Kayak Fishing – By Chris Ogborne

Kayak fishing is one of the fastest growing branches of the sport. Here angling expert Chris Ogborne gives us a unique insight, along with details of a brilliant offer to help you get started.

Kayak fishing is great fun

Kayak fishing is great fun!

Fishing is all about fun, we know that. Its rewarding, relaxing, and a therapy. It’s about excitement as well, and occasionally when it all goes right it can be downright exhilarating. On rare occasions it can also be a true adventure, and that’s the essence of kayak fishing – the very heart and soul of this amazing branch of our sport is ‘adventure’.

I’ve been kayak fishing around the UK shoreline for more than thirty years now and because my home base is in the far south west it’s inevitable that most of my trips are focussed on the stunning coast of Devon and Cornwall. The fishing’s great, the scenery even better, and for most of the time we get better weather than anywhere else in England. All of which makes for ideal kayak conditions.

It’s hard to fully explain the appeal without indulging in too many superlatives. For me it’s more fun than any other branch of fishing, more involving and occasionally more demanding. I suppose the very crux of the matter is that you’re down there at water surface level, right in the aquatic environment, and almost at eye level with your quarry. There’s no noisy outboard motor to disturb the peace or the fish, no pollution, and no real intrusion into the natural world. It’s just the slow rhythm of the paddle, the gentle sluice of water under the hull, and the genuine feel that you’re doing the ‘hunter – gatherer’ bit in the 21st century.

If all that sounds a bit poetic just believe me when I say that it’s only half the story. Once you get into kayak fishing you’ll see what I mean. It’s relaxing, it’s healthy and it’s arguably one of the ultimate challenges left in our sport.

kayak 1To further explain the appeal, let me show you briefly how easy it is to get started:

Choose the right Kayak It goes without saying that the boat is the most important factor, so choose one that’s designed for the purpose. There are literally hundreds of kayaks out there, but when you start to look at fishing kayaks the list gets shorter. Basically it’s all about three things:

Stability: You need to be confident and secure when you’re fishing
Speed: You don’t want to take forever to get to your chosen spot, and
Tracking: You don’t want a kayak that swings all over the place every time you take a stroke with the paddle

With this in mind you can discount any kayak under ten feet in length when it comes to fishing, as it just wont work. Ideal length is between 10 and 15 feet, depending on your build, fitness levels, and where you’re going to fish. For rivers, inland waters and estuaries then a smaller boat is fine, but if you’re going to sea then a more substantial craft is called for.

Choose the right accessories: This is a bit like ordering a BMW from a main dealer – it’s much too easy to tick all the option boxes! The truth is that you can fish very effectively with a minimum of accessories, but there are a few that are vital. These include:

Carbon paddle: These are SO much lighter and easier to use
Buoyancy aid: or life jacket – an absolute essential
Rod holders: You simply can’t go fishing without at least two, preferably three
Decent seat: This will seem like a VERY good investment after a full day afloat!

You can add the rest depending on your budget and your fishing, but as long as you’ve got these essentials sorted you’ll have a good (and safe) day out.

Get some training: As in any branch of fishing, it pays to seek help when you’re getting started. There are loads of BCU (British Canoe Union) trained experts all over the country and an hour with a good trainer will save you days of experimentation and mistakes
Another great tip is to start off fishing in calm and shallow waters – far better to make any early mistakes here than out at sea.

Sort the right gear: Airflo make some great kit for kayak fishing and I always like to cover as many bases as possible when I’m out for a day. The Elite kit 9 foot 5 weight is a great all rounder for fly, but I also like to have spin and drop shot options as well for saltwater fishing – the TF Gear Blue Strike fishing rods and reels are perfect for both. With these brilliant all-round rods you can also troll if you like – they really are great tools with multiple options.

I would also advise a decent bag as well such as the fully waterproof Airflo Fly Dri carryall to hold tackle, a spare fleece or jacket as well as food and drink. This will sit behind the seat for ease of access and can be held in place by the bungee netting over the kayak’s storage area.

You can also add in lanyards to hold a landing net, priest, GPS or any number of extras Bungee lanyards are among those ‘almost essential’ options that you really should consider.

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Channel Kayaks. October 2014. Photographer Freia Turland e:info@ftphotography.co.uk m:07875514528

Channel Kayaks.

For the last two years I’ve been involved with an exciting new kayak company called Channel Kayaks. Unlike most manufacturers, they sell direct to the public so they are able to offer a top quality product at a hugely competitive price.

As well as making brilliant kayaks they also specialise in what they call ‘Adventure paddles’ which is basically a series of days out around the coast where you can sample all the delights of kayaking at first hand, and under expert guidance. These days are run in conjunction with the RNLI so you’re guaranteed great water safety advice as well.

For the purposes of this blog, Channel Kayaks have also come out with a very special pre-season price for you, as follows:

PRO kayak Normally £749 but NOW £520 (Perfect all-water kayak)
BASS kayak RRP £399 NOW £265 (Great for inshore and estuary)
TANDEM kayak RRP £579 NOW £395 (Two seater)

In all cases, this price includes the kayak, the seat, the paddle AND delivery within the UK, and as such it’s an amazing deal.

Just visit their website for all the contact details, or talk to them direct as there will always be staff to answer your queries or to help with free advice.

Channel Kayaks www.channelkayaks.uk
Or email byron@channelkayaks.uk
Phone: 01275 852736 or 07710745211

Kayak 2

Your top three sea fishing holiday destinations

Norway fishing

Image source: wikimedia.org
1000 years of cod fisheries at Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Norway is your ultimate sea fishing destination, Florida is second and Iceland third. Those are the results of our big fishing survey. What surprised us most was that two of your top three fantasy sea fishing holidays involve trekking to the Arctic circle.

So what is it about fishing in chilly climes that had you voting decisively in favour of the frozen North? And what does Florida have going for it that other places don’t? Let’s take a look.

Norway

Midnight Sun - Buldersanden, Troms

Image source: wikimedia.org
By the light of the Midnight Sun – Buldersanden, Troms

Norway’s Lofoten Islands are the Holy Grail of sea fishing angling. They’re the venue for the cod fishing World Championships held in the middle of spawning season, each March. Think millions of Arctic cod migrating from the Barents Sea – what’s not to like?

