Home bakery that’s a step above the ordinary comes courtesy of this fantastic creation from Gemma’s Cakes and Desserts. From her Jacksdale kitchen, Gemma bakes sumptuous and imaginative cakes and cupcakes to order.
We think you’ll agree this specimen is one any birthday angler would be more proud to be photographed with!
“Baking is like being a builder…it’s just different materials”. That’s what Dave Mason told the Sun newspaper about his passion for doing the impossible with cake. The Cake maker from Cornwall once featured on the Alan Titchmarsh show where his work was praised by none less than Paul Hollywood one of the judges of the Great British Bake Off. Judging by this stunning carp cake, we’d say Dave has no need to be “koi” about his considerable baking and artistic talents.
How do you end up baking a cake like this by accident? But that’s the story of this lady’s cake business. What began as a way to jazz up her young son’s birthdays soon developed into a cake baking passion she never saw coming. Now Three Tiers for Cake goes from strength to strength. We’re not surprised if this super life-like carp cake is anything to go by!
Not only does Sue Summers bake incredible cakes, she’s a fan of puns too, as evidenced above – our kind of baker! With over 20 years experience, Sue continues to create outstanding cakes as well as pass on her expert techniques to fellow icing enthusiasts.
What a catch! This creative carp confection was created by Slattery Patissier and Chocolatier, Whitefield’s unique centre for all things sweet toothed. More than just a cake shop, this place is an emporium of sugary delights.
Watch the bakers at work, eat in the dining room, take a baking, sugar craft or chocolate making course in the second floor, Slattery school of excellence. Forget the diet – tuck in!
Anyway – we’ll stop carping on now, it’s over to you! Let us know what you think of these creative creations on Facebook and Twitter.
A long term study has found an 80% difference in the biomass of coral trout between areas where fishing is allowed and no-go zones.
So is there a case no-go fishing zones in the UK? Or does the angler have a right to take his fishing tackle and go and fish freely?
Image source: Tanya Puntti The study took place across the Great Barrier Reef.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science carried out long-term studies across the Great Barrier Reef and the results are impressive. Supported by substantial underwater data collected between 1983-2012 from around 40% of the reef’s marine park, fish numbers in protected zones have expanded to levels not seen since the Europeans first landed in Australia.
The biomass of coral trout more than doubled in protected areas and in areas where fishing was banned there was an 80% difference in coral trout biomass. Biomass is measured in both the number of fish and their size and the coral trout were found to be much larger in no-go zones, which allows them to spawn more offspring.
So how about no-go fishing zones in the UK? Well, currently there are none. There are Marine Protected Areas, where limits and restrictions may apply. According to the government: “There are now just under a quarter of English inshore waters within marine protected areas.”
However ‘limits’ and ‘restrictions’ seem a bit grey, compared to No-go zones, which make their point perfectly clear. No-go zones could potentially be easier to manage, so in theory would protect fish stocks from European trawlers. Though this would also impact the UK’s fishing industry.
There is also the historic right of an angler being able to fish unregulated in the sea. Surely a hungry man can fish for his dinner in the big blue sea like he has done for thousands of years, right?
Well, not everybody sees it this way and there have been attempts to sabotage and disrupt competitions and upset anglers. PETA – the international animal rights organisation — have used provocative and hard-hitting advertising campaigns to sway public opinion against angling. Not only do they favour no-go fishing zones, but want fishing outlawed altogether.
We’d argue that PETA is wrong targeting sea anglers as in economic terms sea angling is very good for the economy and doesn’t harm fish stocks. It is commercial fishing that is the problem.
The book and documentary, The End of the Line, explains that anglers spend billions of pounds on fishing equipment, bait and travel-related costs, but only take a small fraction of the number of fish that commercial fishing fleets do.
But due to being under the spotlight and pressure from PETA it’s essential that sea anglers follow a code of good practice such as observing minimum size limits and not fishing endangered species. Of course, there will always be a small minority that spoil it for the many, but when done responsibly sea angling has minimum impact on the marine environment.
No-go vs Go-go
Image source: Dobermaraner It works in Australia, but would it work here?
