Summer Sea Fishing Safety Tips

Men fishing from rocks in Rhossili Bay, South Wales

Men fishing from rocks in Rhossili Bay, South Wales
Image source: David King Photographer

Fifty people lost their lives while sea fishing in the four years from 2011 – and most of them were shore anglers who were, to quote the RNLI, “fishing from exposed areas of shoreline.”

Not only is this staggering loss of life tragic, it’s also unacceptable. Failing to take adequate precautions to stay safe while out fishing gives the whole sea fishing community a bad name, risks the lives of the people who come to rescue you, and – worst case scenario – means you never get to go fishing again.

To make sure you don’t become a statistic, check out all the safety advice you can find online. The Angling Trust is a good place to start. And while you’re at it, here’s our guide to staying safe while you’re sea fishing from boat or shore.

Shore Anglers

Fishing from rocks can be exhilarating.

Fishing from rocks can be exhilarating.
Image source: Mogliami

You get a buzz from fishing from those hard-to-get-to secret spots using light rock tackle, but you want to enjoy your day and get back in one piece? Or perhaps you love nothing better than standing thigh deep in the surf, spinning for bass? Great. Here’s what you need to do to survive the experience:

  • Fish with a friend. If you fall, who will raise the alarm? The minimum unit of survival is two, so if you’re searching out an isolated spot from which to wet your line, always fish with a buddy, and always tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. If you don’t have anyone waiting for you at home, a quick phone call to HM Coastguard to let them know your plans is a good idea, but do remember to tell them when you’re back or they’ll send out a search party.
  • Wear a life jacket. Today’s life jackets are comfortable to wear, inflate automatically, and don’t get in your way. If you hit the drink, a little gas canister inflates your lifejacket, and you don’t drown. Why wouldn’t you wear one?
  • Wear boots. If you’re clambering over rocks, no matter how hot it is, nothing less than a stout pair of fishing boots will do. Beach casting? Wear crocs – if you tread on a weever fish with your bare foot, you’ll know all about it – the pain is enough to make a grown man weep.
  • Wear sun protection. Wearing suncream and good quality sunglasses protects your skin and eyes from sun damage. But it’s absolutely essential to wear a hat. It does more than keep the sun off. A hat prevents you from overheating which is when the unpleasant symptoms of heat exhaustion morph into lethal heat stroke. What’s the difference?
Heat exhaustion – too much sun makes you dizzy, pale, sweaty, feverish, and nauseous. You’ll have a headache, your pulse might race a bit, and you might throw up, but a cool drink, a seat in the shade, and a lie down at home should see you right.

Heat stroke – sees your core temperature rise. You’ll stop sweating because you’ll have no more fluid left to sweat; your skin will grow rosy red, and hot and dry to the touch; your pulse becomes rapid. You’ll get confused, restless, and possibly aggressive, you may suffer seizures, but as time passes, you’ll lapse into unconsciousness, and eventually die. If your buddy starts showing signs of heat stroke, don’t mess about, cool them down NOW! Chuck a bucket of cold water over them, strip them off, wet them, fan them. Get them out of the sun. Call the emergency services. You don’t have time to hang about; heat stroke kills.

  • Be prepared. No matter how competent you are, accidents happen, so always be prepared. If you’re fishing from rocks, be aware that even when it looks calm, swells can sweep unwary anglers into deep water. Take a rescue throw rope with you – not only does it come in an easy-to-handle bag, the bag doubles as a grab handle, the rope also floats, and the bright colour makes it dead easy to see when you’re thrashing about in the water.
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged. And carry it in a waterproof case. If there’s no reception where you’re going, consider taking an inshore flare pack and a waterproof strobe light.
  • Pack a basic first aid kit. Have enough basic equipment to deal with minor incidents and injuries without spoiling an entire day’s fishing.Be sure to wear appropriate clothing to deal with a soaking, as-well-as a decent waterproof coat which should be brightly coloured because if the worst happens, you want to be found – never trust the forecast, even in summer. Coastal weather changes fast.
  • Know your tide times. The coastguard, RNLI, and lifeguard service would have a much easier life if only anglers knew their tides and didn’t get cut off by them. Buy yourself a local tide timetable and learn to read it – remember to check whether your tide table adjusts for BST or not.

Boat fishing

Conditions can change quickly when fishing out at sea.

Conditions can change quickly when fishing out at sea.
Image source: Federico Rostagno

Everything you’ve read already applies to fishing from a boat or kayak. If you’re using your own boat, you need to make sure you get your engine (plus your auxiliary) serviced regularly, especially at the start of the season, or after a long layup. The emergency services don’t call the summer the “silly season” for nothing – make sure you’re not the one they’re wrapping in a warm blanket while they carry on the search for your missing crew mates.

  • Educate yourself. The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) offer myriad power and sail boating courses run through yacht clubs, and commercial outfits right across the country and beyond. As a bare minimum you should know how to safely pilot a boat in familiar waters by day – check out the range of courses on offer in your area, and make sure you know what you’re doing before you head out onto the blue.
  • Carry safety gear. It might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised just how many people get into trouble because they don’t carry any safety gear. If you’re heading to sea, you must carry everything you need to get you out of trouble. That’s everything from spares, fuel, and tools, to oars, plenty of rope, a compass in case your GPS packs up, a comprehensive first aid kit, and an inshore flare pack. On a boat? Always wear a lifejacket.
  • VHF Radio. Your mobile phone cannot be relied on at sea, so make sure you invest in a decent VHF radio – either fixed or handheld, and do take the RYA’s radio operator course – there’s no excuse not to because you can do it online.

No matter how good the weather or how confident in your abilities you feel, never underestimate the ocean.

About the author:

As well as being a keen sea angler, Robin Falvey is an experienced surf lifeguard and has been a lifeguard instructor and assessor for the Surf Lifesaving Association of Great Britain. He has worked closely with the RNLI and Coastguard on rescues and first aid incidents at sea and ashore.

How to get kids into fishing

Fishing is a sport the entire family can share.

Fishing is a sport the entire family can share.
Image source: Bex Nelson Fishes

Bex Nelson is the inspirational angler behind Bex Nelson Fishes, a Facebook page with a rapidly increasing following. Not only a keen advocate of the sport who encourages everyone to get involved, she’s a passionate ambassador for getting kids hooked as soon as possible.

Here are some of her tips for sharing your love of fishing with children. After all, it’s our responsibility to vouchsafe the future of the sport we love by introducing it to the next generation…

Fishing is the new cool

Fishing is cool for teens!

Fishing is cool for teens!
Image source: Bex Nelson Fishes

The one regret I have in life is not going fishing when I was a child. I did a little bit of float fishing with my Uncle, a match fisherman, but that was all. Then I met my partner who has been a very keen angler since the age of 6. The first time he took me fishing we went to a lake and caught 17 fish in one day. I loved it! And this is where my passion for this incredible sport was born.

There are more people fishing now than ever before. It’s a cool sport these days. Celebrities champion it on the television – even actors like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson loves fishing so much that he had a lake built on his farm. It’s fantastic seeing more females and children on the banks as well and I love to inspire anyone and everyone to get into fishing – there’s just so much to love about it.

Getting kids involved

Sharing the joy of fishing with 11 year old Ellen.

Sharing the joy of fishing with 11 year old Ellen.
Image source: Bex Nelson Fishes

I recently enjoyed a fishing session with a young girl of 11 years old called Ellen. She managed to catch her first fish on the surface, and as I stood back and watched her play the fish, it looked as though she’d been doing it all her life. But more important than that, her passion and willingness to learn from other anglers was amazing. She was such a joy to fish with!

Now it’s the summer holidays, there’s plenty of time to get your children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces out in the open and away from the Xbox. You don’t need anything expensive – just a good value rod and reel, a few hooks, floats, net and a mat. Get youngsters to help you prepare by making the ultimate mix of bait – kids love getting their hands dirty and will happily get stuck in!

Choose your battles

Fishing at Anglers Paradise

Fishing at Anglers Paradise
Image source: Bex Nelson Fishes

Choose a lake which has plenty of fish. In the early days, the last thing you want is to have them sitting behind a couple of rods with nothing happening. Keep plenty of bait going in to make sure you get lots of quick bites. I’ve found that even when the fish aren’t biting, kids love to get the net out and try and catch a big fish that way!

Talk to youngsters about the behaviour of fish, get them involved in reading the ‘clues’ or signs on the lake, encourage them to try and think like their quarry and explain why you love the sport. It will interest them more than you might think. Watching their passion for fishing ignite is one of the best ways to remember your own. So sit back, enjoy the view, and don’t forget to capture the moment on camera for posterity! (Check out Dave Lane’s advice on taking great photos for some top tips.)

