Two new prototype beach casters to be released by TF Gear in the New Year arrived for a final test this month and went straight into action at my local two day pier Festival at Folkestone. I finished second overall behind England Squad manager, Martyn Reid who is on peak form at present, although I did win one of the days with a haul of 50 fish and that included pouting to 750 grams, dabs and whiting. No cod I am afraid with Dungeness the only Kent venue producing cod of any size.
Another new sea fishing rod for next year is called the Slik Tip and it is an ultra slim line match rod based around a model I designed several years ago. Its essence is its stability in wind and its bite indication. You see it’s a myth that you need a soft, fine tip for good bite indication – All these types of tips do at sea is soak up the tide as they curve with bites then dampened by the line stretch. So you want a fine, but stiffish tip and the Slik Tip has got just that. Add low rider rings to its fine diameter and it sits in the wind as stable as you like and only bites can rattle it. To cut a long story short I fished a relatively short three hook flapper rig, six ounce fixed wire lead and size 1 hooks at around the 120 yard mark for a bite a cast and ten fish an hour average. Match fishing doesn’t get any better when you can watch for bites and count the fish on, much better that timed casts which are the only answer when the tide is bending the tip and bites are not showing. Nicking five minutes a cast by watching for bites gives the match angler a big advantage.
The other rod in the new range is the Continental and that I will try out in January at the Irish Winter beach Champs – It is a 15ft small fish scratching rod aimed at those anglers who want to fish Continental style, really light and delicately through the summer.
As I write this diary the cod are starting to appear around the Kent Coast, although most of the catches are limited to the boats and the deep water of Dungeness – If you have never been to the venue then you may not realise the main reason why Dungeness is still so productive for cod is that it’s so close to the English Channel’s deepest water. Just yards of Dungeness Point the depth goes down to 80ft plus. Check out a map and you will see how Dungie juts out into the English Channel.
The venue is worth a visit and some anglers will get lucky – Take Chris Radley of Hextable in Kent who beached an 18lb 8oz cod. The fish took a whiting which had hooked itself on one of the Pennell hooks on his rig. That’s a big clue how to fish Dungeness and any other cod venue for that matter. The bigger cod are eating whiting so always use two hooks on each bait, either live bait style or as a Pennell.
I have organised a novelty competition for 2014. It’s called the World LRF Championships and is being fished on Samphire Hoe near Dover on the 10th of August 14. Samphire is a walled promenade, not that picturesque but it’s packed with wrasse, pout, pollack, mackerel, etc during the summer and can be great fun to fish with Light Rock Fishing tackle. The rules allow lures or bait to be used and there are prizes for species, the best average and biggest fish landed.
Obviously it’s only open to those who fish proper LRF tackle and that are one hook.
Fishing is from 10am until 4pm. Catch measure and release with anglers allowed to keep their best fish only. Species pts, biggest and best average fish. Details from me on; 01303 250017
I presented the prizes for Barclays Bank SAC at their recent Championships held at Dover and it was great to get among a group of Clubmen in a very competitive and happy mood. Their match was won by two end pegs (one and two) which sometimes happens when you fish pier venues, but it’s a sure fire way of keeping all anglers happy. They also featured drawn pairs and team events – So often clubs make their competitions “fair” by doing away with the luck element, but then the entry and membership walk away when a few top match anglers dominate. If I had to play snooker against Ronnie Sullivan ever weekend who could blame me for voting with my feet. So I urge clubs to think about the decisions they make to make events fair – Far better to make them fair for all that just the top few!
A really busy month for sea anglers with lots of whiting from most beaches, especially after dark and they produce some hectic match fishing. The cod are noticeable by their absence on my Kent beaches, although the mild weather may be the reason for that and anyway the bass are hanging around. In the club evening events up to 60 whiting are required to make the frame and its frightening the club match anglers away in droves. Many, including, myself at times just cannot, or don’t want, to compete in the numbers game – It’s not enjoyable fishing, its hard work. Freelance wise it’s almost boring catching three whiting a chuck and as fast as you can recast. I fished Dungeness this week and the whiting just would not switch off, only the occasional dogfish, dab or rockling broke the monotony of the whiting. Even so I have never seen Dungeness so crowded on a weekday with anglers packed in like sardines between the RNLI and the Power Station. Undoubtedly a lot to do with the popularity of Dungeness, as well as the Dungeness Angling Association and their founder, Phil Tapp who sadly died recently. Phil put Dungy on the map when he negotiated the key for the gate to the concrete road allows angler car access. Phil will be sadly missed, but the Association survives with many good men to take Phil’s place, one of the best things that ever happened to Dungy!
I have just got my hands on a couple of prototype sea fishing rods that are due out in New Year and spring. I designed a slim line match rod that became popular in the past and longed for the chance to tweak the design. Now the TF Gear model is about to be released in the Delta range. Called the Slik Tip it’s a three piece multiplier or fixed spool match rod. Great on bite indication its sits still in the rod rest even in a gale and it’s ideal for club anglers, surf bass angler etc. Also new is the Continental and this is again a 15 footer, but designed along Continental lines, ultra light and slim its aimed at summer fishing with light line and tackle, the ladies might find it just what they want. One thing in line with most of the gear I have produced with TF Gear it’s going to be far cheaper than some of the overpriced “designer” rods available. I cant wait to get it in the surf for bass.
With the leaves leaving the trees at a rate this week it reminds us of the winter to come. Those chill winds make beach fishing tough going from December onwards. It’s noticeable that the T Shirt brigade leaves us in a few weeks and the beaches become roomier because of it. My favourite time of year, not because the drips freeze on the end of your nose, but because the crowds have gone. It’s also great to find the beaches litter comparatively free as well and I am sorry if this upsets some, but I have been appalled lately at the amount of litter left by so called sea anglers and it’s not all Octobers great unwashed or the foreign anglers either, I have watched some regulars leave litter and they don’t like being told to pick it up! All you need is a plastic bag in your kit to pack the rubbish into to take away, so simple.
