Humbled by my GoPro

All was good – not a red letter day, but a decent enough morning, with a fair collection of coddies, ling and mackerel. No wind, a little swell and some welcome sunshine. All you could expect from a summer trip out of Dunbar really.

A nice codling of around 5lb from Dunbar
A 5lb codling

And then I watched The Video. I’d been playing with the GoPro during a quiet spell and dropped it down to the sea bed to try and catch a view of the reef about 60 feet below me. Appearing on my screen back home was a very handsome reef – and a succession of codling, pollack, ballan wrasse, cuckoo wrasse and one or two unidentifiable others. My catch from this shoal was one solitary codling 🙁 I don’t think I’ve ever even caught a cuckoo from Dunbar either. OK, it was a small, dead, tide but it does make you think a little. You can see the short version below…

I did manage around 25 codling to 5lbs, with another 5 or 6 ling to similar size, plus enough mackerel to start restocking the freezer, so humiliation was not total. Despite catching a few, no ling showed on the video, which was taken on a reef about a mile out from Torness.

A nice codling from Dunbar
Good eating

There were a few other anglers out and about, with a fair number of fish coming to the surface.

A codling kicks up some spray, caught from a SIB just off Dunbar
A codling kicks up some spray
A Nice Codling from a SIB, caught off Skateraw, Dunbar
A Nice Codling from a SIB

Fish or no fish, it was great to steal such a fine day away from work and remember why you keep a boat in the first place. Notwithstanding the damage to my ego, I think I’ll be using the GoPro for more underwater surveys in future.

Alcatraz on a sparkling North Sea, off Dunbar
Alcatraz on a sparkling North Sea
A seagull's view of Alcatraz on a calm day fishing out of Dunbar
A seagull’s view of Alcatraz
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A week in Galloway – instalment 2!

Trevor arrived early on Wednesday morning after a long drive from Aberdeen and we launched from Port William again, with high hopes of bettering yesterdays total of 28 tope. Luce Bay was flat calm as we headed out the short distance to our chosen mark and dropped the anchor in around 45 feet of water.

Port William

Trevor had first blood within a few minutes of dropping a bait in the water, and we fairly quickly built up a score of 8 tope between us before things went pretty quiet for a while.

Trevor and tope

The fish did eventually come back on the feed, but not to the same extent or with the same enthusiasm as on Tuesday, and we only gradually worked our way up to a very respectable 22 over the day.

Underwater tope
Underwater tope

The jury was out a bit for Thursday, but in the end we decided to have another pop at Port William, with a view to changing marks if the tope didn’t play ball.

I dropped the GoPro over the side for a look at the sea bed – no fish at all were showing in the time it was over, and it wasn’t quite as stony as I’d expected from the feel of baits rolling around in the tide.

Port William seabed

A couple of hours on the tope resulted in only one or two fish, with a few more dropped runs, and we decided to head down the coast a bit to try an inshore reef.

Trevor and tope
Trevor and tope

We gave it a couple of hours but this was largely fruitless apart from a steady stream of dogfish. A drop down with the camera again showed it was clearly rougher ground.

Shallow reef in Luce Bay
Shallow reef in Luce Bay

We headed back to the tope grounds again for the latter part of the afternoon, but it was becoming baking now in the sunshine and I popped up the Alcatraz’s pram hood for the first time in several years, and for the only time we’ve needed shelter from the sun!

Too hot to fish?
Too hot to fish?

The tope were still playing hard to get, with very few runs and many of them dropping the bait, but we gradually added to the fish total and ended the day with seven – ordinarily I’d be pleased enough with that total, but it was a little anti-climactic after the previous couple of days.

Ian looking happier than the tope
Ian looking happier than the tope
Ian with a lively Bull Huss
Ian with a lively Bull Huss

There were still some little fish playing, including this pretty little tub gurnard for Ian

Pretty Tub gurnard
Pretty Tub gurnard

and a nice grey one as well

Well armoured Grey gurnard
Well armoured Grey gurnard

Launce and a gazillion whiting put in an appearance as well, but no herring today.

After our roasting and relative drubbing on Thursday we were up for a change from Luce Bay on Friday and elected for an earlier start at Port Logan. The forecast was fine through to mid-afternoon after which the wind was rising from the NW and would probably cut things short.

