pulley or loop rigs with 1/0 or 2/0 Manta extra hooks with 6″ of wire tipping the hook snoods off, baits could not be simpler with sandeel, mackerel and squid making up the cocktail baits with the odd frozen crab bait for a change bait now and again. I was using quite heavy gear as I opted for SLOSH20’s loaded with 60lb braid and 0m of 60lb nylon leader, Nathan was using his Kompressor SS and A T900 with penn mag2 and 7HT reels. The fishing was very very quite with baits coming back shredded or non existent until an hour before low water Nathan hit a fish that had given him a small bite but turned out to give him a hard fight all the way until it hit the surface and then jammed its self in the weed at the base of the platform we were fishing from, I duly retrieved the fish which turned out to be 7 1/2lb female spurdog, once again Nathan had found his target species and a good one at that.

Nathan gets his target species 7 1/2lb shore spurdog

Well we fished hard into darkness and I had another doggie and Nathan found three doggies to add to his tally for the day. I was disappointed with the lack of action as the mark can produce many more fish than turned up, it may have been the bright sunshine but I have had good numbers of fish in the same conditions, it may also have been the low pressure weather system that was sitting to the west of Scotland or the water temperature may have been to high. Whatever it was a good fisherman always has plenty of good excuses as to why the fishing was bad. Let’s hope that your next trip out is a bit better than our, but getting a first for Nathan made it all worthwhile.

Tight lines to everyone, I’m off on holiday

Chips for breakfast errr no thanks, I must be on holiday!

Paul

Bad Weather and Making Dreams Come True

Well August got off to a very wet start and it continued for most of the month, I took a run down to try and get my winter mackerel bait supplies done but unfortunately they fish decided that there was far to much fresh water flooding into the Clyde system and the mackerel seemed to have been pushed out of casting range into deeper water, I managed only 7 mackerel on the day and headed home disappointed at the lack of fish but every trip can’t be a red letter day. Strangely as I wrapped the mackerel individual in cling film before I freeze them I noticed something hanging from one of the fishes mouth, a gentle pull and a good sized sandeel was laying on the ground, well think I know why tinsel feathers work so well, must be a rough life as a sandeel as everything that swims eats them!

I had arranged a trip out with Nathan as he managed to get a little time off from his job for a mid week trip to target hopefully his first spurdog. Due to the almost constant heavy rainfalls I had a quick think as to where to try for the target fish and decided on a mark that I have never fished before, I picked the mark as it was in open water hopefully unaffected the influx of fresh water, the mark was quite deep and not to far away from a mark that I had fished before with some success. It also crossed my mind that common skate maybe present. We arrived at the mark to be greeted with a nasty blustery cross wind and yes you guessed it constant steady rain. I got the T1000/6500 up and out with my favourite loop rig baited with sandeel/mackerel and squid cocktail baits, hook my favourite Manta extras in 1/0 with 6″ of AFW 7*7 surflon wire biting section to tip off my hook snoods, spurdog have teeth and can bite clean through the toughest of nylon hook link material. I got the brolly set up and I promptly got under it and hid from the rain. Nathan had got both his Kompressor SS and his T900 out with single hook rigs baited with fish baits presented on Top Gun hooks that proved very effective with smoothies and crab baits. For the first two hours or so the baits were coming back stripped bare only with a little bait elastic left on the hooks. I tried a few pulls with the N-Sure and feathers as the rain slackened off but no mackerel were interested. The baits were then starting to come back the same as they went out, strange no crabs, prawns, fish or what ever having a go at our baits, kind of got me thinking. The rain eased a little and I said to Nathan I wonder if it would be worth putting a big bait out for a common skate, reply came back well we are here and you may as well get a bait out, so I got the 9000C strapped to the TT-R and sorted out the rig that John had his skate on the week before and got it baited up with a whole mackerel and sent the bait to sea, just a waiting game now. I cannot stress important enough that the reel drag is smooth and gives line without snatching as a sudden surge from the fish could see you end up taking a swim with the fish, carbontex drag washers fit the bill perfectly giving line without snatching.

