Kayak Fishing the Mull of Galloway – Part 2

This was my second kayak fishing trip to the Mull of Galloway. The first was 3 years ago and it is something I had planned on doing every year over the bank holiday May weekend but bad weather put to rest the last 2 planned trips. However, mother nature looked favourably on Nathan and I this year. We were also keen to get our first tope. Nathan had a hookup on our first trip there which had him getting dragged about all over the bay but he never got it to the surface and ever since then I have been keen to get in on the action. Could this year be the year…..

We set off after work on the Friday and headed straight across to the Sands of Luce holiday park at the base of Luce Bay. This was the first time I had camped here but I will definitely be going back. The park was clean and had been recently refurbished with a fun bar for food and drink in the evenings.

On arrival it was a case of quickly getting the tent up before darkness fell and then a few cheeky pints to help us sleep. The weather was lovely and the wind light which meant one thing – midges! They certainly helped us pick up the pace when putting the tent together.

All set up and ready for a drink:
Camping Sounds of Luce Holiday Park

On Saturday morning we had planned on heading straight out to Luce Bay in a forecast light offshore breeze. However, as per 3 years ago, the weather here seems to have its own micro-climate. The wind was the opposite direction to forecast and 3 times as strong. This called for a trip to Port Logan to fish in shelter under the high cliffs. It was no hardship as the scenery around Port Logan is brilliant.

A nice place to paddle:
Kayak Fishing Port Logan

Plenty of pollock and coalfish were found but nothing of any size:
Kayak Fishing Pollock - Mull of Galloway

We anchored up for a bit and found plenty of the less popular dogfish:
Kayak Fishing Mull of Galloway

After a good 4-5 hours of fishing it was time to head in for some food and to see if we could re-energise to fish Luce Bay in the evening if the wind dropped. We had spent a lot of time searching for mackerel to use as tope bait but couldn’t find any.

By 5pm on the Saturday, the wind dropped to almost nothing. It was sunny and really warm. We almost settled for a few beers and a relaxing evening by the tent but the midges again, gave us extra encouragement to get back out on the water. This time, bait fishing at anchor in Luce Bay was in order.

We paddled out to a spot we had enjoyed success at 3 years ago. Once past the 30ft mark we found plenty of mackerel. It seems they were all in the bay rather than on the west side. I began to think that this was boding well for the tope fishing.

Mackerel Luce Bay

I dropped anchor and Nathan tethered next to me about 20 feet away. I put 2 rods down. One with a mackerel on a barbless circle hook for the tope and one lighter rod with squid for anything else that might be about.

We didn’t have to wait long. The first fish to the side of my kayak was a small thornback:

Kayak Fishing Thornback Ray - Scotland

Followed by a bigger one which put up a good fight on a 6lb class rod in the tide:

Kayak Fishing Thornback Ray Luce Bay

Kayak Fishing Thornback Ray - South West Scotland

Next up were some dogfish followed by my first red gurnard. I had always wanted one of these and find them a stunning fish:

red gurnard - South West Scotland Kayak

Shortly after this, things went a little mental. Nathan’s tope rod started taking line. Initially this was in stops and starts. Something was toying with him. Just as I was about to bring my tope rod in to keep things simple mine starting to take line. As if in on it together, we both had a fish on and chaos ensued. Nathan got dragged one way and me the other. Perhaps tethering was not a good idea!

After plenty of adrenaline, we got both fish to the surface. Mine was not a tope after all but still a first for me. It was a bull huss. I can see why they call them bull’s. This thing had a serious attitude problem. I managed a couple of pictures but it was not very obliging and was returned quickly.

Kayak Fishing Luce Bay - Bull Huss

Kayak Fishing Luce Bay - Angry Bull Huss

Nathan on the other hand had accomplished our mission and had a lovely tope at the side of his kayak. We had read up a lot on how to handle these but there is reading and then there is doing! It was interesting to say the least getting such a large fish across the yak but Nathan did a grand job quickly unhooking it, getting some photo’s and releasing it from where it came.

