Fishing for Plaice – Bling it up!

The first few weeks of spring usually brings a calm sea, clearing waters, sunshine and plaice – It’s time to break out the bling, decorate those hook snoods with beads, sequins and the like and go in search of plaice.

There is something about catching plaice that stirs the imagination, the rod tip nods and

on the strike and retrieve resistance builds, the tackle seems to hang deep and then the lead surfaces ahead of a big flattie using every ounce of its width and strength to stay on the sea bed. They say plaice don’t fight, but catch one on light sea fishing equipment from the pier, beach or boat and they will prove that opinion wrong!

Giant dustbin lid plaice are a catch of the past and the species has been a real victim of over commercial fishing. As a popular plate fish its numbers have been thoughtlessly plundered, whilst the average size has fallen to under 1lb nationally. But, the good news is that during the last few years, especially through the English Channel and to the west, a quota limit seems to have allowed plaice numbers to increase slightly and the fish have returned in numbers.

I would say where to fish for plaice is more important to the shore angler than how – Just a few regions consistently produce the species in numbers. The best plaice fishing venues are mostly through the English Channel and up the Irish Sea with a few specimens taken from the shore line through north of Cumbria. The species is also not so prolific in the North Sea although several piers and harbours in the North East do produce regular pockets.

The best plaice fishing venues

Beaches around the Channel Island
South Hams beach
Slapton and Beesands in Devon
Chesil beach in Dorset with Cogden and Abbotsbury consistent
Poole harbour produces the odd specimen, especially the dinghies

Eastney, Southsea and Lee on Solent in the Solent in Hampshire are the southern plaice hot spots and although the species thins out toward Sussex and Kent the odd specimen is always possible from venues at Pevensey Bay, Dover Breakwater and the Prince of Wales pier at Dover.

On the Irish Sea side of the UK plaice are few in the Bristol Channel, but the North Wales estuaries like the Dee at Mostyn and Greenfields and the Mersey at Birkenhead and further

to the North west venues around Fleetwood and Morecambe Bay in Lancs produce good catches, whilst north west plaice marks include the beaches between Workington and Maryport at Blackbank, Redbank and Grasslot, The Whitehaven piers and further north the western Scottish Lochs.

You will find plaice on a variety of sea beds from plain sand and mud to sand and shell grit banks to patches of sand between rocks, weed and pea mussel beds. The best terminal rig for catching them is dependent on the venue with the Wishbone rig an often quoted favourite. Its two hooked design includes bait clips to streamline bait and rig making it suitable for distance casting. This fits the requirements of most plaice venues where the fish are often found at range, but not always. Where long range is not required a one up, one down flapper rig with longish snoods is the alternative.

Plaice have a fairly large mouth, which when extended can engulf a large bait with a size 2 and size 1 long shank Aberdeen the perfect hook size and pattern. These smaller sizes

being easier to remove than the larger sizes should you want to return the fish.
A range of baits will tempt plaice with the marine worms favourite, although location does influence bait choice and although lugworm are considered best by many, in some estuaries where ragworm are more prolific they produce more fish. Other baits that catch plaice regularly include peeler crab, harbour ragworm (maddies) snake white ragworm and a strip of squid which works well from most boat locations.

Plaice are attracted by movement and colour and are renowned for responding to bling, any bling! But don’t forget the basics first – deadly are wriggly ragworm tails and the potent scent of worms and crab juice, make sure that a few worm tails are hanging (Dip the bait in the sea before casting and they will stay intact)

It is the standard when fishing for plaice to add beads, sequins, vanes, spoons, in fact anything that glitters, reflects flutters or moves etc to the hook snood and this without doubt does increase the chance of a plaice taking the bait. More or less anything goes.

Also when shore fishing for plaice it is possible to attract fish to the baits with movement and the attractors by simply lifting the rod tip occasionally, or releasing some line in the tide causes the baits and lures to flutter.


Latin Name: Pleuronectes platessa
Nickname: spottie or red spot.
Minimum legal size: 28cm
Specimen size: Average 2lb depending upon region.
British shore record: 8lb 6z 14drams caught at Southbourne beach, Bournemouth.

ID: Nobbly head. pronounced red, orange spots on top side, chevron white or clear on undersized smooth skin, rounded tail.

Tight lines,

Alan Yates

A short Carp Fishing session with Dave Lane

It’s been a bit of strange few weeks for me since catching that big leather over at Northants. I suddenly found myself without anywhere to fish, a situation I was neither familiar nor particularly happy with.

It would have been the ideal time to start on a winter water, getting a bait established and learning a bit about the fish movements etc while they were still active but as I had nowhere in mind or no tickets in hand I decided to visit a few of the places I have been meaning to try some carp fishing for ages.

The first one of these was my old mate Alan Taylors place over at Ecton, also in Northants.

