Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary June

Recent trips after smoothhound have seen me more often behind the camera than with rod in hand, the results will appear in Sea Angler magazine at a later date. The hounds have increased in size and numbers everywhere and it’s a nice change to be able to go after species other than dogfish and one that pulls, at this time of year. Currently the Kent coast, like many other regions, is fishing well and I cant help thinking that the fishing in spring and early summer is so much better than the traditional sea angling time of Autumn. Being as I am involved in match fishing via the National League I look at the fixture lists crammed with events in October and November and think, why don’t some of those matches, that to be honest have some pretty poor fishing nowadays, switch to May and June? In my region of Kent the British Championships fished at Deal on Sunday 7th October (2012 date) is typical of the large opens that suffer at the hands of a calm, clear sea with few fish around. OK if the date collides with a gale the dogfish and whiting turn up but most years you are lucky to see a bite and its tradition that now picks the date rather than the fishing. Meanwhile Deal in May and June is stuffed full of fish even when the sea is calm and clear with rays, dogfish and smoothhound and all you need is a Pulley rig, crab is the best bait but the fish also take ragworm, sandeel and fish baits. What’s more they are the bigger species that are needed to get the average angler back out match fishing. He cannot compete with the whiting snatchers in winter, but a big ray or hound can put him in the frame. Only one problem with the idea and that’s convincing anglers to get their beach gear out in May and June, the tradition of putting sea fishing tackle away for the summer months is difficult to break and so many anglers who ignore this time of year simply don’t know what they are missing!!!

Coming up I am making a new TF Gear/Sea Angler DVD and that includes fishing aboard Silver Spray out of Poole and a trip to the Perbeck rocks with my old mate Chris Clarke for a spot of bobber bashing, all weather permitting of course, so lets hope July is better that June!!!

Another great thing about summer is that I can get the float out, there is no more addictive angling than float fishing especially in a calm clear sea when the bottom species are awol. Mackerel, garfish, bream, pollack, scad and mullet are all float fishing targets although my personal favourite are the garfish because they lend themselves to a whole new sea angling technique. You can use ground bait or chum to attract them and on light float gear they can be fun to fish for even despite the frustration of being hard to hook because of their long beaks. The answer is to fish light with small hooks, mind you beware of going too light or too small because more than one bass has grabbed a sandeel section aimed at a gar and then there are mullet, pollack and even conger to encounter on some of the South Western Atlantic venues like the Channel Isles.

I have always been something of a specialist on garfish in matches – I even caused float fishing to be banned by one major organisation when I kept winning with gars. The big secret to catching them is movement, don’t just let your float drift back in the tide, lift the rod and cause the bait to flutter in the current, tweak it retrieve it, keep it moving and the gars cant resist. After that it’s being patient enough to resist striking the bites, keep the line tight and wait for the gar to hook itself. Best bait for garfish is garfish strip, cut from the belly in a fish tapered shape!

A great tip when fishing for gars is to use a fixed spool reel with a bait runner, I use one in conjunction with a 16ft quiver tip. This enables you to use ultra light snoods and small hooks, which can be deadly. Finally, fishing too shallow for gars is more effective than fishing too deep so keep it on the shallow side 4ft to 6ft.

Competitions coming up include the European Federation of Sea Anglers  England Shore Championships taking place at Samphire Hoe in Kent on the 7th and 8th of July. It’s a member’s event although you can join and fish for the first time this year. The Hoe is the venue because Dover Breakwater remains closed because a ferry boat has not yet been found to replace the one that has operated for years. Dover Sea Angling Association are trying to get a replacement and its fingers crossed. Meanwhile Samphire Hoe is host in several major events because the breakwater is closed and these include the Penn League Final, the Home international as well as several opens. For EFSA event details and an entry form:  E mail: paullcurtice@hotmail.co.uk

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary

At last a heat wave, or at least some warmer weather and sunshine after the spring deluge, or was it a drought? Anyway, time to think about getting the bass lure gear out and having a wander around my local rocks. Unfortunately I do not live in one of the better regions for catching bass on a lure – Kent may have cleaned up its sewage outfall act and have claim to a host of Blue Flags, but its not the best coast to lure fish from in spring, especially because of the local estuary silt and May water. So many people forget the influence of the May Bloom on water clarity in spring and although its gets bad press as pollution it is a natural phenomenon that’s been around as long as I can remember. It’s caused by water leeching from the land containing fertilisers and natural nutrients which fuel the algae bloom or growth. Some years this is exaggerated even more by continued sunlight and some years are worse than others. Many of the “Blue Flag” beaches suffer really bad from it which makes something of a mockery of the Blue flag system because samples and results for testing depend on season, weather, tide etc and will vary enormously making the Blue flag one big raffle. However, for anglers and surfers or sailors the May rot, May bloom, May weed, in other parts of the world its described as the Red tide, is a pain because as the algae breaks down and rots it takes oxygen from the water and kills or suffocates all life in close proximity and it stinks! Anglers, keep an eye on your line for the tell tail globules and remember to wash your reel and line after fishing else you risk a divorce from the FPO (Fishing permission officer)

