Happy New Year To All

I hope everyone had a great Christmas with lots of fishing related presents for everyone and hopefully you have all enjoyed a great start to 2019 as I got off to a flier.

Good start Great Weather

First trip out was on the 2nd of January along with my friend from the South of England we had a great weather day with little or no wind and some sun, we headed for a mark that had fishedwell on the bigger tides and thrown up some great fishing with large numbers or dogfish,thornback and the odd spurdog.

First Cast Bingo

We need not have worried as I had a bite first cast and promptly landed a doggie so happy first fish of 2019 for me. Third cast and I had a proper thumping bite and after catching up with the fish a good fight ensued and a Spurdog of around 4lbs hit the surface so a good result in daylight and with having someone with me I managed to get a photo of me with the fish.

Slower start ,New Rod

My friend took a while but when he did he started to catch a steady stream of doggies on the new Tip Tornado Sport Graphex he was trying for the day, the rod handled the lively doggies with ease pulling them up from 60 odd foot of water that was in front of us. We had a ball with many double shots of doggies from myself on the T1000 and SLOH 20, the action got a little slower come darkness and the top of the tide.

Mixed bag great start to 2019

Turning tide , Things Start to Happen

However the action picked up after the tide turned and I managed to land a couple of decent sized whiting . Another spurdog and as luck would have it the T1000 tip hammered down and the fish slack lined me, as soon as I wound down on the rod I knew it was a better stamp fish, it fought hard to keep on the bottom but the power of the T1000 slowly but surely persuaded the fish to rise up in the water, once near the top the fish charged first right then left and was finally beached it after agreat fight  and a lovely conditioned spurdog of around 7lb was my prize, once again I was lucky to have a cameraman to do the honours.

Dogged Out

My friend for some reason just could not get himself into a spur and continued to catch doggie after doggie on our mackerel,sandeel and squid baits. I managed one Thornback ray later on in the session I guess that the Doggies were so active that the Ray’s just didn’t have a chance to get onto the bait presented on various rigs with 1/0 hooks big enough to handle the fish and my favourite loop rig providing me with lots of action.

Mountain Hopping in the Sun

Next trip out saw myself and my regular fishing partner Paul Stewart head for a mark that.I had not visited before but Paul had had success from in the past. Target for the night was again Common Skate. The walk to the mark was a bit on eye opener for me as it consisted on a hike of about 500m of finest Scottish bog then a quick mountaineering course consisting of four assents and descents of the alps, great fun in the mid afternoon sun, we however made the mark without too much trouble but it did cross my mind that we all carry far too much gear.

Settling Down

We got settled on the mark and the big baits launched into the depths, the bottom was a long way down, about 100 feet or so with the whole mackerel baits taking 20 seconds or so to hit bottom. We were using very similar gear Paul had a WR300 and TTR rods paired with Penn two speed level drag reels full of 100lb braid, myself a TTR paired with a 9000C with carbontex drag washer and 80lb braid tipped off with 10m of 150lb mono leader. My choice of trace is a very long 6’ pulley rig and a 10/0 meat hook on 200lb mono, Paul’s choice of end gear is similar however he uses 12/0 or 14/0 hooks and 100lb braid to the swivel, more on that a little later.

What’s about Rod

I always use my second rod as a see what’s swimming about, this time my T1000 and 6500 CT reel loaded with 18lb mono and my favourite loop rig baited with the usual mackerel sandeel cocktails and out it went, not a touch for the first couple of casts so I shortened up on the cast and third cast hooked up a doggie, over the next couple of casts I hooked up another couple of doggies before it went very quiet……game on.

Screaming Drag

We had a moonless night to contend with and we didn’t have too long before Paul’s WR300 tip nodded down and his ratchet screamed off, he grabbed onto the rod and tightened down on the drag the fish just continued to strip line off the reel as if it would never stop, Paul tightened down just a little too much and had to take a small step forward before he managed to let the drag off a little, the fish slowed and eventually stopped taking line after what seemed like an age and the tug of war ensued,

Slowly Slowly

Paul gained line on the fish putting as much pressure on the fish as he could, the fish decided it was not going to give up and took line again but was quickly brought back toward myself who had by this time made my way onto the rock shelve 6ft below our fishing platform to man handle the fish onto the ledge. The fish was successful landed after a 20 minute fight onto the ledge she was measured and pictures taken a lovely female fish of 150lb and another wonderful memory for us both.

Estimated 150lb Female

Back out and  Fingers crossed

We got the baits out again and continued the session and tried to calm down a little after the fun and games. My general rod went off not long after and anther doggie was landed, in fact I had a further three before yes you guessed it cue Jaws music….it went very quiet again. I was to the right of Paul and my TTR gave a good solid nod, I was on the bottom of the rod straight away click click went the 9000C and it promptly stopped and picked up the rod and waited with baited breath not the slightest movement through the braid, very strange ,then bang down went Paul’s WR300 tip and the reel really did scream off .

