12/05/2024 - A new species and a new venue

Haven't a clue where April went but at least some planned trips in May promised a few fishing opportunities. The first of these was the regular lads' weekend in Saunton Sands in North Devon and whilst the tides weren't ideal I threw some bits and bobs of tackle in the car to try and cover a few different eventualities. 

Early Saturday morning saw me heading to Ilfracombe pier in search of some mini-species. I arrived as the sun was rising above the headland, bathing Verity in golden morning light. The flood tide had already breached the lower part of the pier, so I started fishing from the steps to the upper deck. I'd brought two rods with me and started by throwing out a small metal jig in the hope of a pollack or an early mackerel. Half an hour later and fishless I switched to the other rod and dropped a mini two hook flapper baited with bits of salted rag down the side of one of the wooden pilings. Had to wait a few minutes for my first proper bite, resulting in a scrappy little ballan wrasse. 

Added a small rock goby before I was pushed onto the upper deck. However, bites continued to be slow in coming and I was on the verge of giving up when the tip jagged over and I lifted into what I thought was a snag, but with a bit of pressure the culprit came free and was brought up to the surface with little resistance. Was stunned when I swung it to hand to see it was a topknot, a real prize in LRF circles. Fairly common, but rarely caught, they are a proper little ambush predator. Perfectly camouflaged they are able to cling to vertical surfaces and even upside down on overhanging rocks and on the inside of caves, waiting to suck in any passing small fish and crustaceans with their exendable mouths. Took a quick photo and popped him back into his lair, allowing myself a quick fist pump in celebration. Carried on for a bit longer but didn't catch anything else. Not that I really cared as that ugly, but wacky little fish had made my morning! 

Got back in time to join the others in our coustomary walk over to Georgeham for a drink at The Rock. When we got back there was still a couple of hours to kill before dinner, so I hopped into the car and headed into Braunton for a quick session after the prolific, wild brownies that frequent the River Caen thaat runs throught the town. Fishing with just a small worm on a size 14, 0.5 gram jighead I dropped in at the fish ladder and made my way slowly upstream, flicking the baited hook into any likely spots whilst trying to avoiding the various bits of urban "furniture" as I went. As usual I had plenty of interest from the off, mostly from tiny little trout that pursued and nipped at the worm as it drifted downstream, causing me to curse as I missed bite after bite. 

However, every so often one of their bigger brethren managed to get a look in and by the time allotted time was up I'd managed to land a dozen, colourful spotties. Would have liked to have stayed longer, but the day was roundly off nicely with a huge fish supper at Squires instead. No fishing the following morning. Instead we got the paddleboards out and paddled from Crow Point, up the estuary and then all the way up the tidal part of the Caen to Velator Quay. Unfortunately, when we turned round to go back we found that the breeze had strengthened significantly and we had to battle against a headwind for most of the return journey. Was therefore a bit knackered when we eventually got back to the chalet, so after lunch most of us retired to our beds for a nap! 

Weather took a turn for the worst on Monday, coming in wet and windy, so we didn't hang about and were soon packed up and on our way home. However, after dropping my friend off in Bridgwater I decided to go and have a look at Portishead Marina, which is only about ten minutes from junction 19 of the M5. The venue had cropped up in a few videos on YouTube and there was definitely potential for a couple of different species I'd not had before, such as grey gurnard. 

When I arrived it was still very grey and gloomy, but at least the rain had eased of, so I grabbed the dropshot rod and some salted rag and went for a wander. Was surprised to see that the water quality wasn't that bad seeing as the marina is fed directly by the muddy Bristol Channel. The crabbing platform at the deep end of the marina looked to be a popular spot in the vidoes but it was locked off, so I carried on walking round until I spotted a chap sat float fishing with bread for mullet. Had a quick chat (always after local knowledge!) and it seemed that there was potential for basically anything to swim through the lock gates from the Channel, including bass, pollack, flounders and even gilthead bream. 

Walked on a bit further, eventually stopping near the main slipway. Dropping my rig down the side of the wall I soon started to get little rattles on the rod tip and after a couple of minutes I had my first fish, a fat rock goby. Added a couple more before landing a male black goby with his extravagant, sail-like dorsal fin. After catching half a dozen of each I upped sticks and headed down to the shallow end. There were plenty of small fish about in the margins, possibly bass fry or sand smelt, but rather than try for them I opted to try the small, stone pier on the far side of the marina. However, I couldn't tempt anything else and I was getting a bit twitchy about being stuck on the motorway at rush hour, so headed back to the car. 

An interesting venue and one I would definitely try again, although preferably when the sun is shining! Exmouth next weekend so more mini-species potential, tides permitting.