Posts Tagged ‘sea fishing’
Well I have caught a cod this winter – no, tell the truth Alan, it was a codling. But by the time you read this I may have caught a bigger one because at last my home county of Kent is producing cod and December is the hot month so neglect the limited number of spring tides on offer. Currently cod catches in terms of rod hours around the South East are still poor in comparison to previous years and if you want to catch that lunker you are going to need to camp out on the beach from now on.
Dungeness beach is the hot spot in my region, the Admiralty pier at Dover is the best pier by far. But at Dungeness so many anglers are fishing that the snags have multiplied to the extent that the Dungeness Angling Association have commissioned a boat to try to dredge them out! But it’s not all doom and gloom because a few anglers who have used their heads have landed fish up to 18lb. The trick is to fish when the weather is at its foulest, especially a wind from the southwest, or immediately after and that means unsocial hours in all the weather can throw at you. Fair weather rods need not apply and if the sun is shining its best to leave the rods in the garage!
Whiting remain a pest and they will take any sized bait you can throw at them, last week at Dungeness I had two whiting savaged and that is a clue to the method to catch the cod, or maybe a monster bass. A live bait rig, from now to the New Year it’s the hot cod tactic. A small baited hook tied alongside a bare 4/0 left out to snare a whiting and then hopefully a cod.
Around the UK the Bristol Channel looks set to once again be the cod capital of the UK!
I got dragged into a conversation the other day about international team selection and the merits of having a full international calendar of events. It came about because I expressed the opinion that the main problems with the internationals, especially World events, was that there were too many categories and they swallow up the limited cash available to support the best anglers, including those that cannot afford to compete for team places because of a lack of cash! I am anti the ladies and intermediates classes simply on the grounds that they take some of the money that should be channelled into the “proper teams” Their numbers are miniscule compared with the men and to an extent the juniors and believe what money is available should go to seniors and juniors only. It could also be argued that if there is a ladies event, why not a senior category for the World Champs, I would say that as an over fifty wouldn’t I, but if you look at the sea angling scene its my bet the over fifties are the largest group, whilst the ladies are by far the smallest?
Away from controversy, it was really enjoyable to fish my two local angling pier festivals this month. Dover Sea Angling and Folkestone Sea Angler held their 86th and 90th event respectively. Although only a shadow of the past both events feature multi day fishing, in the case of Dover, three consecutive days. A marathon match requiring lots of bait and sea fishing tackle and its not surprising when you see my bait bill alone that entry numbers are falling.
How did I do? Well fifth at Dover and third at Folkestone. Not too bad although I could blame my draw and having won my section in both events I think I have an excuse. My passion about pier festivals stems from the range of fishing methods involved, especially nowadays, when you could be casting for dogfish, fishing down the wall for herrings of pollack or float fishing for garfish. You have to know your stuff and it’s the case that as the angling around much of the UK deteriorates there are lots of anglers who do not experience the different kinds of fishing let alone the skills. Just how many have caught a big shore conger eel or bull huss, even a double figure cod is the shore fish of a lifetime! All because the seas have been decimated by nets etc. Well we are back at controversy again so I will shut up.
Tip of the month is to fish for dabs. Around much of the coast this small flatfish will be moving inshore over the next month or so. Stale black lugworm with a small sliver of squid, herring, sprat, razor, clam etc is the bait and although the dab is small to many its worth is in its taste, PLUS many a codling has been caught on dab tackle after gate crashing the dabs party, so fish with small strong hooks, Kamasan B940 1s are the perfect weapon to spoil the cod’s party ambitions!
My next big multi day event is the Irish Winter Beach Festival, which is fished on January 24/25/26, 2013 from the beaches north of Wexford. First prize is 1000 Euro and a full accommodation package is available at Sean Ogs, Kilmuckridge. The man to contact is Warren Doyle Tel: +353 (0) 12828769 E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Folkestone match angler, Martyn Reid with the biggest cod in the Dover Breakwater festival. At 2.250kg it is typical of the biggest of the codling coming out around Kent.
I’m just back from Portugal where I spent a week with my old friend Clive Richards fishing the many rock and surf venues around Cape St Vincente. Hairy cliffs and huge Atlantic sea were the order of the day and with the wind blowing the fishing was difficult. Our guide informed us that 15 anglers had been killed in the previous months of the year and after visiting some of the venues I can see why. However, it’s a fantastic fishing destination and I can’t wait to go back and catch that giant bass, because I didn’t manage it this time and instead made a meal of the bream family catching golden, black and the local sargo. More about the trip in Sea Angler magazine in the New Year.
