Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you ‘blank’!

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What a smashing weekend and that includes blanking not once but twice over the period! The venue was the same both days but the methods different. That venue was Kimmeridge and it’s rocky ledged shoreline.

First off, I’d been promising my nine year-old son Billy I’d take him rock fishing again when the weather got a bit better and when he came home for the Easter holidays with a homework project to do on ‘The Coast’ the opportunity was too good to miss. So, with the weather set fair we headed out early on Saturday morning for a fishing and fossil hunt on Dorset’s Jurassic coast. We arrived at Kimmeridge at 6:30 a.m. with the early bird bass fisherman already on their way home for breakfast – the one’s I spoke to hadn’t caught which wasn’t promising but we thought we’d chance our luck all the same.

It really was extremely calm – as calm as I’ve seen it there which really doesn’t help when your quarry is bass especially this early in the year – they like a bit of movement in the water but it was just too still and absolutely gin clear. Nevertheless we hiked along the coast for a few hours and it was good to see Billy honing his fishing skills – his casting has got a lot better since last year.

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We walked round past Broad Bench and as far as Long Ebb, near the impressive Gadd Cliff, fishing with various lures to see whether we could tempt anything but alas it wasn’t to be. Billy did find a lot of ammonite fossils which he took some crayon rubbings from for his project so he was happy enough. They’re quite impressive the fossils down there…

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It’s smashing rock hopping along this part of the Dorset coast and good exercise as well!  When we turned to head back the water had got pretty low and it was useful to mark a few points on the GPS where there were gullies, rock formations and other interesting features that might yield a bass in the future. Even managed some underwater snaps in some of the gullies……

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By 11:30 a.m. we were in the car heading home – no fish but a cracking morning and a useful fishing reconnaissance mission for future trips although I didn’t expect to be back so soon!

The second of my fishing jaunts this weekend was planned from the kayak on Sunday afternoon/early evening with my mate Nobby and with the weather holding firm we decided actually Kimmeridge was the way to go so Sunday afternoon I was in the car back on my way down there again! We weren’t disappointed though……

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We arrived around 3 p.m. in the afternoon and after Nobby had a couple of tyre problems with his C-Tug kayak trolley we were rigged up and ready to head out.

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We were only lure fishing and planned to hug the coast fairly tightly – trolling on the way out and then plugging on the drift when closer inshore. It was the first time either of us had fished this venue form the kayak but something we’d talked about for a long long time. The sun was out, there was a gentle swell and it really was idyllic conditions to be paddling in…… it was certainly jaw dropping against the backdrop of the cliffs.

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We headed on, passing a couple of other kayak fisherman on the way, and giving Broad Bench  plenty of space before turning into the main current. Although conditions were calm the current itself was running pretty hard. We paddled onwards towards Gadd Cliff where we drift fished along the edge no more than 50 yards from shore in 15 – 20 feet of water.

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Again, it was gin clear and you could see the rocks and kelp beds below so maybe not ideal for the bass we were after. It was here that Nobby picked up his first fish of the session – a pollack – nothing huge but a fish nonetheless. I literally ‘plugged’ away fruitlessly but somehow  it really didn’t matter in these surroundings!

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We drifted our way back into Brandy Bay, past Long Ebb and then headed out again to get round Broad Bench where Nobby picked up a couple more pollack – the fishing Gods weren’t shining on me today I tell you! I tried a few soft plastics in close above the kelp and close to one of the GPS waypoints I’d marked the day before I did get one nibble but no firm take. Time was getting on by now and the sun was heading down beyond the now distant Gadd Cliff so we headed back into the slipway after a steady scenic paddle in.

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De-rigging, a couple of chaps in a cuddy type boat came in having been out in deeper water – they’d been into a few mackerel and a couple of bream which was good to see but no bass for them either. It probably is a bit early for the bass which will hopefully start showing in the not too distant future when the mackerel appear in greater numbers. Then the sun gave us a final cracking view of the bay and beyond – I took this shot just as we were about to leave…

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Definitely somewhere I want to fish more of from the kayak and at only just over an hour away from home it’s well worth the effort when the conditions are right. I think next time Nobby will be wanting me to drive though……… on the way home he had his second tyre incident of the day with a suspected puncture to deal with! Not such a happy end to an otherwise fantastic day.

Here are a few more photos from the day – thanks to Nobby for these.

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Until next time……

No doggie style for me!

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It’s getting to that time of year when dogfish start to make an appearance in The Solent…..and if last year is anything to go by they will be there in plague-like numbers. Like wild dogs they seem to roam in packs, eat anything thrown their way and quite frankly they become nothing but a pain in the proverbial backside. The only plus side, as I see it, is they can save a ‘blank’ session but other than that , rightly or wrongly, I consider them a pest.

It doesn’t matter what bait I try …..squid, mackerel, crab, worm – I’ve caught them on the lot. Big baits, small baits, big hooks, little hooks – makes no difference to the gluttonous dogfish. It wouldn’t be a problem if you set your stall at the start of a session to catch a dogfish but how often do you hear an angler say “I’ll be targeting the lesser spotted dogfish today?”….. hmmm…….thought not! The frustrating bit is every time you send a line down the doggies are there gobbling up your well prepared bait intended for a bass, smooth hound or ray ……….and that’s what really get’s my goat! For fish like bass you can change the method of fishing to stop the dogfish onslaught but for bottom feeders like the rays it’s difficult to discourage them from your bait.

