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Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Quick trip to Greece.

Just back from a week's holiday trip in Greece. It was mostly for visiting family and chilling out, but managed to grab a travel rod as well.
Due to the hot Autumn they are having I was hoping I could re-visit the canals and rivers of my area, that I haven't fished in years. Chub and jacks were my main targets and I used mostly little topwaters and spoons for them.
Unfortunately, as usual, the time was very limited and only managed a quick session or two. The canals in my area are generally overfished (netting) and the fish tend to be very small unless a boat or belly boat is applied to get to areas away from the road. Nevertheless, I had some fun with chublets and jacks both hitting the little lures hard, especially the jacks were going airborne for them!
It was such enjoyable fishing that took me back down memory lane and the fishing I did in my youth... Reckon I'll try and get a trip in early September next year as its the best time of the year for this.
If only I could find small topwaters 16 years ago!

Flying cucumbers!


Also had a couple casts in the salt.

Usual suspects.

I used my Major Craft Crostage CRX-784LG paired with the Shimano Stradic 1000FC. Lures were mainly Aliexpress cheapos and the chub tended to show preference for more natural colours while the jacks wanted 'loud' ones.
Back to windy Skye now and looking forward to the winter fishing. Weather seems to be improving towards the end of the week and Ill try and make the most of it.

Tight Lines

Gear used
Rod: MajorCraft Crostage travel CRX-784LG
Reel: Shimano Stradic 1000Fc
Mainline: Duel Hardcore x4 PE0.6
Leader: Toray Excellent fluorocarbon 6.8lbs
Lures: Various

Saturday, 20 October 2018

First proper go from the SIB!

Last week I managed to capitalize on a break in the weather, straight after storm Callum, and got the SIB out along with my friend Pablo. We headed for a mark in the north part of the Island and fair enough the water was looking good.
It was also an opportunity to test my new electric pump and see how fast I could get the boat in the water. It turned out to be a bit over 15 mins and I'm quite happy with that.
We hit a couple reefs close in (using navionics) and soon enough we started getting bites.
They werent from big fish and felt more wrassy. I had tied a heavy Texas rig for Pablo and soon enough he had a fish on! A pretty wrasse came up and this was Pablo's first fish ever!
After a few more drifts with only tentative bites, I decided it was time to target more exposed spots and after a short run, we came to a favourite spot of mine, albeit from the shore...
I changed rigs for the both of us, putting on a cheburashka rigged paddletail on one rod and a slim straight sp on a darting jighead to the other. We were casting near the kelp edge and it didnt take long to find the fish. Pablo was in first and his rod was bend all the way! The fish made some powerful runs but soon enought we had it in the boat. A quick pic and release to be followed by some more decent pollock and also another wrasse! Pablo was definiely having the beginner's luck on his side...!
It didn't take me long to find a nice fish though and managed to get a lovely looking pollock in the boat.

He's in!
A wee ballan for Pablo.

I love wrasse!

Bronze slab.

 A vid from the session.

After a good number of fish (kept a couple for the table) we decided to head back in and we were all packed in the car just before the rain started! This was a very satisfying session and its given me a glimpse to the fishing potential from the boat.
I still need to make some additions/modifications though, starting with installing a fish finder and maybe ugrade the outboard to a more powerful one at some point...
The shore fishing has also been very good whenever the wind allowed me to have a cast, and especially around dusk, I've been having some steady sport on topwaters and sps. I love this time of year as the fish are all out aggressive!

So much fun!

A pack of them and entertainment guaranteed!

Among the coalies...

I think due to the constant winds and storms of late that have reduced water clarity, fish tend to prefer white/chartreuse topwaters and again the addition of a red treble seems to make fish aim for that area of the lure. Moreover they're that aggressive right now that they will freely hit topwaters even in rough water.

Another little vid.

Hopefully, we'll get some more settled weather soon and I'll be able to get the SIB out again and try topwaters and even the fly!

Tight Lines!

Friday, 12 October 2018

Pish weather but chunky fish!

Since coming back from Norway, the weather has been utter crap!
I have been gagging to get the SIB out but every time its been too rough... And that's such a pity since we're now in the golden time for fishing as most species feed well for the oncoming winter. The harbours are exploding with life and some recent LRF sessions (for my fish tank) have seen me catch more codling, coalies and whiting than I can remember! The few sessions from the rocks have been very good too. In particular, a guided session the other day provided me and my client John with some chunky fish even though conditions were against us.
The more exposed marks we tried were overblown (yet we did get fish there too) and in the end, we had to find more sheltered areas. The fish were active but a bit particular, biting very lightly on the soft plastics and it took John some getting used to, in order to connect with them. Most fish were around 45-50cm with one fatty over 60cm.
Not the most enjoyable session in terms of weather, but we came prepared with waterproofs and in the end enjoyed some good action.

