Cwm Hedd Fly Fishing Report Jan 2015

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Happy New Year everyone!

Remember to visit our facebook page to see the latest photographs! www.facebook.com/cwmheddlakes

Opening hours: Monday and Tuesday: closed; Wednesday – Sunday 8am-4pm; last admission 2pm. Gates closed at 4.15.

cwm hedd big brown trout 525x350 Cwm Hedd Fly Fishing Report Jan 2015

Brown trout – biggest fish for January (and probably for some time) goes to Graham Davies who was ecstatic to hook a resident brown trout at around 10lbs in weight. The fish took a green and black fritz and an Airflo intermediate fly line, off the small island and in front of the lodge. Big congratulations to Graham, who of course returned the fabulous brown that had put up a very good fight. Graham also took a rainbow and released another two rainbows so had a great few hours out.

Please remember to use barbless hooks at all times and to return all brownies. They are few and far between, but aside from the 5 browns between 5 and 6lbs stocked recently, there is a smattering of resident browns and rainbows of various sizes. The newly stocked browns have already put in an appearance with Luke Taylor being one of the lucky anglers to hook one last week, as did Phil cotton in the boxing day comp.

With a fair bit of rain and cold weather over the last week we’ve seen the water temperature drop a couple of degrees, seemingly forcing the fish to become somewhat slower, and trying to provoke a take with a fly fished quickly doesn’t seem to be the way forward, as a number of anglers have discovered, leaving with empty nets. The bung or indicator method has produced the best bags over the past week and presenting your fly dead static at a constant depth is possibly the way forward. Using this method Kieron Jenkins brought eight fish to the bank over two days using a sunburst blob fished just 3ft under the bung and Sally Ann Iles took one and released 6, deciding to try something different on New Year’s Day.

cwm hedd kieron 525x350 Cwm Hedd Fly Fishing Report Jan 2015

Roy Western on his first visit of the week took one and released 5 on various blobs, a floating and sink-tip line. Lee Ashcroft also took one and released 5 on a black hopper and a ghost-tip. Mike James and Brian Haynes each took one and released 3, Mike on an emerger, a black blob and a humungous switching between a floating and an intermediate line.   Brian’s fish were taken on a diawl bach and small buzzers on a floating line. On his first of two visits this week, Ken Pascoe also took one and released 3 on an emerger and a floating line. Dave Marshall took one on an orange and white dancer, while Phil Harper had success with a buzzer, Tom Pitchford took one and John Viggers took one on a mini-cat.

Stock delivery – tag fish included

Although there is an excellent head of fish in the lake, a further top-up of rainbows and a tag fish are on order from Exmoor Fisheries for delivery this week. I am also planning to stock more brownies some time in the next month so watch this space!

Opening hours: Monday and Tuesday: closed; Wednesday – Sunday 8am-4pm; last admission 2pm. Gates closed at 4.15.

www.cwmhedd.co.uk | email: info@cwmhedd.co.uk

Tel: 01633 896854 (lodge during opening hours); 07813 143 034 (any time/day before 6pm) Happy New Year and tight lines everyone.

Linda

NEW Bruce Chard Fly Lines from Airflo

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Bruce Chard is renown for being one of the most sought after fly fishing guides in the Florida Keys… and to help us mere-mortal anglers, he’s teamed up with Airflo to design a fly line for tropical angling – A fly line that will help you deliver a fly to the target quickly and accurately with minimal fuss.

The new Airflo Bruce Chard Tropical Punch fly line has been designed with Bruce and the experts at Airflo, using the latest materials technology in the fly line industry, this Topical fly line from Airflo really packs a punch.

The secret to this fly line is its compact front taper and extend rear taper. For the average fisherman who only gets a few weeks a year to chase a grand slam; wind, big flies, and knocking knees can get in the way of their goal. The Chard line uses the latest super-Dri technology, ultra quiet ridge technology, and low stretch power core to get your fly to the fish, stick it – and stay stuck.

bruce chard fly line 525x182 NEW Bruce Chard Fly Lines from Airflo

Available in WF 8 – 12
Head colour: Sky Blue
Running Line Colour: Pale Yellow

 

Cwm Hedd Lakes New Years Fly Fishing Report

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cwm hedd winners 525x350 Cwm Hedd Lakes New Years Fly Fishing Report

Fishing report December 30th 2014

Good morning everyone – I hope it is as lovely where you are as it is in sunny Cwm Hedd this morning, where the lake looks very beautiful in the hard frost that descended last night. My walk this morning blew away a few cobwebs, and the frozen ground brought a welcome change from sloshing about in mud.

