Monday, 17 September 2012


Sunday saw me venture out, slightly worse for wear due to an awesome local wedding to explore some new ground that I had never fished before. It may not look much from the photos but beyond the water line is thick, dense kelp forests some maybe 3-4 ft high with plenty of boulders around too. It all looked really fishy and as I was scrambling around I identified several deeper holes from up high with the polaroids on. 

After finding my way to the lower ledges below I wondered how to tackle the mark, thinking back to a conversation with Keith White a while back he mentioned drop shotting as a great method to target wrasse from heavy kelp. It makes perfect sense really, as if the kelp is dense and wafting around in the swell there would be very little chance that the wrasse around in the area would be able to find the lure if fished on a normal texas rig. As the kelp is about 4 ft high it would make fishing carolina style pretty difficult too so thats where the Drop Shot Rig comes in! With a trace of 5 ft I would be able to fish my lure just above the kelp and right in the target area for any passing wrasse!! I tied a 2/0 Jacks EWG hook with a Palomar knot with a 2ft length of 25lb fluorocarbon and then attached a 3ft length of slighty weaker 10lb mono that would act as a weak link to the lead. Then in theory if the weight became stuck I wouldnt lose the rig and lure - SIMPLES!!

To the hook I attached a Yoshikawa Superworm, a favourite lure of mine when testing the water at a new mark. Usually if there are any fish around, this lure will find them!! After a couple of casts I was starting to understand how to fish this way, especially with Andy Kendricks advice ringing in my ear. He recommended that after casting out, let the weight hit the bottom and take up the slack by lifting the rod tip so that you can just feel the weight. Then drop the rod tip just a little so that when you shake and twitch the lure you are only making the lure move and not the weight (I hope that makes sense?) Anyway back to the fishing!!! 

It quickly became clear that this method works and works bloody well ....

I had a really savage bite that hit the lure incredibly hard, think I must have annoyed the wrasse and made it very aggressive!!! It went off like a scolded cat diving and tried to run through the thick kelp, thankfully with the drag not giving anything I managed to halt her and after a few minutes slipped the net under a cracking fish that went 5.8lbs.

A stunning fish that went back with a big swish of her tail, a great feeling!! Several smaller fish followed next...

They were starting to come through the kelpy holes thick and fast and starting to get bigger again, this one 4.5lbs.

A spirited scrap saw me putting the landing net under my second 5lber of the day, this one slightly smaller at 5.4lbs.

It was time to head back up the rocks and head for home but I couldnt resist one last go at a boulder field so on went a texas rigged Hawg Stickbait in a new colour- orange craw!! A flick out over some boulders and twitch twitch fish on!!

Both these fish had lice on them but went back just as strongly as they came out, it really was time to go home though!! 

So a little bit more of St. Mary's covered but with miles and miles more coastline not to mention hundreds of outer islands and marks left to try I certainly feel even more confident with the drop shot as part of my lure fishing arsenal. Next time you are out there and you think its way way too weedy to fish, give it a go, you may be pleasantly surprised!!!!!

Monday, 10 September 2012


Major Craft Crostage Hard Rock 7'6"  7-28g 16lb.
Firstly a big thank you goes to Henry Gilbey for introducing us to these rods! When Del told me Henry was coming over with a couple rods that we could have a play with, I was immediately both excited and nervous for my poor little credit card! After telling myself numerous times that I didn't need yet another rod, this would just be a good opportunity to educate myself on a few new rods, brands and styles of rods. But then I picked up this little gem!
First impressions that day after a waggle,.. it was lightning fast! Hmm...maybe too stiff I thought after a few more waggles and shakes..? First cast and wow was I amazed at how well a short little rod like this could cast a 7g cone and a Sp! I think I had a senko on at the time, a lure I had only recently become confident in, but which I struggled to effectively fish on my  8ft+ bass rod. I let it settle and gave it a short, sharp twitch and was amazed how the tip literally "sprung to life"! This rod suddenly didn't seem stiff at all!!!! 5min later, I had decided I "had to have one" , so much for that little talk I gave myself hey?! A couple stock enquiry emails to Tom at MONSTER TACKLE, and my new purchase was on its way.

