LRF Species Hunt: Cornish Tips

Ahead of any Cornish Lure Festival Species Hunt it’s useful to know what to expect and where to head for. Our guide introduces you to some of the most productive Cornish LRF fishing marks.

Hi everybody! By this time next week we’ll know who the 2016 Bass, LRF and Wrasse hunting champions are! While the bass and wrasse sections are more of a random expedition for most, the LRF Species Hunt is an intense and varied journey with competition fierce. Knowing the area can help, but a little bit of luck will always come in handy too. Josh Fletcher won the event with a total of 19 species last year, which is completely RIDICULOUS! 19 in 48 hours! All on lures! This year the potential for a couple more has been added to the table, with me separating Blenny species so that the much loved and slightly rarer Tompot has a higher, separate score.

So, I thought this year I’d try to help any anglers visiting the area in giving them a little bit of an idea as to where they may find some of these species around the county and maybe how to catch them. Obviously random species could turn up almost anywhere and my advice is just based on my own experiences. Hopefully this will give some of you an idea of areas to target if you need to catch certain fishies on an LRF species hunt.

Best if I keep it to a fairly simple list form:

Common Blenny

They like to hang about off the bottom, sticking themselves to the side of various harbour walls. Try places like Mevagissey (far right hand side of the outer wall, near the corner), Hayle (just over bridge where water runs in to the pool, hanging on wall on the seaward side) and Falmouth (along many of the town walls). They’re almost even easier to snare by wandering the rockpools though – north or south – because of the shallow depth and fact that you can sight fish for them more easily.

Recommended method: Split Shot rig. Marukyu Isome. Hold up against the wall (touching) – not on the bottom.

Tompot Blenny (my favourite LRF species)

Similar to above and one of my favourite LRF species, Tompots hang about around holes in rocky walls. Use slightly bigger lures than you would for the common fish. Not so many at Meva but Hayle and Falmouth will produce them. Rockpools certainly.

Recommended method: Split Shot rig. Marukyu Isome or EcogearAqua Straight. Hold up against the wall – not on the bottom.

Bream

Rare, but tiny Black Bream will show up in places like Fowey, Mevagissey and the general St Austell area. Near structure, but not right on it. Small lures. Couch’s Bream will show up very, very occasionally, again in places like Fowey and along this coast.

Recommended method: Dropshot rig so that bait is slightly off bottom. Tiny hook, Marukyu Isome or Ecogearaqua Aji Straight.

Dragonet

They like cruising over clean sand but you’ll catch them near to structure. Again, Mevagissey and Fowey, plus maybe Hayle (further towards the river mouth). They have tiny mouths so small pieces of Isome and #16’s best (like lots of these LRF species).

Recommended method: Split shot rig. Tiny hook, Marukyu Isome. Hard on bottom over sand.

Flatfish

The Fowey and Camel estuaries are both worth a look for Flounder. The Town Quay at Fowey is a popular spot. Plaice are in the Fowey too but like the deeper water further out. Turbot like the sandy beaches. Again I’d concentrate on the south coast, particularly along Whitsand Bay. The weird Topknot are different to all the others. They stick themselves to rocks and harbour walls so not only will you find the odd one in a rockpool, you’ll catch them mid water, against the walls at places like Mevagissey, Fowey and Falmouth.

Recommended method: Flounder & Plaice – Splitshot, dropshot or jighead. Slow moving bait bouncing bottom. Marukyu Isome of Ecogearaqua. Topknot – small jighead covering plenty of wal
l by regularly moving.

Garfish

Seem less common these days in some areas, but deeper water marks will be best. Around Rame Head in the south east always seems to hold a few though. Small metal jigs kept high in the water could potentially catch you one in almost any part of the county though.

Recommended method: Light casting jig fished near the surface.