As for lure anglers it’s a good idea to avoid the May water and fish when its gone, the first few onshore stirs that coincide with the spring tides usually move it.

Currently bass lure fishing is booming although I will say that there is a certain amount of hype surrounding it as well as expert marketing. Do you really need a red rod that’s costs more than any other to fish for bass? Sorry folks but a dose of realism before you take up bass lure fishing is a wise move.

However, it’s the lures that are the most interesting aspect and we all know how addictive lures are! Look in my fly or bass lure box and I am as bad as the rest and a sucker for anything that glitters etc. The latest plastic bass lures and pin grip hooks fished on braid line is where bass fishing is at and I can’t wait for a clear bit of sea to chuck a plastic imitation. Mind you at the moment in my neck of the woods, bait still holds sway over the bass, but it’s all about a window in the weather and being ready to head for the rocks with the red rod and some of the latest TF Gear bass lures!

It’s a great sport, sea fishing. Just when you think nothing is doing all hell can break lose. Take England International George Smith. Tidying his gear on his last cast at the recent Kent Classic open fished at Herne Bay, George had caught just one small eel when with five minutes to go in the match his rod fell over. Something big had grabbed his giant peeler crab and Bluey bait aimed at a thornback ray. With the clutch giving line and the line heading around a nearby groyne, George could feel his line rubbing on the rocks ands groyne and thought all was lost. But the fish cleared the groyne and George worked the fish ashore. It was a 24lb stingray – not a big stinger by stinger standards,  but a rare catch and it made Georges day because he won the match by a street! Also worth a mention was that the Herne Bay Angling Association operate a catch and release policy with stingers – they count for 15lb and are returned alive – that’s why George won with just 15.5lb.

With the crabs peeling around the country, they have all but finished here in the South, the spring fish are moving inshore all around the UK coast. Apart from George Smith and his stingray, there are thornback rays, bass and smoothhounds rippling around the coasts. If they haven’t got to your beach yet then be patient because they are one the way. The only downside is that they are passing on their way north and the spring season is short, especially here in the south. Time to make hay whilst the sun shines as they say.

I have found the answer to the summer or holiday beach – A pair of TF Gear Flips. Boots and waders can be too much in warm weather and sometimes its great to wade commando with flips and short. They are also great on the rocks when you are wearing shorts, OK socks are not obligatory!

Available in sizes 6 to 12 they are on offer at £14.99. Check them out online or in the latest TF Gear catalogue: TF Gear Sea Fishing Unit 5 & 6, Ffrwdgrech Industrial Estate, Brecon, Powys. LD3 8LA

Tel, 0871 911 7045

Web: www. tfgear.co.uk.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary April

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING

Just back from a ten day trip to fish the Gambian Beach Sea Fishing Championships, my tan looks out of place at home because while I was away most grew scales and gills. The pond in the back garden suggests it’s rained a bit, but the bonus of that is if I stock it with a few minnows I can use my garden hose.

Gambia was its usual temperature and with the sun directly overhead for most of the day, covering up is essential, it can be painful on lips, lobes and toes! As for the fishing that was brilliant and I wonder why I never went in April before? Bernard Westgarth from Darlington has a house near San Yang and he had organised the four-day championships with a lot of help from his other half, Barbara. They supplied, bait, ice, transport, water, weighing at your peg, altogether a very well organised event.

Because I won may have made me biased, but the fact is that only ten anglers fished and although in multi day match terms that equates to 40 anglers credence to my victory was helped by top anglers, Chris Stringer and Bernard competing. What you cannot take away from the event was the fishing and when I say I landed 18 fish on the last day in four hours using just one hook you can see it was hectic. Before I went I must admit I was sceptical about the points system and the one hook, BUT it worked a treat and very few blanks were recorded. April seems to have a lot more middle size fish than at other times of the year although the best fish in the match was a 5kg cassava. Freelance wise I landed several big cassavas, butterfish to 3kg and sting rays to 4kg and lost two really big fish. I shall be going back next year with the event set for the week after Easter.

