Planning a summer holiday? The family are certain to want some quality beach time – but at the back of your mind is the need for some serious beach fishing time!
But how do you tick all the boxes? How can you spend time with the husband or wife and kids, and get to fish some of the best coastal waters in the world?
It’s time to pack your shorts, suntan cream and beachcaster. Here’s our guide to just a few of the world’s top beach fishing destinations – fun in the sun that keeps everyone happy!
It’s close, boasts fantastic beaches, great campsites and whether you’re eating out or self catering, the food is to die for. France offers some superb beach fishing opportunities. From the craggy cliffs and rocks of Brittany, to the ruler straight sands of La Cote d’Argent, and on to the Basque country and the Med, there’s ample opportunity to build sand castles and wet a line.
Family friendly and with plenty of picturesque vineyards and villages to visit, you’ll also have chance to hook bass, sole, and skate. And who knows, if you get time off for good behaviour – a boat fishing trip in the Med or Atlantic South West might even see you get into some tuna.
About as far away as it’s possible to get from the gloom of the British winter, New Zealand offers superb coastal fishing. In the North Island, you’re talking snapper, tarakihi, kingfish and kahawai. Head south for blue cod, trumpeter and grouper.
With so much to see and do in New Zealand, you won’t want to spend all your time at the beach, but the joy of Aotearoa, the ‘land of the long white cloud’, is that wherever you go you’re never too far from the sea. In fact, Cromwell at 119 km from the coast is almost the same distance from sea fishing as Church Flatts Farm in Derbyshire which lies 113 miles from the brine. Can you see our thinking?
If you’ve been on a beach holiday that doubled as a fishing adventure, do let us know. We’d love to share your story.
Spain and Portugal
Get yourself organised and a beach holiday to Spain or Portugal could yield some fine sea fishing opportunities. But you will need to plan ahead. That’s because in either country, to cast a line into the blue, you need a fishing license. A quick internet search could hook you up with a fishing guide who can organise the necessary paperwork for you and guide you to the best spots.
Perch atop some of Portugal’s most dramatic cliffs to fish for bass in the boiling sea hundreds of feet below. As for Spain – much of the Mediterranean has been ravaged by overfishing, so unless you fancy scuba and snorkeling at a marine reserve, it’s perhaps best to keep to the Atlantic, where you can bang a line out from any of the dozens golden sand beaches.
For fishing, music and cigars, there’s nowhere better in the world than Cuba. With bonefish, cowfish, snook, tarpon, mangrove snapper & cuda, all on the target list, you might have to get up early to avoid the tourists but the rewards make it well worth the effort.
Unless you’re on a specialist guided fishing holiday, it’s probably a good idea to pack a telescopic rod and a cheap reel in your holiday luggage. Speak to staff at your hotel – or to the hotel chef – who could perhaps provide you with some bait and point you in the right direction. Fish where the locals fish – and when you’re done, make a discrete gift of your fishing equipment to someone who has helped you.
Big waves, big rods, big baits – the coasts of South Africa boast serious beachcasting for serious fish. A winter sun holiday to the cool waters of the Atlantic off Cape Town, or to the surf beaches of the Indian Ocean will be a definite hit with the family – and a fishing paradise for you.
You’ll need a powerful 13 or 14 foot beachcaster to deliver your bait beyond the surfline – but the rewards are well worth the effort. Rock cod, grunter, and kingfish are just three of a host of saltwater species that swim in the seas off South Africa. And who knows, if the gods are smiling on you, perhaps you’ll hook a giant trevally. Now wouldn’t that make a good holiday snap!
Every now and again the British shore throws up something out of the ordinary. Just earlier this week we learned that Lego pieces are still being washed ashore some 17 years after being lost at sea. But now, something a little more fishing related has occurred – The capture of the biggest fish ever caught on Britain’s shores – A whopping 208lb Skate!
The 88 inch Skate which weighed 208lbs was brought to shore by 26 year old Daniel Bennett from Whitby whilst he was fishing off the Isle of Skye, beating the current record (another skate) by over 40lbs. These anglers must have been using some seriously powerful sea fishing tackle to haul such catches from the shore!
Mr Bennett, who works in a fishing supplies shop said: ‘ My partner is not really that interested, but she’s proud of me nonetheless. I think people outside the angling world find it harder to see how much of a feat this is’.
‘West Scotland is known for skate fishing but not Skye. We were the first to catch one there for at least 30 or 40 years. There was another chap in our group who caught one and it was about 120lb. We thought we’d never find one any bigger – then we did an hour later.’
