Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Catch report 24/06/12 - Testing Illex Superpin Tail soft plastic.

So a break in the weather finally when Im not working and its off to a mark for a spot of Wrasse hunting. Really keen to keep up my experience fishing HRF Wrasse on plastics and a close friend, Paul SMITH, joins me on this trip having suffered a year long blank so far.

For this trip Im keen to test two new purchases. Finally I can say that my Century HPR has been purchased following a rather depressing session a couple of months ago which led to my much enjoyed MC Crostage snap into pieces. However this cloud definitely had a silver lining and enter the mighty HPR.

I have gone with the 7'3" Staggered tip which is a Wrasse beating beast of a rod.  The first thing you really notice about this rod in the sunlight is the amazing petrol blue colour that shines through when the light hits the rod. Power comes in extremely early on this rod which is ideal for stopping the dirty trickster that is Wrasse. It has a slightly longer handle at the reel seat compared to the Crostage, which will take a little adjustment on my casting but it casts like a dream. 5g and a lure and its outta there, although it was also pitching very welland accurately. Very pleased to finally have this added to the arsenal and Im sure it will serve me well over the coming months/years. This rod is built to last! Much stronger and resilient than a number of like rods this is hopefully going to make it a hard rod for me to break... considering my current track record with rods this is a big plus point for me :) When we talk HRF/LRF fishing you will noticed the phrase "balanced gear" over and over again. The theory being that rod, reel and line all balance each other out so the rod will sit in a neutral state (horizontal) with minimal support at the reel seat. The HPR balances very well.. I mean very well!! With the Caldia 3000 (and previously used with the Rarenium 3000) this rod balances perfectly!

Why a staggered tip?? Well it's very simple...... power and strength. If your really bothered about portability then your probably better off getting the EBT version of this rod (equal butt and tip) which is your recognisable spigoted rod roughly in two halves. The staggered tip is a one piece which is slotted into the butt when used. It means you have a whacking great rod bag and it can be tricky to transport (no issues in most car models I have transported it in so far) but the rod is one single piece which offers those slight advantages. . This rod was designed with Texas rigging in mind and really suits my style of fishing for Wrasse.
Second test for this trip is the recently purchased Illex Superpin Tail plastic lure. Seriously if you see this at your usual stockist get some. These lures look like bait fish in a bag. Ultra realistic they swim amazingly well rigged texas style using a low weight and are just teasing any number of fish species to bite. These have to be good for Wrasse, Bass, Pollack you name it Im sure it will eat these lures. Fairly pricey for the number you get but still worth it all the same. The only slight niggle I have with this lure is the Wrasse I caught this session absolutely destroyed these lures. Two takes and the lure was nearly in half but this is Wrasse fishing and the lure feels solid enough when rigging. I will see how they go as I use them more extensively over the coming sessions.

So to the session. Weather was looking good and the sun was present but not glaring. Winds where up and swell was coming in. Not ideal as the surf was also rolling in but I was hunting out some usual sheltered spots that normally hold a few Wrasse. To be honest at first glance I started to wish I had packed the Bass gear as it was looking ripe for Bass and Pollack :)

We hit the mark bang on low tide which was a low 1.2 metre. Taking a few minutes to rig up I took Paul over to a likely spot and we started casting. The HPR was working well and I was enjoying the feel of it. Fishing through heavy weed I could really feel the features under the water through the rod and my Caldia 3000 reel. Within a few casts the rod tip has the familiar feel of Wrasse nibbles and fish on! This Wrasse gave up on the fight very early on which was a bit dissappointing, livened up a bit as I got it close to the rock I was fishing from and a little tacker is brought in.

Nice coloration which is one of the reasons I enjoy fishing this species so much. Photos done it was back in the water. I continue casting when Paul gets a tight line and his bushwhacker starts to bop... fish on!! On the retrieve the Wrasse manages to pull a dirty tactic and gets free. Paul was using a jighead and exposed hook and on the retrieve the lure has come away and the Wrasse won that battle. I suggest he switches to a weedless texas and fine tune his texas rigging. Immediately his fishing "feels" better and we fish on.

It isnt long before my HPR bends over again. I cant get over how quick the power comes in again and this fish is definitely better and putting up a good fight! The thing I really notice about the HPR is that it doesnt have the exaggerated "bounce" some softer rods have and makes controlling the fish on the retrieve so much easier. It doesn't take the fun out of the fight mind and I really enjoy landing this fish. Mush better at just over 2lb with similar coloration.