Well done Nathan:

Kayak Fishing for Tope - Scotland

After this it became a bit of a species session. In the evening I had caught coalfish, pollock, grey gurnard, red gurnard, dog fish, thornbacks, mackerel and huss but no tope. The sun was getting low in the sky and we decided to give it another 30 minutes or so before paddling in.

It was now my turn for some action. Click, click, click went the Abu 7000. The clicks then got progressively quicker and louder and it was fish on! It felt very different to anything I had hooked before and was like an express train. I was grinning ear to ear and my heart was pumping. It surfaced 3 times almost like it just wanted to say hello before diving back down to the depths.

Tope fishing Scotland

After 5 minutes the fight was over and the tope was ready to bring onto the kayak. That is what I thought anyway. Once on the yak it became very lively. Still, I managed to unhook quite quickly, Nathan took a picture and it swam away strongly which was a great site.

Kayak Fishing Tope Scotland

It was then time to head in to a beautiful view of the sun dropping down over Luce Bay:
Luce Bay, South West Scotland, Sunset

Saturday night we were in the mood to celebrate. The pub at the holiday park was suitably lively which was entertaining and once last orders were called a few more were had in the tent.

Sounds of Luce Holiday Park Bar

Relaxing - Sounds of Luce Holiday Park

Sunday came and we were not as quick to get out as we had hoped! We had one more fishing session to get in before we were to head back to the Toon. The weather was glorious once more so we headed back out into Luce Bay to see if we could get back in on the tope action. It didn’t disappoint. Mackerel were caught once more and Nathan was the first one into a fish. This was giving a great account of itself:

Playing a big fish - Luce Bay

It turned out to be the biggest of our trip. Does anyone want to suggest a size? I’m not confident in estimating this type of fish.

Big tope on the kayak - South West Scotland

Big tope on the kayak - South West Scotland

Big Tope - Scotland

Then it was my turn. I was becoming totally hooked on this type of fishing. The sheer power of these fish and the fight was an absolute pleasure. Cod and pollock fishing might never be the same again!

Kayak fishing for Tope

It wasn’t as big as Nathan’s but a lot of fun all the same:

Kayak Fishing Tope Luce Bay

Kayak Fishing Tope Mull of Galloway

By this point we had 2 tope in just over an hour and a half and 4 tope in total within 24 hours so figured that was pretty amazing seeing as we were both tope virgins before the trip. Much to my suprise, there was still time for one more rod bender! This was the smallest of the lot but perfectly formed:

Tope fishing - Luce Bay

Kayak Fishing Tope

Kayak Fishing Tope Dumfries & Galloway

At this point it was time to head back in to get the tent packed up before the long drive home. I was shattered but on cloud nine.

I’m pretty sure I will have to make my way across again before the summer is up and look forward to the next years bank holiday May weekend.

Video of the weekends tope fishing action:

Cheers,

James

Kayak Fishing Scotland – St Abbs 29-3-16

Hi All,

DaveP and I headed up to St Abbs on the 29-3-16 arriving late morning. I had fished at Eyemouth before but this was my first trip to St Abbs and I was really keen to try and target some Pollock amongst the kelpy drop offs.

This might be useful for those planning a trip up themselves. The car park is £1 per hour or £7 for the day and there is a £3 charge to launch from the slip in the harbour. It would be worth going up in a group just to cut down some of the costs.

The good news is that the car park is very close to the slip and from the slip you are straight into fishing territory dropping straight down to 30-40 ft as soon as you are passed the harbour walls.

Conditions were great. The sun was shinning (except for a 10 minute hail storm!) and the water was flat although the swell did build throughout the session. Dave and I worked our way North using a range of spinners, jelly worms and plastic lures. The water was crystal clear and the terrain was perfect for our target species but despite this, we struggled to find the fish. It is early in the year and I’m in no doubt that this place has a lot to offer later on when things pick up. Neither of us blanked though catching 4 in total. 3 came from almost the same spot around a smallish rock rising out of the water. We circled this rock and each time we got to a certain spot it was ‘fish on’.

