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Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Spring has sprung!

At this time of year, I usually turn my attention to freshwater fishing (namely trout fishing) but various projects and developments have really limited my spare time the past couple months.
Its something I'm planning to do in conjunction with the guiding here in Skye over the Summer and Ill reveal more when its all set up and ready to go!
Anyway, I managed to have a great day out last week from the SIB and was amazed at the amount of life in the water. Seabirds everywhere and I could see small shoals of baitfish near the bottom (spawning herring?) on the fishfinder.
I targeted a 18-20m point at first and used the LRF setup for some smiles... That I got after a shoal of good sized coalies turned up along with a few small pollock. Fish were in a relatively subdued mood and required plenty of stops and free falls on the lures.

Nice sized coalies at the moment.

After the tide started picking up a bit, I moved to my favourite spot, where I was keen to see if there were still fish there as its only 10m deep...
I switched to the heavier gear and put on a 12cm chartreuse shad on a 25g jighead. Got fish from the first cast OTD and they were some good ones!
There were some bruisers among them that seemed to have gone through battles (!) and they were all on the skinny side due to spawning.
I weighed a couple fish that seemed like 3kg+ only to have them register 2.4kg on the sling...
Among the pollock, I got a few very good coalies and one that I suspect, beat my UK coalie pb. Unfortunately, the camera's sd card had filled up and it missed most of the action on the second mark. Nevertheless below is a short vid of the action.

Efficiency... 3 pumps.

Bruiser but slim...

Things are coming along nicely and I'm hoping to start going out more in the following months. I'm hoping to get the SIB on some new areas and target some other species with bait. Ideally, I'd like to have a go at catching a skate with the XH gear. Now that should be fun from the SIB!
More to come soon...

Tight Lines

Gear used.
Rod: Majorcraft Crostage CRK-T782AJI. Tailwalk Saltyshape Dash Power Rock S90H,
Reel: Shimano Stradic 1000fc. Shimano Stradic Fk C3000
Mainline: PE0.6 PE1.2
Leader: 7lb fluoro, Daiwa Tournament FC fluorocarbon 20lbs - 25lbs
Lures: 7g metals and 5cm shads on 7g articulated jigheads. 25g Fiiish black minnow imitation, 15cm slim shad on 30g jigheads.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Aquarium update.

Not many major events or catastrophes (!) happened in the past couple of months. I have been changing 30-40lt of seawater every 2-3 weeks and other than a monthly partial filter cleanup, sand vacuum and protein skimmer wash, nothing else was needed and everything's been doing fine...
I have been feeding only frozen food (very slow sinking) in this time and have noticed that this way the bottom gravel has been kept much cleaner even though quite a few of my cleaners have perished due to predation.
Almost all species seem to have grown, except the flounder which seems to be the same size as when it went in.  I have never seen the flounder eat the chopped food while I'm feeding, plus it is nocturnal and I think it mainly feeds by praying on the hermit crabs and shrimp. Lately, as their numbers have been reduced, it has become more active though still not actively feeding when I'm dropping food.
Thus we've been on a 'foraging' trip and have added some more cleaners in the tank. Unfortunately not many survived the sea-scorpions!

Two pals...

Butterfish faces are so expressive.

Survivor prawn.

Mini halibut!

Big Daddy...

Another great survivor from day 1...

Almost doubled in size.

Lately, the fish are generally getting more active (feeling its Spring?). They feed and move about more in the tank. Moreover, one of the rock gobies and a butterfish have had engorged bellies and I think they might have shed eggs, but its highly unlikely that anything will survive in my crowded tank!

I think its time for the pollock to go soon as he's just too big! I might release a couple more fish just to make space for some different species... Cant wait for warmer weather and the mini species it brings!

Monday, 4 March 2019

The Spring feel.

We 've been having fairly warm weather recently, brought by strong Southerlies and even the water temperature rose to 8C+... Due to various issues, I haven't been out fishing that much but hoping to change that pretty soon! Plus, trout season is just around the corner too!
My brother visited us last week and we had a quick outing on the boat. He doesn't like fishing but enjoyed his duty as a 'manual trolling motor/ Spotlock' as the current was running and didn't want to faff with the anchor.
We were just off a rocky point I've been wanting to try for a while, and the sounder screen was filled with markings. Got the lures down and started getting bites from the off. There were loads of fish but very picky and this makes me wonder if they've started spawning already.
I caught some fish on the usual MH setup but after changing to the LRF setup, things got really fired up! We're definitely in the finnesse time of year now...

Looking lively down there.

A wee vid of the session.


As you can see, the waves started getting bigger and we had to turn back...
I've also done a catch and cook video of pollock, cooked in my favourite way for this fish, blackened (Cajun style).

Hopefully the warm weather continues and can't wait to hit some freshwater for wee brownies!

Tight Lines!

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Into February now..

Weather has been the usual up and down this month, but there have been a few good days and I've taken advantage of breaks in the storms. I've been fishing off the SIB mostly and at my usual spots as there was no time to explore further.
Even though the fish were still there, the 7.5c water temps after all the melting snow, has definitely slowed them down and as expected the bites were more finicky and would come very close to the bottom. The large shads that were so successful the past few months, were still getting hit, but I had to downsize to get more fish to stick.
At times the fishfinder would show shapes hard on the bottom, they were pollock and could still be caught but needed the lure jigged right in front of them to incite a take. Many fish had eye-worms.
I did manage to get a couple closer to 70cm though and they were all full bellied, getting ready for the spawn.

Fat belly.

A lovely one in the sun..

Better stamp of fish now.

