The peeling crabs are spreading around the UK shoreline and where you live in terms of South to North and the air and water temperatures makes a difference to their arrival. In the South they started as early as March, whilst far north they may not show until June – Whatever, when they arrive the fish move inshore and for a short period there can be some bumper shore fishing with everything from bass to smoothhounds on the cards. I am old enough to remember in past when it was mostly eels and flounders that feasted on the crabs – well the eels and flounders have gone in many regions and its more likely to be ray, bass, and smoothhound and indeed Spring and Summer may now be more attractive in terms of sea angling from the shore, especially because of these species.
Collecting or obtaining a supply of peeler crabs is always complicated by the fact that the crabs are found in their different states of shedding their shell and it’s only when they are just about to burst out of the shell that they are best for bait. Peelers in the early stages of moulting need to be kept alive and nurtured to maturity, whilst crabs about to shed need slowing down with the aid of a fridge. It’s a tedious task, but those that have a supply of the perfect peelers when they fish will do best. Remember this when you buy crabs from a dealer because you will have a mix, although some dealers will supply crabs to order, in other words those about to shed if you are going fishing that day and harder specimens for use later in the week – It’s a very important aspect of using peeler crab.
Last month I talked about the growing popularity of LRF, that’s Light Rock Fishing, indeed a feature I wrote in Sea Angler Magazine received lots of attention although not all positive. I think LRF is just another branch of sea angling that worth a try – I wouldn’t want to fish just LRF for the rest of my angling days. It’s a fun way to fish for the tiddlers and has the possibility of producing the odd bigger specimen.
I remember making a TV film on Dover breakwater many years back for Screaming Reels and presenter, Nick Fisher did not stop taking the Mickey out of me catching small pollack, pout, wrasse etc all through the programme. OK that was the nature of Screaming Reels at the time as it tried to inject some humour into angling, any kind of angling… I was seriously trying to show that fishing could be fun with the lightest sea fishing tackle even when the fish were small. This involved a freshwater quiver tip rod and micro braid line. Now I am not actually claiming to have started LRF, although the Screaming Reels film probably proves that those that think they did – didn’t either.
LRF may be typecast by its name, Light rock fishing being the very basis of a technique of fishing that has expanded and developed widely since it took off amongst serious sea anglers. The one thing it has done is to expose the UK sea angler’s hidden desire to fish with lures! LRF with tiny lures alongside rocks, piers, harbours, etc includes all the excitement and imagination of bass fishing with lures, although in miniature. As well as lures anglers also fish the tactic with bait and this has enhanced results, finesse and fun even more and the fact is that LRF is a fantastic way to escape the harsh reality that much of today’s sea angling around the UK is poor! We sea anglers put up with a lot and apart from the barren seas left for us to fish by the commercial scourge, politicians and EU we have to contend with the fact that a majority of sea species average under 1lb, are seasonal and only show for a few weeks of the year and worst of all are lost in the vastness of the ocean.
On the subject of LRF tackle – I use the Blue Strike bass spinning rod from TF Gear – the lightest/shortest model. This fitted with 20lb braid on my fishing reels, might not be light enough for some, BUT I prefer to LRF for the bigger fish in general, especially in Ireland – for the blennies a lighter specialist model and more fluorocarbon line may be more effective, but as usual with tackle its horses for courses and not one cure all!
Time to put the Sibiki lures, floats and other summer paraphernalia in the tackle box. A great time of year when the sea is calm clear and lifeless except for a crazy shoal of mackerel and some surface popping garfish. A real challenge to make sport fun rather than carnage and like LRF it involves a bit more sneaking around in the early hours and low light to find those better bass etc light sea fishing gear, lures, a free lined ragworm head hooked so it can swim, tiny lures, have you ever tried fishing a floating soft crab at 4am, or crust in the corner of the harbour! The possibilities are endless to get away from the summer stereotype with a bit of imagination and effort, give it a go!