Double figure Cassava from Radio Sid beach on a prawn

Contact Bernard Westgarth: bernardwestgarth@yahoo.co.uk. Or check out his web site: www.fishthegambia.com

COMPETITIONS, ETC

Back home my first outing with the bait pump reminded me that lugworms don’t like warm water when I pumped well over 100 worms only to find them dying after the car ride home. I still managed to salvage enough for my trip to the pier, but next time shall take a cool pack in the bait bucket.

My next outing, I have a lot of work to do first, is to fish the Magrini Championships in Sardinia. I am paired up with my good friend Chris Clark and look forward to his company and some Med style weever and bream snatching. I must admit to not being so competitive in the Magrini – I much prefer the Gambian style match with lots of bites and fish that pull. However, the Magrini is a really social competition and I look forward to seeing lots of old friends. Last year the match was won by Welsh International, Joe Arch and he is the man I would put my money on this year too.

TACKLE AND TIPS

Summer signals a big change in shore fishing tactics and in modern times has become, in my opinion, better than the winter, but you have to adapt and travel to find the fish. Those that move around the country in search of the rays, smoothhounds and bass do well, whilst if you sit on the same beach week in week out can expect only whiting. Currently word has it the Sandwich Bay in Kent is the ray hot spot in the South East, whilst for smoothhounds Pagham and Selsey in Hampshire are just starting to wake up and there are a few bream too. Other smoothhound hot spots around the country include South Wales venues like Aberthaw, Porthkerry, Marcross, Monknash, Newtown and Sker and on the Lincolnshire coast Chapel Point, Hutoft and Skegness are the venues to head for.  Everywhere peeler crab is the essential bait.

I used a couple of TF Gear S MAGS in Gambia and they stood up to a week of weed and stingray hauling with 0.38mm sea fishing line. I added the power handles, which are essential for any sort of fishing, rough or smooth ground, it just helps that bit extra. The smaller handles are OK for field casting and really clean ground, but add a power handle if you are doing any heavy fishing. I also used the new three piece All Round Delta 16 foot rod and that too performed well and considering its price is a real scoop for the company.

See the range of new tackle in the latest TF Gear 2012 catalogue available 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

Web: www.tfgear.co.uk

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING

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.

COMPETITIONS, ETC

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: bernardwestgarth@yahoo.co.uk.

Or check out his web site:  www.fishthegambia.com

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: alankyates@aol.com

TACKLE AND TIPS

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

Web: www.tfgear.co.uk.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary March 2012

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING
It’s that time of year when spring continually threatens to arrive, but drags its feet daily and March is going to be a long month. I remain busy with club matches and have enjoyed some success with dabs, dogs and whiting from the Kent beaches and piers and a few plaice turned up at a recent pier match and they are the first sizeable for a few years in the region. The whiting too have enjoyed a good winter and there is a certain irony that they are now making the size limit now that the match season is over. Whiting are though no longer a winter species and are in such large numbers they appear almost year around?

Now thoughts turn to thornback ray with the species experiencing a big spring revival in many regions, including Kent, in recent years. The rumours of “skate” have started with the Isle of Sheppey in North Kent always the first to produce. The rays are a shot in the arm for the shore anglers simply because they are something “big” to catch. They may have a poor reputation for the fight, but their sheer size means the rod bends when they bite and when you pull them in. Great fun after a winter with few cod.
Top tip for catching rays is to try a large chunk of Bluey on the hook. This oily mini garfish species is a great bait for lots of the summer’s bigger fish and catches straight from the freezer. Cut a section in a wedge shape and carefully wrap and lash it around a frozen sandeel with bait cotton (Skin out or flesh out is a personal choice). A bluey sausage is favourite ray bait from many early summer venues. In some regions peeler crab catches more thornback rays and its not long before the crabs moult in mass making them an essential bait for the rays in many estuary regions, whilst they are the go to bait for smoothhound everywhere.

There is much debate at this time of year on whether its best to use a two hook Pennell rig for large baits and large fish like the rays and smoothhound, or to stick with a single hooks for conservation reasons? Obviously the Pennell does increase the chance of a hook up, but it also increases the risk of damaging the fish – It’s a personal thing although I still prefer a Pennell for the largest hook baits.

