By Gordon Goldie
With the higher than normal winds curtailing a lot of boat fishing pretty much since the Tagathon event in November, I’d been dying to get back up to my boat at Loch Sunart for a couple of days to see what was about. As always, I’d been watching the weather forecast for days beforehand and it was looking good for the weekend with SE winds below 10mph for both days. Billy McCormack was to be my crew mate and we were joined for Saturday by Darren, Paul and Graham on Paisley Pete – another Warrior 165.
Launching at Salen (http://www.salenjetty.co.uk/) on Saturday went as smoothly as usual and we had lines down at my favourite mark for just before 9.30. The others were out slightly earlier and Darren had been straight into a decent fish when he boated a nice spurdog at 10lb 10oz. We only had to wait half an hour ourselves for our first “banger” to show and this was to be the pattern for the rest of the day.
There was a brief respite from the spurdogs around slack low water about 2.30 in the afternoon. When I say “respite”, a large skate decided to devour a single calamari and battle commenced. We began to think this was a male fish as it did a lot of thrashing about and nodding around the seabed where it held solidly for 20 minutes. Very gently. I managed to get a few half turns of line back and it was soon rising slowly at a rate of two reel turns per rod lift. This mark was 210 feet deep which was 90 reel turns to my leader knot. I managed to get it about two thirds of the way to the surface when the brand new braid unfortunately snapped and it was gone.
As the flood tide began, the spurs returned. Many were around the 7-8lb size and all but two were female. We had several “doubles” with the biggest one of the day bending the scales to 14lb 9oz. It was decided to fish on into the dark and return to moor at the jetty by GPS. Our final tally for the day was a fantastic 35 spurdogs falling to squid and mackerel baits, 20 of which are now fitted with SSTP micro tags. All were clean fish apart from one which had a small bug clinging to it’s flank. I’ll hopefully find out from the kindly boffins at Marine Scotland what it was?
Over on Paisley Pete, they’d packed up to go home earlier on, but still ended with 12 tagged fish including one recapture. This included five into double figures. Other species we landed were a small thornback ray, a few small whiting and numerous LSDs.
Once again, we stayed with Nikki and Richard at the excellent Salen House B’n’B (http://www.salenhouse.co.uk/). After a hot shower at the digs, it was a short saunter up to the nearby Salen Hotel (http://www.salenhotel.co.uk/) for dinner, a very quiet shandy, a review of the photos we’d taken and to reflect on our good fortune. Being very dedicated anglers, we only had a couple of drinks and were of course in bed for 10pm (?????).
Sunday dawned colder and windier with my head feeling as though it had a Vulcan bomber performing very noisy destructive engine tests inside. I’m sure this must have been down to the balsamic vinegar I had on my chips the previous evening???? After a fantastic breakfast, it was back to the same mark we’d fished the previous day. Things didn’t go quite to plan though and it was lunchtime before I’d tagged the first decent spur of the day – a nice female of exactly 7lb. Surprisingly and disappointingly, this was to be our only biggie of the day. We fished several different marks up and down the loch, including some “exploring” work to the South of Carna island. After being liberally sprayed with bait, rain, food etc. for two days, the boat was tidied and lines were up for just after 4pm. The low water recovery was easy enough thanks to the deep water at the slipway and after securing everything it was off home, tired but happy.
Good fishing. Good company. Good weekend!