The Isle of Whithorn
The waters around the Machars coastline, particularly at the Isle, offer some good sea angling. A spot of fishing off the harbour jetty or the rocks around the Cairn can make for a relaxing hour or more, with a short walk to the Steam Packet providing the prospect of a pleasant interlude! For offshore angling, it's possible to bring your own boat to launch at the Isle's new slipway, or you might prefer to charter a boat - their skippers all know the best places anyway!
Douglas Grove is a keen local angler, and this is his advice:
The numerous rock marks, as well as boat fishing mean that there are very few species on the British record list that can't be caught here - from the hard fighting mullet, pollack and wrasse, to the ever present dogfish, including a few Scottish rarities such as bass. The season starts when the water temperature begins to rise around May, and when an influx of wrasse and pollack appear in any number.
These summer species are present right through to October, when the colder water sees them migrate offshore, but it brings with it the cod and whiting. The visiting angler out for a fun day's fishing needs to look no further than the rocks around the Cairn. A float-fished sand eel close to the kelp fringes will see pollack up to around 7lbs.
Similar results will be seen if you spin any silvery lure over the same regions. Pollack are not the only species that will respond to these techniques - coalies and mackerel will also willingly take the bait. If the sand eel is swapped for a worm or shellfish bait, the bold biting ballan wrasse won't be far away. These colourful fish offer great sport and run up to around 4lbs.
A favourite method of mine is to spin a freelined sand eel along the kelp fringes. This method allows you to see the takes, which can range from gentle knocks at the bait, to savage full-blooded attacks often resulting in the fish clearing the water. For maximum sport, this type of fishing requires a light spinning rod, a reel with 100 yards of 10 to 14 pound line, and a selection of different hooks and floats.
The bottom fishing in these areas is also superb. Dogfish are the mainstay, with the occasional wrasse, codling, flatfish and pollack showing up in catches. For this type of fishing standard beach gear is needed as the tides can make holding the bottom a problem. A 6oz weight is needed at some marks.
As far as baits go anything will suffice. Fish baits such as mackerel, herring and sand eel will attract dogfish and occasional conger eel. Ragworm and lugworm will catch the other species. Hook sizes need to be from 1 to 3/0 depending on the size of bait being used.
In the summer months the Luce Bay area is invaded by the hard fighting Tope, and it's this species that most anglers target whilst afloat, using large fish baits such as mackerel, which are easily caught with feathers. These large baits may also attract a Porbeagle shark if you are lucky - magnificent creatures which are known to be in the area but are seldom contacted. All the baits needed can either be dug, collected or caught in and around the Harbour or the Cairn area. Sand eels can be bought in various shops, just look for the AMMO signs..
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