A family holiday on the Scillies invariably involves plenty of beach days and swimming or paddling in the sea. On a few of the days we saw lots of shrimps / prawns and on the spur of the moment the girls and I filled a small bucket with some monster prawns – Perfect for bait I thought. We popped out to try a spot of float fishing with the prawns off the rocks and first cast I had a wrasse on a prawn. I passed the rod to Isobel to try her luck next, but this first fish proved to be the only one we were destined to catch with the prawns despite Isobel being phenomenally patient. After that it was back to the lure fishing….
See Parts One and Two here, to read about the fly and lure fishing side of things.
With very changeable weather throughout our recent holiday, lure fishing was by far the favoured method over all others. While the weather was mainly dry with sunny spells, the wind was pretty fearsome on certain days making lure fishing far easier than fly fishing – See Part 1.
On arrival, the first day I started off fishing with lures. Fished a sheltered bay out of the wind and used the Megabass xLayer lures fished weedless. Had a few takes and landed a small wrasse. Didn’t fish for long because of the weather conditions but was just keen to get out and pleased to start off with a fish.
Over the course of the holiday, I generally explored the east of the island and tucked myself into whichever place was most sheltered and out of the wind. The coast produced numerous nice sized wrasse to small weighed shads and soft worms fished weedless with cone weights. My biggest fish of this trip was just over 4lb.
Some days had lots of action whereas other days less so. I think finding a shallow weedy, rocky spot where the sea was calm and fishing it on the flood tide was the principle of success.
After some success on my own over a few trips, I took the family along for a try on some nice easily accessible rocks. Fished for a bit but took a while to find where the fish were. Once I’d had a couple of takes and lost a nice fish, I knew we were in the right spot so let the girls have a go. They’re used to pole fishing and have even done a spot of fly fishing but never had to cast a fixed spool reel before. I showed them how to cast and it was only a couple of casts before they were doing ok. Wrasse usually take the lures in close or under the rod tip so they had no problem reaching the fish. Rhianna had a few casts, bumped the lure back along the bottom feeling the lure hitting the rocks but was stressing she wouldn’t know what a bite felt like. I assured her she’d know and at that moment a 4.5lb wrasse decided to try to pull her in. Battling with a large wrasse with a light spinning rod is exciting stuff with no room for playing gently. She did really well to keep the fish out of the rocks and get it to the net. It proved to be the biggest fish of the holiday. Isobel and Maria also both caught wrasse. Great to see their smiling faces!
Over the course of the holiday I lost a good number of fish in the rocks having failed to stop their powerful runs. You can usually feel if its terminally stuck and you’re unlikely to see the lure again: and it’s pretty soul destroying to pull for a break when you know it’s a good fish. The fact that I’d only brought limited cone weights and worm hooks which the shop on the island didn’t stock was a little unfortunate. In these circumstances, losing too much tackle would have forced a switch of tactics. I usually crush the barbs down on my hooks and have to say never felt at any stage that I was in danger of losing a fish to a thrown hook and boy does it make it easier to unhook the fish once landed. Another benefit is that if a fish does get totally snagged where the only option left normally would be to pull for a break is that you can occasionally give it slack – at which point there’s the chance it’ll ditch the hook and you can retrieve the lure.
Two weeks of holiday in the Isles of Scilly provided the perfect opportunity for a spot of fishing – The weather was changeable throughout the holiday – generally dry with sunny spells although the wind varied between brutally strong to light. Strong winds favoured lure fishing and made fly fishing difficult (See Part 2 for a lure fishing slant). The first real chance to fly fish was on a trip to Tresco. Whilst the Family played on the beach, I explored the north end of the island to shelter from the southerly wind. Used fast sinking 40+ line which cast really well and sunk super fast – much faster than any fly lines I’ve used before. This caused problems when fishing shallower weedy marks but was really good for the deeper areas. Despite all the promise the location held, I had no interest from the fish at all sadly.