And if gigantic cod aren’t enough to lure you to the frozen wilderness, the seas off Norway also teem with haddock, halibut, coalfish and wolffish, all of which can grow to huge proportions.

And of course the scenery is spectacular. Barren rocky wastes in the far North give way to lush fjordlands further South. It’s a unique landscape full of sheltered bays, perfect for boat fishing because there’s usually somewhere to go whatever the weather.

Plan your visit between mid-May and the end of July, you can fish by the light of the Midnight Sun. During winter trips, you’ll not only avoid the crowds but you’re also likely catch a glimpse of the spectacular Aurora Borealis.

lotofen islands fishing boats

Image source: shutterstock
Heading out to bag a Championship-winner, Lofoten Islands

There are just so many great sea fishing destinations to be found in Norway. The Skagerrak coast in the South can’t be beaten for short drive times from mainland Europe. There’s even a sea bass festival held each August on the island of Tromøya. Other frequently-fished areas across the country include Fjordkysten (Fjord Coast), Trøndelag, Finnmark and Troms.

If you do your homework and book through a reputable organisation like Sportquest Holidays, you should find that most charter skippers can provide you with equipment and protective clothing, whatever your destination.

sheltered seas

Image source: shutterstock
Gorgeous scenery and sheltered seas await in Norway

Tips for sea fishing in Norway

  • Don’t skimp on warm clothing.
  • If you’re not willing to endure freezing temperatures cheerfully, you’re in the wrong place.
  • No special permits are required for deep sea fishing.

Florida

Key Largo

Image source: pixabay
Sunset and silhouetted boats, Key Largo

Forget Disney, it’s the Florida Keys that made second place in our Big Fishing survey. Over 16% of you said if money were no object you’d head for this tropical archipelago of sand-topped reefs that stretches over 100 miles from the tip of mainland Florida towards Cuba.

Think shark, marlin, barracuda, amberjack, cobia, mahi-mahi, grouper, sailfish, snapper, swordfish, tarpon, tuna and mackerel to name but a few of the species you can expect to get stuck into.

Sea fishing in Florida is best in the southern half of the state, from Tampa onwards. As for the Keys, wherever you choose to take your dream sea fishing holiday, you’re bound to find a professional sport fishing outfit to help you make the most of your time there.

Trophy shot from Key West

Image source: wikimedia.org
Trophy shots galore await off the coast of Key West

Tips for sea fishing in Florida

  • If you plan to retain any of your daily catch, you’d do well to bone up on Florida’s extensive fishing regulations, as they differ from species to species.
  • When packing for your trip, remember that the sun will be reflected off the waves at the same time as beating down on your head. Stay hydrated and protected.

Iceland

Fishing Iceland's open waters

Image source: shutterstock
Fishing in Iceland’s open waters

10% of our readers would make Iceland their first port of call for their fantasy sea fishing adventure. And it’s easy to see why: The abundance of specimen cod, haddock, wolffish, monkfish, Atlantic halibut, mackerel and pollack mean that a slow day’s fishing in Icelandic waters is likely to be anything but.

The Westfjords are the place to be. Every year, drawn by some of the North Atlantic’s largest fish stocks, more than 1500 enthusiasts make the trek to the villages of Flateyri and Sudureyri to try their luck.

When it comes to sea fishing, Icelanders know their stuff; fishing brings in nearly half of Iceland’s export revenue. And with volcanoes, hot springs, glaciers and rich Norse heritage, Iceland is a destination for those with a touch of seafaring romance at heart. And thanks to the warming effect of the Gulf Stream, it’s not quite as cold as you might expect either.

You can charter a boat from almost any coastal town or village in Iceland, but most of the population resides in the capital, Reykjavik. It’s a coastal city, so if you want the option of some nightlife and creature comforts at the end of the day’s fishing, you could do worse than making Reykjavik your base.

nightmarish yet delicious, wolffish

Image source: wikimedia.org
The nightmarish, yet delicious, wolffish

Tips for sea fishing in Iceland

  • If cod is what you’re after, then winter is the time to fish for it. Be aware though, that this close to the Arctic Circle, winter days are extremely short – the shortest being around four hours. You may want to pack some vitamin D supplements.
  • To drive a chartered boat in Iceland, you must hold a Skipper’s Certificate.
  • The waters around Iceland are popular for whale watching. When you’re not busy hauling in your catch, keep an eye out for these breathtaking creatures as they surface for air and food.
open sea fishing

Image source: shutterstock
No better feeling

So these are your top three picks for fantasy sea fishing destinations, but with salt water covering two thirds of the planet’s surface, the possibilities are as broad as the ocean is deep.

Reel to Reel: Fishing on Film through the ages

old film camera

Image source: shutterstock
Reel to reel – vintage fishing clips

How much has fishing changed over the years? We thought we’d find out.

Check out our collection of charming vintage fishing film clips and see how they compare to the videos from today’s cutting edge of angling. We think you’ll be amazed by just how far fishing has come – and how much it’s stayed exactly the same.

Competition time

Flat caps at the ready! Back in the 1960s angling contests were no less hotly contested than they are today but just look at the acres of tweed on display…

A decade later and the Brits were competing in Denmark. Check out the snazzy plastic sun visors these British anglers wore while competing in the Woodbine challenge. Locals were apparently “bemused” by their interest in coarse fish in preference to salmon and trout.

Fast forward to the 2015 World Angling Champs and what’s most striking is the professionalisation of the sport. The fishing, however is just the same as it always was.

Deep sea fishing thrills

Jump on board a trawler and chug your way out to sea for a 1960s cod fishing adventure, Icelandic style.

Now take a look at the next video, courtesy of the good folks at Sportquest holidays. The venue is the same, but check out how much quicker it is to get to the fishing grounds!

A rod’s a rod

Simple yet effective, in the 1930s rods were crafted by men working in harmony with their machines – not to mention plenty of good old fashioned elbow grease.

76 years later and the materials have changed but making a quality rod remains a skilled job with a strong craft element.

Child’s play

Worthing’s the venue for this charming summer holiday clip from the1930s. As the commentator says, the kids here are only too delighted to “swap hated books for baited hooks”.

Now it’s all about keeping the kids off the streets – here’s a novel approach – an indoor fishing venue.

They say you no longer even have to step outside your bedroom to experience the thrill of fishing. The latest gaming technology means fishing games that are just like the real thing – apparently.

