2 October 2011 – Dunbar

Weather: Peeing rain for most of the time, but light winds and mild
Sea: Slight chop around 1 foot, but pretty calm. Water was clear
Time: 0700-1130 – 4.5 hours
Tides: HW 0625 (5.1m) LW 12:22 (1.1m) BST

This was planned as a shortish trip out using the inflatable in search of mackerel bait for winter fishing, and dawn saw me unloading the car at the old lifeboat slip in Skateraw bay. The tide was well in so it was only a few feet to the waters edge and the Rover was soon put together and loaded up with a couple of rods and all the usual junk I take with me.

Although it was quite mild, it was raining fairly hard and it that was how it stayed for most of the morning as I quietly got damper and damper in the almost waterproof waterproofs. Apart from that the wind was light and the drift was slow but OK as I headed out about a mile from the bay and started feathering for some bait. Mackerel hit within seconds and the coolbox rapidly filled up which let me swap over to the bottom rod and a chunky mackerel fillet fished on a 6/0 to see if anything larger was about.

Results were steady rather than great, but a couple of ling and 9 codling eventually came to the boat – much better than the dire fishing of a month back. I finished off with another quick session for mackerel before heading in.

Some kind soul has added a plywood surface to the older part of the slip that was dodgy beforehand, so I could take the 4WD down onto the beach and collect the dinghy at low water – saves a long haul carrying the wretched thing piece by piece.

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29 June 2011 – Aberdeen

Weather: Light, variable wind, dry and sunny
Sea Conditions: Small (2 foot) swell, but pretty clear water
Time: 0830-1600 – 7.5 hours
Tides: LW approx 0700, mid-range tide

Close inshore, off Findon
Close inshore, off Findon
Caves north of Cove Bay
Caves north of Cove Bay

Been a couple of years since I’d taken the inflatable up to Aberdeen but it’s one of my favourite east coast venues, mainly because you end up with a different perspective on the shore marks you tend to fish at other times – an awful lot of the fishing is done within a few yards of the rock edges.

I launched at Cove with the aim of heading up to Greg Ness and then working my way down to Findon over the day, spending a wee while on each of a series of marks close inshore. It ended up being a day with a good start and a happy ending, but a rather slow middle part. The slow part was due to a slight wind against tide problem for several hours – nothing dangerous but it destroyed the drift quite effectively, and hence the fishing. I still ended up with around 22-23 codling and a wrasse for my trouble – nothing above 5lbs but a nice day out for all that.

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28 June 2011 – Dunbar (Inflatable)

Weather: Light N/NNE wind, warm, dry and sunny
Sea Conditions: Calm and clear
Time: 1300-1630 – 2.5 hours
Tides: HW approx 1430, mid-range tide

A case of grabbing a little sunshine whilst I could – not brilliant fishing, but a lot better than most of the alternatives! Ended up with a few codling, mackerel, tiny coalies, a small pollack and a pouting.

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May 4 – Dunbar

Weather: Sunny and warm, easterly F2 or 3
Sea: Quite choppy, with wind against tide later
Time: 1030-1230 – 2 hours
Tides: LW 09:51  3.9m tide

A quickie first trip of the year from Dunbar, just to see if the coddies were in yet. Rather than get stiffed for a £15 launch fee at the harbour I decided to use the inflatable and launch from Skateraw with the aim of drifting the Torness area. Launching at low tide is a bit of a killer since the Council blocked off vehicle access to the beach, with multiple trips hauling the boat, engine and assorted kit down the beach but before long I was heading out the inlet towards the open sea.

The wind was a bit stronger than forecast and blowing against the tide so it was a rather wet ride out to the marks and I was glad of the full set of waterproofs I donned before leaving shore. Even with a drogue out the drift was averaging 1.5 mph or more so it wasn’t quite as leisurely as I’d like, but there were a few fish showing and some rather scrawny codling were surfaced and returned. My time was limited and the sea continued to rise as the tide picked up, so I called it a day after a couple of hours – nothing fantastic, but I was happy enough to get a few early season fish under my belt.

