Late summer or early autumn? – either way it was a great day to be out at sea. The harbour at St. Andrews was looking a little different when I turned up late in the morning, with a row of shiny new pontoons sitting in the inner basin and making access much easier than dangling heavy gear over the harbour wall and clambering over boats as we had to before.
Having made a quick exit, we stopped off for a mackerel bash about half a mile out from the harbour and bagged a respectable number after a slow start – certainly enough for the day and to sort out most of my winter bait needs.
Next step was a haul along the coast where we spent several hours coddie bashing. The fish were a bit smaller than on Ian’s previous trip, but we plugged away and added a decent number for the freezer.
Nothing to get over-excited about, but there were a few ling and pollack showing up amongst the cod, plus a single small ballan for me (actually my first of the season). Quite a few other boat-owners thought it a good day to be out, so there were a number of small boats around, plus a couple of kayakers near Kingsbarns.
As the tide turned the cod went off the feed and we ended the fishing at anchor for a while, which increased the pollack count somewhat, although no large ones seemed to be hungry.
Back ashore, and with the fillets safely in the coolbox, there was even time for a plate of chips and a coffee at the harbour cafe (kindly supplied by Ian’s wife, Caroline), before the afternoon cooled down too much. Almost civilised you might say.
I’ve not clambered down the harbour wall at St Andrews for ages, and was looking forward to a bit of coddie bashing on what was quite a reasonable forecast. Perhaps I should’ve paid more attention to Cassandra, in the form of skipper Ian, when he pointed out that there had been a couple of days of north-easterly winds and the water still had some colour. And the tides were too small. Basically, the fishing was doomed…
Three hours later, with a combined catch of sod-all, things were not looking very good, and Ian’s power of prediction was looking vindicated. I was also running out of lead rapidly as I kissed goodbye to weight after weight, much to Ian’s amusement.
The flood tide saw an improvement and we picked up small codling, coalies and Pollack on several drifts, with a single mackerel for Ian. The best codling also went to Ian with a decent fish of around 4.5lbs, but most were far smaller. In terms of numbers we probably didn’t disgrace ourselves too much (I’m guessing around 40 fish between us, maybe half of which were codling) but it did feel rather slow by comparison to the usual standard for this time of year.
Overall this must rank as one of the few days when I’ve left St Andrews carrying less weight than when I arrived – the ratio of leads lost to fillets gained was pretty poor (doubly so when most of the fillets weren’t even caught by me in the first place).
St Andrews can fish quite well in the autumn and early winter, if the weather behaves itself, so I was more than happy to take up Ian’s offer of a trip out even though it was mid-November. The day turned out better than expected with a fairly light SW wind and a bit of sun, so full on thermals and gloves were tucked away for another day, and we settled down to a bit of drift fishing a few miles down the coast.
Fishing inshore provided a few codling, but the numbers started to ratchet up once we headed out a little way. Nothing big, but mainly in the 2-3lb mark with the odd fish to over 5lb thrown in, and very few complete tiddlers. Ian knocked out a few Pollack on lures – no large ones, but fish to around 4lb and quite late in the year to still encounter them here in quite shallow water.
There were loads of little coalies at times, plus some tiny ling, but it was the consistent coddie fishing that ultimately made the day and we finished with around 80 between us, plus an assortment of Pollack, ling and coalie. All in all, an excellent day out and a good bit better than I’d hoped for.
I’d had a cold for the last couple of days and wasn’t expecting to be doing much over the weekend given the forecast wasn’t great either. However an email from Ian suggesting a Saturday trip was too good an offer to refuse, especially since the fishing off St Andrews and the east coast generally had been pretty good of late, so I duly turned up at the harbour around half-eleven in the morning.
After the usual messing about shipping loads of fishing clobber across a couple of boats to reach Ian Raider we got ourselves set up and headed out into the sunshine, with only a modest SW breeze chasing our tails. A few miles along the coast we stopped off to try for some mackerel only to find nothing was interested in our lures – the colour in the water from heavy seas earlier in the week probably had something to do with it, and the shoals are probably starting to break up now anyway. A move to a mark further along the coast produced a couple of codling for Ian and a coalie for me, but still no sign of mackerel despite the clearer water.
