Preparation for winter bait stocks starts in August, with most of my fishing done on the west coast of Scotland targeting Ray’s, Spurdog, Doggies with the occasional trip for common skate .My mainstay of my bait supply is the good old mackerel and plenty of them. Normally i have a few run runs down to the river Clyde for them, mid week being the best bet as its a little less busy.
Long range improved sensitivity
Targeting them on the drop and at range . I use a Century NSure teamed with a mid sized fixed spool loaded with 20lb braid or non-ofil, casting is improved as is contact with the fish as they hit the feathers hard on the drop,fishing with braid makes a huge difference in both the casting range and bite sensitivity.
My first run to the Clyde resulted in around 90 fish in under 4 hours great fishing and very addictive ,once you have started you just cannot stop. The size of the Clyde fish are fairly good this year and are just about a little too big for skate baits, smaller mackerel make the job of casting them out a little easier.
Off to catch a monster
So now stocked up with a few fresh mackerel I headed for another adventure with my two good friends Ali and Gordon who were heading for a camping night with their kids to target common skate.Arriving first at the mark i got out the trusty T900 casting out with my favourite loop rig baited up with mackerel/sandeel cocktail baits.Then got my TT-R prepared for the big stuff, a long pulley rig made from 200lb mono finished of with a 10/0 Cox and Rawle meat hook baited with whole mackerel.
Nod Nod Nod
By the time I had sorted out the big gear the T900 was nodding sharply, a good start a bite first cast but unfortunately I didn’t hook up. I rebated and recast and again missed the second bite, I had a real good look at the 1/0 hooks on the rig and promptly binned the rig and re-baited a new rig, out it went and bingo I hooked up to a nice thornback ray , worth
Heart Stopper !
Ali and his daughter arrived at the mark shortly after I caught my first ray of the day and while he got his self sorted putting up the tent etc ,my TT-R nodded twice and my heart skipped a beat could it be had I hooked up to a common skate on the very first cast, the rod stayed motionless for a couple of minutes then nodded again the slack lined me, I tighten up and
was surprised when I lifted into solid thumping fish, not the common but a nice thornbackray about 6lb that had managed to gob a whole mackerel complete with 10/0 hook, that set the pattern for the day with plenty of Thornback ray and the a odd doggie or two hitting my loop rig almost every cast great fishing.
Flood tide Slam
The tide started to flood and the fishing continued without much let up with Ali’s daughter catching a doggie or two on a set of baited feathers and a small ray as well, to say she was chuffed would have been an understatement. A couple of hours into the flood the T900 tip banged down and then slack lined me ,tightening down just at that the TT-R slammed down hard and the ratchet screamed as something hit the bait hard and was making out to sea.
Time to hold on
I grabbed the rod tightened down the drag as the line peeled off the reel at a steady rate, out of the corner of my eye the T900 tip pulled down as well. Calling Ali over to deal with the T900 as I hung on for dear life.The fish stopped as Ali was winding down hard on the T900 at that point we were not sure if we had picked up the fish on both rods, Ali advised I wind down hard as I was sure the fish had dropped the bait, I wound as fast as I could and caught up with the fish just as it decided it was heading back out to sea. Ali landed two thorn back ray on the T900 .
Power up , Small gains
As i powered the TT-R into it’s full arc and slowly very slowly the tip started to straighten , so i wound down again and slowly gained a few feet of line, again and again the TT-R tip shuddered from full arc to nearly straight so slowly I gained yard after yard of line on the fish till it was nearly at my feet, at this point I had to re position as I could not clear the nasty ledge at about 9 feet out.
TTR – Bend
20 minutes – felt like an hour
At this point in the fight I had been on the fish for about 20 mins and it was now a lift job. It can get quite physical so I tighten down on the fish heaved , up she came, then the leader came out of the water into the tip ring and down the rod and finally onto the reel great.
I thought not long now but nope she had other ideas, down she went taking all the leader off the reel down the rod and back onto the water, she stopped.
I gathered myself and once again i lifted, up came the leader knot again over the tip ring down the rod onto the reel this time i managed more and more turns.
I advised Ali that the trace would be visible soon the next lift saw the swivel pop out of the water, at that Ali managed to get hold of the trace and guide the fish into the gully i was playing the fish from. What a fight 25 mins of huffing puffing and stress and finally she was ours.
So we unhooked , took photos and then turned seaward ,after a short period of recovery off she sank into the depths from whence she came. It is a great privilege to capture a fish of the physical presence that these fish possess it is quite impossible to describe the emotions that finally hit you after the fish is safely returned and you have a chance to reflect on its capture. The fish was estimated at 160lb but really who cares they are all big big fish.
I must say a huge thank you to Ali for handling the fish at the end of the fight as I was bushed. Graham and his little lad missed the action by about an hour, shame the wee fellow didn’t see the fish but I’m sure he will see one soon. I left just on darkness to face the drive home and reflect on a great days fishing.
My next trip out was a very early start up at 04:00 and down on the Clyde for 05:45, first three cast 10 mackerel, an early start worth it ? .
You bet the fishing continued like that for two hours solid, I had a bucket full in about an hour. I took the opportunity to fillet most of them and get them packed in bags and in the cool box before it got too warm.
4 hour blitz
I ended the session after 4 hours constant action as the weather turned and sky’s greyed up and a shower blew overhead. Home for 11:30 with just over 100 fish packed and in the freezer, all ready for the up coming winter season.
I had a further run down just to top off the winter bait supplies but the morning was grey wet and windy making the fishing difficult but as the sky cleared the fish started to feed a little and I ended up with around
30 nice sized bait fish and a bonus codling just over the 1lb mark, it hit the feathers hard at first I was sure I found one of the many bits of structure that are unseen under the water, great to see such a nice condition fish of this size just a shame they never seem to get much bigger.
Thnaks for reading