Not Stopping.

Paul tightened up the lever drag on the reel till he felt he could give it no more, the fish just swam and swam more and more line peeled off his reel he literally could not stop the fish, the WR300 was bent into a huge battle curve and still the fish swam on, I could sense that Paul was starting to get a tad worried that he could not stop the fish, we need not have worried as the fish slowed and eventually came to a halt after it took at least 80m of line on that first run.

To me to you.

Paul started to drag the fish in toward us gaining vital meters of line, the fish lunged again and took most of the line Paul had gained back, this was either a very big fish or a very angry male fish. Paul once again gained some semblance of control of the fish and started to gain more precious line back onto his reel,

Set back to forget

The fight was about 15 minutes in and the worst thing happened ping went the braid and Paul lost the fish unseen in the darkness, we think it had brushed its tail across the braid and away it went, that is one reason I prefer to use 10m of heavy mono as a leader guess Paul will be using one next time out. The hooks by the way are all de barbed before use and the fish will shed the hook quickly, just a shame we didn’t get a glimpse of the fish, it could have been a real big fish.

Dark Mood

With that our mood started to resemble the dank Scotch mist that had rolled in off the hills. It didn’t take too long for the adrenaline to subside in us both and we packed up shortly after, facing the crossing of the alps in now total darkness wet and slimy due to the drizzle seemed like a huge challenge after the lost fish but with lots of care and slowly ,slowly we reached the sanctuary of the bog and promptly got a wee bit lost heading 150m in the wrong direction till we eventually got our bearings.

 One more trip

I did manage one more fishing trip this month but Loch Etive was doing what’s is famous for, fishing bad really bad and the constant high winds and rain did nothing to help, I managed one bite last cast and the fish promptly spat the hook on the way in, that’s fishing I suppose and it certainly get you back to reality.


The last two weekends in January are devoted to a cause that should be in every fisherman’s heart the RNLI, I’m a radio ham and run a special event station from my old home town of Silloth’s RNLI boathouse. I’m sure some of you may have fished not far from the boat house on the promenade. With the help of my other ham radio friends we managed to contact over 1700 other ham radio operators across the world from as far apart as Hawaii, Japan, Australia, USA and Canada, Peru, Argentina etc. This helps spread the word of the work our brave volunteer crews undertake around the coast of the UK.

GB1LBC on the air from Silloth RNLI lifeboat station.

Hope you all get that special fish in 2019, be safe out there and enjoy your fishing.

Best wishes for 2019


December , Thornback and a look back at 2018

Abandoned plans and lessons learned  .

So I decided to abandon my quest for a big Spurdog and go and see if my favourite Thornback ray mark was still holding a few fish.I need not have worried as I had bites from the off, however getting fish through the now thick kelp bed at the bottom of the beach was proving to be quite a task. I lost the first fish in the weed on the very first cast and discovered that the line was badly frayed from my last trip when I got hung up on the shelf, ah well another lesson learned.

Double Dab.

Once again the T1000 and TT-R rods were teamed with SLOSH20 reels loaded with 20lb line and long 80lb leaders. Third cast and I managed to land a double shot of a dab and a small Thornback ray before loosing the rig in the kelp on the next cast. Normally I fish two rods one with my favourite 2 hook loop rig the other rod with either a single hook clipped down rig or single hook pulley rig but after loosing the two hook rig to the kelp bed.

Rig re-think.

So I geared up both rods with single hook pulley rigs to try and get directly onto the fish. Well the change worked a treat the next cast I managed a lovely conditioned ray of bang on 9lbs which is one of the biggest ray I have had for quite a long while, it fought well and hugged the bottom of the deep Loch for quite a while till it eventually rose to the surface about 40 mt out, I had to put a lot of pressure on the fish to get it to leave the bottom that’s the reason for the powerful gear you sometimes just have to give the fish some stick.

Lovely marked 9lb Ray

Darkness anticipation.

The fishing was steady but slow with a total of 6 ray’s and one doggie come darkness and a single Doggie. Bait again very simple sandeel, mackerel and squid were the mainstay, but I had the Doggie on frozen crab and also had a couple of Ray’s on cocktails that included Gerry’s best frozen black lug. I was expecting to have a run of fish into darkness but once again the fishing died away and I packed in after loosing more gear to the kelp. Think I need to have a bit of a re think on how to fish the mark as I have always had problems getting fish through the kelp bed at the base of the beach, it was good to find out that the Ray were indeed still in the area in December.

