Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Oct/Nov 10

A Sea Angler magazine trip to fish against the Sefton Sea Angling Club in the River Mersey saw the river back in form with lots of codling from the promenade stretch at Otterspool. Some were up to 40cm, but the smaller fish are the good news because they herald a recharge of this productive cod sanctuary for next year. Read how the match went and how I got on using one of the new TF Gear Delta Beachcasters in the next issue of Sea Angler magazine. Before I leave Liverpool, what a change since the scousers obtained City status – everywhere I went it was carpet mown lawns, spotlessly clean streets and buildings, no litter and the tweeist litter bins I have ever seen, I thought I was in the west end of London.

Busy, busy this month with an issue of the magazine to finish, plus lots of  consultant work, but I hope to get out fishing more with reports of bigger cod increasing from the boats fishing off Kent. One thing I did manage time for this week was a winter tackle box revamp – out when the feathered lures and floats, and in went the 7oz fixed wire grip leads, 30lb snood line, and I managed time to reload the reels with 15lb Nano Mist mono – never liked red line before but they tell me it is the first colour of the spectrum to vanish underwater.

The World championships result from South Africa came as something of a shock, with all the home teams beaten by Ireland. Now in recent years Ireland has been the butt of many jokes in international sea angling circles with their antiquated team selection, but this year they came up trumps, sending a team of sea anglers whose laid back fishing skills paid off big time. Whilst the big guns of England and Wales, packed full of star names and ex world champions charged around catching single fish quickly, Ireland fished at a slower pace taking longer between casts and came out on top by catching two and three fish a chuck instead of one. A lesson for all anglers, that angling can never be taken for granted. Take a 10.3 second 100 metres sprinter – never beaten by anyone with a lesser time, but in fishing the aged can beat the young, the ladies the men and for those youthful England lads who struggled to comprehend the Irish victory, my consolations. BUT; because angling is what it is, when you are sixty plus years old you will be able to beat anyone, even Usane Bolt!  Congratulations to the Irish and individual World champion John O’Brien, and also to my son Richard who  – on his first cap – managed to finish top of the English team in ninth place overall.

Hard luck of the championships was Wallsend ace lady sea angler, Pauline Ferry, who landed a big fish only for the line to break as it was beached and, typical of those over zealous CIPS stewards and officials, her fish was disqualified doing her out of a medal. As a Spurs fan I know the feeling!

I got a fleeting glimpse of another new beach casting multiplier reels this week, it was a new model from Akios aimed at the tournament field which includes the option of a beach fishing conversion via a power handle. A one block aluminium frame frame allowed the reel to sit as low as possible on the rod seat for maximum thumb grip and casting control, the reel includes the same magnetic nobbly brake controls as on the TF Gear models.

Have you noticed how cold the evenings are getting? Yes winter is looming, I mean real winter, with rain like stair rods and a wind chill that freezes nuts. In a few weeks the lesser winter anglers start to drift away from the beach and only the hardy remain to face the elements, as well as cope with an ever decreasing supply of lugworms. I get the hump when I hear sea anglers moaning about the price of bait or small lugworms – tell you what, YOU get out at dawn with a pump or fork and dig bait and you will soon realise just how difficult it is to dig enough to make a living. Expect a price hike in the coming weeks and be grateful if you get your hands on a few score!
For those of you that continue to fish, the rewards are often the best cod fishing of the year so wrap up warm in a quality waterproof, the new TF Gear Delta Marine two piece with the option of a smock top is now available. Its fleece lined and produced in a Teflon coated material which expels water like a ducks back!

Winter Barbel Fishing

When I was a kid (and yes, I know what you’re thinking but it wasn’t that long ago!) it was generally accepted that the barbel hibernated in the winter. The standard practise was to fish for barbel in the summer and autumn and then hang the fishing rods up until the following June. Eventually, the thinking changed and we began to realise that not only are barbel a good target in the winter, they are also in their best condition. I think it was fishing on the Severn that persuaded people: a few late autumn matches were won with ‘bonus’ barbel caught by legering a big lump of meat down the edge in a flood. Pretty soon anglers started adopting the same tactic in the winter and hey presto we were suddenlty all year round barbel anglers….

