Rare Deep-Sea Greenland Shark


Sometimes watching footage of the seabed can be as exciting as watching paint dry, but when something like the mysterious Greenland shark appears where no-one has ever seen one before, people like Alan Turchik (National Geographic Mechanical Engineer) can get very, very excited indeed!

The camera which was placed 211 meters (700 feet) down on the seafloor and recorded over 3 hours of absolute nothingness, only to be briefly interrupted by a small jellyfish, but after staring at the sand for much of the time a Greenland shark bumped into the camera and lumbered through the frame! For a species which remains an enigma to scientists to the day, any new information such as sightings like this one – is invaluable.

Catching Turchik’s joyful reaction on camera expletive-filled reaction on film was pure luck. The cameraman Michael Pagenkopf wanted to take some shots of the team working on the boat for a film of the expedition, so he trained the lens on Turchik who was reviewing the video footage downloaded from the camera.

Just as Pagenkopf swapped his cameras battery and started filming, the picture on Turchik’s screen started bouncing around – It didn’t take long to hear how he felt about the sharks presence.

Mysterious Greenland Shark

A Deep-Sea Enigma

These sharks are a conundrum, says Greg Skomal, a senior marine fisheries scientist at Massachusetts Marine Fisheries who wasn’t involved in the survey. Scientists aren’t sure how long the sharks live—a hundred years is one estimate—how big they get, or even if they’re predators or scavengers.

Based on the sharks’ stomach contents, “they seem to be chowing down on cod, wolffish, squid, and a variety of marine mammals,” says Peter Bushnell, a fisheries biologist at Indiana University South Bend. They may also be taking bites out of beluga whales.

 They can be as big as great white sharks, but that’s about as far as the comparison goes, growing to an estimated  7.3 meters (24 feet) long. With a maximum speed of just 1.7 mph and being mostly blind one would think they’re happy to eat rotting carcasses.

However, if the history of fishing is any guide, Greenland sharks are common as muck. The sharks were fished from the early 20th century until the 1960s; mainly for their liver oil, which was used as lamp fuel and industrial lubricant. In some years, over 30,000 were taken. That suggests a very healthy population.

In line with that, a recent expedition used 120 hooks on a longline, (not your normal sea fishing equipment!) and caught 59 sharks. “I think they’re fairly common,” says Aaron Fisk of the University of Windsor in Ontario. “When we want to catch them we don’t have any trouble.”

 

 

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary November 2014

The-first-big-cod-of-the-winter-for-the-boats-in-the-south-east-was-from-the-Varne-Boat-Clubs-cod-open.

Varne boat club angler with the first big cod of the season for the Kent dinghy group.

With codling showing all around the UK at present it looks as if we are in for a reasonable winter, although the question is will the fish survive the nets for next year when they will be considerably bigger, in fact big enough to greatly improve the quality of the UK shore fishing? That is yet to be seen, although even the most cynical will expect a few to survive to make the 6lb mark and they can really pull the string.

Back to the present and my return from a week in Portugal was greeted with the first frost of the winter, I drove back from Gatwick airport amongst the gritters and the reality of winter has arrived. For me it’s time to loose the summer garments and break out the winter sea fishing tackle including hoodies, thermals and swap the brolly for the full Hurricane shelter. Time also for those 8oz leads to go back in the tackle box for a spot of low punchy casting into the teeth of the gale – they do tow the bait well and make a great difference on the stormy beaches.

I have also given the bait pump an overhaul with new washers which always give it some extra suction and a soak in fairy Liquid makes them even better. I am a bit concerned I will not be able to hack it with my bad shoulder, but the simple fact is lugworms will be difficult to come by in the tackle shop and pumping your on is the only option. I have laid down a supply of frozen blacks in the freezer and they do work well, especially after Christmas when the dabs arrive and the constant storms means the fish are accustomed to finding dead smelly marine life unearthed by the slightest swell. In the meantime nothing beats a fresh out, juicy, black or yellowtail for those codling other than perhaps a peeler crab, although supplies of peelers too start to dwindle this month. Also watch out for those shellfish being washed up after an onshore wind – Cockles, butterfish, razor fish and the larger clams all make a hook bait, but do work best when they are being washed up. Here in Kent Dungeness can be littered with shells after a good blow and being just inside the Point at the right time you can fill a bucket. I particularly like those large red queen cockles which are great for codling, bass and dabs as well.

Another bait which comes into its own around Christmas is fresh sprat and herring, the whiting love it in strips or chunks, whilst here it’s renowned for the biggest dabs which are nicknamed “sprat dabs” because of their liking for sprat.