Sea fishing back home has really picked up, the cod season is getting underway and has been well and truly christened with a 13lb cod coming off my local Admiralty pier at Dover to Ashford angler, Keith Hopson. There have also been a sprinkling of 3lbs and the odd fish to 6lb plus the usual hoards of whiting and fewer dogfish which is a plus for the codders although the match anglers just love them. Its now that the weather starts to change for the better, or the worst, depending upon your perspective. I personally love the dark mornings and evenings, the cold and most of all the departure of the feathering hoards and part timers. More room on the venues for some serious fishing and it’s a time when the Tee shirt brigade just can’t hack it!
Wind chill and stair rod rain are perhaps the two most difficult aspects of winter sea angling to combat and I make no excuses for giving the TF Gear range of fishing clothing and shelters a plug. You just cannot fish with a good fishing suit and the two-piece Delta Marine suit really is the best I have worn, its waterproof and warm and provided you do not put it through the full washing machine cycle too many times will stay so! But I could not really fish without a shelter (when I do neoprene waders are a must) Fortunately most of my local venues are short tide beaches where a high water mark shelter solves all the problems and the Hurricane beach shelter keeps me dry. But for those low tide venues I still use a brolly with the Force 8 which has wings a really roomy shelter and the hardware brolly ideal for lots of moves up and down the beach when its showery. Pier anglers should check out the Hardware fishing shelter because you can place your tackle box and bucket etc inside it to keep it down when fishing piers and promenades where shelters are difficult to erect or brollies are holed when the wind rubs them against walls and railings.
My biggest news this month is that my son Richard won a bronze medal in the World Sea Angling Championships fished in Holland. This event organised by CIPS (The Confederation International de la Peche) is the true World Championships and not like some just a competition with the world name. Teams are selected and in the case of England they are selected by the Angling Trust. The UK anglers did particularly well this year, perhaps because the fishing in Holland is similar to ours with special congratulations to Alan Price of Kinmel Bay in North Wales on another World gold medal and to team Wales for finishing with a silver. Alan has adopted the Continental style of fishing completely using a fixed spool reel, long tippy rods with light lines and small hooks. Richard too is very into fishing continental style having fished as a junior international in Europe. UK shore angling is moving towards the Continental style as the shore fishing declines and that’s why more and more long rods are available. I foresee heavy shock leaders becoming a thing of the past as our anglers adopt softer longer rods, micro braid lines, fixed spool reels and overhead casting styles, especially for competition fishing. Checkout my Delta All Round three piece Continental style 15 footer on the TF gear website – That’s what I caught all my bream on in Portugal, although I also use the now extinct Fox Nemesis and a similar model is on my mind for the TF Gear rod range!
The full result of the CIPS World Championships was:
Team. (16 teams)
1st Holland 14 points
2nd Wales 15 points
3rd Ireland 21 points
4th England 22 points
5th Italy 22 points
1st Alan Price 52 points (Wales)
2nd Mohamed Larbi 67 points (Tunisia)
3rd Richard Yates 69 points (England)
1st Holland 11 points
2nd France 15 points
3rd Germany 18 points
4th England 19 points
5th Spain 20 points
1st Cindy Gambier 17 points (France)
2nd Janet Verlinde 27 points (England)
3rd Christelle Oosthuizen 38 points (South Africa)
Finally, details are available of the Irish Winter Beach Festival which is being fished on January 24/25/26, 2013: Venues are the Wexford beaches. First prize is 1000 Euro and a full accommodation package is available at Sean Ogs, Kilmuckridge. The man to contact is Warren Doyle Tel: +353 (0) 12828769 E Mail: email@example.com
Alan Price Wales gold medal (team second silver)
Richard Yates England bronze medal (team fourth)
The arrival of October signals a start to the cod season for most shore anglers, although in many regions lots of fishing rods are already out on the beaches etc because once the nights start to draw in the first autumn codling start appearing. However, its at the end of this month that a majority of venues start to see the odd bigger specimen moving inshore as the summer species move away and the cod follow the whiting inshore. The whiting are though becoming the problem because there are so many of them that they take baits aimed at big fish and appear to eat most other species out of house and home. It’s only the match anglers that are happy when it comes to whiting although the fact that there are so many that they appear stunted and almost always undersized can be frustrating. Dogfish and whiting are so often the sea anglers lot nowadays and it makes you wonder where we will all end up.
Last week a glimmer of hope came when a DEFRA survey team appeared on a beach at Deal in Kent. The anglers fishing were quizzed on what they had caught and how much they had spent on their fishing. One angler told me that the result of his individual statistics suggested that a small bass he had caught and returned was worth £57 a pound to the British economy! What angling brings to the economy is at last being examined and its my bet that it will open a few eyes and move DEFRA to start looking after the angling species, fingers crossed!