The weather continued to clear but still not a lot happening, baits were changed regularly but still coming back more or less as they went out. The skate rod was rebaited as it looked like the crabs enjoyed the free meal with only the head left hanging from the 12/0 hook. The sun started to set and my T1000 gave a slight nod and the slack lined I tightened down and slack lined again, fish on so I wounded down onto the fish as it hugged the bottom for a good thirty or so yards, a couple of good pumps and the fish lifted from the bottom but was fighting hard to return back to the bottom, the fight was very similar to a good sized spurdog, hopefully it was. The fish continue to rise in the water as started to pull left quickly but not a fast as I would expect a spurdog, I was correct it was a good sized thornback ray about 5lb. Well that was the blank off anyway, photo taken the fish was quickly returned safe and sound. With the sun starting to fade away I got the feathers out and sure enough second cast I found a few mackerel three in fact so fresh bait if we needed it, I still cannot get over how hard the mackerel hit a set of feathers and the fight so well on lighter gear, just wish they grew to twenty pounds or so.

First fish on a new mark blank off

As the light started to fade I rebaited the skate rod and got it back out and fishing just as the headlights were starting to get put on, the wind finally dropped away to almost zero and our little friendly midges came out to play, a quick spray of smidge seemed to keep them at bay. I as chatted to Nathan about the lack of action on the rods the skate rod nodded slightly twice and I commented to Nathan that’s the crabs were enjoying the big bait, I left the TT-R out another twenty minutes or so no point spoiling the crabs evening meal, well that’s what I thought until I went to change the bait. The reel is fished on the ratchet and loose reel clutch, I disengaged the ratchet tightened down the star drag a little and pulled up on the rod…….the rod hopped over and didn’t move, sticker errrr no I pulled again and off went the reel, fish on big fish on, I handed Nathan the rod told him that he wanted to catch a shore skate. The fish tore line of the reel at a rate of knots, I’m not sure what was going through Nathan’s mind as he watched line peel off the reel but his face was a mixture of wonderment and panic at the shear power and speed of the fish. The fish slowed and eventually stopped I think it took at least 30m if not 50m of line on that first run.

Nathan on the rod with the initial run

We managed to get Nathan into a seated position on the rocks with the butt of the TT-R jammed into a solid base so it was time to get some line back, with a little coaching from myself Nathan started the pump and wind allowing the TT-R to straighten up and drag the fish toward us allowing us to get some line back. Slowly slowly Nathan gained line, the fish powered up again and it took 10m of line back off the reel then stopped, once again Nathan pumped and wound using the power of the rod to fight the fish without burning him out as you cannot predict how long the fight will last. By this time Nathan had a good sweat on and the fish was giving a real good account of its self but with the constant pressure from the rod the fish was getting tired and we were starting to get close. I grabbed the long handled gaff as the 150lb leader appeared from the dark water, Nathan was tiring nearly as fast as the fish but with a little encouragement from yours truly Nathan kept on apply pressure and we could see a vey large fish with a white belly roll about 10m out and 2m deep, it a sight that will be with both Nathan and myself for a very very long time. The fish surfaced and with one last pull the fish was within gaffing range, I popped the gaff into the fish and got the fish secured as the steep rock platform we were fishing from didn’t really offer anywhere to land a fish of this size and boy was it a good size. The fish was measured as 77″ from tip of the nose to tip of the tail and 62″ from wing tip to wing tip, new chart weight was 162lb. The 12/0 de barbed hook was popped out of the fishes mouth without any trouble and with few photos taken it was time to make sure the fish was rested and ready to be released, Nathan steered the fish toward the sea and slid the gaff out of the fish and it slid away back into the depths from where it came from.

Nathan with his prize his first shore common skate one happy bunny

The fight was approximately 15 minutes and it was at times brutal truly man against beast, but with a little technique and the right tools for the job it just goes to show how quickly a fish of this size can be tamed and unforgettable memories made.

After the fish was release Nathan had a couple of doggies and even I managed one as well but after an hour or so it went quite again, cue jaws music however another big fish didn’t show. We packed up around 1 o’clock in the morning and headed for home happy but worn out both physically and mentally. Truly an evening to remember.