The magnificent fish which measured 88.25 inches long and 66.75 inches wide has now been confirmed by the British Record Fish Commitee as the largest fish caught on it’s current list. Although the fish was not weighed at the scene, as the anglers didn’t have any scales, the weighed was worked out bu The Shark Trust, a UK conservation charity, based on the measurements of the fish.
Some feat for a 26 year old angler!
This month can be slow for shore anglers in some regions with the sultry, balmy weather and clear water keeping the fish well away from the shore in daylight. But in darkness and in regions of coloured water, like the major estuaries, things can be a lot different and it really is a case of a change of venue or tactics to continue catching.
One species that show at this time of year are the sole and lots of venues around the country offer the chance of this unusual flatfish. For most the sole is considered nocturnal, but the facts are that on clear water venues they do mostly feed at night, especially near dawn, whilst in muddy water they are more common in daylight.
Tactics are simply enough once you have found a venue and its worth pointing out that sole do not show everywhere and sole venues are precise in many regions – Just a matter of miles from a shoreline that produces sole will be a venue that does not. So first look for a venue that produces sole regularly, the species seems to like shell grit and muddy sea beds and catching them once on the right venue is not that difficult. Fishing light with small size 2 or 4 hooks is essential, whilst baits include lugworm and ragworm. One top tactic is to fish short because the species are not shy of the shallows or the low tide gutter on many venues. Lots of anglers use two rods for this reason with one cast short and one cast further our which covers the options.
Talking about fishing light, there is a growing trend in sea angling to fish “Continental style” with lighter rods, thinner lines and small hooks. Much of it is to do with a reduction in the average size of fish and dwindling stocks as we fight to keep our sport interesting. However, it is also the case that anglers have realised that the fish do shy away from heavy gear and that lightening down can bring more bites and action. Check out YouTube where anglers have lowered Go Pro cameras alongside the pier wall and you can see clearly fish do shy away from heavy sea fishing gear etc. The biggest plus thought of going light is that small fish are allowed to fight, especially using micro braid lines and sea fishing is no longer hit and haul or playing cranes.
UK sea anglers have used over heavy tackle for years and that is much to do with manufacturers offering a limited range based around ancient designs and techniques. Swivels and hooks for instance, a few years back most would not look out of place on a crane, or for use with the largest fish species, but modern improvements in materials like carbon steel, design and construction have increased their strength and allowed a reduction of size down from the giant weed collecting swivels or hooks that could tow a bus! It’s similar with rods, reels and line, the distance casting revolution of recent years did much to improve rod and reel design, quality, strength and performance promoting lighter tackle which is more responsive to fishing enjoyment and sport. Check out the TF Gear range for the new TF Gear Force 8 Continental model or the Delta Slik Tip and the quiver tip favourite the Delta All rounder. All great for another option – fishing light!
The toughness and knot strength of monofilaments, copolymers and fluorocarbons is also particularly improved, so much so, that you can now go to a lighter breaking strain line with less risk of failure, whilst using the modern lower diameter micro braid lines is proving a practical advantage when fishing fine.
In general sea angling around the UK has had no need to go to the lengths of finesse that coarse anglers do. Sea fish are not always returned and so do not learn about line and hooks like their freshwater relatives, mullet and a few other clear water species being the only exceptions. Meanwhile the sea is often a hostile whirlpool of deep and chocolate brown water that hides tackle anyway.
The first problem fishing light tackle in the sea is dealing with the wind, tide and the rugged seabed, that’s the reason why tackle has always been tough and strong in the first place. You need to get a bait out to a decent distance, punch it through a headwind, so that its stays put in very strong tide. After that you sometimes need to retrieve it through a maze of kelp and rocks. Then there is the safety factor of casting that involves swinging the lead in power casting styles like the pendulum, the big distances they produce comes at a price with tackle beefed up for safety’s sake. But, the need to use an 80lb shock leaders may be more to do with an angler’s casting ego than practical thought about presentation. In terms of casting safety any move to fishing light can only involve the use of the fixed spool reel and an overhead casting style. This combination is far safer than the multiplier and pendulum cast.
A big plus for sea anglers that change to the fixed spool is that the modern reels are designed for long range casting, some with a carp fishing pedigree, are far superior to the models of the past. Long profiled /coned spools, stronger gears, ball bearings all make modern reels more efficient for sea angling and casting.
Crucial to the use of lighter tackle is the line diameter and lines as low as 6lb and up to 15lb are used with the lighter rods and fixed spool reels making this possible. The major problem when lightening down tackle is that terminal rigs must also be balanced to the rod action and line strength. It is pointless using a lighter rod with heavy line as it is using ultra thin lines with standard 8oz beach casting rod. However, a move to far lighter rigs involves thinner lines and a major problem with. multi hook rigs in very light line are prone to tangle easily. On the Continent really long snoods are commonly used and there the anglers say that the longer the snoods the less they tangle, although they must NOT be able to overlap.