Next time you head out with your tackle, don’t leave kids at home. Make it a family event where everyone gets involved. Kids love a competition, and there’s nothing better than the feeling of a fish on the line and an ‘epic battle between two warriors’ to teach children to appreciate these ancient creatures.

More about the author:

Bex Nelson manages the Facebook page Bex Nelson Fishes. Got a query? New to fishing? She’s more than happy to answer questions about her own journey and offer tips and encouragement to anyone just starting out.

Summer holiday fishing for mackerel

fishing for mackerel

A good sized mackerel caught from a small boat.
Image source: Shutterstock

Mackerel are one of the most popular fish for UK anglers to target and for good reason. They’re relatively easy to catch, put up a great fight once hooked, and taste great.

Mackerel fishing doesn’t require a great deal of equipment or complicated fishing tackle so it’s an ideal way to get children interested or for holiday-makers who want to try their hand at sea fishing. Here, Chris Middleton shares his top tips to give you the best chance of success.

Understand your quarry

Using a light rod and a spinner is one of the most common ways to catch mackerel.

Using a light rod and a spinner is one of the most common ways to catch mackerel.
Image courtesy of Chris Middleton

Mackerel visit UK waters in the summer after spending the colder winter months in deeper offshore waters. They generally arrive around the British coastline in May and stay until late-September, although this can be later around southern England.

Mackerel are a relatively small fish – the UK shore caught record is 5lb 11oz but the average size for mackerel in the UK is only around 1lb or so. Despite this they are fast, active hunters which feed on smaller fish such as sprats and sandeels. For this reason the main method for catching mackerel is with artificial lures such as spinners, feathers and daylights.

Where to find mackerel

Piers are one of the most popular marks for mackerel anglers to fish from.

Piers are one of the most popular marks for mackerel anglers to fish from.
Image courtesy of Chris Middleton

Mackerel hunt for their prey in mid-water so fishing from places like piers, breakwaters, jetties and other artificial structures which extend out into the sea is the best way to access this deeper water. It’s also possible to catch mackerel from steeply sloping beaches. Indeed, Chesil beach in Dorset is one of the UK’s top mackerel fishing marks. However, shallow, sandy beaches are unlikely to offer water deep enough for mackerel to be present and are therefore best avoided.

Visual hunters, mackerel can be caught at any time of the day, but it’s worth noting that rough seas and choppy water can send them out of range into deeper water. Your best chance of success is usually during a steady spell of good weather and calm seas.

Best tackle for mackerel fishing

A mackerel caught with a spinner.

A mackerel caught with a spinner.
Image courtesy of Chris Middleton

Mackerel fishing doesn’t need to be complicated. Most anglers use a spinning rod of 8 – 10ft in length which can cast lures of 1 – 2oz coupled with a simple fixed spool reel. You can often buy rod, reel and line combination deals that give you the full setup for a reasonable price.

The main types of lures used in mackerel fishing are:

Spinners: These are solid metal imitation fish fitted with hooks. There’s a seemingly infinite number of spinners on the market but simple, traditional silver spinners seem to work best for mackerel. Alternatively, try this set of four of the most deadly coloured lures.

Feathers: These are hooks which have been fitted with brightly coloured feathers to make them resemble a small fish. They’re bought ready-made on rigs usually containing three to six feathers. Using feathers is an effective way to catch mackerel, and there’s always the chance of catching multiple mackerel if a shoal attacks the feathers.

Daylights: Similar to feathers, these lures are made with synthetic plastic material instead of feather. You’ll need to remember to buy weights if you’re casting feathers or daylights.

The best method for catching mackerel

Multiple mackerel caught on daylights.

Multiple mackerel caught on daylights.
Image courtesy of Chris Middleton

The great thing about fishing for mackerel is that the same method is used for spinners, feathers or daylights. Cast your lure out as far as you can and then reel it in through the water to tempt the fish to attack it and get hooked.

As mackerel are a shoaling species they can descend on an area very quickly. A spot which has produced nothing for a number of casts can suddenly become alive with mackerel, producing a fish every cast.

If you’re not having any luck, try varying the speed that you reel your lure in. Reeling in quickly will bring your lure back high in the water, while reeling slowly will retrieve it much deeper. Try various depths to give yourself the best chance of locating the feeding mackerel.

Another tip is to watch for sea birds diving into the sea (a sure sign that small fish are present and mackerel will be nearby) or bubbles appearing on the surface of the sea. This happens when mackerel chase small fish upwards through the water, causing them to panic at the surface and the sea to look as if it is bubbling. This is a clear sign that mackerel are present and a productive fishing session will follow.

Eating your catch

Hot mackerel straight from the barbecue is a real treat.

Hot mackerel straight from the barbecue is a real treat.
Image source: BravissimoS

Mackerel is a tasty fish which is full of healthy omega-3. Once gutted, it can be very simply barbecued, grilled or fried, although take care to avoid small bones which can be difficult to completely remove. There’s not much that tastes better than a fresh mackerel thrown on the barbecue on the beach within hours of being caught.

For more ambitious chefs mackerel makes excellent pate and can even be substituted for sausage meat in scotch eggs. If you have a bumper haul, gut, fillet and freeze your catch for another time. Try some of these recipes from Great British Chefs for inspiration.

More about the author…

Chris Middleton writes for British Sea Fishing where you can find find information and advice on all aspects of shore fishing around the UK with information on techniques, bait, tactics and fishing marks across the country. As well as this there are features and articles on wider issues such as commercial fishing, conservation and the sea fish species and other sea creatures found around the British Isles.

Fishtec Blogger Joins The Angling Trust

Keen all-rounder and author Dom Garnett is writing a new chapter for the Angling Trust

Keen all-rounder and author Dom Garnett is writing a new chapter for the Angling Trust, in search of untold stories and unsung heroes. Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Regular readers will already know our blogger Dom Garnett is as passionate about conservation and inspiring the next generation as he is about his own fishing. In his new role at the Angling Trust, he’ll be travelling the country to cover the stories and issues that matter. Here’s a flavour of what to expect, in his own words…

Dom’s mission

Are we living in the best or worst of times for fishing? I guess you could say it’s a bit of both at the moment. We’ve never had better value tackle or more choice of places to fish. Then again, the sport is faced with more hurdles than ever, from environmental threats to a lack of young recruits.

Fishing is so much more than just a hobby for me. When a new role in blogging and digital media came up with the Angling Trust, I had to go for it. Little did I know the huge amount of stories to cover and good work going on behind the scenes – and that’s just after the first couple of months!

Is angling in a good place in 2018?

Social media isn’t always healthy for angling.

Social media isn’t always healthy for angling. The sport needs togetherness and positive action, rather than yet more keyboard warriors!
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Catch a typical pub or Facebook conversation and you might think fishing is going to hell in an illegal keepnet. All the big fish have been eaten. The rivers and canals are empty. By 2050, there will only be crayfish and cormorants left. I could go on, but you’ve probably heard it before and, I hope, realised that much of it is way over the top or pure nonsense.

Of course, there are still serious challenges, but these won’t be solved by keyboard warfare. In fact, the biggest problem angling faces is not otters or immigrants but good old-fashioned apathy. That’s why it can feel that, in spite of being a sport with a giant following, we punch like a toddler. So, if I can highlight some of the positive things going on and rally more anglers to do their bit, that in itself would be a result. So where do we start?

Rewriting the story of fishing

A lot of the good work in fishing is not very visible. In spite of claims to the contrary, there are more volunteers, projects and campaigns than most of us are aware of. Sadly, the real heroes of fishing tend to get on quietly and determinedly, while those who contribute little more than spleen feel the need to make an awful lot of noise.

My first aim is to show anglers what really goes on behind the scenes – whether it’s the many ways their EA fishing licence money is spent, or the great projects and people out there making a difference.

Sometimes this needs a fresh angle, and so I’ve aimed to make my blog posts for the Angling Trust’s “Lines on the Water” unashamedly entertaining. It can be hard to catch readers in this digital age, so I’m keen to uncover the eye-opening truths and human interest stories behind the serious stuff. Here are just a few recent examples:

Police, thieves and fishy goings on…

From firearms to stolen carp, fisheries enforcement staff see it all!

From firearms to stolen carp, fisheries enforcement staff see it all! But the picture is changing, thanks to joined-up thinking and better practice.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

One of the greatest positive changes in fishing for decades has been the vast improvement in the way fisheries crime is tackled. The Angling Trust’s enforcement team has been instrumental in making this happen – from closer working with police and the EA, to creating a nationwide army of 500 Voluntary Bailiffs. This is a massive step in the right direction!

Of course, we can all help by reporting crimes and incidents. You never know what you might uncover and would not believe some of the cases that have come up in recent years! Actually, take a look for yourself in my recent post about Amazing Fisheries Enforcement Wins. Did you hear the one about the wanted murderer, or the bathtub of stolen barbel? I kid you not!