Back to the weather and that extra fleece will be required soon, I am a great believer in comfort when I am fishing it keeps you fresh and alert and you are more likely to catch if you can concentrate on the rod tip rather than worry about cold toes!
Congratulations to Wales and England for their performance in the CIPS World Shore Championships in Spain. Spain took the gold medal and their performance included the top four individuals. Wales took silver ahead of England’s Bronze – Having been there I know how good a medal, any colour is in the Mediterranean.
Coming up (January 23rdth to 25th) is the Irish Winter Beach Festival which I fish annually. It’s fished from the Wicklow region beaches in Southern Ireland with the base for the event at Sean Ogs Hotel, Kilmuckridge. It’s a great event for the Craic –1st Prize is €500 and there are events for Teams of 2 & 4 over 3 days. Entry fee: €150 inclusive of Presentation Dinner. Accommodation at Seàn Òg’s may be reserved through Warren Doyle, 98, Seacrest, Bray, Co. Wicklow. +353 (0)1 2828769. Mob. +353(0)86 8069961. email@example.com
Last year the event was won by my mate Chris Clark of Lymington, although I have to remind him regularly that on day two he killed all his maddies and it was only the generosity of others that got him over the line!
I am all booked up for a weeklong trip to Norway at the end of February with my son Richard and a few mates. We are going to fish a week long big fish competition organised by Ian Peacock and Din Tur. It may well be my only chance of a big cod this winter because the Kent season does look dismal. It’s such a long time since I landed a double figure cod from the shore (I am really looking forward the Norway)
Just back from Ireland where the Sea Angler magazine and TF Gear crew attempted to make a DVD in less than ideal conditions, both from boat and shore – The East wind has a lot to answer for, although heavy mist, rain and a muggy feel to the three days meant the air pressure was all over the shop and air pressure does seem to have a great effect on fish feeding at this time of year. A mate checks his fish pond before going coarse fishing in winter, if the fish are feeding he goes, if not, he still goes but is armed with the knowledge the fishing is going to be tough.
That’s not a bad rule to have for the rest of the winters because getting your sea fishing tackle out when the wind direction, sea conditions, tide and air pressure is all wrong, can have a massive effect on the fishes feeding habits, especially for those after cod. The wind for instance is a big turn on, or turn off, in many sea regions. That east wind carries the “When the winds in the East the fish bite least” stigma and it is spot on in many regions, add some North though and the East coast of angling usually fishes well “When the wind blows north the fish bite for all they are worth”. Along the English Channel and up through the Irish Sea is a South or West wind that is best “When the wind blows west the fish bite best” and “When the wind blows south the bait falls in the fish’s mouth”.
Overall an onshore wind may be the most unpleasant to fish in, but it’s usually the most productive, especially in daylight when it colours up the water. The fish don’t like sunlight and if that can penetrate the water to the sea bed they will not venture into it. That fear is universal among the major winter species, so the rule is. Fish in daylight when it’s rough and in darkness or very deep water when it’s calm!
OK like most rules there are exceptions and one to look out for is what I call a chalky or milky sea, sometimes the sea is only just coloured and the fish will come inshore. Another phenomenon to watch out for is an impending storm. Fish can desert the shoreline the tide before an impending storm and then appear as if by magic as it dies away! All things that help the shore angler to pick the best times to fish.
Only a couple more complications and they are the all important tide and the stock of fish available in a particular region. Why would a fish want to come close to shore to feed when the deep sea is packed with food? Well in summer there are lots of food like sandeels, mackerel etc for the cod to prey on out deep, but these migrate south as winter arrives and the bigger fish start to move inshore in search of whiting, pouting, etc. The changing fortunes of the cod angler depend upon the food available and spawning success of the species. Some winters there is an over flow of smaller fish which means they need to invade the shoreline to feed. On other years, fewer fish means they have an enough food in the deep water.
So assuming there is an overflow of fish they will then move inshore, but only in the best conditions to get an easy meal. The strongest tide tends to help fish travel to and from food, it also oxygenates the water and generally spices up marine activity, fish and prey. So the angler must first look towards the largest spring tides for the maximum chance of fish being present. Think about it, the water is deeper, and this means more cover for the fish, and more fish will be around. On a majority of venues the maximum fish activity occurs during the flooding tide towards high tide. Indeed many venues are devoid of fish at low water so it’s important to fish at that peak time and that can often be around mid darkness as well.
All this means that the absolute best times to fish are limited to a couple of tides fortnightly and explains why cod in particular are so difficult to catch. The various races of cod around the UK fluctuate in numbers dramatically and what with commercial overfishing, discards and the fact that the minimum legal size limit does not allow them to spawn its small wonder anglers struggle to catch a fish over 3lb.
So this winter – select your venue with care and a knowledge that fish are there to catch. Pick the best tides and I would say avoid the crowds.
RED HOT COD NEWS
There seems to be an excellent number of codling in the North East this year with fish to 3lb plentiful from the shore on the Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, Durham and Northumberland coasts.
Rough ground offers the best chance of cod and codling because the nets cannot exploit it like they can clean sand, so check out the rocks and kelp!
Your best chance of a giant cod comes from the boat in the English Channel and I recommend the Eastbourne and Brighton charter boats for a possible 50lb cod, especially after Christmas.
Top of the cod bait list is a live whiting with the live bait rig worth trying. This involves a large hook with a small baited hook (2) attached with a whiting taking the bait and then becoming bait itself.
The other bait worth using this winter if it’s a big shore or boat cod you want is a whole ,or even two frozen cuttlefish – Remove the bone and fish on minimum 6/0 Pennell rigs. Bites will be few and far between but could be a lunker!
My tip for fishing from now on is to fish a large bait close in on a second rod – there are still some monster bass to be caught, especially in the South of the country.