I am just back from a trip to Ireland with Sea Angler magazine and TF Gear where we spent a week fishing from boat and shore for magazine articles and a DVD which will be free on Sea Angler in the future. Our group included several well known sea anglers under the Sea Safari banner with the fishing funded by the Irish Tourist board and supported by the Inland Fisheries Ireland with two of their inspectors acting as guides. Unfortunately our visit collided with the worst September weather for a decade and we spent a week scurrying from venues to venue to get out of the gales. Fortunately this meant a couple of new venues and overall the results were good considering the weather. I cannot though leave Ireland without saying that the ethnic anglers over there are a problem for the Irish angling authorities because nothing is returned alive. Some of the marks we fished showed similar signs to those in England where catch and kill and the litter are so bad that it makes you wonder how anything can survive on the mark and that includes above the water line! Ireland already has a limit on the number of bass you can take in a day and a total ban on commercial bass fishing and I can see them extending it to mackerel, pollack and other species.
My Irish adventure also proved interesting because I got to try out some LRF. Now this stands for “light rock fishing” and it’s fishing with extremely light gear using lures. TF Gear have introduced some new sea fishing tackle items to compliment the style and part of the trip was to test out the new rod, reels and lures. Now I am a bit cynical when it comes to lure fishing because I believe that more fish can often be caught on bait than lures and view the style of fishing as an alternative rather than the be all and end of sea fishing. The fanatics must get used to catching nothing and so I am going to stick with the beachcaster and only use the lure rods when conditions are perfect. In Ireland a rock mark out of the wind was perfect for a spot of wrassing – trouble was whilst the plastics barely got a look, the ragworm was seized every drop by hungry wrasse topping the 3lb mark. I fished a small 0.25oz bullet slid down the line to the hook knot, jig head style. Baited with a whole ragworm this was cast and fished sink and draw – The bites were fierce, the fight fierce on micro braid and a 10lb mono leader – check out the forthcoming DVD. Incidentally if you need to know anything about the venues that appear on the DVD they will all be featured in Sea Angler magazine in forthcoming issues.
At the time of writing this report the England shore squad are out practising in Holland for the forthcoming World Sea Angling Championships. – My son Richard is a member of the England team and so I have a vested interest. Particularly because my first world gold medal came in Holland in 1991 with England – Good luck to all the home nations who are competing in the event – Its close to our style of shore fishing and the best chance the home teams have of a medal away from the Mediterranean style of most other countries.
It’s a great time of year for sea angling coming up with the cross over of summer and winter species bringing some of the best fishing of the year.
Between now and the time when the sea temperatures drop (later every year in most regions) you have several months when its possible in some regions to catch a complete range of sea species at the same time. From bass to codling, gurnards to whiting and mackerel to bream and thrown in for good measure are rarities like trigger fish, blonde ray, shore tope, red mullet and a lot more.a So make the most of your sea fishing from now on – Don’t leave it until you need thermals. Get out their in the last of the sunshine and experience the fantastic fishing that can be found in autumn.
My last few pegged evening competitions have seen me suffer from bad draws, that’s my excuse anyway, although a run of high numbers on Folkestone pier has seen me stuck in the pensioners section at the shore end. You know, the area on the pier where only those who want a short walk or can’t be bothered, fish. In my case its only a blip, the better draws will return sooner or later, but the situation reminded me how the spot you fish from can be so important, especially if it has NO fish. This is a major problem for a large number of sea anglers who fish through the winter months. They fish in the wrong places, somewhere there are no fish and I don’t think there could be a better way to fail than that!
Lots of anglers are simply in too much of a hurry to get fishing and plant themselves and their fishing gear at the first vacant spot they come across. Others base their venue choice on fishing tackle shop rumours and hearsay, or the past history of a venue. “If it produced cod in the past it will do again” The truth is that the stocks of cod and codling fluctuate every year and in some years, especially in present times, the shoals have been so decimated by the commercial fishermen that they no longer overspill to the shoreline. Catching them relies totally on good preparation and reliable information plus a slice of experience. So when the season starts think carefully about where and when you are going to fish because that will influence your success far more than the best fishing tackle, bait, casting distance and terminal rigs!
I am currently working on the first autumn issues of Sea Angler magazine and the major subject is “How good is this autumn/winter season going to be in terms of cod?” Well contacting anglers all around GB it does appear that there are conflicting opinions and this does stem from the results last year. The various regional populations of cod are in different states of health in terms of size and numbers and this is the case every year. Basically, the success of any spawn governs the next few generations of fish that will appear in any given region and so a flush of codling usually means that the following years there will be more and bigger cod. However, as the fish grow bigger their numbers decrease and the commercial pressure on the fish in each region also effects the situation.
Looking around the coast the prospects for cod in the various regions are mixed, in fact very different.
ENGLISH CHANNEL: Here in my region of the English Channel there are currently lots of small codling in deep water and it is hoped they will move inshore in the coming months. The English Channel also produced a few very large fish last winter and its expected that some of these really big fish will have survived for this year – So for a lunker over 40lb the northern end of the English Channel may be the place to head, especially if you fish the boats, Try Eastbourne.