The big advantages of increasing rod lengths to 15ft and above is that a longer rod allows the use of a longer rig length and this allows hook snoods to be placed farther apart so that they can be fished over a wide area as well as up in the water and do not overlap or tangle.
Longer lighter snoods also allow the hook bait to react naturally in tide and this is an important consideration when fishing either up or in clear water. The addition of floating or pop up beads also enhances bait presentation and allows baits to be raised to the levels the fish are.
Lots of shore anglers fishing light in summer use small hooks, which are essential to the more delicate bait presentation for some of the smaller species. However, there is every chance that you may hook a large smoothhound or a bass and so it’s a good idea to opt for the strongest patterns.
For many this and next month are last chance saloon for catching mackerel as the large shoals move south and it’s a case of making the most of the conditions whilst the fish are around, especially if you want to keep a few for the freezer for the winter whiting. On that note don’t forget the garfish – they are a very underrated tipping bait for lots of the autumn and winter species – bag them in the freezer as well.
The amount of plastic litter strewn across UK beaches has increased by 140% since 1994.
That’s the stark figure released by the Marine Conservation Society.
The frightening reality is that much of that plastic will never disappear; instead those unsightly pieces of brightly coloured junk break down into smaller and smaller crumbs until they’re small enough to be ingested by fish and filter feeders.
If plastic in the food chain isn’t enough cause for concern, even more worrying is the plastic that does break down. Scientists reporting in National Geographic have discovered that in warm tropical seas, plastic decomposes, leaching highly toxic chemicals into the water – poisoning fish and perhaps even causing cancer in humans who eat polluted seafood.
So where is the problem at its worst? And crucially, what can we as sea fishermen and women do about it?
They’re gigantic eddies found in the world’s oceans, slowly rotating currents that drive rubbish towards the centre where it stays forever. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was the first predicted by American scientists in 1988, and in the years since, other similar rubbish dumps have been discovered in the South Pacific, North and South Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
In the most badly affected areas, there are six times as many minute pieces of plastic as there are plankton – and the area we’re talking about? It’s thought the Great Pacific Patch covers somewhere between 700,000 and 15,000,000 square kilometres – the wide disparity between the upper and lower limits being accounted for by differences in the definition of what constitutes an elevated concentration of plastic particles.
Hard To Spot
It’s thought around a million sea birds die each year from ingesting pieces of plastic mistaken for food, with a hundred thousand marine mammals succumbing to the same fate. But these huge oceanic garbage dumps are all but invisible to the naked eye. In fact you could sail right across one and not notice it’s there. That’s because they’re mostly made up of those billions of small pieces of plastic mentioned in the introduction to this piece.
Plastic dumped in the sea off the Pacific coast of the USA takes six years to reach the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a similar item dropped in the brine off Eastern Asia takes about a year. But once there, there it stays – the trash heaps of the sea are growing bigger by the day.
Do Your Bit
As a sea angler, leaving no litter and disposing of sea fishing tackle carefully is the least you can do to protect the health of the marine environment. There are also local beach cleanups and national campaigns for the marine environment – groups like Surfers Against Sewage and the Marine Conservation Society have details of what you can do to help.
But if it all seems like too little too late, and if the thought of the poisoning of fish and marine life on a global scale makes you despair for the future, take heart. There might just be a solution.
Ever since the plastic pollution problem first became big news at the beginning of this century, efforts to come up with a cleanup solution have focused on boats hauling fine mesh nets. But carbon emissions, coupled with huge costs and destruction of bycatch made a resolution of the problem seem all but impossible, until, that is, a 17-year-old Dutch student Boyan Slat came up with a whole new approach – passive cleanup.
Huge inflatable booms would funnel debris into a processing unit powered by solar panels. The young inventor estimated half the Pacific Garbage Patch could be cleared within 10 years – and even better, the collected plastic could be sold for recycling.
Critics poured scorn on his idea, but with youthful determination, Slat managed to secure crowdfunding, and with the money assembled a 100 strong team of scientists and volunteers to undertake an in depth feasibility study – the results have just been announced.
The concept works.
If you’d like to find out more about how the oceans could clean themselves, check out the Boyan Slats talk on the feasibility study. The Ocean Cleanup – we can make it happen.
Lots of anglers around the country are experiencing the changing season – One minute the fish are around and then they are not and it does seem that mass migration of species is far more acute nowadays than it used to be. Could be its global warming that is sending the fish further north and that they are bypassing southern venues on their travels? Whatever, something like this is happening and I suppose to an extent it always did in the past. In the south it’s the summer doldrums when the sea seems devoid of fish, even the mackerel have passed by! For the shore angler another reason is the amount of sunlight each day – with clear water the fish just will not come inshore in gin and wait until darkness to venture into the shallows. That’s the time to fish for conger, bass, hounds and others and the deeper water venues you find are better.