Random rubbish and bizarre finds

Not what you’d hoped to catch; but litter is no laughing matter!

Not what you’d hoped to catch; but litter is no laughing matter!
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

The media have been going nuts about litter and plastic pollution lately. About blinking time, too, because it is atrocious and so unnecessary! The moment you start to lecture people about tidying up, they tend to switch off.

So, instead of dishing out a sermon, I decided to do some homework and ask all my angling pals about their most bizarre catches. The results were strange to say the least, from body parts to erotic toys! You can see the worst and weirdest of them here. Better still – do your bit and join our “Take 5” campaign.

Turning the “problem” of immigration into a positive

Polish kids learn to fish with the Building Bridges scheme

Polish kids learn to fish with the Building Bridges scheme – an excellent Angling Trust project supported by Environment Agency rod licence money.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

You only need to mention the word Brexit these days to conjure up fierce debate on immigration. But could our neighbours from the continent be a positive for fishing in the longer term? Granted, there are still a few bad apples; but thanks to efforts from the Angling Trust and others, the tide is now turning.

Not only is the Daily Mail style “immigrants have nicked all the fish” line getting pretty tired, the statistics no longer back it up. Non-British anglers carry out only a small proportion of fisheries crimes; and I don’t hear many calls to have middle aged Englishmen hung, drawn and quartered.

Part of this is down to much better education, from multi-lingual signs to special events and wider enforcement. The Angling Trust’s Building Bridges project has been crucial here, too. In fact, there’s growing evidence that immigration can be hugely positive.

I recently attended a fantastic event with Wellingborough Nene and District Angling Club where dozens of Polish kids and their families came together with local coaches to learn fishing skills and laws. It was one of the most uplifting experiences of my fishing year. The result of more events like this could be huge. Migrant anglers now provide a substantial boost to the tackle trade, while the fishing clubs get much needed junior members. Make no mistake; if we can work together, we can create long term, positive change here.

How you can help

Together, we can protect our fisheries and build a brighter future for angling.

Together, we can protect our fisheries and build a brighter future for angling.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

In a sport that has a huge number of participants, it’s a crying shame that such a small percentage play their part and join the Angling Trust. As you might have seen from my previous Fishtec blog post on why it’s so important to get involved, there are simply too many positive reasons not to do just that!

There are far too many great things going on for one blog post, it’s fair to say. We haven’t even touched on Fish Legal, and its huge wins against polluters. Not to mention the Angling Improvement Fund, injecting many thousands of pounds of rod licence money into helping angling clubs and freshwater fisheries. Nor have we mentioned the huge number of coaches and free fishing events every summer with the “Get Fishing” organisation.

I’m well aware that doing your bit is not as sexy as talking about huge fish or the latest tackle; but the future of angling depends on all of us to show that we care. I’ll say it again: apathy is by far the biggest threat to angling. We won’t win the longer battle overnight, but joining the Angling Trust is a bloody good start! Signing up today costs less than £30 and brings a whole host of discounts and other benefits too.

In the meantime, do follow your regional Angling Trust Facebook page and keep an eye on the “Lines on the Water” blog for current goings on and inspirational stories. It’s only together that we can beat apathy and build a better future for fishing. What do you say?

Read more…

For more of our blogger Dominic Garnett’s stories and articles, his website has books, blog posts and more to enjoy. Crooked Lines (£9.99), his collection of fishing tales, makes especially enjoyable summer reading. Or, discover the flies and innovative tactics used to catch a wide range of freshwater fish in his highly acclaimed Amazon Bestseller Flyfishing for Coarse Fish.

Summer Coarse Fishing Tips: How To Beat The Heat

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A beautiful, baking hot day; but is it still worth going fishing?
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

While blue skies and sunny waters bring out fair weather anglers in droves, high summer can be a tough time to fish. Dom Garnett has some timely advice to help you stay cool, keep catching and be kind to the fish…

The weather forecasters are grinning; the mercury is rising and the shops are making a killing on barbeques and beer. “What a lovely time of year to go fishing” says just about everyone who doesn’t know much about angling!

Ask most regular anglers, and you’ll get a lukewarm response: high summer can be a challenging time of low returns. Fish, after all, are not always comfortable in the heat. Like us, they find their energy and appetite dulled.

With clear skies and low water levels, the fish also feel quite vulnerable and will either hang around motionless or go missing in the brightest hours of the day. Unlike you or I, they have no eyelids, let alone a pair of shades to lessen the blinding glare!

Should I still go fishing in a heatwave?

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Drought conditions can follow a heatwave. It can be a time of stress and difficulty for nature- and fish become more vulnerable. Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

When it’s extremely hot, fishing can be a tricky business. That’s not to say you won’t catch, but you might need to switch times, locations or species. Early mornings or evenings are going to be better than the middle of the day, for one thing.

As for species of fish, some respond to heat better than others. Fragile, coldwater species like pike and grayling should be avoided altogether, such is the risk. Carp are perhaps the most notable exception; tough as old boots, they might slow down but can still be caught on the surface or in the margins. Tench and crucian carp are also tough cookies that can tolerate higher temperatures and lower oxygen levels.

Is it worth the risk?

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Carp are hardy fish that can still be tempted on bright days. However, on’t expect them to be on the bottom. Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

With other species, it’s a case of discretion. After all, just because you can legally target them, it doesn’t mean you should. Barbel are a point in case presently, because as tough as they look, these fish can easily die following a hard fight and a less than careful release. It can take up to 20 minutes of supporting a fish on release, if it is to recover properly.

Is it worth the risk in the first place? Only you can make that call, but when it’s silly hot remember that we have the whole year to fish. If you must go, there are some common sense rules, too. These include using strong tackle to play fish quickly, not to mention supporting them with patience to recover fully before swimming off. Our Beginner’s Guide to Fish Care has lots of great advice to help if you’re unsure.

Summer fishing and catch and release tips in hot weather

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This barbel perished after capture in hot weather. River fish demand extra care and patience on release. Image courtesy of Alfie Naylor.

  • It’s your call if the weather is scorching hot. But if the river is extremely low or you think the fish are vulnerable, why not wait a bit or try something else, like carp fishing or sea fishing?
  • Early or late sessions are often better than the middle of the afternoon, so set that alarm clock or see if you can sneak out after work! Remember though, that even when the air temperature cools, the water will still be hot right around the clock and fish can be vulnerable.
  • Pick shady spots and faster flows for the best chance of action. Fish like shade as much as we do, while shallow, faster flowing water is cooler and more oxygenated than the slacks. Hot weather can change the rulebook, so don’t always expect your quarry to be in the usual spots.
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Make the most of natural shade where you can – fish appreciate some protection from the sun. Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

  • Try fishing up in the water when it’s warm. Whether it’s a floating bait for carp, or trickling in casters for roach, summer fish often like their food well off the bottom.
  • Take extra care of the fish if it’s hot. Exhausted fish are particularly at risk, so use strong tackle and play them quickly. Keep them in the water as much as possible and support them patiently while they recover.
  • Avoid keep nets. Keep nets should be avoided, or used only very sparingly for short periods, in mid-summer.
  • Don’t fish for fragile species. Some types of fish, like pike, deserve a complete break; they are extra fragile in the summer and even if you know your craft, you could easily kill one. If it’s crazy hot, you might also avoid species such as grayling and barbel. Again, this might depend on the venue, but for the longer term it’s best that we put the needs of the fish before our own.
  • Target tougher fish. Carp, tench and crucians are all species that don’t mind hot weather and can tolerate lower oxygen levels than their stream cousins. A switch from river to lake might be more productive, not to mention kinder, if the weather is hotter than a vat of vindaloo. Of course, you should still be extra careful with your catch on the bank, because even these fish will be less resilient than usual.
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Fish such as carp, tench (above) and crucians are more comfortable in warm water than the likes of barbel and grayling. Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

  • Pack sun block and extra water! Yes, we’ve all done it. Remembered kilos of bait but not taken care of ourselves. The result is a splitting headache or sunburn. Oh, and do treat yourself to a decent fishing hat! A broad-rimmed hat could literally “save your neck”!
  • Try night fishing for carp. If it’s a big carp you’re after, this is a wonderful time of year to go night fishing. Balmy recent conditions have seen temperatures in the high teens, even in the wee small hours! Very comfortable for sleeping out- and the fish will be a lot less wary after dark.

Read more from Dom Garnett

Regular Fishtec blogger Dom Garnett can also be caught every week in the Angling Times, while you can also find more on his site www.dgfishing.co.uk and the Angling Trust’s Lines on the Water blog.