EAST ANGLIA: In East Anglia a flush of codling last year suggests that this region will see far more fish over the 4lb range – Although it’s a fact that as they reach this size (Gill and trammel net mesh size) they are far more likely to be caught by the commercials. Best venue could be Orford or the Dirty Wall at Aldeburgh.
NORTH EAST: In the North East there have been lots of codling in the estuaries and current thought is that the cod fishing will be better this year – A bonus in the region is the many rough ground venues, which although difficult to fish, do protect the fish from the nets etc. Best venues are those with heavy kelp, try Newbiggin.
SOUTH WALES: South Wales had a bumper cod season last year and that my pick of the regions for cod fishing this winter, anywhere from the Bristol Channel out to Swansea on the South Welsh coast should be good. Best shore venue is Cardiff or Penarth.
NORTH WEST: Around the North West the Mersey is always a bright spot for codling although the bigger fish have been in short supply in recent years and the Irish Sea in general has experienced a decline and so Irish East coast angler should not expect too much. However having said all that, this the winter spawn will dictate next years codling stock and because the species can reproduce in such huge numbers when conditions are right and predators are absent, anything can happen and the glory days of the past could return over a couple of seasons. Fingers crossed.
Before I go, a few autumn tips:
Mullet, some big ones start to appear at this time of year and although they are generally regarded by many sea anglers as difficult even impossible to catch, this is not true you just have to fish at the mullet’s level. They will shy at thick line and big hooks, prefer bread to lugworm and don’t like lots of noise or movement. Essential is a mesh bag of bread and boiled fish (mackerel, gar, scad, sardines etc) to attract them to your swim.
Don’t forget to stock up your bait freezer with some mackerel before the shoals break up and leave your region. Mackerel is an invaluable winter bait for most species and its best frozen from fresh.
As the summer ends some regions can be clogged with surface weed, which can be a problem when it jams around your shock leader knot in the tip ring. Switch to a tapered shock leader, which offers a smaller less obtrusive leader joint. The TF Gear Aftershock tapered leaders are currently on offer at five for £6.75. Bargain!
Seafarers are a mighty superstitious bunch – which is perhaps, unsurprising when you consider the dangers involved in catching our Cod.
So next time you set sail for a spot of sea fishing, keep in mind these superstitions, they may save your soul.
• Priests – as the conductors of funerals are never welcome aboard ships. Such was the seafarers fear of the man in black that should a fisherman or sailor pass a man of the cloth on the way to his boat, he’d simply turn around and go home again. Better to miss a day’s fishing than spend eternity at the bottom of the sea.
• Women – when it comes to the fairer sex, things get a little complicated. Females aboard a ship at sea were believed to conjure storms and gales. However, in harbour it was another matter, with wives and sweethearts frequently staying aboard ship.
No matter how unsafe the presence of a real woman at sea though, the effigy of a naked lady, usually in the form of a carved wooden figurehead was considered useful in the calming of storms – the shapely woman, helping to placate the Gods.
Foremost amongst the concerns of fishermen and sailors, is avoiding putting to sea on unlucky days.
• Fridays – going to sea on the day Christ was crucified, so the reasoning goes, will bring nothing but misfortune. Other days too, are regarded as being blighted by disaster.
• First Monday in April – is bad luck, it’s Cain’s birthday and the day that he murdered his brother Abel. Also the second Monday in August, brings nothing but disaster. On this date Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God and woe betide any mariner who puts to sea.
• December 31st – is another deadly day, as it’s the day that Judas Iscariot is supposed (although nobody actually knows) to have hanged himself.
So when should you don your sea boots and head out for a spot of sea fishing?
Wednesday or Woden’s day is considered to be best as the Norse God, was regarded as being particularly protective towards mariners.
You’d think, given the dangers of the seafarer’s life, that learning to swim would be a top priority, but this was far from the case. Being able to do the breaststroke or crawl would have been to tempt fate.
Better by far to own a caul – the membrane that surrounds a human fetus. This remarkable bit of redundant tissue was regarded until quite recent times, as a foolproof way to guard against drowning.
Anyone unfortunate enough to go over the side of his vessel could expect little help from his crewmates. They would consider the matter of your drowning, a regrettable but necessary sacrifice to keep the Gods of the sea content.
‘May God bless this ship and all who sail in her’. The words that, along with a splash of champagne, have launched thousands of ships – but what of the origins of this time honoured tradition?
Simply put – it’s all to do with blood sacrifice. The custom of sprinkling sparkling wine over the bow of a new vessel, is derived from the practise of swilling red wine, which in turn comes from spilling blood.
The Norse Vikings, in fact, had a delightful habit of tying live prisoners to the slipway. As the ship’s hull, squished the bodies of the unfortunate captives on its way into the sea, the Gods would be placated by the trickle of blood into the water.
