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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Postspawn guided trip!

Its been a while since my last trip and that is mostly due to being too busy at work and with other commitments. Moreover I'm waiting for my new rod to arrive and I just don't feel like going fishing till I get it!
Nevertheless today I had planned a guiding trip for a fellow angler and we met up on Neist Point in the morning. Bruce is getting back into saltwater fishing after a while and was really keen to get some rod bending action! Sometime back he asked me to recommend him a reel and some lures and was now ready for a first taste of Skye rock fishing.
We were greeted by a millpond sea and sunny skies in the morning. After a quick coffee/chat and leader tying we picked our gear and headed down to the mark. Seeing as we have neap tides at the moment and the conditions were calm, I decided to start off at a more exposed point.
I rigged Bruce up with a 20g cheburashka and natural colour 3" paddletail and told him how to work the lure and where to cast. After a while he started getting the hang of it and the nibbles started coming. It took more than usual to get the first fish as we lost a couple in the kelp but soon enough the first pollock of the session was on the rocks! A hard fighting 3 pounder...
We persevered but possibly due to the conditions the fish were staying further out than usual and were more picky. A change to metals shook things up a bit and we soon had a steady stream of fish coming. Also got a couple nice coalies that just cant keep away from metals!

A good coalie on the metal.

A decent first pollock.

After a while and with the bites drying up whilst nearing the high tide point, we decided to move to my favourite spot. We kept using metals and more fish started coming! By this point Bruce was doing great and I was surprised to see a man his age doing so well on the rocks, but all this rock hopping and fish pulling got to his shoulder and he decided to take a break. As I wasn't fishing by this point I decided to have a few casts with the Major Craft KGS-902L and my new Stradic FK C3000 spooled with Unitika Shore Game PE X8 1.2. I had a ribster already rigged on a 16g cheburashka and made a good cast near the rocks across the gully. After touchdown I started a leisurely retrieve and got a gentle tap after a pause. I set the hook into something heavy but other than a few clicks of drag it didn't do much! I was even more surprised after I saw the size of fish coming up and I quickly got down to the rocks and landed it. I have added blue tape on most of my rods marking the 80cm mark thus indicating a usually double figure fish and at a quick glance this fish was approx 75 cm thus around 8lbs. I quickly plunged her back into the water and with a couple swipes of the tail she was gone like nothing happened! We had a laugh about the non-existent fight with Bruce but I find this to be not uncommon especially at this time of year with the fish in postspawn etc. Needless to say we caught fish of half the size later on that fought much harder than that one...
Nice fish, crap fight!
 The weather was turning by mid afternoon and the conditions became more conducive for pollock fishing, with a slight chop on the sea and cloud cover. Bruce was back on again and this time he hit a good patch with good numbers of fish in a short time. He was fishing with a ''money minnow'' style swimbait that is very soft and has an oversized paddletail and pollock absolutely loved it. They even hit it while static..
It was interesting to note increased seabird activity with some gannets diving close in and even guillemots swimming after baitfish and occasionally following our lures!

Happy angler!

Rod bendage!

Many of this size...

A few better ones in the mix.

A nice one.

We tried a couple more spots before the day was gone and got some fish from them but it was getting colder now and considering the long walk up (with some fish for Bruce) we decided to call it a day. It felt good to be guiding someone onto fish again and it was for the most part a cracking day in good company. If only for Bruce's hurt shoulder it would be a perfect session. It was a pleasure to fish with Bruce and had a good craic. Glad to see him with a good dinner sorted!
For next week I got some more outings planned but I cant wait to get my hands on the new rod. Will post pics and first impressions as soon as I get it!

Tight Lines!

Gear used.
Rod: MajorCraft KGEvolution Basic KGS-902L.
Reel: Shimano Stradic FK C3000
Mainline: Unitika Shore Game X8 PE 1.2
Leader: Duel Hardcore Powerleader fluorocarbon 16lbs
Lures:  4"-5" paddletails on 16g-20g cheburashka, oversized paddle swimbaits on 16g jighead and Texas rig, 20g-30g metals

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Surprising action for the beginning of Spring.

