Sea Trout Fishing Tackle Setup

 

P1010298 525x346 Sea Trout Fishing Tackle Setup

Sea trout are funny things, they tend to make human beings obsessive and with the sea trout season nearly upon us, I for one are one of those who are obsessed and cant wait to be back out on the river. It’s hard graft early on in the season as there are not so many fish around, the weather is usually a bit groggy but going through a pool at night, waiting for the first heart stopping take of the season cannot be beaten.

Unfortunately I haven’t picked up a fly fishing rod in months. It’s been a very long winter with some terrible weather and Im hopefully that it will settle down soon. To keep me somewhat sane through the closed season, I’ve dug out my fishing equipment and started to get everything in order.

I like to use two fly rods at night, with my favourite being the Airlite from the Airflo range. For the past three seasons or so I’ve been using these almost religiously and find these rods will do everything I want them too. The two I use are, 10ft 7/8 weight, and the 9ft 6′ 7/8 weight. Each rod allows me to cast well and in tight spaces. Both are kitted out with Airflo V-lite 7/9 fly reels, loaded with a set of Forty Plus Lines – slow intermediate, fast intermediate, and a DI3. I find this set up ideal and the 40+ lines cover everything that I need them to, whether it’s a short cast or long cast at night, or for finding the right depth while fishing through a pool.

My preferred leader for night fishing is either Maxima ultragreen in 12lb, or Airflo sightfree extreme in 15lb. I started using the sightfree extreme last season and found it to be very strong, especially when you hook the odd tree on the opposite bank!

Flies wise, I would normally use tubes between 1 and 2 inch including a few large singles at the beginning of the season, and as the season progresses the fish become more active and a surface lure, depending on weather conditions, can produce some decent action. I’ve had some good fishing as early as the second week of April on a surface lure, so it’s worth mixing your tactics up a bit. Generally though, I would use two tubes, or a tube and a big single on the dropper as we start the new season.

I like to use a headlamp with a red and white light. The red light is great for using close to the water, and doesn’t effect your night vision as much as the white light. In my fishing bag I usually have a spare jumper in case it get’s a bit chilly, a couple of 5ft Airflo polyleaders fast or extra fast  if I need to get the fly down a bit deeper, a spare headlamp and something to drink.

I’m looking forward to getting out on the river and tightlines to all for 2014!

The future’s bright and bullet proof – thanks to fish

Next time you strike lucky when you’re out fishing, take a moment to examine your catch.

Because it could hold the answer to some of the world’s most pressing technological challenges. Yes, fish are in demand as never before, not just because they taste nice, but for their high tech secrets.

Read on to find out just how high tech a fish can be.

Body armour

Fish scales The future’s bright and bullet proof   thanks to fish

Image source: Wikimedia
Bulletproof!

For a construction technique that could lead to production of fishing clothing that’s literally bulletproof, we need to trek to the Amazon. The arapaima is a river fish that grows to over 2 m in length and can weigh as much as 200 kg. But it’s not its size that interests scientists.

The scales of the arapaima are so tough, piranhas’ teeth crumble on impact. Scientists studying the scales have discovered that beneath their rock hard mineral exterior, the fish scales ride on a bed of elastic protein threads. The combination of hard and soft lends the scales incredible toughness, a discovery that’s inspiring a new generation of flak jacket as well as tougher false limbs.

LEDs

sardines The future’s bright and bullet proof   thanks to fish

Image source: Grow For Yourself
Could sardines improve LED technology?

A plate of fresh sardines or herring is a delicious heart healthy meal at which few would turn their noses up. But those shimmering silver fish have scientists in a flap for a completely different reason. It’s to do with the way their bodies reflect light.

Crystals in the skin of the fish are aligned so they reflect light in all directions, mimicking the natural play of light around their ocean home. It’s neat trick that helps hide the shoal from the beady eyes of dolphins and other predators. Researchers now believe they can use this clever natural mirroring to improve LED and fibre-optic technology.

Nanofibres

hoki1 The future’s bright and bullet proof   thanks to fish

Image source: Sea Lord
The collagen content of Hoki is getting engineers in a spin

Hoki is a succulent white fish commercially harvested in New Zealand. But it’s not the flesh that’s spawned a whole new high tech industry, but the skin. As a by product, hoki skin had no particular use until scientists discovered the possibilities of the collagen it contained. Engineers worked out a way to spin the collagen into nanothreads 500 times thinner than a human hair.

