Thursday was going to be a drag but i'm a sucker for punishment. I had been hit by a short-lived flu type illness on Tuesday so had to get all my gear ready for the meet on Wednesday evening. Ben had called into Cornwall Canoes on the Tuesday and the plan was to launch somewhere on the Thursday. He was desperately after his first Tope but with the forecast looking iffy with swell and wind hitting the North Cornwall marks i said we would have to give it a miss. A slight drop in conditions Wednesday evening saw us planning a launch early morning to target these small sharks.
The swell was reasonable and wind forecast to be 10-15mph. In reality there was hardly a breath of wind! A fair chop was present though and was throwing the kayaks around a bit. I had taken 5 mackerel incase we couldn't catch fresh bait and it was just as well i did because the mackerel were absent. Action was slow but eventually something nailed my bait and headed off at speed....
10 minutes of tusslin' later and a Tope emerged from the briny depths, swiftly hauled onboard for a photo before release - a fish of around 20lb....
Well at least we knew the fish were there. Often i have found that if the mackerel aren't present then the Tope are also not there. Fingers crossed Ben could tempt one. A little while later, whilst working a set of feathers hard to try and catch fresh bait, his rod hooped over.... and then tore off! A Tope had nailed the set of feathers, or perhaps the dexter wedge attached to the bottom of them. Either way he was in a predicament as he was using a light set up consisting of a Nomura Nevercrack 10-30g lure rod and a small fixed spool loaded with 10lb braid and no leader! This was going to be interesting. If the fish rolled, its abrasive skin would quickly wear through the braid. If the fish had taken a feather then it wouldn't be long until it bit through the mono rig body. On its first run the fish was running the reel dry of braid. Pressure on and the fish turned just in time!
Gentle but persuasive coaxing was in order and with well balanced gear the fish was being controlled well. It took time but the fish was eventually beside the kayak ready to be hauled aboard. We could now see that the fish had been hooked square in the corner of the mouth on the dexter wedge! First attempt and the fish was on Bens lap.... result!!
He was over the moon! Quite an achievement too on such light gear and a lure. The target fish had been achieved so anything else would be a bonus. It was evident that the Tope were not there in numbers. Baits were going untouched for some time. I did managed to tempt a bite, but not the savage take of a Tope. This was a Bull Huss. I gave it some time to fit the sizeable bait in its mouth and then set the hook. Often Huss will just grab onto a Tope bait and then let go near the surface. I was hoping that this wouldn't be the case as this fish had some weight to it. A big Huss soon arrived at the kayak and i could tell it was going to be a PB... a quick weigh before release and it took the scales down to 13lb!
We fished for another half hour or so but it was dead. We headed in happy. Ben had caught his first Tope and i had caught my PB Huss. It was then off to the campsite to set up the tent and plan the next day on the water. A good few were already at Ponsandane Campsite - the designated campsite for the meet. A plan was hatched to fish Sennen Cove the next day as the weather forecast was looking spectacular! An enjoyable evening was spent chatting fishing and kayaking around the campfire.
We even had a Rainbow display over the campsite, arranged months in advance of course.... to mark the start of the Penzance Kayak Fishing Meet!
Off down to Sennen early doors and we were greeted by one of my favourite views in Cornwall - a flat calm Sennen Cove. Today was going to be a good day.
Around 15 of us would be launching. I would be leading a group out to fish around the Longships Lighthouse, with others heading into the bay to fish the clean ground. Conditions were near perfect for a Longships trip. The lighthouse is perched upon an exposed reef system located approx. 2 miles from Sennen and a mile or so offshore of Lands End. It must be really calm to paddle out to the mark. The area is notorious for complex and strong tidal currents and big seas. Paddling here is only advisable in low wind and swell conditions in conjunction with neap tides - much like today!
Ben, Kev, Stu, Adam and Neil would joining me and on paddling out we were graced with a sight i will remember for a long time. A huge splash alerted our attention to something big moving behind us....the water erupted again as a big fish bust the surface a fully breached before disappearing again.... it was a Bluefin Tuna!! It must have been 200-300lb....wow!! As quickly as it arrived, it had disappeared, swimming past the kayaks much faster than we could ever paddle. Its not everyday you see one from a kayak, especially in UK waters. It certainly put us in great spirits for the rest of the trip!
We headed over to Sharks Fin reef and began to fish.
Pollack were straight onto the lures and then i caught a Bass...