Goby

Prolific little things. One of the harder places to catch them is actually Mevagissey, but you’ll find them generally close to or on the bottom around most harbours or rockpools. All species bar the Leopard Spotted version count as one (so don’t spend time on them once you’ve caught yours).

Recommended method: Split shot rig. Tiny hook. Marukyu Isome.

Gurnard

These will be more prolific as the year goes on. Fowey, Charlestown and the inside of Padstow harbour are known to throw them up though. Metal jigs will account for some on the first two while Isome at close quarters in Padstow have done the business in the past. This is however also worth trying around the floating pontoons in Fowey.

Recommended method: Casting jig for larger specimens, split shot rig and Isome for smaller versions.

Mackerel

They could be harder to catch than you’d hope. Still relatively few and far between at the moment for what should be an easy LRF species hunt target. Deeper water headlands like Newquay, Pentire, Rame and Trevose would be where I’d try though, along with Mevagissey harbour.

Recommended method: Casting jig. Cover lots of water.

Pollack

Again, like the Goby these are one of the two you should probably all find fairly prolific. They’re catchable on pretty much all of the usual spots. Headlands, harbours, almost everywhere. Deep water, rocks and weed usually help, but they’re everywhere.

Recommended method: Casting jig. Straight retrieve.

Poor Cod

They show a bit randomly but by far my most prolific spot is Mevagissey. Usually dragging a bait slowly along the bottom in the entrance to the harbour, casting from the left hand wall towards the right. That said, I had one last week down the wall on the right.

Recommended method: Dropshot rig. Slowly scraped along (just above) the bottom. Isome.

Mullet

They’re a tricky fish to tempt, but get a little lucky by dropping a bait on one’s nose and you might get lucky. Falmouth, Millbrook, Looe and Padstow are just a few spots to try.

Recommended method: Ultralight splitshot rig. Drop bait on one’s nose.

Sandeel

There were masses at Mevagissey last week. Mostly tiny though some come with tiny hooks. The odd better one among them. Tricky to catch though, it’s nice to know they’re around. Gorran Haven always with a look. Always easy to catch on north coast beaches like Harlyn or south of Porthcothan on calm days though.

Recommended method: Larger versions, tiny casting jig. Smaller ones, Carolina rig, tiny hook, Isome.

Scorpion Fish

A lover of rocky, weedy ground. They’re possible from the walls in Fowey, Newlyn, Mevagissey and the like. You’ll find this LRF species in rockpools too, especially on the north coast.

Recommended method: Jighead or split shot rig. Marukyu Isome scraping bottom.

Scad

Fowey is one spot for there. There are some really small ones to be had inside Padstow harbour too. Fish under the lights from dusk and in to dark.

Recommended method: Jighead. Small soft plastic lure.

Smelt

These show around most of the county’s harbours. They’ll begin to show as dusk nears and you’ll catch them around the lights.

Recommended method: Carolina rig, tiny hook, Isome.

Weaver Fish

Lovers of shallow, sandy areas. Hayle estuary and St Ives are two prolific places worth trying. Charlestown too. They’re tiny, mostly.

Recommended method: Larger versions, tiny casting jig. Smaller ones, Dropshot rig, tiny hook, Isome.

Ballan Wrasse

Along numerous south coast rocky marks you’ll find these. Smaller ones around harbours like Mevagissey. The rocks around the mouth of the Fowey estuary are popular too. There are loads and loads of rocky marks where you might pick one up though. The area around Tintagel on the north coast is one that is very much less explored than many of the south coast spots, but you would catch plenty of fish of varying species up there.

Recommended method: Jighead. Ecogearaqua or 2″ soft plastic.

Goldsinney & Corkwing Wrasse

From an LRF species hunt point of view you quite often find these two in similar places. Most of the rockier, weedier harbours hold both. Definitely try the north wall at Hayle, especially around the end. Mevagissey used to hold more than it does now, but they’re still there. Both like a moving bait – smaller for the Goldsinney.