From the super fine threads a non woven mat is produced. An incredible surface area makes this mat ideal for use in air purification filters, but its applications offer far more scope than that. The super thin material can be impregnated with anti bacterial agents for use in wound dressings. And other uses include in electronics, cosmetics and packaging. There could even be a use for hoki skin fibres in structural engineering.

Underwater robots

knifefish The future’s bright and bullet proof   thanks to fish

Image source: Fish, tanks & ponds
This swamp dweller is inspiring new generation subs

Remote controlled unmanned subs are hard to manoeuvre, particularly in confined spaces. This makes them less than ideal for tackling complex tasks like the investigation shipwrecks. But now engineers are making progress with a new type of sub whose movement and sensory equipment is based on the knifefish, a small inhabitant of mangrove swamps.

Instead of using its eyes to see, the knifefish beams a low voltage electric field that enables it to sense its surroundings. The diminutive fish is able to negotiate the tangled tree roots and dense water vegetation by means of delicate undulations of its long blade-like fin. By replicating the knifefish’s electronic eyes and precise manoeuvring ability, new generation robots will be able to go where no deep sea probe has been before.

Wind Farms

shoal of fish The future’s bright and bullet proof   thanks to fish

Image source: Paul Terry
Wind farm designers ‘schooled’ by fish

When engineers were tasked with bringing wind power generation to the Los Angeles valley, they faced a problem: the lack of space. To resolve this issue, they went for vertical rather than the usual horizontal blades. But to make the best use of the available land, they went a step further, and turned to fish to help them work out the best way to position the turbines.

Scientists have noticed that individuals in a shoal of fish position themselves to make most efficient use of the vortices created by the fins of the fish around them. Engineers took this research and applied it to the positioning of each turbine in the farm, even working out the optimal direction of rotation of each turbine blade.

Fishing in the desert

There’s only one word to describe this winter: waterlogged.

The wettest winter since records began has brought misery to the thousands whose homes have been flooded. For all of us it seems as though the storms have lasted forever. And though spring might be just around the corner, it can’t come quickly enough.

That’s why we invite you to join us as we head to the world’s driest places. Fishing where it’s hot, dusty and bone dry. It’s time to swap your rain lashed bivvy for suntan lotion and a broad brimmed hat.

Let’s go desert fishing.

New Mexico

Jemez river Fishing in the desert

Image source: Adventure Insider
A diverse fishing paradise

Land of the saddle weary cowpoke and the dusty gun slinger, New Mexico is the location of choice, for many of our favourite Western movies. It’s also more geographically diverse than it gets credit for. While it’s famous for its rose coloured deserts and barren tablelands, there you’ll also find the forest clad mountain sides and snow capped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Southern Rockies.   

For the intrepid angler, the fifth largest state in the US offers everything from alpine lakes and desert gorges to lowland rivers and streams; year round fishing for winter weary Brits. And with panfish, trout, bass, catfish, northern pike and walleye on the list of target species, you’ll have more than enough to keep your rod tip quivering.

Lake Nasser

Lake Nasser Egypt Fishing in the desert

Image source: Panoramio
5,250 km² in size, there’s plenty of fish in the lake

Anyone travelling to Egypt should check out the Foreign Office website for the latest advice before they go. But assuming you make it, you’ll be rewarded with rich fishing in a climate that will banish your rainy day blues. During the 1960s, President Nasser ordered the construction of the higher Aswan dam, a vast feat of engineering built to control the annual flood of the River Nile.

Fish in the middle of the dramatic desert landscape, as nomadic tribesmen graze their animals on the lakeside vegetation. The waters of lake Nasser offer the opportunity to hook the fish of your life – the Nile Perch. A formidable adversary, this king of fish grows up to 2 m in length and can weigh anything up to 200 kg.

The best time to fish Lake Nasser is October to June – perfect for avoiding the British winter. Choose from one of the many tour operators for a fishing safari of a lifetime on Africa’s biggest lake.

Skeleton Coast

skeleton coast Fishing in the desert

Image source: Wikimedia
The ‘land God mad in anger’

The bushmen call the Atlantic coast of Namibia, the ‘land God made in anger’. Infamous for its treacherous cold water current, constant surf and frequent mists, it’s not surprising so many whales, dolphins and ships have met a watery end here. A most inhospitable coast, the bleached bones littering the shore would have provoked terror in the lost and stranded. And with good reason because the sea is full of sharks and it hardly ever rains.

But if this doesn’t dent your enthusiasm, you’ll be glad to know the fishing on the Skeleton coast is to die for. And there are a number of operators offering fishing safaris in the area. Catch wise you’re looking at Galjoen (black bream), Steenbra, Kolstert (Blacktail) and Bronze Whaler.

