Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Feb 2015

Hythe-ranges-cod-Chris-Snow-2lb-codling

The early spring sunshine brings lots of false dawns at this time of year with spring seemingly about to arrive daily, especially around the south of the Country. But extremely low temperatures, snow melt water and icy winds lay in wait to dampen enthusiasm for many shore anglers and the only true pointer to springs arrival are the extending daylight hours.

Lots of anglers may believe that temperature plays the biggest part in the arrival of spring and the start of the improvements in fishing it brings, but it’s the daylight hours that count the most. Look on the land to see why – sunshine hours are steady, regularly improving each day, tangible proof to life that spring is coming. The light does raise ground temperature, but it’s the extending length of each day that sets nature on its spring journey! On the shore the sunny side of the groyne sees the sand and mud warm in readiness for the crabs to moult, whilst shallow water calms and clears allowing the water temperature to increase.

It’s a great time of year with the change in the fishing tangible – The pin whiting so long a winter pest, start to thin out with small pouting amongst the arrivals. They are good news for the match anglers and bass food so don’t knock them! In recent years it’s a time for the rays to show along with returning dogfish and whilst the rays may be spasmodic in terms of which species and location they, especially the thornback, have become a major spring species in many southern regions.

This year with the codling fairly prolific throughout the winter, they too will show in spring and this year should be the first proper spring codling run for several years. Too small to spawn they did not leave to the deeper water at the end of the winter and will linger and fatten around many coasts to take advantage of the peeling crabs before then heading to deep water and an all fish diet.

Other spring species include the plaice and they too have enjoyed an upsurge in local populations in some regions – said to be because of a plaice quota reduction on the commercials. Whatever, it’s nice to see these very slow growing flatties making a comeback, although in the early weeks of spring fresh from spawning they really are lean and not worth eating so return if you can.

Chris Clark of Lymington with a big undulate ray – was it late winter or early spring?

Chris Clark of Lymington with a big undulate ray – was it late winter or early spring?

 

Time to get the sea fishing rods out if you haven’t already – I’m particularly looking forward to the extended evenings, which make a late afternoon beach or pier session once again worthwhile. Night fishing is great in the winter, but daylight fishing is so much more enjoyable!

The debate about bass preservation rumbles on with EU proposals to raise the bass minimum size limit much talked about and generally supported by anglers. Whatever the limit set it will never be high enough and the commercial lobby will oppose it and angling has a fight on its hand if the commercials think they can have a legal limit lower than anglers! Catch limits are also essential and I as I have said before would also like to see a bass upper size limit. The Angling Trust is doing its best to fight the sea angler’s corner and all power to them – you can help by joining them as a member, a small price to pay for a voice!

On the tackle front the year brings, amongst a few new developments in the TF Range, a new fixed spool reel. I had to switch to fixed spool reels because of a ruined shoulder caused by years of dogfish and weed hauling and must say lightening down in general has helped make much of my shore fishing prove far more fun when the going gets tough. I have tried braid line, 10lb mono, 4oz leads, lighter rigs, tapered leaders and all in all I must say it’s been an experience. But one major factor was that I got fussier about reel performance and found some of the cheaper fixed spool models less effective than I required. And so we are introducing a new lighter model with a more sophisticated line lay for increased performance both in terms of casting and feel – I hope you enjoy it.

TF Gear Sea Fishing Reel

New TF Gear Sea Fishing Reel

Finally, have you noticed that suddenly mono line quality has improved dramatically with the arrival of more lines containing co polymers? A tougher outer shell, higher knock resistance and overall improved strength are now something you can take for granted and I urge anglers who think they are using the best line to look again, because some of the new kids on the block are awesome and they are in the Fishtec catalogue!

Tight lines,

Alan Yates

Fishing for Cod – Testing the new TF Gear Beachcaster

Fishing for Cod - Bristol Channel

Have you ever fished anywhere as wonderful as this? The Bristol channel, right along side the impressive Seven Bridge, reputable for it’s superb fishing, fast flowing, silty waters and in particularly it’s Cod Fishing.

Ceri Owen, one of our senior sea fishing customer service advisers took the new TF Gear Beachcaster rods out to test on his most recent trip to the shore, along with a TF Gear 65CTM casting reel and an handful of 8oz leads.