Coarse Fishing Tips For The New River Season – 16 June

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Sunny weather and hungry fish; what’s not to love about early season river fishing?
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

After a three-month break, river coarse anglers will be raring to get out and fish from 16 June. But what’s the best way to get in on the action in the early part of the season? Dom Garnett shares some handy tips to get you off on the right foot…

When is the start of open season for river coarse fishing?

16 June 2018 marks the start of the open season for coarse fishing on rivers. When was the last time you fished a river for coarse fish? Although there are plenty of stillwaters open all year round, there is still a certain magic about returning to running water. For the keen angler, it brings a real tingle of anticipation, to put it mildly!

When the new season opens, will you return to a favourite haunt or try somewhere completely new? Will you simply fish for bites, or go for a net-filler? After a long break and the rigours of spawning, the fish are likely to be hungry, too, and sport can be excellent. Here are my top tips and four ideal species to kick off your river campaign.

Roach

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Roach are a fantastic species to give plenty of bites.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

These days they are not the most fashionable species, but for bite-a-chuck fishing the humble roach is a great way to return to the rivers. You’ll find these fish in steadily running water. Look for flows of walking pace and pay special attention to any “crease” where faster and slower water meets.

Tackle and tactics: Try trotting with a light stick float set up, with 3lb line and hook sizes from 14-18. Keep feeding for best results. Maggots are excellent, but if you can get them, casters are superb for picking out the better fish. Failing that, or where longer casts are needed, try an open-end feeder and bread.

Chub

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Chub can be caught on all kinds of methods, but float fishing is especially good fun.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

These fish reach a good size even on quite small rivers and are active and hungry right now. They love spots with cover, such as weed rafts and overhanging trees. That said, when it’s scorching hot you’ll also find them in shallow, well-oxygenated water. They can be spooky, so approach with care.

Tackle and tactics: Perhaps the best thing about chub is that they respond to so many methods. Trotting or legering with bigger baits is a good tactic. Loose feed regularly and they will come well off the bottom, too. Waggler fished maggot is excellent, but they also love the splash of the pellets you might usually use for carp fishing! Lines of 4-8lbs are typical, with hooks from 12-18 depending on the method, size of fish and snags present.

Last but not least, if you can get close to them, a free-lined piece of bread or a worm is fun – or you could try my favourite method – fly fishing. Amazing fun in clear water!

Barbel

June16-Fishing-Tips-5

Barbel are among the most exciting fish to battle on running water.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

For those after a real net-filler, these powerful fish are what summer fishing is all about. Some anglers automatically look for deep holes and slacks, but this is often a mistake as they are very tolerant of even quite strong currents, especially early in the season. Look for water with a decent flow and depth, preferably with with cover not too far away. Rather than guessing, don a pair of polarised glasses and take a walk – you may see them rolling and flashing as they graze the bottom if the water is clear.

Tackle and tactics: For many anglers, legering gear is easiest. Try a heavy swim feeder and a hair rigged bait on a hooklength of just 10-12” for a bolt rig effect. Meat, double 10mm boilie and pre-drilled pellets all make great hook baits. They are not desperately line shy, so tackle up tough with at least 10lb breaking strain.

However, the most fun way to catch them early on is trotting. In the early season they are active and more inclined to be in shallow to mid depth swims, too. Fish as you would for chub and roach, throwing in bait regularly, but step up to stronger line and hooks!

Bream

June16-Fishing-Tips-8

A river bream from an urban weirpool. Find the shoal and you’ll have a busy session.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

It’s a shame more of us don’t target these fish. Many larger rivers have a healthy population and those you find in running water fight a lot harder than their stillwater cousins. Look for them in deep, slow areas, such as wide river bends and the less turbulent parts of weirpools.

Tackle and tactics: It has to be the quiver tip, with a large feeder and baits such as corn, caster and bread. Lines tend to be 4-6lbs and obviously lighter gear will give you better sport than specimen tackle. Take plenty of bait and feed generously too, because these fish can eat for fun when you find them in large numbers.

Top tips for coarse fishing in the early river season

June16-Fishing-Tips-6

Check your licence.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

    • Check your gear if it has been a while since you fished. You might want to respool with fresh line, in particular. The time to ponder if you needed a refresh is definitely not when you’re playing a big fish!
    • Renew your licence! If you haven’t fished for a few months, be sure to buy your new licence. These days, they run for a year from the day you buy them, offering better value for returning anglers.
    • Get up early if you can. You’re more likely to get your favourite spot and if it’s hot, you may well find that the best fishing is before the sun gets too high in the sky.
    • Prebait if you live close to the water to get the fish lined up for you. They won’t have seen bait for many weeks, so it’s good to get them used to your chosen offerings again.
June16-Fishing-Tips-2

Get the fish used to your bait.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

  • Go with the flow in the early season and try trotted, moving baits, even for the likes of barbel. The fish are sure to be active now and they like steady flows because these areas have more oxygen on a hot day. Maggots are hard to beat, or try something bigger if minnows are a pest.
  • Handle your catch with care on hot days. In warm water fish fight harder and get stressed quicker. Always handle with wet hands and keep them in the water as much as possible. Use that keep net for shorter periods only, or better still leave it at home.
  • Wade in! I’m often surprised at how few coarse anglers own waders. These are brilliant for summer fishing, allowing you better access to the water. They’re also good for your catch, as you won’t even need to take it onto the bank to unhook and release it.

Find further inspiration for the new river season…

Last but not least, do also keep an eye on the Angling Trust’s “Lines on the Water” blog, where I will be asking star anglers from John Bailey to Sam Edmonds for their favourite rivers and tactics to try in June. In the meantime, tight lines to you all and here’s to a glorious June 16th!

Read more from Dom Garnett every week in the Angling Times and at www.dgfishing.co.uk

Easter Holiday Fishing With The Family

children fishing

Hunt for fish, not eggs, this Easter!
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

With sunny weather on the cards and a welcome break from work and school, Easter is the perfect time to get children fishing.

The closed season might have kicked in on rivers, but there are loads of waters that are not only open, but really waking up at this time of year.

So where should you start? From having a crack at your local stillwater, to enjoying discounted fishing and special events, Dom Garnett shares eight timely tips to make it an Easter break to remember.

1. Sort out your fishing licenses for free!

Fishing licence

Juniors can get a free EA license under current rules, making fishing even more affordable.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

Do children need a fishing license in the UK? Well, the good news is that the system has recently changed to encourage youngsters to take part and make the sport more affordable for families. So, if your kids are 12 or under they don’t need a license at all. If they’re 13-16, they will need to register for a license, but this is completely FREE! You can do this online whenever you have five minutes spare.

You will still need a day ticket on many lakes, but many venues offer these to kids for half price. Typically you’ll be looking at between £3 or £5 a day. Angling clubs are often cheaper still, with heavily discounted season tickets for under 16s.

2. Local tip-offs & smaller, well-stocked fisheries

Easter_Fishing - 4

For youngsters it’s all about getting bites, not catching leviathans like the General, above.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

Most of us will get a day or two off work in the next fortnight, but the golden question is where to go fishing? Sure, you can surf the internet for likely hotspots, but nothing beats speaking to locals. Take ten minutes to ask pals in the know, or pop into your local tackle shop for a pint of maggots. They’ll give you tips on the best places to go.

Given a choice of venues, look for smaller, well-stocked lakes. In these places, fish are plentiful and not hard to locate. Unless your kids have done lots of fishing already, size isn’t so important. It’s all about having fun and getting bites. Commercial lakes also tend to be safe and have shelter and toilet facilities.

3. Simple float fishing is best

Unless your youngsters are a bit older and experienced, keep things simple. The best way to get going is often basic float fishing. Whether it’s with rod and line, or a pole, watching a float is fun and gets them concentrating on those key early lessons. Our Beginner’s Guide to Float Fishing has loads of useful tips.

On many day ticket lakes, the best spot is near the bank, or just a little further where the bottom drops away a little (usually not more than a rodlength or two!). Take your time picking swims and get your apprentices to help make the choice by looking for features and fish moving.

4. Fishing basics first

Most kids will be raring to fish immediately, but there are some quick jobs to do first. Include your learners as much as you can and do your best to answer their 101 questions! Always start by plumbing the depth before you fish. If you can show them how to do this, and set up with the hookbait at just the right depth (start with it just about touching the bottom), they will spot bites better and catch more fish, period.

Another (often neglected) key skill is to test your gear and get things perfect before you get fishing. Weight that float carefully, so that just the very tip is showing. Test the drag on your reels too, so that it gives out line with a steady pull. It could be the difference between landing that first proper net-filler and getting snapped off.