The final solution for anglers looking to catch a BIG cod this winter is a trip to Norway where you can virtually walk on water over the cod. Contact: Ian Peacock Tel 01914 472363 www.dintur.co.uk E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
COMPETITIONS TO LOOK OUT FOR
The British Sea Angling Championships being fished from Deal, Walmer and Sandown beaches in Kent on the 20th October. Entry forms have been sent out to previous competitors and are available in local tackle shops. The details of the event this year are as follows: The competitions includes the men’s, ladies, juniors and four man team championships and is open to all sea anglers. The fishing is from 11am until 4pm with the entry limited to the first 400 anglers (So get your entry in early as there may not be places if you leave it until the day 20th October) £6000 plus are on offer in cash and prizes including £1000 for the winner and £500 for the captor of the biggest round and biggest flat fish. The event is pegged from Kingsdown to Sandwich Bay and offers national Penn Points to the winners. The draw and late entry takes place at the Deal 1919 Angling Club headquarters 13, the Marina Deal on Saturday the 19th October from 7pm. The event includes bag labels that must be signed in with every fish caught by the adjacent competitor. Entries and details Deal 1919 AC Headquarters Tel 01304 363968 or 361248.
My first evening club beach competition of September resulted in a mackerel, a sole, a scad and a pout with the shoreline at Sandgate in Kent, warm, still and clear. I am not knocking it, but late summer does not seem to want to leave us and the autumn season may yet be delayed by that late spring. In the past I have caught codling from the Kent shore in August, although most years it’s the second week in September when they turn up on my patch – Noticeable the whiting are not showing yet, although, that could be a godsend because small whiting have become such a nuisance in winter they have driven lots of shore anglers to the boats or the carp puddles. Of course the one thing about this time of year when the sea is flat and the weather balmy, is that fishing a live pout or whiting on the surface close in to the beach can be deadly for bass, big bass. This week an angler from Dover, Robert Gismondi landed a 16lb plus bass at Dover – the fish took a surface lure from Dover beach and it was officially weighed at Dover’s admiralty pier where some huge bass are landed at this time of year. Time to get the live baits out. The only trouble with that is catching them, but if you can mount them on a small strong hook (the Tronix dog pattern is ideal) on a slider and slide them down the main line so that they float on the surface in the margins. It is essential not to use an over large or heavy hook because these will drag the live bait down and drown in. A small compact, but strong hook does the job. Keep lighting and beach crunching to a minimum and you could be in for some excitement especially after midnight.
The other tactic I enjoy this month is the float – with the garfish and mackerel moving south they often turn up around the south of the country late in autumn and can be fun to catch on a float outfit fishing fish baits near the surface. No need to fish any deeper than 8ft and fish the float as a slider so that you can keep the bait on the move. The tactic works well from beach or pier and its a fun way to fill the winter bait freezer and garfish is every bit as good as mackerel as a winter tip bait for worm.
Now is a popular time for match anglers and traditionally the major shore competitions are held from September onwards – Even despite a downward trend in entries to competitions the majors seem to keep going.
Here are a few that may interest would be match angler:
The TF gear sponsored Kent Classic Open at Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey takes place on the 17th of November. The venue is not that renowned for its fishing and if the weather is calm and clear it is a bit of a flounder raffle and that gets the entry up because everyone has a chance. You can also fish with the wife or kids which is attractive for families. If it’s rough and the water coloured then those whiting turn up and it’s a bit more clear cut with one of the many matchmen winning. The fishing is from 9.30am until 2.30pm.The match is pegged and pre book only contact is Trevor Back 01795 483676. Email – email@example.com
One I am arranging soon is the Dover Sea Angling Association three day Pier Festival fished on Dover Breakwater on October 12/13/14th (Reserve venues: Sat: POW Pier fishing 12noon until 5pm. SUN: Admiralty pier fishing 8.30am until 1.30pm; MON: Admiralty pier fishing 9am until 2pm) The Southern Breakwater at Dover is a popular venue because of the fantastic fishing it can offer from both the outside and inside wall. It’s only reachable by boat and the boat only runs in winds under force seven so that’s why there is a reserve venue each day. This year the date has been moved to early October in an attempt to find some calm weather. A big prize list of catch and tackle is on offer from sponsors and a total pay out of the entry fees. Entry fee £20 per day, optional pools £5 per day. All three days are for Penn points. Enquirers Dover SAA 01304 204722 or Alan Yates 01303 250017 E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My third choice is the giant Daiwa Open being fished on December 1st between Bridlington North beach and Paull lighthouse. Fishing times are 10am until 4pm. With booking in from 07.30am at Northfield country club. Entry fee is £10 with Juniors £5. This competition carries a prize fund of £3000 and is popular because of its large prize table. This gives all a chance of winning rather than just the matchmen. Contact Paul Jefferson for detail Tel. 01482 326814
Catching a big or rare species is not such an unusual occurrence nowadays and I suppose apart from the excuse that global warming may be responsible for more rare species being around, it’s a fact that anglers are better equipped, more knowledgeable and are more willing to chase the unusual. Take Luke Aston a charter skipper who fishes out of Carrigholt in the Shannon estuary aboard his charter boat, Clare Dragoon. An ex commercial skipper, he has made catching the very rare six gilled sharks almost commonplace and his latest catch by German angler, Detlef Geiling who is a regularly on Luke’s boat shows why. The fish measured 3.4metres and was estimated at 770lb, and that makes the recent fuss about makos and porbeagles look a bit pathetic. Luke boated four big six gills last season and his biggest is over 1000lbs! This is the first one this year taken on his first trip over a mark that has produced fish over the last five years. Fishing tackle used is 80lb class, although Luke uses a rubbing leader of 300lb mono and 200lb wire. Fish in the past have destroyed light fishing gear. Bait is a combination of Mackerel and Coalfish. One problem is that the fish are so big that they cannot be landed aboard the boat for photographs and are released after being snapped in the water alongside the boat. You can contact Luke at Carrigaholt Sea Angling. Tel. 00353 87 6367544 www.fishandstay.com
There is a degree of excitement about the darker evenings and the autumnal nip in the air – summer has been great, although the shore fishing was hampered by sunshine and clear water and not all regions were blessed with a smoothhound run and I for one deserted to freshwater on more than one occasion. But now the winter looms and its time most serious sea anglers get the gear out. Initial reports suggest the whiting are back in large numbers, now depending upon the region, that could be good or bad news. Year class fish under 27cm are a pain in some regions because the food source they seek is limited and they stunt to razor thin bodies that swarm around baits stopping anything from else from taking it. In contrast estuary regions which are rich in shrimp boasts plump, fat whiting that pack on the weight with fish upwards of 12oz. Whiting are a deep water fish that feed on fish once they are mature and few stay inshore when they reach the 1lb mark, like the cod it’s the immature that live inshore before their food demands send them out into the deep sea. All this means that whiting, size from the shore, like the cod, have always been controlled by the numbers. In years when there are lots of whiting an overflow of bigger fish reaches the shoreline, on others the big fish are scarce. This year looks like an overflow year with plenty of bigger fish to be caught, although my advice is to fish those dirty estuaries rich in shrimp for the better quality fish. As for cod, well most anglers will be blinkered towards them and initial reports show small fish starting to show with a stray 15lber from the Brighton shore recently causing excitement although I think it was a fluke. However, as I write a south westerly gale is building and blowing and that may just be all the codling need along the English Channel and Atlantic facing coasts, whilst in the North Sea things should also improve once an onshore North easterly arrives.
