Category: Sea Fishing Talk

Feedback should be welcomed in any form

Firstly, I would like to thank those that have been kind enough to comment on my recent article that explores the addictive world of lure fishing. It was a very personal exercise, very much a labour of love that I spent a couple of months on trying to make sure it clearly articulated the right message so to get such positive feedback is really pleasing. Being a bit of a perfectionist I have still spotted a couple of typos that I need to correct – I still find it amzing that despite 101 proof reads they still slip through. I guess sometimes when you are that involved in it and have read it so many times that you get to a point that you just can’t see them anymore.

Although the comments on the article were all so positive I would also encourage everyone who takes the time to read this blog especially or any of the articles to be really honest with their views when commenting. If you disagree with what’s written, have a different view, or hell feel down right offended by something then speak up. It stirs up lively debate, provides a balanced perspective on things and personally helps me guage what’s hot and what’s not in terms of topics to write about. I’m sure Nath won’t mind me saying on his behalf that he too welcomes any comments on any facet of the site, afterall by doing so you are helping to shape the future direction of SWSF.

Continuing the feedback theme, I noticed a couple of threads that have popped up on the forum over the past week or so on the subject. The first related to some frozen bait of questionable quality. If you find yourself receiving less than satisfactory products then you should let the tackle shop know. Any tackle shop owner worth his salt will encourage this so he can correct the situation. Afterall these shops rely very much on word of mouth and regular, local support to survive. Anything that might adversely impact their reputation should be a high priority because if word gets out that they are consistently flogging naff stuff then they are in big trouble.

I would always give the shop the benefit of the doubt by letting them know discretely, either by phoning them or going in. They will more than likely either refund you or at the very least replace the product. I get the feeling that some anglers are reluctant to provide less positive feedback and I don’t know why it is. Perhaps they feel intimidated by the masses of tackle shop “groupies” that hang around the shop doing nothing but get in the way or perhaps the shop doesn’t give the impression that feedback would be welcomed.

 

My message is simple:

Tackle Shops – get rid of the “groupies”. They don’t boost your profits, they create an uncomfortable atmosphere and they deplete your tea and coffee stocks. (and by “groupies” I don’t mean the chaps that stop for a quick 10 minute chat and a cuppa whilst buying something, i’m talking about the ones that loiter for what seems like hours.)

Anglers – get over your inhibitions. Tackle shop owners are not some scary beast, they ARE approachable. If you do get a negative reaction then I would recommend relieving them of your custom. Trust me, if enough people did the same then they would soon change their ways.

 

The second thread relating to product feedback touched on (amongst other things) poor quality treble hooks that come fitted on certain plugs. These have to be replaced straight away before the lure even hits the water to ensure you don’t run the risk of losing a fish. This problem is widely known so why is it still happening? As someone rightly pointed out, if it is such a regular issue then the tackle company should take note and do something about it. The trouble is – how do you let them know?

My own personal opinion is that you should take a two-pronged approach. Firstly, the shop or online website that flogged you the lure should be accountable for the products that they sell so feedback should be provided to them. They in turn need to get on at the tackle company representative to drive change. If the product remains defective then the outlet should stop stocking it.

 

Secondly, as the consumer you can always contact the tackle company direct, either by writing, email or perhaps calling their customer service line if they have one. If enough people do this then hopefully something will happen. A complaint can lead in general to some form of ex-gratia payment (compensation). We as consumers have to create a situation where the cost of any reparation exceeds the cost of fixing the problem. When that happens then companies generally start pulling their finger out. Reputation is everything out in the marketplace and class action speaks loudly.

Cloaks, Daggers & Secret Squirrels

SECRET_SQUIRRELWhilst some folk love to share the joy of a fruitful fishing mark with buddies, others protect them as if their life depended on it. So where do YOU stand? To share, or not to share? That’s the question.

Just how open would you be with a special venue? Read more

Ragworm get car sick, fact!

Ok, I may be exaggerating a little bit but after 6 days of successfully and carefully making sure my left over stash of ragworm was in peak condition, on the off chance I was going to be able to wet a line at some point over the weekend, tragedy struck and they perished suddenly. I mean one minute I was gently loading them in the car and less than three hours later I was burying them at sea with full military honours. I don’t know what happened (it may have something to do with being exposed to temperatures of circa -3C in the boot of my car), but the contents of my bait box looked like some twice regurgitated cat sick!

