I am back home from the Irish Winter Beach Championships fished from the Wexford shoreline after a dismal weeks results and weather. Team mate Chris Clark won his section every day to win by a large margin – well done Chris, you should spend the money on some decent waterproof gear! Second was Scotsman, Kevin Lewis who piped Dublin’s Dave Roe on count back so it was the story of the Englishman, Scotsman and Irishman with Chris Clark taking home the 1000 Euros!
I must have upset the draw gods judging from my dismal finish in the pack of the pack, although I did win the second biggest round fish on day one, but that probably sums up my event, it was a 21cm whiting! Yes the Irish fishing on the Wexford to Wicklow shoreline has become tiddlers only and I blame catch and release with tiny hooks for doing the damage, plus of course lots of commercial fishermen.
Well done the organisers for keeping the event going, because the weather was atrocious with venues having to be selected for comfort more than the fishing. It rained all day on the second day and when I say rain, I mean stair rods continuously for five hours so when I drew a peg next to a stream that turned into a river on the third day I knew exactly what was in store. My advice to shore anglers in winter has always been to avoid areas where snow melt and rain enter the sea and avoid shallow beaches where the frosts has got at the sand. Well I didn’t want to fish where I drew, but such is pegged match fishing! The plus was that I wore a pair of Hardwear chest waders and a Delta Marine smock and stayed dry unlike many who ended the day like drowned rats.
Back home it is the season to be scratching with the shore fishing notoriously hard in February. The major species for many anglers are rockling, dabs, pin whiting and flounders – Not exactly awe inspiring and I can’t blame lots of anglers for shelving their rods until the daylight and sunshine returns. Time to top up the tackle box etc and a trip to the tackle dealer or a web site, both will reveal lots of new sea fishing tackle around. Check out some of my gear on: www.tfgear.co.uk or www.fishtec.co.uk
If you do carry on fishing and lots of freelance, club and match anglers do, then there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of catching something. First pay extra attention to your bait. A few white ragworm or maddies added to the hook can increase your bite ratio, whilst stale lugworm and sometimes shellfish, really comes into its own in and after stormy weather.
Perhaps the biggest tip I can give anglers at this time is not to cast too far. Most of the species around just love hugging the breakers and that lip or gully created by the low tide waves. A lob of 30 to 70 yards can often be all you need to reach those rockling, dabs, flounders, etc, although you also need to be aware that spring will kick start the fishing again as the light evenings extend and a ray, a spring codling or a bonus match winning dogfish could be the result of a longer cast.
February competitions include a few flounder events where a couple of fish can win some big money prizes. Events worth a look include:
3: Aberdeen thistle SAC open. Boundaries: Aberdeen south breakwater to Stonehaven harbour excluding piers. Fishing 9am until 3pm. Penn event. Registration Nigg car park from 8.30am. £10 entry 100% payout, 50% for heaviest fish, then 1st, 2nd and 3rd heaviest bag .after heaviest fish removed. Bob Blocksidge 07836646678 / 01358723198 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org
3: Pleasure Anglers and Kayakers Association Open Cod competition. Swansea breakwater. Fishing 9am until 1pm. Penn event. Meeting at Macdonalds, Fabian way 6.30am. 0792389088 also check web site email@example.com
10: Double Dragon RNLI Open. Amroth. Fishing 10am until 2pm. Penn event. 1st Prize £250. Book in from 8am Amroth Arms. Roger Harris, Amroth Arms 01834 812480
17: The Fountain Open. Seabrook and Hythe. Fishing 1pm until 6pm. £1000 1st. 200 peg limit. Penn event. Booking in from 9am at the Fountain Seabrook. Brian Barnes on 01303 260875
24: Hornsea SAC Mark Loudon Memorial Open. Penn event. Mark 07768342169 or John 01964 534245
Canterbury angler, Leigh Chapman with a coalfish from Courtown beach, Wicklow during practice for the Irish Winter beach festival.
10 year old Ryan Rogers from Whitfield in Kent with a 4lb 3oz codling he landed from the Admiralty pier at Dover his first and biggest!