The next fly fishing opportunity was whilst fishing the rocks on the east of St Mary’s with lure and fly rod. I mainly used the lure rod and had a lot of success. I did however give the fly rod a reasonably thorough go with various flies and did have a few follows from small wrasse, but frustratingly no takes. Given that the fish were queuing up to attack the soft lures there was no contest as to which method to concentrate on.
With nicer weather forecast for one of the days it finally tempted me to pop out to Penennis Head at dawn to fish the deep water there for Pollack. The wind blowing in an awkward direction however, made things difficult and on top of this my casting was pretty atrocious too – despite this, I had numerous takes on small sparsely dressed sandeel looking flies and landed several small pollack. Just happy to catch something on the fly rod at least.
With the easy fishing and greater success on the lure rod, I found myself reaching for the lure rod rather than the fly rod for the majority of the holiday so didn’t really manage to do as much fly fishing as I had intended. Will have to be a little bit more single minded in future perhaps.
Salt Water Fly Fishing for Pollack – Isles of Scilly
I met up with Jason for an afternoons fishing on the River Brue near Glastonbury. The wind was pretty strong – certainly strong enough to dissuade me from even getting the fly rod out of the car. We both decided to tackle the river with float rods and a combination of maggots and lobworms for bait. The water was slightly coloured and with a bit of chop on the surface not exactly my ideal conditions. We set up on a corner of the river with the wind behind us where we had a bit of shelter and started loose feeding maggots. We both started catching a steady stream of silver fish – mainly chub and roach although I seemed to have found my very own shoal of minnows.
After an hour or two we moved further along the river, with the intention of targeting some of the big perch we know inhabit parts of the Brue. Fishing was slow and steady in the main, although after a while I had built up a swim of tiny but ravenous little chublets. I got lucky in the closing stages to land a lovely perch, but other than that the session was not as productive as we were hoping or expecting.. Still – this remains one of my favourite rivers.
With a couple of weeks holiday coming, it will be a while now till I get the chance to fish the Brue again. It’ll be interesting to see how it fishes in the autumn and on into the winter.
When boat fishing at Minehead I’d usually expect to catch a few rays; Blonde, Small-eyed, Spotted or Thornback. Some days we can catch quite a few during the course of the day but our last trip out of Minehead was spectacular for the quantity and quality of the Small-Eyed Ray.
Mike and I fished our usual two uptide rods each; I started with sandeel on one and herring on the other. We were fishing in close over the sand and targeting ray so it was no surprise when the first couple of Small-Eyes came up on the rods fishing the sandeel baits. The next half dozen ray came to the herring however, at which point I switched to fishing herring on both rods. Mike followed suit, and we had managed close to 20 fish in the first 2 hours – not bad fishing by anyone’s standards! To top things off, Mike pulled up not 1 but 2 small turbot. Adding to this, the complete lack of dogfish, who at this time of the year seem to go on holiday really marked this out as a red letter day!
By the time the bites tailed off, the falling tide had left us with almost no water under the keel so a move out to deeper water was in order. There we fished a variety of baits, and proceeded to land our first couple of doggies of the trip and a few conger eels. I had a few Starry Smoothhounds on crab whilst Mike boated a beautifully marked Spotted Ray. The day’s only disappointment for my point of view was losing a good fish that put a serious bend in the rod as soon as I wound into it, before giving a couple of shakes of it’s head and proceeding to bite straight through my 80lb hook length.. Needless to say, but I didn’t hear the end of that mishap for the rest of the trip.
Once the tide had turned and begun to pick back up, we moved in closer again hoping to pick up where we’d left off earlier. It wasn’t to be, and although we did have a couple more Small-Eyed Ray, they weren’t as prolific as earlier in the day. Arguably, my highlight of the day was to pull up a small turbot on a herring strip – My first ever turbot I believe!!. Small but perfectly formed!. To crown our trip off on the last cast, Mike caught a welcome bass as well, just to add to the species count. All in all I don’t think the trip could have gone much better.