Aside from a quick drift at the entrance to the bay, which produced very little, we headed out to the banks pretty much immediately to try for both haddock and something a little larger.

Ian soon hit a modest haddock in amongst the droves of whiting, and we also picked up one or two codling before anchoring in the tide run. I’d hoped for some fresh mackerel but these proved elusive and we only had modest numbers all day.

The fishing was very poor with only dogfish and a handful of codling and haddock appearing alongside the whiting. Nothing larger even hinted at being out to play despite fishing most of the ebb tide into increasing windy conditions.

A good sea running at Port Logan pier
A good sea running at Port Logan pier

Given the forecast was for a rising wind I headed back inshore to Logan Bay a little after slack water and we spent an hour or two wasting bait inside the bay before heading back to the beach.

A summerhouse at Port Logan?
A summerhouse at Port Logan?

It proved a busy day on the VHF as well, with Hamish Currie’s Predator 2 coming to the rescue of a local boat with engine failure near Portpatrick, and Belfast coastguard calling out the lifeboat for a yacht aground somewhere on the Irish coastline – nothing like a little reminder of how easily things can go wrong in these waters.

Next morning saw us packing up in near perfect conditions, although a week was probably enough tbh – the collective battering does take a toll and you need a day or two to recover. Ian was pretty much held together by sticky tape by this point 🙂

No-one seemed in a hurry to leave
No-one seemed in a hurry to leave

 

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A New Personal Best Ling

Catching up for lost fishing time earlier in the year, and still trying to stock up the freezer with some cod fillets, I went for another session off Dunbar just before the weather turned nasty for the weekend.

It was a fine day as Alcatraz sped easily down the coast towards the Torness area, but I soon found out to my dismay that the sea was tideless as well as windless and the drift was absolutely minimal.

Dodging pot marker buoys whilst running down towards Torness
Dodging pot marker buoys whilst running down towards Torness

I struggled along for an hour or two, but had only a couple of small ling and an even smaller codling to show for things when I decided to head further east, beyond Pease Bay, and try a couple of small inshore wrecks I found a while back and then head close in to see if the tide picked up on the flood.

A small ling heads for the boat
A small ling heads for the boat

The first wreck lies in about 130 feet of water and is only about 100 feet long. I didn’t expect any fireworks and didn’t get any – only a single ling of about 4lbs. The second wreck is very similar and is probably an old trawler or something similar, but this had a few fish showing on it – but none that seemed eager to feed, so I didn’t waste too much time before heading closer in.

There can be decent fish around here, and I’ve had good cod, Pollack and ling, but it is a pretty slow spot usually whilst you wait for them to come along. No-one seemed eager to play today, with only a small codling and a couple of ling turning up. Getting bored I rigged up a primitive drop rig for my GoPro and dropped it to the seabed around 50-55 feet below – the drift was so slow I reckoned the risk was low, and I wanted to see whether there was enough light and visibility to make it worthwhile trying it elsewhere.

Underwater view in about 50 feet a few miles from Dunbar
Underwater view in about 50 feet a few miles from Dunbar
A Pollack swims over a reef 50 feet down off Dunbar
A Pollack swims over a reef 50 feet down off Dunbar

The stills are taken from the video and don’t really do it justice, but it is pretty interesting to see the ground we’re fishing over – a large number of sea urchins, fair bit of sand and no weed at all were a little surprising. There were a few fish – a coalie, Pollack, ling and a couple of codling showed up in 4 minutes of downtime – so there was life down there even if it wasn’t interested in me.

By now I’d got fed up of catching nowt, so it was back towards the Torness area for a final couple of hours. By now there were a few fish on the go and I picked up more ling and a handful of codling. I’d not long returned a ling of about 5lbs when I lifted into another bite and found something much more solid on the end, which I knew almost immediately was a good ling. It hammered away and made some decent dives, but I steadily worked it up towards the boat and popped it in the net without any great drama – although it was obviously into double figures.

A lovely inshore ling of 14lbs 6oz from Dunbar
A lovely inshore ling of 14lbs 6oz

It swung the scales round to almost 14 and a half pounds, which made it a clear winner over my previous best fish, which were a pair around the 13 and quarter mark. I gave it another half-hour or so, with a couple more codling and a small ling, but headed back with a smile on my face – a poor day transformed by one good fish!

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