But then again, maybe not. Just check this little boy’s reaction to catching his first fish. Some things never change!

Clever Tips For Catching Cod

 

Cod-Beauty-Shutterstock

Image source: Vlada Z/Shutterstock
The beauty that is cod

Know your quarry. If cod’s your bag, this guide is for you. To help you in your quest for the ultimate catch, we’ve trawled the net for the best cod fishing tips from anglers and bloggers around the country.

  • Target species: Cod
  • British record (shore): 44lb 8oz (1966)
  • Average catch size: 5 – 15lbs
  • Spawns: Late winter to early spring
  • Habitat: Shoals in deep cold water
  • Preferred bait: Voracious feeder, scours the seabed. Also hunts dab, sandeels and pouting

Read on to find out how to make sure it’s fresh fish and chips for tea!

1. Be at the right place at the right time

Cod on the rocks

Image source: Fishing Tails
The Marsden area of South Shields

Local knowledge
Study your local area and speak to other fishermen before you decide where to set up. As Simon Parsons tells us on Facebook:

“You could have the best bait, the best rigs and the sharpest hooks in the world. If you’re not there at the right time for that particular place neither will the fish.”

Stormy seas

After a storm is the best time to catch a cod. Fishing Tails’ writer, Sean McSeveny, and a number of other anglers who posted on our Facebook page agree that churned up water means cod are likely to come inshore to feed on the abundant food churned up from the seabed by the waves. It’s a small time window though, so make sure you’re always ready to fish.

Cold catch

Ceri  Owen also mentions that cod like cold water, so storm-chasing after a frost or during a cold snap could improve your chances of a good catch. Study the weather forecast, and know when to make your move.

Darkness?

Most fish feel safer under cover of darkness, and many of you believe cod will come closer to shore at night. But they may also come into the shallows when there’s an offshore wind.
Christopher Middleton of British Sea Fishing tells us that whatever the time of day, you’ll always have a chance of catching cod in deeper water:

“Piers and deep water rock marks can be good choices for anglers looking to catch big cod due to the easy access to deep water they offer.”

2. Top tackle

Beach casting tackle

Beach casting tackle – strong and straightforward

Strong and simple

Keep your tackle strong and simple. Casting into rough water or around rocks means it’s important to minimise the chance of breakage. And remember you’re looking for big fish in deep water, so your tackle needs to be up to the challenge. Heavy lines, hooks and weights are a must.

Cod might not be strong fighters like pollack or bass, they can still be a struggle to reel in. Christopher’s advice for shore anglers:

“Use a 12ft beachcaster which is capable of casting at least 6oz, along with a powerful multiplier or large fixed spool reel.”

Rigs and hooks

Going after bigger fish means bigger hooks – at least size 3/0 to 4/0, or even up to 6/0. Large hooks also prevent bait stealing by smaller fish.

Try using a circle hook for the top hook of a pennell rig, says Fishtec’s Ceri Owen. Cod are known to swallow baits right down, and these can be difficult to unhook, causing unwanted fatalities. Ceri continues:

“The circle hooks tend to hook in the corner of the cod’s mouth. I realise that they can still swallow the one Pennell hook; however getting one hook deep down is better than 2 hooks, which results in more fish being returned.”

Want to know what a pennel rig is? Check out the images below. A clipped down pennell rig (left) is a good rig for fishing for cod from sandy beaches. For fishing for cod from mixed or rough ground, try the popular pennell pulley rig (right).

Cod rigs

Image source: British Sea Fishing
Clipped down pennell rig (left) and pennell pulley rig (right)

3. Best baits

Worms

Image source: Go Fishing – Sea Angler
Lugworms at their squirmy best!

Greedy cod

Cod are greedy fish that will eat almost anything including smaller fish. That’s great for anglers because it means you have a wide choice of baits with which to entice them. On the down side, cod can be unpredictable feeders; what works well one day may not work the next.

Live bait is best but it can be difficult to get hold of all year round. Sean bagged over 300 codling last season. His advice is to go prepared with a variety of baits:

“One day all they wanted was Crab, the next it had to be Black Lugworm and at the start of the season, when the Squid were about, it was Squid. If you have a selection of fresh and frozen baits with you, your chance of having what they want is increased.”

Sean often uses frozen bait, keeping in an insulated bag until he needs it. That way it stays frozen meaning he can take the leftovers home to use another day.

Decent portions

Don’t skimp on bait. As Ceri reminds us, two worms tipped with a squid or crab can easily be swallowed by a 1.5lb codling. Imagine what a 5lb+ cod can wolf down!
But while it’s important to use large baits, do keep them streamlined. Sean suggests using bait elastic to make your baits compact, and always clip them down.
Neil Wilson shared a handy bit of insight on our Facebook post. He says:

“Everyone rushes to get the squid & cuttle big baits out. I have found at the start of the cod season a live whiting or pout catch the big girls for some reason. Then when it’s REALLY cold the big smelly bait come into their own!”

4. Stay Safe

Shore fishing

Staying safe keeps fishing a relaxing sport

Do take safety seriously writes Fishtec’s resident sea angler, Ceri Owen. If the weather’s really bad wait until the end of the storm, before you go fishing. There were 381 accidental drownings in 2013, according to ROSPA. Don’t become a statistic

  • Wear appropriate clothing – dress for the weather!
  • Make sure you’re visible to other anglers, especially around rougher waters.
  • Carry a phone and make sure it is fully charged.
  • Take a torch.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.
  • Check the tide times – don’t get stranded!
  • Be aware of your environment and prevailing weather conditions – for example, don’t fish from a cliff or exposed area when there’s a big swell!

Tight lines!

So there you have it – some tips and tricks to help you catch one of the nation’s favourite fish. With a little work you’re sure to improve your chances of catching one of these beautiful fish, either for the thrill of the chase, or for your own table.

Which Angling Conservation Groups Would You Join?

Image source: Fishtec Blog Our waters are worth looking after.

Image source: Fishtec Blog
Our waters are worth looking after.

Fishing conservation goes beyond buying a rod license. Yet 56% of anglers don’t support any kind of conservation group, according to a recent Fishtec survey.

Anglers tend to care about the environment than most people, but there’s always more to do. To help you get involved, we’ve shortlisted some of the best UK fishing conservation groups and highlighted some of the great work they do.

