May bank holiday came around and some friends had invited me and my better half to a wedding in Cornwall. The idea was to drop the kids off at the in-laws in Torquay, stop the night and then drive on into Cornwall to a b&b near port Isaac, with all that sea around it would've been rude not to take a rod along!
Now, light rock fishing or LRF as it is better known has grown massively in popularity in recent years as more and more anglers discover the sporting opportunies that the mini species which can be found in abundance all around our coastline can offer. The best way I can describe it is ultralite lure fishing at the seaside!
Usually for me, a trip to the sea involves me packing my beachcasting gear and ordering some lugworm at the venues local tackle shop but this time around I really quite fancied a dabble at the whole LRF thing as I'd never tried it before and I was hoping that it would add a whole new dimension to my already varied lure fishing exploits.
I did a bit of research on the internet with regards to lures, tackle and suitable venues and soon enough something like a plan was formulated. It felt quite odd packing such light kit for sea fishing and I have to admit to being quite dubious as to whether it would be up to the task!
Padstow harbour was to be my first port of call as I figured fishing vertically off walls into calm water would be the easiest thing to start with as it allowed me to exert the most control over the lure without having to worry about currents, rocks and tides too much. My research had told me that the first thing I needed to fish there was a permit from the harbour master as I was told I risked a hefty fine if I was caught without one. Fortunately the permit is just a formality, it's free of charge and valid for life plus I got some tips from the harbour master as to the different spots to try and the ones to avoid.
That sorted, I was soon tentatively dangling a tiny jighead baited with an ecogear aji-must alongside a moored boat completely unsure as to what to expect. My initial confidence soon began to wane however as, despite trying several spots, I never had so much as a tap.
I checked the time, it was nearly 10am and the harbour area was really starting to fill up with tourists. I didn't have too much time left myself as the wedding was at 2pm that afternoon and I had to get back to the b&b to get ready. I was just contemplating giving it up as a bad job when I noticed a couple of kids across the way chuck a load of fish bits in as they packed up their crabbing gear, the small fish topping over the 'loosefeed' was what really caught my eye and I was round there like a shot. I couldn't see anything on the surface upon my arrival but a couple of sharp taps on my first put-in really got my heart going even though I missed them. Next drop I connected with a fish straight away and swung in my first LRF-caught fish and my first ever Sand Smelt, I was most chuffed!
I managed a couple more afterwards to prove it wasn't a fluke before time got the better of me and I had to be gone. Although I was pleased to have caught, from what I'd been reading I really was expecting a bit more in the way of small bottom dwelling species such as blennys and scorpionfish. I figured a change of venue might be worth a go next time out.
After the wedding and subsequent reception shenannigans the previous night we headed back to Torquay feeling somewhat jaded and decided to blow the cobwebs away with a stopoff for something to eat at Brixham on the way. Obviously I'd already planned this little adventure beforehand as it allowed me to checkout the dangling opportunities around the towns breakwater! After convincing the missus I needed to take my rod along for our walk to the lighthouse I was soon having a cast around a likely looking feature for 'research' purposes (of course!)
In the all too few minutes I managed to squeeze in I had several good pulls but really couldn't connect with them so was non-the-wiser as to what the culprits were. I resolved to return at first light the next morning for a proper go prior to our long journey back to the midlands. That afternoon I also popped into the tackle shop in Torquay to pick up a few bits and ended up buying a slightly heavier 3-12g rod as I felt a little undergunned with the 0.5-7g I had been using. The currents off the breakwater were much stronger than in the harbour before and it was also extremely rocky.
The next day I was back, this time with my daughter Charlotte in tow, both of us proper determined to catch something. Once again I was getting lots of unhittable taps and decided to scale everything right down further and switch to dropshotting as opposed to fishing jigheads.
Straight away I was getting taps and still not connecting but after spotting some small wrasse darting in and out of the seaweed and rocks at my feet I decided to drop the lure on top of them to observe their reaction. They were on the bait instantly and although they were having a good go it became obvious that the problem was my bait and hook size. I swapped the size 8 for a 12 and the 1.5inch sliver of marukyu isome worm was reduced to half an inch. First put-in gave me a pretty little wrasse and I knew I was onto a winner!
A succession of small wrasse followed and it was really interesting watching them approach the bait and almost bristle at it in much the same way as perch do. It was also fascinating how they just appeared from nowhere every time the bait was lowered down amongst the rocks, the camouflage on those things is incredible. Charlotte was quick to get in on the action too and I ended up having a job prising the rod off her so I could have another go myself!
I spotted a few much larger shapes moving about further down the rocky slope and after much coaxing with a larger bit of worm I managed to hook one which looked around the 3lb mark. Now this thing really pulled and I struggled to stop it getting down into the rocks whereupon it promptly smashed me up, gutted! I couldn't hook another despite my best efforts so decided instead to stick with their smaller brethren.
Apart from a solitary goby all the fish we caught were wrasse and from what I can make out we caught three different species of them, Corkwing, Goldsinny and Ballan.
After a couple of hours I'd well and truly lost count of how many we'd caught but it had been a great trip for both of us. On my part it had given me loads of confidence in the whole LRF approach and for Charlotte it had given her lots of dropshotting practice to build on and obviously we both really enjoyed ourselves. Forget the bait fishing in future, whenever I visit the inlaws it's going to be LRF all the way now!