If you do go, you might want to pack your bivvy, plenty of water and emergency food rations in case your transport breaks down. You could be waiting a very long time for the next bus…

Northern Territories

northern territory Fishing in the desert

Image source: Trip Advisor
Deadly but rewarding

Australia’s Northernmost tip is home to some of the deadliest creatures on earth. It’s stiflingly hot, full of flies and if you get lost, you’re as good as dead. But don’t let that put you off. There are few language issues, cold beer is in plentiful supply, and there are plenty of tour operators who’ll have you afloat in a tinny before you can bound from your bivvy bag and boil a billy.

And the fishing is great. The Barramundi is a superb game fish that grows up to 1.8 meters long and can top the scales at 60 kg. They make good eating too, great for those long hot evenings beside the barbeque.

One word of caution though – beware the crocs…


The First Rise By Rene’ Harrop

Rise The First Rise By Rene’ Harrop

The First Trout Rise of 2014 – Bonnie Harrop Photos

For a fly fisher, surviving winter at high elevation is usually an arduous and inconsistent process. Snow and bitter cold temperatures can dominate the weather for months at a time and a visit to the river is often times only to watch through the months of December, January, and February.

With ice and cold winds as limiting factors, finding a window of opportunity for even a few hours of deep water nymphing or streamer fishing can be rare if human comfort assumes a role in determining whether to fish or stay indoors. Gradually, however, the daytime hours lengthen and subzero temperatures eventually become a casualty of the calendar. And as an ice bound river begins to regain its flowing character, there comes a glimmer of expectation for the first true sign of an eventual spring.

Although the timing of conditions suitable for dry fly fishing can vary from year to year, the sight of the first rise of a new season is always something to savor. And while the source of surface interest among trout in late winter is invariably of a size that dictates keen refinement in all aspects of fishing tackle and skill, nothing in the entire year is more welcome than the humble midge.

While chironomids on local still waters and elsewhere can be realistically imitated on a hook as large as size 12, the term midge is an appropriate description when they are found on moving water. Seldom larger than size 20, midges are available to trout in the Henry’s Fork and most other streams throughout the year. However, they are never more important than in cold weather conditions and are often the only hatch to be found during the longest season of the trout states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Because of a craving for dry fly fishing after a long absence, I watch for conditions that promote surface availability of the tiny insects. Air temperatures that exceed the freezing point by 6 to 8 degrees will usually stimulate late winter and early spring emergence, and overcast skies are often a positive factor in tempting wary trout to the surface. Temperatures below 50ᵒ seem to hold the adults on the surface, and this increases the potential for finding rising trout.

Trout feed more efficiently in slower currents when floating midges are the target, but gently riffled water should not be ignored. Seeing the miniature dry flies is completely dependent upon fishing as close to a surface feeder as possible, regardless of the water type. A cast beyond 30 feet will likely put a size 22 out of view, at which time you will be required to set the hook when a rise appears in the area where you think the fly is located.

By necessity, midge patterns must be of relatively simple design, as is the case with all exceptionally small imitations. Because of its unique flotational properties, CDC works well for midge patterns that must be supported on the surface with a minimal amount of material. My favorite floating patterns also incorporate a sparse application of hackle, and stripped goose biots are a regular feature as well.

While my midge box contains an extensive assortment of patterns representing all phases of the life cycle, three distinct floating imitations have demonstrated reliable productivity on waters as distant as Japan. And I fear little shame in admitting that their favored status is also based on the relative ease in which they can be seen on the water.

CDC Biot Midge Adult 

CDC Biot Midge Adult The First Rise By Rene’ Harrop

CDC Biot Midge Adult – Bonnie Harrop Photos

This pattern rides fairly high on the water and parallel to the surface in a manner that represents a fully emerged midge adult.

Hook: TMC 100 BL size 18-24
Thread: Gray 8/0
Abdomen: Canada Goose Biot or Stripped Peacock Herl
Wing: Sparse Lt. Dun CDC
Thorax: Gray Dubbing
Hackle: 1-3 turns of Grizzly

 CDC Hanging Midge

CDC Hanging Midge The First Rise By Rene’ Harrop

CDC Hanging Midge – Bonnie Harrop Photos

This easy to see midge pattern rides partially submerged with only the wing and hackle showing above the surface.

