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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Once more guiding under testing conditions!

Last weekend I was meant to meet up with two lads for some guided fishing. As it usually happens here, the weather was lovely until Friday and then went all over the place from Saturday onwards! Thus I met Andy on a wet and windy Saturday morning. The lads had a mishap with their van and the second person (Dan) couldn't make it but would join us the next day.
Andy is a keen angler in several disciplines (fly, bait fishing) and it was his first time on Skye. He wanted to get some nice pollock and if possible on the fly... Now this would normally be relatively easy to achieve especially since the fish have moved to the shallows and are feeding pretty hard at the moment but with 40 mph winds it gets almost impossible. Checking the weather carefully, I realised that there might be a short window of opportunity in a shallow mark that is relatively sheltered. Thus we decided to try there first as I was keen to see how that elastic rod would bend when a pollock took the fly! 😁
On arrival it appeared that it would still be difficult to get the fly at any distance as the wind was swirling from different directions but nevertheless I directed Andy to a 'pocket' where the current pushes on a rocky wall and the fish hold very close in.
We then realised that Andy left his flies back at the camp (!) but thankfully I had brought a couple made from my friend Tolis at smartflies.com and gave them to Andy. It took a few tries but soon enough he had a take after what we thought was a snag and the rod bend over (god these rods bend!) the fish fought hard and after a couple runs spat the hook! This happened a few more times and it was especially annoying when the fish did it at my feet! Eventually we lost the two flies I had from fish than snagged us and we switched to the spinning gear. I suppose a step up from average trout fly gear (#7) is needed up here! Unfortunately this was to be our only chance in two days to catch them on the fly and we were gutted for not being able to land the fish despite catching them! The method definitely works though and its pure fun!
I rigged a 20g cheburashka with a slim sandeel imitation lure and soon enough the first fish started coming and were much easier to land on Andy's beefy gear. Over-beefy actually so much so that only a few of the nicer sized pollock put up a good scrap. Also the amount of missed bites and delayed strikes was exacerbated due to the lack of 'feel' thus after getting on the second mark I gave him my rod and the difference in bites to fish conversion was markedly better... Think I may have spurred him to buy more gear...!

First one landed..!


A nice coalie worth a pic...

Being his first time on the island it was imperative that he wanted to visit Neist Point and on inspection it appeared actually fishable despite the wind and big tides. We picked to fish the morning tide that was smaller anyway and timed our arrival with reduced current period.
I cant say that it was non-stop action although it was relatively fast paced around low water and the fish were of a decent size and keeping Andy busy. Plus the sun came out at some point and it made for much more pleasant fishing. It was also evident that although the pollock were finicky they all fought very well and being caught in the shallows meant that practically all of them went back well and we had no fish with bloated bladders.

He's in!

Hard fighter.

Average size.

In again!

Under the sun..
About 2 hours after the waters turned, conditions got very counter-productive as despite not having an increase in wind speed, the swell got larger and it soon became impossible to control our lures. Content with the days results we decided to call it a day with a few fish kept for the lads and looking forward to the next day that was meant to be even more challenging...
The next day I picked up Andy and Dan with the plan being to get Dan among some fish as he's a novice and had blanked so far in the trip. Conditions were even worse than the day before though and I told the lads that we would need to drive about more in order to get out of the SW wind now gusting to over 40mph... Moreover it didn't stop raining throughout the day and that made things even more difficult.
We drove to a relatively sheltered mark I thought would give us the best chances of getting a few fish and even there the sea was rolling and suspended weed was becoming a problem. We kept at it and after moving about I located a small area near a point where the current was breaking and had an abrupt depth change and two gullies emptying into it with the ebb. It was then some hectic action with Dan getting most of the fish and thoroughly enjoying the process!

Dan with his first Skye pollock!


And another one!

Rod-bend!

Holding Andy's fish while Dan's hooked up!

A serious pollock.


Softplastics proved the most consistent baits with 3.25" slim paddletails in pearl or chartreuse getting the most fish.
After a good few fish the bite slowed down and we decided on another move to a shallow sheltered bay. Unfortunately the wet rocks made it very hard to access the best spots and after losing a good fish in the kelp we moved again to a rocky point with the wind on our face. It was hard going but we managed a few more hard fighting fish before deciding to call it a day. It was a relief for all of us getting out of this wind, especially after managing to catch some fish!
It was a real pleasure guiding the lads and seeing them catch some fish but I'm hoping that they'll come again later in the year with hopefully more settled weather and better prepared for targeting the pollock on the fly and topwater lures!