If you’re not sure what else to add to your Christmas list, add membership to one of these groups. It’s the ideal way to give your support.

Wild Trout Trust

fish pass

Image source: wildtrout.org
The WTT team install a fish pass on the River Hamble

Did you know the British Brown trout is more genetically diverse than the whole human race put together? Check out the Wild Trout Trust website for all everything you ever wanted to know about one of our favourite fish.

Fancy getting your hands wet (and dirty) in the name of conservation? If so the Wild Trout Trust is for you. A grassroots organisation dedicated to looking after the nation’s wild trout, here you’ll also find a wealth of opportunities to get stuck in.

And there are plenty of resources for anyone who just wants to gen up on UK river ecosystems. The Wild Trout Trust isn’t an angling organisation – but as you’d expect, many of its members are avid anglers. Tempted to join this enthusiastic community of river guardians? We don’t blame you.

Salmon and Trout Conservation UK

salmon run

Image source: salmon-trout.org/
Salmon running the Hampshire Avon – numbers still need to rise

Would it surprise you to learn that less than a quarter of rivers in England and Wales meet the Government’s own “good ecological status”? It’s because of the degradation of river environments that salmon runs are down by as much as 80% over the past 20 years.

If you think it’s time to do something to reverse the damage to our rivers, Salmon and Trout Conservation UK offers a chance to learn more, and lend a helping hand. There’s a blog too, which offers fascinating insights into the work of the charity – if you thought black box recorders were only for the aviation industry, think again.

First formed in 1903, the S&TC UK campaigns for sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems. As a conservation minded angler, make sure you check out their section on how you can do your bit.

The Canal and River Trust

canal fishing

Image Source: canalrivertrust.org.uk
Canal fishing remains possible because of the CRT’s dedicated work

“We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.” As an angler you’re sure to appreciate the work of the Canal and River Trust.

They’re the charity that cares for 2000 miles of rivers and canals across the country.
And because they also look after the vast network of bridges, embankments, towpaths, aqueducts, docks and reservoirs, they’re always looking for people willing to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in.

Of course you can always show your appreciation for the charity’s work by becoming a friend of the Trust. In return, you’ll receive discounts at Trust museums and attractions, a free magazine, book of “CoolCanals” walks and a pin badge and car sticker!

Shark Trust

Basking shark

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Basking shark are regular visitors to UK waters

Often demonised for their sharp toothed savagery, if you’ve ever wondered who is standing up for this vital apex predator, wonder no more. The Shark Trust has been helping to save the shark through science, education, influence and action since 1997.

If you’re a sea angler or just someone who loves to visit the coast, you can help the Shark Trust by joining in the ‘great eggcase hunt’. It’s a data gathering exercise to establish the distribution and abundance of egg cases from shark, ray and skates

The info will help scientists work out the best places to campaign for protected nurseries. So what are you waiting for? Check out the Shark Trust’s projects page for more details and get hunting.

Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society

bass

Image source: ukbass.com
An 11 – six bass, released without being landed

UK Bass is all about anglers looking out for the interests of the fish they love to catch. Members adhere to a rigorous code of conduct, sticking to the society’s 48cm size limit for fish caught for the table and recommending a maximum take of two fish per day and only ten a year.

Even if you’re not thinking of joining, it’s worth thinking about adopting the same policy. Bass stocks really are under pressure so it’s up to all anglers to do their bit. If you’d like to get involved, UK Bass supports the SOS Save Our Sea bass campaign.

Members get a quarterly magazine, but anyone visiting the site has access to a wealth of information about bass. This is a must for sea anglers.

Marine Conservation Society

mcsuk beach clean

Image source: Lauren Davis, mcsuk.org
MCSUK members on the Great British Beach Clean

“Our seas are under immense pressure: too many fish are being taken out, too much rubbish is being thrown in and too little is being done to protect our precious marine wildlife and vital fish stocks.”

Agree? You’ll be interested in the work of the Marine Conservation Society. Check out their beach clean map to find an event near you, or if wildlife spotting is your thing, there’s a ‘report your sightings’ page that tells you what to spot and where to record it.

And if you want to make sure the fish you eat is sustainable, make sure you check out the Fish Online section for the lowdown on the fish on the end of your fork.

Angling Trust

gravel riffle angling trust

Image source: anglingtrust.net
Angling Trust members creating a gravel riffle to aid spawning habitat

The national governing body for all angling, the Angling Trust fights against pollution, over-fishing, over-abstraction, poaching and many other other threats to angling.

And the Trust battles to keep fisheries open too. If you’ve noticed new signs on the harbour wall or town pier, by the banks of a town centre river or canal – banning fishing, it’s good to know someone is standing up for anglers’ rights.

Competitive angler? Check out the competition news page for results and write ups from comps across the country.

Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

parr tagging

Image source: gwct.org
Tagging parr in Frome

Good land management and healthy rivers go hand in hand, which is why the work of the Game and Wildlife Trust matters to us as anglers.

Affiliated to the Atlantic Salmon Trust, GWCT believe passionately that those who enjoy shooting and fishing have a valuable part to play in conserving the countryside for future generations.

The Trust employs over 100 scientists and staff and currently run over 60 research projects often in collaboration with universities. All that work costs money, much of which comes from members’ subscriptions. If you’d like to join you’re sure to be warmly received and the Trust is always on the lookout for volunteers.

Blue Ventures

octopus fisherman

Image source: copyright Garth Cripps/ Blue Ventures
Not the average river catch…

The octopus fishermen of Madagascar owe the resurgence of their vital, life sustaining fishery to a small charity dedicated to helping coastal communities in the tropics manage their marine resources with conservation in mind.

When charity workers persuaded one village to temporarily close a section of reef for fishing, octopus stocks bounced right back. Now the practise has gone viral with communities up and down the coast copying the strategy to great effect.

With marine conservation a hot topic here in the UK, the work of this group is very relevant to those of us who fish in cooler climes too. Big change can indeed grow from small changes. As the guys at Blue Ventures say: “taking less from our ocean can give us much much more.

The Rivers Trust

 river angling

Image source: riverstrust.org
River angling – what better way to spend a day?

With river trusts popping up all over the country, the Rivers Trust is an umbrella body which offers the opportunity for affiliates to share information and resources. As an Angler, you’ll be interested in the work of the organisation because of its role in developing ideas, best practices and policy guidance.

