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