Everyone was getting action on the lures and catching Pollack. Ben found himself his first Cuckoo Wrasse...
We moved to several different reefs and continued to catch
The Pollack were fairly prolific and we enjoyed some great sport with fish up to double figures. A Savage Gear Sandeel and a HTO Artic Eel were doing the damage. This Pollack was just shy of 10lb and put up a great fight!
A Sunfish was cruising around so told Kev to keep an eye out as he has yet to see one on a kayak.... eventually one gave him a close up view
We headed closer to the lighthouse and the swell started to pick up as the water moved from deep ground over shallower ground. The Pollack were still obliging....
Stu had caught a 10lb Ling too. The fishing was great and everyone was getting amongst the fish. The view wasn't too bad either....
We were now drifting off the back of the Longships and the tide had turned and began to ebb. The ebb around Lands End seems to run much stronger than the flood and it didn't take long before we were heading back to shore to prevent getting to far from the land. Luckily the calm conditions allowed us to make good headway back to Sennen. Had we been paddling against a spring tide, a strong wind or even worse, both, then this would have been a challenging paddle and potentially dangerous. This is not a venue for the light hearted or inexperienced when conditions are unfavourable.
I headed into the bay to find Steve and Ian who were trying their luck for the Blonde Rays. They were struggling to catch fresh bait and as a result weren't having any luck with the Blondes. I told Steve that i was heading to one of my Ray marks and he duly followed. Despite an absence of mackerel on one side of the bay, half way across my fish finder screen filled with a big shoal of fish. A few minutes later and i had enough bait for the rest of the day! We carried onto the mark.
I usually anchor for Rays but the tide on the far side of the bay was negligible. There was also no wind so even drifting we were hardly moving at all. The baits tickled along the bottom gently. I suggested that Steve turned the drive around in his Hobie Adventure so that he could slowly pedal the kayak backwards to give the baits more action across the bottom and cover more ground. He soon had the method sussed and across the radio he said "oh yes, oh yes" as he hooked into a Ray!
I headed over to him to find his rod locked over in battle with his first Blonde....
He eventually had it beat and brought it to the kayak
His first Blonde Ray....he was just a bit happy!
Mission accomplished for Steve! To top things off a loud splash drew our attention behind the kayaks... we both looked around as a big Bluefin Tuna breached the surface giving us a great view of the whole fish! Quite a special moment and Steve was over the moon to see one.
A greedy Turbot then took my bait...
This was followed by a small Blonde around 6lb before a bigger one found my bait. It was an angry fish that was really thrashing around far below the kayak. It had a good few runs before i could tempt it away from the bottom. I peered over the side an could see the fish coming up from around 15m down - the water was very clear! It evaded coming on board a couple of times before i could get a good hold of it and drag it over my lap - a nice Blonde Ray of around 14lb-15lb. Steve did the honours with the camera....
That was me happy. We fished on for another hour but bites weren't forthcoming. We headed back to shore. Steve was smiling (and playing on Facebook) all the way back....
It had been a really enjoyable day on the water with some cracking fish being caught. News was that Pete had caught a nice 4lb Turbot in the bay along with a 3lb Plaice. Back to the campsite for a great evening chatting around the campfire. Tomorrow would be the first day of the official meet and plenty more people had arrived ready for the morning. The forecast was showing 10-13mph winds so all was looking good for an early morning launch.
It was an early start. I advise that everyone attending the meet gets down to Sennen for 8am to ensure that they get parking for the day. The car parks soon fill up as beach goers arrive mid-morning so an early start is essential.
On arrival it was apparent that a brisk wind was blowing across the bay. A little too brisk in fact. Much than what was forecast. Hmmmm.
Ben and Stu launched early and made their way across the bay. People were arriving and soon enough 30-40 people were gearing up for a day on the water. Within half an hour Ben and Stu were paddling back towards shore. I went down to chat with them and they said that conditions were particularly uncomfortable and the wind made for a difficult paddle back to shore. I made the call to hold people back from launching and consulted with the weather forecasts. Most were not keen on launching anyhow with the wind as it was.
It was gusting a good 20mph across the bay, much more than the forecast was showing. It was looking to remain that way for the morning and then edge of throughout the afternoon. We would have to wait and see. Frustrating as most were set up and ready to launch but it is not worth paddling out in uncomfortable and potentially dangerous conditions. At least the ice cream and pasty shop was open! I was itching to launch and would have if i knew others wouldn't follow into potentially challenging conditions. Wait we would.