The Ecton complex is an extremely pretty chain of lakes comprising of three syndicate and one private lake all of which are well established and have many islands and peninsula splitting them up and making them seem smaller than they actually are. As a result of this my first walk around the complex on the Monday morning ended up taking me five hours, mind you I was looking for signs of fish feeding and somewhere to actually angle so I was taking my time.

Eventually though I spotted a couple of fish rolling on the biggest of the lakes, in a channel between a shallow bar and long island, and I decided to load up the carp barrow and make my around to there.

The swim looked hardly fished, probably due to the fact that it was the opposite side of the lake to the track and the swims on the track side could be fished practically from the car.

The bar in front of the swim almost reached the bank and it ran parallel to the bank, a bit like a road going through the swim, the water on top was very shallow so anything hooked would probably have to be netted by wading out to the drop off.

I set up all three rods with yellow pop-ups and fanned them out over the thirty yard gulley between the end of the bar and the long island that made a backdrop to the swim, scattering a fair spread of boilies over the entire area.

Any fish moving through would come across bait and hopefully stay around long enough to find a hook-bait as well.

I waded the landing net out and propped it up on a long bankstick, just on the drop off where the gully started as I was sure this was where I would end up netting the fish but, just to be sure, I set up a second net on the bank as a fail-safe. I always carry at least two nets with me and quite often three, I think they are such an inexpensive item compared to a lot of the kit we carry and having the option to split your rods up in adjacent swims or either side of some bushes etc, improves your chances of multiple catches no end. I love to have one rod on its own waded along the margins with its own net and fishing far more effectively with a short line between the rod tip and the bait.

Anglers who don’t use bivvys or any kind of shelter, regardless of how short the session could be caught out with this temperamental British weather… Kit and clothing will take the brunt if not kept safe and dry. With everything set and the bivvy erected I sat back to wait but as soon as I did the first rod was away. A lively scarp, a bit of well-planned wading and I was soon waddling back with a common of around eighteen pounds in the net, perfect!

Later that evening I had to repeat the whole affair again, only this time it was a mirror of similar size. I was glad I’d had the little bit of practise in the daylight though because I could have easily come unstuck as I stepped off the bar into the slightly deeper margins close to the bank.

The swim died a death after this second fish but I suppose all the paddling about couldn’t have helped much still, two fish from a new water in a one night session wasn’t a bad result and I drove home a happy man.

A Stop Start Winter

Since my last Fishtec blog in autumn, my fishing became very disjointed from October onwards and only really came back to normal in February. The main reason was a succession of health issues within the family, which saw me missing a lot of fishing and only going locally for a few hours when I could get out. Consequently, I was never able to get a proper campaign underway and the results suffered as a result.

The main target of my river fishing was the upper Warks Avon near my home, principally because it is so close and I could be home quickly if need be. Unlike the middle to lower stretches, the chub and barbel of the upper river are fairly modestly sized, 5lb chub and 10lb barbel not being that common, this looked to be the perfect place for a few short coarse fishing sessions. So I made those two weights my initial targets and would go from there. My first few trips produced a few barbel to just over 7lbs and chub to about 4lbs, but the fishing was very slow at times. Blanks were common. Then, in late November, I had my biggest Avon barbel of just over 9lbs plus a chub of 5lb 4ozs ten minutes later. Obviously, these are quite modest fish by Ouse standards but I did feel that I was getting somewhere. Over the next couple of weeks I had another two small barbel, but struck a purple patch with the chub, taking three more five pounders on the bounce. That made four 5lb plus fish in a few weeks and, according to regulars who have fished the stretch for years that is very unusual.

Just after Christmas, I was fishing the lovely crease swim where I had taken my most recent 5lb chub. A large near bank rush bed projects five yards out from the bank, throwing the main flow across to the far bank and creating a really pronounced midriver angled crease. At a steady 5ft depth and smooth gravel bed it is a perfect set up for chub and barbel. I was fishing an 18mm boilie, with a PVA bag of broken boilie pieces impaled on the hook on each cast. My first cast was made around midday but it wasn’t until nearly dark that I had my first serious indication. I don’t count a kamikaze 12oz chub that nearly choked itself on the boilie in mid afternoon! A vicious pull had me on my feet and I soon realised that this was another chub, but what a beauty. It weighed 5lb 7ozs, another very big fish for the Upper Avon. It was my biggest Avon chub by a couple of ounces.

Ten minutes after the recast, I was in again and this time it was obvious that I was connected to a big barbel. That fish gave me a memorable scrap, making the clutch scream more than once, and I was soon netting my first Avon double figure barbel. It weighed 11lb 5ozs and I was absolutely over the moon with it.