What added insult to injury was my pathetic efforts of grabbing a quick session. I nipped down to the floating pontoon at North Corner but within half an hour I was back in the car and fleeing west across the border, tail between my legs. An ebbing tide on the Tamar, coupled with every tree, shrub and type weed, makes for very difficult fishing. It truly was the definition of bleak!

 

Want to know what to do with that freshly caught cod?

Saturday may have been a write off as far as attempted fishing went but it was far from a lost cause. I managed to add a quality recipe to the repetoire, courtesy of Tanners restaurant in Plymouth.

Roasted line-caught cod, linguine, chorizo, wilted spinach

and a crab butter reduction

It was superb! The fish flaked perfectly, the skin was nice and crispy, and chorizo just works with fish full stop. I’m definitely going to pull that one out the locker next time i’m trying to impress someone special.

 

I heard something really interesting………

I overheard a conversation in my local on Friday night that I thought was pretty interesting. Two gentlemen were discussing the promising signs that this will be a great winter cod season. One commented that the sprats had been driven up the Bristol Channel and that the cod were gorging themselves on them. To be surprise he wasn’t really that upbeat about it, I had always thought the presence of bait fish like sprat was a good sign but he went on to expand his view further.

He was of the opinion that the sprats would actually negatively impact the cod fishing. They tend to exist closer to the surface and as such the cod are chasing them upwards, as in away from the bottom. So by that token if you were ledgering a big lug, squid, crab etc bait hard on the bottom then you would actually be off the fish. Let’s face it, with the tidal pull of the BC, anchoring your bait on the bottom is the only way to go. I’m not sure how factual and accurate the guys theory is but there may be some merit to it I suppose.

 

Pretty much the east coast of Canada!

As I intimated in a post last week I did quite a bit of driving over the weekend. As well as travelling back to Millbrook, I also took a trip down into bandit country on the Sunday. I wanted to take a few photos for something I have been working on in the background for the site so I went all the way to Cape Cornwall to get them. For those of you who don’t know where it is, think the end of the world and you’re pretty much there. Thank God the snaps came out alright and they made the 250 mile trip back “up north” worth it. I hope to finish the aforementioned feature sometime this week, so watch this space.

Midweek musings

This week is more of the same – lots going on, if I compared it to spinning plates you’d probably get the picture……..

 

Don’t look in the fridge!

On the middle shelf of my fridge, next to the microwave meals and just behind an industrial sized lump of cheese lurks one of those plastic maggot boxes. Instead of maggots, contained within it is a supply of grade A ragworm that I am tenderly caring for in a bid to keep them fresh and wriggling ahead of this weekend.

I had about half a pound of ragworm left over from my Sunday session on the Bristol Channel. I had opted to hammer the lugworm instead but given the big fat blank that may have been a big fat misjudgement!

So far, so good, they are in prime condition – I have made sure that the bait box is not to crammed and they get a daily drink of water and it seems to be working. Don’t worry I won’t be getting too attached as they have a date with a size 1/0 at some point this weekend!

One thing I would mention though was the amount of peat I had to rinse off when I was prepping them for the fridge. It was a little bit excessive and must have bulked out the weight meaning I didn’t get absolute value for money. It’s a subject that Nath and I had a brief conversation about a few weeks ago and it’s something that might get touched upon further at a later date.

 

Another manic weekend!

This coming weekend is going to be another savage one with a lot of travelling around. I really need to get myself a secretary to organise my diary as I have somehow managed to commit myself to so many things in such as small amount of time.

Saturday afternoon I am playing hockey in the middle of Wiltshire before braving the M4 and M5 at warp speed to make it down to Plymouth in time to go out for an early dinner to celebrate my old man’s 60th. I’m especially looking forward to some posh gnosh at Tanners!

I then thought that given that I was pretty much on the Barbican already I would slink off after dinner to Elphinstone Carpark for a sly dangle for a couple of hours.  Afterall, my family wil be going home relatively early as my father is now properly past it and he does need his rest. I do also have some cracking (hopefully still alive) ragworm to use up.