Recommended method: Goldsinney – dropshot, Isome. Keep it slowly moving. Corkwing – tiny jighead, small SP or Aqua.

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Now, obviously there are stacks more to go at than that, but the truth is that a lot will (hopefully) show up almost randomly while you’re on your travels. Certainly there will be other places not listed that you may catch some of these species too. This is just an idea of where I’d be heading if I was fishing it myself.

It’s worth bearing in mind that we have the Marukyu Isome Challenge happening in Fowey on the Saturday evening (July 2nd from 6.30pm) so this is a good chance to fish down there. To make the most of the LRF species tally, you’ll likely need to pick yourself 3 or 4 venues to fish over the weekend. Maybe more if you feel like it.

I hope this helps! As an aside, there’s 10% OFF EVERYTHING at The Art of Fishing on the Friday sign-in day so hopefully I’ll see some of you there!!!

Click this link to view our full range of LRF tackle.

Ben

Cornwall LRF League – Round 4 (Mevagissey)

I felt a bit more prepared for this one. When this LRF thing first started properly for us in 2009, Mevagissey was the first place that I ever fished with this kind of tackle. I even remember the first session there, catching millions of pollack on 2″ Sawamura One-Up Shads. Even though I’ve only fished there infrequently over the past few years I feel like I know it reasonably well at least. So no need to stress about practising or rubbish like that.

This week I even tied a few rigs in advance. This is something I’ve been doing for almost the past 18 months now after discovering the Cralusso Fine Match Quick Swivel Snaps. I now tie one of these to the end of my braid, and simply switch rig types to my heart’s content – without having to re-tie or waste time while I’m fishing. Everything is done in advance. Apart from carrying a couple of spare swivels with me just in case I do lose the whole lot, I don’t even really need to take any extra line, clips or anything out to the coast with me. I have everything I need, already tied. I know some of our customers struggle with tying leader knots in very light braids, so these swivels will be your saviour. I just tie them to my braid using a Uni/Grinner knot (normally with doubled over braid and around 6 or 8 turns).

Mevagissey LRF

Anyway, with my rigs tied and a prior knowledge of what I might catch and where I might catch it, this was a very chilled out evening.

All of the guys were in good spirits as usual, and despite there only being 6 of us this week (which does nothing but add to the level of chilled banter and camaraderie). I’d some dressed expecting rain, head to toe in Shimano Goretex. Typically this had the reverse effect on what the weather Gods were supposed to be thinking and it stayed dry and mild all evening.

To cut the full story a little shorter, I got nicely lucky this week in the form of a couple of species that I’d not expected, or even realised were on my line. A mini bass showed up while I was trying for a mackerel, and a poor cod took a fancy for my Scorpion intended Isome. The latter didn’t feel the need to show any definitive form of bite whatsoever, so I just happened to find him on the end of my line when I went to lift off bottom. I fished a fairly heavy putty weight all evening and expect a lighter one fixed closer to the hook may have told me he was there a little sooner. I did rub my hands together a little bit once I’d hauled all 2oz of him up the harbour wall though. A nice addition to the four species I’d already caught at that point.

Poor Cod

To go backwards in time a couple of hours, I started with a little Ballan Wrasse on an Ecogearaqua bait, right down the inside on the outer wall. I spotted a little shoal of them and luckily caught this one on my first attempt at them. I was hoping he’d be followed by one or two of the other wrasse species, but they were weirdly difficult to catch during the evening, as we progressed.

Ballan Wrasse

Dragonettes are something that I first saw caught at Mevagissey during a Lure Festival evening that we had down there three or four years ago. Mostly out in front on the clean ground at that point, on tiny bits of Marukyu Isome, but it seemed that t
he likes of Luke, Simon, Will etc had since worked out that they could be caught at much closer quarters. Further along the outer wall from me I saw Luke land one so I followed suit under my rod tip doing the same and caught mine about 5 minutes later.

