Some good news for UK cod anglers – There is a huge glut of small codling showing in many regions around the UK with the fish moving inshore to feed on the spring crab moult etc. The codling are mainly under the 35cm minimum size limit, although it has to be said in many regions, like here in Kent, the codling are close to the limit and will grow fast over the next few months. So hopes are really high that next year’s winter season is going to be a good one, exceptional compared with recent years. Fingers crossed.
In the meantime summer is on the horizon and should be early this year with the mild winter and it won’t be long until the first mackerel arrive at the Northern end of the English Channel which along with the mass crab moult and the return of the small bait fish like whitebait, sandeel etc will fuel some excellent shore fishing. It’s a great time of year as species spread around the coast in the clearing water although it’s a whole new ball game in terms of the fishing.
Back into the tackle box go the feathers, the floats, all manner of lures and I have taken to adding an LRF (Light Rock Fishing) rod and braid reel to my summer shore sea fishing tackle in recent years as an alternative method for those days when standard beach gear doesn’t happen. LRF is mostly about catching the small fish when they are all there. Using a single small hook or lure with all the lead on the hook a small spinning rod and braid line allows the angler to fish the nooks and crannies with worm or lures.
It works best in the wilds of Ireland where you can trickle and tickle a lures alongside the steep rock marks and in and out of the kelp fronds and rock ledges from cliffs in search of wrasse and bass but here at home its surprising what you can catch close in if you scale down enough and although it is mostly about small fish, when you hook a bigger one the gear allows even a 12oz fish to perform. LRF from the pier, jetty, beaches etc, especially from a pier with stilts or piles can prove great fun for mackerel, garfish, scad, coalfish, pollack, even bass.
I recently fished from a beach on the Isle of Wight with LRF gear swimming a ragworm close in under the edge of the estuary lip – The bass where mainly under 2lb but they attacked the worm as I retrieved it slowly and on 15lb braid and a 7ft spinning rod – I discovered a way to make chequer (small bass) fishing enjoyable!
The hoards of summer mackerel anglers and the chaos they cause mean some venues are worth avoiding from now on. But, mackerel fishing is fun and necessary if you want the species for bait or to eat and so here are a few hints and tips to help you avoid the angler conflict and catch more mackerel.
Firstly the basic rules worth adhering to when you go mackerel fishing:
- Do not encroach too closely on another’s fishing spot, ask if they mind first.
- Cast with care and look before you cast.
- Do not leave litter, gut mackerel on seats and do not urinate on the pier etc.
- Only take the fish that you need.
The first mistake many novice anglers make is to fish for mackerel on a venue when the sea is coloured or even rough. Mackerel do not like silted and coloured water, as sight feeders they require clear water as do their prey.
The hot time to catch is dawn or dusk, usually around high tide when the mackerel ambush shoals of bait fish against a pier wall or beach.
The fishing tactic to catch mackerel involves a method called “sink and draw”. This involves casting a string of lures, allowing them to sink to the required depth and then reeling only as you lower the rod. You then lift the rod and repeat.
On occasions mackerel will take a bare silver hook, anything when they are in a feeding frenzy. Modern the lures are far more elaborate and sophisticated although they can fish better when they have caught lots of fish and are falling apart and are scraggy. The best lures are those that create the most fizz and water disturbance with white feathers still amongst the best along with favourite patterns such as Daylites, Sabiki and Hokkai designs.
Currently I am under the doctor for rheumatoid arthritis which had laid me low in recent weeks and my trips to the beach have suffered. I am awaiting an operation on my right shoulder and am expected to be out of action for several months and that’s one of the reasons I have adopted the LRF – At least I shall be able to dangle a worm somewhere.
The downside this year is that I missed my annual trip to Gambia to fish the West African Beach Champs but, my son Richard went and I have included a picture of him with a 25lb sand shark caught on his light continental fixed spool outfit and 12lb line.
Tight lines, Alan Yates