Disclaimer: The topic of whether to share your fishing marks has been given more discussion time over the past year than Brexit. I am a true believer in sharing what you know, but I will not be sharing the location of this mark!
Coming to November/December, I begin to reflect on the fishing year just past. I have been fortunate enough to experience some fantastic fishing in many disciplines over the last 11 months, finding many PB’s and even a few new species. So to be able to experience a true red letter day at this time of year is brilliant.
I am fortunate enough to be in close contact with some amazing anglers and great fishing friends across the country, which is true testament to what can be achieved when anglers share and work together. This session had been planned and discussed many times throughout the year and work or weather had scuppered every one of them, so when a small window opened up we dropped everything and made our way out.
For me, I must confess that a dedicated lure fishing session from the shore is not something I do very often. The chosen marks were developed by my great friend Tom Rowe a couple of seasons ago. We both do our very best to fish off the beaten track and put in lots of leg work behind the scenes, researching and reccing locations. For Pollack fishing from the shore you are really looking for three main things. Access to deep water close in, rough ground and a good run of tide. Hours of trawling through charts and Navionics sometimes pays off with a gem!
Traveling light is key with this, it is not uncommon to see us cover a mile of broken ground and scramble up or down rocks that would give a billy goat pause for thought. So literally all that would be packed is a bag of lures, leader, forceps, a drink, first aid kit and fishing rod/reel. Ideally all of this will fit in a lightweight rucksack as this gives you more “hands-free”. I always choose to wear a PFD (personal flotation device) when fishing rock marks – the modern small ones are ideal. Good footwear is crucial, a lot of the ground can be uneven and slippery at times so a good pair of walking boots is my choice. Spiked boots work on some rocks whilst others they seem counter productive on.
We had planned the session to coincide with the main flooding run of the tide – as Pollack and other predatory fish feed best with a flowing tide. Tom being slightly more willowy than I made it to the mark 2 or 3 minutes before me. I blame the fact I was also carrying 10lb worth of camera equipment… In the time it had taken for me to set the camera up, Tom had had three casts and was landing his second pollack! – a good solid fish of around 4.5-5lb. A great start!
I was experimenting with a Nomura Izu SW and an Abu cardinal reel with 30lb braid mainline and 20lb flouro leader. Fish can be fickle on the day so finding what lures they will take can be the difference between a good session and a great session. I had brought as many different soft plastic patterns and styles as I could find and Tom had brought several types of small metals covering as many bases as we could.
First up was the Sidewinder Skerries Real Eel. A long, lighter eel imitation that I have had great success with on the bass. Allowing the lure to sink for a while I began a simple straight retrieve and wham, pollack on! This really was shaping up to be a great start! A nice pollack of 3lb+. I was happy with that – though as it would turn out these would be the smallest fish of the session!
Fishing for pollack like this is heavy drag fishing. On a boat where you have the luxury of a clear water column to play the fish you can allow your drag to be lighter and to take your time. If you do that from the rocks the fish will find the snags and the Kelp rapid, so we needed to fight the fish hard and get them up in the water away from the ledges and kelp early. A few fish managed to find the refuge of the snags but that’s fishing. When they take you to ground like that you have 2 real options. You can try and change the angle you are fighting them from and hope to dislodge them, or slacken off and hope the fish swims out away from the snag. If this happens as soon as you feel the fish in open water you must pile on the pressure quick. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose!
Steadily, fish made their way to the shore with an average stamp of around 5lb, with multiple double hook-ups and the occasional 6 and 7lber crashing the party. It really was proving to be some amazing fishing. Quickly I found that allowing the lure to sink to the bottom and fishing the lure from deeper found the bigger fish, so a heavier lure was the way to go. The Sidewinder Bloodheads and Sandeels nailed it almost every time.
We both experimented with different retrieves and lures with great success. I did hook my best fish of the day on a blue and silver Rattleback, but luck was not on my side and the fish managed to bully its way over a snag and parted my line. A longer rod than my 7ft Izu would have maybe saved it but that’s how it goes. Ideally, fishing these marks in future I will opt for a 10ft rod to allow me to better manoeuvre the fish away from the kelp edge, but it is always a learning curve.
As the tide began to slow the fishing did also, so we decided to move locations slightly around the headland finding a couple more fish and a resident bull grey seal. Nice to see on a normal day but after he took a fish from Tom’s line it signalled an end to the day and amazing session. The steady mile walk back to the car had me recalling in disbelief at how many solid prime pollack we had found! It was true testament to the possible benefits to fishing off the beaten track. Made all the better by the banter and benefit of being able to share it all with a friend.