We had left home by 9 and met up with Sam, and were on the water for 10. The ground swell was pumping in and the reef we would be fishing around was getting hammered by some impressive slabs of water. Those watching us launch probably thought we were mental to be paddling out but I like a drop of swell, it gets the bottom fish moving and feeding. We sat back and waited to see which was the best route to paddle out to the back of the reef. We had a clear channel of water about 30m wide to paddle through with complete annihilation either side of us on the rocky reef tops.... we paddled hard and made it through fine. Although the swell was big, out the back of the reef in deeper water it was just rolling past without any problems.
We chose a spot of rough ground in about 30m of water and dropped baited luminous Hookais to the bottom. Within a few seconds of my weight hitting bottom the rod arched over and a decent fish was pulling hard! It fought admirably to the surface where a colourful Ballan Wrasse of around 3lb appeared..... not bad for the first drop!
Next drop and another fish hammered the bait within seconds! This time a Ling around 4lb
Next drop... BANG! Another hard fighting fish was on.... a nice Pollack around 3lb
3 fish on the first 3 drops.... this was going to be a fun day! By now we had drifted off the reefy ground. Kieren and Sam hadn't had a bite! The tide was ebbing and was creating quite a rip off the end of the reef which made for strenuous work paddling back up the drift.
Sam had brought some squid jigs along and was soon pulling a few in, much to our amusement when they squirted water all over him! We continued to drift over the reef again and again at different places. Kieren started catching a few pollack and i found a female Cuckoo Wrasse. A few Red Gurnards and more Pollack followed.
Soon enough a better Pollack had found the Hookais and a decent fight led to a 6lb fish being lifted into the footwell.
The tide was really ripping past by now and we were having to put more and more effort into paddling. We had a few close passes to the shallow ground which brought more Cuckoo Wrasse, a few Mackerel and some more Squid for Sam. We must have been going through dense patches of Squid because at times they were stripping the baits from the hooks within seconds but we couldn't hook them. One did eventually get caught up in my hooks.... amazing coloration! I managed to get a close up photo of the chromatophores in Squids skin.
More beautiful Cuckoo Wrasse followed and they were getting bigger...
I seemed to be getting them every drop. I hooked a better one and it was fighting well. A big male Cuckoo appeared from the depths!
He had come from deep water and had succumb to the change in pressure. It couldn't regain enough strength to swim back so i kept it for bait. I later weighed it on my fishing clubs scales which gave a weight of 1lb 8oz 14dr! A new PB for me and a club specimen.
I decided to try something a bit different so set up a rig to work a single sliver of mackerel belly over the reef. A 3oz weight and a 6ft trace would give the bait plenty of movement in the tide. A Scad soon found the bait and the squid cleaned the hook off a few times too. I continued to lower the bait to the seabed and slowly wind it back up. BANG! A fish nailed the bait at speed, the rod doubled over and was running hard towards the bottom. I struggled to slow it down and knew it was about to make refuge amongst the reef. I felt it hit bottom at which point i gripped the spool solidly and pulled up hard. The rod was in half with the fish thumping away on the end. For a few seconds it just sat their before finally turning and allowing me to steer it away from the reef and gain some line. Several powerful dives followed.... this was a bigger one!! A big Pollack appeared from the depths before having one last dive for freedom, i soon had it back alongside the kayak, gilled it and heaved it onboard. YES!! It was definitely a double......
It measured 80cm long and weighed 10lb 11oz... I was ecstatic! I paddled over to Kieren who looked very jealous! He had an 18lb Ling the week before so he can't complain!
We were getting tired so agreed to a few more drifts before heading in. Sam managed to catch more Squid, a Greater Weever and a small John Dory. Kieren found a nice Pollack around 7lb, a Ling around 5lb, a fat Mackerel of 1lb 10oz and some small Cod. I managed a few more Cuckoo Wrasse, a small Cod and a Poor Cod.
By now it was 16:30 and we headed back in tired but very happy. Sam had plenty of Squid with the biggest two weighing 3lb each! I finished the day with Pollack to 10lb 11oz, Cuckoo Wrasse to 1lb 8oz, a 3lb Ballan Wrasse, a 4lb Ling, Mackerel, Scad, Cod, Poor Cod and Red Gurnard, 9 species in all as well as the Squid! Kieren and Sam had plenty of species too.
A cracking day reef fishing with fish all day long. The chances of getting out to fish it again over the coming weeks are low unless the swell dies down for a while, we wouldn't have got out if the ground sea was any bigger. The swell looks to be building over the week but hopefully there will be a calmer period soon so we can see what else is lurking in the depths. I managed to get back to Plymouth for 9pm completely shattered. Was it worth the 4 hour round trip.... absolutely!
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