Looking to test these sea fishing rods to it’s maximum potential, the heavy weights cast into the heavy swell of the Bristol channel would certainly do that. Achieving maximum distance and great accuracy.

Ceri said the bite detection was superb, much better than any other Beachcaster he’s used yet it has the backbone to cast heavy leads and set them in to the San/Mud bank easily.

TF Gear Force 8 6 series CTM was loaded with 20lb TF Gear Red Mist and a TF Gear Aftershock Tapered Leader. Casting was totally smooth and reached 100+ Yards with next to no effort.

Fishing the channel is never easy, and Ceri had only planned a short trip but landed plenty of Cod on Black Lug fished on a Pennell rigs.

Fishing for Cod - Bristol Channel

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary – September 2014

2lb codling Kent shore

2lb codling Kent shore

I had a surprise this week when a photo session with Sea Angler photographer, Lloyd Rogers resulted in me catching my biggest ever wrasse from the Kent shore. You will have to wait until the feature appears before you get to see the pics.

Catching wrasse from the Kent shore is nothing new, I first recorded Ballans in the 1980s, although they were generally small fish in the ounces and an occasional high summer catch. But after Samphire Hoe was constructed they started to appear in numbers and it was predicted that they would increase in size. Samphire Hoe, near Dover is a 2km long sea wall that was constructed out of the spoil that came out of the Channel Tunnel and it is extremely rocky and weedy, ideal habitat for wrasse which have colonised it big time.
I suppose the reason for the increase in the wrasse population generally has got to be global warming and it’s in the sea that anglers have noted a drastic influx of species and changes in the migration patterns of some of our most common fishes. The wrasse though is not a commercial catch, indeed the fact it tastes like cardboard will mean it will survive the nets and because anglers generally put them back. Both facts may have contributed to their increase, plus they are exploiting the habitat left after the demise of the other species.

Big Ballan wrasse have become what I call the poor man’s big fish with populations around the UK expanding and it’s a fact that large wrasse feature in many sea angling magazine pages when in the past they were considered less meritorious. Pound for pound of course they are a powerful sea fish, whilst their colours and handsome looks add to their popularity as a catch. They are also not easy to drag from their rocky haunts and can be caught on bait or lures. Nowadays they are there to be caught when other prime species are not and like the dogfish, wrasse have become an accepted part of the sea angling scene.

Between the wrasse I have managed to catch a few codling, although they have been mainly small with a mix of fish between 20 and 40cm from the Kent shore. Listening to the Facebook grapevine it looks like most of the English Channel and lower North Sea have the same populations of 1lb to 2lb codling. Trouble is so many anglers exaggerate the size and around my neck of the woods fish of 5lb are being reported, its odd that not one of the Kent competition results and there are hundreds, has produced a codling of more than 2lb 8oz. However, having said that its been nice to sit on the beach and see the rod tip buckle over because even a 2lb codling can give you a great pull down or slack line bite.
Best bait has been black lugworm for me with a two hook Loop rig the ideal terminal set up for long range when the weather is rough and distance crucial. At other times I have stuck to a two hook flapper with size one Kamasan B940s. In the coming weeks a change in the weather will produce more codling with an onshore sea the best conditions, south west in Kent and along the Channel coast is best whilst up the North Sea a North East is usually considered ideal. Also look to fish after the gales have subsided, don’t leave it a couple of day, go when the wind drops.

Between the codling have been a few big bass and it’s the time of year when bass and cod are caught together or in consecutive casts on some southern venues. I love nothing than a really calm night to fish a small live whiting in the margins of a steep shingle beach. Some big bass are there to be caught from now up until Christmas and like others the bass season has been extended again thanks to global warming.

Alan-with-a-cod-and-bass

How it once was – A bass and a cod for a young Alan Yates……

I am currently using my two Force 8 continental beach rods. They are 15ft and rated 5oz, although I am using 12lb line and 4oz leads with one rod on micro braid and one on mono. The comparison between the two lines is tremendous with the braid especially effective over rough ground – I used it to catch those wrasse and its lack of stretch and immediate pick up means tremendous bites, but fish can be bullied away from the rocks quicker than with mono., One word of warning with braid main line all through, you will find that it will snap light mono hook lengths so don’t go too light, not below 15lb for rough ground anyway.