Hook: TMC 100 BL size 18-24
Thread: Gray 8/0
Body: Canada Goose Biot or Peacock Herl
Thorax: Gray Dubbing
Wing: White CDC
Hackle:  1-3 turns of Grizzly

CDC Cluster Midge

CDC Cluster Midge The First Rise By Rene’ Harrop

CDC Cluster Midge – Bonnie Harrop Photos

In a way, this pattern allows a bit of cheating on the usually very small midge patterns by imitating a cluster of mating insects that often swarm together on the surface.

Hook: TMC 100 BL size 14-20
Thread: Gray 8/0
Body: Peacock Herl
Hackle: Grizzly palmered
Wing: Sparse White CDC

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary February/March 2014

8lb summer flounder out of New York Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary February/March 2014

New York plaice like bling too!

One of the worst winters on record for weather has taken its toll on shore and boat angling, not only venues made unfishable but piers damaged and closed, charter hours lost, competitions cancelled and a general feeling of when will it end? Well so much doom and gloom, but it has its upside and that is that the commercial nets have also been hit hard and a few extra small fish may have survived the winter this year and that may improve the fishing in the spring…

I have taken some time off to sort some of my fishing equipment and generally plan ahead – the Spring IS just around the corner and although those last few weeks can drag, it will get here. OK so I have more terminal rigs that Gerry’s of Morecambe, all my reels are loaded with new line and my tackle box is pristine. All I need is to get out on the beach for a few casts, but that’s just not going to happen until the sea flattens off and clears. First up is a plaice trip but as I said, red spots don’t like coloured, rough or silty water – Chesil Beach at Cogden is a favourite venue to head for, but only when that sea settles! In the meantime the tackle box retains my attention and one of the many jobs I keep promising to do but never get around to be replacing grip wires in my lead collection. Normally when a wire or a bead on a lead goes, I dump it in the throw away bucket for fishing the Irish rocks, or Samphire Hoe. It’s essential when fishing rough ground to have plenty of spare leads and to not worry about losing them. But the throw away bucket is overloaded so its wire cutters, pliers, beads and wire time.  The tasks brings about several options, for starters you can change the shape colour of the breakout beads, I hate blue and yellow and prefer red and so replace this missing etc with round  red beads, make sure you use decent strong plastic beads because some smash just looking at the beach. You can also change the grip wire length, bend them differently or simply straighten out and upgrade the lead in general. Whatever, the result is a box of new functional leads.

Another worthwhile spring clean job, is your sea fishing rods, because if you look closely you may have a cracked ring. After the countless times my rod has been pulled off the rest this winter I will be surprised if I haven’t got a ring that need replacing. The beauty of Fuji’s, Seymo and the other top makes is that they take lots of shit, but even the best cannot survive many more than one a gale driven clatters on concrete, rocks or beach stones and can be damaged and it pays to look.

First wash the rod free of sand, weed and all the other crud it has collected with use and give the rings and the reel seat the once over with a tooth brush. This will remove most of the unwanted and reveal the ring back at its best. Reel seats really benefit from a good scrubbing and you will find them less likely to jam afterwards. Examine the rings closely under a good light, the smallest crack can skim whisks of mono almost unnoticed. Of course losing a ring is a disaster on a beachcaster – it’s like scratching the door on a new motor UUURRGHH!!! For me it’s the menders and I mean specialist rod repairs not DIY. Sometimes an on the beach a temporary repair may be required and that’s fairly simple. I cut one leg of the rig whipping off. Wriggle the other ring foot free and remove the ring. Insert a new ring in the whipping and then tape up on the other side – good as new, for some!

One economic way to re-invent a tired beachcaster is to replace the shrink wrap handle. Most tackle dealers nowadays offer a range of different types, colours, materials of shrink wrap. You can buy it to the length required and simply shrink it on. Don’t be tempted to do it over the old handle though, remove this and thoroughly wash and dry the rod section before putting on the new shrink wrap. To close down the shrink wrap tightly you can use a hair drier, whilst boiling water from a kettle spout is more dangerous, it does a better job!

Best of all the rod refurbishments are those offered by lots of the major firms – Send your rod back to them and for a fee they will replace it to its original glory, well worth the money if you are fussy about your sea fishing tackle.

Already there are rumours about plaice – the first sunny day for months and tall plaice stories have started. Now let’s get one thing clear before we start talking about plaice. They are frail, thin and pasty when they first arrive inshore in March after the vigour’s of spawning and not worth eating or retaining so please unhook carefully and return. In a matter of months they will be returned to their red spotted plumpness and then will be prized for the table.

Time now to make up a few rigs with the usual plaice bling, beads and glitter, my tendency is to make the bait stop on my clipped rigs the bling and there are lots of options ranging from pop up bead, plastic beads, luminous beads, sequins, glass beads, vanes, luminous tubing etc. Don’t skimp either plaice often respond the flashiest hook bait and the rule is anything goes!