Opening hours:

Monday and Tuesday: closed; Wednesday – Sunday 8am-4pm; last admission 2pm. Gates closed at 4.15. There will be many cups of tea/coffee available on New Year’s Day for those who are feeling fragile. Please ensure that all mince pies are also consumed as I don’t want to see any more before next December!

Boxing Day competition results: Sixteen anglers turned out for the Boxing Day comp despite it being a freezing cold and wet day that tested the waterproof qualities of various items of fly fishing clothing. Four anglers won a day ticket each in a very tight competition where 6 and a quarter ounces was all that separated the first from the fourth fish.

Kieron Jenkins took the heaviest fish weighing 3lbs 3 and a half ounces fishing an orange blob under a bung. He used the Airflo 40+ super dri floating line and a 5ft floating trout polyleader to turn over the indicator and weighted blob at distance, killing his last fish and releasing another 9. In second place Gareth Neale’s fish taken on an orange blob weighed in at 3lbs one and a quarter ounces; Kristian Davies, showed us how to use the bung method, coming in third place with a fish weighing a fraction over 3lbs, releasing another 9 also on the blob and bung, with a couple on dries. In fourth place Mike James took a fish weighing 2lbs 13 and a quarter ounces, releasing another five on an emerging buzzer.

Inevitably, being able to take any one of 10 fish rather than the usual first fish tempted some anglers to wait for a bigger fish to come along, resulting in some running out of time and not taking a fish, such as Phil Cotton, who released 9, again on the blob under a bung. Phil was compensated by hooking one of the big brownies though, so every cloud has a silver lining. Luke Thomas took one and released 9 using the same method; Clive Murray took one on a black and green lure and Ken Pascoe took one on an emerging buzzer

The rest of the week was quiet in terms of anglers, but the majority of those who were released from Christmas festivities took and released fish. Bill Williams, Luke Taylor and Keith Higgins each took one and released three; Gareth West took one and released five; Adam Taylor, Mike Mckeown, Barry Powell and Paul Elsworthy each took one and released two; Callum Russell, Christian Jones, Ron Thomas each took one and released one; Luke Thomas and Matthew Russell each took one and released seven; Colin Cox took one and over two visits Roy Western took three fish and released seven.

www.cwmhedd.co.uk | email: info@cwmhedd.co.uk | www.facebook.com/cwmheddlakes

Tel: 01633 896854 (lodge during opening hours); 07813 143 034 (any time/day before 6pm)

Croesheolydd Farm, Bassaleg, Newport, NP10 8RW. 5 mins J 28 M4

Wishing you all a great New Year.

Linda

Cwm Hedd Fly Fishing Report Decemeber

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Opening hours:
Monday and Tuesday: closed
Christmas Eve 8am-2pm
Christmas Day: closed;
Boxing Day (comp), plus Saturday and Sunday 8am-4pm. Gates closed at 4.15

Merry Christmas everyone

Brown trout in the Christmas stocking!

Five beautiful brown trout 5-6lbs each were included with the quality rainbows delivered by Exmoor Fisheries on Friday. All brown trout must be returned so it is essential that anglers use only barbless hooks at all times.

Boxing Day comp: just a few places left for those who want to enter on the day, but it will be first come-first served. The Christmas raffle will also be drawn on Boxing Day at 2pm (£1 per ticket). Prizes include a fishing bag kindly donated by Mike James, a bottle of Vodka donated by Terry Griffiths, a Greys GX500 reel, flies, fly box, priest etc supplied by Garry Evans Tackle

Arrive for the comp any time between 8am and 11am. £20 entry includes bacon sandwich, tea/coffee/cake.   Release up to ten fish and take one out of the ten. The four anglers with the heaviest fish will each win a Cwm Hedd day ticket (one prize per entry).