5. Ways to get more bites when starting out…

Easter_Fishing

Regular loose feeding and lighter lines are the way to get loads of bites, as this family learned at a friendly Exeter Angling Club event.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

When fishing with kids, getting bites is important. Ok, so fishing is not all about catching, but if you’re going to sustain their interest most youngsters need encouragement. A couple of key lessons will greatly increase the number of bites they get!

One is to use fine line and smaller hooks. Too many beginners don’t catch because they use crude gear. Try small barbless hooks in sizes 12 to 16 to start, along with low diameter lines of 4 or 5lbs breaking strain. Pre-tied hooklengths and ready-made pole rigs can be useful here.

The other essential tip is to feed bait little and often. Not kilos of the stuff, but perhaps a dozen maggots or tiny pellets every three or four minutes. This brings the fish in much better than just the occasional handful. When you are setting up or sorting tangles, this is also an excellent job to give to kids to stop them getting bored. Just try to make sure the bait keeps going in the same spot and not all over the place!

6. Help out, but don’t do it all for them

first fish

Let youngsters practise skills and play fish themselves. They’ll learn from their mistakes.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

Perhaps the most common trap for parents and coaches alike is to try and do every essential job going. From tying knots to unhooking fish, it’s often tempting to take over. But if you do it all yourself, how are they going to learn?

A great rule is to do each essential task slowly, but with the message: “you watch me first, then you try it.” You might need to show them a few times and they will make the odd mistake, but this is the best way to learn. Even better, you’ll gradually get more peace when you fish yourself, because they won’t ask for your help every five minutes!

7. Plan B for a bigger fish

As mentioned, getting bites is what it’s all about for most kids who haven’t done loads of fishing. But there’s no harm in mum or dad sneaking along an extra rod, just to try for a ‘bigger something’ in between all the bites, laughs and tangles. The learners are sure to be impressed and it could add extra excitement to a fun day out.

For the ultimate, no-nonsense trick to bag a carp on most day ticket lakes, look no further than the method feeder with a large hookbait (see our guide to feeder fishing). Be warned though – bites are so positive on the method, the rod could get pulled in, so do keep an eye on it! For safety, use a baitrunner type reel in free-spool mode, or set the drag lightly.

8. Make it a social day out or join an event!

family-friendly fishing spot

Most small stillwaters have comfy pegs and family-friendly facilities like toilets.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

Being a fishing mum or dad can take patience. It can be tricky to do your own angling and sometimes you’ll wish you had four arms instead of two. This is where a bit of friendly help comes in.

Why not club together with friends or family to make it a social day out? If the weather’s fine, you could always combine it with a picnic. Do warn non-anglers that you’ll need at least three or four hours to make it worthwhile, though. Have a plan B too, so less keen family members can take a walk, or do something else for a bit.

If you want some expert help and even better value, why not join one of the many free fishing events around the country? There are usually various family days and taster sessions for beginners in the Easter and Summer Holidays (be sure to check your local fishing club’s website and Facebook page!). There are also lots of events and discounts available on day ticket lakes all over the country with the Take A Friend Fishing (TAFF) scheme. See if you can find some cheap fishing near you.

Wherever you decide to fish this Spring, enjoy your time out on the bank. Days like these make precious memories and turn keen youngsters into lifelong anglers, so treasure them! And if you do make it out with the family, share some photos on the Fishtec Facebook page, which is always worth checking for news, tips and offers. Don’t forget to check out our other blog posts too, including our Fishing with Children article.

Carp Tackle Buying Guide

Dave Lane carp

Beginner, regular carp angler or pro – here’s your ultimate buying guide.
Image source: Fishtec

Whether you’re a beginner trying to kit yourself out for carp fishing or an experienced angler looking to overhaul your existing gear, the Fishtec team has everything you need.

But with such a huge variety of carp fishing tackle on offer, how do you determine what you need and how much to spend? Here’s the ultimate guide to getting tackled up, from basics and budget gear through to fishing equipment for the lifelong carp addict.

What kind of carp angler are you?

Before we launch into kit, it’s important to know what stage you’re at. If you’re just starting carp fishing, for example, you won’t want to spend too much until you get going. We’ve broken things down into three categories to help you make decisions:

Carp Angler Categories
Beginner
You might be new to the sport, or someone who knows the ropes but can’t get out every week. You could simply be on a tight budget. Whatever the case, you’ll want functional gear that offers excellent value for money.
Regular
You know your stuff and fish fairly often. You wouldn’t class yourself as a die-hard, but you’re keen enough. You might not have cash to burn, but you want decent kit that can handle more than just the basics.
Expert
You live and breathe carp fishing and spend a lot of time on the bank. Your gear has become more specialised over the years. You like kit that’s not only practical, but a joy to use. When you can afford it, you have no hesitation in buying the best.

You won’t necessarily fit neatly into one category – you might fall between two. For example, you could be your first year into to the sport but coming on fast and needing better gear. Or, you could be a carper with bags of experience who needs to watch the purse strings.

Top tip: Carp fishing can get technical at the best of times and some of the kit isn’t cheap. But it’s not a fashion contest and the most important thing is that your gear works for your budget and style of fishing. Many anglers with expensive rods have been out-fished by someone with cheaper kit and better watercraft (or better luck!). If you’re a beginner, start at your own pace. You don’t need the best from the word go, so let your tackle evolve as you learn.

How to choose a carp rod

It’s the most popular impulse buy of all, every angler loves to own rods. But which is the best for your needs? These days, quality carbon blanks have never been better value. The calibre of carp rods available for less than £50 would probably have cost several times that a decade or two ago! Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Carp Rods
Beginner: Daiwa Black Widow G50 Carp rod
Serious rods that still give you plenty of change from £50! These are anything but toy models though. A great range of options too, from 2.75 to 3.5lbs test curve.
Buy now from £39.99
Regular: Nash KMX Carp Rod
For a sleek finish and superior build quality, these rods punch above their weight in the mid-price range. Durable blanks, with a spod rod as part of the set for those who need this option.
Buy now from £69.99
.
Expert: Free Spirit “S” Lite Carp Rods
For ultra light, beautifully sleek rods, this range is a joy to use. A comprehensive selection that really push the standards of design and performance beyond expectations.
Buy now from £159.99
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Which carp rods will suit you best?

Most rods sound great on paper, but how do you decide the power and length you need? Test curve rating (the amount of strain required to pull the rod tip over by 90 degrees) is one key factor to look into. 2.5 or 2.75lb test curve rods are more forgiving, for example, to play fish at close to mid range. If you’re punching out rigs and very possibly PVA bags at longer range, 3 to 3.5lb test curve rods have greater power.

Length is another consideration. There’s a reason most rods are 12ft; it’s a versatile all-round length for most scenarios. A 13ft may be better still for long casts, say on a tough gravel pit. However, for many anglers who fish smaller waters, the reverse is true and a 10ft rod is great for close quarters and swims with trees and limited casting space.

Finally, how many carp rods do you need? For most beginners, it’s enough to get the hang of using two at first. In fact, on the smaller waters which are ideal for getting the hang of things, a third rod might be overkill. Too much kit makes you less mobile, while an extra lead splashing down and another line through the swim can make it less likely you’ll catch.

Top tip: Rather than just buying the rod(s) you like the look of, think about your local or regular fishing. Although many anglers get hooked on identical rod setups, this isn’t always sensible either. For example, you might want at least one rod in your arsenal that is specifically designed for margin fishing, with a lower test curve and a more forgiving action.

How to choose a carp reel

Ok, so reels are not quite as sexy as the latest rods, but they’re just as important. In fact, as a rule they tend to cost a little more than rods of similar quality. Most reels are measured in numbers, with sizes between 4,000 and 6,000 typical for most carp fishing. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Carp Reels
Shimano Ultegra CI4 Plus XT-C Reel A Beginner: Korum Rodiac Freespool
Basic but reliable and really smooth, this is a solid starter reel. Excellent value for money for those just starting out or watching the pennies.
Buy now from £34.99
Daiwa Windcast BR 5500 LDA Reel Regular: Daiwa Windcast BR5500
If you intend to fish every weekend, or want slicker long term performance, it’s worth spending a little more. Daiwa reels have top quality gears and parts, and the Windcast is no exception. With a larger “big pit” spool, this model is a good mid range option for those who need to hit longer casts.
Buy now from £79.99
Korum-Rodiac-Reel-A Expert: Shimano Ultegra CI4+
There’s a bloody good reason hardened anglers like Shimano reels. They have the best gears in the world (they also produce gears for top spec bikes). Perhaps this is why they keep going year after year. The Ultegra CI4+ is not just a workhorse – it’s a Rolls Royce. Large spool for long casting, fantastic quality.
Buy now from £219.99

Top tip: standard or “big pit” reel?
Standard model reels are fine for most regular fishing… until you get into long distances and specialised applications like spodding. “Big pit” reels are a bit larger and more cumbersome, but hold more line and are ideal for throwing a heavy lead or spod for miles on venues like large gravel pits. If your typical venues are small to medium day ticket lakes, whether you’re a beginner or regular angler, standard reels should be fine.