Reports suggest most regions of the country are reporting codling and it’s noticeable that

the bigger fish are in the estuary regions where there are lots of shrimps. The rough ground codling also seem to grow faster, whilst from the clean sandy beaches the millions of hungry whiting mean the codling are lean. Those whiting are a pest particularly after Christmas when the pin size fish invade the shoreline, but don’t dismiss fishing a live bait rig at this time because the bigger fish and a late bass are fond of those small whiting.

Looking into the New Year it’s a time when only the match anglers have fun in many regions. Once those bigger specimens of all species have left to spawn its tiddlers only, especially from the clean beaches. My advice is to head for the deeper water of the piers, rocks or the boats for the bigger fish.

Here are a few New Year shore competitions to look out for:

1st of January Holt SAC New Year Open at Kelling. Details from Mike 07858758669 / Peter 07769908480 /  holtseaanglers@gmail.com

3rd of January the Pembroke & District Angling Club. Air Ambulance Open at Amroth.

Fishing is 10:30pm until 2.30pm. £200 first prize for the heaviest bag flounders only. Reg Amroth Arms. Details: John 01437 563552

4th of January the Wyvern Open shore at Slapton Sands, South Devon.  Fishing is 1pm until 6pm. Tickets and details from Mike Spiller 01404 43397.

10th and 11th of January the Asso Two Day Open is being fished at Seabrook and Hythe in Kent. Fishing 12pm until 5pm. Pre book only. Limited to 120 Entries. Details: 07866 714497

11th January East Anglian League and open at Sizewell. Fishing 10 am until 3pm. Contact: Rob Tuck 07855 848967

25th of January the Amble Open. Fishing 9.30am until 2.30pm. Register on the day at the Radcliffe Club, Amble from 7am. Tickets local tackle shops. Entry fee £12 all classes. Contact Jimmy French on 01665 711007 or Tony Cook on 01665 602034.

25th January the Fords Sports and Social S.A.C 40th Open Beach Fishing Festival.

At Weston Shore, Southampton. Rolling Mill to Beach Lane Netley. Fishing 11am until 4pm. Entry Fee is £11, juniors £4. no pegging beach prior to signing in. Steve Eales 02380650519.

Finally, I am just back from a few days fishing in the Algarve, Portugal, my first holiday of 2014 and it was great to fish in the sunshine with the new Continental TF Gear beachcasters. Real light line fishing for some speedy gilthead bream. I was surprised by the

result and the trip lead to a feature in the New Year edition of Sea Angler magazine so look out for it.

The-group-of-Portuguese-plus-mate-Clive-Richards-I-fished-with-on-the-Algarve.

Tight lines,

Alan Yates

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary October/November 2014

Alan-dabs-at-Seabrook


Alan Yates with a bag of dabs and a goer bass which won him a match from Seabrook’s Princes Parade with 8lb 4oz.

Midway through October and still the weather is mild and relatively settled. Yes we are enjoying an Indian summer and for the shore anglers it’s been a long spell of mixed fishing with the crossover of summer and winter species somewhat prolonged this autumn. Could be that this is now becoming the norm with the mixed fishing lasting later into the winter every year due to global warming. Whatever, it’s welcome for sure. Only this week I landed a mixed catch of dabs, bass, whiting, codling, smoothhound and dogfish from my local pier and beaches. Fishing the Prince of Wales pier inside Dover harbour the anglers next door landed two smoothhounds, mine was just a goer, but the specimens landed by Kyros Andrea from Tottenham both topped the 6lb mark, both took a large squid bait. Kyros is a retired trucker who regularly travels to Dover to fish and these were his best ever smoothhounds.

Kyros-Andrea-Totenham-6lb-hound-Prine-of-Wales-Dover
A surprise bass amongst the dabs at Seabrook whilst using braid line on the new Continental beach caster caused me some excitement and those codling seem to be showing all around the UK, even in the sunshine and so it’s going to be a shock for many anglers when the weather does eventually change to winter. Looking at the continuous south westerly storms that are buffeting us, that all too familiar winter weather blocking pattern will soon introduce more easterly and northerly winds and lower temperatures. Anglers in the North Sea will be rubbing their hands together at the prospect of onshore winds and more cod and here in the south when its calm nothing beats a calm sea and a frosty beach to spice up the night time whiting fishing..