The Continental sea fishing rods have been an eye opener for me and using 4oz on the strongest tide with micro braid has generally lightened up my sea angling without a big loss in casting distance or increase in tackle movement because of the tide. Four ounces holds in most tides with the finer line, only heavy weed offers a problem.

I’m off this week to make a new DVD for TF Gear and Sea Angler magazine with Chris Ogborne. We are going to Cornwall and fishing aboard Optimus Prime skippered by Rodney Kennedy. The main subject of the DVD is fishing light and hopefully that will include a shore trip so I can show you the new Force 8 Continentals in action. Look out for the DVD in the coming months it will be free with Sea Angler magazine and to all TF Gear customers etc.

Alan-Yates-Sturgeon-from-Chequertree

I did a bit of coarse fishing recently and landed this cracking sturgeon on a pole from Chequertree fishery at Bethersden in Kent.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Rods Diary

Lots of anglers around the country are experiencing the changing season – One minute the fish are around and then they are not and it does seem that mass migration of species is far more acute nowadays than it used to be. Could be its global warming that is sending the fish further north and that they are bypassing southern venues on their travels? Whatever, something like this is happening and I suppose to an extent it always did in the past. In the south it’s the summer doldrums when the sea seems devoid of fish, even the mackerel have passed by! For the shore angler another reason is the amount of sunlight each day – with clear water the fish just will not come inshore in gin and wait until darkness to venture into the shallows. That’s the time to fish for conger, bass, hounds and others and the deeper water venues you find are better.

But it’s not all doom and gloom because once we are past the longest day then the light evenings start to close back and change is underway, least of all those fish that passed us by on their way north are due to travel back south into Autumn and some great sea fishing is to come. The trick is not to miss it and of course the timing varies around the different regions. In the North it’s a case of making hay whilst the sun shines and fishing hard before the shoals depart south. In the South it’s a case of getting out as soon as the fish show; the codling start to show as early as August some years and September can be the best month with a mix of cod and bass. In all regions it is a case of ignoring those old traditions of the “Cod Season” and being ready when the fish are around.

TF Gear has a new range of beach casters and they based on models from the Continent. Both fixed spools they feature the slim line feel and lightness of the long casting sea fishing rods from France, Spain, Italy, etc. Both include low rider rings which can be used with both multiplier and fixed spool reels plus braid, mono or fluorocarbon lines. Standard with these rings is that the butt ring is reversed which gives the rod a unique appearance and more than one novice has proclaimed the ring is on upside down! But this is not the case and 100% of continental rods using low riders feature this reversed ring build.  It’s done simply so that the rings legs prevent a loop of line going over the ring during the cast – especially braid and especially using a fixed spool reel.

The new models include the Force 8 Continental which is extremely light and designed for fishing small baits for small species using light lines and leads. With braid line its balance and feel are incredible and fishing for mackerel, pollack, scad, mullet, school bass etc is a new experience for the user. A word of warning though –it’s not designed for casting a whole Calamari squid and it’s also not designed so that the tip can pull free of snags what it is designed for is a new feel the fish sea angling experience – Enjoy!

The second model is in the Delta range and is the Slik Tip and is aimed at the in between UK fishing and the Continent – It’s a step lighter than standard UK beach casting gear and at a price that won’t annoy the wallet!

One of the big plusses with these rods fitted with low rider rings is that the guides do not affect the movement and balance of the rod as much as the larger standard UK style beach caster rings. Therefore the rod slices the air better when casting and resists the wind in the rod rest better – great for bite spotting.
Other continental rods with reversed low rider guides include Yuki, Colmic

Dogfish is considered a sea angling swear word and few anglers have a good word to say about a species that seems to have taken over the world in many parts of the UK. OK for match anglers they are obliging bites when nothing else stirs, but so often they take a bait aimed at other species and are just a pain. It’s got so bad in some regions that even the match anglers are not supporting the doggie dominated events.

So what can we do to reduce dogfish numbers or make them more enjoyable to catch?  Well having recently been laid up and not fishing my freezer was empty of fish so I took four home for dinner – Had I forgot how tasty this fish could be because of the fiddly skinning and preparation? Rock salmon is now returned to the Yates menu and I shall spread the word that this wonderful species is great on a plate.

