September 2016 will go down in history as the month when shit got real! Literally fed up to the back teeth with the lack of opportunities to get out fishing I did a quick calculation of how much money I’d saved on fuel, tackle, engine wear and decided to invest in my first ever fishing kayak. The thinking was simple, if the wind blows west I can launch from the east of the island which as it happens is much closer to home for me. Also if it’s a nice day but the tides are wrong for the marina in Peel at least I get the option of chucking the kayak on the car and getting to fish. Other than a bit of LRF I’ve pretty much given up on shore fishing for the time being. Obviously if the weather and tides are right the boat will always be the preferred option so with in mind plus the lack of storage space I didn’t want to spend a fortune.
All in my complete kayak fishing package including 10ft kayak, safety gear, tethers, roof rack, trolley, fish finder cost me about £800. Or when I take off what I’d saved this year in fuel, tackle and servicing about £100. Whilst I was waiting for everything to arrive and a suitable day to give it a go I did a reccy of likely launch spots including 360 photographs taken at low tide. Turned out that this was well worth doing because some of the beaches had horrible rocky outcrops that would only just be covered at times I’d want to fish. I’m nothing if not prepared! I might do a post at some point about what I bought and how I got fully prepared for kayak fishing in as safe a way as possible.
Anyway, on the 19th with a west wind taking the boat out of action and a nice lunch time high tide I got the chance to wet the kayak for the first time, I chose Port Grenaugh because it was close to home (first time having the kayak on the car) and I assumed even though it was a Saturday it would be a quiet place to get used to loading/unloading and having a paddle. I couldn’t have been more wrong! The place was packed with cars, no parking and generally a bunch of pushy pricks trying to scrape past. It felt as though I was on the south coast of England with people who had traveled to the coast for the weekend and genuinely thought they owned the place. It was about as far from the pleasantness of the other parts of the island as you’re likely to get and another gentle reminder of how much Douglas and it’s folk are different to the nice parts of the Isle of Man. But I was there and determined to give it a go so I cracked on regardless, even stopping to help the tools that had got their car stuck on the only way down to the beech. Once in the water things improved greatly, my cheapo kayak was stable, fairly dry and easy to paddle. Without too much effort I could cruise at around 3-4mph on the GPS which would give me a good range with the added bonus of a burst of speed if I needed it. The only thing left to do was to wet a line. My research showed a large area of sand that divers had reported to have Plaice on, bordered by rocks which were loaded with Wrasse. Not wanting to push my luck carrying a mountain of tackle I decided on a simple jig head with a Gulp Lugworm fished on a very slow drift. On my very first drop I landed a nice 2lb Ballan Wrasse, this was followed quickly by several more before I decided to try out on the sand. Although I had a couple of takes I didn’t manage to hook up. What was interesting was seeing several of the private boats from Douglas anchored up a little offshore, I did go out for a look but with a good swell coming of the shore I decided to just keep it as a sight seeing visit. They were well within paddling range so come next summer I’ll definitely give it a go further offshore with a bit of bait and see what happens. Just not on a Saturday though. Overall I loved the actual fishing and it was a successful sea trial, some lessons were learned and no doubt I’ll be much quicker next time.
Away from the new kayak the month was just about the same as the rest of the summer. We managed 4 trips out in the boat with the weather even limiting those to some extent. Our best trip by far was a journey north which resulted in the first ever Black Bream on the boat, what made this even more remarkable was the fact that we went to target them! That day also started a revolution in the way we fish our usual rough ground marks. Having been drift fishing the majority of the time for years I decided I wanted to anchor up more. The logic being that we can still spin lures as we have always done but with a bait fished on the bottom we have the chance of picking something different up, in this case a Bream. It worked, not only did we pick up more Cod than we usually would we were finding that the larger Callig would often take the bait over the lure and that we were getting Ling where we had never caught them before. Guess if you don’t try you don’t get. In terms of general fishing around the island September is one of the best months of the year and there is no way I’d complain with what we caught, several of the Callig pushing double figures, lots of chunky Coalfish, Mackerel aplenty plus the other odds and sods made it a good month. The new anchor setup worked flawlessly during this period, tripping out when required.