However, now is a time to get serious with your beach fishing and going out prepared for the weather is an important factor. The waterproof thermal suit, a beach shelter or brolly, chest waders, warms socks, a hat and a flask are all essential to survival when the weather gets mean. Also important are the means to continue fishing when the wind blows and the sea swells. I pack a few heavier grip leads in the tackle box, those 7oz Breakaway green tops in fixed wire take some beating, although if it gets extreme then it’s a Gemini yellow head 7oz and nothing sticks like they do. Lots of anglers forget that the importance of a heavy lead apart from it anchoring to the sea bed is that it punches through the wind and tows baits far more efficiently than lighter leads. Which go off course in the wind. Bait clips also help you gain extra yards by tucking the bait snugly behind the lead for a more streamlined rig and bait. Now is the time to get your sea fishing tackle right. Make up a few rigs for extreme weather – the Pulley Pennell is a great choice for wind and sea both on rough and smooth ground and it’s the easiest clipped rig to make yourself. Lots of anglers also boost up their rig hook snood line to 25lb to combat conditions and that chance of a bigger cod.

One of the biggest winter mistakes made by many sea anglers, especially beginners is using too big a bait. OK big bait, big fish – that’s true, but a large bait is of no use if you cannot cast it far enough to reach the cod. So compromise between bait size, bait clips and lead size to maximise distance with your biggest bait and don’t fall into the giant bait fished in the gutter trap!!!!

The other common mistake of the novice is to recast a washed out bait. Replace your hook bait fresh every cast, fresh worms etc means a fresh scent so the bait scent trail the previous cast set up is continued. Casting timing is also important, keep an eye on how long your bait lasts against crab and small fish attacks and set you timing between casts around that.

The major problem once the cold weather arrives is obtaining bait. Lugworm prices go up every year as the worms become hard to come by. The problem is that the army of part time summer diggers cannot dig or pump enough worms to make it worth their while and generally it’s only the real professionals that dig all winter. Thus fewer worms and a bigger demand make bait scarce and easy for diggers and dealers to hike the price. One solution is to collect your own, although many will quickly find out that’s easier said than done. Winter lugworm digging in stair rod rain, frost and decreasing daylight is not easy. (Try it and you may not complain about the price or how small the worms are again!)
There are a few solutions and one is to freeze your lugworms. Black lugworms freeze best and when using them, tying them on with bait cotton makes keeps them more intact and on the hook because they do go soft. Frozen baits can be used to extend a limited supply of fresh although lots of anglers swear by frozen on their own. One tip – Treat frozen bait like you would your food, would you eat sausages that have been in the freezer for four years!

Sort your frozen bait in terms of how long it’s been frozen. Frozen lugworm from the spring tides can be used a week or month later when the tides are neap. That’s the way to manage frozen bait and not keep it for years!

Frozen squid is easy enough to buy earlier in the year in bulk, it’s cheaper. Break down into smaller amounts and store in the freezer and on some venues it’s all the bait you need, although for the current crop of codling fresh yellowtails or blacks take some beating.
You can obtain a supply by looking after your dealer – How many anglers buy their gear on the internet and then only visit the dealer when they are desperate for worms, small wonder he has none he will be looking after his regulars. So keep it in your mind to keep in with the local fishing tackle shop and with luck you will get a supply.

Tight lines,

Alan Yates

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Late August 2014

TF Gear Force 8 sea fishing jacket

Don’t you just love this drop in temperature, strong wind and a rough sea – Lots of anglers are rubbing their hands together at the prospect of autumn arriving and an improvement in the shore sea angling. It is though a time to bite the bullet and get out there in some uncomfortable conditions with an onshore wind and sea invariably the time to fish most venues. After the calm sunshine of summer a blustery rain swept beach can be difficult, BUT like all things it eventually becomes the norm and we all get back into winter mode. Time for the heavier fishing gear and time to break out those 7oz fixed wire grip leads, bait clips and the more powerful beachcaster rods. There is no doubt that from September onwards shore fishing is not for whimps with wands, it’s a time when casting distance and keeping a lead where it lands is very important. But it’s also a time when lots of novices catch their biggest ever bass with the species picking up a short cast big bait and so let’s start there and look at the prospects for a giant bass.

Big bass are usually solitary because the rest of their shoal have been caught or died. But there are enough still around to ensure that some lucky angler will nail a lunker in the next month or two. Luck plays a big part because bass are caught really close to the sea edge and rarely at long range. So the early winter cod angler fishing a giant bait in the edge is the one with the best odds of catching a big bass and that’s the novice. Few experienced cod anglers will deliberately fish a big bait close in for cod and so the novice with his inadequate cast is the most likely to get that lunker bass. That is unless you deliberately target a big bass by fishing close in. AND the best way to do that is with a live bait. Pick a calm, dark night and a steep deep beach venue and hook on a small pout and fish it in the first twenty for the waters edge. Keep the noise and light flashing to a minimum and you may catch a big bass. Often at this time of year the bass arrive on a venue because anglers are returning small fish or gutting mackerel etc. This especially as dusk and darkness arrives.

