Well I’ve enjoyed a couple of busy weeks, the first week was spent fishing in Scotland, only to head over to Europe for the second week. I cant remember when I’ve spent so much time on the road. I managed to clock up over 3500 miles during that 2 week period, something I’m not in any great rush to repeat!
Anyway, getting back to Scotland, South West Galloway (The Rhins) to be exact. The original plan was to get a few forum members together for a weeks fishing. There was originally four of us. One dropped out with a couple of weeks to go, the others dropped out on the day of the trip!. Incredibly one chap drove several hours there before driving directly home again, I didn’t even get to meet him.. odd chap. So it was a rather unfortunate situation to find myself in, what was going to be a fishing social for a week turned out to be a lone trip.
It wasn’t all bad news though, the caravan I was staying in was located just a few metres from the local pub, ‘The Clash’. The locals were a friendly bunch and there’s not much I don't know about potting for crabs and lobsters after a few evenings in there. However, it did result in quite a bar bill after those few days!!
The weather wasn’t exactly ideal, though the location enabled me to find some shelter, often fishing in an offshore blow of 15-20 knots. The seas was flat as a result, though it made for a blustery day. There were breaks in the weather which resulted in some glassy seas, if only for a short time.
The first day saw me drive the short distance to Ardwell Bay. A pretty spot which offered quite some shelter from the prevailing wind. Despite some heavy’ish weed deposits on the beach, the water proved clear and I anchored up towards the centre of the bay. The plan had been to drift, though the flooding tide with a stiff following breeze would have resulted in a rather fast drift.
The bites weren’t long in coming and several dogfish, gurnard and the odd codling came onto the yak. However, the dogfish presence soon became a bit overpowering so I raised anchor and headed closer in to fish for pollack.
Whilst paddling over to fish the rocks close in I dropped a set of mackerel feathers, picking up several for bait. Once on scene I retained the feathers for a spell, allowing myself to drift towards the drop-off, where the depth rose very rapidly from 15m to 6m. On the first drift the feathers were hit hard and my rod bent double, great stuff!. For a moment I thought my 6lb rod was a tad out-gunned, however it was great sport. The first drop resulted in a full house, 3 pollack and a codling on the lowest feather.
This was repeated time after time, the average fish size was 1-2lb, though the odd fish went towards 5lb making things all the more exciting.
I kept this up for a couple of hours, trying to get a monster. I must have picked up 60lb of pollack during this period, with another 10-15lb of codling. There’s not many places around the UK that you can command this sort of sport. I swapped over to a mackerel strip and drilled bullet in the hope of luring the big fish, however it wasn’t to be. My best of the day was around the 6lb mark.
I’ve fished in this area many years ago, casting a Redgill lure from the shore resulting in my gear being smashed all to often, with fish up to 9lb being taken. No monsters this trip though, great fun all the same.
I was still quite tired from the previous days eight hour drive so I only fished for about four hours, no complaints though for my first day of fishing.
I’m still trying to catch my first Tope from the yak, I’m missed a couple of runs to date, though I’m still awaiting the hard hook-up!. Local advice from the Ardwell tackle shop saw me launching on the second day from Chapel Rossan Bay just south of Ardwell.
The weather was perfect, glassy calm with fantastic water clarity, resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable paddle out to the mark. I saw this large fin splashing a few metres ahead of me, it turned out to be a large sunfish, a great sight.
It’s a nice easy launch with a paddle of around 1.5 miles to the fishing area. Mackerel were relatively plentiful and it wasn’t long before a rubby dubby bag was attached to my anchor and dropped overboard along with a fresh half mackerel dropped into the water.
My trace was an 8/0 bronzed Mustad hook, attached to 12” of 100lb nylon coated wire, via a swivel to 3’ of 150lb mono. The barb was crushed to make life that much easier in the event of a fish coming alongside.
Sadly there wasn’t even a sniff of a tope, the odd dogfish playing with the bait, though that was about it. I decided to fish another rod baited with lugworm dug locally, this resulted in several Dab.
So despite my best efforts the day didn’t produce the target species, though the weather was decent, the skin temperature was high and the scenery stunning, so I guess it could have been far worse!