Lesser doggy

I have got my hands on the new TF Gear Force 8 Beach Shelter – and I seriously recommend you take a look! At last a shelter that has pouches for beach stones in the base which makes for a much easier erection, the Viagra shelter goes up in seconds and stays there is a strong wind.

If you have ever tried to erect a shelter on your own in anything above a force five, you will know how difficult it is. The new Force 8 Shelter solves that problem because you can pile stones in the pouches before you pull it up. What’s more the F8 is collapsible and folds down to half its length for carriage – great for being strapped on top of the fishing tackle box!

I am arranging an LRF Championships (Light rock fishing) at Samphire Hoe, near Dover on the 10th August.  It’s an experimental competition. You can fish with any form of LRF gear. Basically a short spinning style rod, singe look bait/lure. It’s all catch and release with fish photographed on the smart phone on the days fish measure.  Fishing in 10am until 4pm, (Book in car park from 8.30am) all are welcome and it’s a complete rover anywhere around the Hoe. Prizes for species pts, biggest and best average fish.  Contact me Alan Yates on 01303 250017 E Mail: alankyates@aol.com

Tight lines, Alan Yates

 

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary December 2013

Alan Yates 750 pout Folkestone pier

Two new prototype beach casters to be released by TF Gear in the New Year arrived for a final test this month and went straight into action at my local two day pier Festival at Folkestone. I finished second overall behind England Squad manager, Martyn Reid who is on peak form at present, although I did win one of the days with a haul of 50 fish and that included pouting to 750 grams, dabs and whiting. No cod I am afraid with Dungeness the only Kent venue producing cod of any size.

Another new sea fishing rod for next year is called the Slik Tip and it is an ultra slim line match rod based around a model I designed several years ago. Its essence is its stability in wind and its bite indication. You see it’s a myth that you need a soft, fine tip for good bite indication – All these types of tips do at sea is soak up the tide as they curve with bites then dampened by the line stretch. So you want a fine, but stiffish tip and the Slik Tip has got just that. Add low rider rings to its fine diameter and it sits in the wind as stable as you like and only bites can rattle it.  To cut a long story short I fished a relatively short three hook flapper rig, six ounce fixed wire lead and size 1 hooks at around the 120 yard mark for a bite a cast and ten fish an hour average. Match fishing doesn’t get any better when you can watch for bites and count the fish on, much better that timed casts which are the only answer when the tide is bending the tip and bites are not showing. Nicking five minutes a cast by watching for bites gives the match angler a big advantage.

The other rod in the new range is the Continental and that I will try out in January at the Irish Winter beach Champs – It is a 15ft small fish scratching rod aimed at those anglers who want to fish Continental style,  really light and delicately through the summer.

As I write this diary the cod are starting to appear around the Kent Coast, although most of the catches are limited to the boats and the deep water of Dungeness – If you have never been to the venue then you may not realise the main reason why Dungeness is still so productive for cod is that it’s so close to the English Channel’s deepest water. Just yards of Dungeness Point the depth goes down to 80ft plus. Check out a map and you will see how Dungie juts out into the English Channel.

The venue is worth a visit and some anglers will get lucky – Take Chris Radley of Hextable in Kent who beached an 18lb 8oz cod. The fish took a whiting which had hooked itself on one of the Pennell hooks on his rig. That’s a big clue how to fish Dungeness and any other cod venue for that matter. The bigger cod are eating whiting so always use two hooks on each bait, either live bait style or as a Pennell.

Chris Radley 18lb-8oz cod

I have organised a novelty competition for 2014. It’s called the World LRF Championships and is being fished on Samphire Hoe near Dover on the 10th of August 14. Samphire is a walled promenade, not that picturesque but it’s packed with wrasse, pout, pollack, mackerel, etc during the summer and can be great fun to fish with light rock fishing tackle. The rules allow lures or bait to be used and there are prizes for species, the best average and biggest fish landed.

Obviously it’s only open to those who fish proper LRF tackle and that are one hook.

