Both sailings out with Peter today. First sailing, ebb tide down to low. First choice venue, and one that I was hoping to stay on all session, looked good. First cast, and a double hook up of 45cm fish. A great way to start the day. An hour later, with just a single fish further, time to go hunting. And hunting we did go.
I kind of knew the general area. But at this time of year, the shoals are more scattered. When you find one, it can be huge. This is the time of the autumn bait balls. With additional whiting feeding frenzy thrown in for good measure. We did find one shoal that looked good. Until we found that it composed mostly of jumbo pout. However, 2lb of Pout still brings a smile to the face on a 42gm spinning rod.
I did manage one suprise though. The luckiest little coddie ever as despite being plump neither Peter or myself could bring ourselves to take it, and with it being caught in relatively shallow water, very releasable. That capture meant we drifted the shoal repeatedly, but apart from a wrasse, and getting into perhaps double figures of fat pout, no more cod showed. That one brings our total to date since August to just 17. A very poor year.
So, off on the bass hunt. A further 2 we found, before it was time to head in for breakfast. Here, we were not sure how long of the next sailing we would get, so we hoofed down our Cherry Tree toasties, necked our coffee, and cracked back out spot on dead low tide. I went exactly opposite the mornings routine, in the hope of better pickings.
First drift, and Peter had two small fish. Looking good. All the while I had been watching some seagulls out the back. A friend was fishing in his own boat a little further along, and was about to head in, without success. I suggested he pop out and investigate the gulls on his way back. It wasnt long before the radio spluttered into life... "Rob, its heaving out here".
We went to have a look. Found some fish. But I noticed a feature that had escaped me before. I reset the drift. In the next 2.5 hours, we landed over 120 bass. Peter was counting his, and got to 63. We were matching each other fish for fish. Classic bait ball fishing, 1-3lb stamp. But plenty of 3lb stamp, which is perhaps a further sign of good things coming from the restrictions. Just four short years ago, every boat with numbers would have been drifting these fish down at night, when they come stupidly close to the surface. Now, there is regulation and control, and a lot more of these will go on to breed than has done since bass became popular in restaurants. A very happy Peter left a very happy skipper to wash down a very fishy boat.