But it’s not all doom and gloom because once we are past the longest day then the light evenings start to close back and change is underway, least of all those fish that passed us by on their way north are due to travel back south into Autumn and some great sea fishing is to come. The trick is not to miss it and of course the timing varies around the different regions. In the North it’s a case of making hay whilst the sun shines and fishing hard before the shoals depart south. In the South it’s a case of getting out as soon as the fish show; the codling start to show as early as August some years and September can be the best month with a mix of cod and bass. In all regions it is a case of ignoring those old traditions of the “Cod Season” and being ready when the fish are around.
TF Gear has a new range of beach casters and they based on models from the Continent. Both fixed spools they feature the slim line feel and lightness of the long casting sea fishing rods from France, Spain, Italy, etc. Both include low rider rings which can be used with both multiplier and fixed spool reels plus braid, mono or fluorocarbon lines. Standard with these rings is that the butt ring is reversed which gives the rod a unique appearance and more than one novice has proclaimed the ring is on upside down! But this is not the case and 100% of continental rods using low riders feature this reversed ring build. It’s done simply so that the rings legs prevent a loop of line going over the ring during the cast – especially braid and especially using a fixed spool reel.
The new models include the Force 8 Continental which is extremely light and designed for fishing small baits for small species using light lines and leads. With braid line its balance and feel are incredible and fishing for mackerel, pollack, scad, mullet, school bass etc is a new experience for the user. A word of warning though –it’s not designed for casting a whole Calamari squid and it’s also not designed so that the tip can pull free of snags what it is designed for is a new feel the fish sea angling experience – Enjoy!
The second model is in the Delta range and is the Slik Tip and is aimed at the in between UK fishing and the Continent – It’s a step lighter than standard UK beach casting gear and at a price that won’t annoy the wallet!
One of the big plusses with these rods fitted with low rider rings is that the guides do not affect the movement and balance of the rod as much as the larger standard UK style beach caster rings. Therefore the rod slices the air better when casting and resists the wind in the rod rest better – great for bite spotting.
Dogfish is considered a sea angling swear word and few anglers have a good word to say about a species that seems to have taken over the world in many parts of the UK. OK for match anglers they are obliging bites when nothing else stirs, but so often they take a bait aimed at other species and are just a pain. It’s got so bad in some regions that even the match anglers are not supporting the doggie dominated events.
So what can we do to reduce dogfish numbers or make them more enjoyable to catch? Well having recently been laid up and not fishing my freezer was empty of fish so I took four home for dinner – Had I forgot how tasty this fish could be because of the fiddly skinning and preparation? Rock salmon is now returned to the Yates menu and I shall spread the word that this wonderful species is great on a plate.
I have got my hands on the new TF Gear Force 8 Beach Shelter - and I seriously recommend you take a look! At last a shelter that has pouches for beach stones in the base which makes for a much easier erection, the Viagra shelter goes up in seconds and stays there is a strong wind.
If you have ever tried to erect a shelter on your own in anything above a force five, you will know how difficult it is. The new Force 8 Shelter solves that problem because you can pile stones in the pouches before you pull it up. What’s more the F8 is collapsible and folds down to half its length for carriage – great for being strapped on top of the fishing tackle box!
I am arranging an LRF Championships (Light rock fishing) at Samphire Hoe, near Dover on the 10th August. It’s an experimental competition. You can fish with any form of LRF gear. Basically a short spinning style rod, singe look bait/lure. It’s all catch and release with fish photographed on the smart phone on the days fish measure. Fishing in 10am until 4pm, (Book in car park from 8.30am) all are welcome and it’s a complete rover anywhere around the Hoe. Prizes for species pts, biggest and best average fish. Contact me Alan Yates on 01303 250017 E Mail: email@example.com
Tight lines, Alan Yates
The arrival of the mackerel around much of the UK coastline this month kicks off one of sea angling’s busiest times of the year. Apart from the fact that the smoothhound, ray and bass shoals are extending and exploiting their range around the coastline, summer brings an influx of new anglers. The holiday anger after mackerel that crowd the piers and beaches during daylight to fish with with lures and feathers with which the mackerel can often be caught in numbers and fairly easily. On many venues numbers are swelled by ethnic anglers who have seized on this easy style of sea angling and like it or not they have regenerated many summer venue as well as brought business to fishing tackle shops and charters skippers in the region. Feathering for mackerel is not every sea angler’s favourite method, indeed many ardent bottom anglers frown on the tactic and that is mainly because of the behaviour it can promote on a crowded pair, apart from the dangers of being impaled on a lure hook that is! Associated with feathering is the frenzy of anglers who give little thought to the fish or other anglers – They catch as many fish as they can, many are often left to flap their life away and then discarded when they become ruined by the sunshine. Litter is left and most piers have the stench of urine whilst burnt seating, damage and mayhem have lead to many venues being closed or threatened with closure. It is the case that you just cannot leave Joe Public to police himself and anarchy is the eventual result of doing so, especially with mackerel anglers.