Living as I do near the river I often get the chance to play around with barbel baits and tactics. Many years ago I got a new rod for christmas and I was desperate to try it out so, while my mom was stuffing turkey and the rest of the world was opening presents, I snuck off up the river and nailed my one and only christmas day whisker in less than an hour on a big lump of meat. When you know a river really well such things are possible and so too are endless possibilities to try out new fishing baits and ideas. It was on the Severn, for instance, that I invented the new infamous ‘time bomb’ method using an open ended feeder stuffed with pellet groundbait and boilies/pellets – an approach that has changed the way anglers fish the river irrevocably.

The middle Severn was also the place where I played around with boilies when formulating the amino active CSL boilie that is now a flagship product in the TF-Gear range. Amino Active CSL is basically a commercial version of a home-made boilie I had been using for a number of years to catch barbel. Amino active is one of those rare baits that not only works the first time you use it but carries on getting better the more of it you put in over a period of time. That’s because the base mix (food value) of the boilie is naturally strong whilst the flavour label (an essential oil) is very subtle. It’s my experience with barbel (and other species, actually) that baits heavily laced with flavour never catch fish for very long.

People often ask me how to fish the river barbel given the success of pellets. ‘Have the pellets blown?’ they ask. The answer is yes and no. On the heavily fished stretches of river you can forget about using great big halibut pellets on the hook – the barbel have wised up to them. A few small pellets in the feeder or bag (3-4mm) jobs will help to attract the fish but keep the free pellets at a low level and instead stuff the feeder with a mixture of mini pellets, Crunchy Fish groundbait and broken amino active CSL boilie with the edge nicked off (this releases the subtle aroma that barbel will home in on). Using this combination I feel confident of catching barbel anywhere on stretches of river ranging from easy to difficult.

Of course, no bait will work unless you use it in the right swim and in the right conditions. In winter, the conditions that you are looking for are rising or stable water temperatures with the river temperature at four degrees or more. Don’t worry about the colour – I’ve caught barbel in rivers so dirty that visibality is reduced to just a few centimeters. Quite how the barbel manage to sniff the bait out in chocolate coloured water amazes me sometimes but they do.

New approach for the New year?

When winter pays a visit to the lake I’m fishing, the water almost overnight becomes as clear as glass making me pay some thought to the line on my spools. When choosing line I soon came to realise you have to have a good look around as there are so many to choose from. I’ve been using Xline for some time now and I wanted a change so I decided to look at red mist line from TF Gear.

After a fair amount of research on the product and discovering that red is the first tone to disappear in the colour spectrum, making red mist almost invisible in water, I was more interested in giving it a chance and ordered my sample. When it turned up I was very impressed, a nice smooth silky feel to the line and a good knot hold I soon poured hot water into a bucket and dropped the spool of line in there for 10 minutes, getting rid of any memory in the line. Red may not be the first of choices for a ‘serious’ carp angler and definitely goes against the norm but slowly it is tempting more and more of us into giving it a chance, and why not? Changing your fishing tackle can bring great success.

After being convinced to put my waders on and half freeze to death, during a recent winter session, and stand in the lake for that prize picture I was intrigued as to what kind of temperature the water itself was. This gave me the idea of pinching the ray temp gun out of my husband’s kitchen and having a built in laser it has proven to be extremely accurate in the lake each time I go fishing and more importantly each time I have landed a fish. This is beginning to help me build up a good picture of the year to come and hopefully in time to come help determine the ideal water temperature to catch. I’m sure each lake has its own characteristics and differing reactions to differing water temperatures but never the less spending short periods of time researching a water could pay off greatly in the long run.