COMPETITIONS, ETC
I am all booked up for The Gambia in April and the week long shore competition I am fishing has an interesting twist – Its one hook only. Organiser, Bernard Westgarth who has a house in the Gambia is convinced that one hook will provide a more level playing field for competitors of all abilities. In other words it will take away all the advantages the matchmen have. But has he forgotten that it will also take away most of the fish with one hook definitely lowering the odds of a catch? Whatever, I am off for a deserved winter break with the family and with a single hook out I shall have more time to soak up the rays.
For last minute info on the event contact Bernard on: bernardwestgarth@yahoo.co.uk.
Or check out his web site: www.fishthegambia.com

The Sea Angler Magazine Clubman series has finished and as the main organiser I am awaiting the final results before deciding the winners. There is now a couple of months rest for Club anglers with the Clubman restarting on May 1st. The event is in its fifth year and is open to all angling clubs and anglers, it includes sponsored prizes from Penn for the top five individuals and the top team (four). There is also the prestigious final where the winning team and top five individuals get to fish against a select team from Sea Angler magazine.
The event is organised by e mail only and you can enter your club via myself: alankyartes@aol.com or via the entry form in the magazine.

TACKLE AND SPRING TIPS
The new TF Gear rigs are now available and apart from a couple of manufacturing glitches they should be perfect by the time they reach you – if not take em back! A few words about the clipped rigs, they are made with stops so that hooks can be replaced and snoods changed. All the snoods are adjustable and this may confuse a few novices. The stops used for all the rigs can be moved, not too easily, but with the flappers they allow the angler to convert a rig from three up to two up one down something you cannot do with crimped rigs. The winders each rig comes on too is far easier to store dry, thus increasing the working life of each rig – Contrary to popular belief I am using the rigs myself.

A new quiver tip rod model is now available it’s a 16ft three piece aimed at the match summer angler who want to fish light and see bites. Great for garfish, mackerel, bream, pout, flounder, etc and from the pier scad, pollack, bass and mullet. Look out for the Delta 16AM – 16ft All Rounder. (On offer at £134.99) If you buy one remember it has three tips with the other two stored in the butt!

Whilst feathering for mackerel carries a certain stigma with some anglers it’s a legitimate technique for many and who can blame anglers for taking advantage of such a stupid fish as the mackerel. Indeed they grab anything that glitters and a sack can be filled in no time. However, it’s a great idea at this time to year to add a couple of mini feathered rigs to your kit because lots of other species are just as gullible when it comes to mini lures and lots of these make great bait. Check out the wonderful range of mini lures now available because they catch herrings, scad, sandeel, mackerel, pollack, coalfish, bass and more. Look out especially for the tiniest Shrimper, mini hokkai and Sabiki patterns

TF Gear Sea Fishing Rigs with Alan Yates

We now have full stock of the NEW TF Gear Rig for Sea Fishing!

Alan Yates has used his vast experience at top level fishing to come up with this range of tried and tested sea fishing rigs to cover most situations from both beach and boat. All rigs are hand tied to the most exacting standards using the highest quality components and materials. All rigs come ready wound on foam storage winders to minimising the chances of tangling. These winders make taking the rigs off and winding them back on a quick, easy and tangle free.

 

Available in 16 different make ups these TF Gear sea rigs will cover most aspects and methods of your sea fishing and are set to be a valuable asset to your sea fishing tackle. Our Price – Just £2.50!

Available Rigs –

1. TFG BITE TRACE CONGER AND TOPE 6/0

2. TFG UPTIDE PENNELL TRACE 3/0

Flapper Rigs

3. TFG 3 HOOK 4 FLAPPER WITH STOPS

4. TFG 2 HOOK 4 FLAPPER WITH STOPS

5. TFG 1 HOOK 4 FLAPPER WITH STOPS

6. TFG 3 HOOK #4 FLAPPER LIGHT VERSION

7. TFG 2 HOOK #4 FLAPPER LIGHT VERSION

Clip Down Rigs

8. TFG 3 HOOK #2/0 CLIP DOWN RIG

9. TFG 2 HOOK #2/0 CLIP DOWN RIG

10. TFG LOOP RIG #2/0 CLIP DOWN

Pulley Rigs

11. TFG 2 HOOK PULLEY RIG #1

11. TFG 2 HOOK PULLEY RIG #3/0

12 .TFG 1 HOOK PULLEY RIG #1

12. TFG 1 HOOK PULLEY RIG #3/0

13. TFG 2 HOOK FLOWING TRACE #2/0

14. TFG 1 HOOK FLOWING TRACE #2/0

To purchase, visit – TF Gear Rigs for more information

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Feb 2012

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING

A trip to Sky TV for the first episode of Tight Lines in February and I found myself in HD – What a shock although Keith Arthur looked wrinklier than me. Tell you what the  sea fishing tackle and gear demos we did on screen came out crystal clear and I predict Tight Lines will become even more adventurous with tackle demos in future weeks.

