I’d been given a tip regarding an offshore mark full of big cod. The rare combination of a bank holiday weekend and light winds gave me a once-a-year shot at this. The only problem being the boat’s fish-finder had packed in, so we’d be unsure of depth and bottom type, and had to rely on the chart plotter, and ‘feel’ the sea floor with our leads.
We used a combination of soft plastic lures on booms and long traces; and hokkais. Pollack seemed to like them, even if nothing else did. We persisted for a while, but couldn’t find the cod. This ‘Hot Spot’ was turning into a ‘Not Spot’. Some of the pollack were a decent enough size though; I had a couple over 2 lb and the largest on the boat was 4 lb+.
With the forecast light winds, there was an outside chance of going shark fishing in the Celtic Deeps the following day…IF we could catch enough mackerel for rubby-dubby and bait. I re-tackled with feathers and dropped the line overboard. The had only reached a shallow depth – barely out of sight really – before the first bites came. I pulled in two very small mackerel. Now, we’ve all caught the odd small mackerel amongst the bigger ones, but ALL of the mackerel today were a lot smaller than usual. No big ones at all. The smallest comfortably fitted on one hand. No respectable shark was going to be caught on these. I returned the small fish and kept fishing away hoping in vain to find a shoal of bigger mackerel. Small fish point to good future stocks, but where had the bigger ones gone today?
A gannet worked the surface. Diving to catch a small fish here and there. It couldn’t seem to consistently locate a shoal of fish we could home in on.
A short distance away, is a spot of rough water where I’d caught cod before. I baited a 5/0 circle hook with the tail-half of a mackerel. A 46cm bass took a fancy to this, and the 30lb boat-road made a simple task of swinging the fish over the side. It is my first keeper-sized bass of the year, and was to be the only one for the boat today.
On a nearby sandbank, I dragged a ABU Rauto spoon and mackerel strip, hoping for a turbot. No fish of any kind were interested. Not even a gurnard, which is unusual at this mark. This bank can also give dab and plaice to ragworm bait (but I’d been unable to source any today).
In the near distance, I saw a solitary fin. It flapped from side to side as it closed in on our position. I recognised this as a sunfish. The fin was about 18 inches tall, and I estimate the fish to be the same size as a dustbin lid. This is only the second time I’ve seen one in this area. We intercepted the fish to take some photos. As we came alongside, it dived away, not to be seen again.
I’ve read sunfish are jellyfish-eaters, so I didn’t attempt to catch it. Maybe it would have responded to a light-coloured soft-plastic lure wafted in front of its mouth?
Whilst we paused to fillet today’s catch, I feathered for more mackerel. Still more tiny fish. Nevertheless, a great day out on the water. I’m torn between which was the highlight of the day; catching a decent bass or seeing the sunfish.
- 5 Pollack
- 14 Mackerel
- 1 Bass