After those fish, with all family worries now behind me, I was able to resume my love affair with the Great Ouse. Like waters everywhere, it was painfully low at the back end of the season, and four trips to a stretch where bites are always few and far between, but the fish are big, saw me averaging but one bite a day. And a day means fishing from about mid morning until well after midnight. The previous season I had taken my 7lb 13oz personal best chub from the same stretch, and I was never able to come close to that this time. In all, I landed eight chub, which comprised a baby of 4-12, four more five pounders to 5-15 and a top three of 6-1, 6-2 (featured below) ands 6-6.

Most pleasing was a final session barbel of 13lb 6ozs, my first barbel from the stretch for three years following the attentions of otters.

As well as the chub fishing, I also had two sessions at the perch stretch where my 5lb pound fish was taken in 1999. Sadly, that has also been badly affected by otters and, although there are still big perch to be caught, the numbers have been drastically diminished. Apart from a solitary small perch, all I caught on my lobworms were average chub and a small pike.

I can look back on the season just ended as one of the most difficult I’ve ever experienced, for several reasons, and in some ways I was glad to see the back of it. Now, after two weeks off, I’m planning some tench and bream fishing, commencing next week. The water has produced tench to 11lbs plus and bream to over 16lbs so I’m hoping for some exciting fishing. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary


The annual Brighton Pollack Challenge saw me aboard Paul Dyer’s charter boat, Brighton Diver as part of the Sky TV crew at Brighton Marina in Sussex. I had a very enjoyable day with a best pollack of nearly 12lb although I didn’t get amongst the trophies. The fish caught were generally big and a 17lb 3oz specimen for, Dave Dudson aboard Brighton’s, Osprey won the day with three others over 16lb proving how good Brighton is for pollack currently. Read all about the competition in the next sea Angler magazine or watch it on Sky’s Tight lines in the coming weeks. It was noticeable at the event that the usually productive red and yellow Sidewinder lure, the Rhubarb and Custard was not quiet as deadly as it has been with silver, glitter, white and yellow amongst the best lure colours.

The plaice continue to show from the beaches throughout the English Channel and the general consensus of opinion is that it’s the reduced quotas for plaice imposed on the commercial fleets that is the reason. It’s certainly a change to see plaice, but I do despair of anglers showing pictures of ten or more dead fish on Facebook. Are we as bad as the commercials – YES I think some of us are!

I have not landed a ray yet, not even tried, although several have been reported in my region of Kent. With the current weather they should show from the shore any minute and it won’t be long before I try a frozen sandeel and Bluey fillet wrap. A good tip is to buy your frozen Blueys now because if you leave it until the rays show the shops will have run out, they did last year here in Kent.


By the time you read this I shall be in the Gambia for a weeks deserved break, I am fishing a match for three days of the holiday but it’s the break from work I am looking forward too most. Lots of anglers think my life is one long fishing trip, but I spend hours working on a PC and getting out of the office is heaven sometimes. For last minute info on the Gambian three-day beach event contact Bernard Westgarth on:

Or check out his web site:

I am also off to fish the Magrini in Sardinia soon. This International competition in the middle of May is real continental light line fishing, last year my 10lb bs snoods proved too heavy in daylight so this year I am down to 5lb after those mini weavers and breams. However, I must admit I look forward to the company and craic at the event more than the fishing which is considerably different from here at home, makes you appreciate dogfish fishing in the Med!!!!!!!!

My next task is to arrange the Penn Final and it’s on the weekend of the 23rd/24th June at Dover. I have qualified for the final myself although as main organiser I shall not fish. One problem regarding the final which is scheduled to fish Dover Breakwater and Samphire Hoe over the two days is that the motorboat which ferries anglers to the breakwater has ceased. In fact its been sold. Dover Sea Angling Association are in the process of solving the problem with another boat, so its fingers crossed. All enquiries about the Penn final to me on:


It’s time to return the summer tackle to your tackle box. A set of feathers for mackerel is standard summer gear, but also add a set of mini feathers with the shrimp and tiny Sabiki designs great for catching sandeel, herrings etc that can be used as bait.

A couple of floats can also help you get out of jail when the sea goes flat and clear and only mackerel and GARFISH are around. Slide a float down your main line after casting fishing metres deep and catch a few gars – great fun as they leap out of the water when hooked and another bait for the freezer or the hook.

At this time of year anglers fish a lot with a single large bait and the Pulley Pennel rig which is without doubt the most efficient terminal rig to use for the larger species, especially when you want a big bait put at long range, however, there is much debate about using two hooks or one for species that are going to be returned. My solution is to stay with a two hook Pennel rig for the larges baits, but to choose smaller barbed hooks. There are a few of the modern hook patterns that are sold with micro barbs and these are perfect for catch and release especially when you are using the large sizes for bigger species. It’s a shame Fox discontinued their Uptide Power Point FA pattern because they are a superb catch and release hook with their micro barb.

Of course an easy answer to this problem is to crush the barb on your hook so that it can be removed more easily.