I had a disagreement with the local South Kent fishermen over the lack of cod in the English Channel – I have only caught one small codling from the shore this year and compared with results of the past when I once record 100 cod over 10lb in a season 2011/12 has been a disaster. I tell you another thing its not down to my lack of angling skill or effort. There simply are very few cod in the English Channel currently and that’s despite the boats producing a few lunkers in recent weeks. A whopping 39lber came out of Eastbourne aboard Deep Blue skippered by Steve Bradshaw.

Hard at work for Sea Angler Magazine I have been finalising the 2011 Penn league results, a tedious job getting all those hundreds of points and surnames in numerical and alphabetical order. Anyway the task is nearly complete and next comes the Final. Whilst I qualified for the final myself this year because its at my Dover home town I am not fishing, I cant have people saying I fixed it to be at Dover when I qualified. Anyway this year it’s a two-day final and as way of a challenge its one day on Dover breakwater and one day on Samphire Hoe, weather willing.

A well know match angler has been caught with fish in his possession before a big southern event and the repercussions around the match scene are still reverberating along the beaches and on Face book. My only hope is the Angling Trust does the right thing and takes action. Lots of sea anglers will not join the AT because they feel they are not represented. This will show what the Angling Trust are made of – Will they wimp out, or if the allegations are proven ban the angler concerned! As far as many are concerned it’s a test case and my membership is in an envelope on the desk awaiting the result.

COMPETITIONS, ETC
Back home from the Irish winter beach championships with more euros than I took, I had a pool or match pick up on all three days. Although no silverware, actually some great crystal vases are to be won at the event. The three day match was won by the Irish with a clean sweep over the top three, well done to David Roe of Dublin for winning two years on the trot. Second was Joe Byrne and third Rod Stewart look alike, Ian Knight. My only disappointment with the event was that it has now become a flounder contest with all three days fishing the shallower flounder beaches – Could it be the Irish have found a way to beat the English – steer clear of venues with lots of whiting, dabs and rockling where the snatchers excel?

Here the winter finally arrived on the eve of the Kent dab Champs which I organise each year from Folkestone pier. The snow hit the entry big time and only 15 managed to get to Folkestone pier on match day despite the pier being sold out. But, whilst the dabs were absent a number of codling, which didn’t count in the event, showed – Is it not always the way. Match winner was Lloyd Page of Sheerness with 4 dabs for 2lb 14oz from peg 40 on the piers inside stretch.

Fancy a trip to Gambia for a one-hook beach match? – I didn’t at first, but the idea has grown on me. Organised by Brit, Bernard Westgarth it’s on the 11th until 9th April – Bait supplied, entry for the three days is £200, flights and accommodation can be arranged. Contact Bernard: bernardwestgarth@yahoo.co.uk. www.fishthegambia.com

TACKLE AND WINTER TIPS
Frozen lugworm is great bait during late winter – the dabs and rockling love it – But here is a tip from Kent angler, Leigh Chapman. He partly thaws his frozen blacks and then pops” them in the microwave oven. They literally “pop” when they are ready for the hook, firm and just like the live fresh thing – Amazing. Only problem I have found is a 13Amp socket on the beach to plug the Microwave into?

I have found the answer to those infuriating pyramid leads which hold bottom great, but retrieve like a sack of monkeys as they bury and bundle in the sand. A Sardinian designed lead with a pyramid at top and bottom which holds well and retrieves smooth. Great when accompanied by a Delta quiver tip outfit loaded with braid or mono.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Jan 2012

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING

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.

COMPETITIONS, ETC

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.

THE GAMBIA BEACH CHAMPIONSHIPS

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).

e: bernardwestgarth@yahoo.co.uk | www.fishthegambia.com

TACKLE AND WINTER TIPS

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 – The New Year Scratch

THE NEW YEAR SCRATCH

This month the cod season is well and truly underway and it’s the time when the bigger fish venture close to shore, especially after a big sea. Its time to make the most of the few spring tides left with a live bait rig the way to go for the biggest cod on many venues. However within four weeks and the arrival of February the bigger fish will thin out drastically in many regions and it’s then that the fishing and the weather sorts the men from the boys.