Main lines for carp fishing
The best kit in the world is no good if you use a poor quality fishing line. Indeed, even if you buy the cheapest carp fishing rod and reel going, we’d advise you to spend decent money on your line. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Main lines
Daiwa Sensor Beginner: Daiwa Sensor
Looking for a great value line that will fill up at least three reel spools for under a tenner? This is it. For the money, it’s solid stuff – the 12lb or 15lb options are tough enough for most of your carp fishing needs.
Buy now from £8.99
Maxima Chameleon Regular: Maxima Chameleon
Maxima line has been trusted by anglers for generations, owing to its consistency and quality. It’s not the most ultra fine, but boy is it tough and reliable. A single 200m pack should fill one reel spool.
Buy now from £8.99
Korda Kontour Fluorocarbon Expert: Korda Kontour Fluorocarbon
Experienced carpers are now increasingly experimenting with fluorocarbon main lines. Not only are such lines less visible to fish, they also sink and hug the bottom better. However, they take some getting used to and don’t come cheap, so invest with care.
Buy now from £19.99

Choosing hook links and hooks
Now we’re really getting to the nitty gritty. Like main lines, even if you’re a total beginner, there’s no way on earth you should count pennies here because bad hooks and poor rigs cost fish.

The world of hooks and rig materials is too big and complex for a simple summary here. Experienced anglers will seldom want to fish with anything tied by someone else. However, for beginner and regular anglers, ready tied carp rigs can save time and get you going in no time at all. Take our advice, and keep it simple to start with. There are a hundred and one clever setups, but a basic hair rig will still catch. Here is Fishtec’s top pick:

Hooks and hook links
Korda Ready Tied DF Carp Rigs Timed poor angler: Korda Ready Tied DF Carp Rigs
If you want to save time and hassle, these are straightforward and efficient. An aggressive hook angle makes it  likely your next pick up will result in a reel-screaming bite. You might not have the experience of Danny Fairbrass yet, but this is the next best thing to pinching his favourite all-round rig, just as he ties it.
Buy now from £1.99

Which rod pods and bank sticks?
Now that you’re tooled up with rods, reels, and rigs, you’ll need somewhere to rest your gear, primed for a bite. But where should you start? Do you need a rod pod to go carp fishing, or are bank sticks fine?

The answer to this probably depends on where you fish. Rod pods are rock solid in the wind and ideal on hard surfaces where you can’t insert a bank stick. That said, if you’re able to get single sticks into the ground and point your rods at your rig and bait, this is often preferable to a pod. You can space your rods out a little more this way – and get better bite indication too. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Rod pods
TF Gear Banshee Rod Pod Beginner: TF Gear Banshee Rod Pod
Although this is a sturdy, dependable bit of kit, it’s also one of the cheapest rod pods for carp fishing you’ll find. We’ve sold hundreds of these and they’re a popular best-seller.
Buy now for £29.99
TF Gear Cross Pod Regular: TF Gear Cross Pod
This light, but strong and sturdy pod is a versatile choice that can be adjusted really quickly and easily from a standard pod to two sets of posts. It even comes with a free carry bag worth £14.99.
Buy now from £39.99
JRC Contact Rod Pod Expert: JRC Contact SQR Rod Pod
Rock solid and with adjustable height and frame length, this is a tough but refined pod. With a detachable frame, you can also use this as a “goal post” set up (i.e. without the connecting horizontal pars) for further versatility.
Buy now from £59.99

Prefer bank sticks to a pod? If your local venues have soft banks where you can push in rod rests, you might find them a better option. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bank sticks
Cygnet Bank Sticks Beginner/Regular: Cygnet 20/20 Banksticks and Buzz Bars
With the small “Sniper” bankstick starting at just over a fiver, this range is durable and high spec, but not too pricey. That said, they will stand up to regular use and abuse too.
Buy now from £5.50
Korda Singlez Bank Sticks Expert: Korda Singlez Bank Sticks and Buzz Bars
For the serious carper, these components are not only stylish, but optimum quality. Stainless steel and super tough, they should last as long as you do!
Buy now from £12.50

How to choose the right bite alarm
Just like rods, reels and hardware, you get what you pay for with bite alarms. An occasional weekend away is very different to night after night of use from rain to frost to baking hot sun. Unsurprisingly, models with tough components tend to cost more. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bite alarms
Leeda Bite Alarm Beginner: Leeda Rogue Wireless Bite Alarm
Cheap but fully functional, a pair of these will get you off the mark for under £30.
Buy now at £13.99
Nash Siren Regular: Nash Siren S5R
For regular, no nonsense use, these alarms come with good sensitivity and bomb-proof construction.
Buy now at £49.99
Delkim TXI Plus Expert: Delkim TXI Plus
For the best performance of all, these Delkims have awesome features. Using no moving parts, these actually use vibration to indicate bites – and even have an anti-theft alarm!
Buy now at £122.50

Top tip: Bite alarm etiquette and proper use
Why do you need a bite alarm? Well, these devices were originally developed by the great Dick Walker for night fishing, when the angler couldn’t see the bites. They’re also handy on long sessions though, because obviously staring at bobbins for hours isn’t a lot of fun.

They’re not always necessary, so don’t let technology prevent you from trying other methods like float fishing, stalking and using buoyant baits. They can also make an unwanted racket, so do keep the volume down when other anglers are around.

Bed chairs – budget to best
Take it from us, if you intend to night fish regularly, you’re going to need something to sleep on. That old camp bed or inflatable mattress won’t do! Thankfully, bed chairs start at less than £100 these days. Get as comfy as you can afford; your back will thank you! Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bed chairs
TF Gear 3 leg bed chair Beginner: TF Gear Chill Out 3 Leg Bedchair
This is about as affordable as it gets for a really functional, comfy bedchair. At under 20lbs in weight, it’s not drastically heavy to carry either.
Buy now at £69.99
Trakker wide flat bed Regular: Trakker RLX Wide Flat-6 Bed
Need a bit more space? Anglers who are a bit bigger will appreciate some extra width and comfort. This tough model fits the bill and will keep going for many seasons.
Buy now at £129.99
Nash Indulgence SS Bed Expert: Nash Indulgence SS 5 Season Beds
Featuring top spec materials, sturdy design and an integrated outdoor duvet, this is just about as good as it gets. The only drawback? You might prefer it to your bed at home!
Buy now at £399.99

Carp landing nets – what to look for
Obviously you’re going to need a good-sized net for your fishing. It pays to be generous too, because a big fish might fit in a small net, but the reverse isn’t true! Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Carp landing nets
TF Gear Banshee Landing Net Beginner/Regular: TF Gear Banshee Landing Net
A serious sized 42” net, complete with handle, this is a reliable set up for under £30 that would suit beginners or regulars alike. Hard to beat in terms of value.
Buy now at £29.99
DL Specialist Carp Net Expert: DL Specialist Carp Net
With a sturdy 6ft handle, quality build and ample space for the biggest carp, Dave Lane’s own brand net is a great option for the experienced carper.
Buy now at £49.99

How to choose an unhooking mat
With virtually every carp fishery in the UK insisting on a decent unhooking mat, you need one of these before you start fishing. A good one will last years, protecting every fish you catch from danger. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Unhooking mats
TF Gear Unhooking Mat Beginner: TF Gear Unhooking Mat
Need a good-sized, well padded option that won’t break the bank? This is one of the best carp unhooking mats for under £20 you could hope for.
Buy now at £16.99
Leeda Rogue Carp Unhooking Mat Regular: Leeda Rogue Carp Unhooking Cradle
With padded sides, this safely cradles a large fish while you unhook it. Also a good idea for those with bad backs who may not like stooping right to the ground to handle fish. And it’s good for photography – kneel behind the cradle and support the fish just inches from a safe landing.
Buy now at £39.99
TF Gear Hardcore Universal Barrow Mat Expert: TF Gear Hardcore Universal Barrow Mat
Designed by Dave Lane, this option is not only the ultimate in carp safety, but doubles up as a handy way to store and carry some of your kit to and from the bank.
Buy now at £79.99

Carp fishing bivvies
If you’re a day session angler, a brolly might be enough to shelter you from the elements. But for most carpers, night fishing is a must and you’ll need a decent home from home to tackle cool conditions and the elements. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bivvies
TF Gear Scout 2 Man Bivvy Beginner: TF Gear Scout 2 Man Bivvy
This spacious set up is as practical as it gets on a budget. A carp bivvy for under £100, that will see you through several seasons of use.
Buy now at £99.99
Trakker Cayman Bivvy Regular: Trakker Cayman Bivvy
For a bivvy at less than £200, Trakker’s Cayman is ideal. A breeze to set up and sturdy enough for the roughest weather.
Buy now at £179.99
Nash Double Top MK 4 Bivvy Expert: Nash Double top Mk 4 Bivvy
This bestseller from Nash is a cracking bivvy for just about anything the British climate throws at you. Among a wealth of high spec materials and features, the extended “hood” of this design makes it easy to go about your fishing and keep an eye on rods in heavy rain.
Buy now at £359.99

Other essential carp gear checklist
Anglers invariably spend the most money on rods, reels and kit that is used to play and land fish. But there are other items that are just as important. From delivering bait, to storing tackle and keeping dry, here are some of the essential items most carpers won’t leave home without:

TOP TIP: Save yourself hassle on your carping trips by getting organised. Why not compose your own list of kit that you need every session? A checklist avoids stress and makes it less likely you’ll turn up without a crucial item!

