We left Plymouth at 6:15 and headed for Cornwall. We got to Truro and were diverted of the A30 due to an accident... it was chaos, the traffic was solid and hardly moving, it took us an hour to travel 3 miles.... i was livid! We had limited time to fish as it was. Anyhow we finally got back to my place and loaded the car in double quick time before heading west to the mark.
The swell was rolling in. It was high tide and the reefs were doing little to stop the power of the incoming swell. It had been forecast at 4-5ft, it was at least 8-10ft. Even in such conditions the shelter of the reef and a harbour wall allow you to launch if you know where to paddle to avoid the shallow water where the swell might start to break. As the reef becomes more exposed with a dropping tide it stops most of the swell reaching the launch point so i knew we would be safe getting back in. Time to launch!
We chose our route to paddle out and began to make our way to open water. The reef was getting absolutely hammered by tubing swells - it was oblivion!
We began to paddle against the rollers which was quite enjoyable. There was not a breath of wind so the swell was as clean as possible however it is quite intimidating watching the land disappear when your in a trough between the swells but great fun to paddle up and over the peaks. The photos don't really do it justice but give some essence of the land disappearing! Here is George riding a wall of water.....
We started to fish. Baited hookais were sent to the bottom tipped with mackerel. It wasn't long before a few Mackerel and Scad found the hooks soon followed by a Cod.
We started to drift over clean ground but carried on with the Hookais to see what would turn up. George was first in with a nice Red Gurnard and then a Tub Gurnard - both firsts for him.
I soon followed with a Red Gurnard and a Tub Gurnard as well.... stunning colours especially against the blue of the sea....
The tide was starting to drop and so was the swell which allowed us to get closer inshore to the rougher ground where would would hopefully find some Pollack. It didn't take long until we hit a patch and we were both hooked into hard fighting fish. George was having great time!
It resulted in a 6lb fish for him whilst i hauled on board a 7lbr....
George soon found himself a vibrant male Cuckoo Wrasse too
I managed one myself along with a another Pollack around the 5lb mark and a Cod.
Then i lost my hookais to a snag.... time to target something bigger. I tinselled up a few fresh mackerel for bait. Out came the 6/0 luminous Hookais each hook loaded with half a fillet of mackerel. I also set up a live bait rig - its something I've always been meaning to try but never given it a go on the kayak. Anyhow the hookais went down first to see if anything bigger was hungry.
We must have set the drift right as something found the hooks pretty quickly! A decent fish was pulling hard and it was feeling like a Ling.... peering into the depths i could see an angry Ling making its way to the surface. As soon as it was it the footwell the live bait rig was deployed! before i had even unhooked the Ling the rod arched over as a fish devoured the mackerel.... I hit it hard and it started to run..... this was a better one and it was feeling like a Ling again. It fought well and gave two or three powerful runs before i could start to gain some line. A stunning Ling was soon gilled onboard....
A new PB for me that weighed just over 10lb back on dry land. That was me happy! I had almost forgotten about the 6-7lbr also in the footwell.....
The hookais found a bigger Cuckoo Wrasse too....
The sun was shining, it was ridiculously warm and i was happy! The swell had dropped a lot too which meant we could get fairly close to the exposed reefs, so thats where we headed. It was a small tide and we were drifting slowly which was nice. The live bait rig was deployed again.... it hadn't even settled on the bottom and the mackerel starting pulling frantically before something nailed it.... it would be a hard life being a mackerel swimming over that reef! I was expecting a Pollack to have devoured the joey mackerel but a nice Ballan Wrasse was the culprit - it is surprising how predatory they can be.
George found a Cuckoo Wrasse too and a few Pollack before getting snapped up by a better fish. My last live bait was hit by a 5lb Pollack - its surprising how much line they will take on a first run in attempt to find refuge!
It was nearly time to go, George managed one last Scad before we had to call it a day. The swell had all but completely dropped off and it seemed like a different world compared to when we launched. We could paddle on the inside of the reef which only a few hours ago was getting annihilated. We landed and then George went for a paddle in my Abaco whilst i sorted out the fish.
On the way back to mine we stopped off at Newtown Angling tackle shop to pick up a Pufferfish that had been washed up in Penzance and taken there to be kept in their freezer. I took it to the Marine Biological Association the next day to be formally identified.
Its an Oceanic Pufferfish, Lagocephalus lagocephalus, and looks to be the largest one ever reported which is interesting. Its the 3rd one i have heard of this year washed up down my way and is a very rare visitor to our waters with only a handful reported before this year. It would appear that the warmer water temperatures this summer have brought them to our coastline along with the Atlantic Bonitos. The MBA are keeping it in their freezer for comparison to any other pufferfish which need identifying. The Oceanic Puffer along with others in its genus, including the famous 'Fugu' from Japan, are incredibly toxic thanks to the presence of Tetrodotoxin - a potent neurotoxin that causes paralysis of muscle tissue amongst other deadly effects. Not something you would want to be eating and quite a few fatalities have resulted in doing so! Yet in Japan the 'Fugu' is a delicacy that requires preparation and cooking by highly skilled chefs who undergo years of training before they are allowed to serve the potentially deadly dish!
Anyhow we had a great day on the water. The reef was firing well and i finished up with 9 species: Mackerel, Scad, Pollack to 7lb , Ling to 10lb, Cod, Cuckoo Wrasse to 1lb 5oz, Ballan Wrasse, Red Gurnard and Tub Gurnard. George had 7 as he didn't catch a Cod or a Ling but he was happy and would be eating fish for the next few weeks! It was his first taste of serious kayak fishing so I'm sure he will put the skills learned to good use in the future. We headed back to Plymouth shattered but satisfied - still had to fillet the fish when we got back though! I managed to get nearly 5lb of flesh off my biggest Ling which made 8 portions for Elliot to eat.
The rough weather is imminent and the swell is picking up so it looks like the reef will get a rest for a while. Here's hoping it will be fishable again at some point soon!
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