How’s it fishing this week?

Some horrible weather kept all but the most determined away on a few days, with Thursday and Sunday being particularly unpleasant days. Over the week, on a variety of flies such as a black spider, muddler, damsel, white zonker, cats whisker, diawl bach, black and green, black and silver lure, Ron Shottle, Kevin Probert, Huw John, Justin Williams Gareth Neale, Graham Davies, Paul Elsworthy, Wayne Evans and John Russell all took a fish each.

Over two visits Mike James took two and returned five on a cruncher and a floating line; also over two visits Roger Martyn took two and returned 11 on a black hopper, a damsel and a white zonker; Gareth West took one and returned two on a damsel and a white zonker, Ken Bowring took one and returned eight on a black pennal and a damsel using an intermediate and a sink-tip line; Keith Higgins took one and returned two on a cats whisker and an intermediate. Christian Jones was one of the few who braved the weather on Sunday, taking one and releasing one on a white minky using an intermediate and a floating line.

On a midge tip line and a black nymph, Alan Powell took one and returned four, which he thought were all between 3 and four pounds; Matthew Russell took one and returned eight on a damsel and a blob using an Airflo Forty Plus Fly Line, while son Callum, also on an Airflo 40+ took one and returned one on a damsel and a sunburst blob. Lee Ashcroft and Steve Mogg each took one and returned seven. Luke Thomas took one and returned four. Tony Horrocks took a lovely brace on a cats whisker and an intermediate line.

Biggest fish of the week

Using a floating line, Ken Pascoe took a cracking fish weighing 5lbs 8 and half ounces, releasing another two on a grey hopper and an emerging buzzer.

www.cwmhedd.co.uk       email: info@cwmhedd.co.uk       www.facebook.com/cwmheddlakes

Tel: 01633 896854 (lodge during opening hours); 07813 143 034 (any time/day before 6pm)

Thank you for your support and good humour which are always appreciated. Have a great Christmas and New Year!

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Late December 2014

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Mick Tapsell ray 4.220kg Ad pier Dover Xmas 14 Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Late December 2014

The lengthy spell of mild weather continues into the New Year and lots of shore anglers are going to be shocked when the weather finally breaks and the heavy frosts and snow arrives. Then most of the quality fish move away to deep water. In recent years the autumn season seems to have extended, but when winter comes it does so with a vengeance and we are just about to experience that happening. Currently it’s remarkable that from many parts of the country the rays are still around. I fished a Christmas match at Dover recently and the Admiralty pier which has been closed for months was reopened especially for competitors in the Dover Sea Angling Christmas match – A great gesture by Dover Harbour Board and it suggests the pier will reopen to the public soon. However, that match produced a cracking thornback ray of 4.222kg for local angler, Mick Tapsell, it was amongst three which is rare for the pier, let alone in December. Then my old mate Chris Clark lands a giant undulate in Dorset whilst fishing for a Sea Angler magazine feature, whilst around the rest of the country the rays are still turning up. The question is, are they changing to an all round year fish rather than just a summer species? Of course the answer is that they have always been around all year, but numbers were so small we never noticed. Now the rays, like the dogfish, have expanded their population and are inshore in late winter and early spring with populations overlapping – they are indeed an all year around sea species. Look out for the Hants and Dorset small eyed rays turning up in March with the Kent thornbacks kicking off in February, that is if they don’t show all winter.

Currently the codling are inshore in good numbers and they should stay until spring because they cannot spawn yet. If they could they would be off into deep water in most regions around February to spawn. This first two months of the New Year are annually a time for tiddlers, because all the larger specimens depart our shores to spawn. This year the codling will stay and that will make shore fishing on lots of venues worthwhile in the New Year and right up to spring. That will make a great change from dabs and the dreaded rockling, which for some anglers are the only February species around. The question about the cod that remains is, will enough survive to return next winter when they will be five and six pounds? The last time we had such a flush of codling it was in the glory years of the sixties and the 2lb fish of 1963 fuelled the cod bonanza that the older generation remembers. Could this happen again? Well if the commercials allow it. With Brussels having just upped the cod quota for the North sea I fear for the worst – It would be a tragedy if come next October no cod turned up, but with the French trawlers combing the upper English Channel and the cheating commercial fishermen who get around the small mesh size by filling their trawls with string what chance have the fish got?