Nuggets of wisdom from accomplished anglers

Will Millard fishing with grandad

It’s important to share knowledge – with fellow anglers and the generation to come.
Image courtesy of Will Millard, pictured learning to fish with his grandad

To get your year off to a flying start, here’s Fishtec’s compendium of top tips from some of the UK’s most experienced anglers.

These nuggets of wisdom have been passed down from parents and grandparents, suggested by fellow anglers on the bank or perfected during years of dedicated trial and error. Some have even been provided by up-and-coming youngsters, keen to learn and share their own knowledge. We know they all work, but we can’t always explain why!

How to catch more fish

dom-garnett-tight-spot

Try fishing tight spots.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

Seek out less obvious spots
“One of the best ways to catch more is simply to get stuck into less obvious and less easy spots. Even on a crowded island like ours, a heck of a lot of water is seldom fished because we tend to think of our own comfort and convenience first. Wading, walking long distances and getting into tricky spots are all good ways to access the fish most anglers never get close to.”
Dom Garnett, www.dgfishing.co.uk

Lots and often, or go home
My top tip is from my dear old Grandad who taught me to fish on the mighty Fenland Drains at the age of 4. He said ‘forget little and often my boy, down ‘ere it’s lots and often or go home’. He would then absolutely fill the river in with ground bait guaranteeing non-stop action from shoal after shoal of roach and giant slab-sided bream.
Will Millard. Author of “The Old Man and the Sand Eel” (Released 1st March.)

Have fun with less fashionable fish
“If you’re prepared to target many species, there’s so much fun to be had with less fashionable fish. While carp, barbel and pike often get hammered, others barely get a look in a lot of the time. There is a lot of untapped sport for the likes of roach, bream and even wild trout at present that few of us are capitalising on. Fishing doesn’t always have to be about size or competing with other anglers; enjoying yourself is the only important target and it’s definitely good to be different!” 
Dom Garnett, www.dgfishing.co.uk

Short sharp sessions at dawn and dusk
For me personally, in the depths of winter you must be ready to move to where the fish are showing, so fish light and go for short sharp sessions at dawn and dusk. That, and to always remember: the most successful angler is always the one who is having the most fun!”  
Will Millard. Author of “The Old Man and the Sand Eel” 

Top tackle tip

Fishing rods

Do your rod sections get stuck?
Image source: Shutterstock

Rub a candle around your rod ferrules
I picked this up recently from my best mate Willy Kinnaird of Craigmore Fishery. I’d been having issues with rod sections remaining completely tight at the end of a day’s fishing. A simple candle does the trick! Rub it around the top of the rod ferrules then insert them into the next blank. Twist them full circle a few times then line up your rod eyes as normal and fish. After a good session, the blanks will separate without the worry of snapping or weakening. Thanks Willy!
David Thompson – the naked fly fisher

Top tips for fly fishing

George-Clarke-fish-the-hang

Fish the hang.
Image courtesy of George Clark, A 10-year old star of the future

Fish the hang
“The hang is a method you use at the end of your retrieve. If you’ve had a fish following your fly in, it will often grab if you fish the hang. To do this, retrieve as normal, and when you see your fly getting close to the bank, count to ten. The fly will slow down and drop towards the bottom and the fish may rush out and grab it. As you lift to re-cast, do it slowly. Sometimes the fish will take it before you lift off.”
George Clark, www.flyandlure.org

Don’t be too hasty
“I picked this tip up in my youth and it has added to my catch numbers on both rivers and lakes. After presenting the fly, I retrieved as normal and then lifted the flies and casted again. As I began to use a polarised lens, I could see fish were following the fly to the bank and not taking, only to decide to take the fly as I lifted to cast which would result in me taking the fly straight from their mouth!

I always wondered why fish would do this and I soon learned that as predators, they would stalk their prey whereas the change in direction, movement and speed when lifting the fly would trigger their aggressive predatory instinct in a ‘now or never moment’ and they would make an attempt to take it.

To take advantage of this (each angler will have their own method but this one works for me), once you’ve retrieved your line, slowly raise the rod until the flies reach the surface. Just let them sit for a second then lift the fly out of the water then lift each fly out if you fish a multiple fly cast. If the fish doesn’t take at this point, then repeat your cast. I recently had a fish follow the point fly only to make an attempt at the dropper fly, which was OUT OF THE WATER!” David Thompson – the naked fly fisher.

Sharpen your hook points regularly
“A hook sharpener is possibly the most overlooked piece of fishing kit ever invented. If you regularly lure or fly fish and use the same artificials session after session, I guarantee you will be missing fish every season unless you carry one and regularly re-sharpen the hook points that see most use.”
Dom Garnett, www.dgfishing.co.uk

Theo-Pike-Wandle-dace

A Wandle Dace.
Image courtesy of Theo Pike

Go barbless
“If you need to match a hatch with small flies, but you’re struggling to hook up, it’s worth trying to tie the same-sized patterns on a slightly larger hook (for example, a size 18 or even 20 fly on a size 16 shank). Using very fine, barbless hooks like the Partridge SLD, I’ve definitely found this idea improves my hit-rate with notoriously hard-to-hook fish like dace.” Theo Pike, urbantrout.net

Stealth is the most important thing
“Stealth is the most important thing when fly fishing a river for trout. Half the battle is approaching your quarry with care and attention. If the fish is unaware of danger, it will be much easier to catch. Take your time to get into position, walk softly, wade slowly and make your first cast count.”
Ceri Thomas, Fishtec

George-Clarke2

Try the countdown method
Image courtesy of George Clarke

Find the right depth
“The countdown method is a very good way to find where the fish are feeding. After you’ve cast your line you have to pull it to straighten it out and remove any slack so you can feel any bites. On your first cast, count to five before starting to retrieve. If you don’t get any bites, on the second cast, increase the count to ten so your fly sinks a little deeper. If you get a bite, cast again and use the same countdown as you have probably found the depth where the fish are feeding. Keep counting down until you find where the fish are. 

If you’re fishing a fast sinking line, like a Di7, count down in sevens every second. If you’re fishing a Di3, countdown in threes every second. If you do this, you’ll always know how deep you’re fishing and will be able to find the feeding depth on your next cast, if you get a bite.”
George Clark, www.flyandlure.org

To catch a trout, cast far out!
“When it comes to sea trout fishing at night: ‘If you’re not losing flies you’re not fishing close enough to the opposite bank’. This is good advice. 99% of my fish are caught from casts that started tight to the far bank. Sometimes people get takes in the middle of the river and this creates misconceptions as the fish has followed it from tight against the bank and taken the fly as it’s swinging around in the current. I’m not saying you won’t catch fish in the middle and tail of pools. But you’ll catch more fish casting tight to the far bank.” Gareth Wilson, Fishtec

Top tips when fishing for carp

Simon-crow-carp

You need good strong tackle.
Image courtesy of Simon Crow

Know your prey
“Big carp are often aggressive feeders and they will not want to miss out if everything else is feeding. Create a situation, either with bait or location, where you can catch regularly and that one big one will always come along in the end.”  Dave Lane

Check your knots and hooks religiously
“Always check your knots and hooks every time you cast out or it’ll cost you fish. I learned this as a young angler from an experienced old boy. I struck into a screaming take from a powerful carp, the rod went over and sprang back almost instantly from my knot snapping. The old fella laughed as it had happened to him as a teenager. Now I check the hook is nice and sharp, and always give my knots a good strong yank. Carp are very powerful and they’ll test your tackle to the limit.” Simon Crow

Top tips for sea fishing

spring-tide

Get to know the layout of your favourite coastal locations during a spring tide
Image source: DD; Wikimedia Commons

Try plain weights
“When fishing from a sandy, snag-free beach it can be an advantage to use plain weights. This is because they will roll around on the seabed and find gullies, depressions and other areas where dislodged worms, shellfish and other sources of food will accumulate. These are the areas which fish will seek out and using a plain weight will allow your baited hook to roll into these places.” Chris Middleton

Vary your speed
“When fishing with a spinner (or any other type of fishing lure) reel in at different speeds, as this will change the depth at which the spinner is drawn through the water. Reeling in quickly will see the spinner rise close to the surface, while reeling in slowly will see the spinner sink deep down. This will increase the chances of locating the feeding fish as the lure will be covering the whole of the water column.”
Chris Middleton

Use your fish finder sneakily
“Just the other day I was out fishing with some commercial bass fishermen. Guys who spend their entire time catching bass on rod and line. Whenever we fished a wreck of a piece of rough ground, they would check their position and direction of drift on the GPS make sure everything was lined up. And then for the drifts themselves they would make sure the fish finder/echo sounder was switched off.