Things never to do
• Never take an umbrella aboard ship – you’ll court bad weather.
• Never whistle, you’ll summon a gale.
• Never tap a glass aboard ship – the ringing, signals the untimely death of a mariner.
• Never wear a dead man’s clothes or you’ll die too.
• Never bring flowers onto a boat – they’re for funerals.
• Never bring a coffin onto a ship.
• Never repair a flag on deck.
• Never pass a flag between the rungs of a ladder.
• Never use a black bag.
• Never allow a rooster on board in case it crows.
• Never leave the bread cut side up.
• Never leave a hatch cover upside down.
• Never sew sails if the wind is blowing from the wrong direction.
• Never leave a line dangling – you’ll be hanged.
And never, whatever you do, refer to a deadly, long eared, fluffy animal with large front teeth, strong back legs and a cotton wool tail.
Recent trips after smoothhound have seen me more often behind the camera than with rod in hand, the results will appear in Sea Angler magazine at a later date. The hounds have increased in size and numbers everywhere and it’s a nice change to be able to go after species other than dogfish and one that pulls, at this time of year. Currently the Kent coast, like many other regions, is fishing well and I cant help thinking that the fishing in spring and early summer is so much better than the traditional sea angling time of Autumn. Being as I am involved in match fishing via the National League I look at the fixture lists crammed with events in October and November and think, why don’t some of those matches, that to be honest have some pretty poor fishing nowadays, switch to May and June? In my region of Kent the British Championships fished at Deal on Sunday 7th October (2012 date) is typical of the large opens that suffer at the hands of a calm, clear sea with few fish around. OK if the date collides with a gale the dogfish and whiting turn up but most years you are lucky to see a bite and its tradition that now picks the date rather than the fishing. Meanwhile Deal in May and June is stuffed full of fish even when the sea is calm and clear with rays, dogfish and smoothhound and all you need is a Pulley rig, crab is the best bait but the fish also take ragworm, sandeel and fish baits. What’s more they are the bigger species that are needed to get the average angler back out match fishing. He cannot compete with the whiting snatchers in winter, but a big ray or hound can put him in the frame. Only one problem with the idea and that’s convincing anglers to get their beach gear out in May and June, the tradition of putting sea fishing tackle away for the summer months is difficult to break and so many anglers who ignore this time of year simply don’t know what they are missing!!!
Coming up I am making a new TF Gear/Sea Angler DVD and that includes fishing aboard Silver Spray out of Poole and a trip to the Perbeck rocks with my old mate Chris Clarke for a spot of bobber bashing, all weather permitting of course, so lets hope July is better that June!!!
Another great thing about summer is that I can get the float out, there is no more addictive angling than float fishing especially in a calm clear sea when the bottom species are awol. Mackerel, garfish, bream, pollack, scad and mullet are all float fishing targets although my personal favourite are the garfish because they lend themselves to a whole new sea angling technique. You can use ground bait or chum to attract them and on light float gear they can be fun to fish for even despite the frustration of being hard to hook because of their long beaks. The answer is to fish light with small hooks, mind you beware of going too light or too small because more than one bass has grabbed a sandeel section aimed at a gar and then there are mullet, pollack and even conger to encounter on some of the South Western Atlantic venues like the Channel Isles.
I have always been something of a specialist on garfish in matches – I even caused float fishing to be banned by one major organisation when I kept winning with gars. The big secret to catching them is movement, don’t just let your float drift back in the tide, lift the rod and cause the bait to flutter in the current, tweak it retrieve it, keep it moving and the gars cant resist. After that it’s being patient enough to resist striking the bites, keep the line tight and wait for the gar to hook itself. Best bait for garfish is garfish strip, cut from the belly in a fish tapered shape!
A great tip when fishing for gars is to use a fixed spool reel with a bait runner, I use one in conjunction with a 16ft quiver tip. This enables you to use ultra light snoods and small hooks, which can be deadly. Finally, fishing too shallow for gars is more effective than fishing too deep so keep it on the shallow side 4ft to 6ft.