3 of the 4 were a good stamp of fish and gave a really good account of themselves on the light lure rods. I was reminded very quickly why I love fishing for Pollock. It was a real battle to see if we could get them up to the surface before they found cover in the kelp.

Now for some pictures:

The place screams Pollock. Just 20 ft away from the shore and you can be fishing in 40ft of water:
St Abbs Marine Chart Navionics

Getting ready in the car park:
Fishing Scotland St Abbs

The slip from the harbour makes for an easy launch:
Launching Kayak - St Abbs, Scotland

Paddling out through the harbour:
Launching Kayak - St Abbs, Scotland

Stunning setting:
Kayak Fishing Scotland - St Abbs Head

A small pollock saves the blank:
Small Pollock Kayak Fishing UK

A better fish giving a good scrap on the Yuki Rubymar:
Yuki Rubymar - Pollock Fishing

Pollock fishing UK Splash

A better stamp of Pollock:
Fiiish Minnor - Pollock Fishing

Kayak Fishing Scotland Pollock

Dave getting in on the action:
Kayak Fishing Scotland

Bringing up a nice fish:
Kayak Fishing St Abbs Pollock

Conditions got increasingly lumpy which kept us alert:
Kayak Fishing St Abbs Head

Kayak Fishing St Abbs

One last Pollock on the paddle back which fell for a jelly worm:
Pollock Fishing Scotland

Good size Pollock - UK Kayak Fishing

Loch Long and Port Ellen (Isle of Islay) – Aug 2014

I’ve just come back from a couple of weeks away on the west coast of Scotland. The weather was pretty poor, particularly in the 2nd week with non-stop rain and the wind made it difficult to get out regularly but I did manage a few sessions around loch long and one session on the Isle of Islay at Port Ellen. I was gutted not to get more sessions in on Islay as the place looked fantastic but the weather just didn’t play ball.

In the first week we were staying in a lodge just off holy loch. I wasn’t expecting much from this area having read many reports and being told how the fishing was poor having been over-fished and never recovering. My first outing was just for a couple of hours in the evening at Holy loch. My fish finder battery didn’t charge properly so I felt like I was fishing blind (I was surprised how reliant I’ve become on it). I just got one mackerel but really enjoyed the paddle and the scenery was stunning.

Pics of session 1:

Just the one mackerel on this trip.

The next session was at Ardentinny. This held some nice rock ledges along with a very heavily patrolled submarine exercise area. I felt like I was being watched the entire time! This session was only for a couple of hours but the area was full of small pollock. Bigger fish were there but it took a while to find ways to get through the small stuff.

Pics of session 2:

The rain was heavy but the scenery was great.

The first pollock aboard. This came to a small Minnow Fiiish.

The first of many cod.
20140806_193628 by james.dixon

Different tactics still produced small fish. They were super greedy!

Each drop of the lure showed a frantic number of hits from fish. The fish finder was going mental 🙂

Finally a better sized red cod.

Switching to cast and retrieve on deep diving lures resulted in a better size pollock

Followed by another small pollock. I’m amazed at how big a bait these fish will tackle. This lure is almost the same size!

Only the second wrasse I have ever caught. Is this just a small ballan wrasse or another species? If anyone knows, please let me know as I’m trying to push the number of different species I catch this year.

During another weather window I set out early in the morning from holy loch and paddled back around to the bay at Ardentinny. This was about a 6 mile paddle and probably my longest paddle to date although I hope to improve upon that significantly over time. I loved it. I didn’t do any fishing during the paddle, just deciding to keep a steady pace and take in the views. It took me about an hour and a half and then I had a few hours to fish before my wife and sun came to meet me for a bit of lunch on the beach at Ardentinny.