The interesting thing with this fish is the evident green/blue colour in the mouth of the fish. Wrasse do get a blueish mouth colour when they're spawning but I would expect that to have been earlier in the year. But who said nature had any rules!

We fish the rest of the afternoon but it all goes a bit quiet. Paul has a good take in a rocky outcrop which is a strong Bass like take.. unfortunately his braid is over the rock and the braid snaps clean off so we don't get to see if we had a Bass or not! We discuss structure and feature and why we choose to fish certain areas. Its a shame as the tide isn't racing up the shore as quick as I'd like and some of my favourite areas are yet to flood. But its time to call it a day. Was a cracking day and great to have Paul out for a session. Hopefully next trip we will get him into some fish :)

Sunday, 17 June 2012

HRF - Wrasse and soft plastics ....

With the weather disrupting my course of LRF sessions this past couple of weeks my mind has gone back to my favourite target species...the Wrasse!! And with this I have been thinking about my current soft plastics and getting them back in the water.

As I have mentioned before HRF soft plastics can be split into a couple of areas, one being for Wrasse. I was introduced to Wrasse by Mike SULLIVAN of Rockfish Revolution about 12 months or so ago. When others were conversing about the fight Bass give on lures and others were catching many different species often on light game I was learning about Wrasse behaviour, weedless texas rigging and the item that brought me into Rockfishing in the first place.. the softie :)

Soft plastics, when rigged weedless, allow the angler to really search out the fish in the most insane structure and feature known to the shore angler. If we look at Wrasse and their territory we generally end up in an area of rough ground which has many rocks about the place covered thick in weed and ledges formed from gullies and reef. Perfect ambush features and good bolt holes to run when they get threatened! And believe me Wrasse are THE dirty tactics fish when trying to escape. Many a time I have had to stop a Wrasse running for its bolt hole and have lost some of those battles. This is an important concept when we look at rods.

Generally I have also found Wrasse to be very close to where Im fishing. There is little need to cast out to the horizon to catch Wrasse as they just aren't out there unless there is a holding feature present. Of the Wrasse I have caught the majority have been within 8-15ft of where I was casting. This is where the pitching technique really comes into itself. Pitching is a casting technique where you "underarm cast" the lure out to your target area within  approximately 30-40 feet. This cast also makes little surface splash and helps to reduce the chance of spooky fish. To really understand this technique I would recommend you either read articles in the Rockfish Files #1 by Keith WHITE or search on "pitching cast" on Youtube to watch it in action.

So onto the world of Soft Plastics. There are a number of different types of lure on the market when it comes to soft plastic lures. Worms/Stick, Paddletails, Creature and Goby style lures are all available but for Wrasse I think they prefer a simple worm/stick bait over any other.

I have tried many lures over the past 12 months and I have always found my go to lure for Wrasse has been the awesome Snowbee Stinger Slider. This lure will always perform well when any other has let me down. I'm so confident in this lure I have recommended it to many fellow Wrasse hunters who have also had success on the lure. This is the first lure used at the start of a session and I will usually swap to a lure im testing once I have had a few fish on the snowbee.

Other lures Im currently using with some success are -

From top to bottom - Gary Yamamoto Senko, MegaBass Xlayer, Lunker City Sluggo and Hawg Wild Lures Stick.

From top to bottom - OSP DoLive stick and MegaBass Hazedong

From top to bottom - Ecogear Aqua Bug Ant and Swim Shrimp

And so to how I use these fantastic pieces of plastic. I will use a Texas rigged plastic for 95% of my Wrasse fishing. It allows me to get the lure into thick weeded areas and dense boulder rough ground and retrieve the majority of my gear. We all probably know that area of ground deemed to be a "tackle graveyard" whether its using lures or bait. Texas rigging is the tackle graveyard beater. I will rarely lose more than one or two lures to a snag during a decent 4 or 5 hour session. Most of the time Ill leave the shore with all the gear I brought. The other 5% of the time I may try a weedless presentation with the weight.