A face only a mother could love
A look back over 2018

As 2018 is over and 2019 has arrived , its the time to look back over 2018 and  pick a few highlights that have stuck in my mind as moment’s that will be with me for a long time.
January and February stood out for its cod fishing in the north east with some nice bags of fish been taken, however one trip will be with me for a while as we fished through a rising sea with waves crashing over the sea wall we were forced move into the inner harbour area as the entrance was awash with the heavy sea, I’m sure my fishing partner will not forget it as well most of his fishing is done around the Thames estuary.

6lb 4oz of North East Cod

Not So Common

February saw my regular fishing partner Paul Stewart tangle with another fine common skate from the shore that took him quite a while to land, Penn Fathom two speed level drag and WR300 was the gear that tamed this beast from the deep.

Spring 2018 finally sprung

So off to Silloth to target Thornback Ray with my cousin John who had not really fished much for Rays, well we found a few and the smile on his face kind of says it all.

Flying visit to Morecambe

Matty finally got me down to Morecambe and did he show me how to pick out the good fish, I did end up with three smoothies and a ray, I will remember the day for a while.

Matty with the best fish of the day

Sweltering Summer 2018

July saw us with finally a summer (well some sunshine) and some great fishing up here in Loch Etive with once again my regular partner in crime Paul Stewart who caught a great double figure Spurdog in the sweltering heat what a turn up for the books. This mark continued to fish for a couple of weeks then promptly died off ,it’s likely the weather warmed up the water a little too much and the fish retreated into more comfortable waters…

August Catch of a lifetime !

Check out that smile

August saw what was for me my biggest stand out moment of the year a common skate in daylight, what a difference playing such a big fish in daylight, no worries about falling over on the rocks and a chance to enjoy the fight, well I say enjoy it…..my thanks to my fishing partner on the day Ali for doing the business at the end of the fight dragging the fish into a position were we could get a couple of photos. That one will be with me for a very long time.

Road trip.

September saw me visiting Gerrys fishing open day with the new Tip Tornados Graphex rods for everyone to have a go with on the beach, it’s alway’s great to meet old friends and make new ones and I look forward to the next open day at Gerry’s.

Well I hope that you all have some great memories of this year and make many more in 2019 this was just a few snap shots of some of my highlights, tell me a few of yours next time we meet.

Best wishes and tight lines for 2019 from yours truly.

Paul Johnstone    PJ

November Testing Times: tides, weather and fishing conditions.

November Testing Times: tides, weather and fishing conditions.

So November started with a visit back to the same mark that had produced a great evenings fishing, however the mark seemed very quiet in daytime with only two doggies at extreme distance. With the on-set of darkness the bites became more frequent and a little bolder then with  the appearance of a few small whiting making the session a little bit more enjoyable.

Slack Lined
With an hour or so till  high water the TT-R tip nodded and slack lined I tightened down and once again the tip nodded and slack lined again, I wound down on a solid thumping fighting fish, as the rig was a single 1/0 manta pulley rig the fish was either a good sized Thorn-back  Ray or my target Spurdog as the fish was reluctant to leave the bottom. A few more pumps on the rod and the fish rose quickly in the deep water, game on as it could only be a Spurdog. 

Crash Dive
The fish hit the surface at about 40m and darted first right then left and crash dived again, thank goodness I was using powerful gear and the fish was quickly on the grass at my feet, the fish had hammered into a poor whiting that had taken my Sand-eel ,Mackerel cocktail and cleanly chomped right through it just below its head, I was lucky that the whiting had greedily swallowed the hook deeply as if it had been lip hooked all I would have got back was it head, it sure is a rough life out there !

It’s a tough life out there !


Highland Fling

This month also saw me and a  few friends on the hunt for another common skate in the west Highlands. A cottage was our base for the week so armed with enough bait to supply a shop it was game on for a shot at common skate from the shore. The first part of the week the weather was settled and with clear sky’s the temperatures were just hovering around zero with the onset of darkness making the long wait for a bite very hard going, my first nights fishing ended up in just two doggies on my T1000 fished on 1/0 hooks and a loop rig.

Change of plan ,Blank avoided

No interest in the bigger baits, so cold and disappointed we retired to the cottage to plan a change of mark. The next day saw us on a different mark and once again nothing showed any interest in the big baits, however we noticed a few small Pollock attacking the remains of bait in the kelp that hung to the rocks, well a fish is a fish so small hooks found in the bottom of my friends box and free lined down the side I managed to avoid the dreaded blank with few small Pollock. With that I had to return home for the weekend travel back Sunday evening. The lads had no action on Friday or Saturday nights sessions with only doggies trying to pick up the whole mackerel baits.