Several additions to the TF Gear fishing tackle range including two new three-piece beach casters. I am particularly pleased with the quiver tip version, the all rounder. See them both plus a whole range of new tackle in the latest TF Gear 2012 catalogue.

Get a copy from your local tackle shop or contact us at: TF Gear Sea Fishing, Unit 5 & 6, Ffrwdgrech Industrial Estate, Brecon, Powys. LD3 8LA

Tel, 0871 911 7045


Dave Lane – First Trip of the Season

My first trip of the year was on January the second, which just happened to coincide with one of the biggest low pressure systems of the winter sweeping across the country, the forecast was pretty foreboding and they were talking about storm force winds and rain, not something you usually get the fishing rods out in?

For some reason that I still cannot figure I had decided to fish on the opposite bank to the one I usually favour, I think my reasoning was something to do with the dog actually. On the road bank of the lake Paddy only gets a pathway behind the swims and I thought that he could do with the extra exercise that the grassy area of the far bank offers. Also, I had been concentrating on the road bank for the last few trips and I was getting a bit bored of the same old view every week so it would make a nice change for me too. The fish can come out from either side and the mild weather seems to have kept them on the move a bit this year so I was just as confident whichever side I chose.

The rocky bank (as it is known) would have the disadvantage of the wind pumping straight into it but, as I’d arrived before the worst of it had hit, I was confident that I could get enough bait out there at the start and just fish over it for the two nights ahead, regardless of the conditions.

If I had realised at the time quite how severe it was going to get then I might have chosen differently but, by lunchtime I was quite happy with my swim choice, the bait had spodded out there without too much hassle and I had all four rods on good, clean areas.

By mid afternoon I was starting to have doubts as the wind had trebled in strength and the waves were starting to crash into the front of my swim, which unfortunately faced straight out into the strengthening weather. By the time it got dark the full force of the low pressure system was upon me and the radio was saying the winds were gusting at sixty miles and hour but, from where I sat, it felt more like 160 miles an hour!

If there ever was going to be a test for the new bivvy then this was the night, I had to have the door zipped firmly down the entire time as the wind would have inflated the sides and ripped the pegs out in seconds if not. Throughout the first half of the night it was unbelievably bad and then, about midnight, it was as if somebody had a switched on an extra turbo-booster and any chance of sleep went out the window.

At one stage I risked going out for a wee and found that my unhooking mat, rod bag and all the extra little bits and pieces I had left outside (including a bucket of maggots) were all strewn across the field behind me, hanging from bushes and brambles.

At half past five in the morning, just as the wind was at it’s very strongest, one of the rods burst into life and I actually groaned in pain at the thought of having to go out there and deal with a fish. I’d half thought it might just be a big tree branch blowing through the lines or something but no; it was definitely a carp and an angry one as well. It was almost impossible to feel what was happening at the other end of the line; in fact it was all I could do to stand upright. The worst part was the netting, as I lifted the net off the ground it was like putting up a sail, it was almost ripped out of my hand.

Somehow though, between the waves, the uncontrollable landing net and the driving rain I managed to scoop up my hard won prize and I was pleased to see that it was considerably bigger than the previous weeks offering.

Hiding behind the fir trees to the side of the swim I managed to get enough shelter to weigh him in at twenty seven pounds, a fair reward for all the endurance I suppose.

The photography was a bit hairy though as I has to set up my nice new camera on a tripod and just pray that the wind didn’t smash it to pieces before I could gat a couple of quick shots.

With the fish all sorted and returned I unzipped the door and climbed back into the comparative warmth and serenity of the bivvy only to find that my bed had been totally dog-napped and he was fast asleep with his head on my pillow!

The next day was one of the wettest and most miserable days imaginable, I really wanted to move to somewhere more comfortable (like home) but the rain just slashed down relentlessly and I decided the easiest move was to zip the door back down and go to bed, staying put for yet another wild night. Luckily though there was a slight shift in the wind, the southerly stopped and left only the strong westerly which meant that it wasn’t blowing straight at me anymore and I could actually have the luxury of an open doorway. Once again though I had the only bite of the session and the fish decided not to make a return visit for the second night. I was pleased to get the first one of the year under my belt but there must be a way of getting more than one bite every forty eight hours.

Next week I think I’ll either move about a bit more or maybe fish all four rods on different depth zigs in the hours of daylight before swapping back to the bottom for the nights. Whatever happens though, I doubt I’ll fish in conditions as severe as that again for a while.

Oh, and by the way, the bivvy stayed rock solid for the entire trip so it passed it big test with flying colours and I also managed to retrieve all my missing gear from the bushes, although most of the maggots had managed to make good their escape.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Jan 2012


I have been out in Kent after the gales over the night tides without catching a cod – its whiting city from the Kent shore with the thousands of small hungry mouths eating other species out of house and home. So my advice if its cod you want is to go and fish somewhere else other than Kent – The Bristol Channel being worth the drive!!!!!