Pics of session 3:

The launch at 6am

Great conditions for a paddle

About half way there

Now it was time to begin fishing again. The last session I was amazed at how greedy small pollock can be. Now the small cod were getting in on the action!

Nature called but not a bad place for a bit of relief 🙂

I got a number of better pollock this session. They were loving the little pink and black lrf lures I had.

It was then time to leave Holy Loch and head for the Isle of Islay. On arrival the weather was lovely (this was not to last!). This was a picture of Port Ellen whilst munching on some fish and chips on the beach

This was the same beach the following morning. It rained for the entire session

There were a large number of rocky outcrops about half a mile out of the bay. I was sure I was going to get a lot of fish from these areas but the first hour was fruitless. I was being constantly watched by seals. I found this a bit disconcerting at times with up to 7 large seals staring at me at times. I could also see them flying beneath me on the fish finder. Clearly this wasn’t going to help the fishing but they were in large numbers everywhere I paddled. After a further paddle around the headland I found an area that appeared to have no seals. My luck then began to change.

A nice pollock to a jelly worm fished weedless:

A surprise coalfish taken on the pink and black lrf lure I had success with in Ardentinny:

At this point something brilliant happened. The seals were gone but I was joined by an otter. It got fairly close to me at one point, swimming on its back munching on a fish! It is moments like this that make me love this hobby more and more. I tried to get pics but they came out really poorly from my mobile phone but hopefully you can get the idea of how special a moment it was.

Can you spot it? Look for the 2 black dots in the background!

Zoomed in but really pixelated:

Another nice pollock to a deep diving lure which was being trolled. This lure was lost 5 minutes later when I had a really big hit and just couldn’t muscle the fish out of the kelp. It got the best of me and I ended up losing the lot.

A switch to a blue deep diving lure produced a couple more nice pollock:

And that was the first and last session I had on Islay. I was staying off loch indaal which has a great reputation for tope and had grand plans to head out into the bay and target these during my stay but it never happened. The wind and rain was ferocious. On my way home I met Jonathan who purchased my Tarpon 120. He lives in Oban so this worked our really well for him and it meant I traveled back a bit lighter.

I picked up my new kayak the day before we left for Scotland so didn’t have time to get it rigged up properly and didn’t want to rush it. It is a stealth pro fisha 475. It had its maiden voyage on the mouth of the Tyne tonight and I cannot wait to get it all rigged up and catching fish.

If you have made it this far, well done on wading through all my pics and babble. If anyone is heading to these areas and want to know anything more just message me. If the weather was better, I’m sure Islay would have been fantastic. The potential looked huge.

Cheers,

James

Kayak Fishing – The Mull of Galloway

Nathan and I went to the Mull of Galloway over the bank holiday weekend. We had planned this about 6 months ago and half assumed the weather would be rubbish and it would be cancelled last minute. Things looked really promising on the lead up to the weekend until the day before and then XCWeather forecasts started showing wind and rain. We were busy looking for alternatives and then the morning we were due to leave, the forecast again looked fine except for the day of travel which was showing gusts to 28 mph. We set off thinking that when we arrive we will just set up tent and relax until the following morning when the forecast looked good.

It was a long journey from Newcastle with loads of caravans and lorries. We got there in the end and found that there was hardly any wind! We set up tent quickly at the Clashwhannon caravan site and headed over to Port Logan.

On arrival, conditions looked ok.  A bit of a breeze but we had been out in a lot worse.  We planned on staying close to the cliffs on the North side in the hunt for pollock.  We set up and paddled out.  The conditions seemed to be improving every minute and by the time we got to the point it was lovely.  We were enjoying the trip already.

It was now time to do some fishing.  We began dropping savage gear sandeels.  These immediately got attention 20ft down in the crystal clear kelp beds.  What was great was that I could see my lure on the fish finder (Lowrance elite4) and then see the fish appearing out of the depths hitting the lure….very exciting.  However, most were just hits without hook ups and it was soon clear why.  Almost all the pollock were very small (a typical mackerel size).  Still, it was good fun as there were plenty out there.  I did get one better hit on the paddle back in.