A favourite way to target bass is to slide a short trace down the main line of a rod cast out with a lip or tail hooked pouting on a strong 3/0 so that it floats in the edge.

Lots of anglers will now be thinking about cod and this summer many regions have seen an improvement in codling stocks. The trouble is that this has happened before with lots of codling in August, but by October they have gone. Fish over the size limit are easy prey for the gill nets and trawlers and it’s these that decimate the codling shoals. The bigger cod are very thin on the ground and usually don’t show until November and December.

Another fact of autumn, its better described as the start of winter, is that waterproofs and shelters return to the sea fishing tackle essentials. Options include the full Hurricane shelter which is ideal for those contemplating a marathon beach session over the complete tide, or a brolly which is a more portable shelter and is especially suited to the mixed weather of this time of year. I prefer the umbrella for the beaches in early autumn, the cheaper Hardware umbrella is ideal, especially where lots of moving with the tide is required, take a luggage strap and strap it to your tackle box, even better to your seat harness. The cheaper green brolly is lighter and more compact and can be erected quickly. OK it’s not the full Monty of the shelter but it’s great for a short session or the occasional shower. Once the weather deteriorates, then I switch to the TF Gear Force 8 brolly which is a bespoke sea angling umbrella like no other. OK others also have wings to widen the protection area, but the Force 8 has a removable cover, tough non metal frame and pockets for the shingle etc to hold it down.

Waterproof wise I prefer the full jacket and bib and brace suit – it goes without saying that being able to take the jacket off helps control temperature when the sun comes out and that the full sallopettes trousers not only keep you warm but clean!

Make no mistake in a few weeks your will need that protective clothing and shelter – we have been spoilt for weather this summer and the winter could well bring some shocks!

Having recently switched to fixed spool reels and braid main line I have to say what a revelation that has been. Bites are bolder, fish pull more and my sea fishing is more enjoyable. For years I tried braid on a multiplier, but it just does not work, but micro braid on a fixed spool reel is another ball game and I recommend those of you out there thinking about a switch to braid, go ahead but only with a fixed spool reel.

Codling-and-eel-from-the-pier-at-Dover

Tight lines,

Alan Yates

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary June 2014

The arrival of the mackerel around much of the UK coastline this month kicks off one of sea angling’s busiest times of the year. Apart from the fact that the smoothhound, ray and bass shoals are extending and exploiting their range around the coastline, summer brings an influx of new anglers. The holiday anger after mackerel that crowd the piers and beaches during daylight to fish with with lures and feathers with which the mackerel can often be caught in numbers and fairly easily. On many venues numbers are swelled by ethnic anglers who have seized on this easy style of sea angling and like it or not they have regenerated many summer venue as well as brought business to fishing tackle shops and charters skippers in the region. Feathering for mackerel is not every sea angler’s favourite method, indeed many ardent bottom anglers frown on the tactic and that is mainly because of the behaviour it can promote on a crowded pair, apart from the dangers of being impaled on a lure hook that is! Associated with feathering is the frenzy of anglers who give little thought to the fish or other anglers – They catch as many fish as they can, many are often left to flap their life away and then discarded when they become ruined by the sunshine. Litter is left and most piers have the stench of urine whilst burnt seating, damage and mayhem have lead to many venues being closed or threatened with closure. It is the case that you just cannot leave Joe Public to police himself and anarchy is the eventual result of doing so, especially with mackerel anglers.

But let’s not dwell on the down side, mackerel fishing can be great fun and is enjoyed by thousands of sea anglers and for many is a first step into proper sea angling.

For those that just want to catch a few mackerel for the bait freezer or barbeque the answer is to stay away from the crowded and popular venues and to use a more sporting method than six feathered lures. OK, if you need a quick fix of mackerel six big fizzy lures with a heavy lead (5oz min) will usually get a result. But a single silver sprat spinner fished at dusk will produce more sport.

Then there are the other methods to fish for mackerel and by far the best is with a float and a sliver of mackerel or garfish as bait. Cast and retrieve that slowly on a lighter spinning type rod for maximum fun.

Another tactic is to use a sliding float rig and this is a short float rig made up to an American snap link which is simply clipped on the main line of the rod already cast out and then slide down the line to the surface. The method allows the angler to fish a bait on the sea bed and a bait for mackerel or garfish etc on the surface.