Big Girl,

The guys headed out again on Sunday night without myself and guess what, yes the big girl came out to play. Paul Stewart had a lovely female fish of 199lb from the chart and a personal best, caught on a WR300 and Fathom two speed lever drag reel loaded with 100lb braid. I can’t really put into words the emotions that run through your head when the ratchet started to scream but the first thing that springs to mind is oh no not another 40 odd minutes of pain, Paul was on his fish for around 45 minutes of shear physical effort, the only thing that keeps you going is that the fish is just as tired as you !

Simple rigs big rewards!

The rigs are fairly simple, long pully rigs made from 200lb mono and 12/0 hook baited with mackerel, doggies sometimes are also good baits. Another member of the party had a female fish of 70lb within minutes of the Paul’s fish been landed. Ali had a dropped bait shortly after that as well,I guess they run in small groups at times. So in short that was 5 nights fishing for two fish, that’s big fish fishing sometimes it just about being in the right place at the right time.

Paul Stewart’s new PB of 199lb ,Scottish finest  Common Skate ,It put a bend in his WR300.

Fun in the Winter Sun

I  had another long standing friend who was in the area at the time so on Monday morning we set off for a fun session targeting small pollock, coalies and wrasse, the weather was once again very kind to us with some lovely winter sun. Much fun was had with loads of hungry fish hitting both freelined ragworm and thin strips of mackerel, the best being a lovely marked wrasse for Drew.

Drew with the best fish on the day 


Full of confidence.


I took a chance on Tuesday afternoon with the weather deteriorating to try for another spurdog, the mark fishes over low water so I was full of confidence as low water was 16:53. The wind was gusty and showers intermittent . So I set up the two rods T1000 and TT-R paired with SLOSH20’s loaded with 20lb mainline and long 80lb shockleader to combat the steep shelf that is present on the mark.

Clickety click.

With both rods out and fishing I was watching the rod tips and sure enough down went the TT-R tip and slack lined I tightened up down went the tip and the ratchet clicked on the reel, fish on tighten up the clutch and wound down hard on the fish. I was met with a solid thumping fish nodding well on the end of the line I pumped the fish hard to get her over the shelve and she hit the shore, a lovely conditioned spur of about 6lb unhooked and returned to the water, the fish hit a sandeel squid cocktail on bottom hook of my favourite loop rig set up.

Next Time.

I was sure I was in for a great session first cast and bang nice spur however it was not to be as the weather continued to get worse the tide turned and nothing no bites and baits stripped by crabs. Last cast and a small Cod managed to hook its self and that was that. Ah well my big spur will have to wait for another trip.Wednesday saw the weather get really wild with storm force winds and torrential rain sweeping over western Scotland making the drive home a bit of an adventure, ending a week of fishing that will be remembered by all of us.

First cast spurdog, the one and only of my session


Thanks for reading , and Merry Christmas to you all 

October Downtime, Rod Building & Fishing Time.

Me Time .

Well October started with another round of bad weather putting pay to any plans I had made to once again target a double figure Spurdog from the west highlands of Scotland. So I  took myself off for a  nice relaxing holiday in Tenerife with temperatures in the 80’s fishing was never going to be on the cards however it did not stop a few locals trying their luck around some of the structures that were scattered around the resort. Looks like one guy was LRF-ing around the local marina entrance, the rocks were literally the size of small cars so he definitely braver than yours truly.

lRFing Tenerife Style


I had a request from one of casting pupil to overhaul and re ring his favourite rod with a request for the St Andrews cross on the bottom section of the rod, this kept me busy for a good while. My back had done its usual annual spasm about a week after we came back from holiday, 5 hrs on a plane didn’t help of that I’m sure.

St Andrews Cross under construction

I think that the rod turned out just fine and the client was well happy with the result, he now is looking to honour his Italian heritage with the Italian flag on some of his other rods .Another is looking to include the St George’s cross on his rods. I will let you know how that one goes.

Re rung and St Andrews Cross

Skate Guru.

I did manage one trip out with my skate guru Ali, we were out for a days fishing on a mark that has produced some very big Spurdog last year so we were hopeful that on one of the biggest tides of the month that the mark would throwing up a double figure one. First cast and Ali had a good bite on a mackerel bait and promptly landed a nice Thornback Ray of about 4lb, a great start and the sport continued like that through out the raising tide with a mix of doggies and Thornback ray with a few small whiting, and a bonus Mackerel (bait)  thrown in for good measure.
A Nice Thornback and fresh bait.

The mark was about 60 feet deep so I used the T1000 and TTR teamed with my ever reliable SLOSH20’s loaded with 20lb line, rigs were my favourite loop rigs and a pulley rig,6” of biting wire to 1/0 Manta extras or Viking hooks and 5oz grip leads were able to cope with double shots of Doggies and good sized Thornback Ray that kept hitting the baits every cast.