One big fish 162lb of female skate nearly ready to return back into the depths

There is something profound that happens to you once you have had the privilege to be close to such a fish as this, it’s almost as if you have to re calibrate yourself to general fishing again. It takes me a little time to come to terms with the capture of such specimen, it is an overwhelming experience and a humbling one, I’m glad to have helped Nathan to achieve what to me was a life changing experience, the capture of my first common skate from the shore. It’s also quite a sobering thought that these huge fish are present no more than 40 or 50m from the shore quietly going about their business growing to enormous sizes and very few people realise that they are present and even fewer get to capture such a creature, I count my self very lucky to have the luck to be witness to a number of captures of these magnificent fish, and with luck I will again run into another shore Skate.

It worth having a real good look at your gear on a regular basis as we were very lucky with the skate, the first guide on the TT-R tip was chipped and the was a little red dust from the braid evident on the guide frame. Didn’t take long to replace the guide and five or six hours on the drier and the rod was back into full working order.

Chipped guide repaired ready for next adventure

August 2019 Bait fishing and Species Hunt

Well the month started off on a bait hunt to get the winter bait stocks up to a decent level, I headed for my usual mackerel mark to be greeted with at least 10 other people busy fishing away, I did get to my normal place and started fishing with near instant effect, my normal tinsel feathers working well for me until the sun disappeared under some heavy looking clouds and the bites dropped off so a quick change of feathers to ones with green beads for heads. The change was certainly worth it and bites continued throughout the rest of the session, I ended up with 42 mackerel in the bucket and our pesky seal had 6 off me on the way in, a great start to getting the bait freezer full for the winter.

You know your on the fish when the gear looks like this.

With the wife, daughter and granddaughters packed off for a weeks holiday I had a chance to get my cousin up from Newcastle to see if we could get him a couple of new species, target from the shore was a common skate and spurdog. We headed to the west highlands of Scotland to try for a shore common skate, I equipped John with a T1200 and fixed spool reel loaded with 60lb braid topped off with a 10m 150lb mono leader. Rigs are simple long pulley rigs with a 12/0 debarbed hook. Baits are whole mackerel mounted with the hook buried deep inside the bait. We were certainly lucky with the weather with a nice sunny day with a gentle breeze to keep the dreaded midges away. We got a couple of general rods set up I opted for my T1000/6500 combo with a single clipped down rig baited with sandeel and mackerel cocktail and cast as far as I could. The TT-R/9000C combo is my choice of weapon to target big skate from the shore, the reel is old but carbontex drag washers are a fantastic upgrade allowing the line to leave the spool smoothly under lots of pressure, the line is 80lb braid with a 10m 150lb mono leader. We both got the big gear out fishing and the wait was on. I had also packed my mackerel gear and started the hunt for some fresh bait, it took a couple of casts to find the mackerel but they were there and in numbers, great fun and far too addictive as it wasn’t too long before the bait bucket was starting to get full.

Cracking sized mackerel another one added to the bait box

I had neglected my general rod and on retrieving it I had a nice thornback ray pulling back as I reeled in, nice to see that something was feeding in the bright sunshine, in fact that’s was the first of five nice thornback ray over the session. They certainly have some stunning markings as can be seen on the photo.

Cracking markings on the thornback one of five in the session

John found a couple of doggies and a thornback ray as the tide started to flood and we continued to catch mackerel when we found them. Things started to slow a little towards mid water until John’s skate rod took a really heavy thump of a bite and the fixed spool started to spin as line started to peel out into the water as something took off with his 12/0 and whole mackerel bait, he called out to myself and picked up the rod tightened down on the reel drag and the T1200 tip hooped over into a good curve, John was sure he had found a rock and was stuck fast, trouble was there is nothing on the bottom in front of us to get hung up on it could only be one thing and hopefully it was our target fish a common skate. I advised John to really heave at the rod and sure enough the fish disengaged with the bottom and started to come toward us, as it started to rise in the clear water I could definitely make out the shape of a skate or a very large thornback ray but as she got higher in the water I could definitely make out the sharp snout of a common skate heading to the surface, now this was a very very unusual fish, it was quite small 9lb to be exact and it is very rare catch as the average size Skate from this mark must be around the 160lb mark. We landed the fish safely and the de barbed hook was removed with out trouble but she had three skate leaches on her, two on her vent and a long one on the base of her tail, these were removed and she swam strongly away back into the depths where she cane from. Job done and yet another new species for John.

