5-6th June 2010 – Galloway Weekend

No fishing at all for a couple of months due to a combination of work and family commitments, plus a load of hassle with trailer brakes (spit!). However, a decent forecast plus a free weekend meant a quick phone call to Ian and a scurry around to dig out the tent.

Ian turned up nice and early on the Saturday and we headed off to Brighouse Bay on Saturday for a wee play about in Wigtown Bay. Although it had been nice and sunny on the way there,  the Solway was covered in a layer of thick cloud and looked pretty misty. It wasn’t actually too bad initially although it got fairly thick later in the afternoon. At least the wind kept down and the sea was reasonably flat.

As it turned out fishing wasn’t the best, with only small hounds showing and not in huge numbers. However I had a decent bass and lost a respectable tope alongside the boat when it decided it didn’t like being tail hooked and went a little beserk when it got close. There were piles of dabs showing, including a decent one of 12oz for Ian, and a single example each of a flounder and a plaice. We packed in around 9 p.m. and headed back to Brighouse to set up camp for the night.

An early start on Sunday saw us move over to Ardwell on Luce Bay, launching into quite a stiff NW wind just before the On Yer Marks crew
arrived. Despite being told that there were virtually no tope being caught we decided to give it a go on one of the marks and see how we got on. Mackerel were around in large numbers, so bait was no problem – alas, so were the dogfish, and Ian switched over to a small livebait to get away from them.

A few minutes later his rod keeled over as a tope hit home, and he soon landed a fish in the high teens. The smaller rigs pulled out a succession of whiting, doggies and gurnard, mainly for Ian as I dozed off in the sunshine. A further smaller tope followed for Ian, before he got into his stride with the rays, pulling out 7 or 8 thornbacks and a spotted ray. Over slack water the dabs came out in numbers, so the fish were pretty continuous during the day, although I was well cuffed by Ian on all counts. My consolation prize was the smallest tope I’ve ever seen, at around 1.5lbs.

Eventually we called it a day around 5 p.m. and hit the slip at Ardwell just as the tide reached it again, which made retrieval a little easier.

Not a spectacular weekend, but still collected 13 species – Dab (12 oz), plaice, flounder, grey gurnard (14oz), tub gurnard (1lb 5oz),   mackerel (1lb 6oz), bass (4lbs 5oz), starry smoothound (tiddlers), tope (18lbs), whiting, thornback ray, spotted ray.

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17th September 2009 – Port Logan

Weather: Dry, cloudy/sunny spells, light S-SW wind/calm
Sea Conditions: Calm
Time Spent: 0900-1730 – 8.5 hours
Tides: 10:12 GMT 3.8m

Tope fishing off Port Logan
Off Port Logan
View of Port Logan harbour
Port Logan

Had a “use it or lose it” day so bit the bullet, set the alarm for 4.30, and headed off to Port Logan to take advantage of the fine weather. Launched no bother, but half way across the bay the GPS/Sonar just cut out. I assumed it was just a loose connection, checked them and it came back on again. However the same thing happened again a few minutes later, and the problem became a little clearer – the voltage reading on the GPS was climbing as I increased engine revs, and the unit cut out when it hit 13.8v. Swapped to the second battery, but the same problem persisted, so I assumed the engine output was the source – a bit of a bugger as the threshold seemed to be about 2200 revs.

I’d planned on a few drifts at the entrance to the bay anyway, so I set up a mackerel trace on one rod and a bottom rig on the other and carried on. 40 minutes just inside the bay produced next to nothing – 1 mackerel, 1 cuckoo and 1 ballan wrasse, so I shifted out about half a mile and carried on. The fishing wasn’t great, but there was a steady flow of gurnard (including some beautiful red gurnard), numbers of codling to 3.5lbs, a few pollack, a couple of small haddock and a handful more mackerel.

After about half an hour fishing the two rods, I was fiddling around with the mackerel rod and turned round just in time to see the bottom rod vanish overboard. Aargh! I could see it sink slowly out of sight, but couldn’t grab it in time, as the boat was moving at a decent pace in the tide. I still had the mackerel gear in the water, so started jigging it to see if I could catch the li.ne, but without any great expectation of success. Much to my surprise, after about 20 seconds I felt a steady pressure on the rod, and gradually and very carefully managed to winch in all the lost gear. Lucky or what! – but it was down to one rod after that.

I drifted on for a couple of miles but the fishing gradually dwindled as the tide ran faster, so I ran back downtide to retrace my steps. This time the engine seemed to behave itself properly and it certainly speeded things up being on the plane. However the fishing remained slow, so I decided to have a two or three hours anchored on one of the banks a little way offshore.

The tide was running fairly strongly, and it took 1.5lbs of lead to hold bottom properly, although the light rod was bouncing down the tide with 8oz, picking up a good number of gurnard and a few whiting and mackerel every time it hit bottom for a dew seconds. The main rod produced only dogfish until the tide slackened off a bit, when it suddenly hooped right over as a decent fish hit. This was pretty obviously a tope and it gave a good account of itself despite the lead it was hauling about. At 30lbs it’s my biggest for the year, so I was quite happy to finish the day on a high note.

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28th June 2009 – Port Logan

Weather: Light SW wind, dry. Cloudy and cool at first, later sunny
Sea Conditions: Calm and clear
Time Spent: 0430-0930 – 5 hours
Tides: HW 0400 – Medium tide

Back onshore after my session at Wigtown I was feeling pretty knackered but decided to push across to Port Logan for a few hours fishing on Sunday morning rather than go home immediately. Saturday night proved it is possible to sleep in a 165 cuddy (just) and I got a few hours kip before launching at Logan about half four in the morning.