Fishing is from 10am until 4pm. Catch measure and release with anglers allowed to keep their best fish only. Species pts, biggest and best average fish.  Details from me on;  01303 250017

I presented the prizes for Barclays Bank SAC at their recent Championships held at Dover and it was great to get among a group of Clubmen in a very competitive and happy mood. Their match was won by two end pegs (one and two) which sometimes happens when you fish pier venues, but it’s a sure fire way of keeping all anglers happy. They also featured drawn pairs and team events – So often clubs make their competitions “fair” by doing away with the luck element, but then the entry and membership walk away when a few top match anglers dominate. If I had to play snooker against Ronnie Sullivan ever weekend who could blame me for voting with my feet. So I urge clubs to think about the decisions they make to make events fair – Far better to make them fair for all that just the top few!

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Nov/Dec 2013

A really busy month for sea anglers with lots of whiting from most beaches, especially after dark and they produce some hectic match fishing. The cod are noticeable by their absence on my Kent beaches, although the mild weather may be the reason for that and anyway the bass are hanging around. In the club evening events up to 60 whiting are required to make the frame and its frightening the club match anglers away in droves. Many, including, myself at times just cannot, or don’t want, to compete in the numbers game – It’s not enjoyable fishing, its hard work. Freelance wise it’s almost boring catching three whiting a chuck and as fast as you can recast. I fished Dungeness this week and the whiting just would not switch off, only the occasional dogfish, dab or rockling broke the monotony of the whiting. Even so I have never seen Dungeness so crowded on a weekday with anglers packed in like sardines between the RNLI and the Power Station. Undoubtedly a lot to do with the popularity of Dungeness, as well as the Dungeness Angling Association and their founder, Phil Tapp who sadly died recently. Phil put Dungy on the map when he negotiated the key for the gate to the concrete road allows angler car access. Phil will be sadly missed, but the Association survives with many good men to take Phil’s place, one of the best things that ever happened to Dungy!

I have just got my hands on a couple of prototype sea fishing rods that are due out in New Year and spring. I designed a slim line match rod that became popular in the past and longed for the chance to tweak the design. Now the TF Gear model is about to be released in the Delta range. Called the Slik Tip it’s a three piece multiplier or fixed spool match rod. Great on bite indication its sits still in the rod rest even in a gale and it’s ideal for club anglers, surf bass angler etc. Also new is the Continental and this is again a 15 footer, but designed along Continental lines, ultra light and slim its aimed at summer fishing with light line and tackle, the ladies might find it just what they want. One thing in line with most of the gear I have produced with TF Gear it’s going to be far cheaper than some of the overpriced “designer” rods available. I cant wait to get it in the surf for bass.

With the leaves leaving the trees at a rate this week it reminds us of the winter to come. Those chill winds make beach fishing tough going from December onwards. It’s noticeable that the T Shirt brigade leaves us in a few weeks and the beaches become roomier because of it. My favourite time of year, not because the drips freeze on the end of your nose, but because the crowds have gone. It’s also great to find the beaches litter comparatively free as well and I am sorry if this upsets some, but I have been appalled lately at the amount of litter left by so called sea anglers and it’s not all Octobers great unwashed or the foreign anglers either, I have watched some regulars leave litter and they don’t like being told to pick it up!  All you need is a plastic bag in your kit to pack the rubbish into to take away, so simple.

Back to the weather and that extra fleece will be required soon, I am a great believer in comfort when I am fishing it keeps you fresh and alert and you are more likely to catch if you can concentrate on the rod tip rather than worry about cold toes!

COMPETITIONS

Congratulations to Wales and England for their performance in the CIPS World Shore Championships in Spain. Spain took the gold medal and their performance included the top four individuals. Wales took silver ahead of England’s Bronze – Having been there I know how good a medal, any colour is in the Mediterranean.

ENGLAND shore team with world bronze medal

ENGLAND shore team with world bronze medal

Coming up (January 23rdth to 25th) is the Irish Winter Beach Festival which I fish annually. It’s fished from the Wicklow region beaches in Southern Ireland with the base for the event at Sean Ogs Hotel, Kilmuckridge. It’s a great event for the Craic –1st Prize is €500 and there are events for Teams of 2 & 4 over 3 days. Entry fee: €150 inclusive of Presentation Dinner. Accommodation at Seàn Òg’s may be reserved through Warren Doyle, 98, Seacrest, Bray, Co. Wicklow. +353 (0)1 2828769. Mob. +353(0)86 8069961. warrendoyle@iol.ie

Last year the event was won by my mate Chris Clark of Lymington, although I have to remind him regularly that on day two he killed all his maddies and it was only the generosity of others that got him over the line!

