Artificial

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From the water’s edge

October 2014 - Never mind the pollocks

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We didn’t go for the fishing of course. Loz and I are both mad keen wildlife photographers and it was otters and eagles that led us back to the Isle of Mull. But then we are both mad keen lure fishermen too and the rods had to go in, just in case ... of what exactly?

The weather to start with. Eight days of almost non-stop torrential rain and gales gave us the perfect excuse to leave our cameras back at the cottage to dry out while we went back out to top up our trench feet and pruned fingers.

Loads of rocks whose feet never saw the air even at low tide gave us clues as to where we should start. Roaring jets of wind straight off the Atlantic and barely diminished by the Americans before they set them on us meant that choosing the best bank to fish from was easy; whichever was most sheltered by those stunning, russet mountains would do and so we set off into the gloom.

I used my old mainline John Wilson spinning rod as usual armed with 4” never-fail white curly tails on 10 gram jigheads and failed. The clock was ticking and no takes. Wish I’d never bothered but where there are rocks surely there would be blennies and didn’t I chuck in my ultra light canal grubs at the last minute?

So out went a 1.5” black glitter curly on a 2gram jighead plop ... Bang, bang, missed; bang, bang, missed; bang, bang, missed. You get the idea. It took a few casts to work it out. Don’t strike just wind and in the next four hours I had well over a hundred. 1 - 3 ounce pollack and coalfish. Every cast a take, in fact several takes followed by a fish.

These tiny little fellows would flash up from the depths and grab the lure even if, or rather, especially if it was skipping through the waves, from any depth of water. Trouble was the rod was a bit too heavy both for casting 2 gm baits and playing 3 oz fish. I needed a rod designed for light rock fishing, so next morning it was off to Tobermory, capital city population seemingly about fifty. A few shops selling soap and chocolate, a co-op and one fine establishment selling tackle and books. No chance of an lrf set-up there I thought and reading the specifications on the butts of the few rods lined up on the rack seemed to confirm this. 10-35gm, 15-45 gm, those two looked to be the lightest, so no hope really and then I happened to glance at the tips. No way on the face of God’s good earth would either of those rods cast 35 grams, 7 maybe, but not 35. I wiggled, tested against the ceiling and bought the lightest 9 footer. Absolutely brilliant, the rod I have been searching for for years. A Mitchell, premium spinning rod for £25. Obviously at that price it would surely last all day before falling to pieces.

I’ll tell you how good it was, the next day after I had caught and enjoyed another hundred plus catch of small pollack and coalies on the new rod, we raced back to Tobermory and Loz bought the 15-45 gm version. It was even better and will be a perfect 9 ft river rod for ultra lighting.

Properly tooled up now we set off for the opposite bank as the wind changed and almost unbelievably the sun poked its nose round the corner and the rain dried up - mostly.

What fun we had then. True, we ran out of 2 gm jigheads, but we soon knocked some up out of long shank fine wire hooks by bending the shank, pinching a single swan shot on the angle and fixing it with superglue.

The fish got a bit bigger and the light rods allowed them to show off their surprising strength. Eventually we had them to a pound or so and anything over 4 ounces would dive like a submarine for the rocks making our clutches buzz in irritation that such small fish should be so bold.

Needless to say as lure anglers we tried bigger lures, but they failed us and despite every cast at the surface resulting in a fish, we spent a lot of time testing the depths for better fish.

I don’t know how far the tide rose and fell, fifteen feet maybe, but we could fish the top of the submerged seaweed at high tide even with 2 gram jigs. There was no flow, just a steady rise and fall.

Eventually we located a new species. Fishing as deep as possible, small cod up to a pound would take the lures as they accelerated up and away from the seaweed. Three turns and drop it back down to a count of three and we would get another chance. I even had a 1-8 sea trout to round the list off nicely although it was about as determined to escape as a rotten lettuce. Give me some more light rock fishing again soon, please.  

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