Neville Broad 5lkb cod Dungeness 525x333 Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Late December 2014

Neville Broad of Sheerness with a 5lb cod from Dungeness, that’s the size the current crop of codling should return at next winter.

And then there is the question of bass – has no one noticed how few really big bass have been caught this year? Those large spawning fish have almost been completely rounded up and although we have plenty of schoolies around at present – I dread that may end soon. A lot of Angling Trust and Government hot air about bass stocks currently, but nothing is actually being done to protect stocks.

Tactics for the coming weeks include a supply of stickie lugworms, despite the codling around and they like freshout lugworms best, I just love catching and eating dabs which are at their plumpest at this time of year. Slightly off worms are a bait the dabs are always on the lookout for, because the worms are continuously buried dead and unearthed decaying by the storms and the lesser waves. Dabs can have tunnel vision for stickie worms on some winter days.

Before I go some positive news and that is that I fished my new Force Eight Continental beach casters in the rocks recently – Pulley Pennells and all and I landed three codling and a bass using 30lb all through. Not big fish, but what a pleasure to be able to fish light and you can read all about it in a future issue of sea angler magazine.

Tight lines and a Happy New Year,

Alan Yates

Rare Deep-Sea Greenland Shark

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Sometimes watching footage of the seabed can be as exciting as watching paint dry, but when something like the mysterious Greenland shark appears where no-one has ever seen one before, people like Alan Turchik (National Geographic Mechanical Engineer) can get very, very excited indeed!

The camera which was placed 211 meters (700 feet) down on the seafloor and recorded over 3 hours of absolute nothingness, only to be briefly interrupted by a small jellyfish, but after staring at the sand for much of the time a Greenland shark bumped into the camera and lumbered through the frame! For a species which remains an enigma to scientists to the day, any new information such as sightings like this one – is invaluable.

Catching Turchik’s joyful reaction on camera expletive-filled reaction on film was pure luck. The cameraman Michael Pagenkopf wanted to take some shots of the team working on the boat for a film of the expedition, so he trained the lens on Turchik who was reviewing the video footage downloaded from the camera.

Just as Pagenkopf swapped his cameras battery and started filming, the picture on Turchik’s screen started bouncing around – It didn’t take long to hear how he felt about the sharks presence.

greenland Rare Deep Sea Greenland Shark

A Deep-Sea Enigma

These sharks are a conundrum, says Greg Skomal, a senior marine fisheries scientist at Massachusetts Marine Fisheries who wasn’t involved in the survey. Scientists aren’t sure how long the sharks live—a hundred years is one estimate—how big they get, or even if they’re predators or scavengers.

Based on the sharks’ stomach contents, “they seem to be chowing down on cod, wolffish, squid, and a variety of marine mammals,” says Peter Bushnell, a fisheries biologist at Indiana University South Bend. They may also be taking bites out of beluga whales.

 They can be as big as great white sharks, but that’s about as far as the comparison goes, growing to an estimated  7.3 meters (24 feet) long. With a maximum speed of just 1.7 mph and being mostly blind one would think they’re happy to eat rotting carcasses.

However, if the history of fishing is any guide, Greenland sharks are common as muck. The sharks were fished from the early 20th century until the 1960s; mainly for their liver oil, which was used as lamp fuel and industrial lubricant. In some years, over 30,000 were taken. That suggests a very healthy population.

In line with that, a recent expedition used 120 hooks on a longline, (not your normal sea fishing equipment!) and caught 59 sharks. “I think they’re fairly common,” says Aaron Fisk of the University of Windsor in Ontario. “When we want to catch them we don’t have any trouble.”

 

 

Quiz! What kind of fisherman are you?

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Are you a hunter, a lounger, a competitor perhaps?

There are as many types of angler as there are anglers, from those who take their sea fishing tackle very seriously, to those who are more concerned with a snooze by the river.

And we thought, since it’s Christmas, why not have a little fun? Here we give you the chance to find out just what kind of fishing enthusiast you are!

bigstock Young man fishing on a lake fr 49801037 Quiz! What kind of fisherman are you?