So here is a quick guide to rigging a Texas Rigged Snowbee. Same principles apply to any lures you rig. For this rig you will need a weedless (offset or EWG) hook, a worm (bullet head) weight and a bead. I tend to use the Rockfish hooks from Decoy in a size 1 to 2/0 generally. Jacks LRF also do a great selection of lighter gauge hooks, again generally in the 1-2/0 range that work well with slimmer and lighter lures. Worm weights.. well you can spend a little to alot on these. I would recommend 3.5, 5 and 7g as essential with maybe a few 10g for bigger lures and stronger tidal current. You can get cheap lead weights right up to, my favourites, the eco pro tungsten weights and beads. A word of warning with anything you use in salt water, particularly weights, if you do like I do and carry your weights and hooks in a small bits and bobs case be careful if you have cheap metal weights. As with most things salt water will rust and rust spreads like the plague. I have learnt from experience that if you dont rinse your kit before replacing in your luggage you'll end up with a rust epidemic. The reason I now use the tungsten weights which seem to have the power to repel any rust issues :) Beads are much of a muchness. I use Eco Pro beads as the last and dont shatter. They are also designed to go well with the Eco Pro Weights in as far as they fit well and make a really good noise. I also like the plastic "plaice" beads. But its down to your own personal choice.

To start with thread the worm weight and then the bead onto your leader. You can peg your worm weight if you want a stable compact presentation or you can let it run free. I dont think it makes a huge difference other than on the sink rate of the lure on the drop after a cast. A pegged lure will sink quicker compared to a weight that has entered the water say 6-8 inches up the leader due to the cast. The lure will have 6-8- inches of line to drift down slightly slower than its pegged counterpart. Pegging a weight also minimises the action of the weight on the bead and by default a pegged rig will generally make less noise as there is less action of the weight hitting against the bead. Personally I dont peg my weights but have started to experiement with pegging to see if it helps or hinders my fishing. Next tie on your hook and we are ready for the lure. On hook size to lure size. I have always followed the very good advice that a hook should be approxiamtely 1/4 to a 1/3 the length of the lure itself. I generally go more to the 1/3 end of the scale and I have rarely had any hook up issues if I have had a take.

So to set your lure you will first need to work out where your hook will be exposed and skinned so you know which way to insert the hook tip in the end of your plastic. On this Slider we want the hook to be skinned on the flat side of the lure. Therefore we will insert the hook into the end of the lure and bring it out on the ribbed side. How deep to put the hook into the plastic depends on whether you want the lure to cover the hook eye once rigged or leave it exposed. I have recently started to cover the hook eye on my rigs as I believe it helps retain the lure prsentation when the rig is complete and fished. Measure where you want the exposed hook shank to be as below.

Weight, Bead and Hook attached
If you want hook eye exposed
If you want hook eye covered

Once the hook is fully through the lure you need to twist it around the shank of the hook so the 90 degree bend comes straight out of your lure where we threaded our hook tip and the hook point is facing back toward the lure body. You may want to apply a little bit of angler glue to hold the end of the lure on the shank by the eye. I dont do this yet but do see the benefits and this would make a better presentation on some of the lures I use.

Bring hook point out Where you want the right angle bend to be.
Twist lure about the shank so we have the hook point parallel to the back of the lure body.

With the hook lying over the body of the lure we know need to work out the point at which the hook will pass back through the lure prior to skinning the hook tip. This is done placing your thumb tip and the bottom of the hooks "bend" to measure off on the lure the right spot then push the hook tip right through the lure as straight as you can.

Mark the lowest part of the hook with your thumb here.

Push the hook point through the lure body as straight as you can.

The lure should know look like this

Nearly done....

Finally with the hook tip laying flat against the flat side of your lure you can now skin the hook point to prevent it from snagging. This is achieved by pulling the lure body above the hook point toward the hook eye, pulling it up tight against the hook point and then letting the lure body relax back to its original shape. The hook point will embed itself in the lure body. You dont want it too dep in the lure but enough so you can run your finger over the hook point without it catching on your finger!

Push the lure body, using my left hand above toward my right, and let the hook pint settle into the lure as you let the body relax back to its normal shape.

Hook point is "skinned" which means it is now protected by the lure body to avoid a snag but will be exposed should a fish put pressure on it.

Voila a rigged and ready snowbee slider!! This method works with all lures. Some lures have features like small gulley like incisions in the side of the lure to house your hook tip, therefore eliminating the requirement to skin a lure.

If you have a heavier lure and the tidal current is not huge you can rig your lure in the same way but do not thread the weight and bead on your leader. This is a weightless weedless rig allowing a slower sink rate through the water column and for the lure to move with any current that is present. This rigging is particularly good with the senko/sluggo stick and the DoLive lures.