A shift out to slightly deeper water saw us start to pick up codling on the drift, together with the odd coalie and small pollack. No monsters but one or two decent concentrations of fish, and our tally increased at a reasonable pace until the tide slackened off and we decided to anchor up rather than drift fish in what was becoming a considerable breeze. This proved quite a good move and a large number of smallish coalies appeared, plus a few decent codling and a single mackerel – the only one caught all day. Ian added a very lively octopus to our tally, which managed to sprint around the deck quite nicely until we chucked it back after a photo or two.
The fishing activity dwindled over time, as often happens, and we eventually up-anchored and headed a little closer inshore to see whether any pollack wanted to play. Fishing was fairly slow, although there were a few smallish pollack to around 4lbs as well as more codling and a few more coalies. Ian added several small ling to our total as well – in fact more than doubling his personal total for the year.
By now it was well after five, and we needed to head back before getting caught out in the falling tide, so it was time to head back to harbour in the autumn sunshine – very pleasant from the shelter of the cabin although a little chilly when you stuck your head over the parapet. I took a few pics of the lobster pot minefield on the way into the harbour – there are a huge number of the things sitting waiting to trap an unwary propellor, and you do need to be very careful approaching the harbour entrance at night!
I sort of lost count during the day, but I’d have had have 15-20 codling to around 6lbs, maybe 30 smallish coalfish, 1 mackerel and 3 or 4 pollack. Ian had more codling, pollack and ling, but only a few coalfish, so somewhere between 80 and 100 fish between us – not at all bad for mid-Autumn fishing on the east coast. Most of the fish came to lures or smallish mackerel baits.
What with holidays and family commitments I rarely get the chance to do that much fishing in July and August, and that was true for this year too. The inflatable got wet a couple of times off Skateraw as I headed out in the early morning for a few mackerel and codling, and I met up with Ian for a trip out of St Andrews in early August, but Alcatraz saw no action at all.
To be fair, the second trip on the the little SIB was on a beautiful calm morning and I had a couple of hours on the River Garry wreck which produced a nice ling of 9.5lbs plus some decent codling and pollack, so there were certainly fish about for the taking.
St. Andrews was slow at times, with a lot of small pollack and codling showing, although Ian showed his customary expertise with the spinning rod and knocked out several decent pollack as we sat at anchor.
Weather: Variable WNW wind, everything from force 1 to 4. Sun and scattered showers. Mild Sea: Slight wave action, but a fairly unpleasant wind against tide chop in evening. Time: Roughly 3.30 – 9.00 p.m. – 5.5 hours Tides: HW approx 6.00 p.m., and a moderate tide
Today had a sort of will we, won’t we feel to it as the forecast edged towards the iffy side, but the afternoon actually looked OK with a stiff NW breeze blowing and more sunshine than showers on the go. We left harbour without drama and safely negotiated the small fleet of sailng dinghies that was adding to the hazards posed by dozens of pot buoys in the area just to seaward.
Stopping at a mark a few miles along the coast we quickly found we were drifting quickly – over 2.5 mph – and I hit into a pot rope within a minute or two and promptly lost my end gear. Lesson learnt we headed along to find some less pot festooned ground and tried another drift. This produced a few coalies and undersized pollack, but no cod, and we decided to anchor for a while and see how things went.
We didn’t last too long before the anchor broke out and had to be reset, but it was definitely an easier time than drifting so we stuck with it and picked up smallish numbers of smallish codling, plus some decent coalies and a couple of mackerel. Ian had had a fish of about 4.5lbs but the rest were pretty small when my baited hokkai rig bent over hard and I felt a better fish on. This fish gave a decent account of itself but it wasn’t too long before it was carefully lifted aboard the Raider. It was obviously a nice codling, but I was surprised when the scales went round to 9lbs (a weight confirmed later in the harbour), as that made it my biggest for several years.
