Thursday, 20 June 2013

Cod bonanza!

The summer cod have well and truly arrived.  My latest session at the "back o' Brigg" resulted in cod after cod, ending up with seven for the bag with the best going on 7lb.  I also had two pollack, with one being even bigger than the best cod!  All in all, a cracking trip.

It started slow.  The weather seemed perfect (overcast and windless) and the water was clearer than I have seen for a long time, lovely to see it like that after the May bloom a few weeks back.  I thought I was going to "fill my boots", but I started with a few tentative drifts towards the end of the Brigg with very little to show for it.  I started with my weedless jigging rig using the 160 size Fiiish Black Minnow as the bottom shad and three Reins Rockvibe Shad 3" UV King Silver soft lures above it.

I was actually surprised and disappointed that my first drift didn't produce a fish!  The next only produced small stuff.  And the next after that.  Where were all the decent cod?  After an hour or so, it became clear that the perfect conditions were not producing perfect fishing conditions.  I had a couple of boats come past me to ask how things were going and it seemed slow for everybody.  The weather was just getting darker and darker, and in the humidity and heat I started to worry about thunderstorms forming.

I decided to change to a 6" bright orange shad for the bottom above the little Rockvibe shads.  It was nice and bright and might just attract fish.  Sure enough, almost immediately I was into a fish.  It slipped off and I reeled in to check the rig and noticed that one of the rockvibe shads was missing.  Replaced it, dropped it down and bang!  First decent cod of the day.  OK, there are fish about!  I paddled back up to the start of the drift.  The tide was really racing through now in the same direction as the breeze, which meant I was drifting at pace.  I'm not a fan of anchoring up, as I never fish bait and I believe that drifting lets you cover more ground.  Sure on occasion you can lose the fish if they're tightly clustered, but for most of the time covering more ground is what gets you the fish.

Whether that big orange shad really did draw fish in, or whether something changed in the tide or currents, I don't know.  But the fish started coming thick and fast.  Before I knew it, I was hitting (and losing) big fish.  I could feel some of them were pollack - no mistaking that initial run for cover!  But then I hit into something heavy, doing the typical "head nodding" fight of a cod, but then also trying to dive.  I couldn't work out what was going on, but it was something pretty large whatever it was...
Ah, cod as long my foreleg and a pollack to match.  Bring it on!
Nice coloured cod about 7lb, pollack about 4 or 5lb.
That's it, I was off!  Every drift resulted in a fish or me getting smashed or losing a fish. Before long, the pollack really started showing, resulting in some hefty specimens:
Biggest pollack ended up around the 8lb mark.  I lost a few that we're probably bigger...
What was strange though was that almost every fish, even the better cod, ignored the big orange shad instead going for the little Reins Rockvibe shads above.  That can only mean one thing - the sandeel have arrived and the fish were totally focused on them as a food source, something that was confirmed when I gutted the fish.  Sometimes using a big bottom shad works brilliantly as an attractor and that was what happened today.  I think the bright colour actually helped in that regard as when I later changed to a more natural looking shad the catches once again dropped off.  I went through a whole pack of the Rockvibe shads.  They are great fish catchers but robustness is not their first quality.  Still, they work out no more than hokkais, and in my opinion they outfish them by some margin.

I could have stayed all day catching cod like that.  I love seeing their fat white belly come spiralling up the through the water towards you.  Of course, the more you catch, the longer you have to spend gutting and filleting them and my cool bag was almost completely full.  I started the gutting out at sea with a group photo, unfortunately the foot wells of the Pro Fisha 575 only hold so much cod....
Real beast of a pollack, too big for my bag, with 8 other fish!
The back of the Brigg is great spot when it's fishable (from a kayak).  With the right tackle the fishing can be nothing short of fantastic.  But if you've never kayaked there before considering going with someone else for your first trip.  The Brigg has two very different sides.  One is all calm and tranquillity, the other can be horrendous.  Never get tempted to short cut as you go round, the waves can swell up and break from nowhere, even a hundred metres or so beyond the end.  Give it a wide berth and play safe.  Even so, you'll still have to cross the whirlpools and swirling currents that you can feel gripping and spinning your kayak as you go round.  Once you're round the other side, you've then got the clapotis (reflected waves) to deal with. They can be disarming as they come at you from unexpected angles. So play safe, only go when it's calm and if it's your first time go with someone.

Tight lines to all those going fishing!

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