Sunday will mean an early start as I am then travelling on to somewhere in the darkest depths of Cornwall to meet up with a lure fishing buddy to see him in action, take a few photos and ask a few probing questions for something I am working on at the moment for this site. Unfortunately I doubt that I will have a chance to have a fish as time is a little but thin as it’ll then be back in the car to travel back up to Wiltshire.

 

Christmas is coming!

It’s crazy that this year has gone so quickly – it only seems a couple of months ago that we were entering summer full of optimism after a pretty miserable winter packed full of blank sessions. At least this year the signs are positive for a busy winter’s fishing.

Anyway, in view of Christmas being just around the corner and 2011 hurtling towards us at warp speed I think it’s a great idea that SWSF is hosting one last event in 2010. If you haven’t seen the banner already adorning the site, check out the forum to see the details for the SWSF Christmas Meet at Mountbatten Pier on Saturday 18th December 2010.

It will be a very informal affair, no competition just a chance to meet fellow site members, have a fish and some great banter. I’m really looking forward to it as believe it or not, I have never fished Mountbatten before. Yes, I know it’s not the most glamourous of locations but it can hold plenty of anglers and you never know, it may throw something decent up. Hopefully you can make it!

Changing my ways

I have been struggling to appreciate the attraction of certain niche facets of fishing and I certainly haven’t been able to understand why other folk pursue certain species (which includes mullet!) as enthusiastically as they do. The fact that I am aware of this must be a good thing and I am determined to change my ways.

I have decided that I am going to give a few of the things that I have dismissed so prematurely a fair crack by getting out giving them a go and speaking to other people who do like them to get into their mindset. At least that way I will be able to make an informed personal decision rather than just taking an ignorant prejudicial stance. Think of it as a kind of New Years resolution come early and a bit of a fresh start.

To start off with, over the coming months I will be exploring how easy it is for a novice angler to get into general lure fishing. It is an area that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with and that I have made rather derogatory comments about previously. I have branded it a playground for elitist anglers and general tackle tarts which on the face of it may seem a little harsh. It is something I have done a little bit of albeit I have been reluctant to embrace it fully. I am determined to find out whether my previous negative convictions still stand or whether I will find out that I am way off the mark.

Regardless of the outcome, I am sure that the journey will be an interesting one and I fully intend to write up my findings, both from a personal experience perspective and many of the inevitable useful facts and tips that I will glean from talking to folk more knowledgeable than I.

Lure fishing is definitely a rapidly growing area with more and more anglers taking note and trying it, so my own findings aside I hope that people will be able to take something from whatever articles or blog posts come out of this project.

Good news! South-west water quality is on the rise

Results announced by Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) earlier this month highlight a record number of beaches in the south-west reached the highest European standards in bathing water quality this year (175 out of 191 – 92%).

The bathing water quality results also show that 186 out of 191 (97.3%) of the bathing waters around the south west peninsula passed the minimum standard.

(For information – There are two sets of standards in reporting bathing water quality: the basic mandatory standard that must be met and the hgher guideline standards which are 20 times more stringent.)

The 5 locations that failed to meet the minimum standard are:

  • Devon: Seaton, Mothecombe and Instow
  • Dorset: Lyme Regis (Church)
  • Cornwall: Seaton

 

I know that the tests conducted by the EA on behalf of Defra relate to bathing water standards but surely this has to be a good thing for fish as well. I’m no expert environmentalist or marine biologist but higher quality clean water to me should mean a healthy eco-system resulting in an increasing abundance of food sources which should also mean better fishing surely?

It’s interesting to see the 5 locations that failed ot meet the required minimum standards as they are all relatively noted fishing marks in the south-west. It is no wonder that some of them failed the tests as a couple suffer from sewage outfalls – particularly Mothecombe. A quick Google search directed me to an article in The Times that stated that Mothecombe had suffered from 120 sewage spills in 2009 alone!

I acknowledge that sewage outfalls and supposedly “fresh water” pipes can attract some magnificent specimens, particularly the likes of mullet. I for one however would much rather be fishing into clean, unpolluted water so I welcome this announced improvement in water quality.

I’d be interested to know your views  – does a report like this influence your choice of marks? Would you be comfortable eating a fish taken from a place that failed to meet minimum water quality standards? Feel free to comment below.