Miserable weather but we're happy!
 Tight Lines!


Thursday, 8 June 2017

A wee LRF flounder session.

Yesterday I had the afternoon off and I had a double plan in my mind... I was gonna hit some harbours and jetties with the LRF to see if the mini-species started to show and later on would target Neist with the new rod to give it a workout and see how it behaves.
Thus I drove down to an often overlooked little harbour that is en route to one of my pollock marks, but this time I got the Crostage out and had a few casts.
Started with a 4g cheburashka, #8 hook and a 2" Berkley Sandworm as its a very effective search-bait. It was almost high tide and there was a brisk wind to my face but not too strong so as to affect my fishing.. The bottom was mostly sand with patches of weed and the water clear although with some drifting weed. I worked the lure near the bottom mostly and got a small pollock within the first few casts.. I then started to cast around the patches of weed and work the lure to the base of the harbour-wall, got a positive take and struck. The fish was holding down but soon enough I got it up and it was a lovely little flounder! Its been a long while since I caught one as I don't really target sandy areas that much, but very welcome.
It appeared that it had some company and I kept getting more of them with the sizes getting better. All the bites were pretty hard to miss and positive, with the fish getting well hooked. Kinda reminiscent of perch.. Since there were a few about I changed lure to a Jackall Peke Ring on a 1.8g Decoy Rocket head as I wanted to see if they'd take a 'normal' sofplastic and I have to say it appeared equally effective. I got a decent one after a while that headed straight for the base of the rockwall and managed to cut me off (!) as I was standing further back... Even flounders crash-dive up here! 😲

Oh hello!

Camo...

Flounders are cool..

The lure of choice..


After spending about 30-40mins there, the bite started to slow down and I thought it best to move. I drove to a different harbour then but it seemed to be devoid of life thus I decided it was time for Neist Point and the new rod's test!
Once at Neist I hastily walked to my spot and set up. Tried a couple presentations but as the current was very strong a 25g cheburashka gave the solution, rigged with a 5" Jerkshad.
I paired the rod with the Shimano Stradic FK C3000 and it felt like a good much. Instantly I could feel more bumps and the bottom much more 'defined' than with my other rods. Despite its length it feels shorter and after a while I hooked into a nice pollock that pulled some drag and got the rod in a good shape! It subdued the fish in good time and the butt seems to hold a lot of power. In all very happy with my purchase!
Christened!

Looking forward to some guiding sessions this weekend and using the rod more. In addition Ill be trying to find more areas that might hold flounders up here and generally start using the LRF gear more as its sheer fun of course!

Tight Lines!

Gear used.

Rod: MajorCraft Crostage CRK-T782AJI, APIA Foojin'R Best Bower 96MLX
Reel: Shimano Stradic 1000Fc Shimano Stradic FK C3000
Mainline: Unitika Night Game PE 0.3, Unitika Shore Game X8 PE 1.2
Leader: Toray Excellent fluorocarbon 6.8lbs, Duel Hardcore Powerleader fluorocarbon 16lbs
Lures: Berkley 2" Sandworm, Jackall Peke Ring, Berkley Jerkshad

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Fish are in the shallows and new weapon added!

The past week I thought it was about time I visited some of the shallow Summer marks up here as I was sure the pollock must be on them by now. The first mark is a pinnacle overlooking a kelp filled bay and I found the fish feeding very actively as the tide ebbed. I was very surprised to see them hitting sandeels on the surface a couple times not 2m from the rock I was standing on! Made a couple close pitches and got hit but both times the fish snagged me up on the kelp at the base of the rocks.. But that's pollock fishing for you... I was fishing the ML setup and it doesn't have the power to stop these fish on such 'hairy' ground, something that I hope to soon rectify as I got a new rod and Ill talk about it further down.
Apart from the fish hunting at the surface, it was interesting to note the capture of a re-caught fish that probably managed to unhook itself earlier on in the session...!

Bruiser...

Pegging the lure on cheburashka.

Shallows.