Had a short session the other day under a mostly blue sky and sunshine. I picked to be on the rocks around midday as we had big tides and the low tide mark was around 12ish. Thus I was thinking to emulate last session's results where most fish got caught around low tide (supposedly being put off by the strong current). This time as the swell was considerably lower, I started at a more exposed point that I know to hold good numbers of fish, though its very snaggy and losses are frequent. I was fishing the ML setup as I was thinking the fish to be sluggish due to now having the lowest water temperatures of the year (around 7.6C) and finesse should be applied.
Rigged up with a 16g cheburashka, #2/0 VMC 7316 TI 1x Strong Saltwater worm hook and a 5" B8lab Ultimate Strike Minnow in pink that I saw the other day and thought would do the trick as they're supple, slim, UV and scented.
I cast out and counted down the lure but got hit some way off the bottom OTD! After a short fight the pollock managed to unhook itself but the action didn't stop...
More fish followed and a couple managed to break me on the snags. I went through various paddletails in more natural colours as I felt they would be better under the bright sun. To be honest I don't think it made much difference and I kept getting fish while the tide turned and started coming in. The swell got stronger too and got hit by a couple stray waves but I was well prepared with my waterproofs (waterproof socks that work as well!) and kept fishing.
Seeing as the fish were aggressive, I put on a slow jig as well that got a few fish but it was clear that the sp's were more productive. Most of the fish were of a good size (3lbs+) and fighting them on the ML setup in such heavy structure isn't ideal but fun nonetheless.
As the current and swell intensified I changed to heavier cheburashka (20g) caught and subsequently lost a nice pollock while landing it, but eventually changed spot and went to my more sheltered one.
The fish kept coming there as well, and most of them seemed to be staging in a small area.
After some more fish, I put on a Hayabusa Kicktail metal and finished the session with a fat mama that made my drag sing!
Standard size..

Metals worked too..

Fat mama..

I really need to mention again how effective my new waterproof socks were... No more wet feet!

They work..

A new find..
And the videos of the day,

Thanks for reading and tight lines!

Gear used.
Rod: MajorCraft KGEvolution Basic KGS-902L.
Reel: Shimano Stradic Ci4 2500f
Mainline: Duel Hardcore x4 PE0.8
Leader: Duel Hardcore Powerleader fluorocarbon 16lbs
Lures: slim 4"-5" paddletails on 16g-20g cheburashka and 20g slow jig.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Hail, snow, sun and fish! A guided fishing session in February.

Yesterday I had a guided session arranged with avid angler Iwan. He would be in Skye for a week or so with his girlfriend and wanted to catch some pollock and coalfish as he doesn't get the chance to do much rockfishing where he lives.
I was sceptical about the weather as the forecast has been changing every day and thus decided to just pick a day and stick with it... Well that's what we did and Monday morning saw me driving through several inches of hail on the road fallen the night before 😲! Not the best of omens for the day ahead but I persevered and picked Iwan up around 9 o clock. We headed to Neist point and found a bit of a swell running. The previous days had been windy and the swell had not cleared yet. Nevertheless the wind had died down and it was meant to get more pleasant later on in the day. Moreover we arrived about midway to low tide and thus were less concerned about the swell.
We set up on my favourite spot and started rigging up. From the off I noticed that Iwan was using a shorter and lighter rod than I would've liked thus I took the Light shore jigging setup for me in case we needed some 'grunt'.
I set him up with cheburashka and paddletail on his ML setup, but then switched to a Carolina rig with a 1oz tungsten bullet weight on the LSJ rod as the current was too strong (large tides). The lure was a 3" Long John paddletail in UV Magic colour that I thought would be easier to detect in the milky water.
The place was looking 'alive' despite the swell, with birds moving around and cormorants diving, something which is always a good sign...
Iwan started casting around and working the lure by dragging it on the bottom and keeping contact with it while it was slowly swept by the current. When the lure got closer in I told him to just wind it in slow and steady. The fish then slowly started coming, most of them around 2-3lbs but with a few pushing over 4lbs. Very decent for this time of year...

Hooked up!

First of many..

A very decent fish for this time of year.

After a few pollock, Iwan wanted to try for coalies and we got back to the lighter gear fishing metals with his homemade teaser flies. At that point it started snowing! It was the first time I fished under such heavy snowfall and I must admit was quite an awesome sight! 
He got a few coalfish that I quickly cut the gills to bleed out and then changed presentation to jighead for pollock when the coalies stopped biting. It was interesting to note that almost all the coalies preferred the metal to the teaser, something that reinforces my belief that they feed on larger prey at this time of year..