I am all booked up for a weeklong trip to Norway at the end of February with my son Richard and a few mates. We are going to fish a week long big fish competition organised by Ian Peacock and Din Tur. It may well be my only chance of a big cod this winter because the Kent season does look dismal. It’s such a long time since I landed a double figure cod from the shore (I am really looking forward the Norway)

Michael Buzzby 5lb 3oz Whiting Norway

Michael Buzzby 5lb 3oz Whiting Norway

Details: www.dintur.co.uk. E mail peacock@dintur.co.uk Tel. 01914472363

TF Gear BlueStrike Fishing Rod Review

Tf gear blue strike

Review by Total Sea Fishing Magazine of the TF Gear BlueStrike 8ft 15g to 40g Lure Rod 

The fast-taper, responsive blank on this 8ft light spinning rod is designed for working plugs and soft-plastic lures with its soft tip and progressive action.

The blue blank on the TF Gear Bluestrike is finished off with single-leg SiC guides to reduce weight and the chance of flat spots, with the rings being suitable for both braid and mono.

There is an Aluminium reel seat ahead of the innovative extended butt. With the butt retracted, these sea fishing rods can be cast single-handed. With the Butt extended, both hands can be used to punch out further.

Total Sea Fishing Magazines Comment :- A light spinning rod, handy for those tight situations with its retractable butt.

See what our resident Sea Fishing expert thinks…

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Early June

The problem of an increasing number of seals taking fish around the coast of the UK was highlighted for me by the dramatic fishing demise of Dover Harbour. With commercial fishing of any kind banned inside the harbour for decades the harbour was always a natural sanctuary for a number of common sea species including bass, pollack, flounder, plaice and even pouting in summer and cod, dabs and whiting in winter. But all that has changed in recent years with the arrival of several large seals inside the harbour only dogfish can be caught consistently, which tells me that seals are not that keen on the doggies. Just up the coast from Dover harbour the River Stour estuary has a similar problem, but even worse the Canterbury coarse angling club report that seals are plundering bream, chub and pike stocks well up the river past Sandwich. They have secured photographic evidence, which they have passed to the Environment Agency for action. Seal cull? – No way. So politically incorrect it looks like we are stuck with them!

Another trip abroad to Italy this month was to fish the Magrini Championships in Sardinia. A third on the first day raised my hopes, but a blanks, along with six other GB anglers I might add, ended my chances. It seems the slow start to spring and summer even effected the Mediterranean angling with the Sardinian anglers complaining of a lack of fish. I must to admit to a liking for fishing ultra light for sea fish because most of the semi tropical species like those found in the Med pull for their size although in the case of Sardinia five hours for two undersized (15cm) weavers has tested my patience. Magrini winner was Irish angler J P Molloy who put in a consistent performance to become only the second Home Nation angler to win the event (joey Arch was the other). Only problem was winning five trophies and an armful of prizes ranging from Sea fishing rods to reels, meant a huge excess baggage charge on his return home. Never mind JP well worth the extra cost because few Home nations anglers can claim such a great win on their CVs.

Tight lines, Alan Yates

JP-Molloy-Magrini-winner-Italy

John Paul Molloy with his Magrini Championship trophy.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary – Late March

A busy month of competitions at a time of year I really enjoy shore fishing – Its scratchy with bites at a premium and to do well you need to scale down both your tackle and your angling ego. Lots of anglers fish through March still in their November cod goggles, but the bigger fish are no longer around in a majority of regions and its time for the dabs, flounders and those damn rockling.

OK the match anglers actually enjoy this time of year, as I said, I do especially when it’s calm and cold. Most beaches slow to walking pace in terms of bites in the frostiest weather and it’s a case of dropping the hook size, the bait size, the line size and fishing closer in. The low tide gutter often being the only hot spot on the beach. It’s a time when the casting ego has to be put in its place, although keep it handy because the first rays of spring are no far off.

My latest competition was the Ten Worm Challenge – A sea fishing competition with a difference with competitors allowed to use just ten lugworms as bait – Nothing else! The event received lots of publicity despite which the entry was small, I suspect novelty events are not for many serious matchmen, although it is the case that event organisers are continually looking for competitions which offer more of a level playing field for all anglers in an attempt to attract more to competitions.

