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Welsh Tope

Discussion in 'Sea Fishing Forum - Shore, Boat & Kayak Fishing' started by V8_Rob, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. V8_Rob

    V8_Rob New Member

    I spent 3 days in Wales fishing for Tope, and anything else for that matter that'd jump on my hook :D

    The weather has been rather crappy for the past 5-6 weeks and as a result I’ve not managed a single trip on the water. That’s been extremely frustrating to say the least, though I’ve managed to complete my kayak trailer during this time so it’s not all been bad news.

    The weather was finally starting to improve with temperatures soaring into the low twenties :eek: . The forecast for the weekend was looking fairly decent wind wise, so plans were made to take a trip to Tywyn in Wales in the hope of hooking into some Tope. My fishing mate Jim joined me on Friday morning and my trailer was duly loaded up with kayaks and gear. The trip took us up through the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains before finally dropping down through the Cambrian Mountains down towards Tywyn.

    After striking camp locally we headed down to the launch site where a handful of other kayak fisherman were returning from a fishing trip. According to the reports there were Tope on the reef, though the previous day had fished far better. We launched late afternoon and took the short paddle down the river to the beach itself. The weather was pretty good, a light north easterly blow with the associated chop on the water. It was a short paddle of just over half a mile to the same mark that I’d fished the previous year.


    Bait was whole mackerel mounted on an 8/0 bronzed Mustad hook. The trace was made up of 3’ of 80lb nylon with 12” of 50lb nylon coated wire leading to the hook. A couple of swivels were positioned within the rig to prevent twisting damage to the rig. The tide wasn’t particularly strong over the reef and 3oz of lead was sufficient to hold bottom during the middle of the tide.

    The tope weren’t playing at all as the afternoon turned into evening, though the Bullhuss were providing plenty of action. They’re quite unmistakeable when they take the bait, short steady runs of a metre or so, not the strong long runs of a Tope. It’s worth watching the bites carefully though as sometime a tope bite can start in the same manner before it finally tears away. The Bullhuss were generally of a good size with many fish pushing into double figures. They often come alongside the kayak not hooked, just gripping the bait hard only to release it at the last moment. That’s not always such a bad thing as they tend to do their upmost to bite you once on the kayak!


    As the evening drew to a close I was fortunate enough to witness a truly stunning sunset. As sun touched the horizon the sea turned an inky black. The wind had eased off through the evening, though oddly the sea had lifted into a reasonably heady swell. The combination of the lighting and the sea state produced a memorable sunset.


    Jim had missed a couple of Tope runs that evening, though despite the lack of the target species there’d been plenty of action throughout the session.. no complaints whatsoever. We returned around high water which made returning to the launch point a pleasure. No dragging the kayak up the river, this time it was a leisurely paddle up the flooded river and back to the launch site. What with the long drive to Wales, followed up with several hours on the water, I was pretty exhausted. Back at the campsite a late meal was rustled up followed by a couple of drinks just for good measure!. Day one was completed, hopefully day two would see some tope come aboard the kayak.

    Day 2 commenced at around 0500 when the dozens of rooks in the trees overlooking the tents burst into cackling, what a racket!. I’d forgotten my pillow so a pair of rolled up jeans were making a very poor substitute. Though to be honest I was too tired to complain much and dozen off for another hour.. or two. Anyway, once up we picked up some sandwiches from the local shop and collected some frozen mackerel from Barry’s Tackle in Tywyn. Once again we were soon anchored up and fishing.


    I think we were on the water around ten o’clock and fished the remainder of the flood, the tide finally turning around midday. Three or four other kayak anglers joined us and from what I could see, there was a steady stream of Bullhuss coming to the kayaks.



    I’d kept one rod rigged with mackerel feathers, with the lower two baited, bouncing over the side of the kayak in the hope of collecting some fresh bait. The previous day saw me pick up two Dogfish, far from useful as bait. I’d heard that the mackerel were six miles offshore and that did indeed seem to be the case. I did eventually pick up a single mackerel which was promptly lip-hooked and sent to the depths. It swam around quite happily for 20-25 minutes and despite getting agitated at times it failed to produce the goods. At this point is was clearly embarrassed at its own lack of success and promptly died on me. I re-hooked it and sent it down for a decent sea burial. Well what it couldn’t manage in life it managed in death. Within moments of hitting the sea floor line was screaming off the reel. I gave it 4-5 seconds before flicking the lever drag into gear.. fish on! It turned out to be the best fight I’ve had with a Tope to date with it making several runs before I came under control. Twice it came to the kayak though it was too green on both occasions and took off again. Third time lucky and it came onto the yak. It was a nice sized female hooked tightly in the scissors. After posing for a few photos it was released to fight another day :smoke:



    The previous year I’d endured several dropped runs, in fact I had 5-6 runs back to back that I failed to hook into. Despite varying the ‘strike’ time the result was always the same. I say strike as I don’t strike into the fish, merely engage the drag and let them hook themselves. I’d read in a couple of older fishing books that tope, etc, will pick up a fish side of and swim for a while before pausing and turning the fish to swallow it. With that in mind I changed the way I hooked my bait. Instead of hooking through the nose, I threaded the hook through the nose and hooked into the bait halfway down the back.