Very unusual capture a baby Common Skate and another new one for John

We fished on into darkness and a couple more doggies and rays made the time pass quickly and as the light faded the wind dropped away and yes you guessed it the midges came out to play, another application of Smidge saw me clear but John was still getting swarmed with them, I asked him why he didn’t put his midge net on, a puzzled look came over his face…….I gave him the one I had in my bag and a little instruction in how to put it over his head saw him a little more comfortable, moral of this tale is never leave home without your midge net when in the west highlands of Scotland. We packed up around midnight and caught a little sleep in the car before we headed for our second mark of the trip, target this time Spurdog. Boy was it warm and we set up and got our rods our and fishing, sandeel/mackerel/squid cocktails were the order of the day, rigs were a little more conventional with 1/0 manta extra hooks loop rigs and single clipped down rigs, however when targeting spurs short wire biting sections about 6″ long to the hook are a sensible precaution to prevent getting bit off as the spurs have a great set of very sharp teeth. My choice of wire is the 7*7 AFW wire is very supple and kink resistant, in fact it’s the best wire I have every used. John had the first fish of the session out a small red Codling then a couple of doggies, I eventually had a couple of doggies myself and the sun continued to stream down and the morning got warmer and warmer. An hour before low water John’s T1200 tip went down and a slack line bite signaling something hitting his bait hard, John wound down on the fish and it took off nodding heavily throughout the fight, the fish hit the surface and thrashed about on the weed at the bottom of the beach, a quick scrabble down by yours truly saw the fish safely retrieved, yes it was John’s first Spurdog and a good one at that the scales hit 7 1/4lb, talk about hitting targets !

The smile says it all John with his first Spurdog and a nice one at that

We fished on and had another couple of doggies but it continued to get warmer and warmer and the late night really drained us both of our remaining energy, we packed up and headed home glad to have the air conditioning in the car to cool us both off. It really is a privilege to be able to help people to catch the fish of their dreams and add a new species to their list of fish, it’s almost as good as catching the fish myself. I’m sure John with long remember both his first shore caught Common Skate and Spurdog for a very long time. As we get older these are the days that we will remember as we sit as old men and look back on our west highlands adventure and by that time John’s first Common Skate will be 200lbs and his first spurdog will be the same size as Jaws, they never get any smaller as time passes that’s for sure.

Tight lines to you all

Paul

Mackerel fishing or matching the hatch?

Well the hunt for more winter bait did not go quite to plan this week, only 7 mackerel to add to the winter stocks. I think that the amount of fresh water that has flooded into the Clyde system has put the fish off, plenty of time for a return visit soon. While preparing the mackerel for the freezer I noticed something hanging for the smallest fishes mouth, curiosity got the better of me and I pulled out a good sized sandeel from its throat, no wonder silver tinsel features work best.

Taken from the mouth of a mackerel

Silver tinsel feathers doing the business

I am a big fan of braid/nanofil for my mackerel fishing not only dose it aid in getting the required distance but enhances hits on the feathers.

July hound hunting in all weathers.

July 2019 hound hunting in all weathers.

John and I returned once again to the mark that has been giving some great sport with smoothhounds our target once again. We fished an evening big low tide with the intention of fishing into darkness. We got onto our mark and got the rods out, baits were crab baits mounted on Chinu style hooks, pennel style and clipped down cast a star as I could into a strong in your face wind with the T1000/6500 combination being my favourite combination for distance fishing over cleanish ground, my second rod was a T900/7HT combination armed with a loop rig loaded with fish baits in the top hook a 1/0 manta extra and crab bait on the bottom hook on a 3/0 Chinu hook. The tide was pushing out hard and the water was coloured but 4th cast I managed to catch the butt of the T1000 as rod was just about parallel with the ground, boy do those smoothies hit a bait hard, it fought hard and long and I was relieved that eventually the fish was beached, around 5lb it was photographed and returned to the water quickly. Next cast as I was baiting up my spare rig I noticed a huge slack liner but unfortunately the fish was a bit quicker than me and a totally clean rig was my reward, ah well one all I made that. I had a nice sized doggie on the T900 about an hour before low water and it when a little quite. John got going just before low water with a nice schoolie Bass.