Lunchtime past and Ian made the first move in his Hobie Adventure and launched into a still breezy bay. This is where a Hobie and their Mirage Pedal Drive really do have the upper hand. He easily pedalled his way across the bay and began to fish.
Steve couldn't be outdone so he soon followed. Richard was also launching but heading around towards Lands End in the hope of shelter. I couldn't be standing around any longer so launched with Ben and Neil. The wind was still persistent but the paddle across the bay wasn't too bad. Our plan was to sit at anchor and see if the conditions dropped off. We found a patch of clean ground and started to fish. Nothing for an hour but on the plus side the wind seemed to be edging off. Time to head out further! Bites started to come along and soon Ben had caught his first Plaice from a kayak, followed by a Dab. A few dogfish came my way and then something bigger latched onto the bait. The rod was bent over and It took some line and hugged the bottom for a while so assumed it was a Ray. It fought well all the way to the surface but it was not a ray.... it was a big angry Bull Huss weighing around 11-12lb!
The wind was now really starting to drop and more people were starting to launch, heading towards the reef. We all up-anchored and went over to play with the Pollack. Richard was fishing off the reef and had found fish earlier on, including this nice 10lbr....
Something was heading towards us....something you don't often see too far from shore. Richi, Gary and Flossy were paddling towards us on their surf kayaks/wave skis! They would be trying their hand at fishing from their surf craft for the F.U.C.K Cup Challenge! F.U.C.K stands for Fishing Union of Canoes and Kayaks for anyone wondering!! The challenge consisted of who could catch the biggest fish from their surf craft from Sennen on the PZ meet. This is possibly my favourite photo of the whole meet.... do you think Richi is enjoying himself?
I will have to join them next year on my RPF Master! Scores on the doors were that Gary caught the only fish, a Pollack and this was enough to take the prized engraved tankard! Well done mate :D
The fishing seemed particularly slow for me on the reef. The fish were not really having the lures. Neil was also struggling to catch so suggested to him that we paddle a little way offshore to another mark and one that i haven't fished before. I didn't need to ask twice so off we went. Watching the fish finder the clean bottom 130ft below soon rose sharply to a 50ft plateau reef.... this looked interesting!!
It didn't take long to find the fish. In fact the mark was full of them! Every drift we were nailing Pollack one after the other, mostly between 4-8lb. The action was electric!
For over an hour we drifted over different sections of the reef and caught loads of fish. Neil even managed a 2lb Pouting on a lure! The fishing was somewhat disrupted by the huge shoals of Pilchards that were erupting through the surface all around us as Gannet and Gulls swooped down to feed upon them. The sound was incredible!
It didn't stop the Pollack though, in fact they were taking the lures even shallower as they came up to hammer the Pilchards. I had one that had so many Pilchards in its mouth i wasn't sure how it could have fit the lure in too!
We had 'one last cast' several times over the next half hour before eventually calling it a day. We must have had 40-50 Pollack between us over the couple of hours we fished the reef.
We were the last ones to land with everyone else back at the campsite. I arrived back to find that most had launched and caught fish which was great! A few had left early without launching which was a shame as the wind did drop as forecast and even if they got out for a few hours would have caught plenty of fish. Anyhow, moral was high with everyone chatting and the beers flowing around the campsite. The social atmosphere at the campsite is what really makes this meet, as it does with other meets and events. Again a great evening was had with great company.
The forecast had turned again. It was not looking good at all. Brisk South Westerly winds mixed with a decent swell would rule out a launch at Sennen to all but the hardened few. Plans were made for a launch at Newlyn to fish in the shelter of the wind beneath the cliffs on the Western side of Mounts Bay. I had different plans... plans which involved testing out my new wetsuit.... i was going kayak surfing with Richi, Gary, Ben and Neil!
I have had my RPF Master for a good few months now but a combination of work, fishing and other things have prevented me getting out and giving it a good go. Today would be the day. Richi and Gary had launched early and had returned by the time we arrived at Sennen. Ben would be borrowing Garys RPF Master, and Richi would be joining us later on. Wetsuit on, Helmet on, Waist leash on and i was ready to go. We paddled from harbour beach over the main break and chose our spot away from the crowds. The waves were reasonably clean and around 3-5ft. Time for some fun! After a few waves i was really getting the hang of the take off and beginning to the run along the waves.... it was great fun! The speed on the take off is unreal and certainly addictive! Photos courtesy of Neil...