My latest trip was an early morning try on Samphire Hoe near Dover, before the current gale – A great venue if you don’t mind losing a bit of gear, although I have to say experience limits the losses for me. But so many anglers in the Kent region won’t fish at Samphire Hoe or other equally snagging venues, because they lose sea fishing tackle. Well thast OK, but the fact is that the horrendous weed and boulders of the Hoe are home to a host of fish and they are relatively safe from the nets. This is a fact all around the country, clean sand has often been trawled to death and it’s the more mixed or rough ground that cannot be netted where the fish populations are at their best. OK this does mean that rock loving species like wrasse, pout, pollack etc are more prevalent, whilst plaice and sole are fewer. But give the rocks a look, fishing amongst snags is not that difficult if you give your tackle and tactics some thought. Fewer hooks get hooked up less and reeling in fast, lifts tackle up and over the snags!
My latest trip to the Hoe saw me stick with the sliding float and I fished a single hook baited with a sandeel 12ft deep. This meant I was well above the snags and by letting the float drift in the tide with a lift of the rod I could impart some natural looking movement in the frozen sandeel. It worked because I caught bass and pollack before switching to a rod with two hooks on the sea bed to catch wrasse and pout. Nothing big, but a successful and mixed day and perhaps one of the last before winter sets in proper, although with the changing seasons it does seem that autumn reaches out to Christmas nowadays in the south so the opportunity to fish the float hangs on if the sea remains calm and clear. Last year I landed garfish from a Kent pier in late November!
Talking about global warming, it seems very much alive in terms of sea angling with a continuous stream of tropical and semi tropical species landed in recent years from the UK shore and boat. Some of the rare species that have turned up may have been lost or off course, whilst others are undoubtedly here because of the changing migration patterns and habitat caused by man’s over fishing. Take out one species and another will thrive in the habitat and room that is untapped and that is the key to what is happening around the world in my opinion and not just the World’s oceans hotting up. Even so, the latest rare species to turn up is so remarkable it must pose questions related to the climate. Martin White a gardener from London landed a 2lb 8oz American striped bass from peg 60 on Dover breakwater. The fish was witnessed and weighed by Breakwater steward Tom Preston of Folkestone. Striped bass are a relative of our bass and as far as I am aware one has never been recorded in English waters, indeed there is no British record. The species spawn in freshwater and although they are sea going, they are found around the major American river estuaries and so how one got across the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean is a mystery. It is a fact though that the species has been stocked in river systems throughout the world, including in Iran and Russia so the breakwater fish could be a Russian fish heading home to its estuary in North America. Bass, the European species, are a popular sea sport fish around Europe because they take lures and grow to double figures, in America the striped bass are an even bigger target protected totally from the commercial fishermen they are the major sea sport species.
Deal and Walmer’s Piscatorial Past by Dave Chamberlain, photographs by Basil Kidd document the remarkable sea angling catches of the 1960 and 70s and the dramatic decline of the shore and boat fishing in the South East of England since that time. Some readers may say that the anglers themselves did the damage with their disgraceful piles of dead cod and pollack. Others that it was the commercial fleets who have also long gone. Whatever, the fact remains that in those days when PC didn’t mean anything other than Police Constable huge rod and line catches of fish were commonplace and they were simply laid out and photographed.
Dave Chamberlain was a charter skipper in those day and he and his beach launched boat, Morning Haze plied their trade from the Deal shore – Basil Kidd, now departed, was the local news photographer who would go anywhere anytime for a big fish picture. Between them they have produced a remarkable history of the changes that have occurred to sea angling nationally and this small section of the Kent shore in the very recent past. A great addition to any sea angler’s book collection.
The Book ISBN 978-0-9548439- 4 -6 is published by Beaches Books and is available for £4.99 on Amazon or E Bay.
My major event next month is the Dover Sea Angling Association three day Pier Festival fished on Dover Breakwater on October 12/13/14th. Entry fee £20 per day, optional pools £5 per day. All three days are for Penn points. Enquiries Dover SAA 01304 204722 or Alan Yates 01303 250017 E Mail: email@example.com.
The TF gear sponsored Kent Classic Open at Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey takes place on the 17th of November. The venue is not that renowned for its fishing and if the weather is calm and clear it is a bit of a flounder raffle and that gets the entry up because everyone has a chance. You can also fish with the wife or kids which is attractive for families. If it’s rough and the water coloured then those whiting turn up and it’s a bit clearer cut with one of the many matchmen winning. The fishing is from 9.30am until 2.30pm.The match is pegged and pre book only contact is Trevor Back 01795 483676. Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
A great days fishing recently from Dover’s Southern breakwater, not that I caught lots of fish, but for the sheer fun of trying something different, which came off. Currently the breakwater is alive with dogfish so avoiding them is a priority for freelance anglers and other than fishing a giant crab bait for smoothhounds most anglers have been targeting the bass. Why, because the fish swim around the breakwater wall well up off the sea bed and away from the dogfish, well that’s the theory, although I must admit to catching dogfish well up the wall on occasions. So a head hooked ragworm, or two, dangled into the tide via a set of booms up the wall is the way to fish.