Meanwhile in Kent it’s a bite a second with the whiting and last week my son Richard fishing in a Deal 1919 Angling Club beach match weighed in 38 dogfish – no mean feat in three hours. Most hate dogfish, but in a match they can be hectic, the clubs in my region give you 500 grams C & R per dogfish which is a great idea although some say we should cull them.

I did well in a couple of pier events at Folkestone with lots of big fat sprat dabs, whilst the only open I fished was the British Legion open on Hythe Ranges over the holiday and I packed up early fed up with the undersized whiting.

Currently the weather is hanging on and the freezing conditions have not yet got a grip but they will and then its going to be even harder although we have the rays to look forward because they arrive earlier every year with some big thornbacks around from March onwards.


I have not been to Gambia for a couple of years – The championship organised in November had become stale with close pegging and duff venues deterring me from going again. BUT now I see Bernard Westgarth who has a house and angling guiding business in the Gambia is putting on an event in April so I am interested in returning for that although the one hook idea I am not keen. Going on a fishing holiday I want a maximum chance of catching and one hook is not that – Better would be two rods with one hook or one rod with two hooks. Anyway the details are.


Pegged Match Series to take place on selected beaches in The Gambia, West Africa 15th to 19th APRIL 2012. Match days are Sunday 15th , Monday 16th , Tuesday17 th and Wednesday, 18th April 2012. Presentation & Prize Giving: Thursday, 19 April.

Limited entry of 30 anglers on a first come, first served basis.
All venues will be pegged and zoned (depending upon numbers).
Matches will be based on a point system with each species being awarded a set number of points.
All fish exceeding 3kg being awarded 10 additional points.
All matches are to be one hook.
Only bait provided by the organisers will be permitted and will be distributed on each match day.
Flights and accommodation can be arranged if required.
Transport to/from match venues is included within match fees.
All interested parties must be registered and fully paid by 31 January 2012. For those interested details of costs and a full set of competition rules can be provided by contacting Bernard Westgarth on 01325 720113 (evenings).

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A number of anglers have commented on my rod rest light – It’s a Speleo headlamp, which I have bolted to the top of the rod rest so that it shines up the rod rings. It’s a really effective way of highlighting the rod tip. I have enhanced the whole set up by adding a set of luminous insert rod rings to my original TF Gear Force 8 beach caster.

Its spring clean time – don’t you just get the urge to sort out the tackle box, I do. A purge on the rig winder/wallet will see all my winders go in the dishwasher for their annual shower. It’s a great way to clean off the lug crud, weed etc (thanks to Heather Lindfield for the original idea) But don’t forget to let them all dry off before you put them back in the wallet. Leads are always in need of some maintenance – Don’t know about you, but I think Breakaway wire has gone down hill – wires on their grips never used to snap so easily? Anyway I take the time to redo the wires of my leads and the bonus of this is that you can choose the wire type and length you want.

I have also sent several multipliers back to the service centre for an overhaul, repair etc. I shall be switching to the multi tip and fixed spools in coming weeks, rockling matches are looming, so the next few months is the time for so reel TLC. Make sure you pack them securely and send by registered post or courier with a list of the problems – AND don’t forget to include your return address – you would be surprised how many anglers send reels in for repair etc and don’t include their address!

Alan Yates – Sea Fishing Diary

TF GEAR Alan                       Yates Diary 26 20/9/11


I nipped down to South Wales to make the latest TF Gear Sea angling DVD which will be out FREE with Sea Angler Magazine and the TF Gear catalogue soon. What a great decision to head for the coloured water of the Bristol Channel because the fish showed up from both the boat and shore. I am not going to spill too many beans except to say that we caught cod, bass, congers and ray despite some pretty foul weather. We fished aboard Steve Jones charter boat Indiana out of Cardiff and from the shore at Penarth and Friars Point amongst others. Just a word of thanks for the bait and advice that was supplied by Newport tackle dealer, Clive Vedmore. (Tel. 01633 855086) Clive’s shop supplies great tide booklet of the region that includes lots of advice on fishing tackle, tactics and venues.

Back from South Wales I fished the British Championships at Deal and Walmer in Kentand the event suffered from it’s usually summer heat wave with clearing water sending the fish to the deeps as the anglers arrived. The entry of 220 came from as far as North Wales and many blanked and only a shoal of dabs that turned up on match morning provided action at the Sandwich Bay end which produced most of the prize winners. There were also scattered dogfish which proved a bonus catch and they mostly came from the patches of rough ground at Sandown and Walmer. The Championship winner fishing from peg 20 in Sandwich Bay, was in form Deal angler, Saul Page who came home from the SAMF Versus Belgium match on the Saturday night where he won the individual prize, to take the British Champs title and £1000 in cash. Saul landed 20 fish weighing 4.340kg including a bonus dogfish, four whiting and 15 dabs fishing white ragworm at long range. Runner up and very close to getting a hat trick of British Championship wins, was Martyn Reid of Folkestone who fished at Sandown over a patch of rough ground to land 5 dogfish for 3.600kg, he hooked three on his first two casts and then had to wait until the last hour for the other two. Third was Bristol angler, Kevin Daly with 2.440kg. The £1000 prize for the biggest fish went to Leigh Chapman of Canterbury with a 1.230kg bass he landed on his very last cast. Junior Champion was Davis Morris and Ladies Champion, Shelley Bassett both of Deal. I finished a creditable 12th but was well please to have predicted the top two and the biggest fish winners in the local press the week before, perhaps I should take up book making!

