June 4 and 5 – Galloway

Weeks of frustration had been building during a very windy May, so the first possibility of a weather window was seized with both hands and Ian and I arranged a couple of days targetting hounds and tope in Wigtown and Luce Bay.

Saturday involved a lazy start that saw us launch at Brighouse around 1 p.m. after sticking the tent up first. The wind was stronger than forecast, but manageable, and we headed round into Wigtown Bay to try some of the marks in the Cree. At anchor it became clear that the north easterly forecast was in fact a south easterly reality – a big disappointment as it meant fishing wind against tide rather than with the tide, and a very uncomfortable beam on chop. Hey-ho, that’s what happens all too often in Scottish sea angling, so we carried on and tried to minimise the bruising from being thrown about.

The fish were there, but not entirely cooperative. We’d 10-12 smallish hounds, plenty of doggies and dabs and a solitary tub gurnard and bass (to Ian), but there was no sign of tope. We did try closer in to Ravenshall point for over an hour and this was more sheltered but the fishing was very poor and we moved back out again – at this point the outboard threw a wobbly as well and started misfiring above 1600 rpm (i.e. 6 or 7 knots). Just what you need 10 miles from launch site in moderately snotty weather! Given the engine problems I decided to finish earlier than planned and we hauled anchor about 8 p.m. and started back, only to find the Etec was now behaving normally. Not sure it made much difference really, as it was a slow trip back into a quite nasty set of waves with anything much above 12 or 13 knots proving pretty horrible. However we got back safely and soon had the boat put to bed before heading off the Kirkcudbright and a well-earned chippie.

A fairly leisurely start on Sunday saw us parked on the slip at Ardwell around mid-morning in “will we, won’t we” mode, as Luce Bay looked less than inviting in the strongish E wind and grey skies. After checking out the beach I reckoned we’d be OK provided we dry launched Alcatraz above the soft sand patches that had obviously bogged down some previous vehicles. After a rather damp struggle through the surf, and killing my mobile thanks to a pair of leaking waders, we headed carefully out through the rocky minefield of Ardwell and out towards our chosen mark.

Fish were pretty much instant, with small mackerel and a couple of herring hitting feathers. Whilst these ended up as tope baits I sent out a crab and worm bait on the uptider in case there was something else hanging around. We didn’t get much chance to settle down, as there was a steady stream of mackerel, gurnards, doggies and whiting coming to the small rods which kept us pretty occupied as we lurched around in fairly unpleasant seas (admittedly better than yesterday’s beam on rolling). There were a few bites on the crabs and worms, and several smoothies and a respectable thornback ray put in an appearance.

The missing guest was the tope – not a whisper on either rod for almost 4 hours until I hooked a decent fish that eventually shook the hook. Half an hour later a smaller companion saved our embarassment as a 15lbr briefly graced the deck before being returned.

So a good day for numbers and a decent range of species, but poor for the tope. A final mention has to go to the scad – we had a dozen aboard during the day, and I finally broke a very long running duck with this species.

Overall a poor weekend weather wise, with the forecasts significantly out, but at least we got out and had a couple of days catching rather than just fishing.

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