What’s your ideal Christmas gift?

When you get to your favorite fishing spot, what’s the first thing you do?

When you catch a fish do you:

When fishing in company do you:

Later, you’re at the pub with friends do you:


Christmas fishing folk tales

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Dicken’s Christmas Carol is one of the most famous ghost stories ever told.

The spooky writings of MR James were originally Christmas Eve tales the Cambridge don told to entertain his students; Susan Hill’s acclaimed gothic ghost story, the Woman in Black is recounted during a Christmas Eve house party. Christmas ghosts are a rich tradition that harks back to Victorian times and beyond.

But what about ghostly fishing stories? Tales of the sea, pond or riverbank that will have your carp fishing equipment trembling in your hands…

Hella Point

1. Shipwreck 525x350 Christmas fishing folk tales

Image source: AlienCat
The chilling tale of a missing sailor, love and a shipwreck.

The Southern tip of Cornwall is a wind ravaged place. Isolated and bleak, in winter, its cliffs and coves are storm lashed and lethal. When young Nancy fell for swashbuckling sailor called William, their union was frowned upon by the girl’s family and she was forbidden from ever seeing him again.

But the two met in secret on the beach at Porthgwarra, where they pledged their undying love for each other.

When William returned to sea, Nancy would pace the headland at Hella point, looking out for the return of her lover. But as weeks turned to months, and still there was no sign of him, Nancy became frantic with worry, and nothing anyone said could calm her.

Then one stormy evening, an old woman saw Nancy down in the cove. Sat on a rock, huge waves roared and seethed around her. The elderly woman began to hobble down to the beach to warn the girl of the danger of the tide. But then she stopped in her tracks, for there sitting beside the girl was none other than the missing sailor.

A breaker rolled into the bay, and broke over the rock. Nancy disappeared, never to be seen again. And when news came to the tiny hamlet, it told of shipwreck and disaster. Williams ship had sunk, and all aboard were drowned.

Dead fisherman’s family

2. Dead fishermans family 525x393 Christmas fishing folk tales

Image source: donatas1205
A starved fisherman’s family haunt this river.

The river Adur in West Sussex is a spooky body of water if ever there was one. One of the sights that greets visitors is an old wooden boat, long since wrecked, its rotting timbers slowly decaying in the turgid river current.

On dark nights, it’s said, anglers have been chilled to the marrow by the sound of sobbing that emanates from the boat’s crumbling bulwarks. Closer inspection reveals the spectral horror of a woman and her children damned to an eternity of sobbing despair.

The boat once belonged to a fisherman. One dark night in 1893, a tempest blew his fragile craft upriver from Shoreham harbour to be wrecked on the rocky riverbank. No matter how hard the poor man tried, he couldn’t refloat his boat.

Death by starvation was the fate of the fisherman and his entire family. Now the ghosts of those unfortunates appear hollow eyed and desperate, forever trying to push the boat back out to sea.

Jack Harry’s lights

3. Jack Harrys Lights 525x350 Christmas fishing folk tales

Image source: Digital Storm
A ghosty ship in St Ives Bay, yep, you’ve seen Jack Harry’s Lights.

If ever you’re out sea fishing at St Ives Bay and you see a ghostly ship cruise against wind and tide across the bay, put away your tackle and run for dry land. If ever you see the lights of that dread ship glimmer and disappear in the night – run for your your life because disaster will surely follow.

You’re gazing upon ‘Jack Harry’s lights’.

Jack Harry was the man who one afternoon watched a ship sail into the bay. He watched with horror as it sailed straight onto the rocks. Horrified, he ran to round up a rescue crew who rowed to the stricken vessel intent on saving as many of the crew as they could.

Just as they reached the ship and Jack went to step aboard, it disappeared. Confused and scared, the men returned to shore. Later that night, another ship was seen to founder. But fearing it was another ‘ghost ship’, nobody would put to sea to rescue her crew.

But this ship was real all right. The Neptune was wrecked on the rocks and next morning, the first of the bodies washed ashore. For ever after, Jack Harry’s lights have been seen up and down the rocky Cornish coast. And they’re always an omen of ill fortune and death.

