Roving rods: Species comp update

Having started another online competition for a winter species hunt and this time I had Chris joining in as well so we decided to go and kill two birds with one stone and see if we could tackle the Cod and Rockling sections of the comp in a certain mark I use normally in the summer one because the cod section no one had caught one yet and the Rockling section it wasn’t a particularly big one holding the lead at present. So making up a few smaller rigs with 1/0 hooks for myself and a few pulley rigs as well for the cod which isn’t my first choice of rig but the ground we were going to be fishing over is particularly snaggy at Bossington beach and no one tends to fish this spot for that reason but it can be productive. With my gear all packed away ready I got in from work the next night and grabbed the rucksack, rod rest and rods and fresh flask of hot chocolate now in the bag too I made my way out to Chris who had just walked up the drive lighting up the night with his head lamp. Getting to the mark eventually after a walk of about ¾ of a mile Chris gave me the option of where I wanted to fish first as he chose last time so I picked left and then knew I was pretty safe that he wouldn’t be casting over my lines tonight! Getting geared up and I was grateful to have the TTGSM back in action after smashing a tip guide on a rock, but all was good I had the gear to replace and eventually got the time to do it. With the first rod all set up, tonight I was running mono line of 20lb Asso S.H.T with a 80lb leader I went a bit heavier due to the snaggier ground which can be hard on leaders here. For the rockling I had gone for a running ledger with a short 20cm hook length with 1/0 hooks and strips of squid that flap off the end of the hook by a few centimetres the rig and short hook length should keep it hard on the bottom with a limited run on the rig until the lead engages and normally results in the fish hooking themselves. Plain leads were the order of the day as gripped leads here tend to snag up easier. Pinging the bait out to around 50-60 yards I carried on setting up the other rod my Tronix xenon as it sits in the tide well here and has good bite sensitivity. With the same line set up I opted for a 2/0 pulley rig single hook. With this I had half a squid cut long ways and whipped up and slid on like a worm bait with the hook clear out the end. All finished and baited up I fired this bait to a feature around about 80-90 yards out but get it wrong and you won’t be retrieving it at all and left snagged up but the cod and bass love to run along this feature. Both baits for Chris were already out there and we didn’t have to wait long with Chris pulling in a rockling a quick measure photo and release ...and we forgot to put the name card in the photo haha Never mind early doors plenty of time for a some more and they are easy enough normally here and of ok size to take the lead. Laughing about it Chris fires his bait back out with the gentle whirring noise of his 525 breaking the still air. I was just making up some baits when my rod tip started to shake away, I had missed the bite so left it to see if it would come back after about 5 minutes I thought to myself I may need to change or replace the bait in case it had been robbed but upon bringing it in the fish was still on the end! As I bright it in through the surf line there was a small 5 bearded rockling... and I do mean small. A quick photo and back it went gently tossing it beyond the surf line. Baiting the hook back up with another strip of squid and it was straight back out to around 40 yards. I was thinking how well the evening had started with both of us scoring hits on species early on which we needed and wanted and clearly I had been thinking too much as it soon went quiet for a stretch with a couple of bait changes going by and there was nothing on either rod for either of us, then out of nowhere the wind turned up a notch and turned from the south to westerly which put a small amount of chop on the water with that my rod came alive almost instantly with a hell of a calling card rattling away on the tip of the century rod, straight on it and lifting the rod up I started to wind in slowly I could feel the distinctive Bang! Bang! Bang! Of a conger rolling away on the end, it came up on the surface about 10 yards out and was a small strap eel of a couple of pounds roughly. With the eel safely landed I take a quick photo, unhook and return the snot monster to the blackness. With the next bait flying back out I thought about breaking out a hot chocolate but the other rod tip starts to twitch away, I get to the rod with hands ready to lift it up on the next set of twitches I knew were coming and then sure enough more stronger more defined twitches started to show on the rod tip, I lift into the rod and there is no weight on the end but more than just the lead and bait. Upon bringing it in it was another rocking at 20cm long it was too short to enter the competition so just another quick return, bait up and fire back out there I look across to Chris and he’s still there tinkering trying to get the fish on the end of one of his traps. A few more minutes and a couple of cups of chocolate down warming up the pipes inside and I get a cracking bite with a big double nod which is what I’ve been waiting for cod on! The rod tip bends over a fair way as I’m lifting out of the rod stand and take a bit of line I just start to wind up on it and the line starts to droop and go slack so I wind like fury to catch up and get the line taught again, with the line taught and no dramas I pull the codling in the remaining 20 yards of so and through the surf until I see the gold and then white belly roll over on the rocks Chris is over as well now and congratulating me on the cod to open the section if no one else has by the time we get home. With the codling collected and up by the gear it measured 45cm and weighed 2lb on the nose it was a nice fat codling just right for dinner tomorrow so a quick dispatch and then gutted the fish it was kept cool in a hessian sack I carry and make wet and when the wind blows over it the wind chills the fish really well a portable fridge. A new bait on and I send it straight back to the line just in case one of his bigger friends wants to make an appearance. The wind changed again and is now blowing in north and picking up at a fair rate of knots 30 to be precise and with the rain howling in as well fishing all of a sudden switches off and gets less comfortable. After around an hour of driving rain I decided to fish one rod properly so pulled one in and found another rockling I didn’t even realise was on the end, so a quick unhook and throw back and it was pack this rod down double time on the upside it had well washed! The rain was really lashing us now and on the upside it showed myself the Century suit is trustworthy and waterproof even when the wind is driving it in. Chris came over and said did I want to sack it off and as it had been dead for a while I though it wasn’t such a bad idea we both reeled in and both had fish on we knew nothing about due to wind blowing the rods tips everywhere it had picked up even more as we were packing away and just seemed to be getting stronger so we had made the right decision. Chris measured his Rockling and it was 29cm cracking stuff! In the lead by 8cm so a quick photo with his card as well this time and it was job done I unhooked my huss of average dogfish size and that was that we loaded up, hunkered down and humped our way back though slippy mud back to the motor. Driving on the way back we were discussing the evening and we were both pretty satisfied with how it went although we aimed for bigger and better of the species and Chris didn’t manage a few more or cod the main thing was we got the species we set out for and are now both in front on a section. I’m sure bigger will come in hopefully from us as well but we’ll be back out again soon for some more action looking for the larger fish.

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