Worth that fish...

Average stamp..

Fatty time!

Right now there's another storm raging outside but I'll hopefully manage a short boat session when it dies down. Moreover I'll try and get a vid of an LRF session as its just unreal how many fish are about!

Tight Lines!

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Trip to Lofoten, Norway!

Arrived a couple of days ago from the Lofoten Archipelago in Northern Norway and I'll try and give a good account of my fishing there.
I was with my girlfriend (now fiancee) and we stayed in Henningsvaer, Sorvagen and Stronstad, thus covering a wide area of the main islands. We had booked 2 days on boats, one in Svolvaer with a guide and another one without guide at the end of the road in A, near where the famous Moskenstraumen maelstrom is.
I was pretty confident on the boat fishing as Norway is renown for it but I was finding very little info on the shore fishing of the area. Nevertheless, my main targets were the big coalfish and of course the cod.
With the help of Google Earth and various bottom contour maps, I marked down all the fishy-looking areas I saw and the plan was to just fish them hard and keep moving in run-and-gun style.
I had 5 rods and 3 reels covering from Light Game up to 400g lures.
I used the Light Game setup (MajorCraft Crostage CRX-784LG, Stradic 1000fc) mostly in harbours and freshwater, while the Gamakatsu Akilas Mobile 80H - Biomaster SW 4000XG was my main setup in most other 'wilder' areas.
The first couple days of the trip had us looking for sheltered spots as there were strong SW winds and significant swells. Light Game was king and I even managed to sight fish for codling under a shallow pier. The water clarity up there is unbelievable! As the winds passed it was time to try some deeper rocky marks with the heavier gear but despite my efforts, there didn't seem to be much life there.
Marks that id be pulling fish after fish over here, seemed to be unexpectedly empty...
Took me some more exploring and it wasn't until I started targeting areas with strong flows and mixed soft bottom, that the fish started coming. In contrast to the deep rock marks, these areas with strong flows (bridges, harbour entrances) seemed to have all the fish stacked into them!
Big shoals of chunky coalies and some Jumbo mackerel near the surface along with decent codling, whiting and haddock at the bottom, responded well in a variety of lures. Metals and topwaters for the coalies and mackerel while metals and cheburashka-rigged slim paddletails for the rest gave me hours of entertainment!

Sight fished codling.

From a deep harbour.

Loads of biters like this one.

My first haddock. Actually a much prettier fish than the pic shows...

Jumbo mackies were crazy.

Chunky coalies.

Codling from a breakwater.

Good fun on light game gear.

In spite of the good numbers of fish we were getting, the larger fish eluded us and I was hoping that the day out with the guide would help me suss them out.
My fiancee jokingly had me buy her a Norwegian handline with lots of gummy maks and spoons on it, in order to compete with my extensive array of expensive metal and soft plastic lures. On the day, there was still some chop to the water that made our guide Nigel keep closer in the bay than he would like. We drifted over  25-40m deep reefs that were often inundated with jumbo mackerel and baby coalies. Unbelievably I had only a few hook ups on my gear (one very solid fish) but somehow I didn't manage to land anything! The chop was getting to me and at some point I had to bend over and throw up...😵
My fiancee on the other hand, was absolutely killing them with the handline!!! She started off with a couple small ling and then the cod started coming!
By that point, I wasn't feeling well enough to tie a similar rig and I stubbornly (stupidly) persevered with the big metals and sps. After a while, my fiance started getting seasick as well and I took her handline while she was sick. It didn't take a minute and I was in to a nice cod! We landed that fish and after a couple more, we decided to call it a day as we had plenty of fish to feed us for days.
That trip really opened my eyes to how fussy these cod can be when surrounded by vast shoals of baitfish. Goes to show that all the expensive lures cant replicate the success of simple local tactics.
I've previously encountered this behaviour of predators preferring to hit shiny, multiple target presentations, when I was down south in Sark and sometimes the mackerel and garfish would show clear preference to rigs incorporating two lures (ie teasers) while almost ignoring single lure presentations. This was most prevalent when the fish were feeding on dense baitfish shoals.

The handline sorceress...

Such vivid marking on their cod.

She caught ling too!

Borrowed her handline for a minute!

Very hard getting past them.

After Henningsvaer we drove down to Sorvagen where we would be based for the next few days and where I was hoping our fishing would really fire up... And it did!
A few quick casts in Reine pier provided me with some much better coalies that pulled hard on the light Game setup. The next day we visited some of the marks I had noted down and we soon found the better fish.
It was a rocky point at the edge of a deep bay, with considerably more kelp than I had seen in other areas up there...
I was just casting and burning in a 40g slow jig, and got hit as the lure approached the kelp.
the fight was very familiar and soon after I landed a nice pollock (only 2 in the whole trip). The fish unhooked itself before the photo but I kept casting and soon enough got hit again in similar fashion. These fish weren't pollock though and were giving my gear a good workout! A group of coalies averaging 1-3kg were staging off the tip of the point and I was getting fish after fish on the jig. Pure bliss and more like how I imagined Norway fishing to be!