The Ghost of Claremont lake

4. The Ghost of Claremont lake 525x393 Christmas fishing folk tales

Image source: n1kcy
A ghost with a grudge lurks on this lake.

Think phantoms are confined to wild Cornish coasts? Think again, all you carp fishermen. Claremont Lake in Esher is as haunted as they come. It’s a National Trust property now, but even if you could fish there, you’d do so at your peril.

William Kent was a renowned landscape gardener. When he was hired to revamp the grounds by Claremont House’s owner, the Duke of Newcastle, he must have been delighted at the prospect of completing such a high profile project.

Kent set to, moving streams and creating a stunning new lake fed from a grotto. But when the work was done, the Duke welched on the deal, offering to pay a paltry £100 for the huge works. Facing financial ruin, Kent argued the point, and the Duke responded by having the man thrown in his own lake.

William Kent caught cold and died a penniless pauper. Now on dark misty nights, the figure of the dead designer walks the grounds. Dressed in long brown cloak and gaiters, his tormented spirit is doomed to haunt the lake forever.  

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary December 2014

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mix of baits 525x349 Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary December 2014

That disgruntled look on the tackle dealer’s face when you ask him if he has any bait tells a story – Those first heavy frosts, the torrential rain and the failing daylight all conspire to make lugworm more valuable than gold at this time of year, well the way prices are rocketing they soon will be. (£5 for ten blacks) What makes things worse is that anglers in generally are just not appreciative enough of how difficult it is to dig or pumps worms and I always suggest those that whinge and moan should try digging their own worms before they complain. Especially when it comes to the size of the worm – the diggers just cannot get giant worms all the time.

The simple fact is that the diggers and pumpers cannot get enough worms to make their efforts worthwhile, especially during the neap tides. That’s why the late summer and autumn army of part time, beer money diggers and pumpers vanish in December – they just cannot collect enough bait per tide. So it’s left to a hardy bunch of pros that dig in any weather to supply an increasing demands. This season is going to be exceptionally difficult because there is a glut of small codling that’s fuelling a bigger demand for lugworm.

So what is the solution? Well for the majority its, talk nicely to the tackle dealer time and hope he can help you out. Or more reliance of the stock of frozen worms and squid you have in the freezer. You don’t have any frozen bait? Well sorry but you should have seen the shortage coming and prepared. It’s a pain having the best tackle on the planet and no bait to fish with, but there IS always a way to raise something to put on your hook and a visit to the largest supermarket in your region that has a fish counter is called for. Desperate to fish, there are fresh farmed mussels which make a great bait tied on the hook with elastic cotton. The fresh frozen tropical prawns also catch, again tied on the hook with cotton. As for squid it’s usually available and if you can’t get Calamari try the larger English type squid or cuttlefish fresh or frozen. In some fishmongers and in some regions direct from the boats, etc you may find fresh herrings, sprats and even a mackerel so all is not lost.

If you can get lugworm, any kind of lugworm – then appreciate it. Although many don’t and be-moan the smaller common or blow lugworm. Indeed it seems everyone has become brain washed into thinking that only blacks or yellow tails catch cod and that the smaller, softer common lugworm is useless as bait – Well let me say that in the past small common lugworm have caught lots of cod and a hook full of small worms can out fish one giant worm because one it gets washed out all scent has gone. Six worms on a hook and the juices last longer. Any lugworm is better than no lugworm!

Razorfish e1418402128898 Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary December 2014
As for frozen black lugworm, it’s soft and sloppy and goes in the hook like mash potatoes, but add some light bait elastic and you can make it compact and attractive – so much so that lots of anglers fish all winter with little else.

The last bait source I can recommend is the low tide beach on some regions after a storm – Enough shell fish like cockle, razor fish, clams, queenies etc can be washed up in a single tide to keep you in bait all winter. You do have to watch the wind and tide for the perfect storm and be prepared to travel at an instant, but when it occurs you will have enough bait for the freezer for the rest of the winter. I prefer to freeze shellfish as it comes, again tying it on the hook with elastic cotton, but some recommended blanching shellfish which allows it to stay tougher when frozen.