There’s an argument that it would make no sense to enforce no-fishing zones for sea anglers due to the practice not being the real problem. But due to the success of the Great Barrier Reef, could it be beneficial to introduce tighter regulations to protect vulnerable areas from commercial fishing fleets from home and abroad?
About 30% of the Great Barrier Reef is now protected from any kind of fishing and this has proven necessary to safeguard the future of the reef and drastically increase fish stocks. Over fishing has destroyed other reefs around the world, so it is essential protected zones are managed.
This is the age we live in and never before has humanity had to consider the reality that resources — energy, food, water — can and will dry up and disappear. The challenge is leaving something in our oceans for the generation, so the planning must surely begin now.
Are you in favour for no go fishing zones or against?
Hi tech modern fishing clothing is seemingly indestructible… or is it? There is a lot of misconception about modern fishing clothing and footwear. It does need some maintenance to stay in full working order! Read on to find out why it is necessary to take care of your precious fishing gear, so it performs well in the long term.
All of the waterproof, breathable fishing clothing sold at Fishtec has a durable water-repellent finish applied to the outer surface- also known as DWR. This makes the water bead up and roll off, rather than soaking into the fabric. You will find this on fly fishing waders, fishing jackets and bib and braces, and waterproof fishing boots.
Waterproof breathable fishing boots – in need of a quick clean and re-spray.
If the water is allowed to soak into the fabric it will impair the breathability. A build up of dirt and fish slime will do this over time. If the breathability is impaired, moisture will build up inside the garment, so the fisherman will get wet and uncomfortable from this condensation. When the DWR process fully stops working over time the outer fabric will actually start to soak up the water, this is known as ‘wetting out’.
It is therefore essential to look after your breathable fishing gear, and maintain the Durable Water Repellent finish, to keep it at peak performance. We always recommend the use of a spray on treatment such as Grangers fabsil , applied after the garment has been washed and cleaned of dirt. In the case of footwear the same thing applies – maintain the DWR finish, and the water will not start to soak in and seep into the material and seams making your feet clammy and damp. Brush and clean your boots down and spray them with a treatment every month or so.
Did you know the manufacture of your fishing rod provides a lifeline to one of the oldest industries in the world?
That’s because if, like many fly fishermen, you go for the tried and tested feel of an old-school cork handle, not only are you keeping an age old tradition alive you’re also safeguarding the cork oak forests of Southern Europe and North Africa.
Think we’re over exaggerating? The cork business really needs your help…
The cork oak forests of Portugal, Spain, Italy and North Africa are one of the most ecologically diverse habitats on the planet. And the cork industry which harvests the bark, is highly sustainable, in fact it’s argued that ongoing stewardship of the forests is a vital part of the maintenance of the ecosystem. Cork bark is harvested by hand using short handled axes, and as long as it’s done correctly, the trees can be harvested every nine or ten years and will still live to be over 200 years old.
Cork is an incredible product. As any self respecting fisherman will know, one of the advantages of a cork handled fishing rod is that it repels water. It’s a rot resistant material that is not only elastic, and therefore comfortable to use, it also stays dry and therefore light, an important consideration in maintaining the balance of the rod. The magic ingredient is a substance called Suberin; it’s what gives cork its waxy rubbery feel and its natural function in the cork tree is to prevent moisture loss in the hot dry climates in which it grows.
Screwing up the cork trade
Image source: inacio pires Cork is good for the environment.
Wine has been stoppered with corks as far back as anyone can remember, even the wine ampules uncovered at Pompeii were sealed with cork bungs. But modern manufacturing now threatens an end to the age old tradition; we’re talking plastic corks and screw cap wine bottles. To put it bluntly, they’re screwing the cork trade.
Until plastic and metal corks and caps entered the market, the New York Times reports that around 75% of the world’s cork went for wine bottle corks, but in the last decade experts estimate the cork industry has lost a fifth of its market share to screw caps. That shortfall in orders is a hard blow for an industry that supports rural communities in some of the poorest parts of Europe, and in the cork forests, all is not well.
As farmers begin to neglect the cork trees, there’s a knock-on effect that goes beyond economic to threaten rare habitats. That’s why it’s so important for anglers to continue to support the trade through their choice of fishing rod, and tipple.