We had been out for a couple of hours and it was getting late so it was time to head back in. We opted for a meal in the Clashwhannon pub.  I can highly recommend the Angus beef burger! 

It rained all night and was pretty windy (it did come in eventually) leading to a pretty sleepless night in the tent.  The next morning it was pretty grey but the wind had eased. This was the view from our tent.  The campsite is very basic with room for about 4 tents but it did the job for the short stay.

 Nathan and I were a bit worse for where but got up early(ish) and paddled out into Luce Bay to a few marks that Dave (dt1) had sent me previously.  Our aim was to catch a few species not common on the North East coast.  I had been doing quite a bit of research on tope fishing prior to the trip and had tied up a couple of rigs to take out with us assuming we could get some mackerel on the way out.

We paddled out about a mile into Luce Bay and achieved the first mission – mackerel.  We then anchored up over a sandy bottom and initially dropped down some running ledger rigs with dirty squid. 

It wasn’t long before we got some dog fish.  This was the second time for me and first for Nathan.  The novelty soon wore off though!  What a pain they can be to unhook!  We soon got in the habit of unhooking them beside the kayak before they had a chance to coil up. We were using circle hooks and luckily they were all lip hooked.

I was really hoping for a ray as I had never had one before.  The next nibble on the squid didn’t feel like a dog fish.  The rod suddenly lurched over and immediately I could tell it was something different.  It fought like hell in the now flowing tide and I was loving every minute of it.  Woohaa!  A thornback ray.  I was really happy with this, except I couldn’t remember how to handle them.  It took me a while to figure out where didn’t have any thorns (one finger still bares the scar). 

This then followed by another 3 thornbacks to me and more dogfish to Nathan. 

It was at this point that Nathan dropped down a whole small mackerel in the hope for a tope.  The bait was down for approximately 10 minutes.  We were dress rehearsing what we would do if we hooked one etc etc when I asked if Nathan has his reel drag set properly and if the ratchet was on.  Nathan quickly checked and we sat for another minute in silence before we heard a subtle click, followed by another click, then click, click, click, click.  Something had taken the bait and was swimming away at some pace.  Nathan wound the handle to lock in the drag and it continued to take line at an incredible rate.  I could feel the adrenaline pumping in me and I wasn’t the one catching the fish!  Nathan looked half panicked, half gob smacked.  Then, as quickly as it had all happened, it went quiet.   Nathan wound in to find just the head of the mackerel left.  We were gutted.  Still, it was more than we were expecting on our first attempt.

Nathan mid action:

Approximately 30 minutes after this I had a strange take on my scratching rod.  I had a 2 hook flapper down on my light rod in the hope for other smaller species etc and something had taken an interest.  It was unlike the rays and LSD previously.  It started off with a solid bend in the rod without being able to shift it.  It then seem to realise something was up and took off at a serious rate reeling line from the abu 6500.  Then, as before with Nathan, it went slack.  On retrieve my hook had bent out.  It certainly wasn’t a rig designed for this stamp of fish.  I’ve no idea what it was but it took a mix of mackerel and mussel and was without doubt, my biggest hook up to date.  Any ideas?

This was the picture Nathan took (disappointing picture quality). I’ll never forget the bend in the rod!

We stayed out for another couple of hours catching mostly LSD with the odd thornback.  Nathan added to the species count with the smallest flatty I think I’ve seen caught by hook:

We then decided to head in for a spot of lunch before choosing the afternoon / evening venue.  I paddled in with some feathers behind for the odd mackerel and got another new species for me.  A little gurnard who was non-stop croaking.  What a character these fish are.  Now, I realise this picture may look a little weird.  My dry suit does not have a built in ball sack, I promise 🙂

In the afternoon, we headed by to Port Logan to tackle the rock marks on the south side.  The weather by now was gorgeous with wall to wall sunshine and not a breath of wind.  Conditions looked perfect.