You’ll find a host of resources here including this excellent animated guide to the water cycle – great for educating your kids. And there’s a newsletter you can sign up to receive – great for keeping up to date with the Trust’s work around the country.

The Rivers Trust has a reputation as a body of doers who like to get their feet wet, and no wonder because anglers are among the core members of many rivers trusts around Britain. If you’d like to know more, make sure you checkout the projects page to see all the projects with which the Trust is currently involved.

The Grayling Society

grayling fishing

Image source: graylingsociety.net
Idyllic grayling fishing

Here’s a great opportunity to deepen your knowledge of one of our most beautiful wild game fish. The Grayling Society has been working since 1977 to keep like minded anglers informed about grayling conservation and fishing.

Becoming a member is a great way to forge links with fellow grayling enthusiasts both here and around the world.

And if you’d like to learn more about catching the ‘lady of the stream’, there’s an informative angling page, complete with video on how to catch the beautiful grayling.

The Riverfly Partnership

mayfly

Image source: riverflies.org
The mayfly – a common sight on our rivers

They’re often called the “canary of the river”, and with good cause too. River flies and invertebrates are at the heart of the river ecosystem. A vital link in the aquatic food chain, with no flies, there would be no fly fishing.

So thank goodness there’s an organisation committed to looking after the interests of this often neglected aspect of river conservation.

How would you like to contribute to keeping our waterways teeming with healthy insect life? The Riverfly Partnership provides one-day workshops to fishing clubs and other groups to help you monitor and report on the biological quality of your local rivers.

Countryside Alliance

CA-fishing-lesson

Image source: Countryside Alliance
A fishing lesson from the Countryside Alliance

If you live in a rural area or even if you don’t you’ll be surprised just how much work the group does campaigning for better policing, planning, affordable housing, fuel and digital communications for the countryside.

Far from being a one issue organisation, the Countryside Alliance is all about traditional values, thriving rural communities, and economies and sustainable countryside management. With over 100,000 members the Alliance represents the interests of a broad swathe of countryside lovers.

And as an angler, you’ll appreciate the work of the Alliance’s Foundation, which gives young people the chance to try their hand at fishing through its Fishing for Schools programme. The Countryside Alliance is a great organisation well worth a look.

Wye Salmon Association

learning to fish

Image source: Wye Salmon Association
Learning to fish on the Wye

Until the early 1990s, the annual rod catch of salmon in the Wye would regularly hit the 7000 mark. By 2010, that figure had plummeted to just 450 fish. but now the Wye Salmon Association is fighting back.

There’s not much they can do about global warming or sea survival, but they can influence what happens in the Wye valley. The Association campaigns tirelessly to return the river to its former glory.

The website’s news page makes for interesting reading – a true snapshot of the myriad issues that river conservationists face. From hatchery and stocking debates to poaching, it’s a real eye opener and relevant to anglers everywhere.

National Anguilla Club

chris mason eel

Image source: National Aguilla Club
NAC member Chris Mason with a fine catch!

And now for something completely different! How about trying your hand at eel angling? The National Anguilla Club was formed in 1962 and is one of the Nation’s oldest single specimen associations.

Back in the 60s there were 95% more eels than there are now, and while the Anguilla Club has always been interested in the study of this extraordinary and intriguing creature, these days the club is very much a conservation group.

But that doesn’t mean they no longer fish for our slippery friends, just that they always practise catch and release. A fantastic resource for anyone interested in the life of one of the most enigmatic inhabitants of our rivers and streams.

The Barbel Society

barbel

Image source: Barbel Society
Avon barbel double and rod of choice

Angers are often conservationists too, and the fishermen of the Barbel Society surely number among the most passionate advocates of sustainable fisheries. The founding members of the organisation realised way back in the early 1990s that widening participation in the sport had to go hand in hand with effective management strategies to limit the pressure on the aquatic environment and fish stocks.

This website reflects the wide ranging interests of barbel anglers. You can read back issues of Barbel Fisher magazine, catch up with Society news through the e-newsletter and hone your barbelling knowledge and skills

There’s even an informative barbel handling video so you can make sure your prize catch returns to the water unharmed to grow even bigger. A great resource.

Dangerous Fishing Videos

calm fishing day

A day’s fishing starts calmly enough…

Fishing can be a dangerous and terrifying sport. It might not seem that way when you’re sat by the bank of a gentle river, sipping coffee from your heated flask. But while you’re quietly waiting for a nibble, spare a thought for anglers across the globe who regularly battle the elements and some truly terrifying denizens of the water.

We’ve trawled the Internet and found six videos which show just how dangerous fishing can be. Next time you’re out by (or in) the water, remember what some anglers have to go through in pursuit of their hobby.

It’s angry, it’s got teeth, and it’s flying right at you

Some might argue that the best place for a furious, razor-toothed barracuda is on the other end of a very long line. The 40lb fish Kevin Faver has hooked has other ideas, however.

Introducing the magical disappearing tuna

Leandro probably started packing a harpoon into his kayak after videoing this particular sea fishing trip. There’s a bite on his line and he’s seconds from pulling it aboard. He’s not the only one eyeing the prize, however, and anything can happen in a few seconds. Stay with this one; at 5:20 there’s another incident that surprises Leandro!

When the ocean tries to catch you

Rock fishing is officially one of Australia’s most dangerous sports. That’s impressive, considering the number of risky things you can do Down Under. This video perfectly illustrates just how extreme conditions can be. Would you risk it for a big catch?

Swimming for your life

If you had a carp on your line and it pulled you into the water, you’d be a little red-faced. If it was a great white shark, you’d be swimming for your life. Kayaker Ben Chancey isn’t deterred by his brush with this furious killer, however. Watch as he hops back into his kayak like nothing’s happened.

Piranha!

How strong is your stomach? You need to be pretty hardcore if you’re going to watch this video. Tim Wells is about to gut a piranha which he thinks is long-dead. Start from the beginning if you want to see a close-up of piranha teeth, or skip to 3.30 and listen out for the crunch to see exactly what those gnashers can do.

Remember: this clip is not for the fainthearted.

Spanish mackerel obliterated by shark

You have to hand it to these anglers – they don’t let anything faze them. They continue fishing despite multiple sharks circling their boat. The sharks aren’t going to let an easy meal get away, either.