So that pretty much covers the basics. My favourite way to fish for Wrasse and other coastal HRF species. There are other ways to achieve the method I have presented to you including weighted EWG (Extra Wide Gape) hooks and weedless Jigheads. I have yet to try them extensively and will post about them as I do.

Do try this tactic with Wrasse and I'll gaurantee you will be hooked on this HRF species and method of fishing!!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Catch Report 14/06/12....

Well the weather has certainly done its best to spoil any chance of fishing recently. Still getting to withdrawal stages I decided to head out for an LRF session with Mike Sullivan. It sounded a good idea to start with.

The rain subsided on the way to the mark and it was looking all good. Until I got out the car and nearly got blown over but some serious winds :( Every cloud has a silver lining though. I grabbed my rarenium 3000 and swapped over the braid filled spool with a spool loaded with newly purchased Sunline Small Game Flourocarbon in the 3lb weight bracket. Braid is a mare in the wind. Its sooo light it gets picked up by the wind and you watch your lure racing over the water at Mach 3 as the wind drags your end tackle along with the braid. Flouro is heavier and doesnt get picked up so badly by winds. You dont tend to get the huge sail of line you will get with a braid line.

So tying on a Shirasu Fine jig head at 2.3g and spiking the awesome pink 2" Paramax onto the hook I started casting out. The wind was doing a great impression of a take on the tip of my Zaltz and made it very difficult to sense if I was getting bites. The Flouro however was doing a grande job cutting the wind out of the equation and was definitely a better option over a light braid.

Mike turned up about 5 minutes later and as he started to have a chat the Zaltz bent over in a strong take which was most definitely not the wind. After a cracking scrap I brought a lovely looking schoolie Bass to the surface and landed it for a few photos. Possibly my smallest Bass this year still a welcome sight in harsh conditions. Fishing on I had a hard time deciding if I was having another take or the wind was playing me up. Going for the option it was probably a take I reeled it in to see a cracking little Long Spine Scorpion fish with fanned fins land on the shore. I love these guys and they certainly make LRF an interesting sport. Both fish returned safe back in the water and the heavens opened, Wind I can deal with. Rain I can deal with. Typhoon is not my bag and we called it a night!!

Great to get to try the flouro under some testing conditions and I have to say it coped really well. Certainly have confidence to fish more harsh conditions now with the right tools for the job. Having the right gear is such an important part of fishing and catching fish. Till the next one :)

Friday, 1 June 2012

Catch Report 31/05/12 - LRF just gets weirder!!

So still buzzing from my Bass catch this week Im off again. This time to meet Matt NEWCOMBE from Art of Fishing and Sam CLARKE. Love the LRF sessions with these guys. Both are really experienced LRF anglers and its a real boys atmosphere :)

So its all starts off well. There are big swirls on the suface and it looks like the Bass might still be here!! Everyone is getting knocks but no hook ups and this goes on to be the flavour of the night :(

Mark POWER soon joins us and we carry on casting. Im fishing the Fish League Tiebo again as it was such a star the other night! Stood next to Mark I have not one but TWO schoolie Bass follow my lure and we both watch them follow it all the way to the shore. Then they turn their noses up and head back out! Infuriating to say the least.

Time for a change of tactics. So I have another new lure to try, my thanks to Border Bandit Rod LUGG at the Lure Forum for this one. I attach an Ecogear Paramax to a 2.7g Shirasu Jig. First cast and bam drag screams for a couple of seconds then goes slack.. argh!! From the take I know the Mackie are back in the area. Continue on with the casts and a Flounder follows the paramax into shore. I set it up for a take...... so it buries itself in the sand :( What is going on tonight??!!

The night carries on much in the same manner. Few more bumps and knocks but nothing is committing. Matt gets a nice Mackie in and I am getting to the point of packing up... when the zaltz gets heavy and the rod is motionless? Doesn't feel like a snag and then the rod tip starts to bounce rythmically. I have never seen anything like it. Then on the retrieve we see a squirt of water on the surface. Well Ill be damned as a squid surfaces attached to the Tiebo. This is my first lure caught squid and I have heard that they do frequent this particular stretch of water but never seen one. Sam assists with landing the squid and after a couple of photos its back in the drink for our ink squirting friend.

I quoted a line from the cracking "Forrest Gump" some time ago saying that LRF "was like a box of chocolates. You never know what your gonna get!" I think tonight demonstrates this again. You never know what you will pull out the water when your out on the light gear :)

A cracking night guys and ill get posting more after the weekend.