Properly preparing for winter

My winter seasons usually focus on cod fishing, generally off Chesil beach. In recent years I must admit I have struggled a little in comparison to some absolute bumper sessions as I was growing up. However, decent hauls of early codling are causing a growing sense of cautious optimism that this could be a really good season. I hope so as although I am well and truly over the novelty of catching shore caught cod, I am hopeful of landing that special double figure cod and in the process set a new personal best.

One thing that I really need to crack on with if I am going to be in a position to bag a specimen cod is a whole heap of rig making. My trace wallets are pretty sparce at the moment and anyhow my winter traces do differ from my spring and summer ones. The main feature will be big hooks, to hold big baits to tempt those big mouthed cod (a lot bigger than the 4 inch one in the photo I hope!) but I do have two rigs that I am going to focus on.

One is a simple single bomber rig with a longish flowing snood ending with a size 2 hook and a size 5/0 underneath. The premise is that you bait the smaller hook with a little bit of worm or squid hoping for a whiting, pouting or a poor cod that will act as a tempting morsel for the predatory cod.

The other one is just a bog standard pennel pulley with again 5/0 hooks perfect for holding multiple squid, massive lugworm or large peeler/hermit crab baits. I am also planning to make up some extra special squid bombs – i.e. squid bodies filled with lots of juicy goodness, but I’ll cover that at a later date.

My other winter quarry will be flounder and I shall be camping out on the banks of a few local estuaries to try and bag a few. I’ve had some joy in the past on flounder but I have never breached the 2lb mark so that is the intial target in December and January and one that should be eminently attainable.

My preferred rig is a simple wishbone paternoster rig with size 1 or 2 hooks – I will make a few of these up, some with floating beads and some without but one thing that will be ever present will be copious amounts of bling.

I usually opt for plain ragworm or maddies but this year I may dabble with peeler crab. I am kind of loathed to spend so much hard earned cash on bait just to target flounder but just yesterday someone did tell me that the bigger fish will likely succome to crab. As such I think I will have to give it a go if I am to achieve my goals.

My OCD has kicked in and I have made a list of all the other things I need to do before I go on a mammoth cod session in the coming months – refueling the tilly lamp and refill canister, replace my head lamp, replace the line on my reels, make the rigs as I mentioned, treat my beach buddy with waterproof dressing (something I do every 5 years or so). It’s certainly enough to keep me busy, that’s for sure!

Elementary my dear Watson

There was one catch report this week that really caught my attention, it was about a bumper session that Thomassio had on the bass. You can check it out on the forum, it’s a cracking read but come on back when you’re done with it so I can explain further.

 Don’t you wish that you could have a session like that? Tom kept the location to himself but it was packed full of information ready for the taking if you just applied a little rational thinking. Let me run through what I took from the report and I think you’ll see that “where were you?” is actually the last question you need to ask.

Ok, in a Lloyd Grossman kind of way, let’s look at the facts.

 

Target species – well that’s pretty obvious; it’s easy so far isn’t it?

Kit and approach – it’s there in the report, light gear, smallish reel loaded with braid. I can picture in my mind using either a bass rod or perhaps a decent mullet/carp rod so you’re probably looking at around a 4oz weight as an absolute maximum. Given that it was touch ledgering, i’d wager it would be on the lighter side though. In terms of rig, I have no idea what Tom used but I’m sure you wouldn’t go far wrong with a running ledger or even a simple flapper rig.

Bait – if the target species is bass and the method is ledgering, I’m thinking perhaps lugworm, peeler or live/frozen sandeel. I would opt for the first two given the time of year, live eel are scarce and frozen eel is an option of course but I definitely think either lug or crab would produce the best results.

Mark – this is the bit that really interested me. The first thing that was evident to me was that it was a rock mark after all Tom did use a rock pool as his keep net.

With it being light gear, touch ledgering and using braid, I can’t really see it being a particularly snaggy or weedy mark. So my gut feeling would be that it is a rock mark but fishing onto cleanish, perhaps sandy, ground. One of those places where there are plenty of gullies that the bass like to explore for food.

 

Now I could be totally wide of the mark with my reasoning but it makes real sense to me. I can now take all the facts above, I can then have a good think about whether the established “profile” can be applied to any of my local marks. Off the top of my head I can certainly think a couple that could fish similarly to Tom’s mark and would certainly be worth trying. It also sounds to me like it’s the kind of mark where lure fishing would go down a treat as well.