A recent letter in Sea Angler magazine criticised me for keeping (and grinning) with a catch of small dabs and whiting (4 dabs and seven whiting) Now excuse me, but I eat a lot of fish and the number I retained that day was a small percentage of that caught and returned – You see there is not much else in the sea around the UK coast in winter and I enjoy a few dab and whiting fillets.

Tight lines

Alan Yates

 

Moment of Truth – Rene Harrop

IMG 9016 Moment of Truth   Rene Harrop

There is no time when the experience of losing a special trout carries anything but a sense of disappointment. However, the emotional pain of watching an exceptional adversary swim free when only a successful application of the landing net at the end of a spirited battle stands between the exhilaration of complete victory and total deflation is nearly indescribable.

You learn early on the Henry’s Fork that many things can go wrong when the hook is small, the tippet is fine, and the trout are often very large. Developing skills dedicated to preserving a precarious connection to a big fish is only marginally secondary to perfecting the ability to present a fly in a manner that will allow the battle to begin.

In both instances, much depends on the quality of the fishing equipment being used but mental and physical components also apply to the process of hooking and successfully bringing a meaningful trout to hand. Most who desire advancement in fly fishing understand the need for learning that comes only with experience and practice, and this is where the problem lies in gaining the ability to close the deal when finish line is clearly in sight.

From my own experience and also while watching others, it has become clear that the true drama lies at the very end of a battle between angler and trout. This means that it is not weathering a 100 yard run into the backing or surviving a series of tail walking leaps across the surface. Instead, the most intense pressure occurs when the trout is near surrender and the angler prepares to put the net into action.

Gaining the opportunity to practice netting skills is entirely dependent upon having everything go right prior to the time when the prospect of actually landing the fish becomes real. With an average tippet size of 6X and a fly usually size 16 or smaller, landing a trout in the 20 inch class is seldom greater than a 50-50 proposition. This means that even on a good day when 3 or 4 fish in this category are hooked, there may only be one or two times when the net will actually come into play.

The tendency to become almost uncontrollably excited is a difficult reaction to overcome when it becomes evident that the strength of the fish has begun to wane. In moving water, this generally occurs when it grows weary of revisiting both pressure from the rod and the force of the current.

When possible, leading the fish to shallower water of lower current velocity is preferable to allowing the fish to maintain the advantage of depth and water force. At this point, it is a mistake to allow a false sense of urgency to cancel the practicality of creating a condition that improves the likelihood for a favorable outcome. And while complete calm is seldom possible, applying patience and mental discipline are key in resisting the temptation to rush the netting process.

For a wading angler, the typical landing net features a short handle, a 20-22 inch bow, and a deep mesh bag. And while a net of these dimensions may be rejected by some as being too small, correctly applied landing techniques will usually accommodate a trout of 2 feet and even slightly longer. Carrying a larger net with the notion that its size will cancel poor decisions of technique is, in my opinion, erroneous behavior.

Through trial and error over many years of hunting big trout on the Henry’s Fork and other waters of the western U.S., I have developed preferred tactics that apply when fishing wadeable water. When organized into a systematic process, these principles incorporate proven ways to minimize disappointment at the end of an otherwise successful encounter with a hard earned trophy.

Identification of the best area to control the fish in preparation for landing should be made well before the thought of reaching for the net enters the mind. Often times, simply leading the fish close to the bank and away from the main current will create the advantage needed to overcome its ability to resist capture. Other situations may require moving some distance downstream to access water of less depth and current speed than where the main fight takes place. Trout will use leverage provided by depth and current against the resistance of the rod in an effort to become free from the restraint. This effort intensifies when the angler comes into view, and the close presence of the net can evoke a violent reaction of panic.

A tired trout in slow, shallow water can be more easily held in position while the angler closes the distance between them. Given a choice, I will always position myself upstream from the fish in preparation for landing. Reeling while moving toward the fish is often preferable to trying to bring it upstream, especially if significant distance is involved. Firm pressure with the fishing rod along with slow and careful movement work together in helping to keep the fish calm as final approach is made. Always important in any phase of playing a big trout, concentration is especially critical in the ability to react quickly to any sudden movement that can bring last minute freedom to the prize.