Why stop at an elegant champagne cork handle for your rod? Cork is a highly versatile product that’s used for everything from notice boards, to parts of the heat shield of space shuttles. Naturally fire retardant, it makes a fantastic flooring alternative to lino or laminates that’s hard wearing, a natural sound insulator, easy to clean and looks fantastic.
And for fly fishing enthusiasts, what better excuse for shelling out on that lovely new fly rod than protecting the planet? Tempted? here are a few of ours favourites.
Successful small water enthusiast Staurt Smitham takes a visit to his No. 1 venue, Ellerdine lakes. But forgets to set his alarm clock! Take a read to find out exactly how he tackles a highly pressured small trout fishery such as this- It will be sure to improve your stillwater trout fishing!
The tranquil setting of Ellerdine lakes fishery
I arrive late on a Bank Holiday and I know I’ve gotta play catch up, both on the finding the taking method and the depth of the fish. Parking up at 11 o’clock, the regulars are already tucking into a full English, whilst I’m getting dressed? They’ve all caught, so they’ve already sussed the taking method and flies. After getting dressed and paying up, I’m off to quickly get the fly fishing gear rigged up.
Stuart with a fine Ellerdine rainbow
This morning I’m setting up two rods. One with a Super Dri Lake Pro floater and the other is a sinking rig, with my trusty Sixth Sense DI3. Both lines perform again and again in difficult situations and have helped me land countless fish. There’s a lot to be said for feeling the hit, right down the line length. Both these lines have power cores, so hooking up at distance is no problem. Keeping them on, is quite another thing?
I’m using G3 flouro for my leader. In 10lb breaking strain, the chance is reduced in being broken, by one of the larger residents, that are always there. Having a piece of fishing tackle like this, gives me a confidence boost. Especially, when I can just ramp up the pressure on the rod, with a hard running fish!
With the floater I’m opting for an 18ft leader with two droppers. On the top dropper is a Red ribbed Diawl Bach, Middle has a Black Diawl and the point is a blood red buzzer with Peacock herl thorax. The sinker has just 6ft of leader and a skinny Olive Damsel. This short set up prevents the fly buoying up, which is more evident, with a longer leader. This Damsel pattern works just great, both here and and at Frensham in Surrey, where a friend of mine uses it, with equal success.
Whilst getting dressed, I’m watching Lakemoor out of the back windows of the Lodge. With slashing rises in the margins, the fish are on the fin and willing to chase their food. Hence the Damsel set up,as my first choice to start the day. Walking up the tree lined bank, I know I have deep water, less than a rod length away. Plus the fish will rush up the inclined lake bed to hit a fly!
Starting out on short casts along the bank line, I can see the odd mirror like flash, deep down in the water. These are active fish looking for fodder and on the fin? Offering a single fly, reduces the chance of a double hook up on super active feeders. Feeling nothing on two casts, I opt for a longer cast of about 40 ft and have the rear taper marker, outside the tip ring.
Plucking the Damsel back in a spurting pull, makes the marabou and flashabou tail pulse and shimmer. A trigger that just works and I get the response I was hoping for! As the 10ft hang marker just comes to the water surface, the line hesitates and pulls away. I lift and the water surface explodes, as a bright silver Rainbow, feels the resistance and goes for broke, hitting the accelerator! It sends a big ‘”V” wake out behind it, with it’s tail pounding away, on an energized run. That adrenaline rush just highlights the sheer power, and a thrilling turn of pace that these fast fish can turn onto in a split second. It’s why I fish!
Clamping the line against the rod handle, I quickly horse the Rainbow into my net. A pic for twitter and the rainbow is away, back to depth and sanctuary. Checking my fly and leader, the damsel is ragged out. I’ve had over 20 fish to this very fly, including today and it needs to be changed and disposed of.
One in the net on a damsel
A fresh looking damsel occupies the point and I send it straight out, to search the far margin near a tree. Pulling with my line hand down, to straighten the leader, I then let the line drop through the water. Counting to 10, I start plucking the line back and get the 20ft hang marker into the tip ring and just stop. This does a few things? It makes a following fish, think about the prey it’s watching and could it take the fly out aggression. Also my line drops back down in the water, so I can search more of the small area I’m covering to my front? Mixing up the retrieve with long pulls, short plucks and stops, keeps you thinking and adds triggers to a following fish. Pace changes are always good to practice, until you find one that works consistently. You can see the results of your retrieve on the hang markers, as they come in. Erratic plucks always work and I’m in again.