The tide hit its peak at about 17:00 and a lull in the action gave us a chance to get organised for the session as darkness fell, I expected the bites to get more aggressive but the reverse happened with the doggies only giving the faintest of bites, they were of course still feeding but bites seemed shy. The action lulled then Ali’s rod trip went down and didn’t come back up, fish on and after a spirited fight a lovely size Spurdog hit the surface, it was around 8lbs or so safely returned to the water after a couple of photos.

Primed and ready.

We were both primed for a good run of Spurdog but it was not to be with the doggies continuing to feed again. Another lull ensued for about an hour them my TTR slammed down and the ratchet screamed as something tore off line from my reel, after a great fight with the fish not wanting to rise in the water until it got to about 30 yards out, a nice sized spur hit the surface, the fish was un-hooked rested in the water and a couple of snaps taken the fish was back in the water none the worse for her trip to say hello.
As darkness falls early and the long nights are once again with us I rely on an LED Lenser XEO 19R headlamp giving you session long light with two separate ultra bright LED that are selectable in both on/off and zoom capability, I find it superb as I have one as a spot light the other a pool of
light aiding in both moving about and baiting up and keeping an eye on my rod tips.

Ali with a lovely Spurdog

Your’s truly with a Spurdog of about 7lbs

Dropping tide , More Rays.

The bites continued on the dropping tide but with it easing towards low water the thornback ray came back out to play and the last cast  my TTR  tip slammed down and the ratchet clicked away, Springing into action tightening down the drag and pulling into the fish to be met with a solid thumping fight I was sure that I had found my big Spurdog at last, it was not to be as two good size thornback hit the surface, not bad with one about 10lb  on the top loop rig. We ended up with Spur, Ray, Doggies, Mackerel, Whiting and a single coalie and literally a bite a cast what a session, both Ali and I will remember the nights fishing for a long time.

Last cast what a way to end a great sessions fishing

Bait couldn’t have been simpler, sandeel mackerel and squid in cocktail combinations worked well
with no single combination working any better than anything other.




September Rods, Shows and Events.

September Start, Bad weather affects my Fishing.

Well September arrived and the weather decided  not to play ball, with a lot of wind and rain here in Scotland  has restricted my early fishing this month to just one trip.But I was confident taking  my friend, Nathan to get him his first spurdog.

Octopus ?

The first mark produced two pin whiting and of all things an octopus, definitely a first for me, no spurs no dogs nothing so a quick move and once again after two hours not a touch, a further change of venue saw us start to hit doggies and Thornback ray, fishing into darkness saw the sport get better so at least we found a few fish. It put the lack of Spurdog down to the warmer than normal water temperatures, they were some being caught but in much deeper open water marks, well you have to have a down side to a great summer that we all enjoyed.

On the Road again.

Highlight of the month was my trip down to Gerrys fishing open day, always great to see old friends and make new ones as well. A big thank you to all the staff at Gerry’s for the warm welcome and making me feel at home.

Home for the day 

Graphex Surprise

I had with me a couple of the new Tip Tornado Graphex Rods. Well what can  I  say  I’m truly speechless in the performance off these rods, and the guys who tried them out on the beach seemed to agree. The photos were taken at the Scottish Surf casting Association event, these events a great place to improve your technique and increase your casting distances, the North West Casting Association NWSA meet up not to far away from Gerrys fishing, best person to talk to in the shop is John Walker .I’m sure you will enjoy casting, but beware it becomes very addictive…..you have been warned.

New Tip Tornado Rods in action, top Sport, bottom
Super Match

Spurs on my mind

After been tied down with family commitments and the weather I truly was desperate to get out and find a few spurdog. With  the Facebook reminders  popping up with lots of memories from last year with good catches of spurdog. So I headed off to a mark that had given me great sport last year but failed to produce anything this year, down to I’m sure the warmer than normal sea temperatures. Third cast with the T900 i saw the rod bounce about in the rod rest as soon as I put it down, I tightened down
two or three times only to have the tip bounce again and get more slack line, the spurs will sometimes follow down a bait and hit it on the drop, I left it for 5 minutes till the tip was really going nuts.

Snack Mack -More Bait

But not a spur it was a good sized mackerel, it had however attracted the attention of a hungry spur as the bite marks across the Mackerel bare witness to what must be a real rough world out there, the mackerel had hit a full medium Sand- eel on the drop and along comes the next in the food chain and decides to eat the mackerel, tough old world out there.

Slam slack lined

Well the Mackerel gave me some fresh bait and next cast the T900 tip slammed down my first spur slack lined me, it had taken a slice of fresh mackerel and squid cocktail on a 4/0 manta hook & a pulley rig, the rig had been out about 10 mins and the fish fought hard and deep but was safely landed unhooked photo taken and returned unharmed.