The next session was only a short one as there was considerable wind and swell building up. I decided on starting with a good old fashioned spoon, a Solvkroken Jensen Tobis, as it offers long casts, intense flash and slow fall with minimal rising on the retrieve. The mark has clear bottom further out thus I wasn't worried of the treble snagging. And it didn't take long before a pretty pollock showed interest! Then followed by a couple coalies before another pollock that cut the line only meters away from me and took my lure with it! I managed to get another decent fish on a softbait before going home...

Good old spoons are killers for pollock!



A good couple sessions and I think Ill be taking the topwaters out soon! The new rod will hopefully help me work slightly heavier ones better and also get those 'friskier' fish landed from the snaggy marks... The rod is the APIA Foojin'R Best Bower 96 MLX and I honestly cant wait to try it out ASAP! First impressions are very good, light yet sturdy with a fine tip. This will become my main rod hopefully and on paper it has all the characteristics of a good pollock rod. Around 9 feet, soft tip but fast action and able to work a variety of hard and soft lures.
I will come back to it after spending some time fishing 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: various












Saturday, 20 May 2017

Keeping it varied!

As per the title, the fishing on my days off has been a mixture of salt and freshwater with relatively good results..
On Wednesday I decided to hit a new spot as I'm looking for sheltered areas that can offer fish in the strongest winds that we get so often up here.. This means that somewhere in the central complex of lochs (Bracadale, Harport etc) would be my best bet and thus I gave it a go...
I visited a point with easy access to deeper water though with much less kelp and structure than I would've liked... Moreover the inner lochs along with Neist tend to get the first of the mackerel and having this in mind I added a sabiki teaser along with my lure.
I started with 28g metal jigs but got absolutely nothing on them. After a while I decided to try some Gulp jerk shads that Ive recently got in mainly for night fishing.. I rigged it on a 30g Duel Salty Bait and worked it slowly on the bottom. I soon started getting bites and it wasn't long till I had a fish on! The telltale rhythmic beating of the fish's tail let me know that mackerel were here and I managed to see the fish before it got unhooked. I wasn't too worried though as wherever there is one there are usually more! Thus after a while I started getting some fish in.
They weren't caught on the main lure just the teaser, but I think that the bulky presentation along with the slower working and maybe the scent of gulp attracted the fish.. All of them were skinny even though of a good size and I suppose they need some more time and the waters to warm up a bit to start feeding more aggressively.

A new mark..

Summer-bringer!

I had different plans for later in the day... For a while I have been wanting to do a night fishing session from the rocks just to see whats out there and the conditions seemed passable on the day.
Thus around 21:00 I was on the mark and decided to play with the LRF setup while waiting to get darker. I also used the heads of the previously caught mackerel (bodies obviously eaten 😁) to chum and also baited a bucktail on the heavier rod. Its been a long time since I've last bait fished but thought to do so out of curiosity...
The fish were feeding well and I had great fun catching some good pollock on the LRF gear but at some point saw the line on the heavier rod move and picked it up. I struck and felt something heavy thrashing in the deep.. After a while I got it up and was very pleased to see a nice ling on the surface! Got it up, unhooked and sent it straight back. A few more pollock were caught later and I decided that it was a productive wee session anyway and I didnt need to spend more time there. Moreover there was an annoying swell by that time and it reinforced my decision to call it a night.
I'm not gonna be rushing to buy bait-fishing gear any time soon but the catch was cool so I might actually do it again!

Sunset...

A proper scrap on LRF gear...

A nice pollock later on.


 The video of the session.



The next day I had arranged with my girl on a day out with a boat in Loch Morar for fishing and a picnic. It was a wet start to the day but it got better afterwards. Being unfamiliar with the Loch, the fishing wasn't record breaking stuff but we caught some lovely brownies and its definitely something I'm keen on doing again. Possibly supplied with a sounder and targeting some char and/or ferox...

Not bad!

Love brownies!



A nice one.

Beauty.
Cant beat a good picnic!

A very enjoyable and productive couple days.. Hopefully I'll be able to replicate them next week...

Tight Lines!

Friday, 12 May 2017

A wee road trip and finally a long net!

My last days off have been quite productive as the weather has been pretty decent and I managed to get a bit further afield. The destination was Applecross, more so for a picnic and a day trip but I did manage to have a few casts..
The drive up there was quite something and the coastline looked fishy... I checked the admiralty charts previously and although the depths weren't massive, I did mark some areas that looked interesting.
Thus after a nice picnic on the rocks, I picked up the rod and let a few casts with a metal on.
The depth was around 10-15m and very snaggy with thick kelp close in.  After finding the deepest spot I concentrated my efforts there and soon enough the polock started to show. Not monsters (though a better one got unhooked) but it was good to see the fish feeding so actively and in the shallower marks. Hopefully they should do the same on Skye too..
It was only a short trip to Applecross but I'm definitely gonna check it out again as its a very beautiful place.
A decent fish in Applecross..