Fast fish this one! Instead of hitting the surface it goes for depth and changes it’s mind, then comes right back at me? I wasn’t expecting that, so I’m pulling line in like a demon to keep pace. After a few head shaking exchanges and gaining the upper hand, I slide the net rim under this bull of a Rainbow. He isn’t too happy in the net either and goes nuts. With the fly in the net, I photograph the fish and let it slide to the Lakemoor deeps.
I’m in the mood for a change of scenery, so hop over to Meadow. The biggest lake of the four and with rises in Spring Bay which you see, as you drive in. I set up and drop the net. Peeling line off the reel, I make a cast over the reed beds on my right, the pull the leader and line straight. Almost immediately I’m locked up as my line banding slides away, making the visual battle all the more exciting. This is a great looking Rainbow of around 5lb, that is just hitting the gas and what a run! I’m in “trout heaven”. After an exhilarating series of runs, I power glide the fish over the net rim and I’m shaking. Wow, what fight and with a tail that’s just superb, you begin to understand why these fish are hard chargers! The Black Diawl takes another victim.
A beast of a rainbow falls victim to a black diawl
Untangling my leader, I recast to the same spot, as the fish are hogging the easy surface feed, being carried by the surface tow. My line banding darts forward and I feel the line pulse, as the fish dives away! This is on the top dropper and the Red Diawl works it’s magic. I’m losing line fast here, so adding more pressure by locking the line against the rod. This Rainbow hits the surface with a slash and slams away from me! Hard thumps highlight the Rainbows power and energy. Thrill ride stuff this for sure.
This is top of the water angling at its best I think. I take six more fish like this, Including one that hit the buzzer on the hang. Just amazing fishing at Ellerdine Lakes. As a last cast option and yes we all have one! I move to Marsh Lake for a cheeky cast at some risers, ear the Fir Trees adjacent to Meadow. This area hold some great fish, so pushing out the hauling zone, I have just 50ft of line on the water. The weeping willow in the corner is a holding point for some truly big fish. I’m just keeping the flies moving and see the banding stop, so line strike with my line hand. A shorter but plumper Rainbow thuds away from me, toward the reed bed. Dropping the rod tip and horsing the fish back toward me, I get the upper hand and now glide the fish across the surface, to the net.
I’m running low on time and need to pack up for the day. What a result though. Damsel sport on the sinking rig, but the floater was the definite winner today. Top of water sport at one the UK’s top small stillwater trout fisheries! It was Good Friday, but it also a great Friday too.
Not sure who to vote for at the next election? Tired of hearing about the economy and all the immigration? Same here.
But before you decide to forget about it all and go fishing with that new fly fishing reel you’ve been planning to buy, listen up. Fishing could actually be the clincher when it comes to where you place your vote.
In the world of 2015 fishing policies, sustainability is the hot topic. It’s common knowledge that fish stocks are shrinking whilst the demand for fish is increasing, so it’s essential that vulnerable areas are protected. The flip side is that there is a fishing industry and livelihoods to safeguard too. But which side of the argument do these parties fall on?
Conservative – An eye on sustainability, but the economy key
The Conservative Party state they pushed for radical reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy, thus reversing the insane practice implemented by Brussels of throwing back perfectly edible fish into the sea.
There is now a legally binding agreement in place, which promotes fishing at sustainable levels. Supported by setting up the UK’s first Marine Protected Zones, protecting 9000 square kilometres. 10% of UK seas are protected and a quarter of all inshore waters.
There isn’t much information on the party’s website about their future plans regarding fishing policies, so we can only speculate.
What we do definitely know is that the Conservative’s priority is expanding the economy, right? Handicapping fishermen too much with no-go fishing zones would damage the economy, so we’re guessing the blues won’t play the green card too hard and expand that 10% too much.
Liberal Democrats – Rebuild fish stocks whilst decentralizing control to local fishing communities
“Secured a huge majority in the European Parliament in favour of ambitious reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy to end wasteful discards, made it a legal obligation to rebuild fish stocks, and decentralised to local communities day-to-day management of fisheries.”