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March 4th 2011 – Loch Carron

Weather: Calm or light SW wind, mainly overcast. Chilly.
Sea: Calm, clear and cold
Time: Roughly 0845-1445 – 6 hours
Tides: LW around 1330 – largish tide

I hadn’t been up to Loch Carron for 6 or 7 years, since Ian and I had a windswept week struggling to find a few fish in late autumn 2004. It’s over 200 miles from Edinburgh, so not an easy daytrip and something like 5 hours driving if you’re towing a boat. However the plan was to use the inflatable (therefore no trailer hassle, and only a 4 hour drive), and then head up to see my dad in Nairn for the weekend. From that point of view it’s little more than a 150 mile detour – less than a Loch Etive trip.

Dolphins chase my inflatable
Dolphins chase my inflatable

An early start saw me launching from the Stromeferry slip before 9 a.m., heading towards the avalanche shelter area in search of a codling or two. After a mile or two I came reasonably close to a prawn creeler, and could see a pair of dolphins splashing around it. Once they picked up the sound of the outboard engine they made a beeline for me, easily traceable as the ploughed across the flat calm surface of the loch. I then had the pleasure of their company for the best part of an hour as I made my way up to the avalanche shelter and for a fair time afterwards as I tried to fish it. I’ve seen dolphins many times before, mainly on the east coast, but these were the most persistent I’ve encountered and the only ones I’ve ever caught on camera or video. Take a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hgiqCQjt1A

Stretching my legs
Stretching my legs

After the dolphins eventually got bored and bu**ered off I started to pick up a few fish, mainly smallish ling in the 3-4lbs bracket on mackerel baited hokkais fished on a slow drift. I’d guess I fished roughly half to three quarters of a mile of the loch, centred on the avalanche shelter. The water got deep quickly, reaching 120 feet within easy casting distance of the shelter, even deeper from the point 200 or 300 yards to the west – perhaps 180 feet or more. Over the day I picked up 8 ling and a single codling, plus a heap of mussels for dinner later in the week. Nothing big or exciting but a decent day for March and no cause for complaint. I packed up early only because I had to be in Nairn for 5’ish and I dare say the score would have been higher if I’d hung around a bit longer.

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10 Feb 2011 – Loch Etive

A few hours fishing from my Rover inflatable on Loch Etive – chilly but otherwise a beautiful day, with a few thornbacks and spurdogs appearing to keep things interesting.

Weather: Calm, sunny and beautiful – but a bit chilly
Sea Conditions: Flat calm.
Time: Roughly 0900-1630 – 7.5 hours
Tides: HW approx. 1100

Ben Starav from Loch Etive
Ben Starav from Loch Etive

The weather’s been it’s typical wintry self recently – cold, wet and windy – but I grabbed a few hours of calm between the gales to give Etive a try. I’ve been trying to run-in the little 5hp Tohatsu O/B I bought back in September and also get my Rover inflatable back into more regular use, so it was a chance to kill two birds with one stone, and hopefully get a few fish as well.

The 120 mile trip across to Taynuilt was certainly easier and quicker without hauling the usual trailer, although there were some terrific potholes around the Tyndrum area which had to be treated with caution in the semi-darkness. Arriving at the old pier the weather was beautiful – calm and sunny – and I quickly got the inflatable set up and ready to go.

Ready for a day on the loch
Ready for a day on the loch

Once out on the loch I headed out for a couple of hundred yards and then tied up to the outermost mooring buoy and set up a couple of rods – a spinning rod armed with hokkais and 20lb class rod with a standard 1 up 1 down mackerel baited rig. Fishing was fairly slow, but three respectable thornies and a couple of doggies appeared over the next 90 minutes before I decided to move further up the loch beyond Bonawe. The rest of the day I spent tied up to the fish farm or on a slow drift, and it wasn’t the most productive experience, with only a couple more thornbacks, 2 spurdogs and a few LSDs making an appearance.

Although sunny, the day was still very cold and I was quite glad to pack up around 4 o’clock as I was starting to freeze – one of the downsides of an inflatable is the level of exposure coupled with an inability to move around to keep warm.

Totals for the day – 5 thornbacks to 5lbs, 2 spurdogs to 3.5lbs and 7 doggies. All on mackerel baits.

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