The Ten Worm Challenge was a rover, fish where you like and you could use ten rods with one worm if you preferred.  I opted to get out my Continental sea fishing rods and use the event as a practice for the forthcoming World Clubs Champs in Portugal where I am representing Dover Sea Angling Association.  Size 4 hooks, 8lb hook snoods, 16-foot quiver tip and fixed spools reel loaded with 0.24mm line.

I chose to fish at Dungeness and to cut a long story short I finished with 32 fish and half a worm left after five hours, the clear winner with the next place catching by Mark Howard fishing next to me at Dungeness landing 11 fish. My secret was to fish small baits each tied on the hook with elastic cotton – That way the bait lasted ages. I think I will claim a Guinness book of record place with the catch, but only so as to create more interest in the idea, which was the brainchild of Seabrook sea angler, Tim Raymond.

Mark-Howard-and-Alan-Yates-Ten-worm-winners

Another event that attracts a huge entry because anglers see the event as giving anyone a chance of winning is the European Championships fished at Bridlington. It also coincided with the worst of the month’s weather and just three codling were landed despite a huge entry of 2095 anglers, with the winner Karl Wiepcke, Goxhill winning the overall which included a car with a single 3lb codling he caught at Aldbrough. Big fish matches are the way to go if you want a larger entry, whilst pegged, catch and release will only attract the most dedicated match anglers.

The other event I fished recently, also a biggest fish event, was the Pollack Challenge out of Brighton, which is an annual event for me aboard Paul Dyer’s, Brighton Diver, which also carries Keith Arthur and the Sky Camera crew.  With the BBC Shipping forecast giving gales it was touch and go whether the event took place, but fish we did although heading out to a wreck at thirty miles was a bit lumpy to say the least. However, the day calmed and some nice fish where landed by the 100 anglers taking part, including a 17lb 9oz specimen for Brighton Schoolboy, Connor Bonwick fishing on Terry Lee’s Brighton based Sea Breeze 3.

Keith and myself ended with three pollack a piece caught on a mix of jellies and Sidewinders with Keith’s best of 11lb and the best on our boat was third overall for Alan Milford who landed a 14lb 14oz lunker first drop. If you not tried lure fishing for pollack over a wreck it’s worth doing although the two-hour steam there and back does tax the brain.

Keith Arthur of Sky’s Tight lines with his best pollack 11lb in the Pollack Challenge event at Brighton.

With snow on my lawn at the time of writing this blog its difficult to get involved in the spring prospects but there already seems to be plenty of plaice around in the English Channel and it wont be long before the rays push inshore. Rumblings about smoothhound on Facebook seem a bit premature when Britain shivers in its worst spring weather for years. But all can change overnight, hopefully and it’s the hounds that most are looking forward to. Last year it was noticeable that the species has moved into the North Sea big time with Skegness region on the Lincs coast one of the best hound venues, Selsey and the Solent kept their end up as did South Wales and even Kent got in on the act at Sandown. But first the crabs need to peel, fingers crossed for some warm sunshine.

COMPETITIONS

Staying with the changing format of competitions this one just had to happen and is possibly the way more events are going to go in the future. The Gerry’s Fishing Open in the Morecambe Bay area on the 7th of September, fishing 10am until 4pm involves all anglers owning a Camera with time date function and removable SD card. Your catch is snapped with the days bag label and returned. Check in from 9am Gerry’s Fishing or contact Sam or Chris 01524 422146. Email – shop@gerrysfishing.com.Another catch and release event worth a look is the Rutherfords Conoflex 2 day open. On the 29th and 30th of June fishing two zones at Copthorne Hotel and British Airways Business Park on the river Tyne. All fish to count but there is a maximum hook size of 4. Entry is £30 for the two days, to book or for more info ring Andy Rutherford on 0191 5654183

Alan Yates – The New Year Scratch

THE NEW YEAR SCRATCH

This month the cod season is well and truly underway and it’s the time when the bigger fish venture close to shore, especially after a big sea. Its time to make the most of the few spring tides left with a live bait rig the way to go for the biggest cod on many venues. However within four weeks and the arrival of February the bigger fish will thin out drastically in many regions and it’s then that the fishing and the weather sorts the men from the boys.