The following day saw a second attempt at the same venue, the weather was rather poor with a blustery wind resulting in a choppy sea. Tactics were the same as before, as were the results!. I was joined by another kayaker who had a little more luck with two small tope, weight in single figures.
It was quite odd, whilst fishing on the flood the water was wonderfully clear, however at Chapel Rossan the ebb tide saw the water turn green with an algal bloom. You could literally watch this green border drift towards the yak from several hundred metres away. It just didn’t seem right fishing into a green soup!, hence the session was cut short.
Chatting with the locals in the bar later that day pointed to the fact it wasn’t me just having poor luck, all the local charter skippers were struggling to find the larger tope that are known to pass through Luce Bay at this time of year. A small constellation I guess, I wasn’t totally to blame!
The next day saw a change of venue with me launching from East Tarbet close to the Mull of Galloway. The launch is easy enough with a short trolley over some light shingle. Despite a strong north westerly breeze the geography of the area provided some good shelter. Mackerel were plentiful and I soon settled down to fish, aiming for some ray, bullhuss and perhaps a tope.
The deep water fishing proved disappointing so I paddled closer inshore drifting along the rocks towards the Mull itself. The tide flow is fierce off the Mull with up to 12 knots of tide being possible. Looking down to the Mull, waves are clearly visible around the point, somewhere I was clearly going to avoid!. I drifted at times within 200m of the point where the drift towards the point quickly reached 2+ knots.
I didn’t hang around this area too long, opting to paddle further up the rock line where I ended up anchoring in around 12m of water, this being only 20-30m from the shore. The tide was still flowing hard resulting in 8oz of weight to hold bottom.
No shortage of dogfish and it seemed I’d anchored over a dab stronghold, with over twenty coming to the yak. As the tide eased I was able to fish far lighter enjoying what sport there was.
There was also the odd smoothound and bass, though no monsters.
For the next couple of days I fished this area, mainly because of the changing weather conditions. The first evening that I intended to night fish saw weariness taking a firm hold. My mind was telling me to fish, however the body was laughing at the prospect!. I turned up with the intention of launching into the evening, though I was easily persuaded to join a group of Polish and French folk to whom I’d donated a couple of mackerel for their BBQ earlier in the day. It turned out to be a good decision with an enjoyable social going late into the evening.
I bumped into a South African chap with his yak, a keen bass fisherman, he was very interesting to chat with. With a good few tips for future use I continued on my travels.
Later I took the opportunity to fish Port Logan on the west coast. It’s another very picturesque venue which can at times produce varied fishing. Another blustery day with no great catches. A few whiting and gurnard with a couple of small codling.
The following day saw me return to the Mull. The morning of the launch was rather misty, though nothing too exciting.
I paddled out to a wreck about 2 miles offshore. The wreck turned out to be fairly washed out, to be expected I guess with the strong local tidal currents. However, I dropped anchor and commenced fishing. Within about thirty minutes the weather blew up, lumpy seas, surrounded by white horses and the fog came in reducing visibility to about 200m. Far from ideal and I wasn’t feeling too comfortable so I raised anchor and headed back inshore. Yet again, my GPS proving its worth. I fished very light for mackerel enjoying some top sport, if only they grew to 10lb+, now that would be something!.
Very disappointingly I’ve lost the photo card covering the last two days of my trip, hopefully it’ll turn up soon and I can add a few more photos.
I launched again that day, fishing into the night, until about 4am. The fishing proved far better with Bullhuss and Thornback Ray being caught. Nothing large, the biggest around 7lb. I was quietly hoping for a decent sized conger though my luck wasn’t in.
I was due to drive an additional three hours further north to Loch Crinan to try for a Common skate. However the lack of the expected social life during the week had taken its toll and my heart just wasn’t in it.
Looking back, the few days I had in Galloway were definitely enjoyable, visiting an area I’d not seen in eighteen years or more. The weather wasn’t exactly on my side and the expected fish failed to materialise, but I guess that’s fishing!. I averaged two launches a day, paddling over 36 miles in five days.
I’m in no rush to organise an event on a public forum in the future, I reckon keeping it such event amongst close friends is the way ahead, lessons learned I guess.
Will I head back there again?, most definitely, hopefully within the next couple of years.