Actively hitting metals in relatively shallow water..


Interesting drive.
The next day I had a short session for some little brownies in a loch (video up soon) and then headed straight for the rocky mark that made me buy my new 6m long Majorcraft Solpara landing net!

Its here!




It didn't take long to find the fish and even with this net I could only land the fish in a few spots but this is a vast improvement from before! I can actually fish with the lighter gear there and get the fish up safely now. Very pleased with my purchase needless to say...


First pollock landed with the new net!


Quite a height..

The self takes need practise..

Almost there..

Much better.
Well it definitely feels like Summer is on its way here and this means I'll soon start to fish in the shallow kelpy marks and for the summer species as well. I'll also try an explore more of those little lochs here for brownies on the UL gear! The videos will be uploaded soon hopefully...

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: various

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Postspawn session: The time for big pollock.

The other day, seeing as the weather was being too nice, I changed my plans and instead of a freshwater session I decided to visit a distant Southern mark that thought it would be firing up now...
Last time I was there, the fishing was slow yet the quality of fish was evident. By now as the weather has markedly improved it should be expected that the big mamas would be more active.
Thus I started the long hike to the mark and I timed my arrival there 3 hours before low tide.
As my main rock ledge was still inaccessible I started casting on a different rock further back, but thanks to using the LSJ setup I could easily hit the 'sweet spot' especially when using metals.
I begun with a 30g metal and a sabiki teaser further up the leader, as I heard the fishermen started getting mackerel and was hoping to get a few early ones myself. Instead I got a few feisty coalies and kept them for dinner.
Soon more serious fish started to appear and with the tide receding a bit more, I was able to setup on my favourite ledge and gain easy access to the deeper water.
I got some good fish on the metal but lost a few on the way up as they would get unhooked in the thick kelp of this mark...
Nevertheless, I persisted and soon I had a good pollock up. I kept working the metal but things went quiet and I put on an articulated paddletail from Illex, the Nitro Sprat Shad. This lure was immediately taken (OTD) but I just couldn't get the fish to stick on it. This happened more consecutive times and I then had to switch to a different lure. I'm not sure if its the design of the said lure or the pollock where being really funny (maybe both) but I just couldn't hook up on it.
 I put on a pearl silver Savagear Sandeel and this was hit with less force and only once. Thinking that this might be a bit 'loud' colour given the bright sunny conditions and calm, clear water I switched to a natural green Fiiish Crazy Sandeel that was taken first cast a few meters in the retrieve near the bottom! A dogged fight ensued (as so many at this time of year) and I soon had a respectable 70cm+ fish on the rocks with the lure all in its mouth! This goes to show that even on very aggressive and actively feeding fish like pollock, the bigger fish are far more wary and fussy than the smaller ones...

A beaut...

Deserves a second pic.
After releasing this fish I kept working the same area with a variety of lures but the bites dried up. It was low tide by then but I kept at it hoping the fish will come to the feed again once the current increased.
At some point I switched off the Gopro and put on a 20g metal for the usual 'last casts'... Well on the second 'last cast' I hooked up to another good fish and after another dogged fight managed to land her. A beautiful fish with a mark on the bottom lip (trying to snag me) and again 70cm+ though this could have easily been a double a couple months back...
I quickly released her as well and started on my way back with a spring on my step. It was a good session on a lovely day!
Big mama!

Below the video of some of the action.



 When the sun is shining Skye really is as good a place as any! Fishing-wise I consider this time of year one of the best for the larger fish as they are hungry after spawning but on the other hand they usually don't fight as actively as later on in the year and are slim thus not weighing as much as you'd expect..
Well hoping to get some sessions on the trout soon and hopefully the good weather will hang on a while longer!

Tight lines!

Gear used.
Rod: MajorCraft Solpara SPS-1002LSJ, 3.05m. max 50g
Reel: Shimano SW Biomaster 4000XG
Mainline: Duel X wire X8 PE1.5
Leader: Duel Hardcore Powerleader fluorocarbon 20lbs.
Lures: Various.