Down West for the Annual blues trip

Penzance situated at the far West of the UK offers a gateway to the rich waters of the Atlantic and the small fleet of charter boats that depart from the port put anglers onto some of the best blue shark fishing available off the UK.

I arrived at Penzance on the eve of what has become an annual trip. The sun was shining on arrival with the bright blue agapanthus and palm trees swaying in a warm summer breeze. Timing a trip with the break of the school holidays was probably not the wisest of moves as the resort was teaming with visitors. I am not a lover of driving longish distances before and after fishing so I had booked a room at a sea front guest house.

First priority was to have a short session after the grey mullet that thrive in the local harbours. Newlyn with its busy fishing harbour always holds a certain appeal with the hustle and bustle of a working port. Float fished cod flesh soon brought plenty of bites that proved frustratingly difficult to connect with. Several good sized mullet were observed swimming close into the harbourside. Positioning my bait close in I was able to watch as they nudged the bait suspiciously. After a couple of hours of enjoyable and frustrating fishing the float sank for the umpteenth time and I felt that delightful connection. A small mullet of around 1lb 8oz was safely netted.

The shark fishing day started early at 4.55am on a sour note. A whats-App ping on the phone brings news that the trip organisers car had gone into limp mode and he would not be joining us.

At 6:45am I arrived at the harbourside ready for the 7.00 am departure. Bruce, Dan and John were all ready and eager for the day ahead. Kieran gave us all a cheery greeting. I asked how the previous days fishing had been and was told it had been a chilled day with seven shark to the boat. The result of a combination of recent weather conditions and big spring tides.

The boat set out bouncing over a calm sea. Pods of dolphins entertained us throughout the trip to the shark grounds leaping from the water often seemingly in synchronized formation. On this occasion my efforts to capture an image failed miserably.

We chatted of fish and fishing as the land slowly faded into obscurity. Far off the land gannets and other sea birds glided as they hunted the ocean.

Eventually the engine note changed as Kieran eased the boat to a halt somewhere far out in the deep blue yonder.  Bruce, Dan and I were keen to see the baits go out beneath the optimistically bobbing floats. A glance at John told  the story of that the age old curse of the sea. Pale and drained of life it was not to be a good day as mal de mer took its toll on John who had a miserable day.

The aroma of rubby-dubby probably didn’t help as the sacks were filled with a fishy cocktail of fish, bran and oils. Within minutes an oily slick appeared in the wake of the boat. The bright pop bottle floats suspending fresh whiting at varying depths.

Bruce Elston keeps the bait coming

We drew the customary straws and I was pleased to get number 1. John had declined an offer of first shark. Baited feathers were sent down the sea bed to catch a steady supply of fresh whiting for bait. After half an hour a shark took the distant bait and I tightened into the first shark of the day. A few minutes later a blue of around 60lb was at the side of the boat the circle hook neatly in the scissors.

Enjoying the battle

A pleasing blue to start the day

A day’s sharking is always exciting with a constant suspense awaiting the scream of  a reel or disappearance of a float. In the vast rolling ocean, the mystery of what lurks beneath the surface entrances. As the day unfolds there are short bursts of activity and on two occasions we have double hook ups that give a few anxious moments.

Dan Miles Redmore takes the strain

A quick picture in the water

Bruce sets the circle hook

75lb of blues power

In Penzance terms today was a slow day with eleven blues to around 75lb brought to the side of the boat. The days of bringing these fish on board has passed with all fish unhooked quickly at the side of the boat. These beautiful fish look awesome in the clear water and its great to see them swim strongly away after unhooking to disappear into the aqua blue water of the Atlantic.

We lingered for a while hoping for one more shark but as always eventually it’s time to call it a day. We motor back to Penzance glimpsing dolphins once again in the wake of the boat. Gannet’s dive into the water undoubtedly feasting upon mackerel. I always find the vast sky and rolling waters fascinating and so alive.

As we approach the harbour Bite Adventures bounces across the waves on its twin hull and a party of anglers give us a cheery wave.

Penzance is bustling with summer tourists as staycations boom. Were already plotting next year’s voyages to the deeps.

