A mixed month for me with several sea trips, a trout reservoir and a week in France carping. Midsummer and the weather can be tough for fishing in all disciplines and the sea angling tends to get hardest from the shore with the calm, clear water deterring all except mackerel and a few others from coming into the inshore shallows. The angler’s best bet is to take to the deeper rock marks, piers or the boat and for me it was the latter. Currently the smoothhound population is at its best ever with the hounds growing in size and numbers every year. This year Kent is amongst the many UK coasts experiencing a hound invasion. Catches from the beach have included fish to 20lb with 6 for 31kg in a recent event at Beltinge near Herne Bay. Which leads me on to another story..
Shark sighting reports litter the Kent newspapers and the tabloid media this month, after all it is July. Look out for Graham Pullen catching a big one in Cornwall any day now. The amusing thing about these sensationalist reports are that Kent’s sea anglers may have had a hand in it! Recent competitions at Reculver and Beltinge near Herne Bay have produced lots of smoothhounds – these are a true shark which have had a population explosion around the UK in recent years. They are not commercially fished for because they taste rubbish and are labour intensive to skin and pack etc. Anglers return them and so the population has not only increased, but the fish have grown bigger and bigger. Recent catches of hounds, also called Gummy sharks and Gulley sharks because of their lack of teeth are coming from all around the UK with individual fish of 20lb plus (9kg) up to five feet long. During the latest competition at Herne Bay one of the competitors, a well known Kent angler, told a passerby who asked what he was fishing for? “Sharks” he replied. Now the fish are landed measured and returned alive and it’s my bet that the one spotted in the media reports was a returned smoothhound. Whatever, it must be stressed that these fish are harmless and swimming near them the worst that can happen is a nasty suck!!!
Back to my boat trip and that was out of Ramsgate after bass and hounds – You can read the full story in a coming issue of Sea Angler Magazine, but the conclusion of the day was we caught plenty of hounds. Someone asked me how big was mine – Now I don’t know because I very rarely bother weighing fish except in competitions. It was a double and I’m just glad to catch and return them and don’t really keep a tally or personal bests. Although having said that my best carp from the trip to France were both PBs, a 47lb 12oz common and a 45lb 8oz mirror.
Back to the sea and its coming up to that time of year I always label the doldrums – Here in Kent we have had such a fantastic winter, spring and early summer that the doldrums are going to be hard to take. What happens usually is that all the fish swim past us north and for a short period in August the fishing is poor. Eventually when the fish return it’s a bonanza in October and November, I suppose you can’t have it all, but the most sea anglers in my region are hoping that enough of those codling from last year survive to return this autumn. They should be four to five pounds, well big enough to pull the string and some fun fishing ahead.
It’s mackerel time and I have the light gear ready for a few evening trips on the rocks or beach after mackerel – well bass too, but the mackerel are more reliable especially as darkness falls. Any lead headed rubber eel sort of fish shape works, not too big. The savage gear sandeels just are perfect. Fish them on a spinning rod and braid for some really enjoyable sport all be it short lived at dusk.
I’m a bit piddled off with the LRF scene – its getting silly now guys, grown men chasing scorpion fish, etc – It’s just not that bad in the UK, there are plenty of quality sized fish to catch and there is no need to target tiddlers. I am more inclined to think that the LRF style is a great way of fishing for some species with better presentation the key; it beats 6oz sinkers and 70lb leader line. But not to catch the mini species like bullheads and rock cook wrasses, I leave them to the small boys. Get out with your LRF style gear, beef it up a bit too and catch some good sized fish. Wrasse. pollack, bass, mackerel etc – the best angling fun on the planet – Oh and before I go off the subject – Bait is far better than lures for some species so don’t get obsessed with lures!!!!!
I’m up to Northumberland in the coming weeks to oversee the Sea Angler / Penn National Final. It’s being fished at Warkworth beach and includes all of the top sea match anglers in the Country – Worth a visit if you are a shore angler because lots of the competitors will be fishing Continental style with fixed spool reels and light line – It’s a different approach and a bit like LRF with everything scaled down and refined. Check out the range of continental sea fishing rods on the TF Gear website.