Richi joined us on his RPF Shark and was soon zipping around on the waves. Ben and Neil called it a day and headed back but i was loving too much to head back in so stayed out with Richi. We had some cracking rides and i was really starting to get the hang of the take off and getting off a wave before its munched you close to shore. I managed some fairly epic nose dives onto sand in the shallows which stretched/bruised a few muscles! All part of the fun though! The wind picked up after a while and made the waves messy so we called it a day and paddled back to the harbour.
Those few hours in the waves were super enjoyable. Thanks to Richi, Flossy and Neil for the hints and tips. I'm now looking forward to the winter surf meets!
Back at the campsite, a handful had launched from Newlyn with a few small fish caught. 3 people had launched from Sennen but in a 8-10ft primary swell, conditions were not comfortable for them so were not out for too long. They all still caught some fish though. A bit of a shame that the weather didn't play ball for the whole weekend but we can't control the weather.
Sunday evening marked the end of the main meet but with it being a bank holiday many were also staying for the Monday, and others staying for several days after that again. I had to pack up the tent as it was back to work in the morning. That wouldn't be the last of the fishing for me though...
The forecast for Tuesday was looking reasonable so a plan was hatched to fish Porthcurno, launching from Porthgwarra. I managed to tempt Holly to come along on the Ocean Duo so that she could try out her new clothing from Palm, brought with the voucher i won at Oxwich... she can't say i don't treat her! She was looking the part anyway and was glad to be out of the wetsuit and into more comfortable and warmer paddle clothing. Palm Atom Womens Pants with Seti Womens thermal leggings, Palm Wairoa neoflex top and Vantage Womens jacket, Meander Womens PFD and Rock boots.....
Suited, booted and ready to paddle. We would be launching with Richi, Neil, Kev, Ken, Richard, Pete, Kieren (brother) and his friend. We paddled up to Logan Rock and began to drift fish. Mackerel were plentiful so fresh bait was not a problem, but the bites were not very forthcoming on the bottom.
Richard had found a few Gurnards though. Lets try anchoring. The bites started but not from the desired flatfish or ray... instead the dogfish were mauling the baits. The venue was soon renamed Porthkennal but just as everyone else was moving off anchor to drift again i hooked something different.... my first Plaice of the year, photographed using the HDR setting on my camera to give a pretty cool effect...
A little later another flatfish took the mackerel strip bait... this time a Dab
and then something different on the bottom...
Holly was struggling to catch anything other than Mackerel and Dogfish so i had the wise idea of trying deeper water further past Logan Rock...just as the tide was flooding. The paddle to the grounds was fairly easy but once we started fishing the tide was quickly taking us away from where we had came. We put a couple of drifts in resulting in a Ballan Wrasse and a Pollack for me and not much else. We called it a day and began the 2 mile paddle back to Porthgwarra. It was slow progress against the flooding tide and rounding Logan Rock involved some strenuous paddling. Luckily we didn't have the wind against us too! I was paddling hard and feeling it. We did have a short rest when we spotted a shoal of Pilchards on the surface. We got close enough for a photo....
Its great to see so many baitfish in the water as the bigger fish will never be too far behind. We finally made it back to the cove, not far behind everyone else. Nothing spectacular had been caught but i had caught 7 species, as had Richard. It was still great to get out on the water though. We packed up and said our goodbyes.
Overall a weekend of mixed weather but some great fishing and even some kayak surfing! Those who got out on the water had caught plenty of fish. At least 24 Species were caught including: Bass, Bull Huss to 12lb, Coalfish, Cod, Conger, Dab, Dogfish, Garfish, Red Gurnard, Tub Gurnard, Grey Gurnard, Ling to 10lb, Mackerel, Pilchard, Plaice to 3lb, Pollack to 10lb, Pouting to 2lb, Blonde Ray to 15lb, Scad, Launce, Turbot, Lesser Weever, Ballan Wrasse to 4lb and Cuckoo Wrasse to 1lb+.
Thanks to everyone who turned up, without you guys the meet wouldn't exist! Also a big thank you to Roger at Posandane Campsite for putting up with us and supplying us with a freezer for everyone to keep fish in to take home.
Penzance Kayak Fishing Meet 2017
The 2017 Penzance Kayak Fishing Meet will take place on the August Bank Holiday weekend - Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th of August. More information will be posted on the Anglers Afloat forum and on the following link: Penzance Kayak Fishing Meet 2017 over the next few weeks/months but will follow much the same format as this years meet.
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