    The theory being that I was far more likely to hook the fish if it was indeed holding the bait side on in its mouth. My last eight runs have resulted in eight hooked tope coming aboard the kayak, which for me is a greatly improved success rate.

    I bought a large Bullhuss to the kayak and it was quite deeply hooked, though it was removable. I held it next to the kayak whilst I removed the hook. I the blink of an eye a near perfect mackerel appeared on the edge of the kayak. I actually gave it a double take as I hadn’t noticed the fish regurgitate it. There was a neat semicircle of teeth marks on either flank of the fish where it had been picked up side on. Clearly it had been then been flipped and swallowed whole!. :shock:


    This did indeed seem to prove exactly what I’d read previously, thus the improved hook-up rate does seem directly linked to how I rig my bait. During the un-hooking process another whole fish was spewed onto the kayak, though this one was bright red and lacking any skin. The Bullhuss must have been around 10lb in weight and it has easily swallowed two large fish whole, quite impressive. I managed a further two Tope as the afternoon progressed, nothing sizeable, perhaps 15-20lb, though good fun all the same. The Bullhuss just kept on coming and we fished on until around 7pm.


    The paddle back in was uneventful, though with the tide around low water the kayaks had to be dragged back upstream to the launch point. It’s a little tiresome, there’s certainly a lot to be said for coming back in towards the top of the tide. It’d been a good day for me with a total of three Tope and well over a dozen decent sized Bullhuss. The weather had held well throughout the day, though there was a weather front due to pass through the area anytime. With the second days fishing concluded we headed back to base camp and conjured up a large pot of chilli. Finishing the second bottle of cider coincided with the crows quieting down for the night, after nine hours on the water I was more than ready for my bed !

    The crows were somewhat kinder to me on the third day, it was nearer six o’clock before the dawn chorus wrenched me from my deep sleep. I’d woken once or twice during the night due to high winds and sporadic showers buffeting and lashing into the tent… that’d be the predicted weather front moving through !

    I crawled out from my tent at around 8am and the wind was blowing hard, it seemed that we’d be departing Wales earlier than planned. We headed down to the launch site and wandered over the dunes to view the sea. There were a few white horses, it was actually far better than I’d expected. That said, I wasn’t too happy due to the wind so we retired back to the car and fried up several bacon buns, that part of the day went down a treat. Bizarrely enough, once breakfast was finished the wind had almost collapsed to a mere breeze. With raised spirits we rigged and headed out sometime around 11am. We were soon anchored and fishing, the weather was great and hopes were high.

    However, the now increasing offshore breeze seemed to be having a detrimental effect on the fishing. There was a distinct lack of fish, in the first couple of hours I’d only registered a couple of knocks and one dropped Bullhuss. I then hooked into what at fist seemed like a snag, though with a firm pull it came free. There was quite some weight on the end of the line, though it was dead weight. I was thinking large piece of weed or rock, etc. I was quite surprised when a very large spider crab came to the surface. I’d picked one up a couple of years ago when fishing at Tywyn, though this one was quite the specimen!


    Things were slow, very in fact. I spent most of the time horizontal managing a few moment of sleep here and there.


    Sometime after midday the reel clicker sprung to life followed by me a second later. There were a few tugs on the bait followed by a long steady run, not a screamer but it kept going. I flicked the lever drag into gear and the rod bent over into what felt like a good sized with. The fish made a few good runs before settling deep under the kayak. It suddenly felt quite different as I pumped the fish towards the surface. When it appeared it was immediately obvious as to why it felt different, it was hooked close to the tail!. I reckon it might have spat the bait during the fight, catching its tail as it swam off. It’s certainly not the way you want to catch a fish, though it took my tope tally to four :)

    I managed a couple more Bullhuss during the remainder of the afternoon though it was extremely slow, rather disappointing to be honest :?


    We called it a day around 5pm and dragged the kayaks upstream towards the launch site for the final time. Once all de-rigged and packed away we started the 4½ hour journey back to Somerset. The Welsh roads are incredibly slow to drive along, the first 100 miles took 2½ hours :? , and that was with virtually no traffic whatsoever.

    It’d been a busy three days. We clocked up over 20 hours on the water and I managed four Tope and over twenty Bullhuss. It would have been great to have caught more Tope, though it could have also been a lot worse. It’d be nice to manage another trip later this month, though it all depends on the weather and my powers of persuasion over my good wife!

    Video to follow...
  2. willybendit

    willybendit Rockling

    Hi Scrumpy cracking report & pictures thanks for posting tightlines Alain
  3. rupert

    rupert Blenny

    Great report there, many thanks. I know its not a two minute job putting a detailed report together. The sunset photo was spectacular.

    Interested to read about your theory on the hook position too. I've always hooked my tope baits at either end, either the wrist of the tail, or just through the lips. I generally use half baits to leach more scent out. Like you've experienced, my hook up rate has not been 100%, so I might have to try the approach you suggest!
  4. Sambo

    Sambo To the MAX!

    Excellent stuff, enjoyable report to read. Thanks for sharing.

    Those Bullhuss look a handful :hurt:
  5. andym

    andym Rockling

    Excellent report Rob I really enjoyed reading that I bet that spider crab tasted nice!

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