Fourth cast and a lovely smoothie to start the session.

The tide flooded fast and once again I was rebating my spare rig when the butt of my T1000 walloped into my calf as once again a smoothie hit the bait hard and swam off down tide, I’m always impressed with the fighting qualities of these wonderfully strong with the fish making repeated surges on the way in, at last the fish slid onto the beach this one was a little smaller around 3lb or so, it really doesn’t matter as they certainly fight well.

John eventually got a lovely conditioned smoothie.

Last smoothie of the session.

We were forced off the open beach by the fast rising tide and by the time we reached the head of the beach as we looked back across the beach our fishing mark was all but gone, a little care can make sure you can once again return to your favourite marks, safety first is a must.

We continued into darkness and the last cast I had another doggie on fish baits and a bonus Bass on the crab bait, the fish took the rig down tide for a couple of minutes as I was busy packing away the T900. Well that made it my second Bass from my old teenage fishing marks, slower than the last visit but still a rewarding trip, I have never had such a great start to the summer season, guess I’m due a poor trip out soon fingers crossed but long may it last.

Next trip out was again a return to the same mark, an evening medium sized tide but the weather forecast changed from a nice evening with low wind speeds and no rain to rain and good blow from the south west, in fact it was close to cancelling the trip out, the only saving grace was that the wind direction was to be from our backs. I changed my rod choice to include my trusty TT-R as my 2 hook loop rig setup. We arrived at the beach and was faced with a wind straight into our faces and the long walk out took twice as long as normal and guess what yes it started to spit with rain. We eventually got to our chosen place and got the T1000 out and fishing a crab bait mounted on a pennel style clipped down rig hooks were 3/0 & 2/0 Top Gun hooks and started to rig up the TT-R, l looked up from mounting the reel and the T1000 tip slammed over that had to be a bite but so soon I tighten the line up and continued to get the second rod out crab on the bottom hook fish bait on the top. I got the T1000 wound in and sure enough the crab bait was smashed to pieces, great they were still out there and feeding, I repainted and got the rod recast just as the TT-R tip went down and didn’t come back up, I caught the butt as it rose up from the beach I wound down hard on the fish as it took off down tide, again and again the fish fought all the way in. What a cracking start I had only been on the mark 20 minutes and had a nice smoothie on the beach.

Second bite what a start.

I got the rod out and fishing again but things went a little quite, however it was not long before I saw John getting bent into a fish, he really was enjoying the fight and eventually a lovely common smoothie hit the shingle beach, I did the honours with the camera and got the fish back safely into the water, I just got back to my rods and yes John was bent into another fish, same procedure photos taken and fish returned.

John got in on the action with back to back fish.

I got my rods out and rebated T1000 first and the TT-R second, strange bit I could not get the T1000 tight on the lead after the re cast, it must have been 30 or 40 turns of the reel handle before I managed to get contact with the lead and straight away the line slackened again, it couldn’t be a fish surly, if it was I must have hit it on the head with the lead, I picked up the T1000 wound down and bang the tip went over and kept on bending, this fish was really pulling back as I struggled to gain some line back, the fight was on and this fish didn’t take a few surges this one was constantly thumping away could it be a really nice sized fish, I steadied my mind that was racing with the thought that this one could be a bit special and got back to job in hand getting the fish beached, by this time John was on hand to make sure the fish was safely landed and yes this fish was a lump, long and broad, this one would have to go on the lie detector or scales as some know them as. Well the fish pulled the scales to 11 3/4lbs a pb for myself and the fish didn’t have a star on it so a common smooth hound to boot. As you can see from the photo I was one happy bunny even though the weather was what can only be described as wet and windy. The fish moved back up tide and John hit two fish one after the other just as one fish was landed his other rod roared off, what a session it was constant action as the smoothies were certainly on the feed. I had a couple of bonus doggies on the fish baits when I had time in between landing smoothies, photos and getting spare rigs baited to get the TT-R wound and re cast, I suppose being kept busy takes your mind off the weather which was not improving.

New pb 11 3/4lb common.

