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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.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Mission Barracuda: Complete!

For a while now I have been planning a trip to Southern Greece in search of the predatory Mediterranean barracuda! This is a species I've never caught before as its not very common in Northern Greece. I was visiting relatives in Athens and it would be a good opportunity to fit a fishing day or two in between.. My friend Stelios invited me way back in Summer and now was the time.
Although, with the weather we were having here in the North I had to postpone this visit twice and I finally found a window of settled weather last week. It was only gonna be a short visit thus we had to make every minute count...
Upon my arrival in Athens we arranged when to meet and our fishing destination would be the island of Poros. With me I had only the UL travel rod and two reels (1000 and 2500) as my friend would bring an extra heavier rod for me. Tactics wise we would fish mainly softplastics during the night (slugs/soft jerkbaits on darting jigheads) and hardbaits at dawn (slim jerkbaits and minnows).
Thus, late afternoon on Friday we reached Poros and after settling in the hotel, sorted our stuff and got out fishing. There were splashes in a wide area near some strong lights as large shoals of baitfish were attacked by the cudas.. I started with the UL setup as I wanted to land one of these fish on lighter gear and after a few casts with the 4" Attira on a 7g jighead I got a solid take near the surface and immediately the drag started singing! The fish was making powerful runs and shakes and when I tried to get line in it felt like pulling a brick! Needless to say that the Mobile Stick was bent to the handle! After a few minutes I managed to bring the fish close to the wall and my friend Stelios got it in the net. We then realised that the cuda was hooked on its side (!) something that tells me it reacted more out of aggression than hunger. Nevertheless I had my first cuda in the net within minutes of starting the session and enjoyed a great fight!😀


My first Cuda!

After releasing the fish we persevered but I only got another half hearted bite near the bottom before we called it a night around 22:00. We grabbed something to eat and then got to our beds as we had to wake up at 03:00 for the morning bite...!
I was up before the alarm and we headed down the harbour straight away. We then met up with Stelio's friend Alex. A local who fishes for cudas day in day out. The news weren't encouraging... The past few sessions he only got a few fish by fishing all night long (!), while as is always the case, he was having great catches a couple weeks ago when I was bogged down by the snow...
Alex had already caught a couple fish though and I was paying attention to what he was using since this is always a good thing to do when fishing for new species and in new areas.. When in Rome...
He was using 4.5"-5" white or chartreuse/yellow Sluggos and Xlayers, working them close to the bottom with a few jerks and medium speed. I was using my friend Stelio's rod (a Lucky Craft ESGII 871HXF) but it was slow going. Bites dried up and we moved to another spot (a chokepoint) where the fish usually hit hardbaits at first light. I put on a Tide minnow slim 140 and as the sky was turning colours just before dawn I got the first strike. I hit the fish hard but didn't manage to set the hook. The same thing happened a few moments later while the others (friends Gianis and Nasos also showed up) were hooking up! It became apparent that this rod wasn't ideal for fishing hardbaits and cudas as it was too soft and couldn't set the trebles hard enough in the cudas bony mouths. My friend Stelios then offered me his rod (Apia Foojin'R ART MAGIC 88MLX) and I finally managed to land a couple cudas! This rod was quite impressive and I might look towards Apia next summer...

On a jerkbait around dawn.

A little one.

The channel..

As soon as the sun came up the bites stopped and we fished a couple spots for the chance of a bonito. Giannis was the lucky one and got the only one for the day... Then it was back to bed till lunchtime (well fed!) and out again after sundown.
On the second night again the fish were splashing and hunting about soon after dark but I felt more confident about how to get them into biting. I started with a chartreuseish 4.5" Xlayer on a 10g Owner darting jighead and started covering the spots that the fish were working over... I was retrieving and pausing the lure to touchdown in regular intervals and made sure not to strike in any nibbles but kept working the lure.. I then got a sudden and powerful take and the fish immediately took drag.. The rod was well bent (the Lucky Craft) and the fish took off again. Then all of a sudden it got off! I thought it bit through the line but soon felt the lure's weight again and took it out of the water to be met by this...

 I'm not entirely sure it was a cuda and I'm even considering a big gilthead as a possible suspect, since they're known to frequent that mark and got jaws strong enough to do this.. I proceeded to lose another fish that didn't hook up properly and by this point I had no faith in this rod...Thankfully for the remaining of the fishing trip Stelios lend me his Apia...
After the second lost fish, the spot dried up and we decided to move to a nearby spot for a chance of scad and False scad. We used 3" Sluggos on 7g jigheads and soon enough Stelios got a scad while I got a false scad of about a pound. The fish weren't tightly grouped and holding near the bottom a fair cast away, but I still would've preferred to get them on the UL/LRF setup.. In any case things soon slowed down again and we were back to beds in preparation for the last session.

