I enjoyed a hectic weekend at Amble in Northumberland organising the Sea Angler Magazine Penn National final. Forty qualifiers from all over Britain and Ireland competed in what is essentially sea angling’s major ranking tournament. The full results will be in the next magazine issue, although I can tell you that southern anglers, especially the England and Wales Internationals, did exceptionally well with Cardiff Matchmen Chris Read the overall winner.
Back from the Penn final, my next trip was to fish Folkestone pier which has been closed for repairs for over a year- Work is complete and its opening for the Folkestone Sea Angling Association competitions only at present. The problem being that an open free for all will inevitably produce problems, especially with the mackerel fishing hoards who are considered lacking in any angling etiquette by all.
A sunny day with a light breeze produced a few fish for those at the end of the pier with local angler, Herbie Tyler winning with 9lb 14oz; he included the limit of three dogfish plus twenty pouting. Runner up was John Wells of Hythe fishing on peg two and john landed the biggest fish of the competition, a 3lb 13oz smoothhound taken on crab. I managed a steady third with a few pout and dogfish
Talking to Folkestone SAA Secretary and Treasurer, Robert Harwood Brown about the future of Folkestone pier. He said it is only open for FSAA club competitions at present. However, a meeting with the port authorities is imminent and this will decide, things like access, times and the rules and regulations effecting angling on the pier.
Extensive repairs have taken place with new gates and handrail, a new tarmac surface and safety furniture. Work is ongoing and the pier will be closed for work on the wall in October (Let’s hope not too long because it’s the peak of the cod season)
A number of local anglers have expressed concern that the pier is taking on a drinking culture and that angling will be pushed to the side, especially because the major work has been carried out on the non angling areas, but I can assure all that the officers of the Folkestone SAA have no intention of allowing that to happen.
Staying with piers the next casualty is another Kent pier, the Prince of Wales pier at Dover which will close for a major port development and may not return going on Dover Harbour Boards record of public access. The Prince of Wales pier is the only pier in the South that allows disabled anglers car access to fish the sea wall.
Dover’s Admiralty pier has reopened but there trolleys are barred because of the narrow walkway and so the less able angler has restricted access. Meanwhile Dover breakwater remains closed and it looks like that is it for the venue with the Dover Harbour Board having no intention of ever allowing anglers back!!!!!
With a change in the weather looming shore fishing is set for a major change to Autumn and winter mode and a return of crowded and snaggy venues. Losing terminal tackle is one of the shore sea angling’s major problem areas and nothing is worse than finding your gear in a snag just when the fish are starting to bite. A major cause around the UK shore, especially in the popular sea angling piers and beaches is that anglers uses heavy (60lb +) leaders to help them cast long with thin mainline (15lb). Obviously once the lead or terminal tackle is snagged the main line will always break, usually at the leader knot leaving leader, rig and lead to increase the snag. This over four decades or more has created lots of huge snags around many parts of the coast and because mono degrades very slowly these snags stay in place. On some venues regular dredging clears them, whilst on the most volatile storm beaches the weather breaks them up or buries them, but they remain a big problem.
No matter what tackle you chose to use for fishing over snags of any kind and that includes rocks and weed as well as line snag, the first essential is choosing where to fish to avoid the snag and that vital speedy tackle retrieve.
Watch an experienced rock angler and he will make the fishing look easy, but this is because he will first select his fishing spot based on his experience of the venue’s snags. Have you even looked at low water to see what you are fishing over? A few yards along the venue can make a difference to hitting the worse snags or missing them completely, plus you location in terms of closeness to the water’s edge creates a different line angle to the any snag and a high position will give you a steeper angle of retrieve which often does the trick. Add to that that there will be a difference between fishing the flood and ebb tide and either can increase or decrease a snag’s ferocity.
A failure to grip the rod and reel firmly so that the reel can be cranked at maximum speed is a major failing on many, especially novices. Too many believe that all they have to do is clip on some gimmicky snag-avoiding accessory and all the problems will be solved. But far more effective is to pick the rod up and slowly wind the rod down to point at the lead and then with that one lifting movement lift and reel as fast as you can, keeping the rod tip as high as possible. Fixed spools which have faster initial retrieve speed than the empty spooled multiplier, are gaining popularity on snaggy venues.
If your sea fishing tackle is snagged then there are several things you can do to try to escape. First change the angle of the line to the snag, walk down or uptide and try a gradual pull, or get higher up so that the angle to the snag is more acute, this often works. If that fails then try letting the line slack or pulling sharply on the rod tip. Take care with the latter because if you get over violent with the rod tip you may break it
When you are so badly snagged that there is no alternative, but to pull for a break by pointing the rod at the snag and make sure the spool of the reel is not being pressured by wrapping the line around the rod butt. Straining the spool of the reel can result in the spindle bending and the spool jamming. Walk backwards slowly tensioning the line to its limit gradually. This can sometime move a stop knot on the rig causing it to slip and jump free. Finally, fishing amongst snags is about losing tackle, it’s an inevitability of this type of sea angling that you will lose a rig sooner than later. So always have plenty of rigs and a spare reel available and if you are consistently snagged “MOVE” it’s amazing how many anglers ignore this way to avoid snags!