I love this area, once you push out from the launch the scenery is simply stunning. You see kayaks just paddling around enjoying the views and I certainly can't blame them. However, we were here to fish and large Pollack were the prime target. We started off trolling as we headed westwards.
I was using a deep diver running 8-10 metres deep. I had a hit quite early on and managed an average sized pollack which was a good start.
The wind direction wasn't ideal and it steadily increased preventing us from getting to the marks that I'd wanted to fish. We preservered, though the fishing was tough to say the least. We took a few more small fish, though the larger fish were highly elusive.
Having spoken to a local chap sometime later it transpired that the Pollack fishing was unseasonably late and wasn't expected to pick up for some time. Despite our best efforts we didn't fare too well, perhaps a little spoilt by our earlier successes?.
We called an end to the session early and drank more beer whilst planning another session at Sennen Cove. A group of kayak anglers had arranged to meet up the following day so we decided to join them. Sennen Cove is a popular surfing venue, one drive around the car park at midday will confirm this!. There was plenty of surf, though one side of the bay was sufficiently sheltered to launch. There's a harbour off to the left which is protected by a wall, a very sheltered launch spot, something that we'd be most grateful of at the end of the day.
Getting fresh bait is always a bit of a headache when visiting Cornwall. Local tackle shops are very limited with the only fresh bait being farmed worm with the chance of live sandeel when in season. Though the latter is never a cheap option. We were very short of bait (none!) so if we wanted any, we'd be catching it!
We headed out towards the centre of the bay and began feathering with some hokkais. I eventually found some shoals hard on the bottom, though they weren't the mackerel that I'd expected. They were instead Sandeel and they were coming up 3-4 at a time. I kept these in a rear tankwell were the regular sloshing of saltwater kept then alive without a problem. The Lowrance HDS 7 came in really handy whilst chasing the bait. Being able to utilise the structure scan to look left and right was most helpful in keeping me on the bait. There were also mackerel to be had and within 30 minutes we had plenty of fresh bait for the day.
I initially chose to anchor close to a drop off, though the tide was far stronger than I'd expected!. After carefully retrieving my anchor I moved 20 metres shore-side and the difference was amazing. Just a few metres took me out of the severe current . With a section of mackerel fillet down for bait I was soon into my first fish of the day, a Bullhuss.
I caught a couple more larger Bullhuss, though I failed to take photos as I was more into just enjoying the fishing. I'd planned to take some video during the week, though it never happened. It's nice to do, though at times it detracts from the fishing experience.
Daniel was having much better success spinning with Fiish Minnows and was catching some nice sized Pollack.
This caused me to change tactics and I started to fish with live sandeel, slowly fished on the drop and retrieve. Gosh, to say that it's an exciting way to fish is an understatement!. Most of the time my bait was hit halfway down on the drop, the bait being literally smashed with me having to hang onto the rod rather tightly!!!. I caught several nice Pollack to about 8lb using this method. I think that if I was to fish here again I'd take my livewell and fill it with Sandeel and spend the day targeting Pollack and Bass.
Below is the first fish I took to live Sandeel, not a monster but what fun!
I eventually fancied a change from Pollack fishing so I headed out towards towards two charter boats located further out into the bay and dropped anchor onto a clean sandy bottom. I was hoping for some Blonde and Spotted Rays so I baited up with some fresh mackerel on one rod and sandeel on the other and the waiting game began.
The wait turned out to be quite short, a few nods of the rod tip and I felt the unmistakable weight of a ray hanging in the current, but what species??. A Blonde Ray broke the surface, another species for the trip!
This was the first of several, just one after the other, I certainly wasn't complaining. I then had a bite that was a little different and it certainly felt different once hooked up!. Something new?
Indeed it was, another new species to the kayak... a Turbot. A small specimen, but it was great to catch all the same.
Despite the ever building swell we continued to fish and catch throughout the day. Here's Daniel hooked up into a ray.
We eventually pulled anchor and headed over toward a reef that was looking a little intimidating due to the large swells that were rolling across it. We fished quite close in, picking up a few Pollack, though the swell continued to build. At the height of the tide the swell was large and it had started to detract from the fishing. There was clearly a lot of big surf hitting the whole of the beach... remember that small harbour to the side of the bay?. That's where we chose to recover to!
This bought our 10 day road trip to an end. We fished for 7 days, drove over 1200 miles and caught 23 species of fish totaling well over 750lb. It's definitely one of my most successful road trips and I have to thank Daniel van der Post for his excellent company. There were firsts for both of us and some great memories and plenty of empty beer bottles.
The 2016 road trip is already in the planning stages and it's likely that it will see myself and Daniel travel to Ireland, a completely new experience!
The area is the tidal river system and the Bream swim in with the tide. Previous experience has shown it can be quiet until the fish arrive, followed by a relatively brief spell of activity before quiet returns once again. It's allegedly possible to follow the fish upstream, though my success at doing this has been rather patchy!.
However, if the Giltheads aren't about there's plenty of small Bass and Red Mullet to keep a kayak angler amused. Bait was ragworm rigged onto a running ledger made up with a 2oz drilled bullet lead with a 3-4’ 20lb fluorocarbon trace. The hook was a size 1/0 Sakuma 450 Chinu. Myself and Daniel anchored up in a couple of metres of water and waited.
As it happened we didn't have to wait too long. My first fish was a decent size at 3-4lb and gave me a real scrap on the light tackle. These fish are tremendous fun!
Daniel was not far behind me and landed himself a nice sized fish as well.
The images have been edited slightly as not to disclose the location. After chatting to the tackle shop owner in Falmouth is became apparent that netting is becoming a major problem. Giltheads are currently not protected in UK waters and are being caught as a 'by-catch' by netters who are allegedly targeting Mullet. It's very disappointing to hear this as these fish are not only great sport, they only frequent a handful of areas around the Southwest.
Despite the potential reduction in fish population we caught more Giltheads. The action was steady.
It’s a pleasant location to fish, with an easy launch/recovery that’s only really hampered by a Northerly wind. The water is muddy, you’d have to travel several miles West to find clear water.
Expected species were Thornback Ray and Conger Eel, with a chance of a Smoothound. Baits were mackerel and squid fished on a simple running ledger rig. The tides were quite small so leads in the 4-8oz range would be adequate. I took Daniel further offshore into about 16m of water, to an area that has produced some superb fish for me in the past. Though as mentioned, this was summer fishing, so the big Cod and Conger eels weren’t going to be there.
Despite the pleasant start to the day, the weather soon deteriorated and a sharp chop quickly developed across the sea. Though there were fish to be caught. We both caught several Thornback Ray and Conger Eel, though there were small fish compared to what I know can come out of this venue. That said, we were catching fish!
We were fishing two rods which saw one fish after another coming to the kayaks. It was busy fishing, never a dull moment!
Some fish were smaller than others!!. Below is a small Spotted Ray, not a particularly common species in the muddier waters of the Bristol Channel.
The weather had improved though a darkening horizon didn’t bode well, sadly I was proved correct a short time later.
We moved inshore out of the weather, though the decision was made that we’d enjoyed the best of the fishing and with the wind continuing to freshen, we decided to call it a day.
For a couple of good reasons I didn’t publish much about a ten day August road trip that I enjoyed with my good friend Daniel van der Post. Though I’m sat here, and the weatherman has forecast another wet and windy weekend, the third in a row!. It’s been over a month since I was last afloat so I’ve decided to see what I can recollect from our August trip.
I’ve visited and fished with Daniel several times in his own country, the Netherlands, though he’d yet to visit and fish the saltwater here in England. He’d read my reports over the years and finally made the decision to cross the English Channel and sample what I’d been taking for granted for several years. As much as I’d really been looking forward to this trip, it put a little pressure on me as I naturally wanted Daniel to enjoy some good success and leave with a smile of his face.
Over a few weeks, I did my research, whether it was on the web or mailing a few friends for some additional information. It was important that we’d be able to fish regardless of the weather, whilst ensuring that we were fishing venues that were likely to produce some memorable fish. I also wanted to put as many different species on his kayak as possible, as many of the fish that are readily available here in UK waters are a rarity, or simple don’t exist in Dutch coastal waters. One thing was for certain, we were going to be covering quite some miles in order to satisfy all of my wishes.
That said, I didn’t want to spend 10 days on the road neither. To that end, I’d decided that we’d potentially fish from South West Wales down through Devon and Somerset, to Lands End in Cornwall. Daniel was very keen to fish for Tope, so that was my number one priority.
Daniel arrived in the UK, via the cross Channel ferry, making it to my house before dark. He was to use my old 2011 Hobie Outback for the duration of the trip, it being well kitted out for the task of saltwater fishing. We spent the evening organising tackle and packing the car, it really is amazing what goes into the car for a 10 day fishing/camping trip (way too much!).
The forecast was quite favourable for the first 2-3 days, so the decision was made to head directly to the Tope grounds located in Pembrokeshire, South West Wales. As much as I’d read about how productive this area can be for Tope, I’d never visited the area myself, so I found myself relying on some information from a friend. As it turned out, the tips were good!.
We made camp on a local campsite, located reasonably close to the fishing grounds. It meant a drive every morning, though there was a beach within a stones throw distance which provided an enjoyable evening stroll.
I had packed a cool box with frozen mackerel and some sand eel, though this was only to last a couple of days at best. We were soon on the beach, checking rigs and other niff naff prior to launching. As exciting as it always is to fish a new location, there’s always the big question mark over whether or not it was going to perform. There’s no substitute for fresh bait, so the frozen bait was taken afloat, though the mackerel feathers were quickly deployed.
I think it turned out to be harder to catch mackerel than anything else!, though one by one we amassed sufficient fresh bait throughout the day to keep us fishing. We initially chose to fish towards the centre of a large bay. The ground was fairly clean, though not featureless. As the tide flow was not excessive I chose to fish with my lighter 6-8lb class road, a 6000 sized reel with a running ledger to a 5/0 Sakuma 545 hook. The trace was tipped off with a few inches of metal trace as there was a strong likelihood of hooking into some toothy fish. With anchors down we commenced fishing, the breeze was a little firm at times, but conditions were pretty good. All we needed was some fish!
As it happened we didn’t have to wait too long to find some fish. We started to catch one tope after another and it was great fun. Though these were ‘pack Tope’, smaller fish between 5-10kg that tend to shoal together, though on light tackle they still provided very enjoyable sport. It’s important to strike early with these fish to prevent a deep hook up. It used to be the ‘norm’ to strike on the second run, though I tend to tighten into the fish within 3-4 seconds. Occasionally the fish will drop the bait, though if left, the Tope regularly return and pick it up once more, often within seconds. I probably land 3 out of 4 Tope that take the bait, that’s a hook up percentage that I’m more than happy with, whilst minimising the risk of a deeply hooked fish.
Daniel was also catching, the fishing was good, we were having a great time!.
Though after a couple of hours things went quiet, almost dead in fact, so the decision was made to move to another mark. I took us to a nearby headland to fish some deeper water.
I was concerned about the tide, though it didn’t appear too bad so once more the anchors disappeared into the depths. Both kayaks were equipped with a full length anchor trolley and a ‘clip on’ anchor setup. The latter permitted easy release of the anchor and featured a buoy so it could be left in the water to allow you to photograph the other anglers fish, etc.
I’ve used this setup for years and it works extremely well. Returning the the anchor it was merely a case of clipping back on and swinging into the tide to fish once more.
We anchored up in much deeper water which also enjoyed a stronger tidal flow, though certainly nowhere as near as I’d feared. This was monitored throughout the session. I would have certainly had no qualms about relocating should it have become too strong. With another whole mackerel on a dedicated Tope rig (8/0 de-barbed bronze hook) I was soon fishing again. I must say that the scenery around Pembrokeshire was stunning, catching fish was honestly a bonus. Again, we didn’t have to wait too long before the baits were found and the reels began to scream.
With Daniel hooked up into a fish, I simply recovered my bait, unclipped the anchor and pedalled over to take some photos. This is where the clip on anchor system comes into it’s own.
We fished as light as possible given the tide, with minimal lead used to hold bottom at all times. We were also equipped with lure rods in the hope of finding some Bass and Pollack later in the day.
The easiest way to bring a decent sized Tope aboard the kayak is to grab a pectoral fin pull the fish onto your lap.
With the Tope on board, they often settle down quickly when positioned on its back (tonic immobility). Though it doesn’t always work!
All fish were quickly photographed and returned, apart from a few cod and bass for the table, I very rarely keep any fish these days.
I hadn’t taken my GoPro with me so I relied quite heavily on Daniel to take the occasional photograph for me. I’ve caught quite a few Tope over the years, but it’s always nice to have a couple of photos from every trip. Just to show that I didn’t blank if nothing else!. My biggest fish of the day ‘was released early’ before Daniel made it over to my yak!
We fished this mark for a couple of days, managing 22 Tope between us which I consider to be extremely successful. Daniel was certainly pleased, the No.1 target had been caught!. Other species were caught including Bullhuss, Gurnard, Ray, Launce, Dogfish and some Bass & Pollack to lures.
It had been a cracking start to the trip. Though the weather had began to turn with the South Westerly winds picking up to a point where it was getting rather uncomfortable to fish. We’d done well, so with the camping gear packed we headed around the Bristol Channel, leaving the northern side and heading to the southern side.
I’ve fitted the Lowrance HDS 7 Gen 3 onto my 2015 Outback and it came with a Structure Scan transducer. Structure Scan combines down scan imaging and side scan imaging. It’s certainly great technology to have on a kayak, some would say an overkill, but I’m really enjoying having such enhanced capability on the kayak.
However, it comes at a slight cost, that being extra equipment in the shape of a rather large transducer with associated cable. The Structure Scan uses it’s own transducer in addition to the standard transducer that covers CHIRP, Broadband and Down Scan. The real downside with this new transducer is that it needs to be mounted externally, direct into the water beneath the hull of the kayak. This isn’t an issue on a boat when it’d be mounted aft on the transom, but on the kayak it’s more of a headache.
I originally purchased a RAM transducer arm though I didn’t find it rigid enough, I could shake it about an inch at the base when locked onto a RAM ball. I wanted something far more rigid. It was also quite chunky, with the plastic tubing running down the arm looking like it would create quite some drag. Another issue with the RAM mount was that from the seat it was hard to tell if it was actually locked in the vertical position. I didn’t like it at all.
Despite having paid good money for the RAM arm I decided to go down the DIY route, something I should have probably done at the outset!. It needed to be solid and fully retractable. Oh, there was one other VERY important requirement, it needed to be easily transferable to my Adventure Island as required. The budget was also very limited!
Here’s the result followed by an explanation of how I did it.
The biggest issue was getting a lockable hinged joint that was going to stand the test of time around saltwater. After much surfing of the internet I came across an umbrella mount that was designed to fit onto large seat boxes as used by river & lake fishermen. They came in varying lengths, so I picked the one closest to my requirements.
This featured a fixed hole mount at one end designed for an umbrella and a lockable rotating joint at the other end. The rotating end featured a couple of rubber adapters to permit it to be fitted to differently shaped mounting legs. I could see the potential of mounting the fixed end to a mounting pillar on the kayak and the rotating end to a transducer arm. If I was to have similar fixed mounts on both the Outback and AI I’d be able to swap the arm between them (theoretically!). A plan was forming…
Next up were kayak hard points onto which I could mount the swing arm. I ended up using some pieces of stainless that I had lying around. Utilising some plate and tube, I welded them up into a suitable pillar shape. The base plates differed to permit a mounting option for both the AI and the Outback. Here’s how they looked after painting.
The top one was for the Outback. There was also a bolt hole in the post of each mount to ensure a rock steady fix to the kayak hull. Any flex would only occur via hull flex. Here’s the mounts as fitted to both kayaks.
Structure Scan mount fitted to the Outback
Structure Scan mount fitted to the Adventure Island
On offering up the umbrella arm I’d decided that it was too long, I wanted the vertical arm for the transducer to be close to the side of the kayak. I cut a 2” section out and TIG welded it back together. Here’s a photo of the shortened arm, weld clearly visible.
For the vertical Arm I used a length of 12mm A4 stainless tube, cut to a length that would suit both the Outback and the AI. To mount this into the swivel section on the modified arm I made a tubular sleeve out of thick nylon board. This was an interference fit for the stainless tube and was firmly drifted into place with a hammer!. This permitted the clamp on the swivel end of the arm to be tighten around the sleeve on the stainless tube. If you look closely in the above photo the blue sleeve is only just visible as I coloured it in with a blacker marker pen purely for aesthetics!.
That left the transducer itself. I needed some sort of plate to mount the transducer to the stainless arm. I ended up taking the plastic one off the RAM transducer arm and fitting it to the end of the tube. I’d thought of this much earlier on to be honest which somewhat dictated my choice of 12mm tube. It certainly made for a neat solution as it was made specifically for the LSS1/2 Structure Scan transducers.
That was basically it, the retractable transducer arm was complete. To ensure that the rotating joint locked securely in both the horizontal and vertical positions effectively every time, I filed two flats onto the spigot that the locking screw tightened down onto.
Here it is, the retractable and transferable transducer arm.
The spare cable was left coiled and sits beneath the seat of the AI and Outback. With careful routing the cable it’s quite unobtrusive and doesn’t pose a snagging hazard.
Fitted to the Outback
Fitted to the Adventure Island
It’s easily deployed and retracted from the seating position and due to the flats I filed onto the swivel arm spigot, it doesn’t take much effort to lock it securely into the correct position. Fitting the arm is simply a case of pushing it onto the kayak mount and locking it at a right angle to the side of the kayak, it literally take seconds to fit and remove. Most importantly it’s solid, something the RAM arm was not. Yes, it has the potential to be a pain if it fouls something underwater, something to be considerate of. Though not really much different to the Mirage Drive, etc.
I’ve used it a few times now and it works exactly as I’d hoped. Sure, Structure Scan is not a cheap upgrade, though I’m really enjoying using it. The imagery is excellent and I being able to view underwater features both directly beneath and well away from either side of the kayak in great detail is tremendous.