If you want to continue sea fishing into February the biggest problem is that you will encounter some really extreme fishing weather, whilst at the same time the fishing will deteriorate. Both boat and shore anglers need to heed mum’s advice and wrap up warm and that means long socks, thermals suits and that all important hat. Of course venturing out when the weather is severe is difficult because it always looks much worse than it is! But, usually once you have made the decision to go and fish the weather doesn’t seem so bad and providing you have good waterproofs and a shelter even the worst Mother Nature can throw down can be bearable!

The decreasing temperatures have a dramatic effect on the next few months fishing, watch out for cold shallower water and frozen sand at low water which deters fish from venturing close. Fresh water, rain or snow melt coming out of drains,  rivers, stream etc is also the enemy of the shore angler because it will push the fish out away from the shore line. I have a golden rule about beach fishing at this time of year and that is not to fish anywhere where my cast lands on ground that has been uncovered or exposed to low temperatures at low water. Even better I ONLY fish from the deepest water beaches, rock marks and the piers.

Mention February and lots of shore anglers pull faces at the thought of an invasion of slugs (rockling). Make no mistake the New Year heralds the departure of all the adult fish of most species to spawn around the greater part of the UK and that’s why it’s considered tiddler time. All amount of bravado and using a 4/0 Pennell rig loaded with whole Calamari squid will fail miserably because there simple are no big fish inshore in a majority of regions. At best in a few places is the chance of a 5lb codling, although I have to say that the rays now start to appear earlier every year and they can turn up as early as February and so its wide to keep an eye on catch reports.

I for one carry on fishing through the early part of the year, lots of anglers don’t and put their gear away until spring. Much depends where you live and fish and what floats your boat! It’s a far different approach that is needed to carry on fishing when its tiddlers only. Instead of large hooks and giant baits it’s more delicate tackle and catch measure and return match fishing that is required. It’s a time for the more delicate and fish attractive baits like white ragworm or maddies, a more refined approach to tackle with lighter hook snoods, wire booms, size 4 match hooks and the softer actioned quiver tip rod. Lots of match anglers have discovered the fun of switching to a sea quiver tip rod and fixed spool reel to exaggerate bites and braid is fast becoming the line to use for short range tiddler snatching.

Although its small fish time in many regions the bigger codling are still possible and they often muscle in on feeding dabs and other tiddlers so it’s wise if you go for small hooks to use a strong pattern.

Dab fishing may not appear very exciting but for many anglers it’s the challenge of catching fish under difficult conditions that is the thrill rather than the size of the fish. When the frost is nibbling the ears a few dabs can be a great reward for some scratchy plus they make great eating.

Some tips to help you catch more dabs include adding a few sequins to your hook snoods when fishing in clear water. A small tip of fish, shellfish or squid can also be a deadly lugworm cocktail of dabs but keep the tip bait small finger nail size. For flounders little beats a bunch of wriggly maddies tipped with a small strip of mackerel plus a buoyant bead (it works for dabs too) to give the bait a little lift and movement in the current. Dabs and those slug like rockling love sticky decaying lugworm with four day old black lugworm a prime bait for February match fishing. So don’t throw your lugworm bait away after a trip, keep it until next week and you will find it deadly for the tiddlers especially dabs

Finally, one of the most crucial tactical decisions when fishing in the New Year concerns casting distance – The whack it as far as you can early winter tactic which works for the codling and whiting found in the deepest water no longer catches in February, it fact its nearly always out to far, way past the feeding fish. More effective is an accurate cast to the gutter between low and high tide line, or the back or front of a sand bank or gulley. Other hot spots include the ends of wooden groynes or rock ledges which the fish hugging the shoreline have to go around. Consistent casting to the same spot also pays dividends.

The biggest bonus of this time of year in match fishing terms is that catch and release events mean fewer fish killed. Place them in a bucket of water before you measure register and return – Of course you can retain the bigger fish to eat, but many go back and can be caught again in the future.

DETAILS OF THE TF GEAR DELTA QUIVER TIP BEACHCASTER

Delta Allrounder is a 16ft multi tip rod designed for competition fishing and continental style fishing. Casting 2-5oz leads, It also comes complete with 3 interchangable quiver tips  ranging from 200g upto 600g making it perfect for scratching around for flatties and smaller species. It come with a sliding reel seat and  is suitable for both fixed & multiplier reels.