But let’s not dwell on the down side, mackerel fishing can be great fun and is enjoyed by thousands of sea anglers and for many is a first step into proper sea angling.
For those that just want to catch a few mackerel for the bait freezer or barbeque the answer is to stay away from the crowded and popular venues and to use a more sporting method than six feathered lures. OK, if you need a quick fix of mackerel six big fizzy lures with a heavy lead (5oz min) will usually get a result. But a single silver sprat spinner fished at dusk will produce more sport.
Then there are the other methods to fish for mackerel and by far the best is with a float and a sliver of mackerel or garfish as bait. Cast and retrieve that slowly on a lighter spinning type rod for maximum fun.
Another tactic is to use a sliding float rig and this is a short float rig made up to an American snap link which is simply clipped on the main line of the rod already cast out and then slide down the line to the surface. The method allows the angler to fish a bait on the sea bed and a bait for mackerel or garfish etc on the surface.
Summer brings another problem for sea anglers and one is keeping both your bait and catch fresh. TF Gear have solved the problem with a couple of custom made cool bags and I am especially pleased to see the new cool bag. It is made to fit snuggly on top of the standard Beta angling seat box and big enough to contain a standard size seed tray or cat litter type tray to hold the bait. It can then be clipped to the top of your seat box. Perfect for the worms going fishing and the catch coming home and especially relevant at this time of year when the mackerel are around and you can catch and keep them fresh until they arrive home for the bait freezer.
The second new item is a sand eel bag complete with liquid freezer sachet and compartments made to fit the standard packets of sandeel. Keeping your sand eels frozen is vital to their success and you can remove them one at a time or baiting up without thawing the lot.
It’s nice to be able to report that I am back fishing with a few more trips to the pier under my belt since my rheumatic problem. The down side is that I do have limited use of my shoulder and have had to switch to a fixed spool reel and long Continental rod – The new Force 8 in the TF Gear range at 15ft is ultra light and ideal. But I am never going to threaten 150metres plus and have had to accept the reduction in distance – Like so many other anglers older, disabled or simply limited in power. Not all doom and gloom though because the lighter sea fishing tackle and mindset has fuelled some fun fishing with size 4 hooks and 8lb line a whole new ball game – I am learning how to fish again and so far the results are encouraging.
I am holding an LRF Championships (Light rock fishing) at Samphire Hoe, near Dover on the 10th August. It’s an experimental competition. You can fish with any form of LRF gear. Basically a short spinning style rod, single hook bait/lure. It’s all catch and release with fish photographed on the smart phone on the days fish measure. Fishing in 10am until 4pm, all are welcome and it’s a complete rover anywhere around the Hoe. Prizes for species pts, biggest and best average fish. Alan Yates 01303 250017
This year, a quarter of us will experience a mental health problem of some kind.
It’s a startling figure and one that includes one in ten children and as many as one in five older people. Men in particular are at risk because they’re both less likely to seek help, and three times more likely to commit suicide than women.
It’s Mental Health Awareness week, and this year, the focus is on anxiety. Talking therapies, medication or a combination of both are the most common treatments for anxiety and depression. But what about fishing?
Fishing is seriously good for your mental health. In fact it’s so good for you that three years ago, nurses from two Scottish mental hospitals suggested it as a treatment for some patients with enduring mental health problems. Managers agreed and soon set up a scheme to get patients fishing.
Nurses took groups of eight to ten patients to their local loch to learn to cast. By learning a new skill in a peaceful environment, they hoped patients would gain a sense of achievement and enjoy both the fresh air and the opportunity to interact with nature.
And the feedback? Not only do the patients love it, but according to Calum MacLeod, head of mental health at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, “the benefit to their health and wellbeing is ‘fantastic’.
Go on foot
Got the blues? Grab your fly rod or sea fishing tackle and walk to your favourite mark. Why? Because Canadian researchers have discovered walking not only helps to raise the mood of people suffering from depression, but it can help with memory and concentration problems too.
According to an article published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, all walking, whether a yomp through the woods or a stroll through the city, helps to improve mood in clinically depressed people. But they discovered that it’s walking in nature that’s best, helping the people they studied think up to 16 % clearer.
