Thursday, 24 May 2012

It's the wrong Rockling Gromitt!

Three Bearded Rockling are not normally targeted by sea anglers so there is little information available on how to catch this member of the cod family. They are normally found on rocky marks which for an angler terrified of heights causes a few issues. I had been advised of a number of potential marks but only one, Holyhead Breakwater did not involve a horrendous scramble down a steep rock face to reach it.

As Three Bearded Rockling are normally caught after dark I decided to fish three short after dark sessions to try to catch one.
 My visit to Anglesey had coincided with the first heat-wave of the summer and I witnessed some fabulous sunsets.

The outside of the breakwater is very rocky and I was told to expect to lose loads of gear. I was advised that the ground was snaggy up to sixty or seventy yards out so I fished relatively close in amongst the rocks.

Knowing that three bearded rockling were normally caught by accident whilst fishing for conger I decided to fish with decent sized mackerel strips.

The first session I fished thirty to fifty yards out and had pollack, dogfish and a couple of shore rockling.

Taking advice from Geth the next couple of sessions I fished closer in and caught rockling after rockling with several double shots. However despite catching between twenty and twenty-five rockling I had failed to catch the target three bearded rockling.

Catching species 100 is proving harder than I expected and it will be June before I can next target a "new" species.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

What are you gonna do when the hounds are calling?

Smoothhound are perhaps the most sporting fish found in our seas. Although I have now caught a number of hounds I have not caught a double.

The waters off Anglesey see a run of smoothhound each year during late May and June. These are not small fish with doubles being average and fish to twenty pound plus a distinct possibility.

I had four days booked on board Gethyn Owen's My Way. Geth advised that the hounds hadn't yet arrived in numbers and sport was a bit patchy. Despite this, one twenty pounder had already been boated. My trip coincided with a spell of settled weather, a mini heatwave in fact.

The plan was simple, do some scratching until the tide was right and then move onto the hounds. This meant that everyone caught a few dogfish, dabs, codling, whiting etc before settling down to the waiting game.

Most of the lads rigged up with uptiders, not having a light uptider I set up a carp rod. In retrospect I think it was a little soft and could have done with some more backbone. I struggled to bring a small balled up hound against a strong tide! Four foot of 50lb line with a 4/0 hook baited was baited with a peeler crab. Interestingly Geth favours not peeling the crab and passing the hook through the abdomen before tying on the crab with some bait elastic. This minimises the number of dogfish (these welsh waters are paved with LSDs).

Day 1 was a little choppy and hard going, I blanked on the hounds. Day 2 I landed a couple including a new personal best at 12lb 8oz. These fish really do go and my light rod hooped right over as a hound decided to scream off on another run. Day three I added a couple of small ones and on the last day I kicked off with another double before losing a good hound when the leader knot parted. I was gutted as this was a good fish lost through bad angling. I will spend some time testing out different mono to braid knots when I get home to minimise the chances of this happening again.

Geth's usual collection of dodgy music and bad jokes kept the crews entertained whilst we waited for the hounds to oblige.

Over the four days the crew averaged 5-8 hounds per day with the best weighing 18lb plus. I was happy with 5 although I was perhaps a little unlucky with the size as the average was probably around 13lb.

Geth put on the Prodigy who sang "what are you gonna do when the hounds are calling". I just said "lose them".