I think Sherlock Holmes would be proud!

All about B.A.S.S.

I want to lay out the facts objectively as a starting point for everyone to add their comments (myself included!) to build up a picture of the organisation as seen through the eyes of actual anglers. Hopefully then other folk can then weigh up all the information and make an informed decision of whether to pledge their support by subscribing and becoming a member.

Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society (BASS)

The Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society (BASS) is both a fishing club and an organisation dedicated to the conservation of the European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax). The Society believes that its members have the ability to encourage the conservation, research and protection of the European sea bass, as well as, to improve and educate others in the techniques of angling for this premier sporting fish.

Background

BASS was formed in March 1973 following a meeting of bass anglers interested in fishing for and conserving this wonderful species. The majority of their members live in the UK, although we do have a few members living in Eire and other parts of Europe. Our members come from all walks of life.

Key Statement

BASS encourages its members to fish in a sportsmanlike manner. They are requested to observe the minimum size limit of 18ins (45cm) recommended by the Committee in those instances when the occasional fish is killed for the table. Members are recommended to take no more than two fish per day, with a maximum of 10 fish per year. Many members release all the bass they catch.

Membership (and some benefits of subscription)

Membership of BASS is open to everyone, who shares their aspirations for the enjoyment and conservation of this beautiful fish. Members receive a quarterly magazine and are welcome to attend any fish-ins and to submit specimen captures for trophies. Family membership is available, whereby any number of named individuals living as a family unit at the same address, will be treated as members, but will receive only one copy of the magazine between them each quarter. Clubs may affiliate to BASS and will receive one copy of the magazine quarterly.

The BASS membership year runs from 1 January to 31 December, but new members are welcome to join at any time, and BASS will endeavour to supply the appropriate back issues of the magazine. [NB – new members joining after 31 October are given membership for the remainder of the society year in which they join, PLUS the following 12 months.

Current subscription rates are:

  • Individual (Adult): £20.00
  • Family, Club or Organisation: £30.00
  • Senior Citizen (65 yrs or over): £15.00
  • Junior (15 yrs or under): £10.00

 

Please note that much of the content in this post has been taken directly off the BASS website

Do you have an opinion on BASS? Are you a member? Do you feel they do a good job and how influential do you feel they are? Feel free to comment below…….

One eye on the wildcard

 I am especially interested in the “wildcard” prize for the most unusual species. In the past it would generally go to something like a trigger fish or perhaps a red mullet but no longer. Whether it’s down to global warming or perhaps it’s just a benefit of fishing on the edge of a gulf stream but we can genuinely hope for something even more exotic. If you don’t want to take my word for it just take a look at two recent British records that were ratified at a British Record (rod-caught) Fish Committee (BRFC) meeting on 17th December 2010.

 

Connemara sucker (Lepadogaster candollei – mini species)

It was caught off the Stone Pier in Weymouth, a mark that I know very well having fished it so many times as a kid. This wierd and wonderful mini species was caught by a Mr Jonathan Trevett and it weighed a whopping 10 grammes! There was no previous record but that might just be down to the fact that nobody had thought of trying to claim the record before. This record took just over 18 months to ratify and no wonder, it must have had the judges in an absolute spin!

Now I like to think I’m ok on my species identification but I won’t lie, I had to Google the Connemara sucker to see what it looked like (photo above). It just goes to show that even the most inconspicuous mark could throw up a special species.

 

Blue Runner (Caranx hippos)

Again a quick scan of the web was needed to check out what this bad boy looked like and it turns out it is more likely to be seen on the Florida Keys. It weighed 2lb 8oz and was caught from the shore on the North Cornwall coast by Mr Nick Rogers .

 

 

If you think 18 months was a long time to confirm a record, this fish was caught on 13th September 2007! I don’t know the mechanics of claiming or confirming but that seems a little long. I know the Angling Trust plays some role in the process including being a point of contact, hosting the records on its website, and having representation on the committee so perhaps that it’s not surprising given some of the comments on the AT in my last post.

Anyway, record claiming problems aside – it just goes to show that we are in the right region to bag something special to take home the “wildcard” award in this years SWSF 2011 year long species hunt. So get involved and sign up now by purchasing your ticket in the SWSF shop – just follow the link.