Scientists believe a stroll through the peace and quiet of the natural environment relaxes and refreshes parts of the brain overloaded by stress and anxiety. Just another benefit for anglers.
A chance to talk
Some people find it difficult to talk about their feelings. But if you suspect someone you know is struggling, taking them fishing really is an ideal opportunity to find out what’s wrong. In a relaxed setting, one to one, a friend or loved one may find it easier to open up.
And if they do, here’s what the NHS says you should do:
First off – listen. Remind the person that you care about them, and reassure them that it’s not their fault that they’re anxious or depressed. You can encourage them to help themselves by exercising regularly, eating well and getting stuck into activities they enjoy. If you can, get them some information about the mental health services available in their area. And keep in touch. Depression and anxiety can be very isolating, which only makes things worse.
If you’re worried someone might be a danger to themselves or anyone else, contact a GP, or call NHS 111 to get help.
Fishing for heroes
When it comes to healing the psychological wounds caused by combat, fishing reaches the parts that other treatments fail to touch.
We wrote about the awesome charity Fishing for Heroes a few years back. They are a UK charity that supports and treats veterans and serving forces personnel suffering from PTSD, combat fatigue and other mental health issues resulting from active service.
Residential fishing retreats give soldiers returning from theatres of war chance to relax, refresh, rejuvenate and readjust before moving on with their careers. Servicemen returning with life changing injuries – physical or mental – find the opportunity to fish the cool clear waters a very healing experience, and the instruction they receive gives them the basics of a skill that will enhance and enrich their lives for years to come .
As Ken, a Falklands veteran testifies, “All PTSD sufferers know that quiet times can soon become bad times. Fishing For Heroes teaches a skill that can (with practice) keep the quiet times…..Quiet”.
As some of you may know, I have been laid low in recent month by rheumatics – I was diagnosed with Polymigela after just about every test you can undergo – Didn’t like the MIR scan. Anyway, it has affected my neck, ankle and foot and I have been unable to fish for two months. Just this week I have returned to fishing I have had a great sense of what it is like to be disabled, no driving for two months, difficulty walking, maneuvering tackle is a particular pain, casting and all those things we anglers take for granted have caused me problems and its now down to the drugs and time for me to get better.
I managed a couple of coarse fishing competitions in the local ponds and I even managed to win, catching some carp and the next step is back to the sea. One thing I have had to accept is just how physical sea fishing is compared with coarse. Casting and those long walks with 30lb of tackle box, a bucket and a rod holdall are now a fearsome challenge and the trolley is out.
With summer just about to arrive it’s a nice calm time of year to fish and I must admit to the fact that I like the change away from fishing baits at range on the sea bed. The variety of fishing includes lures for bass, a bit of LRF and some float fishing and with my present limitations it’s the float that coming out.
There are several ways to fish a float from the shore and most anglers just add one to their basic beach casting outfit whilst bottom fishing. This involves a short sliding float rig that is simply clipped on to the main line (an American snap link is ideal) of the beach caster after its cast out. The rig then slides down the main line to the surface where the line enters the water. The rig doesn’t need to be any longer than 8ft. Great for catching the bonus mackerel and garfish and the method goes someway to improve the action when the sea is flat and clear and not a lot stirs on the sea bed.
The second way to fish a float is to go all out and adopt a lighter outfit and fish a slider or adjustable depth float on the main line with a single or two hooks. This outfit can then be cast where you want and the depth you fish adjusted via a stop knot on the mainline that can be set to suit the depth you want to fish. Rod wise a spinning rod will suit the tactic, whilst many are increasingly adopting a longer quiver tip continental rod style like the All rounder in the TF range, look out for the new Continental which is perfect for the method. The particularly effective thing about this type of set up is that the float and the bait can be continually moved, drifted, trotted in the tide etc with the longer rod giving more control, especially when drifting a long way back in the tide using a micro braid line. I prefer to call the method float/spinning and lots of anglers who fish a float in summer neglect the latter. They simply let the float go on its way down tide feeding out line to its demands. BUT a far better method is to continually stop the float in its drift, which causes he bait to rise and move. This adds to the baits attractiveness and increases the catch and can be used to target all manner of summer species. Another alternative is a bubble float and this can be loaded with water for casting weight and especially suits those fishing with a sandeel on a long trace for bass etc.
Integral to most float fishing is ground bait and it’s here the majority of sea anglers cannot be bothered. BUT again a small bucket of loose feed made up of bread, boiled fish, bran with a fish oil or extract etc added will increase the scent of the slick and draw in more fish. In clear water from the rocks it can be a terrific way to fish because you will spot the fish moving in on the feed.