Competitions coming up include the European Federation of Sea Anglers England Shore Championships taking place at Samphire Hoe in Kent on the 7th and 8th of July. It’s a member’s event although you can join and fish for the first time this year. The Hoe is the venue because Dover Breakwater remains closed because a ferry boat has not yet been found to replace the one that has operated for years. Dover Sea Angling Association are trying to get a replacement and its fingers crossed. Meanwhile Samphire Hoe is host in several major events because the breakwater is closed and these include the Penn League Final, the Home international as well as several opens. For EFSA event details and an entry form: E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
At last a heat wave, or at least some warmer weather and sunshine after the spring deluge, or was it a drought? Anyway, time to think about getting the bass lure gear out and having a wander around my local rocks. Unfortunately I do not live in one of the better regions for catching bass on a lure – Kent may have cleaned up its sewage outfall act and have claim to a host of Blue Flags, but its not the best coast to lure fish from in spring, especially because of the local estuary silt and May water. So many people forget the influence of the May Bloom on water clarity in spring and although its gets bad press as pollution it is a natural phenomenon that’s been around as long as I can remember. It’s caused by water leeching from the land containing fertilisers and natural nutrients which fuel the algae bloom or growth. Some years this is exaggerated even more by continued sunlight and some years are worse than others. Many of the “Blue Flag” beaches suffer really bad from it which makes something of a mockery of the Blue flag system because samples and results for testing depend on season, weather, tide etc and will vary enormously making the Blue flag one big raffle. However, for anglers and surfers or sailors the May rot, May bloom, May weed, in other parts of the world its described as the Red tide, is a pain because as the algae breaks down and rots it takes oxygen from the water and kills or suffocates all life in close proximity and it stinks! Anglers, keep an eye on your line for the tell tail globules and remember to wash your reel and line after fishing else you risk a divorce from the FPO (Fishing permission officer)
As for lure anglers it’s a good idea to avoid the May water and fish when its gone, the first few onshore stirs that coincide with the spring tides usually move it.
Currently bass lure fishing is booming although I will say that there is a certain amount of hype surrounding it as well as expert marketing. Do you really need a red rod that’s costs more than any other to fish for bass? Sorry folks but a dose of realism before you take up bass lure fishing is a wise move.
However, it’s the lures that are the most interesting aspect and we all know how addictive lures are! Look in my fly or bass lure box and I am as bad as the rest and a sucker for anything that glitters etc. The latest plastic bass lures and pin grip hooks fished on braid line is where bass fishing is at and I can’t wait for a clear bit of sea to chuck a plastic imitation. Mind you at the moment in my neck of the woods, bait still holds sway over the bass, but it’s all about a window in the weather and being ready to head for the rocks with the red rod and some of the latest TF Gear bass lures!
It’s a great sport, sea fishing. Just when you think nothing is doing all hell can break lose. Take England International George Smith. Tidying his gear on his last cast at the recent Kent Classic open fished at Herne Bay, George had caught just one small eel when with five minutes to go in the match his rod fell over. Something big had grabbed his giant peeler crab and Bluey bait aimed at a thornback ray. With the clutch giving line and the line heading around a nearby groyne, George could feel his line rubbing on the rocks ands groyne and thought all was lost. But the fish cleared the groyne and George worked the fish ashore. It was a 24lb stingray – not a big stinger by stinger standards, but a rare catch and it made Georges day because he won the match by a street! Also worth a mention was that the Herne Bay Angling Association operate a catch and release policy with stingers – they count for 15lb and are returned alive – that’s why George won with just 15.5lb.
With the crabs peeling around the country, they have all but finished here in the South, the spring fish are moving inshore all around the UK coast. Apart from George Smith and his stingray, there are thornback rays, bass and smoothhounds rippling around the coasts. If they haven’t got to your beach yet then be patient because they are one the way. The only downside is that they are passing on their way north and the spring season is short, especially here in the south. Time to make hay whilst the sun shines as they say.
I have found the answer to the summer or holiday beach – A pair of TF Gear Flips. Boots and waders can be too much in warm weather and sometimes its great to wade commando with flips and short. They are also great on the rocks when you are wearing shorts, OK socks are not obligatory!
Available in sizes 6 to 12 they are on offer at £14.99. Check them out online or in the latest TF Gear catalogue: TF Gear Sea Fishing Unit 5 & 6, Ffrwdgrech Industrial Estate, Brecon, Powys. LD3 8LA
Tel, 0871 911 7045
WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING
I have just completed a busy few weeks away from home having returned from fishing the Magrini Championships in Sardinia after Gambia. The event is one of the most important on the Italian match calendar and attracts some of Italy’s best matchmen. It’s a hard event to do well in, so hard that ex world Champion, Joe Arch from Cardiff is the only angler from the UK to win it since it started in 1989. The fishing from the beaches around the Arbatax region on the East Coast of Sardinia is mainly for small breams with the greater weaver and a few other bigger species the bonus catch, the much talked about Blue fish though never materialised! Competitors are based at the Club Saranceno Hotel Complex at Arbatax.
During the matches it pays to fish for the tiddlers because each fish carries a 50 point bonus. This rule was introduced this year and in my opinion the Hippocampus Club of Sardinia who organise the event, have shot themselves slightly in the foot with this new points system. As in the rest of the world, elite matchmen wanting to cancel the effect of a “lucky” big fish have arranged points systems to suit themselves. BUT they need bums on seats at matches to keep them running and taking out the luck element of fishing drives away the majority of anglers rather than attracting them. At the Magrini even the biggest fish prize was removed and this leaves the average angler with little chance of success. One Belgium competitor wore a great T shirt that summed up the event. I depicted a chap with a giant fish draped over his shoulders talking to another with a string of tiny tiddlers “You only caught one then” the latter said!