Despite the conditions, the fishing was poor.  We just got the one coal fish between us, taken to a jointed fladen lure trolled from behind on the way out.

It was now time to get some kip before a cheeky session on the Monday morning before the drive home.  In the morning, conditions were again pretty good (we were really lucky looking back at it) so we headed back out to the mark with the rays in the hope that Nathan could catch one as whilst only being 20 yards away from me the other morning, he didn’t have one.

It all went to plan.  Nathan with his first ray:

It was then time to pack up the tent and head home.  We really enjoyed the weekend and will definitely be returning at some point.  Hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Cheers,

James

Holiday in Gairloch (NW Scotland) with some kayak fishing

Hi All,

I’ve just got back from a family holiday to Gairloch. I took my Malibu Mini-x in the hope of getting in the odd mornings kayak fishing. It turned out to be a great week away. The weather wasn’t particularly sunny but I did get some very light winds in the morning which made for some excellent kayaking conditions. I’m still really new to kayak fishing and had no real information on productive marks so it was a bit of trial and error. I also have only really had success on bait up until now and was determined to catch on shads. My 2 missions for the week were to catch with shads and catch a species other than a flattie, a cod or a Pollock. Well, 1 out of 2 isn’t bad…..

Firstly, the view from the Cottage. The location was perfect. The cottage was very basic but was fine for the week. I was able to roll the kayak down the trolley straight to a slip into the loch about 5 minutes away.

The loch was pretty deep. The deepest I had paddled in was around 80 ft at Newbiggin (North East). At Gairloch, I only had to paddle approx. 50 yards from the rocky shores to find myself in approximately 100 ft of water. I know this is pretty shallow by Scottish loch standards but still found it a little eerie.

The deeper parts seemed like a desert on the fish finder. I did try a few spots around 70ft and found I was getting very regular twitches but whatever it was just stripped the bait with no proper takes. Perhaps it was just tiny fish or crabs….There were several rocky outcrops within the loch which I focussed my fishing efforts around. The fish finder would go mental around these areas.

The water was the clearest I have ever seen it. In 20ft of water I could easily see my bright orange shads. This wasn’t 20ft, more like 8-10ft but it gives you a good idea

These areas were rammed full of mackerel. I was finding it impossible to get past them on hokkais and the like. They were also really small in comparison to this seasons mackerel from the North East. All were below size. However, I was on a mission to get my first fish on shads and mission was accomplished quite a few times. Theses spots had a good number of Pollock, all around the 3-4lb mark. I couldn’t find anything bigger but loved the direct feel, feeling them take the shad and avoiding temptation to strike and then wham! I was buzzing. Below are a few picks of the specimens. Nothing big but kept me very entertained.

Only 1 cod in the holiday (3 fishing outings). It was the smallest I’ve had yet, still, a cod is a cod….

The one problem with light winds was the midges. By the time we went out to beaches, tourist attractions etc, the wind was up enough for them to not be a problem but the early rises for the fishing in almost no wind meant I was to become very well acquainted with the little blighters. The midge net was great. I looked a complete tit but the alternative was not pleasant.

Below are not really fish related but show the area. It really is beautiful and if you just want a bit of escapism for a week or two, I would really recommend it.

This one was taken at the camp site at Big Sands beach, just outside Gairloch. It is a really nice campsite with pitches for tents, campers, wig wams and statics (this is my camper in the pic). The facilities all looked in really good conditions.

The rest are scenic shots from my paddles to the few islands. I was often out as the sun was rising and had the whole place to myself. A blank wouldn’t have mattered. The scenery was enough for me.

Not much of a catch report but hopefully my catches will improve. The area has real potential and sightings of Minke whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks are common. The tourist boats has all shown sighting reports of these in the week I was there. They also had pictures of sightings of Orca’s and even a walrus but these were far less common.

If anyone is thinking of a trip to this area and want to know a little more, just reply or PM me for more info on nice places to eat out, good pubs, etc etc…

Cheers,

James