In general, I consider 1½ times the rod length to be the right amount of line and leader separating the rod tip from the fish, and I will not touch the net until this finishing point in the approach is reached. As resistance from the fish becomes noticeably weakened, I will begin to apply upward pressure with the rod while holding the line between the index finger and the handle. With superior control, I can begin to bring the fish into netting position by stripping the line rather than trying to use the reel. As the distance is shortened, lifting the head above the surface with the rod tip will help to negate the trout’s ability to use the current against you because it cannot swim in this condition.

IMG 5963 Moment of Truth   Rene Harrop

With the trout within an arm’s length and aligned with the current, I will free the net from its magnetic holder and position it directly upstream from the exposed head. The body of the trout should be parallel with the surface of the water before the net is lowered to allow the front rim of the bow to pass beneath the head. With the ventral fins as a guide, I will lift the net when the heaviest portion of the fish is directly over the center of the bow, and the rear half will follow into the mesh.

Attempting to chase the fish with the net fully submerged is a surrender of control needed to manage its capture. Excessive disturbance near the fish is assured to cause a forceful reaction as will careless contact with the net. Its instinct is to escape and, sadly, this is what usually happens when a trout is given the opportunity to break free.

No method of net application is guaranteed to result in a successful capture—-there are simply too many things that cannot be fully controlled. However, utilizing proper landing techniques will help to minimize crushing disappointment when complete victory over a special trout becomes the ultimate desire, and the moment of truth is at hand.

Valentines Day under the sea

February is the time of year for romance.

Think chocolates, red roses, and a candlelit meal for two. Yes, Valentine’s day is upon us and with it the opportunity for love – or a least a card from your mum.

For avid anglers, it’s also perhaps the one day of the year when in the interests of marital harmony it might be best to leave your carp fishing tackle in the cupboard.

But while we’re in a romantic frame of mind, we thought we’d take a fish’s eye view of the mating game. Just how do fish do it?

Love nest

Cichlids sandcastle Valentines Day under the sea

Image source: Kocher Lab
The cichlid’s sandcastle pad

A cichlid’s sandcastle is his love nest. In the attempt to attract a mate these African lake dwelling fish build up a carefully designed pile of sand that they defend from other males. The sandcastle pad is both a place to mate and somewhere to look after the eggs until they hatch.

Scientists studying the fish discovered that if they modified the shape of the nest or ‘bower’, the male it belonged to had less fights with other fish and was more likely to attract a female. Cichlid ladies it seems, are most attracted to a man who’s not afraid to show a bit of individuality.

Clingy partner

Angler fish Valentines Day under the sea

Image source: Fishes of Australia
Mini male angler fish latch on to females

The ultimate clinger on, the male angler fish administers a love bite that lasts. Because of the difficulty in finding a mate in the deep dark abyss, some species of male angler fish have developed the ability to literally become one with their mate.

Males use well their highly sensitive sense of smell to locate a female and bite into her skin. His mouth produces enzymes that digest both their flesh. The two fish grow into each other, the male living off the blood supply of the female. As a survival strategy it’s spot on. Whenever the female feels like reproducing, she has a mate ready to fertilise her eggs.

Top lady

clown fish Valentines Day under the sea

Image source: Wikipedia
In clown fish land, ladies rule

In clown fish communities, who gets to mate is all based on pecking order. Top fish is a female – the biggest and bossiest of the group. She only mates with one male fish. All the others have to wait their turn. When the leading female dies or is taken out by a predator, the top male changes sex to become the matriarch, and all the male fish below move up one notch.

As to when clown fish mate – the female waits for the silvery light of the full moon before laying her eggs on flat surfaces amid the garden of anemones where she lives. Who said romance was dead?

Chain reaction

sea hare Valentines Day under the sea

Image source: Sea hares have both male and female organs
Hermaphrodites who like a lot of love

Sea hares are gastropods with a soft bodies and internal shells. They’re a sort of shell-less sea snail. They can grow quite large – up to 75cm long and 2 kg in weight – and their long protruding nostrils prompted the romans to name them after the land animal.

When it comes to reproduction, sea hares are interesting because they have male organs at one end, female at the other. And when they mate, several of the creatures often link together, sometimes forming a circle of love.

Painful love

nautilus live Valentines Day under the sea

Image source: William Patterson University
The male’s reproductive tentacle is broken off

The argonaut or paper nautilus is an octopus that resides in tropical waters. The female grows up to 10cm in length but creates a delicate calcite shell up to 30cm in diameter. The shell doubles as both a home and a brood chamber for eggs.

Mating with one of the tiny 2cm males of the species is an interesting process in that the male’s reproductive tentacle is broken off and presented to the female in its live, wriggling state.

Cupid

Giant Squid Valentines Day under the sea

Image source: Funny Junk
Fear not, this one’s a hoax!

