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

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