Coalies in the snow!


We were nearing the low tide mark now and the current had reduced considerably. I picked a pink Fiiish Crazy Sandeel as the water was still milky and he proceeded in catching a good number of fish one after the other! With this combination of big tides and swell, it appeared that the fish were looking to feed as soon as the waters calmed down and that was the most productive period of the day.
The fish seemed shoaled over or near certain patches of reef and kelp and they would hit Iwan's Crazy Sandeel hard! So hard that due to the frail material of this lure, we exhausted all the pink bodies and then went to the old classic and much tougher Savagear Sandeel in lemon back. This lure/colour proved equally successful and the fish kept coming.
The tide soon turned and also a glorious sun had come out (crazy Skye weather!) and the bites dried up after that... I was thinking of going on a different spot before the water rose more but thought it worthwhile changing lure to a more natural colour first. We put on a natural coloured sandeel and this seemed to do the trick by catching a few more pollock that had Iwan's little Solpara bent all the way! The short rod (7.5ft) made landing most of the fish that day a bit tricky and it was definitely not ideal for rock fishing but the fun factor cannot be underestimated! Moreover Iwan's old Pflueger reel's antireverse broke and this made a couple landings even more difficult! Thankfully he had a couple spare reels and continued to fish.
He's in again!

A nice one.

Happy angler.

Then the sun came up...

Well conditioned fish...

And they kept coming...

A change to a natural lure got more fish as the sun came out.

Chunky pollock.

At some point the bites died down, something to be expected from hammering a spot all day long, and seeing that we still had some time I decided on a move to a nearby mark for a few more fish. On reaching the second mark things looked quiet but after fishing around we moved to a spot that I saw some birds diving close by... We kept casting and retrieving our lures but other than a couple bumps and rattles we got nothing...
Seeing that the sun was going down I said to Iwan that we gave it our best...But it was then that he hooked up! After a good fight, I scrambled down the rocks and managed to land a nice fish for him, giving a happy ending to a surprisingly fruitful day (considering the weather!).
It was a pleasure seeing Iwan catch so many fish and I'm glad we managed to find them under these conditions and in this time of year. He might be coming again after the summer for some topwater action in the shallow marks... Will be having a video of the trip up soon.

Tight Lines!

Rod: MajorCraft Solpara SPS-1002LSJ, 3.05m. max 50g and MajorCraft Solpara Wind 7'7", 1/4-3/4oz
Reel: Shimano SW Biomaster 4000XG and others
Mainline:YGK G-Soul WX8 PE1.2.
Leader: Duel Hardcore Powerleader fluorocarbon 25lbs and16lbs
Lures: Carolina rigged Long John paddletails, Fiiish Crazy sandeels, Savagear Sandeels.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Gear talk.

I don't usually elaborate too much on my gear as I prefer to make any comments on it after its seen plenty of use but this past season has seen me use quite a few bits of kit (more to come as well) and I'd like to say a few things about them.

Rods and reels.
In the beginning of the season last year I acquired my first Daiwa reel after a long time since I last used one... It was a Daiwa Freams 2500 and the first impressions were very positive.  The reel had a very smooth drag and effortless winding. Long casting and light, it matched very well with my ML rods. A few months in though and after plenty of good fish it started loosing that smooth feeling. that didn't bother me much as I kinda expected it to happen. Where the reel disappointed me though was in the line lay. It may have looked very tight and symmetric on the spool but especially when I put on a fine 8-strand braid (YGK WX8) the problems started... I lost the first spool (30£) in only a few outings as I was having unexpected wind-knots way after the cast... I bought an other spool and also upgraded the line roller by adding an rbb thinking that this would help but unfortunately it didn't. I need to mention that I didn't experience similar problems with 4-strand braids on that reel although I didn't have more than a couple outings with 4-strand. In any case I sold the reel and decided to add a Light Shore Jigging Setup in my collection as I thought it could help me with the bigger fish here and also when fishing over thick kelp.
I chose the inexpensive Major Craft Solpara SPS-1002LSJ max 50g along with a Shimano Biomaster 4000SW and I have to say that this setup has done even more than I asked... I think there were only a handful of fish that cut me off on this setup and only in the roughest marks. The Biomaster though powerful, could've done with some more attention in assembly as I had to get a replacement handle knob cap and I now need 2 small screws as well (all got loose and fell off)...