Open water coalies seem darker...

Great fight!

Soon after our arrival at Sorvagen, It was time for our day on the boat, fishing the Moskenstraumen waters. The weather report wasn't showing ideal weather, with the wind being opposite to the tide's direction, something that causes sharply humped waves, but was meant to ease later in the day.
As soon as we got out of the harbour, we saw birds flying and diving all around us. They weren't concentrated over any particular piece of structure, but just following shoals of fish (and feeding coalfish) over a wide area. I saw coalfish smashing on the surface, but despite putting the topwater lures on, I could see that most of the fish were keeping under the bait balls in 20-30m depth. Down went my 180g-250g metal jigs (with an added gummy mak as a teaser this time) and I hooked up first drop! the rod arched over and the fish was pulling hard or were pulling hard as it was two of them at almost every drop. they ranged from 3-6kg most of them and I couldn't believe how much pressure they put on my heavy rod (7'7" Spro Salty Beast Mega Jig/Spin/Boat Traveller). Unfortunately the chop was getting to my girl and with a heavy heart we decided to stop after only being on the water for a couple hours.. I did mange to get some cod too though by landing two of them along with a coalie on each of the rig's hooks!

They were everywhere!

Proper feeding frenzy down there...

I am convinced that it would have been a red letter day had we kept at it and in retrospect we should have just gone out a few hours later as the weather did improve markedly... Instead, we got engaged and went for a coffee and a rock fishing session! 😄
We fished the rocks near A, again simply retrieving 40g metals near the kelp edges.
Here though the fish were of a better size and within a couple hours, I smashed my shore coalfish PB again and again with fish of 3.5kg and 4 kg! I even managed to get some better fish on the topwaters and had a big fish smash the surface lure out of the water but without hooking up...

PB time!

Moskenstraumen at the back...


And another PB...

I went to bed with sore arms that day...
After that day I had a few more sessions on the rocks, mostly trying to get a decent cod, and finally I got a 2.5kg fish from deeper water on a paddletail. Nothing to shout about in Norway but a shore PB for me nonetheless...
Huge head on that cod.

I have to say that if I was going back to Lofoten again, then Id definitely just go near A as the fishing potential of that area alone is huge! Nevertheless, we spent the last few days of our trip near Stronstad at the norther part of Vagan. Thanks to Airbnb we had found a spectacular house in a valley with a whole lake to ourselves and a rowing boat!
We had great fun fishing for brownies and small sea trout amidst unbelievable scenery and surprisingly good weather. It would've been nice if one of them Arctic char found its way to my spoons but I suppose this may be something for the next time...

Plenty of these..

Thus the days passed and I'm now back to wind/rainswept Skye. I have to say though that apart from the areas near A with the big coalies, most other areas I fished weren't really that spectacular fishingwise. As everywhere, the best fishing areas require various factors (current, depth etc) and its not like the whole of Norway is one big fish paradise (more like the notion I had). You still need to get out and search for the fish though the chances of success are far higher than in the UK.
Regarding light game fishing,  the variety is very good and them coalies and jumbo mackies are mad especially when they would hit topwaters so much more readily than over here.
Below are a couple videos (more to be uploaded in my Youtube channel soon) and some footnotes/observations of mine.

Fishing notes for Lofoten.

  • Marks can be all or nothing from shore. Don't waste too much time staying in one.
  • Current and sandy bottom the most important factors to find fish.
  • Deep harbours and piers at the mouths of channels very good areas.
  • Any kelp/seaweed always a good sign, barren rock not so.
  • For coalfish find the bait and use straight retrieves.
  • Add a couple gummy maks as teasers along with your main lure when boat fishing.
  • Around the maelstrom might need jigs of 250g-400g or more to fish effectively over 30-50m. Considerably less around Svolvaer.
  • A 9' heavy spinning/ LSJ rod (15-45g) paired with a 4000-5000 reel and PE1.5 will suit most cases when shore fishing. 
  • The bigger coalies are really more of a pelagic species and far less structure related than pollock. The bait is key thus exposed areas with strong currents will have more of them.
  • White topwaters were taken more keenly.
  • Fishing on the bottom can be slow as rock cod are usually solitary and there aren't many/any wrasse.
  • SWest facing marks usually better than N facing ones.
  • Clashing wind-tide direction at the maelstrom makes for uncomfortable conditions.
  • Follow the birds!

Thank you Norway!