I found out they have teeth 

The next cast and same again tip slammed over but this time the fish took off away from me I caught the butt of the T900 just before it was horizontal, this fish fought deeper and longer than the first, I was at first sure it may make double figures but turned out it was a super conditioned fish of about 6lb.

Species Hunt, Drowned rat .

The rest of the session turn out to be a bit of a species hunt with another mackerel making an appearance, a few pin whiting, a pollack & a coalie, oh yes nearly forgot it started to rain as it only can in the highlands of Scotland so I got a little soggy around the edges, yes I know I forgot to pack my brolly, lesson learned.

Hopefully October will be kinder to me than September, we can only go out fish and see, thanks for reading and enjoy your fishing.
Paul J


Better late than Never August , Skate and Bait

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.

Fridge Filled

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.

A good sized Mackerel from the Clyde

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
changing rig.

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.

Picture time

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.

160lb Common Skate returned with a lot of help from friends

Thanks !

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.

Early Start

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.

Strange coloured Mackerel !!

Thnaks for reading

Paul J

July Super Hot Weather & Super Hot Fishing

Well July started with super hot weather and  hot fishing to boot. Meeting  up with my  regular fishing partner Paul Stewart returning to the mark that had thrown up some lovely Spurdog on our last two visits.But alas no spurs were present this time around .On the plus side we had some nice Thornback’s  to around 6lb , the final score was four rays apiece.

All the fish were caught on sand-eel, mackerel squid crab cocktails presented on 1/0 or 4/0 hooks with a short wire biting trace’s on either a single clipped down rig or loop rig. All the fish were taken at range using Kompressor SS, T1000 & T1200 rods teamed with fast retrieve reels SLOSH 20’s or Fathom 15’s, robust tackle required as the water is deep and a ledge strewn with kelp is about 5m out from low water.Myself and Paul Stewart each with a hard fighting ray

My next outing

Of my favourite ray mark situated on the coast of west highlands of Scotland .This time out i was to be fishing alone  good job i don’t mind my own company.

Having to fish a long way out to get over a kelp ledge at low water into deep water. Today  was a pleasant day,with no relentless Sun beating down with it being overcast but still very warm.

Out went first cast with both rods saw no action .So crab bait on the bottom snood of the loop rig with a cocktail bait on the top hook and out it sailed  after a couple of minutes the rod nodded once and the ratchet clicked a couple of times so i tightening up the line and rebated the other rod and cast it out. The first rod was now nodding away ray on , out of the corner of my eye the second rod gave a god solid thump down as well fish number two was on .

Today was a pleasant struggle to keep up, with  ray after ray hitting the beach, it was solid fishing all day both rods getting hit nearly instantly as soon as they settled. I was Struggling to keep a couple of pre-baited rigs going as the bites were relentless.

Double shot of ray on the T1200

A nice bonus double shot of doggies hooked fair and square one hook each fish on a pennel rig and  two double shots of ray’s, to say it was hot fishing would have been an understatement ending the session with 21 thornback ray’s the biggest 7 1/4lb and 5 doggies in a 8 hour session.

Absolutely worn out at the end of the session so  straight to McDonald’s to get fed, enjoy the air con and a cold drink, I was gutted when they told me the McFlurry machine was broke, the thought of a nice ice cream kept me going for the last hour or so of fishing.

Double shot of doggies on a pennel rig, you know your on a good day!

Old mark new venture “New Spot’s”

Next outing was to a mark that fished very well for me for spurdog in the early autumn last year so keen to try it in late July to see if any were about. First two casts resulted in two great bites that I’m almost sure were from spurdog big heavy hit on the tip of the T900 and a load of slack line, but for some reason I didn’t connect with a fish.

The overcast sky cleared and the sun shone and that seemed to put a stop on the spur action,

however on the fourth cast the T1000 tip nodded three times and a slack line resulted in a nice spotted ray about 4lb, the fish was tempted with the normal sand-eel mackerel and squid cocktail bait presented on my favourite loop rig and 1/0 manta hooks.

Later on I had a nice male out on the T900 i was fishing a larger cocktail bait presented on a 4/0 manta extra on a pulley rig. That was it till about 1 hour from high water and the T1200 gave no indication of a bite just a steady slack line hanging from the tip I tightened up it went slack almost immediately, applying pressure to the fish i felt it pull with that I wound down on the fish  only to be met with solid resistance and a steady thump, thump ,thump it felt big really big.

Pressure on !