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It wouldn’t be so bad if they put up a decent fight but a sport fish they are not – certainly when you compare them to it’s relative the feisty smooth hound which puts up one of the best fights an angler can get from a fish in UK waters…. especially from a kayak . With the dogfish they’re content to amble up to the surface and then usually curl up in a ball, just like a dog sleeping in a favourite chair, waiting for you to unhook them. The smooth hound on the other hand will put up a decent fight in the water before knocking seven bells out of you and your kit before it’s eventual surrender.

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Another problem with dogfish is rarely do they grow to any decent size, well, not the one’s I seem to catch anyway! The majority are usually up to a couple of foot long at best, in the 2-3lb bracket, and really something of nothing. Compared this to the smooth hound once again and it’s pretty poor…….after all it could be quite feasible to catch a 10lb plus smooth hound which would be a proper good fish in any anglers book.

My final piece of evidence for the prosecution is they’re not even very good to eat by all accounts. It’s a bit of a drag preparing them for the plate and there are mixed reviews at best on whether they’re actually worth the effort! Personally, I can’t say I fancy dogfish and chips for my tea.

So, there you have it, if you were in any doubt I’m not fond of the dogfish and  if anyone has any ideas on how to avoid them when bait fishing I’m all ears.

On the other hand maybe it’s my attitude to them that needs to change!

Until next time…………

Return of a reel favourite…

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Many many moons ago, before I came to my senses and realised my preference for sea fishing, I used to be a coarse fisherman and spent my fair share of time sat by a lake or on a river bank waiting for a float to be pulled under or for a bite alarm to go off. There was one piece of kit I had which I liked above anything else in them days – my Shimano Baitrunner reel which I generally used when I was carp or pike fishing.

For a while now, and certainly since I’ve had the kayak, I’ve been thinking about using a Baitrunner reel for live baiting. I was particularly thinking about trying it for bass in the summer as the mackerel shoals begin to show. Last year I had pondered the options out there with a Penn Live Slammer reel a good option but if I’m honest I really wanted the Shimano Baitrunner D option which I thought ticked all the right boxes, looked the business and reviewed well………trouble was the price differential. The Penn could be picked up for around the £80 mark whereas the Shimano option was nearer £140 and I just couldn’t bring myself to pay that for it bearing in mind the limited amount of use it would probably get.

How does a Baitrunner reel work you may ask? Well, a fixed spool reel is normally controlled by a clutch which may be at the front or at the rear of the reel body. This allows the angler to set the tension at which line can be pulled from the spool with the bale arm engaged to prevent breakage of the main line when playing a larger fish. The Baitrunner is an additional clutch facility that can be engaged to let line flow freely from the spool with the bale-arm engaged, but, with a simple turn of the reel or flick of the switch, normal clutch tension is applied to the spool.

I’d put it to the back of my mind over the winter and hadn’t really thought to much about it  …… until that is my wife said to me she’d ordered my birthday present but wasn’t sure if it was the right one. “The right one?” I said with an air of panic – what the hell was she doing ordering a reel for me – she knows nothing about fishing!! “Well it was on that Birthday/Christmas list you gave me last year” she retorts…… Surely she hadn’t taken a flyer on a list from last year had she?! Well, the answer was ‘”yes she has!” and yesterday  I once again became a lucky Shimano Baitrunner owner! It’s not something I was expecting and probably would still have been “umm-ing and ahhh-ing” over it this time next year knowing me. The wife has really come up trumps this time and has some serious Brownie points in the bank for sure!

The model is the Baitrunner BTR-8000D so is a fairly chunky bit of kit but the main plus with it is that it should handle the wear and tear of salt water which was the major consideration when I was doing my original research. Out of the box you get the reel itself, the maintenance oil, spare adjustment washers and the instruction guide…… so no spare spool which is a little disappointing but I can live with that. The features stated on the box of the reel include:

  • 4:8:1 Gear Ratio
  • 3 Shield A-RB Stainless Steel Ball Bearings
  • Baitrunner System
  • Dyna Balance Anti-Wobble System
  • Propulsion-Line Management System
  • Fluidrive II Gearing System
  • Super Stopper II Anti-Reverse
  • Oversized Power Roller Line Roller
  • Front Dial Water Proof Drag Mechanism With Positive Click
  • Direct Drive Mechanism (Thread In Handle)
  • One-Piece Bail Wire
  • Cold Forged Aluminium Spool

The technical bits are:

  • Weight 21.7oz (615g)
  • Line Capacity 14lb/295 yards, 17lb/250 yards, 20lb, 195yards

For full manufacturer information on the reel click here.

Obviously I haven’t had a chance to use it in anger just yet but the first ‘dry’ impressions are very good. In particular the smoothness of the winding, the comfort of the handle and the sturdiness of the Baitrunner mechanism all stand out. As soon as the opportunity presents itself I will be giving it a proper test. It will be an excellent spinning reel as well which will probably be the first outing it gets but we’ll see. I’ll write a post on my findings later in the year no doubt along with some pictures of it in action.

Thanks to the wife for a cracking birthday present!

Until next time…