Chris Clark, who I roomed with had similar result to mine, I was handicapped by a first day 6th place in zone, I did rally on the second day and won my zone, but my 7points total was only enough for 16th place. More successful where J P Molloy and Sean Ivory from Ireland who both finished in the prizes, whilst Joe Arch from Wales who generally fishes well at this event was the top visitor and that’s out of Spanish, Corsicans, Belgiums, Scots, English, Irish, Tunisians and more. Scotsman, Andrew Higgins also made the prizes, whilst his wife Cathy was third in the specimen hunt event fished several days before the Magrini.
If you get the chance the event is worth fishing for the scenery, the hotel and the Craic alone – Sardinia is a beautiful country although beware the German bikers at the Club Sarenceno where a boiled egg for breakfast is harder to claim than a Magrini section win!
It’s the start of the summer matches now and I must admit to not fishing many of the calm clear water, daylight, events. I prefer to slope off to a lake somewhere when the sun comes out and the venues become infested with mackerel featherers, or fish the night events. Dawn and dusk are the hot times, although it does depend upon where you live and fish with the recent work by lots of the water companies on water quality around our coasts ruining the fishing. Lots of the old sewer outlets had a mullet population, whilst the sludgy drain and sewer water off the shores of some of the bigger towns and cities held a good head of fish in even bright sunshine. Nowadays the clearer, cleaner water means fewer fish in the shallows, although there are still plenty of the large river estuaries that offer brown water with the Bristol Channel a favourite in the South and the Mersey and Humber further north. Club matches in the evening are popular and lots of clubs extend their events into darkness fishing until 11pm. The key to success in this type of match is to concentrate some efforts on that last hour or so of darkness when the fish usually turn up.
The Sea Angler Magazine Clubman series has just restarted – It involves individuals and teams of five and any club in the UK can enter. The event is organised by E Mail only and if you or your club want to participate simply contact me for a set of the rules etc on E Mail: email@example.com
TACKLE AND TIPS
I stumbled on a great tactic whilst fishing the Magrini Championships in Italy and that was to use a carp type bait runner fixed spool reel. I reckon the idea will work well in the UK too in summer, especially for float fishing and light sea fishing tackle for bream, garfish, pollack, mullet etc. All it involves is actually using the bait runner as a shock absorber when fishing with very light line (3 to 5lb bs) A pulling fish cannot break the light line because it is given line by the bait runner and you then have time to set your clutch as you lift and retrieve.
Back home its peeler crab time with some bigger fish inshore at present searching for peeling crabs. This bait can be deadly, but it carries a big disadvantage, especially for anglers who don’t collect their own peeler crabs and have to rely on the dealer. This is that most of the dealers receive their peeler crab supplies from anglers who simply sell off their surplus crabs. BUT they cream off all the best crabs that are just about to split shells and pop out and so dealers nearly always have only hard crabs that are in the early state of peeling. If you find a dealer that supplies crabs in the best state for use as bait or one that lets you chose which crabs, size and peeling state you want, hang on to him!
See the range of the latest tackle in the TF Gear 2012 catalogue available from your local fishing tackle shops or contact us at: TF Gear Sea Fishing Unit 5 & 6, Ffrwdgrech Industrial Estate, Brecon, Powys. LD3 8LA
Tel, 0871 911 7045
Web: www. tfgear.co.uk.
WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING
Just back from a ten day trip to fish the Gambian Beach Sea Fishing Championships, my tan looks out of place at home because while I was away most grew scales and gills. The pond in the back garden suggests it’s rained a bit, but the bonus of that is if I stock it with a few minnows I can use my garden hose.
Gambia was its usual temperature and with the sun directly overhead for most of the day, covering up is essential, it can be painful on lips, lobes and toes! As for the fishing that was brilliant and I wonder why I never went in April before? Bernard Westgarth from Darlington has a house near San Yang and he had organised the four-day championships with a lot of help from his other half, Barbara. They supplied, bait, ice, transport, water, weighing at your peg, altogether a very well organised event.
Because I won may have made me biased, but the fact is that only ten anglers fished and although in multi day match terms that equates to 40 anglers credence to my victory was helped by top anglers, Chris Stringer and Bernard competing. What you cannot take away from the event was the fishing and when I say I landed 18 fish on the last day in four hours using just one hook you can see it was hectic. Before I went I must admit I was sceptical about the points system and the one hook, BUT it worked a treat and very few blanks were recorded. April seems to have a lot more middle size fish than at other times of the year although the best fish in the match was a 5kg cassava. Freelance wise I landed several big cassavas, butterfish to 3kg and sting rays to 4kg and lost two really big fish. I shall be going back next year with the event set for the week after Easter.
