Friday, 30 July 2010

Beware the Blenny!

As this was a family holiday apart from my sharking trip, all my fishing was in short sessions lasting from 1 to 4 hours.

A visit to the tackleshop suggested that I could expect to find bass from the rocks in front of the Tom Sawyer pub and that sandeels were the best bait.

Wednesday evening saw me wandering along the river on a flooding tide searching for sandeels. Half an hour spent jigging mini sabikkis saw me land a dozen sandeels.

Still using a carp rod matched to 10lb line I float fished a sandeel just off bottom in the gulleys between the emergent rocks that form this part of the coastline. Twice the float went under, the first I missed and the second was a small pollack of around a pound. After dark I legered mackerel sections only twenty yards out. Again I had two bites, missing the first and landing a lesser spotted dogfish from the second bite.

The following evening I joined the holiday makers on a three hour conger trip. One conger was landed between ten anglers, not suprising as the bait supplied was hardly fresh and it was a spring rather than neap tide.

On the Friday I travelled to Mevagissey for an early morning session and fished the harbour wall.

The first hour was spent fishing a sliver of mackerel in the hope of a garfish. A single pollack resulted. A switch to a running leger and an inch of ragworm saw a procession of small ballan and corkwing wrasse responding before I hooked something that didn't fight.

Checking my Collins Fish of Britain and Europe confirmed my that I had caught my first tompot blenny. It bit me!

A change over to the float, a 5SSG loafer float fished at 4 foot saw me land another small pollack, miss several bites and hook and lose something that screamed off at a rate of knots before coming adrift! I suspect that it was a mullet or bass.

Earlier in the holiday my great-nephew Jacob had caught two blennies on a crabline. Jacob was so proud of his catch that they were brought over in his crabbing bucket to the pub for formal identification. I failed miserably as I needed my book to confirm that these blennies were Common Blennies also known as Shannies.

Jacob briefed me on his secret spot and I spent about fifteen minutes on my final evening stalking some fish that were swimming along some submerged concrete steps. Several missed bites later I hooked my first shanny. They really are aggressive fish homing in on the ragworm section as the bait was slowly lowered onto the step. In one day I had been bitten by two species of blenny, apparently blennies feed on barnacle penises, luckily I was bitten on the finger!

Postscript: I discovered that the record for a tompot blenny is little over 5oz caught from Mevagissey in 1995. I had missed out on claiming a british record today!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Shark Angling Club of Great Britain

The Shark Angling Club of Great Britain (SACGB) was formed in Looe, Cornwall in 1953 by the late Brigadier J. L. Caunter. Looe quickly became established as the top venue for angling for Sharks on rod and line in the UK.

The main purpose of the SACGB is to promote the sport of Shark Angling in Great Britain with a mind to conservation, and provide members with an organisation which is regarded as the central authority in Great Britain for this sport.

In the early days a great many Sharks were caught and unfortunately killed. Holiday makers flocked to the quayside in Looe each evening, to see the Sharks being weighed. Sharks had to weigh 75lbs (34.1kg) or more to qualify for membership to the SACGB. However, since 1994 it has been the Clubs Policy that Sharks should be measured instead of weighed and released unharmed back to the sea.

The qualifying measurement for a Blue Shark is 7ft (213cm) or more from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. For Porbeagle, Mako and Thresher Shark it is 4ft 6ins (137cm) from the tip of the nose to the fork of the tail.

Since 1998 the SACGB has operated a tag and release programme whereby the Sharks are tagged before being returned to the sea. The programme has provided the Club with valuable information as to the migration route the Sharks take in the Atlantic Ocean, how far they travel and their growth rate and the information has and is being used in the conservation of Sharks. When a tagged Shark is recaptured, usually by commercial fishermen, the tag is returned to the Club and the returnee receives a 15 dollar reward. This has proved very successful and helps with the conservation of Sharks worldwide.

When I last visited Looe 12 years ago I was lucky enough to catch a blue shark of 60lb. However when I booked a days shark fishing on Typhoon I realised that the odds were against me as only around 200 sharks are landed annually by the Looe fleet compared to 6,000 back in the 1950s and 60s.

Shark fishing is a waiting game, mesh bags containing 'rubby dubby' (mashed up fish) are hung over the side at water level and with each wave bits of fish and oils are washed out to create a scent trail for the sharks to follow.

The boat starts a drift 10-15 miles out and mackerel flappers are suspended under floats at different depths and ranges from the boat. Four rods were fishing and we all drew lots for who had which rod. I drew the rod at the bow, unfortunately the two runs occurred on the same rod which was nearest the stern.

The lucky angler successfully landed both sharks, blues of 40lb (56 inches) and 80lb (84 inches) respectively.

Whilst waiting for the sharks to arrive we feathered for mackerel and I soon realised that mini sabikis were the most effective mackerel feathers I possessed. I also fished baited hokkai lures on the bottom and caught a number of whiting for tea. The sea bed we drifted over was sandy and held little else.
Although disappointed not to land a shark myself I was privileged to see two blue sharks being boated.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

On a hot summer night!

The recent heatwave has provided the ideal conditions for catching catfish and as the weather was forecast to break I decided to book an overnight session at Willowcroft Fishery in Cambridgeshire.

As you can see water levels were at least a foot down on normal and being a shallow lake anyway I had no more than three feet depth of water in front of me.

I decided to fish both rods with a method feeder with a long two foot hooklink to a size 4 Korda Wide Gape B hook with a 22ml halibut pellet on the hair.

The method mix consisted of scalded pellet laced with predator plus and dead maggots and my intention was to recast hourly up till midnight before getting my head down.

I thought I had blown it when a catfish hooked at 11.30pm on the right hand rod fell off. Unfortunately this is a problem I seem to find with large carp sized barbless hooks. For certain species such as crucians on small hooks I often prefer barbless and if anything land more than I would on a barbed hook. Apart from a visit from a local moggie (the furry variety) the rest of the night passed quietly.

At ten to six in the morning I had a gentle take on my left hand rod which did not take line from the baitrunner but merely bent the rod round. Catfish are the hardest fighting fish in freshwater and in such shallow water several long runs and bouts of tail waving were inevitable before I finally drew her over the net. The scales pronounced a weight of 21lb 4oz and after a couple of quick photos I enjoyed watching her snake back into the coloured waters of Willowcroft's Six Island lake.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

My Metaphorical Jam Jar!

The Anglers Mail carried an article on a "giant stickleback" caught from Head Fen's Snake Lake of 7 drams, apparently the second largest ever caught in Britain.

So rod and metaphorical jam-jar in hand I set off to find this new mecca for specimen sticklebacks! Eventually I found the lakes and had less than three hours to track down a record breaker.

An hour in and I had caught brown goldfish and loads of tiny common and mirror carp on my float fished maggots or pinkies fished on a size 22 hook.

Another hour and two more swims tried, more brown goldfish and small carp to just over the pound. I was starting to get worried.

I swept the landing net through the margins against the reeds. Yep, the evidence was there loads of stickleback fry so the adults must be around somewhere. Eventually after missing loads of bites I connected with a stickleback of average size just before I had to get off the water, the record breaker would have to wait!

Anyone know a stockist for size 26 hooks and magnifying glasses so that I can see to bait up?