Devils Thumbprint - 17th April 2016
Haddock aren't very often encountered by the kayak angler. They are a deep water species often out of range of kayak fisherman but luckily i have a mark where they come just within reach. The water is deep and you have to head a little way offshore so the calmer the conditions the better. I had some really good Haddock fishing back in 2013 with around 10 per session all around the 2lb mark, amongst various other species. Those were great sessions and certainly spurred on the excitement for this session.
The forecast was looking promising with winds less than 8mph forecast. Rob from Cornwall Canoes would be joining me for his first taste of kayak fishing. Another Rob would also be coming along to have a try at catching his first kayak Haddock. We met mid-morning at the launch and discussed tactics before taking the kayaks to the waters edge to launch. All was calm and surprisingly warm.
I would be trying out my new Palm Atom Bib for the first time, along with the new 2016 Palm Kaikoura PFD. I will be doing an initial overview of these new pieces of clothing/equipment on my blog soon.
Rigged up and kitted up we were ready to go. Its a reasonable paddle out to the mark so we took our time. Rob seemed to be enjoying getting back into paddling after a while since being in the saddle.
Once we left the shelter of the cove it was apparent the wind was more than forecast and a fair chop had been whipped up. Hmmm, not ideal at all. Persist we shall, paddle on we did.
The fish finder gradually started to show the bottom getting deeper and deeper until we reached about 170ft. Time to put the baits down. We would be fishing with mackerel strips on running ledgers with 6oz weights. I was using my Ugly Stik 6-12lb rod. It seemed to take ages for the weight to reach the bottom but it got there eventually. I talked Rob through the ropes and before i had a chance to sort my own rod out he had a bite! That was a good sign. Soon enough the rod was bent over with a fish on. He slowly worked it up and from the blue water appeared the target - a Haddock! Not bad for your first kayak fish. Only a small one but it meant they were down there.
My first bait down was also getting attention from the off. Small fish seemed to be mauling the baits and i soon had a small Whiting. Something a bit more aggressive found the next bait, and the rod tip was getting pulled quite sharply by something below. Haddock seem to have a characteristic fight and this was feeling like one. A minute or two later a pristine Haddock appeared at the surface.
Haddock are quite a pretty fish. The dorsal fin is tall and tapers to a point and there is a distinctive dark spot on the flank, said to be the Devil's Thumbprint. A lovely dark lateral line runs along the light coloured flanks. The eyes are big and have large black pupils to make the most of the low light levels in the deeper water.
Fantastic, only fishing for 10 minutes and the target had been caught. Rob soon had another 2 but the other Rob was becoming a magnet for Whiting. Another mackerel strip and more bites, the bottom was alive with fish which is a great sign. Haddock number 2 and 3 soon came, giving spirited bites all the way to the surface.
White caps were starting to show on the chop with the odd one breaking over the side of the kayak. A bit uncomfortable but the fish were there so we carried on. The Whiting persisted....
Rob got the hang of things quickly and was soon pulling up more Haddock, and still yet to catch a Whiting, beginners luck i say! I had a few more and then Rob finally got in on the act and was hooked into his first kayak caught Haddock, which turned out to be the biggest of the day at around 2lb. Target achieved for all of us!
The wind then starting picking up more and it got a bit to uncomfortable to sit amongst the white caps. We had only been on the water for a couple of hours but we had all caught plenty of fish so that was enough to call it a day. 6 Haddock for me, 6 for Rob and 1 for the other Rob - happy days and a few meals for the family.
We landed and sorted the kayaks out. I went for a walk in the Atom Bib to clean the fish slime off....
The Atom Bib held up well and were comfortable to wear on the water. The upper half was comfortable, in fact i forgot i was even wearing a bib! Paired up with a cag it makes a decent two-piece suit for when its a bit colder but take the cag off and you can wear appropriate base layers under the upper bib for the warmer days - i'll be using my Kaituna Neoflex top unless its a really hot summers day - then it'll just be a t-shirt. So far so good, i look forward to getting some more fish slime on them!
We were a bit gutted the session got cut short but we all went away happy. Bring on the next session!
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