Tackle can also be refined to suit the species and you may find lighter line and a smaller Waggler float more suitable if the mullet show up. In a lumpy sea a larger bulbous float will be easier to see at long range and will and can be cast or will drift further. The method can be used to catch more or less all the summer species in some regions and even using bread bait it can catch pollack, bream and mackerel.
Staying with the summer, top of the species list in the coming weeks for many are the smoothhound and as the shoals push around the UK coasts lots of sea anglers will have the chance of catching the most powerful fish they have ever hooked from the shore. It’s important though to fish the correct venues because the hounds do tend to leap frog around the UK coastline. They are found on some venues and not on others and this is mostly down, to food and spawning. So a top tip is to find a smoothhound venue. Do not simply fish your local venue and wait for the hounds to come to you – Travel to them because the best are mostly well known. On top of that the species is continually expanding its size and range and it pays to keep an ear on results. Fish the evening tides when its calm and still, into dusk can be deadly!
Smoothhound venues to head for this month:
Bristol Channel: Almost anywhere from Minehead to Weston S Mare.
South Wales coast: Cardiff, Barry, region, venues including; Rhoose, Nash Point, Portkerry, Aberthaw, Monknash and Ogmore.
Hampshire/ Sussex: West Selsey, Bracklesham Bay, Lepe, Gillkicker and Hayling front..
Dorset: Chesil beach
Kent: Dover breakwater, Sandown, Reculver.
Essex: Charter boats in the Thames estuary. Walton and Clacton, and Orford Island.
Lincs: Chapel St Leonards, Ingoldmells, Sandiland.
The peeling crabs are spreading around the UK shoreline and where you live in terms of South to North and the air and water temperatures makes a difference to their arrival. In the South they started as early as March, whilst far north they may not show until June – Whatever, when they arrive the fish move inshore and for a short period there can be some bumper shore fishing with everything from bass to smoothhounds on the cards. I am old enough to remember in past when it was mostly eels and flounders that feasted on the crabs – well the eels and flounders have gone in many regions and its more likely to be ray, bass, and smoothhound and indeed Spring and Summer may now be more attractive in terms of sea angling from the shore, especially because of these species.
Collecting or obtaining a supply of peeler crabs is always complicated by the fact that the crabs are found in their different states of shedding their shell and it’s only when they are just about to burst out of the shell that they are best for bait. Peelers in the early stages of moulting need to be kept alive and nurtured to maturity, whilst crabs about to shed need slowing down with the aid of a fridge. It’s a tedious task, but those that have a supply of the perfect peelers when they fish will do best. Remember this when you buy crabs from a dealer because you will have a mix, although some dealers will supply crabs to order, in other words those about to shed if you are going fishing that day and harder specimens for use later in the week – It’s a very important aspect of using peeler crab.
Last month I talked about the growing popularity of LRF, that’s Light Rock Fishing, indeed a feature I wrote in Sea Angler Magazine received lots of attention although not all positive. I think LRF is just another branch of sea angling that worth a try – I wouldn’t want to fish just LRF for the rest of my angling days. It’s a fun way to fish for the tiddlers and has the possibility of producing the odd bigger specimen.
I remember making a TV film on Dover breakwater many years back for Screaming Reels and presenter, Nick Fisher did not stop taking the Mickey out of me catching small pollack, pout, wrasse etc all through the programme. OK that was the nature of Screaming Reels at the time as it tried to inject some humour into angling, any kind of angling… I was seriously trying to show that fishing could be fun with the lightest sea fishing tackle even when the fish were small. This involved a freshwater quiver tip rod and micro braid line. Now I am not actually claiming to have started LRF, although the Screaming Reels film probably proves that those that think they did – didn’t either.
LRF may be typecast by its name, Light rock fishing being the very basis of a technique of fishing that has expanded and developed widely since it took off amongst serious sea anglers. The one thing it has done is to expose the UK sea angler’s hidden desire to fish with lures! LRF with tiny lures alongside rocks, piers, harbours, etc includes all the excitement and imagination of bass fishing with lures, although in miniature. As well as lures anglers also fish the tactic with bait and this has enhanced results, finesse and fun even more and the fact is that LRF is a fantastic way to escape the harsh reality that much of today’s sea angling around the UK is poor! We sea anglers put up with a lot and apart from the barren seas left for us to fish by the commercial scourge, politicians and EU we have to contend with the fact that a majority of sea species average under 1lb, are seasonal and only show for a few weeks of the year and worst of all are lost in the vastness of the ocean.