Not much is known about how giant squid reproduce. For a long time scientists interested in discovering the mechanics of the creature’s mating process were baffled as to how males delivered their sperm to females.

But then a female specimen was found in Tasmania which may hold the answer to the riddle. Scientists examining the creature found dart-like tendrils attached to each of her legs. It seems possible that males shoot ‘love darts’ at their mates, injecting sperm through the female’s skin.

Fish and chips famine

The sequence of Atlantic gales battering the British Isles is devastating news for commercial fishermen.

Unable to put to sea for weeks, some fishing families are feeling the pinch like never before.

Fish markets are empty or under-supplied, prices are soaring to their highest levels for years. For the consumer, the storms mean shortages, price hikes, and no fresh fish.

Livelihoods threatened

Looe1 Fish and chips famine

Image source: Looe
Cornish fishing town, Looe, is out of action

Looe in Cornwall is renowned for fresh fish from its day boat fleet. But some boats have been stuck in port for nearly two months now. That’s because static nets are the sea fishing tackle most Looe fishermen use. They set the nets one day and return to haul them the next. According to a fisherman interviewed by the BBC, there hasn’t been a two day weather window to allow boats to get out to work since before Christmas.

In fact, the port would be completely closed if it weren’t for one local mariner nicknamed, ‘Richard the brave’. The lone fisherman ventured out to sea, risking all to bring home a catch.

Fish markets closed

Ajax fish1 Fish and chips famine

Image source: Ajax Hake
A rare but expensive haul of hake

The South West fishing industry has been battered by the recent storm surges, resulting in extreme shortages of fresh fish that saw Plymouth fish market close for a time during January.

More recently, the past weekend’s storm means there is very little fish available for sale this week – although anyone courageous enough to take on the mountainous seas and wild winds can expect top dollar for their catch.

Newlyn fish market was riding high this Monday thanks to successful hauls of hake and whitefish from local boat, Ajax. The skipper’s twitter comment on his catch: ‘Big money’. But for every boat that puts out to sea, there are many more that have stayed behind, leaving industry leaders, fishermen and others reliant on the fishing trade for income wondering when the weather will finally clear.

Boats sunk

Porthleven1 Fish and chips famine

Image source: BT
What remains of Porthleven habour

For some Cornish fishermen even an improvement in the weather won’t see them heading out to sea anytime soon. During last Wednesday’s storm, the inner harbour doors at Porthleven harbour were smashed to matchwood by a sea described by shipping forecasters as, ‘phenomenal’.

Waves blown before storm force winds surged into the port sinking ten boats, damaging some of the vessels beyond repair.

Incredibly, efforts by fishermen and the emergency services to save the remaining boats in the harbour were hampered by the press of crowds of people who abandoned their cars at the side of the road to watch the waves.

Fishermen rescued

le sillon boat1 Fish and chips famine

Image source: All Boats Avenue
‘Le Sillon’ was struck by a huge wave in North Cornwall

Fishing is a risky business, and never more so when gales keep fishermen in port for too long. With finances stretched and the prospect of excellent prices for fish landed, it’s hard to resist the temptation to put safety aside and head out to sea in bad weather.

Fishermen riding their luck can make good money, but when it goes wrong, they pay a high price. In November last year, the five man crew of the French fishing boat, the Panamera wasplucked to safety by helicopter 25 miles off the Lizard when their boat began taking on water. It later sank.

In January, four crewmen were rescued when their fishing boat got into difficulty in bad weather and sank off Tynemouth.

And at the beginning of February, the crew of another French fishing boat had to be rescued by helicopter crews from RNAS Culdrose. ‘Le Sillon’ was struck by a monster wave off the North Cornish coast. Its bridge windows imploded, all the electrical gear was destroyed. The boat lost steerage and was later wrecked at Porthcothnan.

More to come

The position of the jet stream across the Atlantic means that winter storms will continue to lash the British isles for at least the next 10 days. Forecasters predict rising pressure and a return to more settled weather only towards the end of the month when hopefully fishermen will be able to begin to recoup some of the losses they’ve incurred.

We’re all related…to fish!

Most of us know that humans evolved from apes and that apes evolved from creatures that came from the sea.

But now scientists believe they have found the missing link; a type of fish that had primitive legs. It’s one of the earliest forms of – us – ever discovered.

So next time you take your fishing gear for a day on the riverbank, spare a thought for your relatives. And no, we’re not talking about your long suffering partner, we mean your (very) distant cousins, the fish.