Summer brings another problem for sea anglers and one is keeping both your bait and catch fresh. TF Gear have solved the problem with a couple of custom made cool bags and I am especially pleased to see the new cool bag. It is made to fit snuggly on top of the standard Beta angling seat box and big enough to contain a standard size seed tray or cat litter type tray to hold the bait. It can then be clipped to the top of your seat box. Perfect for the worms going fishing and the catch coming home and especially relevant at this time of year when the mackerel are around and you can catch and keep them fresh until they arrive home for the bait freezer.

TF-Gear-cool-bag

The second new item is a sand eel bag complete with liquid freezer sachet and compartments made to fit the standard packets of sandeel. Keeping your sand eels frozen is vital to their success and you can remove them one at a time or baiting up without thawing the lot.

It’s nice to be able to report that I am back fishing with a few more trips to the pier under my belt since my rheumatic problem. The down side is that I do have limited use of my shoulder and have had to switch to a fixed spool reel and long Continental rod – The new Force 8 in the TF Gear range at 15ft is ultra light and ideal. But I am never going to threaten 150metres plus and have had to accept the reduction in distance – Like so many other anglers older, disabled or simply limited in power. Not all doom and gloom though because the lighter sea fishing tackle and mindset has fuelled some fun fishing with size 4 hooks and 8lb line a whole new ball game – I am learning how to fish again and so far the results are encouraging.

I am holding 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, single hook 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, all are welcome and it’s a complete rover anywhere around the Hoe. Prizes for species pts, biggest and best average fish. Alan Yates 01303 250017

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary April 2014

You never know what you'll catch on with LRF tackle!

You never know what you’ll catch on with LRF tackle!

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!

Float fishing for garfish!

Float fishing for garfish!

Tight lines,

Alan Yates

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary February/March 2014

8lb-summer-flounder-out-of-New-York

New York plaice like bling too!

One of the worst winters on record for weather has taken its toll on shore and boat angling, not only venues made unfishable but piers damaged and closed, charter hours lost, competitions cancelled and a general feeling of when will it end? Well so much doom and gloom, but it has its upside and that is that the commercial nets have also been hit hard and a few extra small fish may have survived the winter this year and that may improve the fishing in the spring…

I have taken some time off to sort some of my fishing equipment and generally plan ahead – the Spring IS just around the corner and although those last few weeks can drag, it will get here. OK so I have more terminal rigs that Gerry’s of Morecambe, all my reels are loaded with new line and my tackle box is pristine. All I need is to get out on the beach for a few casts, but that’s just not going to happen until the sea flattens off and clears. First up is a plaice trip but as I said, red spots don’t like coloured, rough or silty water – Chesil Beach at Cogden is a favourite venue to head for, but only when that sea settles! In the meantime the tackle box retains my attention and one of the many jobs I keep promising to do but never get around to be replacing grip wires in my lead collection. Normally when a wire or a bead on a lead goes, I dump it in the throw away bucket for fishing the Irish rocks, or Samphire Hoe. It’s essential when fishing rough ground to have plenty of spare leads and to not worry about losing them. But the throw away bucket is overloaded so its wire cutters, pliers, beads and wire time.  The tasks brings about several options, for starters you can change the shape colour of the breakout beads, I hate blue and yellow and prefer red and so replace this missing etc with round  red beads, make sure you use decent strong plastic beads because some smash just looking at the beach. You can also change the grip wire length, bend them differently or simply straighten out and upgrade the lead in general. Whatever, the result is a box of new functional leads.

Another worthwhile spring clean job, is your sea fishing rods, because if you look closely you may have a cracked ring. After the countless times my rod has been pulled off the rest this winter I will be surprised if I haven’t got a ring that need replacing. The beauty of Fuji’s, Seymo and the other top makes is that they take lots of shit, but even the best cannot survive many more than one a gale driven clatters on concrete, rocks or beach stones and can be damaged and it pays to look.

First wash the rod free of sand, weed and all the other crud it has collected with use and give the rings and the reel seat the once over with a tooth brush. This will remove most of the unwanted and reveal the ring back at its best. Reel seats really benefit from a good scrubbing and you will find them less likely to jam afterwards. Examine the rings closely under a good light, the smallest crack can skim whisks of mono almost unnoticed. Of course losing a ring is a disaster on a beachcaster – it’s like scratching the door on a new motor UUURRGHH!!! For me it’s the menders and I mean specialist rod repairs not DIY. Sometimes an on the beach a temporary repair may be required and that’s fairly simple. I cut one leg of the rig whipping off. Wriggle the other ring foot free and remove the ring. Insert a new ring in the whipping and then tape up on the other side – good as new, for some!