 From my older reels (Stradic 1000fc and Stradic 2500F Ci4) both are going strong with the Ci4 having had a service and a new RBB. Recently though I started to notice (by a friend's comment as well) that the drags on both the reels were slipping and generally getting inconsistent. The smaller one wasn't great to begin with and thus I thought that an upgrade may be in line...
After googling around for info, I realised its an easy process to do and duly bought two Carbontex drag washer kits, each kit fitting to the according reel, for less than 10£ each. In addition I got some Cal's drag grease for lubing the washers.
The process went like this: I took apart the drag systems, removed the worn out felt washers, lightly lubed the Carbontex washers, polished the metal washers and put them in the original order they came out. From initial tests there is a marked difference (positive) to the feel of the drag although I'm told it will take some good runs to get them in optimal working order.

The original drag assembly on the Ci4.

Notice the muck...

Worn out felt washers..

Shreds of felt were stuck inside...

The 3 Carbontex washers in the bottom.
Braid and Line.
 Have been very happy with the Duel Hardcore X4 for a while now and I still consider it very good value for money. Tried the YGK G soul WX8 and was quite happy with knot strength, abrasion resistance etc though I'm not entirely sure that the wind knots were the reel's fault entirely. Regarding 8-strands, Ive had the Duel Xwire X8 on the Biomaster for a while now and it has proved to be a very good choice. Easy knotting, smooth and strong.
For my fluorocarbon leaders Ive mostly used Duel Hardcore Powerleader FC and the YGK Nitlon DFC. Both lines very dependable. I had high expectations for the Seaguar Ace fluorocarbon but it did not fare well with my knots. Good abrasion resistance though and a 'harder' feel to it than the others.

Offset Hooks.
I'm not gonna make this a full review of my tackle as it would be tedious but hooks (offset ones in this case) are very important especially at this time of year. Cant fault the Gamakatsu and Owners plus some of the newer VMC ones are holding up well (e.g 1x Strong) . Most of the Decoy ones like the 13 Salt and the RS worm hook worked well too. Wasn't very happy with the Crazy Fish ones, Mustad and Matzuo as they're either not sharp enough or too soft.

I have sold quite a bit of gear as well and making do with only (😆) 4 reels and 6 rods at the moment, covering from LRF (tub tip and solid) to finesse (solid tip), ML and Light Shore, not including the travel rods... My main aim for this season is to finally match a good Medium - Medium Heavy setup. Something in the lines of 9ft, 10-30g. I have already got the reel (3000 StradicFK) as I'm incapable of resisting a bargain and will be looking for a new rod soon!
Moreover I hope to get a quality long net for some of the high marks where access to the water level is tricky.
Recent fish average stamp.

Fishing wise the past week has seen rain and wind return to us but I've still had enjoyable and productive sessions even though I had to visit different marks to get out of the wind.
Seemed to be catching mostly smaller fish though and I'm considering that this may mean the bigger (adult) fish started moving to spawn. Will be out the first chance I get for some more!
Below some videos from recent sessions. Yes I can talk!

Tight Lines!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Making the most of the sunshine!

This has been an action filled weekend with plenty of fish and in glorious sunshine!
On Friday I visited a mark that I though might hold some fish as it can get tiring going up and down Neist all the time! The mark is a rocky bluff with good depth, little current yet very near some fish farm cages. Its relatively easy and quick to get there yet landing fish can be a problem. Nevertheless I decided on having a go and my target for the day were coalies as I wanted some for the pan.
I had the ML/HRF setup on the day and fished a variety of softplastics and metals. Unfortunately no coalies were caught and I just couldn't avoid the pollock! All of them of a decent size (3lbs+) that made landing them extremely difficult. Moreover the mark has long chains underwater and some kelp close in that helped the fish into making landing them even more difficult!
Anyway I managed to land one fish that I kept. Cleaning it I saw it was full of milt and that seems to reinforce my thoughts that its mostly the males active now, while the larger females are either not feeding well or moved offshore. I suspect things might get quiet soon...
A tricky mark.