On the subject of LRF tackle – I use the Blue Strike bass spinning rod from TF Gear – the lightest/shortest model. This fitted with 20lb braid on my fishing reels, might not be light enough for some, BUT I prefer to LRF for the bigger fish in general, especially in Ireland – for the blennies a lighter specialist model and more fluorocarbon line may be more effective, but as usual with tackle its horses for courses and not one cure all!
Time to put the Sibiki lures, floats and other summer paraphernalia in the tackle box. A great time of year when the sea is calm clear and lifeless except for a crazy shoal of mackerel and some surface popping garfish. A real challenge to make sport fun rather than carnage and like LRF it involves a bit more sneaking around in the early hours and low light to find those better bass etc light sea fishing gear, lures, a free lined ragworm head hooked so it can swim, tiny lures, have you ever tried fishing a floating soft crab at 4am, or crust in the corner of the harbour! The possibilities are endless to get away from the summer stereotype with a bit of imagination and effort, give it a go!
Some good news for UK cod anglers – There is a huge glut of small codling showing in many regions around the UK with the fish moving inshore to feed on the spring crab moult etc. The codling are mainly under the 35cm minimum size limit, although it has to be said in many regions, like here in Kent, the codling are close to the limit and will grow fast over the next few months. So hopes are really high that next year’s winter season is going to be a good one, exceptional compared with recent years. Fingers crossed.
In the meantime summer is on the horizon and should be early this year with the mild winter and it won’t be long until the first mackerel arrive at the Northern end of the English Channel which along with the mass crab moult and the return of the small bait fish like whitebait, sandeel etc will fuel some excellent shore fishing. It’s a great time of year as species spread around the coast in the clearing water although it’s a whole new ball game in terms of the fishing.
Back into the tackle box go the feathers, the floats, all manner of lures and I have taken to adding an LRF (Light Rock Fishing) rod and braid reel to my summer shore sea fishing tackle in recent years as an alternative method for those days when standard beach gear doesn’t happen. LRF is mostly about catching the small fish when they are all there. Using a single small hook or lure with all the lead on the hook a small spinning rod and braid line allows the angler to fish the nooks and crannies with worm or lures.
It works best in the wilds of Ireland where you can trickle and tickle a lures alongside the steep rock marks and in and out of the kelp fronds and rock ledges from cliffs in search of wrasse and bass but here at home its surprising what you can catch close in if you scale down enough and although it is mostly about small fish, when you hook a bigger one the gear allows even a 12oz fish to perform. LRF from the pier, jetty, beaches etc, especially from a pier with stilts or piles can prove great fun for mackerel, garfish, scad, coalfish, pollack, even bass.
I recently fished from a beach on the Isle of Wight with LRF gear swimming a ragworm close in under the edge of the estuary lip – The bass where mainly under 2lb but they attacked the worm as I retrieved it slowly and on 15lb braid and a 7ft spinning rod – I discovered a way to make chequer (small bass) fishing enjoyable!
The hoards of summer mackerel anglers and the chaos they cause mean some venues are worth avoiding from now on. But, mackerel fishing is fun and necessary if you want the species for bait or to eat and so here are a few hints and tips to help you avoid the angler conflict and catch more mackerel.
Firstly the basic rules worth adhering to when you go mackerel fishing:
- Do not encroach too closely on another’s fishing spot, ask if they mind first.
- Cast with care and look before you cast.
- Do not leave litter, gut mackerel on seats and do not urinate on the pier etc.
- Only take the fish that you need.
The first mistake many novice anglers make is to fish for mackerel on a venue when the sea is coloured or even rough. Mackerel do not like silted and coloured water, as sight feeders they require clear water as do their prey.
The hot time to catch is dawn or dusk, usually around high tide when the mackerel ambush shoals of bait fish against a pier wall or beach.
The fishing tactic to catch mackerel involves a method called “sink and draw”. This involves casting a string of lures, allowing them to sink to the required depth and then reeling only as you lower the rod. You then lift the rod and repeat.
On occasions mackerel will take a bare silver hook, anything when they are in a feeding frenzy. Modern the lures are far more elaborate and sophisticated although they can fish better when they have caught lots of fish and are falling apart and are scraggy. The best lures are those that create the most fizz and water disturbance with white feathers still amongst the best along with favourite patterns such as Daylites, Sabiki and Hokkai designs.
Currently I am under the doctor for rheumatoid arthritis which had laid me low in recent weeks and my trips to the beach have suffered. I am awaiting an operation on my right shoulder and am expected to be out of action for several months and that’s one of the reasons I have adopted the LRF – At least I shall be able to dangle a worm somewhere.
The downside this year is that I missed my annual trip to Gambia to fish the West African Beach Champs but, my son Richard went and I have included a picture of him with a 25lb sand shark caught on his light continental fixed spool outfit and 12lb line.
Tight lines, Alan Yates