Two smoothies one on each rod

The T1000 tip once again dipped sharply and a load of slack line bowed in the wind, I was onto the fish straight away and after a great fight a lovely smoothie hit the shingle, John was busy re baiting at the time so a quick snap of the fish with the rod and back into the water safe and sound.

T1000 strikes again.

John was next as his rod tip took a really hard hit as the fish hit his crab bait hard, he was struggling trying to keep the fish moving toward the beach as it constantly fought to resist the contestant pressure that John was putting on the fish, it took a while but boy was it worth it another fish worth putting onto the lie detector this one hit 8 3/4lb yet another pb. Next up was yours truly with another smoothie and inside 5 minutes John had another smoothie on the beach, bear in mind it was not low water yet and all the fish we had so far were taken in last 2 1/2 hours of the ebb tide what a mad time with both had. The action slackened off over low water, I had another doggie just before low water and the weather was still not playing ball but at least it had stopped raining quite so heavily. John was way again with yet another lovely conditioned smoothie and within 5 minutes I had another smoothie out. The fishing was really something else, I’m almost sure that the heavy overcast weather conditions helped giving the fish confidence to feed heavily throughout the time we had on the mark, we had to get off the mark a little earlier than planned as the wind was helping to push the tide in, we had a couple more cast further up the beach but not nothing doing, strange as I thought we maybe lucky and find a couple of Bass feeding in the surf being kicked up with the flood tide. I’m sure that both myself and John will remember this session not only for the new pb’s, the at times manic fishing but also for the less than ideal weather, but it just goes to show that if your not out there fishing you just don’t if your missing out on a superb fishing session and maybe the fish of a lifetime.

It’s getting time to get the freezer filled with mackerel for winter bait so I recon the next few trips out will be mackerel bashing time but who knows what lays ahead.

John’s with his new pb 8 3/4lb

Last couple on the ebb tide

Last two smoothies on a wet and windy evening

Tight lines

PJ

Mixed Bags and Hounded Out.

Well I returned once again to the Solway with my cousin John this time to fish a much bigger tide than our last trip, we also had an opportunity to fish a rising tide into darkness so hopes were high of a good evenings fishing. We arrived at the beach in plenty of time but were greeted by quite a lot more water than I had anticipated as a consistent wind was blowing against the dropping tide holding the tide back from reaching our chosen mark. We set up and had a few casts before making our way out to our chosen mark, second and third casts saw the T1000 cast at distance with crab bait on a single clipped down rig picking up a couple of doggies, blank off and time to move out along the beach and get set up for a few hours over low water.

Second cast saw off the blank

Both John and I got set up and cast out and within a few minutes John was out fishing yours truly once again getting hooked up to a lovely male smoothie of 6lb, he got his first smoothie on our last outing and was really looking forward to getting a better stamp of one and boy did he do it in style, the fish took a crab bait with a nice solid bite and big slackliner as it took off with his rig down tide. I gave John one of the new Tip Tornado Super Match Graphex rods to try and it was only ten minutes or so after his first smoothie the tip slammed down twice with a real violent bite, fish on, the Super Match Graphex really handled the fight well bending into the surging lunges that the fish took before beaching a female smoothie of 6 1/2lb another pb for John, and a great way to christen the new Super Match Graphex rod.

John with another pb smoothie.

Meanwhile I was catching yes you guessed it couple more doggies and I was trying to avoid another dose of doggie rash John gave me a shout, he had only gone a got himself a nice schoolie bass talk about getting out fished. Next cast John pulled out a nice sized dab and it went quite just over low water.

John with a couple of surprise Bass

The tide turned and started to flood, the fish once again started to feed and I started to catch a few fish, first a boot lace then a dab so at least I was getting a couple of fish all falling to crab baits. An hour or so after low water the T1000 tip nodded and slacklined I got onto the rod straight away and as soon as I got contact with the fish I could feel the fish surge away, all the way into the butt of the rod, the fish fought from the moment I made contact with it until it got it to within a few meters of the shore it took off again thrashing away with its tail whipping away, I waded out the couple of meters and tailed the fish before it took off again, boy do they have some power as it writhed away as I lifted it out from the water. Unhooked John did the honours with the photos and I returned the fish back into the sea, one wiggle and the fish swam strongly back into the surf none the worse for ware.