On this occasion I thought, why not fish a float and so I rigged up a slider on my TF Gear Delta All-rounder and trotted a float down tide along the wall. On the business end was the standard 1.5oz bullet lead, it was a big bright float and a two hook wishbone on the end with size two carp hooks which are very strong, bait was head hooked ragworm, nice and wrigley. Into the tide the float drifted away – the harbour entrance was where I wanted the float to end up and although it took twenty minutes to get there, a whole spool full of line, my reward as soon as the float rounded the wall and went out of sight was two school bass. The long haul back was exciting because although they were both around the 36 to 40cm mark, they got the tip bending against the tide. Bass big enough to keep but the conscience says they had to go back unless they are Barbecue size (45cm). I managed to reach the pier entrance four times and on three occasions hooked a double of bass, one the fourth no bite and when I retrieved I found the hook length tangled around the float! Other shorter drifts caught wrasse, pollack, mackerel and a lone scad before the tide turned and I could not reach the killing zone. The beauty of the sliding float is that apart from the fact you can work the bait continually over new water you can lift, drop and tantalise and keep it moving naturally in the tide and this the fish just cannot refuse. One word of advice and that is to keep the snood line light – I used 8lb which fools the fish, you do though need a soft tipped rod like the Delta to avoid snapping the light snood line and a net in case you hook a biggy.
Angling litter has been an age old problem and more than one venue has been closed because of it, but the majority of anglers who are members of an angling club have got the message. Most clubs have serious rules governing litter as do the major National organisations, others have not and I would be as bold as to say that in the main its freelance and occasional anglers that are responsible for a majority of the rubbish left on beaches and piers. In my region it’s the mackerel bashers that pee on the pier, cut bait on seats, pinch lifebelt ropes and leave barbecues and rubbish everywhere in summer, whilst in winter the beaches get cluttered with flotsam which exaggerates the problem, although cod angler’s bait paper, beer cans and discarded line are prominent and a disgrace to the sport.
In Northumberland, Amble pier has recently been highlighted as having a litter problem and the local club and anglers are worried that it will effect the future of the pier and that applies to several other piers around the country. Please take your litter home with you or discard it sensibly. All it takes is a couple of plastic bags in the kit for the rubbish to go into after you have finished fishing. Staying with that subject please remember when discarding rigs, hooks and line that will eventually get to a rubbish tip and could be a potential hazard for birds. Cut line into short lengths, take bait off hooks and think about where you are disposing of the rubbish, mine goes in the garden rubbish incinerator.
August has been a bit slow in my region of Kent although things are just starting to improve with the first codling and the whiting returning. Some big bass, sole and still the odd big smoothhounds are showing and as the light evenings fade and the temperatures drop sport in general should improve, so don’t miss those early weeks of autumn – lots of anglers think the cod season starts in October well they are wrong in many regions codling are showing now, don’t miss them. It’s also the time to catch a rare species with the red mullet and the trigger fish among the species likely to show up as the summer species leave and the winter species arrive – its crossover time!
Some say junior anglers are on the decline because of computers etc, but I reckon the main problem is that junior coaching now requires so much paperwork and vetting, plus the litigation laws and general political correctness that lots of clubs and anglers will no longer get involved. Take me, I qualified as a coach in 1979 and taught angling at the local school every year for more than ten years. I have a certificate on my wall to prove it, but nowadays I cannot coach because my qualification doesn’t count anymore.
In my region there are a few clubs that look after the juniors and Deal 1919 AC are one – Check out the pic of their recent junior festival with club president, Pat Heath asking how big the one that got away was.
A competition date for the diary is the TF gear sponsored Kent Classic Open. At Sheerness on the 17th of November. The fishing is from 9.30am until 2.30pm. The match is pegged and pre book only contact is Trevor Back 01795 483676. Email – email@example.com
Coming soon is the Dover Sea Angling Association three day Pier Festival fished on Dover Breakwater on October 12/13/14th (Reserve venues: Sat: POW Pier fishing 12noon until 5pm. SUN: Admiralty pier fishing 8.30am until 1.30pm; MON: Admiralty pier fishing 9am until 2pm) Its one of the few open events that I organise nowadays because the Penn League keeps me busy. And the Southern Breakwater at Dover is a popular venue because of the fantastic fishing it can offer from both the outside and inside wall. It’s only reachable by boat and the boat only runs in winds under force seven so that’s why there is a reserve venue each day. This year the date has been moved to early October in an attempt to find some calm weather. A big prize list of catch and tackle is on offer from sponsors and a total pay out of the entry fees.
Entry fee £20 per day, optional pools £5 per day. All three days are for Penn points. Enquiries Dover SAA 01304 204722 or Alan Yates 01303 250017 E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The range of lines for sea angling is confusing. Monofilament, braid, fluorocarbon and what’s copolymer? The choice between colours, diameters and breaking strains adds to the complications. Here Alan Yates looks at the TF Gear range of monofilament line and deciphers some of the jargon.
Line is the sea angler’s most crucial link with the fish and in a harsh sea angling environment it’s the item of tackle most at risk from damage or failure. Essential when choosing a line either for mainline, shock leader or terminal rigs is that it is of a diameter that will both allow you to cast to the fish, deceive the fish and retrieve them. Diameter, knock strength and a lines durability are the essentials with breaking strains sometimes mythical so I choose liner by diameter which YOU can measure as fact.
The more expensive modern copolymer lines are superior to the old nylon and monofilaments of the past because they are constructed by uniting the molecules of two or more different compounds adding both “knock strength”, suppleness and especially lack of memory. Straighten the line in your fingers and its stays straight, the older monofilaments retain a curve and are springier.
Line technology advances continually with the introduction of fluorocarbon lines and space age fibres producing ever thinner and stronger lines of all kinds including a diverse range of braids.