A nice False scad.

We woke up slightly later that day (04:30) and we headed down the harbour to find the others fishing already. They had caught a couple fish each and were hammering the most productive spot, though the fish seemed to have shut down. I moved in close to them with a plan in my mind. They were using 5"-6" bubblegum and chartreuse slugs on 15g+ jigheads but it had been a while since they had another bite. I opted for a 10g darting fishead jighead and a pink 4.5" Xlayer. I fished slower than them and with fewer darting movements on the retrieve trying to show something more 'natural' yet still enticing to these pressured fish. The first bite didn't take long to come but I didn't get a good hookset even with the Apia (damn those bony jaws!), I changed Jighead and lure immediately after, opting for a white Xlayer on a 15g Ecogear jighead. This would make me work the lure slightly faster and I hoped to aggravate another fish to bite as I knew I wouldn't get many chances. A few casts later and I was in! Not a big fish but it felt good managing to 'unlock' them.

Another on the Xlayer.

Going back.
 We soon moved to the 'chokepoint' for another go with the hardbaits. Out of curiosity I decided to use shallower running jerkbaits than the others to see if they fish would show a preference.. And they did though not for my lures! As the sun started to come out the others started getting fish while I got one strike and a couple follows. The bite didn't last long but I wasn't bothered too much about not catching since I got useful hints to the behaviour of these fish.
After the sun came up higher, I had a few casts at the bonito-spot but with no luck. We then picked up our stuff and boarded the ferry back to Athens. A lovely fishing trip with plenty of exciting moments although without tonnes of big fish. I'm glad that due to my friend Stelios I managed to catch a species that eluded me for years and also have a great time and make new friends!
Bellow I add some bullet points and observations regarding this trip.
  • Use jigheads with sharp 2/0 plus size hooks.
  • Midwinter, softplastics near the bottom at night and possibly hardbaits at first light.
  • Preferably a stiffish rod for good hooksets.
  • 0.34mm fluorocarbon leader minimum.
  • 4"-5" soft jerkbaits/slugs on darting jigheads most effective.
  • When having lots of nibbles etc keep working the lure. Strike hard on positive takes!
  • White, pink, with hint of chartreuse etc good colours for nighttime.
  • Begin with lighter jigheads first and then go heavier for faster/more reaction based work. Typically 10g-15g at aprox 6m depth.
  • Trailer hooks such as open eye Siwash may be a useful addition to the jighead hook.
  • Vary lures and presentations after dropped takes and overworked fish.
  • On Poros, cudas at night were staging at the deep parts of the canal, usually at the drop offs and near the first major light source but in the shadows. At dawn in the chokepoint.
  • Megabass Super Xlayers most consistent softbait. DUO Tide Minnow Slim and Seaspin Mommoti for hardbaits.
  • First bites and splashes after sundown and then again around 04:00.
  • Feeding spells can be brief especially with hardbaits midwater and higher, Softplastics near the bottom more consistent.
  • 14cm+ jerkbaits very effective at dawn on straight retrieve with some speed variations.
  • Sayori, cuda and 'sparkly' colours most effective then.
  • A slightly larger lure than what the others are throwing might get more fish when they're fired up.
  • Cuda like more 'intense' actions on hardbaits than bass do and a slightly deeper dive.
  • Scad and False scad near the lights but in more 'open' areas and deeper water.
  • Bonito might pass soon after first light at the deeper water near the chokepoint.
  • The presence of baitfish is a must!

The fishing team!

Well its soon back to Skye now and my more usual fishing targets. Although I had hoped for much more action filled holidays (fish-wise) the horrendous weather really killed any chances for that but I cant complain too much as at least my main target was achieved and besides I had a great time!

Tight Lines!

Gear used.
Rod: Spro Mobile Stick 80MH, Lucky Craft ESGII 871HXF, Apia Foojin'R ART MAGIC 88MLX
Reel: Shimano Stradic 1000fc, Shimano Stradic ci4 2500f
Mainline: Duel Hardcore X4 PE 0.8
Leader: YGK Nitlon DFC fluorocarbon 0.34mm+
Lures: Various.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Happy New Year and first fish for 2017.