So i applied as much pressure as i dare but I could not get the fish to move.Next plan,  give it slack line  phew it moved off so I tightened into it again getting about 2 yards of line back but then solid. So with that I dropped the rod tip and pointed the rod straight at the fish  slowly walking back  I could feel something moving , with that the fish started to thump again I pumped the fish hard and fast and managed to get the fish to rise in the water ,I was slightly disappointed to see a ray break surface about 30  yards out but It was a reasonable sized fish that was duly beached.

The fish had taken the top hook of my loop rig but the bottom hook had snapped just at the start of the bend, thank goodness I stuck with robust 20lb line and 80lb shock leader and no wonder it felt a bit special likely the fish had snagged me up when it moved off with my bait and got hung up on something.

Three lovely marked Ray in the sunshine (top left gave me the all the trouble)

The Month of June Long Days Short Nights

Well June has started off with a final crack at catching a double figure Thornback so with my cousin John in toe  we headed back to Cumbria, arriving at our preferred low water mark we fished two hours down and
two up, but the fish didn’t read the script and I had the only fish of the day, a nice fat ……….. flounder that fell to a crab bait presented on a 1/0 manta hook. It seems that’s the ray had vacated the area over the two weeks since our last visit and little had been caught in that


Morecambe bay adventures with Matty Preston

One of the perks of job so to speak is meeting and making new friends , Matty Preston whom I met last September invited me to down to Morecambe and have a go for a Smoothie as the beaches in the area had been fishing very well. I arrived at our first mark and armed with the T900 and 6500 C3CT reel and off i sent a crab bait secured to a clipped down single hook rig .Then I promptly wound in our target for the day, a small but welcome smoothie. The tide then started to ebb so we moved out of the rip , Matty found a small schoolie bass which was duly returned, with that we decided to end the session .

Before heading to our next mark we paid a visit to Gerry’s to  say hi to the Guys and eat all the chocolate biscuits before a trip off to low water.
Once again third cast another smoothie, fishing at distance with the
t900 and 7ht combo seemed to be effective as the tide still had a good way to drop.

Then at low water  Matty used his local knowledge (skill/lack of distance ) and dropped a bait a little closer in and bagged a lovely smoothie, just goes to show you can not beat local knowledge, as Matty was dealing with his fish the tip of my rod nodded twice and the line slackened  I was in again with my third Smoothie of the day.

Matty unfortunately had to leave early ,second cast after he had gone my rod tip went over and didn’t come back up, away again but this time a different fight as I pulled the fish up and over every sand bank that was between me and my very angry unseen fish ,  then the dreaded weed jam in the tip ring so I had to walk back to bring  the fish to the edge of the water  it was a lovely marked angry male thornback, at that it flapped it’s wings and dug it self into the soft sand, talk about never giving up I’m sure it left a trench in the sand all the way in about a foot wide and 6” deep.

With that fish it was time to pack up get off the beach and face the long drive home.


Having a free weekend  saw me and my regular fishing partner Paul Stewart heading up to the North West Highlands to Loch Etive to target Spurdog, we arrived couple of hours before low water and got set up I opted for the T1000 and T1200 teamed with a pair of SLOSH 20’s loaded with 20lb line and long 80lb leaders, strong tackle but we are in  fishing deep water with a ledge at about 20m  this calls for a reasonably strong set up.

First cast again and I hooked a nice spur about 3lbs on a sandeel / mackerel cocktail bait on a 4/0 manta hook, so a great start to our day. The fishing was steady all day long with waves of fish hitting our baits on a regular basis, it was not hectic fishing but steady with a final tally of fish for us both of 7 spur each and a thornback ray each. Baits ranged from crab to sand-eel mackerel and squid in various combinations mounted on hooks from 1/0 to 4/0 sizes, it’s worth noting that a short wire biting sections to the hook are essential, Spurs are armed with a good set of very sharp teeth that chomp mono hook links with ease.

However just before dark Paul’s Kompresor SS tip went over and his ratchet on his Penn Fathom started ticking, he tightened into the fish and off it went a great battle ensued until the fish found the ledge Paul gave it a couple of pulls but it was not for coming out, give it some line I advised, So he gave it two or three meters of line and off it went straight away so with one last good pull the fish finally headed for the surface and slid onto the grassy bank, it was a great fish a real lump, the lie detector said 10lbs 2oz, what a result and Paul’s first double figure spur, to say we were both over the moon would be an understatement. Photos taken the fish made its way out into deep water none the worse for its quick visit to the bank. I had a final fish in darkness that hit the surface about 10m out, as i shone my headlight into the water two sets of beady eyes were  glowing green back at me ,before one set disappeared back into the black water, another spur had followed the other up, certainly a first for me seeing another spur following the other up in the water right to the surface. We packed up at 01:00 hrs and headed home reaching my house just as the sun was lighting up the sky at 03:00, long days and short nights indeed.