Dragonette

Funny, spiky little things (on top of the head), so be careful with these! With potential Mackerel, Pollack and Bass cruising the open water in front of us, I switched rigs and popped on a metal casting jig next, hoping for one of those mentioned. First cast I hit a pollack, so right about now I was thinking that maybe I’d do OK result wise.

Pollack

I forget the ins and outs exactly but with lots of laughing in between, eventually I decided to have a go at a Blenny next. I’ve never caught many at Mevagissey but I do know where they hang out. Luckily there were more about than normal even and I could see them drifting about on the wall – a long way off the bottom – perhaps just a few feet below the waters surface. The bigger one of the group I was watching was far more interested in my weight than the lure, but eventually I annoyed him in to having it. Job done!

Blenny

Then came the super-fluke Poor Cod and eventually… A BASS! A mackerel would have done just as well, but there’s something more exciting about the Bass. Tiny he may have been, but at least he was an intended target at the time.

Bass

With the tide ebbing I think we could all feel the fishing becoming a little harder as darkness drew closer. I was really happy with the end result. Mostly just because I’d had a relaxed evening and everything just seemed to work out for me. I won the round with my six species. 🙂

Luke Fox was second with 4 and Simon Knill just pipped Will Pender for third thanks to superior species points – both with 3 species.

Group

Top 3

  1. Ben Field – Centre (6)
  2. Luke Fox – Left (3)
  3. Simon Knill – Right (3)

Mevagissey

Cornish LRF League 2016 – Round 3 (Hayle)

I like these little LRF competitions. Chatting with Paul Godwin while we were down at Hayle this Wednesday, we agreed that organised evenings like this are just the motivation you need sometimes to drag yourself away from the rest of life and whatever it entails.

Going against nearly all of my own advice after struggling in round one, I just couldn’t find the time or motivation to pop down there for a practice beforehand. It’s just too tricky sometimes. Or at least too easy to make excuses not to. Although I organised the event and was here last year, I didn’t fish and hadn’t done so before – bar a little bit of exploration with Ben Tregonning (now at Farlows in London) about 5 years ago. Things were very much more basic then from an LRF point of view and I believe we were there solely for a go at the Gilthead Bream so ignored everything else.

So, this round was to be an adventure. I found a little time in the shop during the afternoon to sort through a few pieces of kit (and cut things back quite a bit actually) and felt happy enough that I’d got everything I might need.

Species Hunter’s Checklist

  • Split shot – check.
  • Small hooks – check.
  • Heavy dropshot weights – check.
  • Marukyu Isome………. ermmmmm…….. (more on that in a bit).

Hayle is a weird kind of place to fish. In the mouth of the estuary, you have to contend with absolutely insane amounts of current as the water gushes through a couple of bridged archways as it fills up the large saltmarsh type pools behind you. The Mullet love it here, as do the Gilts. Almost anything seems to turn up though. It is just so different fishing in such amounts of current.

From a competitive point of view, I think it became evident that you just need to get your timings right to make the most of the potential species present. Obviously you have the rising tide, the slack bit in the middle, and then the dropping tide (if you’re fishing over high). During the rise and fall you need to be picking your target areas carefully. Slack water is a chance to explore some of the previously unfishable bits (when the water is just gushing too fast). Some of the more difficult species need to be targeted at the right times too. For example, Luke Fox caught the only Ballan Wrasse this week (three actually!) over slack water in one particular spot that was unfishable with either a fast flooding or ebbing tide. Will Pender knew exactly what he was doing when he charged straight down to the sandier parts of the estuary mouth while the tide was flooding to quickly nab not just the Weaverfish he was after, but also a bonus Dragonette! This kind of foresight and experience is what separates the likes of Will from the rest of us on venues that they know well. Incidentally, I used Will’s example from last year; Not knowing how to fish the place, when we left the Asda carpark I headed straight to the spot that I’d watched him start in last year. Aaron and Simon were right behind me so although we missed Will’s memo about starting further out, Aaron assured me we were in the right place. Three of us standing shoulder to shoulder on one 6 foot section of concrete gives you an idea of how cosy this LRF malarkey can be.