With the above statement, The Liberal Democrats believe they (not the Conservatives) were the driving force behind the changes to the Common Fisheries Policy and they helped to create a greener, more energy efficient EU. Was it Liberal or Conservatives — who knows? But both parties are claiming the accolades.
We checked the Lib Dem’s manifesto and whilst their track record might be good, they don’t have a lot to say about future fishing policies.
The Green Party’s stance on fishing is simple: all marine activities will have to function sustainably within environmental limits. It’s a sustainable long-term vision weighted in favour of sustaining the environment rather than the fishing industry.
This principle would reverse the current presumption in favour of fishing so fishing rights and catch limits would be altered to protect fish stocks.
Therefore foreign trawlers would have to apply and purchase fishing permits to fish British waters when fish stocks have returned to sustainable levels. In a recent interview, Nigel Farage said, “As a result of membership of the Common Fisheries Policy, we are now allowed to catch less than 20% of the fish that swim in British waters. The other 80% we have given away to the rest of Europe.”
Nigel Farage was also a member of the European Parliament Fisheries Committee, but he turned up to just one out of 42 meetings, so a close inspection of UKIP’s dismal voting record in the European Parliament on fish and Nigel Farage’s appalling attendance on the Fisheries Committee makes a mockery of UKIP’s claim to be standing up for fishermen.
Former first Minister, Alex Salmond, stated that fishing will be a national priority in an independent Scotland and they will negotiate Scottish priorities in EU without compromise to safeguard the £550 million it contributes to the Scot’s thriving (£14 billion) food and drink industry.
The Labour Party’s 2015 manifesto is big, bold and bright and very clear on all the big issues.
We’ve downloaded it, but they don’t have a lot to say beyond: “We want to create a world-leading Food, Farm and Fisheries sector that creates better paid jobs and apprenticeships across the rural economy.” Sounds promising, but we’d love to know more.
Fishtec team member Ceri Thomas recently took off on a family spring Easter holiday break to West Wales. Luckily he managed to sneak in the fly fishing tackle, and took advantage of some glorious spring weather to wet a line on the magnificent river Teifi, one of the best rivers in the UK for game fish. Read on to see how he does on ”the queen of Welsh rivers”.
An enticing pool on the river Teifi
It had been a fantastic week weather wise, which was perfect for exploring the beautiful rugged Ceredigion coast with the family. Unfortunately being on holiday meant I could only hit the river from lunch time onwards, but with the lighter evenings now with us this would give me more than ample time to have a few hours fishing the river Teifi, just a 20 minute drive from where I was staying. I had been in touch with a good friend and top fly fishing guide Steffan Jones, who runs angling world wide – a company based in West Wales. Steff put me straight on to were to get the tickets from, and advised I call in to have a chat before I headed off to the river for a few pointers, him being based just a stones throw away from where the fishing tickets are issued.
Llandysul angling association water on the Teifi
First stop was the Porth Hotel in Llandysul. Full credit to Llandysul angling association, I was given lots of informative literature and beat maps along with my day ticket, which at £25 or £75 a week is a bargain given the quality of the fishing on hand, especially for the sewin and salmon later in the season. Any hotel with fishing flies in frames is also going to impress!
Steffan Jones looking out from his office.
Just down the street I knocked on the door of Cambrian house. Now Steffan works from home, and I must say he has some discipline putting in a full 9 to 5.30 shift with a river as stunning as this flowing right past his back garden! Cant fault it really, what a cracking view out of his ”office”! Steff explained there were not many migratory fish about at the moment, and advised I try for trout on a beat called hendy just a few miles upstream and gave me some directions on where to park and access the river. This was a great help, as there were over 30 miles of prime river to choose from on the ticket!
The Teifi is not so well known as a trout fishery nowadays – in it’s heyday it was a ”must fish” early season Welsh river especially for the infamous grannom fly hatch, championed by angling legends such as Pat O’Reilly, Jon Beer, Brian Clarke, Charles Jardine and the late Oliver Kite in the 1960’s, who described it as the Welsh river Test. Steff mentioned that the water quality had not been so good for insect life in recent years, therefore limiting hatches and subsequently food available for trout. But since the banning of cypermethrin sheep dip in 2010, and improvements in farming practices the insect life was starting to make a strong comeback. We spotted a few grannom flitting above the surface of the river, but being 1.30 pm I had missed the bulk of the hatch which normally happens fairly early in the day. Steffan had some work to do, but was going to rig up his trout fishing tackle for the first time on the Teifi this season, and meet me on the bank later in the day.
