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:
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:
Plenty of pollock and coalfish were found but nothing of any size:
We anchored up for a bit and found plenty of the less popular dogfish:
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.
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:
Followed by a bigger one which put up a good fight on a 6lb class rod in the tide:
Next up were some dogfish followed by my first red gurnard. I had always wanted one of these and find them a stunning fish:
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.
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:
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.
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.
It was then time to head in to a beautiful view of the sun dropping down over Luce Bay:
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.
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:
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.
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!
It wasn’t as big as Nathan’s but a lot of fun all the same:
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:
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: