Chasing Monsters – Back to Bodø with the boys

A lot of water had passed under the bridge since our last trip to Norway.  Three years’ worth.  The stars finally aligned again and off we went, back to Bodø.  This is a city in Northern Norway inside the Arctic circle. Our accommodation again was with Simon Smith in Klokstad, north of Bodø.  We are so lucky Simon rents out his place, it is perfect for fishing. I look upon him as my halibut mentor, he is the expert and is always willing to impart some wisdom in these matters. 

In the summer here there is 24-hour daylight and the shore fishing is exceptional.  Especially for the mighty halibut.  Our expectations were to get into some nice fish on lures and get a halibut or two on the bait rods. We weren’t disappointed!

We took the ferry to Misten on the first day and tried a spot on the road to Tarnvika.  It was a cracking day, very warm and sunny with crystal clear water. I almost checked my GPS to confirm we were indeed inside the arctic circle.  Some nice fish fell to lures as we dusted off the cobwebs and got back into some serious fishing again. It had been a while!

The next day it was even warmer and at the mark we chose near Bertnes, huge mosquitoes bit chunks out of my legs.  The fishing was slow.  We packed up and headed north across the ferry again and got into some more fish on lures.

On day three we went to my favourite fishing spot at Eidet.  This is the top end of a very beautiful fjord. 

No biggies today but I got a couple of baby halibuts that gave a good account of themselves.  They were both released. Otherwise, the fishing was slow. High pressure reigned and the humidity became tiring. I celebrated my 50th birthday on this day. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my birthday, than fishing in Norway with my boys.

We returned to Bertnes on day 4.  This mark always has potential for big fish.  There was quite a swell running and with steep rocky slopes, this isn’t the place you want to slip into the water. Water temps are frigid even in the summer and by the time you have recovered your senses from cold water shock, you would be swept away. 

We decided to go back to the apartment, rest up and return in the evening.

With much calmer conditions and a breeze keeping the insects at bay we settled in for an action-packed evening of fishing.

As I dropped a bait in, a large pollack snatched it, my personal best. The boys fished with lures as I waited by the big rods. 

Just as I poured some hot chocolate from my flask, the Rovex rangemaster heavy duty rod bent over and line started stripping off the reel. Fish on! 

I took up the slack and set the hook.  This was a big fish.  It was so heavy it felt like I was in a snag, though one that moved slightly when I applied maximum pressure. When the fish wanted to run, I could do nothing to stop it. I just prayed it didn’t run out all the line on my reel.  We fought for about 15 minutes. I let the line go when the fish ran and tightened up again when my strength returned. 

Finally, we got it in view, it was monster! I quickly decided I wanted to release it, as it was too big for filleting and keeping, much would be wasted.  Owen held the rod and Jack took photos as I dragged it up onto the ledge as carefully as I could, got some photos and then released it back into the deeps.  The bend in the gaff rather than the point took its weight so any damage was minimised. I wished I measured it to get an idea of the weight. I estimate at least 60lbs.  Again, it was certainly not worth killing it just for better photos and weight. 

Just as I took a break, I saw line peeling off the second rod as the reel’s drag sang its wonderful tune. I took in the slack and quickly reeled in another halibut. Much smaller, around 20lbs.  After the last fight, landing this fish was a piece of cake. 

After this we decided to call it a day. I was tired, very tired. That fish was magnificent and why we came here. The trip was a success!

On day 5 we took the ferry and went back to the same spot as day 1.  I set a challenge for the boys; biggest lure caught fish. They set about the task and get into some lovely pollack. 

Fish after fish was landed and after some rough adjudication, Jack won.

On our final day we returned to Eidet. 

Again, the fishing was quite slow but we all managed some nice fish on lures. Owen caught me some nice cod for eating and Jack hooked a monster pollack that would have smashed his previous record but it came off just as he was bringing it up to the surface. 

You win some, you lose some. On this trip we most definitely were winners. I won’t leave it as long next time between trips. Incredible fishing!

Swan song aboard the Emma Jayne

What a bummer. Colin and Becky have sold the Emma Jayne. My first choice when going boat fishing. Back to the drawing board. I managed to get two trips out on her recently, one being her second to last trip out.

We targeted Black Bream on both trips as it is the time of year for them. Also when things got quiet, some lads went for the larger fish species. I’m going to let the photos do the talking on this one.

Let’s wish the Emma Jayne all the best on her new mission in Scotland. Let’s hope Colin and Becky decide to get another fishing charter boat. Its not always just about the fish…

Rainbows on the Green River

Nestled in the north east corner of Utah is the Flaming Gorge Dam. At 6000 feet above sea level, this collects the cool, clear waters of the 91 mile long reservoir fed by the Green river. 

Below the dam, the river continues its journey to join the mighty Colorado further south. The section below the dam is world renowned for its blue medal trout fishing.

The boys and I were long overdue a trip to Flaming Gorge.  Usually we fish the reservoir, rent a boat, that sort of thing.  With the thaw still in progress and not much action on the lake, we decided to try out the river instead.  We traveled there on a Thursday and made a long weekend of it.  Our digs were a pet friendly suite at the Flaming Gorge Resort. Eddy the Labrador also joined us.

You drive down to a car park on a road below the dam and then join the foot trail to the river below. 

Here the river is crystal clear, fast flowing in places with eddies and back washes where large trout may be lurking.  There is a path along the river that has several fishy looking spots along it.

None of us are fly fishers, so we used spinning rods and lures.  Either Krocodiles or Kast Master metal spinners.  We found success catching small rainbows, casting across the river and winding them slowly back in with the current. 

Boats rowed past us, brimming with fly fisherman casting their streamers.  A couple hooked fish right in front of us, spurring us on when the action was slow.

As the water gurgled past, I paused many times to reflect on the sheer natural beauty of this river.  I likened it to living in a dream, a fisherman’s dream. 

This weekend was a small taster session. We are definitely going back for another crack at the big ones waiting in the dark pools below.

All aboard the Emma Jayne

In October I was fortunate enough to make 2 trips out on the Emma Jayne, a fishing charter boat based in Selsey. It is crewed by Colin and Becky. In the summer months, they are moored at Selsey East beach and in the winter at Chichester Marina.

The first of the two trips was a productive day catching mackerel. Always a favourite of mine to catch, eat and keep a few for my bait supplies and on this day I wasn’t disappointed.

We also did some bottom fishing, but there didn’t seem to be much about. A few pout and bream came aboard to those that persisted.

The next trip, was a much more exciting affair. We headed out into the morning sun and hunted the bass shoals, who locations were marked by excited sea gulls.

The fishing was pretty simple. Dropping or casting a metal lure like a Dexter’s wedge into the melee, would get an instant hook up. Cast and retrieve or jigging also worked well and everyone got into the fish. No huge fish but plenty of fun all round. I managed to snag 11 of them.

A fantastic day, looking forward to the next mission!

Fishing the weather – No biggies

The strong winds and rain squalls weren’t a show stopper but it was close. A band of low pressure moved into today and it was time to fish.

I set up two rods, casting frozen mackerel baits into the churning channel. Upping the sinker weight from the usual 4oz to 6oz seemed to work. After about 30 minutes, the first fish came ashore, a 30cm school bass who had greedily wolfed down the bait.

Then as the time passed, I noticed that my baits were being stripped by robber bream. No sooner the bait settled on the sea bed, the fish started ripping the baits apart, baits not meant for them. A quick change in tactics was required until they moved off. I switched one rod to a three hook flapper and small circle hooks, baited with smaller pieces of mackerel. Soon enough a nice bream fell foul of my trap.

He swam off after unhooking and the fishing continued. The weather started to worsen, more rain and the stronger wind. I put my hood up and tried to avoid the worst of it. Then with 30 minutes left to go, the main rod tip pulled down and line spooled from the reel, fish on! Typical bass take. I reeled in the slack and bent into the fish. No biggie but decent enough. He swam towards me for a spell so I had to wind fast to keep the line taut. In the net he went, 48cm. Not bad and signs of better to come.

I’d had enough of the weather by now, time to go. Next time, I hope the bream aren’t there!

Bad weather bass

I hadn’t been fishing much recently due to family/work commitments. When I had free time, high pressure and marvelous sunny weather took hold, which was not really great for fishing. I patiently waited and soon enough a storm brewed in the Atlantic sending a wonderful wave of low pressure our way. On my first session down Portsmouth harbour, the winds were still a little too high and great rafts of weed floated by making fishing impractical.

The next day, the weed had gone, but waves and low pressure remained, it was perfect.

Recipe:

11ft bass rod 2-4 oz and size 4000 fixed spool reel loaded with 20lb braid, and 30lb leader.

Running ledger rig, 5/0 circle hook on a 50cm long hook length 30lb mono. 4oz lead weight.

Chunk of fresh mackerel.

High water slack/first of the flood.

Low pressure (most important bit)

I cast out a frozen chunk of mackerel and then started casting feathers on the 2nd rod and caught a mackerel after 5 or 6 casts. I switched the frozen chunk with a fresh one and cast out the bait towards the middle of the channel. About 10 minutes later, the rod tip bent over and line was pulled from the reel at a fast rate. Bass on! I readied the net and made my way to the waters edge and took in the slack line. The hook was already set, thanks circle hooks! It wasn’t a huge fish but it gave a good account of itself. A nice 53cm specimen.

I managed three more mackerel on the feathers to top up this winter’s bait supply then called it a day. No more bass graced me with their presence.

A few days later I returned. The low pressure remained but the wind had dropped somewhat. Also there were far more mackerel present in the harbour entrance with huge flocks of gulls making a feast of the bait fish driven to the surface. I adopted exactly the same approach and repeated the results. Same bait, same rig, same part of the tide, roughly same cast out, slightly smaller fish.

I managed a few more mackerel this time, a couple for eating and some for bait.

Now looking forward to End September/October and a real effort to get the big one! Be back soon!

Dogs and a Super Smooth hound

The fishing mark on Hayling Island at the south eastern end is a beach leading to a deep tidal channel. Through here the vastness of Chichester Harbour is filled and emptied daily. It is really only fishable from low water up. When the tide ebbs away, the water rips through.

I had done a couple of sessions here in May already, after a spring bass. It seems it is still a little early. Currently the sea bed is carpeted with dog fish. On both sessions I caught one almost every cast. The doggies greedily snaffling squid and mackerel baits with gusto. No sooner did the bait settle on the sea bed and the dogs were on it.

My favourite rig for this mark is a two hook flapper with size 3/0 octopus hooks tied to fairly short snoods. These hooks are a good size to fit a nice sized bait on and seem to hook fairly consistently in the corner of the fish’s mouth.

This session was no different and I was up to 7 dogfish and counting. I wearily cast out again, set the drag and awaited the next dog fish. After about 10 minutes the rod tip twitched and then pulled down far more vigorously than previously. Could it be? I picked up the rod and slowly tightened the line. The rod tip bounced back and forth and I connected with the fish. The rod slammed right over and the fish took line. This was no dog fish! A lively tussle ensued and I loosened the drag a little to make it easier for the fish to take line. It put a fair bend in the rod as we fought back and forth. This was more like it! I slowly got her in and beached the fine lady.

What a fantastic catch! The biggest smooth hound I have caught from the shore. I didn’t weigh her, just unhook, quick photo then sent her on his way. Easily a double figure fish. Sometimes you have to go the the dogs and just fish through them.

First Bass of 2021

After some recent fruitless sessions in locations that produced the goods last year I was left unfulfilled. Was the water temperature still too low, was the bait selection correct, were the tides optimal, did the air pressure matter? Whatever the answer was, the fish were simply not there taking the bait. Its never been simply the case of turning up at the waters edge, casting a line and then pulling fish after fish in, not in this current climate of over fishing our dwindling resources. So we use our knowledge and experience to try and gain a measure of success. To stack the cards in our favour.

I choose a local fishing mark inside Langstone Harbour. The harbour consists of mud flats and weed covered stones, perfect habitat for crabs. As the tide covers the crabs habitat, the bass follow, hunting these tasty treats. The mark I choose starts to get covered three hours after low water and the best fishing is during the hour or two afterwards. Any longer than this and the fish have moved on elsewhere.

Only light tackle is required using 3 oz weight and a simple running ledger. I have found success with both rag worm and lug worm baits. I don’t bother with peeler crab as it is often difficult to come by. Four or five worms lightly hooked through the head seems to do the trick.

A short cast of twenty to thirty yards into water between waist and knee deep and then wait. The fish make themselves apparent with their swirls and wakes as they cruise around rooting out the crabs. Its only a matter of time when one finds the juicy bunch of rag worm sat waiting to be eaten.

About 4 hours after low water, a bass found my bait, took it and the rod bent savagely. I sprang from my perch and tightened the line into the fish. It swam towards me at first, then when its nose got into the shallows turned about and swam away rapidly. I kept a fairly tight drag, it wasn’t a big fish by any means and the fight was over rather quickly.

50cm and my first of 2021.

I fished on for another hour and caught 3 tiny bass that replace the decent fish that have moved on. When this occurs, its time to go home. Its a good start and I am sure better fish will follow.

Boat trip to Black Bream City

Spring is in the air.

At this time of year Black Bream head inshore to spawn. A great chance to catch some decent sized specimens before their smaller brethren reach plague proportions as the summer develops.

I took a trip out of Selsea aboard the Emma Jayne, crewed by Colin and Becky. Joining us were some other lads in the area on holiday. A 30 minute steam took us to the grounds and down the anchor went.

The action was slow at first, my first catch was a dogfish. The tide was running well and about twenty minutes later the action began with a nice bream.

Tactics were a 3 hook flapper and size 2 hooks, loaded with small strips of squid. The weight being occasionally bounced off the bottom to give some movement to the baits seemed to be a winning tactic. A steady stream of fish started to come aboard. Some congers also joined us, everyone got into the fish.

What a great session. I caught 14, kept a couple for eating and returned the rest. Now its about time to make an effort with some shore fishing. The bass are there for the taking and I’ve still yet to get a double figure fish.

Two tides – four bass

In the last week of September, I watched the weather closely. Decent tide times (towards the start and the end of the day) were coinciding with some lovely low air pressures. The bass were certain to be feeding and I had the bait to oblige them.

Frozen or fresh mackerel chunk on a circle hook was doing the business. I had some earlier success with squid at this mark but found that the squid attracted lots of smaller fishes attention.

The first high tide was on Wednesday afternoon around 430pm. You can fish the last hour of the flood and the first two hours of the ebb. After that the current is too strong to hold bottom mid-channel and your tackle usually gets washed into snags. The sea was quite rough and turbulent and things were looking promising.

I set two rods up baited as per the picture above on running ledger rigs with 4oz weights. Its a waiting and guessing game once the baits hit the water on how long to leave the baits out. This depends on if the crabs find them and if they also get ripped apart by smaller fish. I found that 30-40 mins usually is the max. Its usually a clean hook after that amount of time. About an hour into the ebb, my rod tip twitched and at first it looked like a small nuisance fish was attacking the bait. Then the tip bent over and line was pulled from the spool, fish on! With circle hooks, the fish almost always hook themselves. I reeled in the slack and began a tussle with what felt like a decent fish. It ran a bit so I gave it line, then applied the pressure and got it into the net. A lovely six and half pounder. My biggest this year and the biggest from this mark. Very happy indeed!

No more fish on that day and I packed up, ready to hit the mark again tomorrow.

The next day high water was around 530pm. The air pressure had dropped some more and rain showers came and went. The sea wasn’t quite as rough but it still had some nice movement to it. I set up exactly as the day before and sent the baits out and waited for the action. Around high water I had a terrific pull down on one of the rods, fish certainly on! As I was reeling this one in, I noticed my other rod bend also and line was being pulled from the spool. Checking there was no danger of the rod being pulled in, I got the first fish ashore.

A nice four pounder.

With that dealt with, I reeled in the line that had paid out and made contact with the second fish. This put up a spirited fight as it made it’s way into the net.

A nice 3 pounder.

There must have been a shoal swimming by. Things went quiet for a bit then I got a lively take. Once I started reeling in I could feel it was a smaller fish, but welcome nonetheless.

About 30cm and it looked like the bait would be a bit of a mouthful for this chap!

It was a great fishing session. Especially as it would be the last one for a few weeks due to work commitments. I’m hoping there will still be some fish around when I get back.