Contact Bernard Westgarth: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or check out his web site: www.fishthegambia.com
Back home my first outing with the bait pump reminded me that lugworms don’t like warm water when I pumped well over 100 worms only to find them dying after the car ride home. I still managed to salvage enough for my trip to the pier, but next time shall take a cool pack in the bait bucket.
My next outing, I have a lot of work to do first, is to fish the Magrini Championships in Sardinia. I am paired up with my good friend Chris Clark and look forward to his company and some Med style weever and bream snatching. I must admit to not being so competitive in the Magrini – I much prefer the Gambian style match with lots of bites and fish that pull. However, the Magrini is a really social competition and I look forward to seeing lots of old friends. Last year the match was won by Welsh International, Joe Arch and he is the man I would put my money on this year too.
TACKLE AND TIPS
Summer signals a big change in shore fishing tactics and in modern times has become, in my opinion, better than the winter, but you have to adapt and travel to find the fish. Those that move around the country in search of the rays, smoothhounds and bass do well, whilst if you sit on the same beach week in week out can expect only whiting. Currently word has it the Sandwich Bay in Kent is the ray hot spot in the South East, whilst for smoothhounds Pagham and Selsey in Hampshire are just starting to wake up and there are a few bream too. Other smoothhound hot spots around the country include South Wales venues like Aberthaw, Porthkerry, Marcross, Monknash, Newtown and Sker and on the Lincolnshire coast Chapel Point, Hutoft and Skegness are the venues to head for. Everywhere peeler crab is the essential bait.
I used a couple of TF Gear S MAGS in Gambia and they stood up to a week of weed and stingray hauling with 0.38mm sea fishing line. I added the power handles, which are essential for any sort of fishing, rough or smooth ground, it just helps that bit extra. The smaller handles are OK for field casting and really clean ground, but add a power handle if you are doing any heavy fishing. I also used the new three piece All Round Delta 16 foot rod and that too performed well and considering its price is a real scoop for the company.
See the range of new tackle in the latest TF Gear 2012 catalogue available from your local tackle shop or contact us at: TF Gear Sea Fishing Unit 5 & 6, Ffrwdgrech Industrial Estate, Brecon, Powys. LD3 8LA
Tel, 0871 911 7045
Modern fishing clothing is high tech and at the top end of the market, products are almost impregnable to wind, rain and spray. But how did we get here?
From tar covered cotton to fishing clothing today, lets take a voyage back through time and discover what salty sea-dogs used to wear.
Magellan coats and pea jackets
If you were unlucky enough to end up on a naval vessel, during the 18th or 19th century, chances were you’d die pretty young. Cramped conditions, rotten food and brutal working conditions meant that disease was rife. Clothing was limited to what the men had on their backs when they joined ship. As prior to the mid 19th century there was no official uniform for the foremast jacks.
Nevertheless, clothing was issued; typically a short, ‘pea’ jacket, waistcoat and a neckerchief. These items were worn with bell bottomed trousers – easy to put on in a blow and simple to roll up to keep them dry.
Captain cook, being an enlightened fellow saw the sorry state of his men and issued the Magellan Jacket, a heavy, warm, woolen coat that was ideal for use in bad weather – another version of the early oilskin.
Back in the old days, the only men aboard ship who’d be wearing boots were the officers. Just about all the crew would have gone barefoot – although most would have had a pair of shoes for a run ashore.
Laying aloft in the rigging of a tall ship or walking the deck of a small fishing boat was a highly dangerous business; one slip and you were a dead man. The best grip around was that afforded by your own skin. Although we can feel for the cold feet of those tough old sea dogs of yesteryear, self preservation was an undoubtedly positive outcome of abject poverty.
Now we come to the ubiquitous fisherman’s sweater. Found all over the country in its various forms, this item of clothing is thought to have originated in Guernsey. The tradition of knitting the jumpers began in the 15th century. The very hard twist given to the wool during spinning, coupled with an extremely tight knit produced a garment that was capable of withstanding both wind and spray.
As a way of demonstrating their industriousness, betrothed women would make one for their husband to be, before the wedding day – no easy undertaking, since each one took around 84 hours to knit. It should come as no surprise – when uniform was eventually introduced into the British navy, at its heart was the trusty Guernsey sweater.
Whether you are standing on the sand, beach caster in hand or staggering about on the rolling deck of a fishing boat, no doubt, you’ll be wearing a set of oilskins.
Waterproofing, the traditional way involved coating heavy weave cotton fabric with a ‘skin’ of oil. Linseed oil was popularly used as was a thin coating of tar. These bulky early sou’westers weighed a ton and would have offered limited protection from the elements.
For centuries salty sea-dogs have adapted clothing to suit a hard life working the oceans, but now technology and materials have been improved beyond recognition. Life at sea can still be dangerous and hard work, but at least modern fishing clothing offers better comfort and protection.