Lots of lines, especially the braids are identical and indeed come from a few world manufacturers, Japan, America, Germany and increasingly India and the Far East. Only the spool and label are different
Nan Tec mainline Mono
low diameter hi tech surfcasting mono available in red, clear or gunsmoke. Available in 0.25 to 0.55m. Typical 4oz spool of 15lb/0.35mm is 884metres. Its abrasion resistance, durability and tensile strength make it a favourite amongst specimen and match anglers.
Aftershock leader line
Soft and supple ideal for leaders or rigs, available in clear or red on 100metres spools in a mix of diameters.
Aftershock tapered leaders
A high impact mono leader tapering from 0.37mm to 0.80mm (13metres long) and especially suitable for low reel position. Five on a spool and available in clear or Hi Viz orange.
Fishtec Unit 5&6 Ffrwdgrech Indust Estate, Brecon, Powys. LD3 8LA Tel 08719117045 Web: www.fishtec.co.uk
LINE JARGON AND TIPS
Shock leaders: A shock leader is essential for beachcasting with leads above 2oz simply because any lead that snaps off the line could be lethal. Leaders should be rated at 10lb per ounce of lead (6oz – 60lb leader) They need to be around twice the length of the rod.
Rig making lines are lines made especially for making terminal rigs, it the past any line was used, but now a few firms have selected lines especially for rig building because they offer a lack of coiling memory and are more supple and are also smooth with a consistent diameter and knot strength.
Tapered shock leaders: Tapered shock leaders are especially effective where a large leader knot may restrict casting performance, such as when using a fixed spool reel or a multiplier with a level line mechanism. The smallest knot can be tied (double blood knot) and this will run through reel and rings smoothly. Beware if you fish reel low with a long rod that leaders are long enough, some of the lower diameter tapereds designed for carp fishing may not be long enough for all sea angling rod lengths.
Line colour: Line colour matters to different anglers in different conditions and situations. Clear lines are favoured in clear water, whilst coloured lines are especially effective when fishing among crowds or with two rods, when lines may become crossed or tangled, or on the casting field to help find lost lines. Line colour for hook snoods can be a way of telling snoods apart making tangles easier to unravel or just personal preference. The process of colouring line is said to weaken it, but not significantly.
Line diameters: Whilst lots of anglers base line choice around breaking strain, line diameter is more important in terms of casting and the reel load because it effects the reel’s performance. The lower the diameter the weaker the line, but the further it can be cast. Therefore a compromise of diameter is required to combat conditions and promote casting smoothness and distance.
Lots of manufacturers have varying diameters for the same strength line. Carp lines for instance are generally tougher and more durable than sea lines, but they are thicker. Beware of buying low diameter lines that are quoted far stronger than others of the same diameter, stick with diameter as the main criteria and buy yourself a micrometer so you can measure diameters!
Braided: The biggest advantages of using braid lines is that they are a lower diameter per breaking strain, very abrasive resistant and they do not have any stretch or memory (don’t curl or coil). This means that they outlast mono, pose less opposition to strong tides allowing lighter leads to be used and at the same time show the smallest bites. Micro braids are increasingly popular for both surfcasting and lure fishing because of their very low diameter, although braid can only be used on a fixed spool reel for shore casting because on a multiplier the coils embed into one another and can jam the reel.
Alan looks at fluorocarbon lines:
Fluorocarbon line is a modern type of monofilament line, made by combining a carbon base (polyvinylidene fluoride) and polymides to produce a line that has the same refractive index as water. This makes it almost invisible which is why it is popular for fishing clear water. On the plus side it also sinks more rapidly than standard monos, is slightly stiffer and does not stretch as much, but on the downside it can be prone to fracture under sudden pressure because of its lack of stretch and stiffness.
Line spools: There are a variety of types of spool holding line, some allow either end of the line to protrude from the spool, beware of pulling the wrong end! On many the line is held by a plastic clip, elastic band or a small cut in the spool. Points to watch for – If you are a fixed spool user and want to take the line off the spool from the side rather than allowing the spool to turn, beware spools with a clip or cut to hold the line end, these catch up when removing line!
Reel line capacities: The amount of line your reel holds on its spool is important for a variety of reasons and its wise to check before you buy line that the spool contains enough to fill your reel. This will also allow you to buy mono line in amounts that will be multiples of your full spool. A 250 metres spool full means that 1000 metres will give you four fills without too much waste. Buying bulk line is of course cheaper.
An evening competition on Samphire Hoe at Dover reminded me that it was high summer. Not only the scorching weather, blue sky and the gin clear sea, but the slow fishing, until it got dark. Despite the poor spring and early summer weather when the fishing was amazing it was inevitable that the month long heat wave would got things back onto normal and low and behold Kent is in the summer doldrums. Lots of species have swum past us into the North Sea, whilst others are well away from the shoreline in the dark deeper water.
It’s much the same around the rest of the UK and Ireland – Could you believe the clear water during the open golf at Muirlfield, little other than mackerel swims in daylight in that! The key to fishing now is to find some colour, heavy rock, weed or fish at night. Great if you live near one of the large estuaries like the Severn, Thames, Humber, Solway, etc, or on the more rugged coasts, but on the open shores only the piers and rocky headlands offer the fish enough depth, cover or darkness to allow them to venture close in. OK there are species exceptions like the mackerel, garfish etc, although they too have been thin on the ground in some regions – No it’s late into the night if you want a few bites.
The good news of course is that the nights are drawing in and the falling daylight hours are what kick starts autumn and its great fishing. AND autumn is just around the corner with, hopefully, some improved fishing is on the way. My tip is to look out for some giant bass in the coming weeks. Fishing close in with a fresh mackerel head, flapper or fillet from the pier end, or at night from the beach with a live pout or whiting. My bet is that Dover will reclaim the bass record soon with the end of the Admiralty pier at Dover the venue to head for. On that subject the pier walkway has recently been renewed and narrowed and Dover SAC have banned certain items of sea fishing tackle like trollies, broillies and rod rests from the wall.