Smile says it all in the last rays of sun

John had another Dab and a Bass and I finished the session off with a very well conditioned Codling before the tide pushed us off our mark, we tried further down the beach where we started off at but nothing showed up into darkness, the session really was a mixed bag, Bass, Cod, Dabs, Doggies, Eel and Smoothhounds John got a couple of new pb’s so job done. It’s also the first time I had ever seen a Bass come from the venue fingers crossed we may get a bigger one next trip back down to our fishing venue of old.

Great condition Codling last cast, hope for the winter

Well a week on and the tides were once again very small John and I headed out to the same mark as our last outing, we got straight onto the mark and got set up. I teamed my T1000 6500ct mag reel with a single clipped down rig baited with crab and got it out first and into the rest, I geared up the T900 7HT with fish baits on a loop rig, hooks were 3/0 Chinu style hooks for the crab baits and Manta extras in 1/0 on the loop rig. As I was baiting up the T900 I noticed a slight tap on the T1000, as I continued to bait up the loop rig the T1000 tip nodded again, maybe a fish, I got theT900 out and fishing and wound in the T1000 to find the crab bait tore apart, back out went another crab bait cast at distance and it was only out 5 mins before the tip bounced down and didn’t come back up, fish on, the tip bent over as the fish surged away twice before I could start to gain line, I got back 15 m or so and away it went again I was considering loosing the clutch just in case the fish took off again. I gained more line each time the fish stopped charging away and eventually I beached the fish a lovely smoothie of around 5lb. What a start and it continued as I landed a further two smoothies on successive casts, one of which I was sure was a common as it was free of stars. What a wonderful account all the fish gave of them selfs as every fish I hooked fought all the way in. I also managed a couple of doggies on the T900 fish baits in between smoothies. John got a great sized flounder and then a couple of smoothies as well, maybe they moved up tide a little. One of John’s smoothies had what can only be described as lacerations on both side of the fish and on closer inspection it had at some point in its life got wrapped in fishing line that was completely around its body and through its dorsal fin, I removed the line and hopefully it will recover as it was fighting fit at the time of capture and return, the fish had obviously grown and the line had cut into its flesh so it’s now free to reach its full potential without hinderance.

It went a little quite towards low water and as I was chatting to John who at the time was rebating one of his rods the tip of his other rod slammed down, I picked up the rod and at once felt the fish hit the bait again, I struck and started to retrieve line and handed John his rod and a great little bass slid onto the beach, what a thump it gave the crab bait, great bonus fish.

Great start three in three casts

John got going with a great flounder, smoothie and bonus bass.

Both john and myself have been fish the area for more years than either of us care to remember but on occasion an odd Bass has been caught from the area but I have never had the luck to catch one, I have even had two guys come down set up either side of me and both have caught Bass and me nothing. Well that was about to change the T1000 tip bounced and I caught the movement out of the corner of my eye as I was returning from talking with John, I picked up the rod and the tip nodded again I was fairly sure it was another smoothie as it gave me a little slack line, I started the retrieve there was definitely a fish on but the fight was different to a smoothie maybe a doggie but no it was a lovely plump bar of silver, yes I managed to get myself a Bass after 35 years I had finally managed to catch one, for the record it was bang on 1 1/2lb, boy was I chuffed.

Hunt is over my first Bass from the Solway.

The tide by this time was starting to push back in and the T1000 tip hooped over fish on yet another smoothie had hit the crab bait hard and took off down tide at a rate of knots, it always amazes me of the power of these wonderful fish as they charge off maybe trying to stay with the rest of the pack, that fish was the first of three smoothies that hit my crab baits hard on successive casts what a session.i really didn’t have much time to do much with my second rod as it to was nodding every now and again as a doggie had once again hit the fish baits.

John managed yet another smoothie just before we moved down the beach as the tide was starting push in hard, we had a couple of cast further down the beach and first cast John managed yet another cracking hound so what an end to a really great day.

Three more on the flood tide.

John managed one final smoothie before the tide pushed us off the mark.

Great end to the session John with a final hound.

Well let’s hope that we can find a few more of these fantastic fighting fish in our next outing. It been a fantastic run of fish for us both over the last two months or so. Long may it continue.

Tight lines to you all

Paul.