SAMARCH Project aims to track salmon and sea trout migrations.

Several North Devon sea anglers expressed concern when they spotted large numbers of net floats in the area off North Devon’s headlands. Rumours spread rapidly that this could be illegal fishing activity. A call to the local Environment Agency confirmed that the nets were part of an important research programme to help protect salmon and sea trout stocks. The SAMARCH Project Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust . www.gwct.org.uk For further information on this project visit https://www.samarch.org

SAMARCH is a five-year project with a grant of €5.8m from the EU’s France (Channel) England Interreg Channel programme.

The SAMARCH project will :

  • Provide novel information on the survival and migration of young salmon and sea trout in four estuaries of the Channel area
  • Provide novel information on the movements and swimming depths of adult sea trout in the Channel
  • Create a genetic data base for trout on both sides of the Channel
  • Create a map of areas that are important for sea trout in the Channel based on sea scape
  • Provide new information to further improve the models used in England and France to manage their salmonid stocks
  • Train students in the management of coastal and transitional waters
  • Engage with stakeholders throughout the project
  • Inform current and develop new policies for the better management of salmonid stocks in our coastal and transitional waters

There is close working between the IFCAs and the EA in coastal waters with the EA focussing on migratory fish within I believe six miles off the coast. Anglers are urged to contact the EA on 0800807060 if they have any concerns regarding illegal fishing or pollution.

SUMMER NIGHTS

A gentle surf pushed into the beach as I strolled in the shallow water enjoying the coolness in the late afternoon heat. I searched the water for the fish I had been told would be there amongst the bathers. Amongst a slightly foamy coloured band of water, I found what I was looking for hundreds of mullet darting to and fro apparently feasting up on an algal feast.

I cast expectantly with a team of flies designed to attract the wily mullet. As the waves turned mullet could be seen in the small waves some of them a decent size. I suspected that many were golden greys though the size of some indicated that thick lips were amongst them.

A couple of times the line zipped tight but contact could not be made. As the tide started to flood the activity increased with swirling mullet all around. I cast repeatedly trying slow retrieves, quicker retrieves and static drifts. Frustration grew, the tide flooded and all of sudden they were gone.

The following night I stood upon a boulder strewn shoreline armed with a lure rod. A surface lure was cast out and worked back across the still water. The sun was descending as the day faded a golden glow of fiery light. A large swirl behind the lure gave hope. Hundreds of fish could be seen dimpling the surface. Mullet again! The fly rod was in the van but I was too lazy or too focussed on the bass to switch tactics. Another night I will return with a few bread flies and some floating crust to get them feeding. Some would say that’s cheating; but perhaps we sometimes make things too difficult for ourselves.

As the light faded expectation grew as the tide gently pushed in. An hour after dark I heard a swirl in the calm water. Next cast my soft plastic was seized, a welcome jolt of life through the line. A bass of a couple of pounds saved a blank.

The moon slowly rose above the hill, lights reflected in the mirror calm sea. The cool night air, the aroma of seaweed and fresh sea air. These summer nights are to be cherished for all too soon autumn and winter will descend bringing different challenges.

http://www.quaysports.com

Sunfish in a heatwave

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Mark Jones made a very unusual catch on Sunday off Lundy! A 52lb Sunfish hooked on baited small 3 hook feathers with Braunton Bait Box session squid. “Never seen anything like it put the rod down to unhook my sons 5lb pollock and he saw my rod tip rattle then all hell let loose. Very unusual texture and smell, quickly weighed and released.

The fish sets a new Combe Martin SAC boat record.

The British Record for a boat caught sunfish is 108lb caught off the Welsh coast in 1976. It is unlikely that this record will be beaten as the fish would need to be killed for weighing ashore something few of todays conservation minded anglers would contemplate.

Brightly Coloured success at Ilfracombe

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Toby Bassett enjoyed a great afternoon with his good friend Rob Pearson. Their target originally was mullet and they found a few nice ones feeding but only 1 take for Rob. Toby turned his attention LRF tactics with king ragworm baits. This resulted in some stunning brightly coloured wrasse. Toby also caught a flounder of 1lb 2oz. All caught in and around the Ilfracombe Harbour area.