Saturday, 21 July 2012

Fish a plenty

Gloom at Turnberry Lighthouse
Gloom at Turnberry Lighthouse (Photo credit: overgraeme)
Cornish mackerel on sale at Borough Market, Lo...
Cornish mackerel on sale at Borough Market, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mackerel, caught close to the western edge of ...
Mackerel, caught close to the western edge of the Belgian part of the North Sea, Belgium. Français : Un Maquereau commun, pris en mer du nord près de la limite ouest des eaux territoriales belges. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have been out twice since I last published a blog, but I wasn't sure whether to write about them or not as nothing much happened that was very different than before.
The mackerel are still surrendering easily but most of them are getting thrown back as they are too small.
I keep enough of the good sized ones to give me a feed but by the time I have caught enough good sized ones my arm is sore throwing the smaller ones back, so last time I thought I would try for some white fish in nearer the rocks after I had enough mackerel for my supper and before my arm got too sore.
I moved directly towards the rocks under Turnberry Lighthouse and watch as the echo sounder bleeped off the readings until I had only three feet of water under the boat.
I cast my line and before I knew it, it had hit the bottom, and when I looked over the side I could SEE the bottom, but no fish.
Ten minutes later with nothing doing I moved north and off slightly until the bottom was out of view and although I could not see it I was still in very shallow water.
Hook down again and it wasn't long until I felt a bite, but then, on reeling my catch in quickly I was disappointed to find only an undersized lithe, or pollock as they are sometimes known wriggling at the end of my line.
A quick release let him live to fight another day, and no sooner was my line back in the water until the same again.
When the fish came up I wondered if it was the same fish being suicidal but on examination it was much darker in colour, so it too was put back to fight another day, hopefully a day when they are big enough to eat.
The next cast made my heart jump when I saw the strain on the line as I hauled it in with what I thought was a good sized tug, but with each turn of the reel and with the rod bending to breaking point, I realized that my hooks were caught hard fast on the rocks below.
After many attempts to free them I finally had to give in and cut them loose, making them the first of what will probably be many more loss of hooks, but it is part and parcel of what you have to sacrifice if you want to catch different species of fish.
It is a small price to pay when the big ones start biting.
An easier way to get your supper is to get a few crabs from one of the other boats who are grateful for some mackerel to bait their creels, which is what I did that day and ended up with an unexpected delicious meal of freshly cooked crab rather than the mackerel which will keep for another day.
All in all its great to be back among the sources of good fresh fish, and with a bit of luck I will be able to report on catching some good sized white fish instead of boring you with mackerel all the time.
On saying that, its good to experience a bit of sea time again which might be boring for you to read about but not boring for me to be doing again.
Each time you go out, has its own bits of excitement, and just being back out there is excitement for an old timer like me.

 Maidens harbour, where Chasca is moored, is tucked away in a well sheltered, and picturesque part of the coast about half a mile north of Turnberry Lighthouse, shown in the photo above.
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Monday, 2 July 2012

Comment problem

I would like to apologize to any readers who have left comments and expected a reply.
I have just discovered that the comments are not reaching the blog so I will try to rectify the matter.

Mackerel galore.

English: Turnberry Lighthouse. Built on the ru...
English: Turnberry Lighthouse. Built on the ruins of Turnberry Castle on the edge of Turnberry Golf Course (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It was a beautiful sunny day when I arrived at Maidens, the wind was light with just a slight rolling of the waves on the sea, so I ventured out on another fishing expedition.

This time, instead of heading up to Dunure to meet Robbie, I decided to try nearer home and steered south to cast the first line just off Turnberry lighthouse. It only took five minutes to get there, and no sooner was my line in the water when I felt the fish biting.
As the line was hauled in I saw immediately the biggest mackerel I have seen in a long time and the other three were of a good size too, so, full of expectation of the same I cast the line over again.
The line tugged before the hooks were only half way to the bottom which meant the fish were swimming mid water, so it was only seconds until my next haul was aboard and the bucket starting to fill up.
The mackerel were getting smaller, but still big enough to keep so I fished at that spot, constantly hauling fish a plenty until the bucket was full, stopping only to photograph the bucket when it was half full.
After a while the fish were getting smaller, so much so that I was throwing back three times more than I was keeping.
It was fun though, watching the young mackerel swim away and with any luck grow big enough, reproduce to supply us with some more fun in future years.
It is quite satisfying to think you are doing your bit for conservation letting the smaller ones go to live to fight another day.
Some anglers get so excited when they catch any size of fish, that they keep them all not thinking of the harm it could do to the stocks of the future. Every little helps and considering we are only doing it for fun, and of course a good feed now and then, conservation is important.
With the fish coming aboard so rapidly and going back just as quick my arm was getting sore so I stopped and filleted the fish I had kept, then headed in closer to the lighthouse to see if they were any bigger closer to the shore.
This time my line reached the bottom and as it dangled, and I waited patiently and hopefully for a bite, I was able to watch the golfers playing on the famous Turnberry golf course.
Not for long though because the fish began to bite again.
I managed to fill another bucket of good sized mackerel then stopped to fillet again before I headed back to the harbour totally satisfied with my days adventure and the thought of a good feed of tasty mackerel ahead of me.
I had promised my brother-in-law some fish, hence the reason for keeping so much and the next day I took some up to him along with a couple of recipes.
That night he posted a photo on facebook of the delicious meal he had cooked which received loads of response, and I must admit I felt quite proud when he mentioned my part in creating such a tasty looking dish.
So that evening just before I sat down to the gastric delight I had created for myself, I took a photo too, just for the benefit of my readers to show the before and after.

Obviously the before is the photo of the fish in the bucket and the after being, when cooked.
No point in showing you the pile of bones left after the meal was finished, for as you can see I cooked mine on the bone after coating them with a dressing of "orange zest, orange juice freshly squeezed, olive oil, ground cumin,hot chilli powder, salt and pepper to taste." I missed out the orange wedges and coriander that was optional and used tomatoes and lettuce instead.
You must admit it looks good and by golly I can assure you it tasted GREAT.
Donald, the hunter gatherer, after a long absence is back in business. ha ha.
Hope you enjoyed the post as much as I enjoyed the feed, and that you tune in next time for my next installment.

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