Cover the kids’ ears if they’re close by while you watch this one…

Got a fisherman’s tale to tell?

Angling isn’t always the relaxing sport it’s made out to be. We’ve seen crazy weather and a lot of close encounters with big hungry fish. And we haven’t even begun to talk about the places a hook can get stuck.

Have you had a close call while out fishing? Head over to the Fishtec Facebook page and share your story with us.

Best British sea fishing blogs

Sea FishingHow do you fancy some autumn angling reading?

The nights are drawing in, so we’ve scoured the Internet to bring you some solace when dark stormy evenings stop you from getting to the shore.

Here’s our selection of the best British sea fishing blogs:

British Sea Fishing

british sea fishing

Here’s a great resource for sea anglers everywhere. British Sea Fishing is a one-stop information shop for everything connected with your favourite hobby.

Ever struggled to identify an unusual catch? There’s a comprehensive fish identification guide here that covers everything from round fish to sharks, eels and more.

Are you new to sea fishing, or looking to improve your technique? Check out the information section where you’ll find among other useful gems, a guide to avoiding snags. Top tip: Choose a stiff rod for pulling tackle through weed, and go for a reel that enables quick retrieval.

Fishing and Foraging Wales

fishing and foraging wales

Pro fishing guide and foraging expert, Matt offers you a taste of how, “ancestors may have felt in days past where the seasons and hunting and gathering were so important.” If the pics of all those people catching are anything to go by, we’d say our forebears must have been pretty pleased.

This month, Matt’s blog reflects on the long summer season and looks forward to November which, he says, holds so much promise of that elusive prize, a big bass. If you’d like to join him for some fishing and foraging, places are booking up fast!

Matt’s a true steward of the coast and countryside, even educating his MP about the potential for a sustainable wildness industry in Wales. Want to find out how you could do the same in your area? Check out his blog post.

Light Rock Fishing

LRF blog

Join the light rock fishing revolution, Adam says, and find fun fishing. He certainly has. An advocate of fishing for “what’s under your nose” means even the most unpromising of locations offers fun times when he’s got a spare hour or so.

To put his money where his mouth is, he entered the British Street Fishing champs – eight urban marks – and guess what? He won. If that’s not a good reason to check out his blog for ideas and tips, we don’t know what is.

From horse mackerel off Weymouth to to a sport of LRF in Skiathos, Adam offers an irreverent take on life coupled with obvious angling know-how. You’ll love it.

Dean Pilgrim

dean pilgrim

Mad keen sea angler and blogger, Dean says: “Check out my blog for catch reports, kit reviews and my general fishing related antics.”

We did and we liked what we saw. Dean loves his lure fishing and if you do too, you’ll love his insights on the art of snagging a whole range of species this way.

Speaking of which, Dean’s latest foray to the shores of his beloved South Cornwall coast saw him bag a “wrasse on steroids”. Want to know what fish he’s talking about? Better check out his blog then!

Fishing-blog

fishing blog

Here is a blog that does exactly what it says on the tin: “Sea fishing tips to make you a better angler.” What’s the best anti crab rig? What’s the best way to use a soft plastic lure? What are the best baits for fishing the North sea?

You’ll find the answers to all these questions and more, including an interesting piece on fishing insurance. Add it up and you might be surprised just how much your fishing equipment is worth, and of course there’s always the chance of accident or injury. Find out how to make sure you’ve got the risks covered.

But what really makes the aptly named, fishing-blog stand out is the quality of the jokes… “What does a fish say when it swims into a wall? Dam.”

Fishing Tales

fishing tails blog

What do Poldark and pollack have in common? A summer trip to Cape Cornwall saw blog author, pro fishing guide and angling fanatic, Sean McSeveney bag a few nice pollack just a stone’s throw from where the new series was filmed.

And now you have the chance to benefit from Sean’s 40 plus years angling experience. He’s teamed up with none other than River Cottage, to offer a fabulous Shoreline sea fishing and cookery course.

With Sean as your guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about fishing from the beach, and afterwards, you’ll take your catch to the kitchen to clean and cook it to perfection.

British Disabled Fishing Association

bdaa sea fishing

Are you disabled and would just love to get into angling? BDAA offers training and practical help for you and your friends, relations and carers to get you fishing.

Anyone affected by disability will know just how great it is when fisheries work to make their facilities accessible to all. By providing expert help and guidance, BDAA also plays a leading role in helping to integrate disabled angling into fisheries across the UK and beyond.

Why not add your voice to the growing campaign to make angling more accessible? Becoming a friend of BDAA is a great way to show your support for the great work this charity does to champion disabled anglers, and their friends, families and carers.

Through the gaps

through the gaps blog

For a true taste of seafaring life, you can’t go wrong with this salty blog! Newlyn fishermen make their livings sailing their sturdy fishing boats, “through the gaps”, out into the sea to bring you the best seafood the Cornish coast has to offer.

Fancy owning your own piece of maritime heritage? The Falmouth working boat, Endeavour is up for sale. But if you’re from out of port, you’ll have to wait to see if anyone local wants her first!

No matter how far from the sea you live, you’ll love this blog. Keep your eye on the weather in the Western Approaches, watch all the action via the webcams in the Port of Newlyn, and track the whereabouts of the Newlyn boats live as they catch your tea!

Anglers Afloat

Anglers afloat in kayak

Here’s everything you could possibly want to know about kayak angling, all in one place. Product reviews, the low down on the latest angling tech, tournament news and more.

Interested in customising your boat and rig? Check out the “projects section”, for inspiration and ideas. Need to know how to make simple repairs, fit a sail kit, or install a flush rod holder? This is the section for you.

Anglers Afloat is also UK’s largest forums for kayak anglers. With over 4000 members, it’s a fantastic place to interact with fellow enthusiasts. Highly recommended.

Lure and Light Game

lure and light game

What do you do if your local beach yields nothing but weever after weever? Carefully remove it from the hook and keep on fishing! Lee was glad he did, bagging a flounder, and on metal too. Did the flatty mistake his lure for crab?

If you’re into LRF (light rock fishing) with lures, this is the blog for you. Lee’s angling exploits around the North Wales coast are full of inspiration and ideas.

Do make sure you check out some of Lee’s videos too, it’s a new medium for him, but you’ll certainly enjoy the footage – anyone for some chilled out mackereling?

