LRF Report by Richard Salter
There are so many things to talk about from the last few weeks Lerfing activities, that I’m not really sure where to start!
I’ll start with ringneck blennies, because we’ve been talking quite a lot about them recently! My lerfing ally Ben Bassett caught one of these rare blennies in Cornwall a couple of years ago and, being a blenny you’d normally expect to see somewhere on the Med, I was fairly sure that would be the only one I’d ever see in the flesh. That’s all changed recently though after I found a bit of a colony of ringnecks whilst rattling around trying to tempt out a cuckoo wrasse of all things! I’ve managed to find 2 from the same spot, whilst Ben has been down and nabbed one too, sight fished too, in classic Bassett style. The session when I found the first ringneck was particularly memorable, with a real treat of mini species caught between myself and Joe Mole. Amongst the usually small tompots, pout and wrasse species, Joe had a lovely little cuckoo wrasse and sight fished 3 rock cook wrasse in quick succession whilst I managed a rock cook, a leopard-spotted goby and the ringneck. I’ve been using a “stinger rig” recently and its proven very effective and picking up the smaller mini species, the rig is a essentially a flex head rig with a tanago hook rigged as a “stinger” to sit just behind the main lure/hook and pick up those short bites I usually miss. We finished off the day with a few hours off the end of the breakwater catching a load of mackerel on metals, with a pilchard making a welcome addition to my species list too!
Another enjoyable session was when I joined Joe for an evening targeting the gurnard, which had finally showed up at Joe’s local beach. Joe had managed 13 the night before so we were hopeful of another bumper session, the action was a little slower this time though but we both managed half a dozen or so lovely little tub gurnard between us, mostly on jigs skipped and hopped across the sand.
The highlight of the last few weeks though was undoubtedly the “Big Lerfin Fundraiser” that Ben organised as part of a fund-raising effort to back Jack Perks “Britains Hidden Fishes” project. With 70 tickets sold for the event, this promised to be an LRF meet to remember and something we’d all been looking forward to for the past few months. Many headed down to Weymouth the night before and some were paying the price for perhaps having a beer or 2 too many the next morning when Joe and I arrived! It was fantastic and a little surreal to see so many LRFers in one place! We chatted to Ben Coleman and Sam and Mark Taylor about our plans of attack and thoughts about the day before it was time to gather round and collect our cards before we got going. It was great to chat with some friends I’d not seen for a while and also nice to meet some new faces, some of whom I felt I knew very well through social media but had never met before.
It was soon 9am though and Ben sent us on our way, LRfers scattering in all directions in search of mini species. It wasn’t a mini species at all that kicked things off though, as Keith Ide caught a lump of a tub gurnard off the end of the pleasure pier with his first cast of the day, this was good enough to take the biggest fish prize as nobody got close to beating it all day!
The pleasure pier was busy with anglers teasing their dropshots down the side of posts, or trickling a split shot along the sand, sight-fishing for things like tiny flounder and dragonets. Mark Taylor was on good form and had a nice common dragonet, and collectively our little group stationed at the end of the pier caught a selection of gobies, pout and little corkwing before Jon Owens, Joe and I headed off to try and bump up our species count, taking the little oar-powered water taxi across the harbor to get to our intended destination quicker.
We made our way towards the stone pier, stopping off at a slipway to chat to fellow lerfers as we went. It was really good to finally meet Mike Kennard, who I’ve had some great LRF related discussions with online over the last few years, it was great to see that he was just as enthusiastic about all things LRF and JDM in person! A quick lunch stop gave everyone a chance to show off their blingiest lures before we got back to the fishing.
The stone pier was lined with LRFers, most of whom were trying to get a lure past the big shoals of tiny pout that lurked along the length of the pier. Joe tried his luck with metals whilst I fished in close, a string of corkwing followed, interspersed with a couple of little ballans, which were very welcome. The atmosphere here was great with lots of chat and banter between anglers. Ben caught us up at the end of the pier eventually and was slowly bumping his own species count up despite the fact he wasn’t competing and kindly pointed me in the direction of shanny, which was a species that had frustrated me so far. Shanny quickly caught, it was time to watch Sam Taylor and Joe try and get theirs, an entertaining few minutes as they hooked and lost a few before they both succeeded. We worked our way around the harbour, seeing fellow anglers catch gobies and big shannies. We stopped off and fished with James Wigglesworth and co for a while, enjoying the banter as much as the fishing. I managed to add a rock goby to my tally whilst the other guys pulled out black gobies and micro pollock. The black gobies would prove a frustrating miss for me, whilst seemingly everyone else caught a hatful.
Ben, Joe and I decided to head off in search of sand gobies, stopping to chat tomore lerfers as we went. We were unsuccessful on the sand goby front but Ben did manage to get a tiny flounder on a speck of isome and the deadly “stinger” rig. We bumped into the ever enthusiastic Matt Barnsley and Danny Hill here, who were doing well and aiming to add to their tally. Making our way back to the pleasure pier we bumped into Will Pender, who we knew would be clocking up the species and challenging for top spot, he informed us he was on 10 species and was pushing on to add 1 or 2 more before time was up.
As we arrived back at the pleasure pier, it was a real treat to see that Maurice Minchinton had caught a true gem of an LRF catch, with a little red mullet lying in his net. There was a real buzz around this fish and Maurice rightly won the prize of rarest catch.
As the clock ticked down, there were a few more fish to come, I managed to get my 7th and final species with a dragonet and it was a pleasure to help Alex Waring net a decent flounder just as the time was running out.
The clock struck 6 and it was time to gather round and see who had taken the prizes. Adam Kirby took the prize for most species with 12, a fine tally on a day when every fish (apart from the pout!) was hard earned and the pelagics just didn’t come out to play. Adam still ticked off some really cool species like black bream and gurnard to make up his total, a well deserved win, with Will Pender just behind on 11 species. Mervyn Jones took the prize for most species on a metal, whilst Dan Sissons got the prize for most wrasse species caught, Richard Widdowson had the smallest fish prize and Keith Ide’s Gurnard winning biggest fish, and as mentioned before Maurice Minchinton took the prize for rarest/most unusual catch with his stunning red mullet.
I think its important to say though, that the main thing that came from this event was what a success it was from a social point of view and much needed get together following a really tough 18 months or so. We’ll have more news of another Big Lerf event very soon!
Thanks for reading and tight lines.