One economic way to re-invent a tired beachcaster is to replace the shrink wrap handle. Most tackle dealers nowadays offer a range of different types, colours, materials of shrink wrap. You can buy it to the length required and simply shrink it on. Don’t be tempted to do it over the old handle though, remove this and thoroughly wash and dry the rod section before putting on the new shrink wrap. To close down the shrink wrap tightly you can use a hair drier, whilst boiling water from a kettle spout is more dangerous, it does a better job!

Best of all the rod refurbishments are those offered by lots of the major firms – Send your rod back to them and for a fee they will replace it to its original glory, well worth the money if you are fussy about your sea fishing tackle.

Already there are rumours about plaice – the first sunny day for months and tall plaice stories have started. Now let’s get one thing clear before we start talking about plaice. They are frail, thin and pasty when they first arrive inshore in March after the vigour’s of spawning and not worth eating or retaining so please unhook carefully and return. In a matter of months they will be returned to their red spotted plumpness and then will be prized for the table.

Time now to make up a few rigs with the usual plaice bling, beads and glitter, my tendency is to make the bait stop on my clipped rigs the bling and there are lots of options ranging from pop up bead, plastic beads, luminous beads, sequins, glass beads, vanes, luminous tubing etc. Don’t skimp either plaice often respond the flashiest hook bait and the rule is anything goes!

A recent letter in Sea Angler magazine criticised me for keeping (and grinning) with a catch of small dabs and whiting (4 dabs and seven whiting) Now excuse me, but I eat a lot of fish and the number I retained that day was a small percentage of that caught and returned – You see there is not much else in the sea around the UK coast in winter and I enjoy a few dab and whiting fillets.

Tight lines

Alan Yates

 

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary February 2014

Brian-Price-Sandwich-Jan14ray-2

The rays are around on the Kent shore with a January thornback for Dover specimen hunter, Brian Price, one of three in a couple of trips to Sandwich Bay.

The mild winter, it may have all changed by the time you read this, has lulled anglers into the false dawn of spring. Thoughts are already on plaice bling and rays and surprise, surprise the latter are already showing in Kent. Are they late autumn or early spring is the question? The answer I believe is that ray numbers have increased in recent years as they took over the habitat of the missing cod etc and they are now appearing inshore earlier simply because of the overflow of stocks. In my region rays always were a winter species for the boats when the cod left, now they are a winter species for the shore rods and have replaced the cod. Now rays are never going to set the world alight in terms of their pace or guile, but for sheer plastic bag in the tide pull they take some beating – Shame they don’t make the 100lb mark – I remember some diamond rays I hooked from the Beach in Africa that just run all the line off and Gambia’s sting rays take some stopping once they beat the 50lb barrier. All in all ray fishing can be fun when there is nothing else of any size to fish for, some people even eat them!

However, its plaice that get my attention now that the light evenings have hit 5.30pm. The species have been in decline for the last couple of decades with the numbers and average size having dropped dramatically, but last year they made a small comeback along the Channel coastline. OK, not mega size plaice of the past but enough tipping the pound to suggest they were worth fishing for deliberately. Anglers flocked to venues like Brighton and even Kent could boast of a couple of plaice venues with Dengemarsh and Seabrook amongst the pick, the reason given for the upsurge in the plaice population was that the commercial quota limit had been reduced. Well an MZ is about to come on line in Hythe Bay and that should do the region’s flattie population a power of good because soles and plaice are plundered mercilessly by the regions trawlers.

Back to the plaice and it’s time to check out the bling that you can add to hook snoods to attract plaice to your baits. I am a big fan of pop up beads, the luminous pattern with pink spots from Gemini, although beware because they can lift bait clear off the bottom – too many beads and you will be fishing for garfish on the surface. Sequins and plastic beads are also favourite and during a trip last year aboard Brighton Diver out of Brighton after plaice – I discovered the deadliest bead combination ever. Twelve standard plastic coloured beads on a snood with red, green and yellow bringing the best results. Bait was lugworm and you could do worse than add a sliver of squid to the hook point, plaice seem to like that! As for spoons, they also work with a short snood full of beads and sequins and if you bend the sequins alternatively that adds extra reflection angles! Not so keen on blades because they spin and cut casting distance although in summer they do add the chance of a mackerel to the catch.

I am just back from the Irish Winter beach festival fished from the Wexford beaches where I switched to fixed spools and light line because of an arthritic shoulder, but reeling in left handed did me little good in the event and I finished half way down the list. But I did fish Continental style with the new range of lighter blanks from TF Gear including the Force 8 Continental and the Delta Slik Tip (look out for them in the coming week) It’s a whole new ball game fishing with light sea fishing tackle and the one thing that struck me is the decrease in tide pull using lines below 12lb. This brings plain leads into the game, or should I say wireless leads because I tried some weird shapes and removed wires. All I need now is a watch lead mould because they hold bottom well with a light set up. I also used a variety of cone and pyramid leads with the double cone coming out best – where can I get them from, my last lots came from Portugal?