Luke Fox

luke fox blog

Sometimes there’s nothing better than kicking back and enjoying reading about somebody else’s fishing exploits. So why not let Luke entertain you with some fishy tales from his adventures around the Cornish coast?

Are you into lure fishing? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Luke describes himself as a lure fisherman exclusively and his myriad photos of catches large and small will soon have you reaching for your fishing rod and tackle

Speaking of which, do make sure you check out Luke’s “tools of my trade” page to see what he’s using to such good effect!

Lurethatfish

lurethatfish blog

Lure and bass fisherman Keir Sims says his September sucked! But it wasn’t the fish that were to blame. First the boat engine stopped dead, then the car engine blew up. But surely it wasn’t as bad as all that? If the pics are anything to go by, Keir and his mates didn’t do too badly!

In fact, they were definitely reeling in some decent bass last month, so make sure you check Keir’s blog to see what he’s using. Hint: white DoLive shad is one of the options that seems to be doing the trick.

Need a little inspiration to get you out of the house and down to the beach? Keir’s gallery features some very tasty shots featuring a range of specimens in stunning locations.

Tidelines

Tidelines Blog

Wow! All we can say is, what a cod! No wonder Martin looks overjoyed. Scroll down through this excellent blog, and you’ll soon come across another of the author’s fine catches – this time a four pound perch.

It was Martin’s uncle who first kindled his nephew’s passion for angling, when he brought a trout home from the River Cessnock. Martin was seven at the time, and in the decades since he has lost none of his enthusiasm for the sport.

Which is great news for the rest of us, because Martin writes a great sea fishing blog. Do check out his recent video, “Good times on the Ebro”. Here’s Martin’s intro: “Losing good fish is never easy, when this happens on the last day and the fishing’s already rock hard, well… those damn Zander!” Sounds intriguing.

UK Bass

uk bass blog

Check in to UK Bass Blog to catch up with the latest campaigns to save the sea bass from overfishing and find out what you can do to help. You’ll find a link to the Save our Sea Bass Campaign page as well as the latest bass conservation news.

Of course, protecting sea bass doesn’t mean not catching them. Data collected from several thousand BASS members reveals that when it comes to landing a whopper, not all days are the same.

The tidal cycle it turns out, strongly influences catch rates. So when should you go after bass? Springs from April to the end of October.

Whitby Sea Anglers

Whitby sea anglers

North Sea Stocks – improving. Bluefin tuna spotted off the South West coast. These headlines alone should tell you that Whitby Sea Anglers have their fingers firmly on the UK’s sea fishing pulse.

Read all about a shark attack off Whitby. Luckily there was no “Jaws” style drama; a Porbeagle tore chunks out of an unlucky cod. The boat skipper takes up the story:

“The porbeagle must have been 8ft long and around 400lb in weight, and a very big fish. It was a pleasure to see such an awesome predator in action.” If you want a blow by blow account of the action check out the blog. You won’t regret it, it’s full of news, tips and insights from the Whitby sea anglers’ watery world.

Best of the worst catch competition pictures

angler with boot

Image source: Minerva Studio/ Shutterstock
Fishing that fails

You’ve been sending in some fantastic entries to the Classic Catch competition, and we’ve given you loads of hints and tips for taking the best picture of your prize catch.

Even though some of the pictures entered aren’t quite what we’d call pro-quality, they’ve given us at Fishtec a laugh, so we wanted to share our favourites with you.

Which do you like best? Make your vote, and the picture with the most votes will win a small prize (think of it as an angler’s wooden spoon…).

Look at these four delights, then choose your favourite at the bottom of the page.

Dan Dice's Bewl Water blue trout

Ian Swindlehurst with his catch!

Dan Dice's Bewl Water blue trout

Richard James’ 10 1/2 pound sturgeon at Kingsnordley Farm Quatt, Shropshire

Dan Dice's Bewl Water blue trout

Dan Dice’s Bewl Water blue trout

Dan Dice's Bewl Water blue trout

Rob Bending’s wild river Tawe brownie / Klink & dink in low water.

Make your choice…

Which is your favourite picture?

View Results

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Angling for disaster

fisherman in small boat with shark

Image source: Andrea Crisante/ Shutterstock
You’re going to need a bigger boat…

Cast your line, sit back in that comfortable chair and breathe in the taste of tranquility as you settle in for another rewarding day of fishing.

Ahh … the sun’s shining, the birds are singing and it’s about as idyllic as it gets.

What could possibly go wrong?

Sealed with a kiss (asbonline)

You won’t believe it! You’ve just caught the biggest fish of your life and are posing proudly for the photograph to show your friends — and then this happens.

We may be top of the food chain, but take your eye of the prize for one minute and there are plenty of smart movers waiting to strike. Outfished!

Bacon butty cast off (Buddy Stump)

Be sure to clean the grease off your hands after eating that bacon butty. There’s a technique to casting, and this isn’t it. Doh!

You may well have been fishing for years, but it’s always useful to freshen up on your casting technique. Michelangelo at Fly Fishing Discounters tells us:

“Fly casting is an art form. Your fly rod is the brush, The fly reel holds the line like an artist’s palette holds his paints. And the fly line is his paint.”

In your face (BlacktipH )

Experienced fisherman, Joshua Jorgensen of BlacktipH Fishing, gets a nasty surprise when trying to land a monster fish out at sea. Top marks to him for staying cool and not turning this video into a raging fishing reel. That’s a nasty injury too.

Goliath strike (Gimbb14)

Good luck can turn rotten in seconds. You’re stoked after landing a 4ft-long shark and it looks like a satisfying day’s fishing. But then the Goliath Grouper turns up and dead shark hits the fan.

After such bad luck there’s only one way to soothe your disappointment and that’s going back out to fish for Goliath Groupers. The question is: Are you up to the job of catching a fish that can weigh as much as 800 pounds? Jamie Hibbert at Fishing Blog says:

“As a result of how heavy the Goliath Grouper can get when it fully matures, it is important to consider getting a strong fishing rod.”

Sharpshooter fisherman targets drone (Life Generation)

How would you react if a noisy drone was disturbing your fish? You’ll be amazed at what this maverick angler does. A bad day’s fishing becomes a bad day’s droning. The noise of that mechanical fly was scaring away the fish, so this one’s a victory for the anglers.

