Late Season Rod-Benders

End of the day, end of the season

Having shared my kayak with what many would consider to be the fish of a lifetime, I knew I would have to drop my ambition level and be content with the fish of a lunchbreak. And in November you really can’t be fussy so I was pleased to have caught this garfish during a session on the south Cornwall coast at Fowey this morning, even though it was pitifully small:

Fowey Garfish

 And I ‘m not sure how far I dragged this poor little bass along behind my kayak while trolling a rubber sandeel as it pulled no line out of the reel at all. Fortunately it was none the worse for wear after its fresh air foray, and tried to slash me with its gill covers.

Feisty little bass

 As always there were plenty of shags (and a few cormorants) looking reptilian on every headland, and this little gang seemed to be sporting their oily green breeding plumage already….surely not.

A stagger of shags

Actually come to think of it the adults are always that colour.

It was such a warm and sunny Guy Fawkes day that Mr. Fox was sunning himself on a grassy headland and had no idea of my passing.

Foxy being rather more dozing than cunning

 I think I have mentioned before that I have invested in a couple of Penn spinning  reels that were moderately (but still under £50) expensive, as I am getting fed up with ultra budget reels that seize up  with the slightest wiff of salty air, and make a scrunchy rusty noise when a decent fish pulls line off the reel. Or else they just jam up completely and the rod leaps about in its holder for a few seconds before the line breaks.

One is a Penn Pursuit, and the other is a Penn Sargus. Or strictly speaking ‘was’ because the Sargus is currently sitting on the bottom of the Bristol channel following the capsize incident while I was reeling in a tope off Lynmouth. Anyway, I am very pleased with the Pursuit as it still reels sweetly and fish pull line off the reel with an excellent ringing metallic buzz…very satisfactory.

Penn Pursuit......highly recommended

During October I was fortunate enough to hook several decent fish which made the Pursuit sing and give the bendiness of my rod a bit of a workout.

I spent several hours drifting about off Dizzard point with a mackerel fillet on a hefty hook fished close to the bottom. Boredom would have consumed me had it not been for little groups of shearwaters zipping past. Then my reel buzzed and up came the heavy and surprisingly inactive dead weight of an 8lb cod.

8lb cod

And this was followed a few days later by a hat-trick of 3lb pollack, 3lb codling and 4lb ling. Unlike most of my catches, these were kept for supper and the fish tasting trial gave the cod the max points for tastiness, with the ling a close second. 

Pollack, ling, codling

 It was back to Spain for a few days over half-term and the casual observer might have been forgiven for thinking that the rain in Spain falls mainly on the Costa del Sol. I wasn’t hopeful of catching anything big here, as the sea resounds to the throb of trawlers (when the wind isn’t howling) the whole time. And the fishermen on the shore use tiny hooks to catch unbelievably tiny fish. When they saw me coming in with a mackerel fillet on a huge hook they sniggered and made comments to the effect that I was wasting my effort big time. Yes my Spanish is creaky,  if not non-existent,  and in common with many English abroad I just speak loudly and increasingly irritatedly (why can’t they understand?).

But I persisted in my efforts to hook a Spanish whopper and was rewarded in the most unexpected manner. I spent several hours trolling big expensive lures around, miles offshore, in the vain hope of catching a tuna. Not a dicky bird. One day I was forced to keep close to the beach by an offshore wind and was trolling a mini jointed plug when the line from my Pursuit zinged out when I was only a stones throw from land. Surely I had snagged the bottom, but no some beast was tugging away and I spent a good ten minutes getting it to the side of the kayak…..this was one of the most spirited fights I have had.OK I had the drag set pretty lightly coz  no way was this one getting away. I was expecting bass but a long thin fin at the surface made me think….it can’t be….tuna!

Little plug, big fish

 It’s gill covers looked finger-friendly (unlike bass) and I hauled it on board.Quite a fish…well, six pounds in fact as I found out later.

Exotic mediterranean fish.......is it a tuna?

 There’s no tank well in my Disco so it had to share the footwell with my bare feet for the paddle back. Not pleasant for my feet but probably quite a lot more unpleasant for the fish.

Sorry but I’m a bloke so I had to have the ‘trophy’ photo:

Hold it away from your body....it looks bigger

I marched back to the villa and announced we were having tuna for tea but when the fillets were cut it didn’t look awfully like tuna but that’s because it usually comes in a tin ( I explained). And it tastes like mackerel that has been left on the shelf for a week. Not so easy to explain….and I agree….but not a WEEK.

After that big excitement normal service was resumed and it was back to catching little fish, even though they might have a big sting:

Weever on deep diving plug

The Chub mackerel which I gave to the fishermen (who seemed to be impressed with its large size) was sneakily nibbled by a marauding Turnstone.

Might I suggest 'Peckfish' rather than 'Turnstone'

The locals also said we had no chance of seeing any dolphins…… 

It wasn’t until we got back to blighty that , after ages trawling through fish photos on the internet, I found out that the big Spanish fish was in fact not a tuna….it was a rather drably named ‘leerfish’. Gloom.

And, to finish with,  possibly my last rodbender of the season, an 8lb pollack caught on orange hokkais near Land’s End.

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