Male gonads full of milt...

 Definitely a long net needed for this mark... Something else Ive noticed lately and also got into a conversation with a friend, is that the drag on the stradic Ci4 seem to have become less smooth and precise... Ive had quite a few sudden line breakages and I'm not convinced its the braid to hold accountable. Will be looking into possibly upgrading the drags in both my Stradics later on and hope to see improved performance.
Yesterday and today I devoted my time on Neist Point and had some brilliant fishing. The seals pestered me a bit yesterday but today I had the whole sea to myself. Tried to get some coalies on the LRF setup, but instead caught bigger pollock that cut me off. It seems that coalies prefer larger prey at this time of year or need longer casts as I got some on the ML setup. They weren't as plentiful today though I did go at a low water period.
Moreover I fished very slow at times, practically dragging the lure (subtle lures worked best) and got into some better pollock than the past couple days.
Used 14g-16g jigheads, small metals and hair jigs (LRF), 16g Cheburashka and Carolina rig. Had some issues with some of my offset hooks as I was out of EWG's and used ones with inward looking point that cost me some fish. I changed to Sickle offsets and the losses were minimised. The fish although plentiful weren't biting as hard as in the previous months.

What a day!

On LRF instead of coalies..

On the ML setup and larger lure...

Seal business...

Hugging the bottom.

Better fish today..

Predator's eye.

Another video below.

I don't know how much longer this weather will last but Ive really made the most of it!
Looking to make some new additions to my arsenal soon...

Tight lines!

Gear used.
Rod: MajorCraft KGEvolution Basic KGS-902L.
Reel: Shimano Stradic Ci4 2500f
Mainline: Duel Hardcore x4 PE0.8
Leader: Duel Hardcore Powerleader fluorocarbon 16lbs
Lures: various subtle actioned sps (small paddle, curly tail, straight) on 15g jighead, 16g cheburashka and Carolina rig with added floater near the hook.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Cracking February fishing!

A few days ago I went for a session on the rocks soon after my arrival back to Skye... I couldn't believe how mild the weather was (coming from snow-ridden N. Greece!) and with water temperatures of around 8.5℃ I was pretty sure that I would find active fish.
Now usually at this time of year I had good results down at the Sea-lochs albeit with much smaller fish. Moreover in the East Coast you could get better-sized fish although in my experience you might be looking for a few bites in a whole day! This is Skye though, and after putting on a 4" UV/motoroil, long John paddletail on a 20g jighead, I got straight into fish! A plumb, hungry coalie managed to fit the lure in its mouth and was released soon after. I got fish after fish on almost every cast after that! Coalies were out in numbers and with the ML setup they were proving to be the best fighters of the day! Got a good number of pollock as well, especially as the day got on. Sizewise coalies were around 40cm and pollock around 55cm, but the pollock seemed subdued and much more prone to get straight in the snags than making runs... This can be explained by the low water temps and also by the big bellies on some of them indicating spawning time.
THE place!

Ravenous coalfish..

Decet stamp of pollock about..

I stuck to solid coloured lures throughout the day, either dark or loud in order to be more detectable in the milky water, on jigheads, cheburashka and Carolina rig.
 Coalies would typically hit anything while the largest pollock seemed to like the lures pinned to the bottom (even dragged) especially rippletail worms. I fished from the ebb onwards and bites were more frequent before and after the high tide mark. This may also be due to the sun coming up...

Some really nice coalies..

Carolina rig is very effective for pollock on the bottom.


Metals would invariably get coalies!

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day with way too many fish than I'm used to for this time of year.. The Isle of Skye is such a generous fishing destination and with these mild winters I find it more to my liking fishing now than in summer with all the tourists!
Below a video of some of the days fishing. Unfortunately the batteries were very low and I didn't get the whole day's worth of action.

Tight lines and more to come!

Gear used.
Rod: MajorCraft KGEvolution Basic KGS-902L.
Reel: Shimano Stradic Ci4 2500f
Mainline: Duel Hardcore x4 PE0.8
Leader: Duel Hardcore Powerleader fluorocarbon 16lbs
Lures: various solid coloured (light or dark and UV) on 20g jighead, 16g cheburashka and Carolina rig with added floater near the hook.