Slipping with sharks (Fish Pelagic)

Whoops! This really isn’t the thing to do when handling a shark, though to be fair, this fisherman doesn’t seem to bothered. Super confident with sharks or just stupid — we’re not sure.

The Shark Trust’s, Shark Handling Guide states,

“If possible, release the shark from the side of the boat, only inboard a fish when absolutely necessary.”

There are many ways to spoil a day by the water – we’ve seen just a few here. What has ruined your angling trips? Tell us what happened on our Facebook page.

Alan Yates Sea fishing Diary October 2015

IT’S TIME FOR COD

The cod season has arrived and an increasing number of anglers are out after them, with catches from all around the UK being much improved on recent years. In some regions it’s possible to catch four fish over 3lb in a session and a few are making 6lb. Reports from various regions include the river Tyne being packed with small codling so the future seasons are also bright there. Inside the Humber estuary codling are showing at Immingham. In the East Anglia codling of 3lb plus are a regular feature of competitions and that shows they are around because the matches are not always organised for the best fishing, more towards social hours and the pub times.

Ian Dancey of Waterlooville, Portsmouth with two cod from Ferry Bridge, Chesil beach

Ian Dancey of Waterlooville, Portsmouth with two cod from Ferry Bridge, Chesil beach

In Kent Dungeness has already produced four codling in one session. Reports of cod from Brighton and Shoreham beaches show the English Channel has prospects, whilst the hot spot on some days is Dorset’s, Chesil beach. The Bristol Channel looks good with Blue Anchor, Dunster beach and Brean/Brean Down the top high water venues. The Fylde coast cod season looks good with codling showing already with fish averaging 1lb to 2lb. Best reports are coming from the northern end of the coast from the west facing beaches like Cleveleys, Dronsfield Road and Beach Road, Fleetwood.

Chesil beach - a great spot for catching cod!

Chesil beach – a great spot for catching cod!

All you need to do is get the sea fishing tackle out and head for the beach or pier, although a good overhaul of you fishing gear might be worth it before you venture out! Especially check you main  lines because they will almost certainly require changing. Look at rod rings for wear and hair line cracks and reels for salt corrosion. Terminal rigs that have been returned from last year’s fishing should be binned and it’s not a bad idea to tie up a few new ones, especially because every season advances in tackle accessories are made and you may miss out on something special.

Check out the TF Gear web site: www.totalfishinggear.co.uk or www.fishtec.co.uk for a comprehensive selection of sea fishing equipment.

Bait wise, little beats yellowtail or black lugworm and squid as a front line codling bait, although a few fresh peeler crabs can be deadly on many venues, especially the rough ground and estuaries.

Ben Arnold of Brighton with an 11lb cod from Dover Admiralty pier - it won him the three day pier festival and is the first of the bigger shore cod from Kent

Ben Arnold of Brighton with an 11lb cod from Dover Admiralty pier – it won him the three day pier festival and is the first of the bigger shore cod from Kent

HANDLING YOUR CATCH

The way you handle your catch has become a far more important issue nowadays with political correctness demanding more attention to fish welfare. Dumping the fish in a fish box as they are caught is still practiced, but some anglers want to kill the fish that they catch, others simply release everything alive.

Personally I eat a lot of the fish I catch and so I do kill what I want to take home, but release those that are unwanted, or I feel need returning. There are of course rules and regulations governing legal minimum size limits and not all fish are legally big enough to retain, but those that are big enough are not always candidates for catch and release simply because many a hook hold is fatal to a fish, especially the small species and those species that always swallow the hook. So it’s an open ended situation and I sometimes take home fish I would otherwise have released. There are of course also catch limits nowadays, the new bass three fish a day is the first of many I think we have to come. Some species are barred from capture, eels, tope, shad to name a few.

Removing hooks is a major problem for a majority of sea anglers and lots of sea fish are killed by anglers who want to return a fish, but simply lack the technique and skill to remove a hook without harming the fish. Some hooks cannot be removed without damage, but the majority can if you know what you are doing. Using a sea fishing disgorger helps although many cannot work the likes of the Gemini effectively. It does take practise; get another angler to show you how.

If you are totally intent on fishing catch and release then use small hooks – these do less damage and are easier to remove. Size 8s or event 10s are not as practically efficient as larger sizes, but far more fish friendly if you can call a hook that. Such freshwater hook sizes being an example for their ease of removal with a simple freshwater stick (Stomfo) disgorger. Another good idea for C&R is to use crushed or micro barbs on hooks which make them easier to remove, barbless is less popular, but again it’s more fish friendly for those fishing catch and release.

Another major issue with fish welfare is handling the fish, grabbing a pouting, whiting, mackerel, etc around the middle, fighting the hook free and then releasing the fish does a lot of damage to the fishes protective, scales and slime coating. I am not in agreement with the theory that ALL mackerel handled die because of this. As a regular coarse angler I handle lots of freshwater fish and because they are caught and released regularly it is well known that they survive handling, although a wet hand, cloth or unhooked in the net, plus gentle handling is more commonly practised in freshwater angling.

At sea a problem is that different species are more delicate, some swallow hooks and some are reasonably tough. Bass for instance rarely swallow the hook and have a tough bony mouth and scaled body making them more resistant to unhooking and handling. Mullet on the other hand shed scales easily and need to be handled with great care. Dogfish are very resilient to unhooking and handling, whilst codling and the rest of the cod family and the other soft fined species are very easily damaged by a hook or handling and a very low percentage of those hooked survive. Dropping fish from a high venue is also a problem although this can be solved by the use of a bucket to net or even hooking the fish on the grip lead wire.

Flatfish are also prone to damage when the hook is removed because of the trap door nature of their mouth, many swim away strongly look like they will survive, but die later. The reality is that with the best will in the world some fish will not survive and it is my personal policy, provided a damaged fish is sizable, that I retain it for the table.

If you have to kill a fish or want to prevent it gasping its life away in the fish box then a sharp blow to the head is still the best method. Most boat skipper use the aptly names “priest” whilst from the shore small fish can be dispatched with the fish measure or knife handle

At the end of the day, fish welfare is and always has been a matter of personal conscience and although anglers may differ greatly in opinion it is totally their own personal decision and no one else’s!!!

Tight lines, Alan Yates