 Paul with his first double figure spur


Last trip of the month saw me head up alone to the same mark that had given Paul his first double figure spur (see above photo) to see if it would yield fish on a regular basis, I need not have worried as second cast with the T1000 fishing a loop rig with 1/0 mantas with sandeel mackerel squid cocktails saw the tip nod nicely and the fish gave me some slack line I was away, the spur fight deep to start with then rise into the upper layers of the water, as the leader rose out of the water the fish darted first left then right before breaking to the surface and was landed safely, photo taken and fish returned without harm. It was warm even before 10 o’clock but  boy did it get  hotter and hotter as the day progressed but it didn’t seem to effect the fishing as a steady stream of fish were successfully landed and returned. I ended the session with 8 fish, 6 spur’s to around 4lb and a couple of thornback ray, one of which was about to drop her eggs as can be seen quite clearly in the photo I’m not sure if that makes me a daddy again.


Some nice fish on a roasting hot day

I also have conclusive proof that fishing really dose make you a red neck
Sometimes the Sun Shines  in Scotland.


I Don’t Like Mondays ,well sometimes.

PJ has been out and about again.

A new blog of a recent couple of trips including a 1st for him from the shore .

Well this month we will start off with a bit of fun, spot the difference between the top and bottom fish, hint there is only one !

Spot the difference
Spot the difference

Spot the difference answers on £10 notes please ….

I was side-lined start of the month with a cut to my left hand that needed 3 stitches so was desperate to get out and do a little fishing so as soon as I could . I headed up to one of the lochs in the west highlands in the search for a double figure Thornback.
With me getting ever so close last month with one at 9lb 14oz  hopes were high as I headed to the mark, unfortunately the wind was straight in my face and then of course it stated to rain so a quick pack up and move up the loch to find a bit of shelter resulting in four Thornback ray. Three came in three casts then the mark went dead till last cast , my first recapture from the shore .

Baits were sand-eel mackerel cocktail baits on 1/0 mantas loop rig or one down clipped down rigs.
Well I hope you all got it correct, yes it’s the same fish caught within 4 hours of its first capture,leech removed and returned only to be caught again, well it was a first for me a verified recapture of the same fish, wonder how many fish you do re catch without knowing it?

Thornbacks x 4
Thornback rays x 4 Spot the recapture .

The following Monday my long time childhood fishing buddy and Cousin John was desperate to catch a Thornback ray saw me travelling south to the Solway coast in search of his first ray, we headed to a mark that had thrown up my first double figure ray last year. Fishing over low water and on his third cast John managed a nice ray about three pounds using a Sand-eel mackerel cocktail, to say he was over the moon was an understatement, then I  bagged a six pounder, talk about buses .The very next cast John had a great bite resulting in a fat doggie rising from the muddy water so job done.

The tide then turned and the wind increased until it literally blew us off the mark, what is it with the weather on Monday’s, so we had to  move off the mark as John was  packing up he had a micro dab hanging on to his 1/0 hook baited with mackerel so three species in a day is not bad going.We moved trying to find a more sheltered spot  but the rain started and then a visit from the resident porpoises put an end to a blustery and rainy day, but mission Thornback was achieved for John.

Job Done , Happy man!

My next trip out was back up to the west highlands of Scotland this time my mission was to get Nathan his first thornback ray .This time the weather come good for us, first cast for Nathan saw him hook and land his first Thornback Ray of about 3lb and his first fish on his new Kompressor SS, eventually I finally got in on the act as the tide turned and started to flood with three ray and a couple of dogfish .Nathan then landed a lovely Thornie of 5lb 3oz which from this mark is a great fish. Baits as usual were sand eel, mackerel & squid presented on 1/0 hooks. Nathan was well chuffed with his first fish and with  it being a Thornback so  job done for me again . Taking a break from the fishing to grab a bite to eat and moving marks to target doggies. With the onset of darkness the mark came alive with  both of us having  a good run of doggies till it came time to head down the road.

One Happy Nathan , Mission achieved again

Nathan with his 5lb 3oz thornie and a good sized doggie, yours truly with a small ray on the T1000

Strangely I had quite a few doggies wrapped and tangled in the rig and not actually hooked in the mouth any ideas?

The west highlands of Scotland a place were dreams can come true


Thanks for reading PJ..

February Blues

February Blues

Well February started with a trip to a  Loch in the west highlands of Scotland, The target for me and my fishing partners for the night was again Common Skate, quite a few had been hooked and lost from this mark. With the tide being one of the highest in February  confidence was high in at least having a run, however our optimism was short lived as the tide flooded and the weed started passing us in big clumps and dragging our  baits down the Loch.
Continue reading “February Blues”