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I wish I’d taken more photos to give you a better idea of the venue, but it was definitely one of the more fun evenings we’ve had at this kind of thing. The fishing was a challenge but I really enjoyed trying to figure out at the start how best to catch numerous Blennies against the wall in such a current. I’ll write specifically about what I worked out with this later as it’s as relevant for windy days as it was in the current). Apart from Will who’d jumped on to a four species total a
fter about the first hour, the rest of us were incredibly close for most of the first two hours with a variety of species being caught but none of us tallying any more than about two unique ones each.

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Despite the closeness of it all, I had a moment of temporary joy after listening to Will turn the air blue for fifteen minutes trying to catch one of the smelt he was following around the walls. I wandered over and had one first cast….. IN YOUR FACE PENDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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On to three species by now – adding the smelt to the Blenny (50 of) and Goby I’d caught – Luke and Bruce were over on the pool side of the arch fishing the slacker water. Luke had just had his third Ballan as was mid-explaining to Bruce how it was all about the way he wiggles his willy (or something like that) when I got there. As a prime example of how my luck was very obviously in on this night, I dropped straight down next to Luke and pulled up a Corkwing Wrasse. I’m absolutely rubbish with the Wrasse species normally so this one was a nice relief. I was doing pretty well.

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Oh, I should get back to my Isome mishap. Anybody who knows anything about these kinds of competitions – or just LRF in general – knows that pretty much the only lure/bait you need is Marukyu Isome. It catches everything. Well, it turns out that while I was sorting my stuff in the shop earlier I’d forgotten to put mine back in my bag! So I made it to Hayle without the one confidence booster that I really needed. I’d even left my big Ecogearaqua tub at home – full of all sorts of smelly goodness. It wasn’t ideal, but the one thing I had remembered to take with me was a pot of old Ecogearaqua Straw Tails and a fresh pack of the red Katsu Aji Straights. It wasn’t a complete disaster because I could split and create some fishable little pieces with both of these , but I would have felt initially more confident with the old faithful’s on the hook. Alas, evidently no need to grumble in the end. I caught numerous Tompot Blennies to add a fifth species and finish second overall! Like I said in the first blog post I wrote about round one, this type of fishing isn’t something I have much experience in really so by aiming for fourth overall in each round, the hope is that I’ll be disappointed less times than I’m happy.

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Will did the business again (like in round one) and had seven species for the win. Then me on five, followed by Aaron on four. Everybody caught and thanks to the lack of wind and comfortable temperatures it was the perfect evening for it.

As it stands, by some miracle I’m actually leading the league points table! It doesn’t really mean much at this point in time as bad results are dropped after round 5, but I’m glad I have two good results in the bank already to buy myself some breathing space and cushion the i
nevitably less lucky evenings I’ll have through at least a few rounds still to come.

The next one is at Mevagissey on Wednesday, June 22 from 6.30pm and all are welcome! I should have no excuses for that one since I’m pretty sure that Meva was the location of my first ever LRF session in what must have been 2009.

New Look Shop

As I write this, there is a still a lot of work to do on the shop but for those who have never had the pleasure of visiting the shop, or have never seen any pictures, here are just a couple of pics of what we’ve been up to down here. I’ll upload stacks more when things are finished as it will be a lot better at that point – with more lighting, brand logos and things will finally be finding their final positions, but it’s certainly not a bad place to work right now.

artoffishing shop

rods

reels

fishing-gortex

hooks

rod_display

Before the LURE FESTIVAL in July, everything should be up to scratch and looking good, so be sure to pop by if you’re in the area and have a nose around. Wadebridge isn’t a bad place to be either…

wadebridge