Wednesday, 18 July 2012

How to tie Mackerel Feather Rigs (the Movie)

Another ‘how to’ video, this time it's mackerel feather rigs in time for the summer’s bounty of the little striped monsters.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

A Fish Called Jesus

Vid Above: Shameless Self Promotion

I had forgotten that the wind can blow here for days if not weeks on end without pausing to draw breath. In Italy when the bora blows people are driven mad by it, here on the Isle of Mull people live leaning into the wind that blows off the ocean and on rare days of stillness they find themselves unbalanced like cliff top trees.

It felt like a long week of watching for a break in the weather while the dinghy hung on its mooring in the shelter of the bay. Isaac the young son of the friends we had come to visit was almost as eager to get out into some depth of water as myself. Earlier in the week we had tried a bit float fishing from the rocks at the head of the bay. After a slow start we tried to charm the fish from the sea with Isaac promising them fish tanks and all you can eat fish food buffets. Later rather desperately I tried summoning the support of the fish god but Isaac suggested that the Jesus of the fish world might be a better bet. I tried to image what the Jesus of the fish world would look like between bouts of crippling laughter.

When the wind finally ran itself out on the last afternoon of my short visit Phil, Isaac’s father grabbed the petrol tank while I and Isaac followed with the fishing rods. Out beyond the reefs the chop hindered our pace throwing up the plumps of spray to wet down my jacket and remind me that too long at the lakeside had made me soft. A short distance down the sea loch Phil idled the engine just off a rock one of the longer residents of the bay had showed him.

I let the line off the reel and on my first drop I pulled up a single undersized mackerel which I slipped off the hook and dropped back into the blue. On the other side of the dinghy Isaac’s spinning rod whipped over and there was some confusion whether it was his oversized lead weight or a fish. He hauled it back up with some help from his father and landed a nice cole fish (Coley, Saithe) and a good sized mackerel. Over the next five minutes we hauled up just over twenty mackerel some a little on the small size were slipped back into the sea. The Feather rigs had done their job again and we were on our way back to the bay for a fish dinner.
Our prompt return was taken by those who had stayed behind as a sign that we had been beaten by the conditions and as we tied up a pan of pasta was put on the hob as standby in the absence of a fish supper.

I filleted the fish in the sun just above the beach by the cottage doorway as the boat’s owner the local telephone engineer stopped for a chat. He was off for a bit of rock climbing and Phil promised him a share in the catch when he returned from the rock face. When I had finished and my hands were blooded I walked down to the water and tossed a fish spine into the air; even before it splashed down the gulls had left their meanderings to swoop in. I left the scraps at the water’s edge as the gulls’ calls echoed off the row fishermen’s cottages at the head of the beach.

A final note.

Two days later the Boat’s owner Steve sadly passed away. He leaves two young children and a wife. I knew him as BT Steve a name he acquired while repairing the island’s telephone lines for British Telecom (BT). On the morning of the boat trip he had seen me fishing from the rocks at Uisken beach while perched atop a telephone post. When I saw him again later outside the cottage he asked if it was myself who had been fishing at Uisken and we talked about the fishing marks along that part of the coast. He told me about a deep channel that runs between a headland and small rock offshore where big pollock hold up and I told him if I get back to the island I will give it a go.

Image Below: Eilean Corrach (Steep Island, Approx Translation from Gaelic) at the Entrance to Kintra Bay, Isle of Mull, Scotland