Good news for sea angling following the recent campaign and petition against plans by Rother District Council to ban angling from the shore in the Bexhill and Pevensey Bay region. Rother District council have decided to back the anglers after being bombarded with complaints against the plans and the realisation that angling provides an important all year around revenue for the region. Of course the real reason is that they simply cannot ban fishing from Crown Land (sea shore) because it’s a public right that dates back to the Magna Carta that only Parliament can change.


I am organising the Dover Sea Angling Pier Festival on the 29th.30th/31st October. Its being fished from Dover’s “Concrete boat” the breakwater were some excellent catches are the result of being marooned each day of the three in the centre of Dover harbour. Lots of cash and lots of tackle prizes are up for grabs with the event sponsored by Sea Angler Magazine amongst others. Late entries will be accepted at the draw on the 28th from 7pm at Dover Sea Angling Association HQ 14, Priory Road, Dover Kent. CT17 9RG. For info on the event ring me on 01303 250017. or e mail Whilst making the latest DVD in south Wales I got my hands on the new SMAG multiplier – It’s a one piece aluminium frame 56C multiplier. The field casters will love it with its larger magnetic control knobbly, but it also includes a larger diameter free spindle which makes the whole reel assembly stronger. This version is a proper fishing reel that will cope with dogfish and cod hauling and there will be a special power handle option available.

Dave Lane – Bait Fishing Q&A

-What bait to use

For a sustained baiting program I would only recommend using a high quality food bait, by this I mean a bait that actually offers the carp a nutritional reward for their efforts. Personally I always use one of the ‘Mainline’ range of freezer baits and I would not recommend a baiting campaign using any form of shelf-life baits as the breakdown rate of shelf-life baits is not suitable for a mass baiting program. Some of the bait is likely to fall into areas where it doesn’t get eaten and you do not want it turning rancid on the lake bed. A high quality freezer bait should either breakdown or float to the surface after a few days.

If you give the fish regular doses of a decent bait then they will start to recognize the label, or flavour, as being linked to the nutrition and ‘feel good’ factor that they are receiving from eating the bait in the first place. This of course is exactly what you are trying to achieve, to get the fish to eat your bait in preference to everybody else’s, and the only way you will ever achieve this is through a better quality bait with decent ingredient profile, one that the fish can actually break down into useable proteins. I know this can start to get technical but you do not have to personally worry about the actual profile and ingredients yourself, unless you are actually making your own bait. If you look on the leading manufactures websites and, more importantly look in the angling reports and articles to see what baits are working well and are recommended by leading anglers then you will get some idea of where to start.

I’d always avoid anything that is too highly flavoured for long term baiting, preferring to go with a bait that has it’s ‘flavour’ inherent to the mix rather than an added chemical label, particularly a strong one. If the fish are going to eat lots of it then they will recognise the taste and do not need a strong ‘label’ like you would find in single attractor baits for example.

-What areas to target

Most pre-baiting is associated with a closed season or a period of inactivity from other anglers, this leaves you free to bait wherever you like on the lake, it all becomes a bit more tricky if other anglers are present because you do not want to ruin their fishing by heaving in a load of bait next door to them, or, you may not want other anglers to know what you are doing or where you are doing it. Let’s assume the lake is closed and you are allowed to pre-bait wherever you like. I would start nice and early, probably around April time, so not all the fish will necessarily be up on the shallows or visible all the time. This means starting in known feeding areas and places where the fish may feel safe, like snags etc. Once the weather starts to warm up and the fish are on the move they will quickly realise that there is no fishing pressure on the lake and they will come into areas very close to the bank, specifically for the free bait you are offering them. At this early stage you are just trying to get the carp to accept and recognise your bait, not certain areas, so it’s more important to feed them and watch them eat than it is to establish spots. You want the fish to find your bait everywhere they go to feed as this will help them to accept it as part of their natural diet, so keep it going in all around the lake. Once they start to really ‘get on it’ you will be amazed how much bait they can actually eat and how willing they are to throw caution to the wind and push right up against the bank to get every last dropped bait.