We carried on at anchor for another hour or so before things went completely quiet and we headed off for a final set of drifts on a fresh mark. This produced instant results in the shape of strings of small codling with a few coalfish and mackerel thrown in. Although we had only 2 or 3 drifts before heading in this certainly bumped the numbers up and I ended the day with 41 codling and a good number of coalfish. Ian more than doubled these numbers, with slightly fewer codling but more coalies, although some of the coalie we caught were bigger than the codling.
Weather: Dry, with a mix of scattered clouds and sunshine. Light ENE wind Sea: 2-3 foot NE swell, but fairly clear water Tides: HW approx 1230. Smallish tide Time: Roughly 0930-1430 – 5 hours
First shot on Ian Raider out of St Andrews this year, and I was reasonably hopeful after a successful trip from Dunbar the week before. The weather had been pretty iffy during the week, but looked OK for the Friday, so the day off work was arranged and the gear sorted out.
Leaving St Andrews the chop was mild with little underlying swell, and better weather than forecast, so we headed well to the east. Our first few drifts close in produced relatively little, so we headed out a little way where we started picking up decent numbers of codling, working our way up to around 40 or so over the next couple of hours. As the tide turned the fish went off the feed and Ian took us back inshore again for another drift, with a view to anchoring up after a couple of runs across the mark.
However fish hit almost instantly and we rapidly changed our minds about anchoring as there were clearly large numbers of respectable codling about. In the next 90 minutes another 60 codling came aboard, with the best hitting 6.5 lbs and the average a very respectable size for inshore cod in the early summer. They were taking all combinations of lures and baits, including a few more to my pink redgill.
Final total – 51 cod to me and 49 to Ian, although he scored extra for the ling and coalies. First time we’ve broken the 100 mark in several years.
Weather: Mainly overcast with a little sun, light SSW wind. Chilly Sea: Fairly clear water, with a small 2 foot E swell. Time: Roughly 11-4.30 p.m. Tides: Small tides, LW around 3 p.m.
After a discussion around Etive v St Andrews, we opted for a late season east coast coddie session, despite the awkwardness of the tides and the need to come back in the dark. Ian’s outboard wasn’t cooperating and refused to rev high enough to get us on the plane, so it was a slow chug along the coast, broken by a couple of unproductive inshore drifts, until we got to our preferred marks.
Although we’d only a fairly short session actually fishing here, there were decent numbers of codling about – all in the 2-5lb range and I totalled 14, with Ian about the same. 3 ling also came to the boat, all of a reasonable size compared to St Andrews rather low average for ling. The tide was a very small one but the drift speed was actually faster than normal, and still held at 1-1.2 knots even when the wind stopped altogether, so this was probably a factor.
All to soon the light faded as the sun set and we plodded our way back home in the dark, dodging most (but not all!) the lobster pots that litter the last mile of the approach back to harbour.
Weather: Light E wind, dry and sunny Sea Conditions: A moderate (4 foot or so) swell from the NE, but water was clear Time: 1330-1900 – 5.5 hours Tides: LW approx 1040, largish tide
Fished with Ian and Tim on Ian’s Raider, taking advantage of our rare tee-shirt weather. Mackerel were a bit elusive to start with but we managed a couple for bait and started drift fishing for codling. Although light, the wind was running against tide so the rate of drift was pretty slow and the fishing was steady rather than rapid fire. Best illustration of this was me catching 3 scorpian fish, more than I normally catch in a year, as we crawled across the bottom. There were good numbers of smallish codling about and I ended up with 26, so the boat total must have been respectable – certainly more than 60, which isn’t to be sneezed at.
A couple of quick reports on St Andrews and Dunbar at the end of May/early June. First off was a trip in Ian’s Raider a few miles along the coast from St Andrews. This proved to be a fairly typical trip – i.e. plenty of codling – and we picked up around 30 each, plus a good number of small coalies. No mackerel, although the sonar and other boats suggested they were about in decent numbers.
A few days later I took my inflatable out for 2 or 3 hours from Skateraw beach near Dunbar – this time the coddies were slow to put in an appearance but there were plenty of mackerel. Coalies around in numbers too, plus a little pollack and a short spined sea scorpian to round off the species count.