Lots of talk about the potentialfishing bans in areas around the UK. Hythe Bay is one in my region and the local fishermen are up in arms and organising meetings with MPs etc. Of course the anglers are joining in and the Hythe Bay situation has reached panic stations for many. Some may scoff and say it’s only going to involve the commercials and it probably will, but there are so many opinions involved with everyone wanting their say who knows where it’s going to end? As an angler of 60 years I have seen the fishing deteriorate dramatically and to me it’s obvious that the commercial fishing, EU and foreign trawlers etc are to blame. It’s not the number of fish it’s just the quality. Instead of cod, plaice, sole etc, its wall to wall dogfish, plus ray and smooth hound and its obvious what is happening. The species that can reproduce in a year or so can survive the commercial onslaught, the species that take several year to mature and are popular on a plate cannot! Fishery conservation requires a commercial fishing ban inshore, catch limits bigger size limits for anglers including an upper size limit for bass and compulsory catch and release.
One species on the up is the Tope since its protection from commercial fishermen. Michael Bell of Seaton has just landed a Tope over the British Record fish (It was returned) of 66lb 10oz. He was fishing from the northern beaches of the isle of man with a mackerel fillet.
It had to happen! We are following the Continentals down the two rod competition route. With the fishing getting poorer, because of those commercials, angling clubs are attempting to improve competition catches by allowing competitors two fishing rods. Why not, carp anglers use four? Well of course the problem is you need more bait and that puts pressure on supplies etc. The latest club to try the system is Swanage SAC, although they have only allowed a total of three hooks between the two rods which sound like a good compromise. The event takes place on the 5th October at Swanage, fishing and release without size limits. Contact Graham Woods the main organiser on Tel 07967 491 995 or E Mail: email@example.com
Staying with the competition theme, entries are dropping off all around the country to the larger “open” events and it’s only the local club competitions that are really thriving. In an attempt to improve things clubs are changing the rules – two rods is one idea but I think bait supplied is the next big change and the ten worm challenge idea is one that I think will catch on..
The dates are out for next years four day Gambian West African beach Championships. I fish it every year and have enjoyed some excellent fishing in recent times. My chance to catch a big fish from the beach. The event is being fished from the 27th March to 30th March 2014 inclusively. Organiser, Bernard Westgarth has a ceiling of 40 entries and you can pre book with him on E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For accommodation check out the Gambia experience web site.
I’m just back from organising the Sea Angler Penn Sea League Final at Milford shingle Bank (Cut Bridge). Thanks to my mate Chris Clark for his help locally with stewarding, pegging and the pub at the end. You will be able to catch up on the result on Sky TV Tight lines as well as Sea Angler magazine. Catches included some nice black bream as well as wrasse, mackerel and garfish, a venue well worth a try NOW!
There is an old saying that goes “You win some, you lose some” and it sums up my recent angling exploits. Fishing a Dover Sea Angling Association mid week species open on Dover’s Southern breakwater. Not a large entry, so the rules were flexible with two rods and three hooks allowed. The idea was to catch the biggest of each species. Now the breakwater wall is alive with dogfish both on the outside into the open sea and in the harbour behind. The species have increased in numbers, like they have elsewhere, to the extent that on occasions they are thin and obviously struggling for food, but that’s another story. So catching a dogfish was not a problem, avoiding them was! To start I fished one rod with a float for mackerel and garfish and the other down the wall with booms fished just under the surface for bass with a head hooked ragworm. Three hours into the event with the sea chocolate brown with the May water, not a bite, except for dogs. Nearby Mick Tapsell from Folkestone even caught a doggie fishing near the surface on his bass booms. With the tide flooding and the evening coming hopes of a last hectic hour were proven when Folkestone’s John Wells of the next peg to me hooked a bass of 3lb, I followed suit with a smaller fish and then the float dived under and I had a mackerel. Peak tide on the breakwater wall and the tide run changes to flood hard towards Deal and then as it slows it’s the hot time for big fish, cod in the winter and in the summer smoothhounds and so I baited with a one up one down rig with two big peeler crabs on 3/0s and cast the Force 8 as far as I could.
A small bite signalled something was at the bait, probably a dogfish, but on the retrieve the rod bent over and the clutch slipped as the fish reached the wall. “Net” what a lovely word – Anyway I landed an 11lb thornback ray and a 3lb 8oz smoothhound on the same cast, what a result and my first ever thornback from Dover breakwater. The species have been on the rise around Kent and are now starting to appear from the piers and other beaches, how long before one is landed at Seabrook or Hythe? So a great weekend when everything came together.
In between I won two small midweek coarse matches before going to Grimsby on the river Humber to fish the Penn sponsored Clubman final for the Sea Angler Magazine team. The event, which I organise through the magazine, is a national club team event and apart from a host of sea fishing tackle prizes the winning team fishes against a team selected by the magazine from the anglers that either write, or are regularly featured. In this case the SA team was myself, Chris Clark, George Smith, Paul Fenech and my old mate John Wells who stood in at last minute for Editor Mel Russ.
The team we were fishing against were 2011/12 Clubman Champions, the Senhouse Street SAC squad from Cumbria and they were captained by Mark Scott and included Paul Crellin, Rory Campbell, Mike Edmondson and Dave Brunton. George guided us to the venue, which was the Courtalds Strait on the south Humber bank – A stretch of sea wall famous for its cod in winter whilst in summer flounders and eels with the bonus you could fish from your car!
The ten competitors were pegged out with plenty of room and after the starting whistle it was clear that the down river end was the hot spot and an end peg vital. Well my luck had changed and I drew a middle number and ended up last individually! This was the one I lost and I suppose there is a certain irony in that it’s often the more important competitions that your luck deserts you, lots of match anglers will relate to that.
Team wise Sea Angler won by some 300 cms with George Smith and Chris Clark top on the day with enough points to the event one their own. George did particularly well from his end peg with 18 fish and you can read all about it in a later edition of Sea Angler.
I am currently testing and reviewing bass rods, lure bags and lures for Sea Angler Magazine over the next few issues and the collection from the various manufacturers is amazing. I must say the quality of most of the gear is really good with some excellent value for money. You can pay a small fortune for a bass lure fishing rod or buy one fairly cheaply although the quality and performance is definitely proportional to the price.
