If anybody follows our Instagram account they’d have seen that at this time of the year we tend to concentrate on the inshore Cod fishing that takes off late summer/early Autumn. This year has been a bumper one for the “rock” Cod (the much deaper coloured fish that seem to actively hunt over kelp), but there’s only so much of the same fishing you can do before it gets boring and seeing as how the rest of the summer had been a bit of a washout in terms of full days out/offshore marks we took the chance yesterday to try one of the local wrecks. This is the latest we’ve ever tried fishing a wreck, mostly because you are never sure of the weather this time of year but the forecast was good, the tide was big enough to get out of the marina on time and with a high prospect of picking up some bait we went for it.
The wreck in question is about 8 miles from Peel heading towards the south of the island. We left the marina dead on quarter to one and with only a 4 hour maximum window we headed straight for the mark at a steady 24-25 knot cruise. Unfortunately as we passed Niarbyl the wind changed and instead of a glassy sea we were faced with a decent chop, this meant throttling back a little but we were still making good time and by quarter past the anchor was down and we were fishing. The plan was big pirks baited with Mackerel, we were hoping to catch Ling with maybe the odd Conger thrown in for good measure. To try and supplement the 2 Mackerel we had for bait I also chucked down a set of shrimp Mackerel feathers, with the amount of Mackerel being caught at the moment we couldn’t go wrong could we? YES, of course we could. There wasn’t a Mackerel in sight. Still the small hook rig was pulling up plenty of Callig, but nothing that we could use for bait, even a Pouting would have done. After 20 minutes with no bite on the big rod it was pretty clear that the wind over tide was pushing us away from where we ideally wanted to be so it was left to me to whip the anchor up, move and re-anchor. That’s one of the real ballaches of wreck fishing this time of year. It never seems to be less than a force 3 and with the usual wind over tide it makes accurate anchoring really hard. Anyhoo, the second try with the anchor was much more successful (I was happy, 300+ feet of anhcor rope is a pain in the ass to pull up).
With the anchor set firm and us swinging about over the wreck the bites on the big rods came thick and fast. The first proper fish over the side was a Spurdog of about 8lb. Not really what we were after but at least it makes a change from Callig and Cod. It was only when 2 more followed it within 10 minutes that we started to worry that we were going to get plagued by them, they don’t exactly fight hard and once the novelty has worn off they’re not much more than a big doggy. Lucky for us a good part of the swing on the anchor took us directly over the wreck and at this point the Ling were feeding hard, we quickly had several fish up to around 14lb. Not monsters by any stretch of the imagination but good enough, it’s really satisfying to make a plan to catch a certain species and have it work. We weren’t even losing tackle! That was until something big and toothy bit straight through the 250lb nylon that attached my assist hook to the pirk, 1 good pull and gone. Determined to find out what it was I rigged up with a standard conger flowing trace with a wire bite leader, 2 minutes later I was winding in again minus the entire trace. A few small nods, a screech of line and all I was left with was shredded 30lb main line. It had that Tope look about it. In the meantime the old man was still pulling up a mix of Ling and Spurdogs, some of the dogs were bordering double figures.
It was now approaching the offical time for high water but as expected the tide had turned a little early where we were and with our angle changing the anchor was starting to drag. This combined with our bait supply running low meant that it was time to up anchor again and have a drift for the last hour. As I was pulling us up on the anchor my rod gave a couple of solid knocks then arched over, deciding to leave it I carried on until the anchor was up. Feeling there was something on the line, but nothing heavy (keeping in mind we’re talking a 300g pirk with a 6/0 hook) I decided to bring it in slow, I was half expecting a knackered looking 1lb Callig! What we got instead was a cracking Cuckoo Wrasse, full of colour it was the first one I’d ever caught on the boat and easily the biggest I’d ever caught. Not wanting to keep it out of the water any longer than needed we didn’t weigh it but did get a quick picture before it went back, I wasn’t sure if it would go but a splash on the surface and it shot straight for the bottom. At the same time as I was pulling up the anchor the old man was working the Mackerel feathers and even just moving 30 yards had solved all our bait problems…2 full strings of Mackerel seen to that.
The final part of the day was to be spent drifting over the wreck seeing if we couldn’t find some more Ling. There was another bonus reason, I wanted to map the wreck properly with the sounder and I’m glad to say that part was a total success. We had it pretty good before but I now have a full sidescan of every foot of what’s on the sea floor. The fishing was hit and miss, literally. Each drop either produced a nice Ling or the wreck. Over the course of an hour we went through every single pirk on the boat. That’s just the way it is with wreck fishing and it’s why I’ll always try and drop the anchor if I can. Anyway, with half an hour to go until the flap gate lifted in the harbour we steamed back home. The final scores on the door were about a dozen Ling up to 14lb, 8 Spurdogs up to around 10-11lb, a few Callig and 1 very nice Cuckoo Wrasse. As a form of payment the wreck took about 60 quids worth of pirks. A great trip and just a shame that we didn’t get more chances to do this type of fishing this year.