The winter beach was won by Paul Tyndall of Bray another of the up and coming Irish Match anglers – I tell you what I was impressed by the standard of the Irish – to a man they fish light and small and I reckon if the Irish World team was picked from the anglers that fished the winter beach event Ireland would win a gold medal. But Ireland has a county selection problem and that means they rarely field a team of top anglers, time for change there.

All this talk of spring is all very well, but what if it does turn cold? Catching anything from the shore once the temperatures have fallen and the frost have got a hold is a challenge. On many venues cold rain or snow melt water, exposed sand that has frozen overnight combine to drive the fish away and that’s on top of the terrible weather – Just rockling, small coalfish, tiny codling, dabs, whiting and the odd flounder remains and in such conditions, fish on and you must accept the consequences.
The problem is that fresh and sea water do not completely mix – they layer because fresh is lighter and floats above sea water – That’s why Icebergs float, they are fresh water! This means that layers of freezing cold freshwater can invade the inshore regions. This is particularly common in the large estuaries like the Thames, Solent, Severn, Mersey, Tyne etc after heavy rain or snow where the fresh water layers can drive fish completely away from a venue during an ebb tide, whilst on the other side of the river the fish are prolific in the salty flood tide.

Small rivers, streams, even road drains and localised fresh water outfalls can affect the fishing on all types of beaches even well away from the estuaries. Beware too of snags comprised of trees, bushes and rubbish spewed into the sea with the flood water at the mouth of the stream etc
Another major hazard for the winter angler is that a shallow region of sand and sea bed exposed to an overnight frost will cool the incoming tide so rapidly that the fish will avoid it. – My rule after for February and March is: NEVER TO FISH WHERE I CANNOT CAST PAST THE LOW TIDE MARK – In other words always fish on a sea bed that is never exposed at low tide!

My next away trip is to Norway, which I may have mentioned before, in a quest to catch shore cod after the worst cod season in my memory. It seems the cold is going to be my biggest problem with Norway in March a bit chilly. Thermals, onesies, floatation sallopettes and a Delta Marine jacket plus woolly hat, thermal socks and gloves, even my Rockhopper boots have snow grippers. The only trouble with flying is that it doesn’t leave much room for the tackle!

Last year I fished for the Dover Sea Angling Association team in the World Club Champs in Portugal –This year it appears that England is not represented at the event in Spain – the probable reason is cost because it’s around £2000 what with accommodation, flights etc. If you can raise a club team get on to the Angling Trust.

 

Alan Yates New Years Sea Fishing Diary

Alan-Rickards-dab

Folkestone sea angler, Alan Rickards with a 1lb plus dab from Folkestone pier

It’s odd how the New Year brings renewed interest and optimism to sea anglers – Suddenly the match entries are up and anglers are out on the local beaches and piers – Its all that new sea fishing tackle from Christmas to try I suppose. But the bad news is that the enthusiasm is short lived – The end of January, February and March are the worst months of the year for shore sea angling around the UK in general and the reason is that most species move away from the shore to spawn and all that are left are the tiddlers that cannot spawn and the few species like flounders, dabs  and rockling that spawn closer to shore. It’s a time when tiddlers are it and no amount of imagination can conjure up a big cod on many venues let alone a double calamari squid!  In the boats it’s a different matter with the chance of a very big fish from some of the wreck fishing port when the weather allows a long range wreck to be reached.

Sadly most shore anglers give up until spring, whilst a few hardy souls and the matchmen fish on through the worst of the weather. I must admit it’s a time of year I enjoy – it’s probably the challenge of getting a bite that does it for me and because it’s mostly small fish you get to appreciate what you have and make the most of it.

Typical February fishing gear is a lighter match rod, 12lb line or braid on a fixed spool, wire booms which allow you to fish lighter hook snoods tangle free, more beads and sequins and smaller hooks, Catching the smaller mouthed species may not be enjoyable in terms of the fight they put up, but the difficulty of catching them does it for me. Obviously it’s not so much fun if you are not fishing a competition although the challenge to get a bite, any bite can be addictive.