As you get closer towards the start of the season then you can begin to bait areas that you want to be fishing, remember that, once the lines start hitting the surface again, the fish will abandon the margin areas that you have fed because of the danger and disturbance levels. Bait as many areas as you can and try and return a bit later to check for signs of feeding fish, if your plan is working then you should pretty much be able to move the fish around the lake at will, just by drawing them with the bait that they now readily accept as a free meal.

The action of the carp feeding on your areas will also reduce weed growth in those spots as the fish grub about and uproot any stems from the silt, eventually displacing the silt as well, leaving nice big clean areas. You can use this to your advantage by baiting a spot out of sight range from the bank, in an area that is usually very weedy, this way you will know you have a fishable spot you can use when the time is right.

As you get closer towards the time when you going to fish then I would advise stopping the bait going into all the inaccessible areas, such as snags etc, make the fish use the feeding areas if they want to find the food they have become so used to, this will give you a huge advantage during the season.

I have pre-baited a lot in the past and seen first hand the devastating effect it can have, myself and friends have absolutely ‘slaughtered’ lakes by the correct application of bait, even to the extent that all the other anglers on the lake struggle to get a bite while we have caught fish every session, and lots of them!

-What should you do if everyone on the lake is pre-baiting.

This is a totally different situation altogether, the advantage of pre-baiting has been negated by the amount of bait already going in. The first thing to establish is how many different baits are going in, if you have all sorts of groups of anglers baiting with different types of bait then, personally, I wouldn’t bother going into competition with them as the fish will not know what is going on anyway, they cannot keep a check list of everything they eat from day to day, they will just get to a stage where the whole lot are ‘boilies’ and accepted or rejected as such.

There is room for more than one baiting campaign, I have done very well in the past as one of two or three different lots but once the number gets up over three and all those factions are serious and regular with their baiting approach then I think it may be better to fish the best bait you can but limit it to feeding and fishing situations where you are sure it is being eaten, rather than just jump on the band wagon and hurl it willy nilly into the lake along with everybody else’s.

I remember when I first got together with Mainline and I baited Horton along with three mates. The first year we filled the place in and I caught an incredible amount of fish, far more than anyone else and, as such, the amount of guys baiting up the next close season went form just our little group to practically everyone, all thought that it would be the magic key to unlock the lake and they would all catch more fish the more bait they used. When the next season started I decided to fish single hookbaits only, for the whole year, avoiding any sort of beds of bait as it was the only thing different I could think of, once again that year I caught the most fish so I think you have to tailor the baiting strategy to the competition as well as the fish. I did however stick with the same bait as I knew the fish would recognise it as being extremely good for them.

-Should you use the same bait as everyone else?

I am a firm believer that a bait becomes better the more the fish see of it, being on the same bait as everyone else is definitely an advantage rather than a disadvantage but, human nature makes this very difficult to achieve. We all would like the ultimate bait, or rig, and if we and it is very unlikely we would share it with everyone else. What happens is, you may all start on the same bait but then somebody will find something they think is better and swap, or add a little something, or dip the baits or anything to try and out catch the next guy. There will naturally be groups or individuals who have something they trust and this they will keep close to their chest in the hope that theirs is the best, this is why pre-baiting works but, in reality, if every angler on one lake used the same bait for one year I would predict that there would be more fish caught than in any other year before.

I remember back when everyone made their own baits, mainly fish-meals, good quality baits and secrecy was everywhere. People, me included, would spend fortunes on ingredients to out fish the next guy and pre-baiting was a way of life, we all did it. Then, along came the first ready made boilies, particularly the frozen Tutti-Frutti’s and they took lakes apart, absolutely destroyed them and we were all up in arms about it. At first it was considered cheating, not ‘real’ angling, a bit of a disgrace but of course it wasn’t, and it had just taught everyone a very valuable lesson. The Tutti was probably the first bait that had ever been introduced to everywhere in exactly the same format, it was ready rolled so nobody added to, or tweaked it; you just opened the bag and threw them in. Within no time at all there was hardly a lake in the country that was not ‘pre-baited’ with them and everyone was catching. I’m sure Ritchworth would not be offended if I said that Tutti’s were probably only half as nutritionally beneficial as the high quality fish meal baits they were competing with, but the combination of an awesome flavour and sheer weight of numbers of bait being introduced made them very special indeed, if you were struggling for a bite you just wound in, put a Tutti on the end and hey presto!

Nowadays we have come even further as we can buy ready made bait at any quality and price level we so desire and yes, I do think that the more people fishing the same bait on a water then the better it will become. I do firmly believe though that a better quality bait, like the one’s from the Mainline stable, will catch far more fish over an extended period than a cheaper, less nutritious bait ever will.



Since my last feature, I’ve been back for one last session atHorseshoeLake, reverting to one of my favourite swims, Choppy’s onWinterBay. Once again, though, my timing was poor. Why is it that I’m always told that, “you should have been here last week etc?” I know I couldn’t have fished any more effectively, having carefully located a nice clear gravel bed in the middle of silkweed and baited it accurately. Although I did catch a couple of tench, they again were only average fish up to just over 6lbs. My searches for a really big tench have been constantly thwarted this season.