Fishing a nymph on a french leader through a likely looking pool
I reached the stretch 20 minutes later, and first encountered some delicious looking runs and glides just below a big deep salmon pool. The sun was still high in the sky, glaringly bright without a cloud in sight and 20 degrees- perfect weather for sunbathing, not fishing! I rigged up a french leader on my Airflo Streamtec nano 10′ 3/4 and two flies – an olive bodied jig nymph with a 3mm bead head and a size 16 copper john on the dropper. The french leader gives great results in conditions like this, where stealth is required.
I prospected upstream covering some very fishy looking water without so much as a touch for about two hours – wondering whether there were any fish in the river at all! Whether the sun had changed angle or I had hit a more productive part of the beat I was uncertain, but all of a sudden I came across plenty of fish and some sporadic rises, some of which looked like they belonged to grayling. My suspicions were confirmed as 3 out of season river Teifi grayling graced the net, a very rare catch in this river – where only a few very localized pockets are to be found.
River Teifi Grayling
The trout had also started to feed, and casting around ranaculus beds, pool tails and delightful little steam channels between islands, I landed around a dozen hard fighting and pretty wild browns, mainly in the 10 – 14 inch size size range, as well as numerous salmon and sea trout parr- which were all safely returned on barbless hooks. A good sign for the future of this river indeed!
Typical river Teifi trout
Steffan turned up and we fished into the fading light – surrounded by incredibly dense swarms of grannom, returning to the water to lay their eggs. Sadly no fish took an interest but it was quite a spectacle to see. A few more nice browns took the nymphs before the light went and we called it a day at around 7.30pm – the first evening session of the year done!
A fine early spring Teifi brown trout – last one of the day.
To be honest it was a great little session, with a fine host on a magnificent wild river – what more could you want? I left the river a happy man with a summer sea-trout in mind!
It is my observation that nearly every fly tying innovation is inspired in some way by something that existed before. This is certainly the case with the Turkey Tail Nymph, which follows lines of construction similar to the venerated Pheasant Tail. Created in Europe many decades ago, the PT Nymph has become a staple for fly fishers worldwide, and its reputation as a reliable producer of trout is largely unchallenged. However, devising a viable alternative to any existing pattern is what keeps the creative juices of any fly tyer flowing, and no fly works all of the time.
Turkey Tail Nymph
Introduced to the tail feathers from wild turkeys by a hunter friend in the 1980’s, I studied their fly tying potential for several years before coming upon the idea of incorporating the splendid plumage into the construction of an experimental nymph pattern. The long fibers radiating from a stout center stem can be managed in a way similar to those from a pheasant tail in forming the body of a fly in a way that is quite pleasing to the eye of both angler and trout. Turkey tail fibers can also be incorporated into the tail, legs, and wing case in a manner nearly identical to the PT Nymph. Color is the primary difference between the tails of these two abundant game birds, and this is why the Turkey Tail Nymph has become an excellent companion pattern for the reddish brown PT Nymph.
The generally oak colored turkey feathers are mottled with a lighter shade of brown creating a lovely marbled effect when applied as herl on a hook shank. When wrapped with gold wire for ribbing and weight, the Turkey Tail Nymph takes on a distinct personality of its own when compared to the copper wire used for the PT.
Like its revered predecessor, the Turkey Tail Nymph is at home in both still and moving water, and it can be tied with or without a bead. The broad feathers from which it is formed provide adequate working fiber length to accommodate hooks up to size 10, and a single quill will usually yield at least two dozen flies.
I fish the Turkey Tail Nymph as specific imitation for several mayflies like Baetis, Flavs, and some varieties of PMD’s. This is often while sight nymphing to a known target in clear, shallow water. Fishing the same pattern in tandem with a PT Nymph is a technique I use in lakes or while fly fishing blind along the banks from a drift boat. Tied on a long shank hook, the turkey tail pattern serves as a credible imitation for Damsel flies and other insects that call for more length in the artificial.