Happy New Year and best of wishes for 2017!
I am now back home in Greece and yesterday managed the first little session for 2017.
We're having a pretty cold winter (-5C) and things have changed from the last time I fished here at this time of the year but slowly I hope to get good idea about the available fishing now.
Yesterday I fished at Keramoti harbour and the target was bass. It was a calm and relatively mild day and I arrived an hour or two before sunset in order to have a good 'feel' for the place and the fish movements. There was plenty of fry in the water and diving birds feeding and occasionally I'd see small bass groups moving around. I wasn't expecting big fish but was hoping for anything and had the ML setup with me.
I settled for a previously overlooked slim paddletail from Pontoon 21, the Attira. It has a lovely subtle action and on a 7g darting/standup jighead gives a lovely presentation similar in size and colour to the baby mullet milling around.
After spending some time at various points and corners of the harbour I moved to the ferry terminal soon after getting dark. I was working the lure on a medium retrieve with frequent touchdowns and finally got a take near the bottom and the first fish of 2017 was on the cement! A hungry little basslet...
Quickly released I kept fishing and had a few more takes but they didn't commit.. I later realised that most of these sharp takes were from diving birds! 😆

First fish of 2017!
A ferry had just anchored and was using its thrusters to adjust. The area of disturbance can be a good spot to fish and it proved true this time as another basslet hit my lure. There was a short time of activity and I tried some different lures and presentations but apart from some bumps I didn't get another fish. Stubbornly I stayed on till later on after having some coffee to warm me up (the convenience of harbour fishing...) but things got really quiet and decided to call it a day.

Another basslet...
Nice presentation..
 I think next time the LRF/UL setup might be more appropriate for this mark... In order to get bigger fish I think a visit to somewhere more remote is needed. But first we need the latest snow and freezing temperatures on the forecast to clear!

Tight Lines for 2017!

Gear used.
Rod: Spro Mobile Stick 80MH
Reel: Shimano Stradic ci4 2500f
Mainline: Duel Hardcore X4 PE 0.8
Leader: YGK Nitlon DFC fluorocarbon 8lbs -12lbs
Lures: Pontoon 21 Attira 7g standup jighead.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

The last Skye fish for 2016!

The past couple weeks I have managed to do two outings in order to close my 2016 account up here in Skye. I would've liked to have been on the rocks much more often as the weather has been very mild and settled for the most part, but being very busy at work, didn't get the chance. Nevertheless both sessions were on fire with lots of decent fish coming out and I have to say that I feel 'full' of fishing bliss! lol I'm now going back home and I hope to be making some reports on my fishing there...
On both sessions The fish were very active and the general weather patterns were the same. That is around 10C temperatures with brisk westerlies. On the second session the winds were a bit more than brisk with a moderate swell! This didn't slow down the fishing though... I used the heavy gear on the first day and the ML/HRF setup on the second one. I had lots of fish in the 3lbs-5lbs bracket with a couple more than that and also a few cutoffs even on the heavy gear! Moreover the coalies are now in their best size with a proper fatty caught the other day on a 5" paddletail and 3/0 jighead. 😲
I also got a surprise in the form of a beautiful male cuckoo wrasse in the last session.

A good stamp of fish...

Metals were very productive on the calm day...

Heavy Texas does the job...

A solid fish!

Of course the SaltyBait always produces..

Such beauty..

As I mentioned, the second day conditions were far rougher and this affected the fish lure preference but not their feeding activity. While I caught plenty of fish on metals on the calmer conditions of the first day, it was a different story in the swell... I had far more consistent results then with 'flashy' colours and loud presentations i.e chartreuse paddletails on cheburashka, pearl-white sp's on Vassalo Swimming jigs and Carolina rig with red floater before the hook. It was also very noticeable that the use of the lighter gear didn't inhibit me but instead helped with fishing lighter weights and picking up bites better despite the swell and current. The finer lines really cut through the water...
Chartreuse was the colour of the second day..

Loud presentations in the swell...

A fatty!

Recaptured fish!

On the 2nd day metals were preferred by the smaller ones.

Nice one!

A lovely surprise.

The place of dreams...

Goodbye.. for 2016...

Another interesting occurrence on the second day, was when the sun came out and soon enough the bites from larger fish slowed down.. I then switched to small slow jigs and reverted into catching fish albeit the smaller ones and also coalies. As soon as the sun got behind the clouds and became darker, the bigger fish started feeding again and the softplastics again picked the best ones out.
Below the action filled videos!

These two days were all I needed before leaving and I'm now looking forward to some good fishing back home! I'm hoping to get some bass and barracuda from the salt and chub and pike from the freshwater... Lets see!

Tight Lines and Merry Christmas!

Gear used.

Rod: MajorCraft Solpara SPS-1002LSJ, 3.05m. max 50g and MajorCraft KGEvolution Basic KGS-902L.
Reel: Shimano SW Biomaster 4000XG and Shimano Stradic Ci4 2500f
Mainline:YGK G-Soul WX8 PE1.2and  Duel Hardcore x4 PE0.8
Leader: Duel Hardcore Powerleader fluorocarbon 25lbs, 16lbs and12lbs
Lures: 20g -30g metals, 16g-20g cheburashka with various paddletails on  #1 offset ewg hook, Carolina rig with 20g -30g tungsten bullet-8mm glass bead-swivel-25cm line-#1/0 offset ewg hook and various softbaits.