The Tiktaalik

tiktaalik model Were all related…to fish!

A model version of a Tiktaalik
Source: University of Chicago

A new study of 375 year old fossils dug up in Northern Canada in 2006 has revealed a fish with ambition – the tiktaalik. Not content to spend its days swimming, this crocodile-like fish had spiracle holes in its skull – nostrils – pointing to the presence of primitive lungs and a skeletal system similar to some of today’s land animals.

The Tiktaalik’s front fins had elbows and an early form of wrist joint and at the other end, the fish’s pelvic girdle was much heavier than that of its contemporaries indicating that it might have had back fins a bit like legs. This four limbed propulsion could have seen the fish ‘walking’ through the shallows and maybe even shuffling out onto the mudflats.

This is completely new because up until now, scientists thought creatures didn’t begin to grow back legs until they had already moved to the land.

Missing link

Tiktaalik fossil Were all related…to fish!

The missing ‘in between stage’ link
Source: Wikimedia

The unearthing of  the tiktaalik is the holy grail for those with a passion for prehistoric life. As Jennifer Clack of Cambridge University’s fossil museum said in an interview with the Boston Globe: “It’s what we’ve all been waiting for.”

The discovery is being trumpeted as the long looked for ‘in between stage’ when the pelvic fins of fish developed. During this time, they became much larger and stronger and eventually evolved into the hind limbs of four legged land creatures, including mammals that eventually stood up and became us.

Defence mechanism

Mudskippers Were all related…to fish!

Mudskippers have similar limbs to Tiktaalik
Source: Wikipedia

Paleontologists studying the prehistoric creature’s fossilised remains say its ungainly proportions and short, stubby fins suggest the fish was highly specialised to a shallow, muddy environment and would have moved in a similar way to a modern mudskipper.

In open water the tiktaalik would have been an easy lunch for other fish, a fact that has prompted scientists to speculate that the development of early limbs was a defence mechanism. Legs would have enabled the tiktaalik to squirm into ever shallower waters to evade predators. And eventually through evolution its descendents escaped from the water altogether.

Chance discovery

 Were all related…to fish!

Discovered after a trip to the Arctic
Source: City Connect

Like so many breakthroughs, the discovery of the tiktaalik owes much to chance. The rock containing the fossil was loaded onto a helicopter at the end of a trip to the Arctic. It wasn’t considered to be of high priority, until that is, it was found to contain the fossilised remains of the creature that links land and sea life.

A second trip to the same area produced another fragment of pelvis, but not as was hoped, an entire rear fin. Now researchers plan to turn their attention to another area of the Arctic to study even older rocks to see if they can trace the origins of fish.

So next time you cast, wade or walk, just think, you have more in common with your quarry than you might previously have thought. Those arms and legs of yours used to be fins.

Dogs in day shelters

What do you get when you cross man’s best friend with man’s favourite pastime?

Dogs in day shelters!

These canine buddies happily keep their owners company on the riverbank, but every so often they need a break, as evidenced below.

13 dog day shelter Dogs in day shelters

Proper fisherman’s friends
Source: Bug Eater

15 dog day shelter Dogs in day shelters

Just chillin’
Source: Hyperlite Mountain Gear

1 dog day shelter Dogs in day shelters

“Nahh, I’m good in here thanks.”
Source: Cycling Gypsies

2 dog day shelter Dogs in day shelters

The scenic way to lounge in a day shelter
Source: Cycling Gypsies

4 dog day shelter Dogs in day shelters

That bulldog’s going nowhere!
Source: Dirt4Dinner

5 dog day shelter Dogs in day shelters

Double warmth
Source: Gopantone

6 dog day shelter Dogs in day shelters

Provide a velvet throw for a hint of luxury
Source: Celebrity Dachshund

7 dog day shelter Dogs in day shelters

Too cosy to consider leaving
Source: Burnt Well Guest Ranch

8 dog day shelter Dogs in day shelters

An urban day shelter
Source: Gopantone

9 dog day shelter Dogs in day shelters

Having a cat nap in the shade
Source: PitchUp

10 dog day shelter Dogs in day shelters

These two are staying put!
Source: Funhogs and Fundogs

11 dog day shelter Dogs in day shelters

Remember, sharing is caring.
Source: Cameron Adams

12 dog day shelter Dogs in day shelters

Ahhhh, bliss!
Source: Net Diva

14 dog day shelter Dogs in day shelters

Slightly homemade looking, but we get the gist
Source: Anne James

3 dog day shelter Dogs in day shelters

All the shade, none of the claustrophobia
Source: Kin-Newie


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