Turkey Tail Nymph
Hook: TMC 3761 Size 10-20
Thread: Dark Brown 8/0
Tail: Tips of wild turkey tail fibers
Rib: Gold wire
Abdomen: Wild Turkey Tail fibers
Thorax: Same as abdomen
Wing Case: Wild Turkey Tail fibers
Legs: Tips of Wild Turkey Tail fibers
It’s April and the codling are still around and recently I have been out at Seabrook and Sandgate in Kent catching codling and plaice from the same venue – A reminder of the past when this was commonplace.
Alan Yates with a late 3lb Codling
The return of the plaice in the English Channel and Irish Sea is undoubtedly due to reduced commercial quota limits which have restricted the trawlers and this has not only given the plaice a chance to spawn and increase, but other species as well have not been scraped and churned from the sea bed and thrown back dead. This must have had an impact on the codling and maybe even the rays as well which are also enjoying a comeback. Long may it go on, but the commercials are screaming for quota increases and when this happens it may well see the plaice vanish again. They are a very slow growing species not being able to spawn until three or four years old and that’s the main problem with their survival.
Alan with a lovely trio of Plaice
With summer coming lots of excitement for sea anglers with the arrival of the mackerel, smoothhounds and the bass which will all get anglers out for different reasons? Last year the mackerel season through the English Channel was poor and from other reports it was as bad elsewhere – Overfishing and the ability of the commercials to scoop up huge shoals of fish in one go has decimated stocks and a bad sign last year was that those that did show were tiny or huge – a sign of a species decline because it’s the middle size fish that do the spawning etc. The major mackerel venues will still produce fish and the main shoals move up into the North Sea from May onwards and in recent years this has meant they have bypassed the South as they move further North and this may have contributed to the shortage. The summer season being poor, but the fish return late in to autumn. The good news is that mackerel lures have become so deadly that the latest are really effective so don’t just stick to feathers and tinsel – look at the latest mini fishing lures, the Sabikis and Shrimpers which also catch herrings and launce as a bonus.
The smoothhounds too are subject to a longer summer migration route nowadays and it’s noticeable how they are moving further north each year, whilst the Solent was the hot spot for years the species now invade Lincolnshire and even further North and some of the southern venues are not as productive as they were. That is a key to catching big smoothhounds – fish where they are and not where they used to be!
Bass – well lots of anglers will be out with spinning gear and fishing the latest plastics for bass is all the rage and no wonder – It’s a clean and instant way to fish. No messing with smelly worms or bait, you can grab a rod and go fishing in an instant and wander where you like. No standing in the rain waiting for a bite for hours. OK lure fishing is not always successful and there are lots of skills and local knowledge attached to success but its fun fishing and getting a bass to take you lure is addictive. If you haven’t already try braid line on your spinning outfit, its lack of stretch increases the “feel” of the set up, anything touches the lure you will know about it and that goes for sea bed snags etc as well. Most anglers use a short mono leader to help cushion the abruptness of the braid with around 4 metres plenty. As for lures – there are so many new plastics available we are spoilt for choice although the sandeel shape does seem to rule with the lead head with a paddle tail design best for casting and lifelike action. Look out for the Black minnow and the Savage gear sandeels.
The latest from the European Union is a bass limit imposed on sea anglers of three fish a day – The Angling Trust are urging anglers to make this an election issue and to contact their local candidates for support for a balanced set of measures that include the commercial sector as well as anglers. These to include monthly vessel limits, a higher minimum legal size and seasonal closures. Personally, I have rarely landed three sizeable fish in a day and so am in total favour of the limit, although if I know the EU they will not restrict the commercial sector at all!
Before I go here is a picture of the biggest ling ever caught from the shore. It came from Bodo in Norway and was landed by Phil Hambrook of Ash in Kent. He has specialised in deep water fishing in Norway after losing a giant ling several years ago and his latest fish is a massive 59lb 8oz that took a mackerel head. It’s a potential World record for the species. Phil and his four pals have included halibut to over 50lb, cod to 25lb and haddock to over 11lb all from the shore.
