10th July 2022
. With the boat washed, engine serviced, a new wheel bearing fitted and tackle box “checked”, two decent days in a row demanded a launch, first of this year. The Bro’ was eager for a day out so we met at the slip and were soon afloat and heading out to harvest the bounty of the mighty “Clantic Ocean”, we hoped. First task was to rustle up a few mackerel for bait and first drop down produced two for the Bro’, a bit on the small side but we soon had a dozen or so. Off to the sand for a few drifts and again results came quickly; barely 5 mins into the first drift The Bro’ had a good bite which resulted in a small but very welcome thornie. I prefer to net rays, especially if they have the hook well down, as their weight hanging on a deep hook can’t be good for them; but no net! First failure of the tackle check. Nicely lip-hooked, it was soon ready for weighing and tackle check failure no. 2 became apparent; no scales! I record length and weight for most rays to enter into the IMREC survey and also to produce my own length/ weight chart. First trip is always a test run; I definitely need to make a checklist! I added my own small thornie minutes later and we continued to alternate with small mostly male rays until the bites dried up. I mark each ray capture on the plotter to work out where the fish are concentrated so we motored back up the drift and a little further for drift no 2. Bites came instantly and we started getting some females of a better size, my best reaching 70cm, estimate 5lb 4oz, and The Bro’ not far behind. A few doggies and dabs added to the species list and then I had a little bonus in the form of a 70cm Painted ray. I haven’t had one of those for several years, hopefully it wasn’t a one-off. I was delighted to see the painted ray but I don’t think the feeling was mutual; as I reached for the hook, it lunged and grabbed my thumb and drew blood. I don’t think anything going in there has much chance of getting out. At one point I lifted into a bite and seemed to be stuck on the bottom but how do you get stuck in sand? It eventually started to lift and give a few shakes and after a bit of heaving with an admittedly light rod, I brought in a disappointingly modest-sized thorny of about 5lb, coming in tail first. I had my waterwolf camera on this rod, unfortunately the water was so murky, visibility was less than a metre but you could make out ray wings flapping and clouds of sand being kicked up as the ray tried to bury itself, no doubt arching its back to create a suction effect as well. We had at least two dozen rays between us; last year was disastrous for rays so hopefully they are back in numbers. We headed off to a deeper rough ground mark to try for something else. We changed from boom and long flowing trace to single muppet with a good chunk of mackerel and these were dropped down into the fish showing on the sounder. The Bro’ had bites straight away and reeled up a number of pollack to 60cm while I struggled to get a couple of pouting to 35cm. The only obvious difference was the colour of muppet, mine was all green while The Bro’s was yellow with a red head. (Note made for next day out!). We decided to call it a day; with plenty of rays, a few pollack, pouting, dabs and doggies and plenty of mackerel shoals on the sounder throughout the day, it was an encouraging first trip.11th July 2022
. I do enjoy ray fishing so I was tempted to try the same mark again but I headed further west in the hope of a few different species with the possibility of some rays thrown in. I got launched and away and was soon feathering for mackerel. An hour and a half later I was still feathering for mackerel with only a double shot of small grey gurnard to show, at one mark I dropped the feathers repeatedly through a shoal of what I thought was mackerel without a touch. I headed to another mark where sometimes sandeels and launce can be got. I changed to smaller lures and soon had a single launce, foul-hooked in the tail. A couple of single mackerel added to the bait box so I thought I would start a few drifts, feathering as I went. Just as I lowered the first bait, a Small Craft Warning came across on the VHF. At this stage the sea was surprisingly lumpy and the boat was bouncing about making for an uncomfortable day out but the wind was slight, at times negligible, but I would keep a weather eye out and not head too far west. Bites were few and far between with only a few doggies and dabs showing any interest. A change from sand to rock for an hour or so seemed like a good idea. It was a bumpy enough ride, the bouncing caused the aux. engine to drop down and I also lost my bait table overboard! Passing over the mark to establish the direction of drift showed plenty of fish so down went a red and yellow muppet (fast learner!) with a generous slice of mackerel. A fairly tentative bite produced a small ling and next drift produced a series of pouting around the 35-36 cm size but, surprisingly, no pollack. I replaced the baited muppet with an orange shad to see if that would make a difference. A few knocks suggested some interest and what I thought was a solid take turned out to be the lead snagging; a good strike and the result was a snapped rod! The lead came free and to add insult to injury something snapped hard at the shad on the way up but didn’t stick around. Fishing must be a bit like playing poker, you gotta know when to fold. Poor fishing, broken rod, bait table lost and a Small Craft Warning looking like it was about to come true, I folded.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.