Now a few months and many sessions later, it makes me smile every time I pick it up. The name "Hard Rock" says it all really, a purposely designed rod that does its job superbly. It balances extremely well with my Daiwa Theory 2500 or a Shimano Rarenium 3000, and even after a full days fishing, you just don't notice any weight in your hand what so ever. Just looking at it, you would be forgiven for thinking it has too short a rear grip/handle, but in reality it is perfect, tucking in under your fore-arm snugly when you really pile the pressure on! The tip is just...insane! Electric! Not remotely "soft", but just err "springy", registering even the most subtle of takes, and helping you impart the tiniest twitches when needed, but doesn't come close to just folding/hooping over the moment you hook up. At 7'6" its the perfect length for rock fishing, and let me tell you its no slouch in the casting department either! Clip on a smallish hard lure and just smile as it flies out! A short, sharp, back and forth overhead style cast(hard to explain, but you see it on most Japanese you tube vids) and a komomo or salt skimmer just shoots out unbelievable distances like an arrow! In fact I took it on a recent bass trip just to see what it could do and was very impressed by how versatile it was. I would still say it is more of a soft lure rod, but it's a pretty impressive all-rounder too.

Rated 7-28g it will cast most/all softbaits you are likely to want to use for wrasse,bass or pollock, and makes you feel far more like you are able to bring lures to life, rather than just twitch- twitch- retrieve- twitch! It is soooo sensitive, you can feel every bump, bolder or kelp frond as you work the lure, and after a few casts you really begin to be able to visualise the underwater features and start to map the area out in your head. The recommended 16lb b.s line is about bang on in my book, but you could certainly fish far heavier if you wanted/needed, and have full confidence you could really horse out a big pig! Indeed on a recent wrassing trip, I watched Del hook and bully what we thought was a good wrasse fairly close in, with drag locked up fully, only to discover it was a tidy pollock! 
The rod absorbed the powerful lunges as it tried to power down into the kelp beautifully, and showed us how deceptively powerful it really is.

All in all, a fantastic rod, that i just don't think can be beaten for the money, that I continue to fall in love with on every trip. A sheer joy to use, it has really opened my eyes to how good a rod can be at a specific task, and I truly believe its balance, sensitivity, power and over all action have really sped up my learning curve in the addictive world of HRF!
Neil Hansen.
I have to agree with Neil, for the money it is a serious piece of kit that has been well thought out by Major Craft. I must admit that I am pretty new to this type of fishing but am learning all the time!! If you are into fishing soft plastics for wrasse, bass and pollack from the shore then this could be just the rod for you! Likewise as it is 7'6'' it is the perfect length for fishing from a boat or from a kayak. 
It has got some serious power in its mid to butt section and I have used it and abused it for the last few months and it hasnt let me down. I have had hundreds and hundreds of wrasse with it topped off by that brute of 6.1lbs.

If you want to put out a senko 40 yards, piece of cake but it is equally happy pitching between boulders and gullies. It takes it all in its stride. I was like Neil and a little worried that the short handle wouldnt enable me to put the brakes onto a big wrasse heading for the nearest snag but quite the opposite as it feels almost like an extension of your arm. Fishing with it makes it very easy to twitch soft plasics over boulders and ledges and the shorter handle fits perfectly under your forearm very naturally meaning as soon as you strike it starts to lock up enabling you to put some direction onto the fish! As it is nice and light you can fish all day with it and at no point complain about its weight!! I fish with a shimano rarenium 3000 and it matches to the Crostage like a dream. The rating of the rod is bang on 7-28g and I know from Tom at Monster Tackle
that it is the most popular rod in France for bass!! Now those guys know their stuff when it comes to a decent rod and I have to agree with them, its a serious piece of kit!!!!


Sunday found me heading up to Bryher to meet up with Neil and try our luck at finding a few heavy weight ballans and fish some new ground that we had identified as ''potential wrasse ground''. Typically the weather up to sunday could have been described as perfect summers weather, flat calm, sunny and zero swell then you guessed it, saturday night the wind picked up and so did the swells. 20-30 mph SW and SSW meant the spots we had wanted to fish were under water and getting battered!!! Bugger, but the good thing with Bryher as because its a relatively small island we could hopefully tuck away and find some shelter somewhere!

We decided on fishing a spot near Popplestones so that we could find some shelter from the swell outside of the bay. It did look nice and ''fishy'' with lovely clear water inside and plenty of boulders and drop offs into thick kelp forests-perfect for wrasse!!!

We imagined because the tide was ebbing any wrasse would be heading out towards the entrance to this bay towards the slighty deeper water so set ourselves up with the option of casting back inside the bay and working back out of it following the tide and fish. First few casts with Karl Fox's homemade killers produced plenty of small wrasse, clear with either blue or black speckles being the favourite lure. We moved towards the entrance of the bay to find a bigger fish or two and found a lovely looking rock ledge and could see wrasse swimming around below.