Every serious angler should have a bucket list, a select wish-list of places to be fished before we head off to the great rivers and waters in the sky. Here Chris Ogborne ticks another one off his already impressive tally. He packs his fly fishing gear and jets off to Ireland’s mighty Lough Corrib to sample the infamous early spring duck fly fishing. Read on to find out why this place is so special and how he gets on!
Although I’ve been privileged in my angling life to fish so many amazing places, traveling literally all over the World with the England Teams and also on business, I’ve never managed the infamous duck fly on Corrib. It’s partly oversight but somehow the diary has never been free enough. I’ve always meant to go, I’ve always wanted to go, but pressure of life has conspired against it. Until last week. Some very special friends said ‘lets do it’ and so I did!
The vast expanse of the mighty Lough Corrib
Nothing prepares you for the first time you see Corrib. At just under 40,000 acres it’s over ten times the size of Rutland and you could fit the whole of Chew Valley Lake into one of its bays. It’s a vast body of limestone lough, a huge expanse of water that is overwhelming at first, daunting at best, and one of the few true remaining challenges in our sport.
I’d fished it once before when the World Championships were held there in ’95, but that was in ‘normal’ months when traditional wets and pulling flies were the order of the day. This time it’s early season and we’re here for the explosion of fly life that takes place every year in March and is known the World over as ‘duck fly time’. To quickly dispel any myth about it, the duck fly are simply buzzers. Black ones. Millions of them. It’s a miracle of nature that this phenomenal hatch takes place each year, providing the first real feast of the year for the trout, the birds (the Ducks love them, hence the name) and various other forms of life in the lough. The numbers are beyond definition or imagination, as columns of the insects rise like smoke above the islands, trees and bushes in their mating dance. Clouds so dense you feel you could cut them with a knife. And when the breeze takes them out over the lake they fall to the water and occasionally, in those elusive moments when conditions are just right, the trout go mad!
There are many schools of thought on how to fish for them, and that’s not the purpose or intention of this article. These words are intended as a simple tribute to the place. Dry fly works well, and so does imitative nymph. Some suspend a buzzer beneath a floating dry, whilst others fish just a singleton. Some cast far from the boat or bank, others fish a short line with great stealth Fine leaders are a must for me, although stories abound of fish taking happily on heavy lines. In truth it matters not – you’re there, and you’re fishing the duck fly hatch. That’s all that really matters.
A rare calm morning on Lough Corrib
The key is weather, and thankfully I just happened to get lucky last week. Amidst a period of high wind and rain there was a day, just one day, when it all fell calm. Intermittent sunshine was coupled with a mix of gentle breeze and flat calm. Temperatures rose and in the afternoon it felt more like June than March. The flies drifted onto and over the water and if you had a good boatman. as I most certainly did, then it all came together. I took fish of 2lb, just on 3lbs, and one trophy fish of 5lbs 1oz, the latter being one of the most beautiful browns I’ve ever had in my life. After weighing and a picture, it was returned to the water to fight another day.
A stunning 5lb 1oz Corrib duck fly feeder
The amazing backdrop of countryside and stunning scenery makes an impact and enhances the day. At every turn of the boat a whole new part of the lough becomes visible, with the vista changing completely in the space of a hundred meters. Islands appear, large and small, some covered with vegetation and trees and others little more than a collection or rocks. You’re constantly amazed at the skills of the boatman, guiding the boat with innate skill and avoiding submerged rocks just inches beneath the surface. The micro climate changes, as does the clarity of the water. You drift past spots with evocative names, some famous for generations an others merely a private mark stored carefully in the boatman’s mind.
The amazing light on Corrib
It was over by late afternoon as the chill returned to the water, but that didn’t matter. I’d had the red letter day, fulfilled the big tick on my bucket list, and enjoyed one of the ultimate angling experiences of my life. With the very best of company and a little – OK, a lot! – of the black nectar known as Guinness it was, as they say in Ireland, a great Craic.
Beyond that it was emotional, and I use that word carefully and in full knowledge that not everyone will understand. Fishing Corrib is a humbling process, as you’re always aware that the lough can and will have the final word. But if it goes right, just once in your life, then you are a happier angler and a richer man for having been there.