Saturday, 24 September 2011

Dracula isn't the only creature with teeth in Whitby!

Whitby is famous for its associations with Dracula, Bram Stoker wrote the novel whilst staying in the town. Many of the locations used in the book can be found in Whitby such as the churchyard where Mina first encountered Dracula in lupine form.

As well as the locations some of the events are based on real life. In the book, Dracula arrived in Whitby when the Demeter ran aground. Just prior to Bram Stoker arriving in Whiby the Russian vessel Demetrius had ran aground with only one survivor.

Twice a year, in April and October, the town is invaded by Goths, and one bed and breakfast even supplies garlic to hang on your bed posts!

Dracula might be fictitious but vampires are not the only things with teeth to be found in Whitby. Whitby is one of the main charter ports in the north of England and famous for its wreck and rough ground fishing where cod, pollack and ling can be targeted with the occasional haddock, halibut and even porbeagle shark being landed.

I had booked a days' wreck fishing on Shy Torque skippered by Rich Ward to target ling. On the way out we stopped at Bell Buoy for mackerel and again they were few and far between, luckily I had brought a few frozen mackerel and garfish with me as an emergency bait supply.

The sea around Whitby is littered with wrecks, most of them dating from World War 2. As the weather was good Rich steamed out to an offshore wreck 18 miles from shore.

I rigged up with a 30lb class rod as I would be working a baited pirk. To minimise snagging I replaced the pirks' treble hook with a single 6/0 adorned with a luminous green muppet. A whole fillet of mackerel provided the bait. Ling are predators with teeth and need to be targeted with big baits.

The technique is to jig the pirk up and down with short movements of the rod. As you drift across the wreck occasionally line needs to be let off to ensure the pirk continues working just above the wreck.

On the first drift I landed a small ling, and although a few fish were landed in subsequent drifts, Rich soon moved to hopefully more prolific wrecks inshore. Despite a number of moves it was a slow day, but with four ling and a cod to my rod I was well pleased with the result. I can confirm that ling make superb eating, firm and meaty, like cod but better.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Portland Species Competition!

Today, I was a guest angler amongst the regular Friday Species League crew aboard Colin Penney's Flamer 4. Although I not personally into match fishing of any kind, you can learn a lot from match anglers. The fishing today would be restricted to the areas in and around Portland Harbour, a species hunters paradise.

After a short sail we arrived at Colin's secret muddy mark where the rare red band live. These unusual fish live with their heads sticking out of the mud grabbing shrimps and the like. A set of mini sabikkis were baited with tiny strips of squid ready for the first of several short drifts. By the time we moved we had acounted for more than twenty red band fish between us. They are truly stunning looking fish being a pinky orange colour with electric pinky purple edging the fins. If Barbie was a fish she would be a red band fish. I also managed a goby or two including a Jeffreys Goby (it has an elongated 2nd ray on its first dorsal). Unfortunately I managed to drop it back in before getting the photo.

We spent some time drifting a range of marks including the harbour entrances. The rocky areas were wrasse city and a wide variety of species were caught including ballan, cuckoo, goldsinney and the rare ballions wrasse. Tompot blennies, gobies, mackerel, scad and pollack also showed.

Gurnards manly tubs showed, I only managed to catch reds........again! Several anglers caught dragonets which again evaded my hooks. Andy Selby from Weymouth Angling even managed a couple of red mullet, the first Andy had ever caught. Two trigger fish were also landed.

In retrospect I should have fished short flowing rigs to keep all three baits on the bottom, rather than a paternoster rig. I am back for a two day competition in October which will allow me to test out my hypothesis. Most of the anglers on board had homemade bait containers divided into sections and hung on the boats rails, which immediately means less time is spent baiting up and more time spent with a bait in the water.

The planned drifts over the wreck of the Hood had to be abandoned due to the presence of divers.

Our final mark was at anchor over a muddy patch where I targeted butterfly blennies and dragonets on tiny hooks baited with slivers of ragworm. I became a smoothound pup magnet landing four of them along with some dogfish.

Richard, the angler next to me landed the only butterfly blenny of the day. Again I suffered the indignity of seeing others landing dragonets and tub gurnards.

What an enjoyable day in good company. I added three species to my challenge total and missed out on five others (butterfly blenny, dragonet, red mullet, trigger fish and tub gurnard). In excess of tweny species were landed by the crew and I ended the day with 14 species, in fact too many to record as labels on this blog item (blogger has a limit of 200 characters)!