30/10/2015 - Species hunting in the Haven

We were down in Wales for the half-term, so took the opportunity to try and add to my sea species tally. Got some quality ragworm from John at Raven Trading in Pembroke Dock (Raven Trading) ready for the next day, but woke up to find it pouring with rain and blowing a gale. Didn't fancy sitting out in the elements, so the first trip was delayed until the following morning. However, in the interim I managed to persuade my teenage son, James, to accompany me - no mean feat given that it meant him leaving his pit at 0700 hrs! When we got down to Hobbs Point on the Haven, the car park was roped off - the reason becoming clear later. Set the lad up with a two hook flapper, while I fished a scaled down "one up, one down" rig. I was first out of the blocks with a male corkwing wrasse - a new species for me.

This was swiftly followed by a couple of small, but hard fighting pollock.

James was having trouble converting the sharp jabs and rattles he was getting into hook-ups, so we swapped rods while I re-baited for him. Seemed to do the trick as he was soon into the first of many fish of the morning - a fat rock goby.

The reason why the car park was roped off soon became apparent when a crane turned up to remove the floating, mooring pontoon for the winter. 

Didn't put the fish off as we continued to catch pollock and gobies (and crabs...) until the tide turned and the resulting current temporarily pushed us over to the quieter water on the other side of the boat ramp. I'd seen this area at low tide a couple of days ago and knew it to be shallower and mostly mud with a thin film of algae, which was absolutely covered in the marks left by grazing mullet. With that in mind I changed the ragworm hookbait to thin strips of squid. However, the gobies seemed to like this just as much until eventually James shouted he'd got something different. Turned out to be a sand smelt - again a new species (for him!).

About an hour into the ebb the current had died down sufficiently for us to move back to our original position, where we carried from where we had left, catching even more gobies, pollock and the occasional small coalfish.

Unfortunately the bass and ballan wrasse that I've caught previously at the venue never turned up. However, when it came to go home I had to admit that the lad had given me a good thrashing. Probably something to do with me unhooking fish (and crabs....) and re-baiting for him every five minutes! Despite this, the next morning he returned true to form and refused to leave his bed, so I was off down the Haven by myself. Whilst I was able to concentrate a lot better on the job in hand, it was more of the same, with the bigger fish being conspicuous by their absence. The crabs were a particular problem, something I've not experienced before, coming up two at a time sometimes and including some hand-sized velvet swimmers.

These are meant to be good eating - by the Spaniards anyway - so I might take a pot with me next time, even if it's just to thin the buggers out a bit! I did manage to add to the species tally with a couple of poor cod and catch a sand smelt of my own. However, the bass and wrasse eluded me.

The greedy crab population might have been one reason, but another revealed itself as I was thinking of packing up. I'd just seen a disturbance on the surface out of the corner of my eye and was scanning the area at the bottom of the boat ramp when a common seal popped up! He didn't hang around once he'd seen me, but I took that as signal to head for home. That's the sea-fishing tackle packed up for another year, but hopefully the zander gear will be getting a regular run out over the next few weeks as I try and catch a river double. 

22/10/2015 - Zander (but mostly pike!) sessions

Had a couple more sessions out on the River Soar for the zander, but you can probably tell from the title of the post that this didn't go entirely to plan! The first was on a navigable section of the river, one I normally fish at the back end for the pike. The odd photograph and snippet of information indicated that zander were present and of reasonable size, but gave no clue as to how prevalent they were. Got there late afternoon while it was still bright and sunny, so found a swim and waited for the boat traffic to die down and the sun to dip below the trees before casting in. Put one bait over to the boats and one down the middle and settled down to wait.

The downstream rod started knocking just as it was getting dark. However, the culprit turned out to be a small pike. This was repeated a few minutes later, only this time I slashed my thumb to bits (again!) unhooking it and then, whilst bleeding profusely and looking for something to staunch the flow, somehow managed to tread on and break my glasses! With no more action forthcoming it was a bit of a disaster, made even worse by the fact that I did my back in a couple of days later and everything - work, cycling, fishing - had to be shelved for three weeks. Needless to say, once I'd got the all clear and had been discharged by the physio, I was itching to have another go, so took the fact I was working down at Rothley for the day as an opportunity to have a couple of hours on the river on the way home. Again, it was bright and sunny when I got to the river, so had a leisurely wander downstream and was pleased to find that "pole position" was vacant. Popped a couple of dead baits out into the usual spots thinking an early bonus pike might be around and wasn't disappointed when the downstream rod started nodding a few minutes later. Turned out to be a nice double of 13lb 12oz that gave me a really good scrap on the feeder rod, going through my other line in the process!

Spent a few minutes sorting out the "knitting" and re-tackling both rods as a result. However, a short while later the downstream rod was off again, resulting in another double of 11lb 1oz that coughed up a dyed, red sprat in the landing net. Had managed to unhook the first one without any mishap, but returned true to form when I caught my middle finger in the second pike's gill rakers - more blood!

Got runs at regular intervals after this, netting three jacks before hooking into another decent fish just as full darkness was approaching. A flying treble caused me a few problems at the net before I eventually had another double of 12lb 8oz on the bank.

Was running out of bait and heading towards last knockings when something tore off with the downstream bait again. This time it was what I was after - a zed of 6lb 13oz. A bit better looking than some of the examples I've had recently with all of its fins intact.  

Packed up after this and headed home. Wales for half-term next, so planning to get some sea-fishing done. After that, more short evening sessions after work and hopefully a few more zeds!