My final piece of advice if its cod you are after which requires very little bait is to adopt a tactic that is becoming increasingly popular for cod around the UK and that’s live baiting. In lots of regions, especially in the South and East, there are so many small whiting present that any bait is devoured in minutes. So anglers have solved the problem of the pest whiting by fishing a double hook rig or a Pennell rig with a small worm or fish hook baited for the whiting so that when it gets hooked it stays on the rig until a bigger predator comes along and that gets hooked by the bigger hook. There are still bass around and with the bigger cod moving inshore this month it’s the method to use!

drew Cass 11 lb 12½ oz WG e1418402110443 Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary December 2014

Whitby sea angler, Andrew Cass landed this beauty of 11 lb 12½ oz on a big cocktaill bait during a four hour night club match.

You can of course fish with bait if you have plenty, but make sure it’s a giant mouthful the whiting cannot devour with a cocktail of worm, crab, shellfish and squid in various large combinations!

Tight lines,

Alan Yates

Save our eels!

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Eels are in danger of becoming extinct in our rivers, and without them, the fragile ecosystems of our wetlands will be seriously impoverished.

Since the 1980s, we’ve lost a staggering 95% of our eel populations – populations that used to be so vast people were once paid in eels. But now, as stocks dwindle, the last of the remaining eel fishermen are packing up their fishing equipment forever.

But while the eel is still with us, there’s hope, and now the eel men are fighting back. Read on to find out what’s being done to save the eels, and how can you play your part to help stocks recover.

Eels

Spotted Garden Eel Save our eels!

Image source: Peter Dutton
Eels are mysterious creatures.

Izaak Walton, who penned, The Compleat Angler, thought eels were generated by the “action of sunlight on dewdrops”; a wise old bishop once told the Royal Society that eels slid from the thatched roofs of cottages; some thought they materialised from the mud at the bottom of rivers; even Aristotle was flummoxed – he thought eels were “born of nothing”.

Now we know that eels are born in the Sargasso sea, but to this day nobody has ever seen an adult eel there, or for that matter an eel egg. What we do know is that they’re disappearing from our rivers.

Life cycle

Glass eels Save our eels!

Image source: Wikimedia
Glass eels, before they gain colour.

When eels hatch, they’re minute, flat, willow leaf shaped and see-through. It takes them about two years drifting in the Gulf Stream to reach the shores of Europe. By this time, they’re 7 – 8 cm – so called ‘glass eels’. They swim and slither up our rivers, gaining colour as they go, until they find a nice spot and there they’ll stay, males for around seven years, females for perhaps 12; some linger for even longer, eating, swelling, becoming darker in colour.

Then, for reasons unknown, one dark autumn night they turn mottled green on top and silver underneath, and leave the river, swimming the 3000 miles back to the Sargasso sea where they (apparently) spawn and die.

Concrete evidence

Grey Heron swallowing an eel Save our eels!

Image source: Gidzy
The eel faces a lot of threats – including the heron!

So why have populations crashed? Like many other species, the eel has suffered a battering from a multitude of threats – we’re talking disease, pollution, loss of habitat, climate change, water abstraction and flood prevention schemes. Chief culprit for the steep slide in eel stocks is thought to be the sheer number of obstacles barring eels’ passage up river.  

But now, thanks to EU intervention and the tireless efforts of eel campaigners, it looks as though the tide is turning. Huge efforts are being made to restock our rivers – this year alone, over 90 million eels have been translocated from estuaries into rivers all over Europe. That’s good, but to create a sustainable future for eels, much more needs to be done to fit eel passes to river obstructions. Unless they can get up and down rivers, eels can’t complete their life cycles.

Your help

Jellied eels Save our eels!

Image source: Jessica Spengler
Anyone for jellied eels?

The best thing you can do to help reverse the decline in eel stocks is to eat eels. This might sound counterintuitive, but sustainable fisheries are key to ensuring a bright future for one of our rivers’ most vital natural resources. That’s because, responsible fishing communities fight hard to look after their way of life.

Whether you like your eels, fresh, jellied or smoked, look for the ‘Sustainable Eel Group’ Kitemark on the packaging and enjoy a delicious, traditional treat, safe in the knowledge that you’re helping replenish our eels for future generations to enjoy!