Plenty of fish but all on the small side with a load of mackerel, whiting, grey gurnard, pollack, haddock and some codling and LSD. I tried the banks offshore for a little while, but there was a plague of small whiting and masses of mackerel so it was a very half-hearted attempt really. Also I did get some more data for my DrDepth software which might prove useful someday.

Moving back down in Logan Bay there were decent numbers of grey gurnard (3 at a time), but none of the reds that I’d really wanted. I was quite tired after a long day on Saturday and this was really starting to affect my motivation so I packed in shortly after 9.30 and was hauling the boat out as everyone else was launching.

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27th June 2009 – Wigtown Bay

Weather: Light SE wind dropping to calm for much of the day; overcast becoming sunny and hot later
Sea Conditions: Muddy colour at first (altho fish seemed to like it), then clear as tide pushed through
Time Spent: 0900-2030 – 11.5 hours
Tides: LW 0930 moderate tide

First off was a patch of roughish ground not too far from Brighouse, but this was wall to wall doggies coming up 2 at a time so I only gave it an hour before heading along to Wigtown.

This proved an instant hit with a good collection of smoothies coming aboard in the first two hours, plus a couple of bass as a bonus. By this time the wind pretty much dropped to nothing and the sun came out, so it was soon getting almost too hot – not often I make that complaint. Things went fairly quiet after that and I decided to try well up river over HW, so headed up to Carsluith and dropped anchor not far offshore in about 15 feet of water. A small smoothie hit the bait almost immediately, but that was the only one. Over HW I added a smallish bass, couple of flounder, LSD, a small tub gurnard and a surprise mackerel which took a lug bait on the bottom. Not much in the way of numbers or quality, but at least it showed a decent range of species well up the estuary.

As the tide started to ebb I went back to where I started, and was rewarded by a slow but steady stream of smoothies and a few dabs and LSD. I had a bait out for tope, but there was no sign of any, which was the only disappointment of the day. Total for the day was 28 smoothound and 3 bass which is easily my best session in the Cree.

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31st May 2009 – Wigtown

Weather: Dry, sunny, light or no wind
Sea Conditions: Calm and reasonably clear
Time Spent: 0815-1845
Tides: LW 1300 – Moderate tide

A smallish smoothound from the Cree estuary
Small smoothie

Took 3 hours to get to Garlieston where I launched with no difficulty and headed out to the Cree and set up for smoothies.

Fishing varied during the day, with the best of it early on and then on top half of the flood. The run up to low water was very slow, with only a couple of fish showing in the last 90 minutes of the ebb. Immediately after LW I landed a couple of small bass and missed a third one, but then it went quiet again until mid-tide when I had a flurry of smoothies between 4 and 5 pm, and a couple more and a pair of tope in the last 90 minutes before packing in.

Final total was 12 smoothies (none big, but a 5lb fish makes for huge fun on a spinning rod), 2 bass and 6 tiny tope – none of which made it into double figures.

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11th May 2009 – Port Logan

Weather: Sunny, but moderate E wind force 4-5 gusting 6
Sea Conditions: Wind chop, but otherwise sheltered
Time Spent: 0830-1600 – 7.5 hours
Tides: HW 1400 – moderate spring

Day 2 of our Galloway weekend saw Ian and I wake up just after 5 at Brighouse, mainly because it was very cold, and were on our way to Port Logan by 6.30 after a quick coffee and bacon roll.

Launched OK and proceeded to have three longish drifts southwards in the bay, catching a few small haddock, codling, pollock and a ballan. Then headed down to Clanyard, where Ian got a single string of mackerel and we picked up a few small pollack over a couple of hours fishing.

Finally headed up to Drumbreddan and anchored up a couple of hours to try for a plaice. Fishing was slow, but OK species wise, with gurnard, plaice, LSD and a skate bait sized coalfish appearing. Despite the strong wind it was quite pleasant in the sunshine and we struggled to stay awake in the early afternoon, until thoughts turned to the long journey home.

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10th May 2009 – Wigtown

Weather: Calm and sunny
Sea Conditions: Calm. Coloured in the estuary. Lot of freshwater after rain.
Time Spent: 1500-2130 – 6.5 hours
Tides: LW1930 – moderate spring

A small bass from the Cree estuary, Wigtown
Small Wigtown bass
A very spiny thornback ray from the Cree estuary
Thornback, Wigtown

Fished with Ian and launched out of brighouse bay (£18 for tent, car, boat and launch). A late start on Sunday saw us out at Wigtown Bay for about 3 p.m., fishing a few hundred yards away from Jim Hamilton. The weather was bright sunshine with barely a breath of wind so it was definitely sun screen time.

Unfortunately there was quite a lot of freshwater in the bay due to the recent rain and this may have affected the fishing a bit – we had plenty of fish, but only one of them was a smoothhound.

Ian notched up 20 dabs, several flounder and a lonely plaice and we both had a small bass each plus plenty of doggies. I picked up a couple of thornbacks
(one of which had a full forest of thorns, front and back), but that was it, apart from the solitary smoothie.

We left it a bit late in raising anchor and made it back to the slip at Brighouse in near darkness, although this wasn’t any real problem.

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