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

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