A wee video as well

 I've also had a couple shore sessions and the fussy bites were an issue too. Moreover, the fish were very colour-picky, with bright colours (chartreuse and pink) faring much better than natural ones.
Texas rigged paddletail with a 30g tungsten bullet weight and 8mm glass bead was the most productive presentation along with soft jerkbaits on 20-30g darting jigheads over cleaner bottom.
I got a proper shock at some point after landing a nice Ballan wrasse that put up a spirited fight! It was my first ever in February! Must be global warming...

There's a 7" DOT Crawler in there...


Pink was the most effective colour on the day.

Something had a go at this one.


 I lost a what felt like a big fish due to the snap opening up and I now tend to tie straight to the Softplastic every time. A bit time-consuming but as the best chance for a big female is now, the stakes are higher and lost fish hurt!

Tight Lines!

Gear used (Boat)
Rod: Tailwalk Saltyshape Dash Power Rock S90H,
Reel: Shimano Stradic Fk C3000
Mainline: PE1.2
Leader: Daiwa Tournament FC fluorocarbon 20lbs - 25lbs
Lures: various

Gear used.
Rod: Sportex Black Pearl travel, 2.7m, 80g
Reel: Shimano Biomaster SW 4000XG
Mainline: PE1.5
Leader: Daiwa Tournament FC fluorocarbon 25lbs - 30lbs
Lures: Texas rigged 4" bright coloured paddletails, 5" soft jerkbaits on 20-30g darting jigheads.

Friday, 18 January 2019

My coldwater marine aquarium.

Its been a good few months now that I have been messing around with keeping a coldwater marine fish tank. My fiance used to keep a couple freshwater tropical fish in it but after they died and the move to our house in Staffin, the tank was just lying about in the shed unused.
It was then when on my LRF sessions, I was getting loads of small fish from the piers and I decided to have a go and utilise it.
I have to admit that there were failures (and loss of life 😞) but I think that I have now got the hang of it. Below I'll give some details on the tank and gear that's worked for me, along with pics of the inhabitants.
The tank is 120ish litre which is about the minimum recommended for saltwater fish tanks. The filter is the Aqua-Flow XL  but also a Hidom AP-2000F 1600LPH for back up.
I've got a Vlike air pump in the tank for proper oxygenation.
After buying an appropriate protein skimmer for tanks to 150L. It became apparent that even though it was working well at first, the amount of scum collected from my crowded tank in the collection cup was needing several changes throughout the day (tedious). That protein skimmer also malfunctioned after a couple months as the water intake (nozzle) had no filter and various bits of food got through and stopped the little fan/prop from working.
I decided to get a new protein skimmer, much larger this time and meant for tanks up to 600l! Its the DG2516 by Boyu and so far it's doing a good job. It needs a bit of adjusting and was skimming like mad at first but once I found the right setting, it stabilised!

Livestock and some notes.
At the moment the following are in my tank:
1 pollock
2 black gobies.
2 rock gobies
1 or 2 butterfish (shy!)
4 sea scorpions (awesome!)
1 flounder
2 blennies
1 limpet
4-5 hermit crabs
1 wee brown crab
few anemones
unknown number of prawns and winkles along with copepods/zooplankton.
I'm mainly feeding them frozen whitefish, scallop offcuts, prawns along with some dried Artemia pellets. Clear preference to the frozen food as expected!
I'm feeding twice a day and usually enough food to be eaten in a few minutes from the fish (limiting ammonia issues as much as I can).
Some further things to consider:
  • Rockpool species the easiest to keep.
  • Free-swimming species more sensitive to oxygen levels etc. But also increase strain on the whole system (more food, more oxygen, more poo!)
  • Some species far better suited for fish tanks than others, ie pollock and whiting are pretty chilled, codling and poor cod so-so, coalfish not suited at all (maybe need more space).
  • Some crabs (eg velvet) really thrive and can become bullies when larger.
  • Hermit crabs and prawns are good cleaners and also act as extra food for the other fish...
  • Don't add seaweed/kelp in the tank unless you know what you're doing!
  • Living close to the sea is handy as you can collect seawater easily and thus prevent blooms, ammonia spikes and the like. Also, it can get very addictive collecting new 'tenants'!
  • A bucket of fresh sea water every week along with gravel-hoovering, help immensely in keeping a healthy environment.
  • After returning from holidays and turning on the heating in the house plus cleaning the filter, was when I'd get bad blooms. Best to partially clean filter with some tank water...
At the moment, I have my fish tank in the hallway, where its always well below 18C and this means I don't need to add a water chiller. Hopefully, it will be ok in the Summer too.
The bottom of the tank is gravel, though I think a couple inches of sand would be better (to help worms and creepy-crawlies hide).
Some pics below.
A not so great pic of Papi the black goby...

One of the sea scorpions when first in the tank.

Sea scorpion tree...

Paulie the pollock.

The smaller black goby.

My wee flounder, a mostly nocturnal hunter.

A spirited blenny.

One of the rock gobies.

Blenny and sea scorpion.

Spot the butterfish...

New favourite tree for the sea scorpions.


Big prawn..

Another goby..

Hermit crab and sea scorpion.

Paulie getting a big belly.


Even better camouflage!

I have to say that the fish tank has provided us with hours of entertainment, not just by observing the creatures but also collecting them! It can seem disconcerting to others, watching two adults rummaging around rockpools with little nets and buckets, but we couldn't care less!
Especially now, in the middle of Winter with frequent storms and unfavourable conditions for fishing, keeping the fish tank somehow improves my mood and I don't feel that bad when I cant go out.
Plan for the warmer months, is to get a larger/longer fish tank so that fish will have more space to move and also try and add a couple wrasse of some kind or even other more unusual little fish.
It's very intriguing watching them and seeing the behaviours each species exhibit. So far I have to say that my favourite fish are the sea scorpions! They show little fear and can be very aggressive, even grabbing bigger prawns than the pollock!