I’ve also been back to my local carp fishing water for a day session, taking seven more lovely carp, all good doubles and had several exploratory sessions on the upper Warks Avon, which is close to my home. The signal crayfish situation on my beloved Great Ouse has now reached plague proportions and I have to say that the fishing is no longer enjoyable at times. Summer fishing is now a real trial, the damn crays are on the baits in minutes. Even the usual tricks of encasing in mesh or trying to lure the crays away with tins of cat food or tethered fish are not working very well. There are simply too many crays. What the river needs is an injection of a few catfish in each affected section. They will soon thin down the crayfish population!

On the Avon though, I can still find peaceful fishing. I’ve been on the extreme upper reaches, which have no real form for anything other than average chub and barbel, but I do feel that there may be a big fish or two to be discovered. Apart from one very accessible section, the river receives little pressure and I’m very hopeful of uncovering something exciting. So far, barbel to only 8-12 and chub to 4-10 have rewarded my efforts, but I do know of genuine 11 and 6 pounders respectively. so, the search continues, which is great fun in itself.

Early August saw me back on the Ebro system in centralSpain, fishing the river’s tributary the Segre at Mequinenza with Catmasters Tours. The fishing was as much fun as ever, although a little slower than previous trips. Apparently, a combination of an extreme heat wave and late spawning had resulted in many of the bigger fish not being in the usual areas. Fran and I were joined by two father and son combinations, Paul and Patrick Reed and Paul and Zach Sparrow. Patrick, who is 21, had never before landed a catfish and on the first night landed one of the biggest cats ever caught by a Catmasters customer, in fact one of the biggest cats ever caught anywhere, at 224lb. For good measure, Zach, 15, also had his first ever cats, his biggest being 182lb! Both lads were teased about their golden appendages for the rest of the week!

Compared to those two monsters, my catches this year were quite modest. My best was 126lb, well short of my personal best of 186lb caught last November. I also fluked a 28lb common on a catfish rod, as well as dropping a carp in the margins that looked every ounce of 40lb plus. That was the only 100lb plus fish I had this year, although I did manage two very hard fighting fish of 83lb and 84lb.

If you get the chance you must give it a go. You do not need to be an experienced big fish angler, as the guides do all the important work of selecting the swim, rowing out the baits, baiting up and so on. They also are on hand to advise on playing these immensely powerful fish and landing them for you. As Pat and Zach proved this year, anyone can catch a monster, even the most inexperienced. So you cannot take it too seriously as it is certainly no measure of angling skill. What it is though is bloody good fun and I can thoroughly recommend it.



Samantha’s Fishing Tackle Choice

I was peacefully staring out onto my local lake waiting for a bite a couple of hours ago now, when a group of younger lads appeared in my swim. They were asking all the usual questions about the lake and what fish had been out, when one of them noticed my set-up.

I then spent the following half hour explaining my choices to them and why I had opted for these rods and reels etc. I even ended up reeling one of them in for them to have a go casting! Now I have put my rod back out and re-baited the others I thought I would put this little blog together explaining why I have opted for the setup I have. After using 3lb x-flites + for a couple of years, which I know many people have their own opinions on, I highly rated them and they served me well.

I wanted my carp rods to be just as effective for me so I opted for the TF Gear TSI 12’ 3lb rods. I have used them now for about 2 years and they’re still going strong, it would take some amazing new rod to make me change them. What impresses me most about these rods is how thin they are yet how much control I have when both casting and playing a fish. I have also noticed an increase in my casting distance since using them with ever increasing accuracy.

I have recently opted to team these rods up with the new TF Gear Delta GT 10000 reels. I love the design of them and they certainly look different on the bank. Many people have quizzed me on why I have chosen them. I was instantly impressed with how well the line lay on them and the smoothness of casting with them. Being big pits they are perfect for the big lakes I often choose to fish, I have even been influenced to take them down to my local beach to give them a good old test.

Glimmer Bite a

I decided it wouldn’t be right unless I completed the look with a set of TF Glimmer bite alarms. Now those that fish with me would back me up when I say that I am extremely fussy when it comes to alarms. The first things I take into consideration are the look of them, the ease of use and how effective the bite detection is on them. I love the way I can alter these alarms to suit different situations especially between the day and night. Having a receiver with these alarms is also a big plus for me as I like to keep my alarms down low and use the vibrating function only at night.

Well that is just some of my reasons for using the fishing gear I have with me today. I’m still waiting for a bite and hopefully now the weather is cooling down a bit the fish will be on the feed. Hopefully next time I write a blog I will be able to report news of a fish or two from Linford Lakes when I compete in the BIG FISH 2011.

Tight Lines Samantha