One of them told me he’d heard some recordings made of what echo sounders sound like underwater and how violently noisy they were. He firmly believed bass fishing and indeed any fishing would be negatively affected by running the fish finder during a draft.

I’ve adopted this habit too. And oddly I find it’s especially effective while squid fishing. Kind of makes sense I guess. These are sensitive creatures who are used to the noises of the sea anything unusual, the slapping of waves on a hull or an electronic device is all potentially going to give them the willies.” Nick Fisher

Learn your locations
When there’s a very big spring tide, take advantage of it and go and check out an area where you regularly fish. As the tide goes much further out on a spring tide, gullies, weed beds and other fish-attracting features – which are usually underwater – can often be revealed, allowing anglers to cast next to these areas the next time they’re fishing in the area. Even small rocky outcrops will contain weed, shellfish and other small creatures which will in turn attract fish, meaning that learning the locations of these can lead to more productive fishing sessions.” Chris Middleton

Lugworm-Squid

This lugworm and squid combination is often a winner.
Image courtesy of Chris Middleton

Think scent and colour
While ragworm and lugworm are two of the most effective and popular baits in sea fishing, they can be enhanced by adding a long strip of white squid or silver mackerel belly to the hook. Not only will this add a new scent to the bait, but the squid or mackerel will also flutter in the tide and reflect light, adding a visual attraction to the bait. This can be especially effective for inquisitive species such as flatfish.”
Chris Middleton

Try coloured beads
“Species such as plaice and flounder are attracted to beads and sequins which have been added to hooklengths, and many anglers find that their catches of these species increase when they use rigs which incorporate beads and sequins. Alternating green and black beads are seen as the most effective for plaice as these colours resemble mussels which are a key source of food for plaice. Chris Middleton

WD40 really can fix anything!
There was a belief that cod are attracted to the colour white, with some anglers adding white spoons or attractors to their rigs when fishing for cod, although this has fallen from favour in recent years. Similarly there is a long-running belief in sea angling that spraying baits with WD40 acts as an attractor to fish! Although there is no verified evidence to back this up, some anglers swear by it.” Chris Middleton

Top tips for eel fishing

eel

Eels are some of the trickiest beasts to catch.
Image courtesy of Barry McConnell

Discard touch-legering
“Eels are expert at pulling soft bait from the hook until it’s left bare. You’ll often receive a series of small bites on the indicator which result in a bare hook. This is because the eel has pulled the soft worms from the hook one by one. It has become common practice in eel angling circles to pick up the rod and tease the eel onto the hook by means of touch-legering (standing with rod in hand, pointing it at the eel, and trapping the line between finger and thumb so that the eel can be felt plucking on the other end). This helps to catch some wary eels, but even then, many get clean away with the bait.

Try this. Discard touch-legering and don’t feel/trap the line between fingers. Instead, stand with the rod lightly balanced in the hand and held side on to the water as though quiver-tipping. Modern carbon fibre rods are so light that the eel can easily pull the rod around in the hand in a positive force that is a very strikable bite, that more often results in a hooked eel. If the angler was still feeling the line, in the touch-legering method, they would have felt a pluck and then another worm would have been removed. But in this lightly-balanced-rod situation, the rod is pulled around in the angler’s hand to give a positive, hittable bite. The angler is able to strike while the rod is pulling around. Try it. It works!” Barry McConnell.

Recording for posterity

fish-photography

Image courtesy of David Thompson


Try burst mode shooting
One of the things I see many anglers struggling with is fish photography. I take a lot of shots when I’m out for my social media channels and in particular Instagram which focuses on image content. There’s nothing better than that fish-playing action shot, wildlife shot, or fish release shot. I often receive messages asking how I get so many decent shots. Well the answer is simple – burst mode shooting.

The vast majority of smartphones and cameras have a burst mode or continuous mode shot. By simply holding the shoot button down, it takes a number of photos in one go which allows you to select the best one. This is particularly useful as fish have the patience of a small child when it comes to photography! It eliminates blurry fishing shots and also decreases the amount of time it takes to reset, pose and retake, causing the fish unnecessary additional stress by keeping them out of the water. Encourage a friend to just burst mode from the moment you pick the fish up, to when you set it back into the water for release. You’ll have a wide variety of good angles and hopefully get your good side!” David Thompson – the naked fly fisher.

Video stills make great photos
“Some anglers are gadget freaks and like to take photos with waterproof cameras but still have issues with underwater shots and clarity. Fish shots can be blurry with any movement. This is partly to do with single mode shooting. So a small tip that I discovered by accident is that by shooting a video instead, you can take ‘stills’ off the camera (or laptop). Given that most cameras now shoot in HD, the picture quality will remain quite high. This one has been a lifesaver and saved me from having to retake a photo, a gazillion times!” David Thompson – the naked fly fisher.

We’d love to hear your nuggets of wisdom. Please do come over to our Facebook page and share yours.

Operation Leviathan – Fisheries Enforcement with the Angling Trust

Is your fishery under pressure from illegal angling? Is poaching rife and are people taking fish from the water? Is your club stretch being vandalized and litter being left indiscriminately? If so, there is hope. Introducing Operation Leviathan.

Prominent anglers Gareth Johns, Iain Barr and Medi Treharne showing their support for operation leviathan

Prominent anglers Gareth Jones, Iain Barr and Medi Treharne showing their support for Operation Leviathan at the BFFI show.

What is Operation Leviathan?

‘Operation Leviathan’ is the name of the multi-agency partnership including the Environment Agency (England), Natural Resources Wales, Police forces across the west of England and Wales, The National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU), Angling Trust and angling clubs to work together against fisheries crime, fish theft and illegal fishing. In the East of England, there is an identical project that goes under the name of ‘Operation Traverse’.

The main purpose of the operation is to increase confidence amongst anglers to report incidents of  illegal fishing to the EA or NRW on the national hotline 0800 807060 and/or the police as appropriate.

The lack of information coming into the authorities has been identified as a major weakness in dealing with widespread ‘poaching’ on rivers, lakes and canals across the country and consequently, the problem is not recognised in many areas.

This has led to anglers becoming frustrated when they see fish being illegally removed from the water, fixed lines being set to catch fish illegally and irresponsible or anti-social fishing taking place on their waters, making them feel unsafe.

All of these things led to the formation of the Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS) in England, managed by the Angling Trust to provide more ‘eyes and ears’ out on our waterways.  It’s a bit like ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ for fishing!

In England The VBS work closely with the EA and our volunteers are often invited to join them on patrols.

In Wales, the representative body for anglers is Angling Cymru, who do not have an equivalent VBS. Therefore, in Wales, anglers are solely dependant on the NRW to address issues directly without the support of a volunteer force. The Angling Trust are supportive of a Welsh VBS to work alongside the current organisation in England.

VBS is developing and in the South East of England there is currently a pilot project, in which carefully selected Voluntary Bailiffs are empowered to demand rod licences and deal with certain fisheries offences . This is called ‘Phase 2 VBS’ where volunteers are embedded in Environment Agency (EA) teams, with whom they work and directly support.  They are supervised by EA team leaders and are subject to the EA Codes of Conduct. This pilot is currently being evaluated by the EA pending their decision as to whether the initiative will be rolled-out nationally.

Interested in joining the VBS service? Find out more here.

The main message of Operation Leviathan is for all anglers across the UK to phone the emergency hotline number 0800 807060 to report illegal fishing incidents.

This gives you options to speak with the fisheries authorities covering different parts of the country.  It is crucial anglers report incidents and information about illegal fishing so that the EA (England), NRW (Wales), Loughs Agency (N. Ireland) etc.. can take the necessary action! Without this, the authorities won’t know there is a problem and no action will be taken.

A quick guide to the law

For information regarding Operation Leviathan and fisheries enforcement, please get in touch with Kevin Pearson. Mob. 07495 433620 Email. Kevin.Pearson@Anglingtrust.net