Look out for the lure review especially its got most of the lures that the bass angler will need including the latest holographic plus and soft plastic baits.
It’s the hot time for bass coming up in many regions with some bigger fish starting to move around at the end of the summer. Hopefully I shall be off to Ireland for the peak bass season there with TF Gear and that’s the plan for the next DVD.
The current free DVD from TF Gear comes with the latest edition of Sea Angler magazine and includes lots of sea angling info and tips that should prove useful to the novice and improving sea anglers. Paul Fenech and myself spent a day on the beaches at Sandown and Seabrook in Kent making it with cameraman Lloyd Rogers. I have since upgraded my own camera equipment and hope also to bring you a few video blogs in the near future.
Canterbury, Kent sea angler, Andrew Griffiths is in the news after catching an impressive porbeagle shark. Andrew who fishes annually out of Milford Haven, West Wales aboard, White Water, perhaps the most successful shark charter boats around the UK, hauled in one of the biggest porbeagle sharks landed in the British Isles, certainly the best ever caught aboard White Water skippered by Andrew Alsop. The fish was caught on a live whiting fished on a “ready rod” This is a rod baited at readiness for any sharks seen close to the boat around the chum which is a fairly common occurrence and tactic when sharking, especially overseas. The rod a Shimano travel rod was cast at the fish and it took Andrew 40 minutes to boat the powerful shark during which time the skipper had to back the boat up towards the fish to regain Andrew some of his line. The fish was returned alive after measuring (82”long with a girth of 46”) with the length for weight chart crediting it as 234.4lb.
JULY TIP OF THE MONTH
July can be a difficult month for lots of sea anglers around the UK, not only with the daylight beaches etc crowded with holidaymakers, but the humid conditions definitely put the fish off feeding and coming close to shore. In some regions, particularly the south, some species have passed through on their migration north, whilst in the far north some may not yet have arrived. All in all it can be a frustrating time and it pays to be a little more selective with your venue choice. Those remote rock marks and deep piers are favourite from the shore, but a trip wrecking on a charter boat is also worth considering because the calmer weather is the most favourable for reaching some of those far off barely fished virgin wrecks. Check out the Whitby and Tyne charters for a deep North Sea trip, Milford Haven is also a worthwhile destination for sharks, whilst on the English Channel coast big congers and some huge black bream are in range.
Tight lines, Alan Yates
I love it when a plan comes together, mainly because it doesn’t happen very often. In my roll as contributing editor to Sea Angler magazine I go out on a feature with a photographer almost weekly and finding pictures of fish when you are tied to a day, any old tide and 9 to 5 working hours is almost impossible. BUT occasionally my trip out with Sea Angler magazine photographer, Lloyd Rogers is successful and that makes a big change for both Lloyd and myself from the normal run of the mill tackle reviews, baits pic that we would normally deal with. Recently I had a call from the magazine, could I use Lloyd for a beach trip, short notice, he had a cancellation. First thing I do in this situation is consult the tide table, and wonders of wonders the tide was perfect and so Lloyd and myself set off for Sandwich Bay in Kent with my angling mate John Wells along for back up.
I chose to fish the ray hot spot near to the Sandwich Bay Yacht club slipway and on arrival, a dismal dull dirty day, the beach was deserted. First cast a typical doggie bite and then a line full of May water suggested that the reason no one is fishing. But no the bite culprit was bigger than a dogfish and a thornback around 6lb surfaced. That’s what you call instant success, but better was to come when on my second cast a much bigger ray christened my new TF Gear Force 8 beachcaster. The fish were fairly close in at 80 yards and the bait was an Ammo sandeel with a Bluey wrap on a 3/0 hook fished on a Pulley rig. I tend only to use a single hook rather than a Pennel when fishing catch and release. Both rays went back to fight another day and that’s perhaps one of the reasons there are plenty around at present. You can read all about the days fishing in Sea Angler in a future issue. In the meantime there is nothing like a bit of success to fire the belly for even more fishing and my next target are some bass.
The May Water is a little late this year undoubtedly because of the freak weather we have had – it’s a pain jamming leader knots and rod rings and its sticks to everything when you remove it because it flicks and splatters off your line. For glasses wearers a nightmare. Well I am sorry I don’t have an instant fix to combat these brown globules that coat line and sea fishing tackle, but if there is a tip its long finger nails or a pair of surgical gloves to pull it off the line as it gets to the reel. Another way to combat it is to bang the fishing rod with the palm of your hand during the retrieve; this can help shake week and gunge off the line.
Finally, don’t leave it on your fishing gear, wash all your reels and fishing rods off when you get home because it’s highly corrosive and smells terrible after festering in the garage for a week!
On the current DVD from TF Gear and Sea Angler magazine I included a review of the TF Gear shelter range. That’s the basic green brolly, the Force 8 brolly and the Hurricane shelter. I am a particular fan of the Force 8 brolly because it is the only sea-angling umbrella THAT IS ACTUALLY MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR SEA ANGLING. Not a lightweight, flimsy rust bucket coarse brolly, but a brolly that has fibre glass, a tough removable hood and built in skirt with shingle pockets, it also has a straight insert support pole for maximum room. Give it a look you will be impressed by how well it is made. A great shelter for match and freelance anglers that have to move with the tide.
A new TEAM competition has been arranged by ISAC (The Individual Sea Angling Club) It is for teams that have previously been selected to fish for the Home Nations in the CIPS World Clubs Championships and is being fished on 30th of November and 1st of December at Browndown beach, Hampshire. Organiser is Trevor Sutch of ISAC who is seeking sponsors for the event, which is for teams of ten anglers from the clubs that have been selected to fish the World Clubs Championships. www.isacangler.co.uk
My favourite match of the year is the Dover Sea Angling pier Festival which is being fished from Dover breakwater on the 12th/13th and 14th October 13. I am the main organiser and this year the event has been moved forward in the year hopefully to some calmer weather that will allow anglers to fish Dover breakwater, which is only reachable by boat. In previous years the boat has not been able to reach the wall and the event has struggled for fish on the Prince of Wales pier inside Dover harbour. Entry details E Mail: email@example.com