I sight fished for a wrasse that looked pretty decent when another one swam past and disappeared into the depths, it clearly was much bigger than the one that was interested in my lure. We were both only getting tentative small knocks and bites so I changed down to a 3'' Jacks Senko in the favourite Watermelon and Pumpkin colour and dropped the lure right next to the tidy sized wrasse below. A couple of twitches and I felt a small pluck, struck and fish on. This scrapped well and Neil slipped the net under a fine 5lb plus fish, neither of us were expecting a big ballan to be so timid but just goes to show!!

We both wondered just how big that other fish was that dwarfed this one, had to be 6-7lbs easily!!!!!! Sadly the wind had started to freshen and with it the swells picked up, we carried on fishing for a while but only small fish kept the rods bending, no sign of the monster so we decided on a move. We headed North and found some nice gullies that screamed wrasse!!

What we hadnt planned for was the swell continuing to pick up and with 6-7 ft of rise and fall these gullies were really difficult to fish with this type of gear. Wrasse appear not to like too much swell and I think Jim O'Donnell was spot on the other day on facebook when he described them as not being built for it and as such seem to prefer water that is a lot calmer. We found the wrasse were hanging further back from the rock face and not following the lures when there was too much movement in the water - another lesson learnt.  

Neil got well and truly done by a cracking fish that was hell bent on not playing ball and wanting its photo taken!!!
In the end we managed just over 40 wrasse in less than ideal conditions topped off with that one good fish of over 5lbs. Another lesson is that small lures doesnt always mean small fish, think it was the first time that I had scaled down to a 3'' soft plastic senko after the small tentative plucks. Maybe just maybe some of those fish we thought were pesky smaller ones may have been larger ones being a tad more cautious, food for thought...........

Monday, 3 September 2012


Sunday's miserable weather didn't stop me getting out fishing, we had rain, mist and drizzle but the tides were right so I had to get back out to the gulley I found last week. Confidence is a big part of fishing I reckon and after last getting that 6lber out I was armed full of it!!

I got out to the mark just on low water and had to venture further out of the bay due to there being no water to fish the spot yet, just masses and masses of kelp forests in between big old boulders and a couple of big granite drop offs which I remembered the beasts came from. I would head back inside the bay to fish the gulley a bit later into the flood so started at another likely looking wrasse hole. First cast with a 4'' Watermellon Hawg Stickbait rigged texas style and tap tap, fish on!! 

A spirited scrap and a good start to the session!! Next cast and I got nailed good and proper, must have had the wrasse on for 30 seconds nothing I could do other than hold on and bang snapped on barnacles. Big ballans if they know where they want to go you have zero chance of stopping them on this gear sadly!!! Undeterred I rigged up again and cast out, small tentative taps then bang another good fish was on and trying to get back to the sanctuary of its hole.

I apologise for the crap photo, trying to take a photo of yourself with a timer is something that I havent managed to suss yet!!!! Just over 4lbs it was starting to really switch on!!! The next few casts produced plenty of smaller fish all to the 4'' Watermellon Hawg stickbait before another better sized fish tried to lead me on a merry dance. I thought that it was going to be a 5lb plus fish after such a dogged fight but I slipped the net under another fish of 4lbs.

Time for one last cast before moving inside the bay I thought, actually I had several more casts as there were clearly a lot of fish moving through.

This one was probably the scabbiest wrasse I have caught, covered in cuts, scratches and clearly been through the wars!!!!

Right, time to move back inside the bay a bit now the tide was right, a change to one of Karl Fox's homemade soft plastics rigged texas style to a 3/0 Jacks EWG offset Hook and the wrasse continued to nail the lures!!

Got royally smashed up by another kelp bully that was on for all of 5 seconds as it dived into its underwater bolthole - BUGGER!!!

A few casts with the small goby imitation and several smaller fish around the 2 to 2.5lb mark showed so it was time to change lures to a strange caterpillar type thing that Karl had sent. I cast this over the granite drop off where I had caught the 6lber from and twitched it ever so slowly up and over the edge when I felt a small tap, tap tap then bang this was a better fish!!

At 5.1lbs it was a much better sized fish, again the photos let it down as still not got to grips with the timer thing, need some lessons I think!!!!

A quick change of lures back to the 4'' Watermellon Hawg Stickbait for a few last casts before heading home and more orangey browny wrasse appeared for their photo opportunity.

All in all a pretty decent session, I ended up with over 40 wrasse all on soft plastics but again the bigger fish won but thats fishing for you!!! Until next time.......