Talking about where fishing is going, it is so bad in places and at times it is impossible to ignore who is to blame. The greedy commercial fishermen have all but decimated our seas and no amount of bull from them about there being plenty of fish around will alter the fact that I am not alone in NOT being able to catch anything worth landed, especially in the winter and in terms of cod! Sea angling, especially from the shore is DIRE and yet millions of us in the UK continue to fish.  That’s why I believe that no matter where the fishing goes there will always be anglers who will make the most of the smallest fish – you only have to look at the Continent to see that.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs DEFRA via the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and the Inshore Fishery Conservation Authority (IFCA) recently produced the result of their 2012 sea angling survey of England. The document makes interesting reading and its like will eventually put an end to the commercial exploitation of our sea by commercially fishermen as it is gradually realised that sport angling produces more revenue and leisure time activity for the nation than commercial fishing. What’s more because fish caught on a hook  can be returned and caught again and again the revenue etc is ongoing and continuous unlike the commercial fishing which even kills the undersized fish it catches and has already wiped out most of the prime fish species.

The survey estimates there are 884,000 sea anglers in England, with 2% of all adults going sea angling. These anglers make a significant contribution to the economy – in 2012, sea anglers resident in England spent £1.23 billion on the sport, equivalent to £831 million direct spend once imports and taxes had been excluded. This supported 10,400 full-time equivalent jobs and almost £360 million. Taking indirect and induced effects into account, sea angling supported £2.1 billion of total spending, a total of over 23,600 jobs, and almost £980 million.

The survey also found that sea angling also has important social and well-being benefits including providing relaxation, physical exercise, and a route for socialising. And that anglers felt that improving fish stocks was the most important factor that would increase participation in sea angling.

Almost 4 million days of sea angling were recorded over the year. Shore fishing was the most common type of sea angling – almost 3 million angler-days compared with 1 million for private or rented boats and 0.1 million on charter boats. Anglers had most success on charter boats, catching 10 fish per day on average compared with around 5 from private boats and only 2 from the shore.

The most common species caught, by number, were mackerel and whiting. Shore anglers released around 75% of the fish caught, many of which were undersized, and boat anglers released around 50% of their fish.

Remember the survey was just sea angling in England.

For a full copy of the Survey:  www.seaangling2012.org.uk

The storms are raging as I write have closed several of the popular piers in my region. Dover Admiralty pier which has been the best pier for a shore cod over the last decade has been closed for all of the cod season and is not expected to reopen until the end of January. Even “indestructible” Folkestone pier suffered damage in the current maelstrom with tarmac ripped up and railings smashed. Deal pier has a catalogue of closure during the storms and worse may be yet to come, whilst a similar fate awaits Dover breakwater. All this suggests that the winter weather is worsening annually, although it’s fair to say that materials and repairs are not of the quality they were when most of the older piers were built and that Health and Safety has resulted in some unwarranted and unnecessary closures (in many anglers opinions)

AND it’s not all doom and gloom for the piers – Hasting pier repairs are starting and I for one look forward to the return of the Hastings three day pier festival  in the future.

Picture above: Folkestone sea angler, Alan Rickards with a 1lb plus dab from Folkestone pier – its dab time, so remember to add a few beads and sequins to your hook snoods and don’t through away that lugworm, next week wnen its stickie it will be deadly for dabs!

Wishing all a Happy New Year

Alan Yates

Rare, freaky looking fish caught Sea Fishing!

Long-Nose Cmaera

A freakishly looking fish which is said to live over 900 meters below the oceans surface has been snagged by the Nunavut fishing boat is only the second of it’s kind ever recorded near the Hudson Strait, Canada. 

This extremely rare and weird looking fish caused some confusion when it was actually caught but researches have identified it as a super rare long-nosed Chimaera. With so little research undertaken on this species of the Chimaera not a lot is known about their feeding habits or living quarters. It’s assumed these fish live well out of range of human contact in depths between 900 and 2000 meters. The Chimarea is not something you’re likely to hook with your sea fishing tackle!

Nigel Hussey from the University of Windsor, identified the fish as indeed the Chimaera. It was first thought that it was a Goblin shark, a fish which is equally as odd and also as rare. The Chimaera is one of the world’s oldest species of fish which goes by various names including ‘ratfish, rabbitfish, and the coincidental – ghost shark’. But they aren’t sharks. The group branched off from sharks, its closest relative, around 400 million years ago and have remained a distinct, and distinctly odd, lineage ever since and have been basically unchanged since they shared the Earth with dinosaurs.

Like sharks and rays, Chimaeras have a skeleton made of cartilage.

With a long nose, menacing mouth, a venomous spine and a gelatinous grey body the fish is one only to be talked of in spooky sea tails along side those of the giant squid, but maybe not so scary. The Chimaera is largely restricted to deep ocean waters, putting it out of reach of most fishermen and scientists. For these reasons the creature is poorly studied and understood.