Gary and Andrew would also be coming along so on a sunny morning we met at the launch mark in Mounts Bay. The sun was shining and there was not a breath of wind, proper summer weather! It would be a fair paddle out with the mark located approx. 3 miles offshore. It would be a great chance to get accustomed with the Rytmo so i was looking forward to it.
The sea met the sand without a ripple. I slid the hull onto the water, jumped on and put in my first paddle strokes in on the new kayak. Initially it felt new, and then became very familiar. I can only really compare it with the Tempo, given its similar hull design. The seating position is higher and it feels it, not in a negative way but it just feels different to the Tempo. Other than that it paddles very similarly to the Tempo on calm water. It was paddling really well! Gary was on his Tempo and the Rytmo kept up with it without a problem. It was a joy to paddle! I soon had the rudder down and was snaking all over the place to test it responsiveness - all good! On the flat water the Rytmo comfortably cruised at 4 knots without breaking a sweat. Push it hard and it was moving at over 5 knots. The glide on this kayak is incredible too!
The water really was calm. Not a ripple broke the glassy surface. It was reflection perfection....
These really are the perfect conditions for venturing offshore. We all had entered the GPS co-ordinates onto our chart plotters so it was a case of paddling straight to the mark.
Less than an hour later of paddling through jellyfish soup (there were thousands!) and we were nearing the mark and looked eagerly at the fish finders to locate the wreck. Flat bottom, flat bottom, flat bottom, Wooooaaaaahhhh! The wreck rose high above the sea bed 180ft below and showed really well on the Dragonflys down vision. Excellent, we had found it. Gary and Andrew were soon seeing the feature on their fish finders too. We worked out which way we were drifting and set up anchor so that we would sit over the top of it. Andrew put the anchor down on the Moken 12.5. Gary and myself tethered off his bow. This would allow us to be close to each other over the mark and, should help be needed with a fish, moving to one another would be easy.
Mackerel would be the special of the day and soon we were all sending flappers down to the wreck. I was using an Ugly Stik Classic 30lb rod, with an Abu 7000 loaded with 30lb mono. The rig was simple and involved a running ledger, with an 8oz weight on a 15lb weak link and a 3ft 150lb mono trace terminating in an 8/0 Mustard O'Shaughnessy hook.
All was quiet for a while until Andrew went to check his bait. "I think I'm snagged".... i turned around to see a Fladen Maxximus Solid Carbon bent in half, but the tip was nodding. "its a fish! Give it some to get it away from he wreck!". All sorts of noises and explicits flew through the air as Andrew did battle with his first Eel. I don't think he expected them to be so powerful....
The fish took line several times and gave Andrew a right old pasting! A Conger 15-20lb was soon thrashing around at the surface. A quick photo and the fish was unhooked and powering off back to the bottom. A promising start.
Andrew played the whole "i'm going to check my bait again" trick a short while later and hooked into his second eel of the day, a smaller fish of around 10lb. Gary was next to get his rod bent. A good old tussle ensued as Gary got to grips with his first Conger. It's a good workout bringing them up through nearly 200ft of water!
Eventually he brought his fish to the kayak, estimated around the 15lb or so mark. A quick unhook and it was off to the bottom again.
All went quiet for a while again. Smaller fish kept us occupied and we caught Pollack, Pouting, Poor Cod and Haddock on small baits.
I was beginning to wonder if i would even get a bite. It had been a good while since Garys Eel but finally i had a solid bite from the depths below. The fish was slowly moving off with the bait so i gave it some time before i set the hook...... All hell broke loose!
The 30lb class Ugly Stik Classic hooped over as i put pressure on the fish to steer it clear of the wreck. Pump and wind, pump and wind.... this fish felt decent. Violent head shaking and hard lunges jerked the rod tip down as the fish tried to retreat back to the wreckage. A minute or so later and the fish was in the relative safety of mid water. It was slow progress as i didn't want to rush the fish but after 5 minutes it was nearing the surface....and then it changed its mind and went on a long powerful run back towards the bottom! The rod tip was in the water and line pulled from the reel. These really are powerful fish. A few minutes later it was back beneath the kayak and a long grey shape emerged from the blue depths. "That looks bigger!". Once on the surface the thrashing and death rolling began. i grabbed the trace and brought the eel alongside the kayak. It was certainly looking to be a PB!
I grabbed my short-handled gaff and waited until i could slip it under its chin. I find it safer for both you and the fish to unhook/photo/sort out a conger when chin gaffed. Otherwise it just death rolls, slimes everywhere, bites anything and everything near its mouth and thrashes uncontrollably. That can become very dangerous on a kayak. A chin gaff through the bottom of the mouth does no more damage than the hook in its mouth and soon heals up. Gaffing in the guts or side of the head will not bode well for the fish and is to be avoided. If it's lip hooked then it's easy to release beside the kayak. This fish had taken the hook down so it was a gaff job, and then out with the T-bar disgorger. I pulled the fish onto the kayak for a few quick photos before release.
I had no way of weighing or measuring the fish accurately but it was somewhere between 30 and 40lb. Several people have said around 35lb so i'm happy to take that. A new PB for me!
After all that excitement things went quiet. A few small bits and bobs were being caught. I had a small bite on a Conger bait which turned out to be a fat Whiting just under 2lb.
It was soon time to head in so we up anchored and began the paddle back. A bit of tide was running along the coast so the paddle back took a little while longer than the paddle out. At least i could keep track of the progress being made on the Dragonfly. Gary and myself had made quite a bit of ground over Andrew on the Moken so i hung back at waited for him. I chucked a set of hokkais down whilst waiting and first drop 3 Mackerel jumped on the hooks!
Bite Adventures passed on the inside of me whilst returning from an offshore Sharking trip, so i took the chance to get a photo. On pressing the shutter a dark fin appeared in the foreground. I looked off the bow of my kayak and a Sunfish was swimming towards me! I had been photobombed by a Sunfish!
It came close so i stuck the camera under water. It was looking particularly fat, perhaps it had been gorging on the numerous Jellyfish that were about.
Andrew caught up a few minutes later so we snapped a few photos of the Rytmo before paddling in to meet Gary.
We landed and finished the day off with an Ice cream sat in the sun, all smiling that we had caught the target fish. I love it when a plan comes together. Perfect!
The first session on the Rytmo went very well. There appears to be very little, if any, difference in speed between paddling the Rytmo and the Tempo on calm water. I found the deck features well laid out, and having a centre hatch is really useful for all the bits and pieces you need to keep within easy reach. The slightly higher seating position and a drop more stability, are the only real differences that can be felt when paddling the Rytmo compared to the Tempo, but that will soon become normal with more use. I'm looking forward to chucking it through some messy stuff and seeing what she can do!
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