If you want to continue sea fishing into February the biggest problem is that you will encounter some really extreme fishing weather, whilst at the same time the fishing will deteriorate. Both boat and shore anglers need to heed mum’s advice and wrap up warm and that means long socks, thermals suits and that all important hat. Of course venturing out when the weather is severe is difficult because it always looks much worse than it is! But, usually once you have made the decision to go and fish the weather doesn’t seem so bad and providing you have good waterproofs and a shelter even the worst Mother Nature can throw down can be bearable!

The decreasing temperatures have a dramatic effect on the next few months fishing, watch out for cold shallower water and frozen sand at low water which deters fish from venturing close. Fresh water, rain or snow melt coming out of drains,  rivers, stream etc is also the enemy of the shore angler because it will push the fish out away from the shore line. I have a golden rule about beach fishing at this time of year and that is not to fish anywhere where my cast lands on ground that has been uncovered or exposed to low temperatures at low water. Even better I ONLY fish from the deepest water beaches, rock marks and the piers.

Mention February and lots of shore anglers pull faces at the thought of an invasion of slugs (rockling). Make no mistake the New Year heralds the departure of all the adult fish of most species to spawn around the greater part of the UK and that’s why it’s considered tiddler time. All amount of bravado and using a 4/0 Pennell rig loaded with whole Calamari squid will fail miserably because there simple are no big fish inshore in a majority of regions. At best in a few places is the chance of a 5lb codling, although I have to say that the rays now start to appear earlier every year and they can turn up as early as February and so its wide to keep an eye on catch reports.

I for one carry on fishing through the early part of the year, lots of anglers don’t and put their gear away until spring. Much depends where you live and fish and what floats your boat! It’s a far different approach that is needed to carry on fishing when its tiddlers only. Instead of large hooks and giant baits it’s more delicate tackle and catch measure and return match fishing that is required. It’s a time for the more delicate and fish attractive baits like white ragworm or maddies, a more refined approach to tackle with lighter hook snoods, wire booms, size 4 match hooks and the softer actioned quiver tip rod. Lots of match anglers have discovered the fun of switching to a sea quiver tip rod and fixed spool reel to exaggerate bites and braid is fast becoming the line to use for short range tiddler snatching.

Although its small fish time in many regions the bigger codling are still possible and they often muscle in on feeding dabs and other tiddlers so it’s wise if you go for small hooks to use a strong pattern.

Dab fishing may not appear very exciting but for many anglers it’s the challenge of catching fish under difficult conditions that is the thrill rather than the size of the fish. When the frost is nibbling the ears a few dabs can be a great reward for some scratchy plus they make great eating.

Some tips to help you catch more dabs include adding a few sequins to your hook snoods when fishing in clear water. A small tip of fish, shellfish or squid can also be a deadly lugworm cocktail of dabs but keep the tip bait small finger nail size. For flounders little beats a bunch of wriggly maddies tipped with a small strip of mackerel plus a buoyant bead (it works for dabs too) to give the bait a little lift and movement in the current. Dabs and those slug like rockling love sticky decaying lugworm with four day old black lugworm a prime bait for February match fishing. So don’t throw your lugworm bait away after a trip, keep it until next week and you will find it deadly for the tiddlers especially dabs

Finally, one of the most crucial tactical decisions when fishing in the New Year concerns casting distance – The whack it as far as you can early winter tactic which works for the codling and whiting found in the deepest water no longer catches in February, it fact its nearly always out to far, way past the feeding fish. More effective is an accurate cast to the gutter between low and high tide line, or the back or front of a sand bank or gulley. Other hot spots include the ends of wooden groynes or rock ledges which the fish hugging the shoreline have to go around. Consistent casting to the same spot also pays dividends.

The biggest bonus of this time of year in match fishing terms is that catch and release events mean fewer fish killed. Place them in a bucket of water before you measure register and return – Of course you can retain the bigger fish to eat, but many go back and can be caught again in the future.

DETAILS OF THE TF GEAR DELTA QUIVER TIP BEACHCASTER

Delta Allrounder is a 16ft multi tip rod designed for competition fishing and continental style fishing. Casting 2-5oz leads, It also comes complete with 3 interchangable quiver tips  ranging from 200g upto 600g making it perfect for scratching around for flatties and smaller species. It come with a sliding reel seat and  is suitable for both fixed & multiplier reels.

 

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Dec 11

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING

I hope you all liked the new TF Gear DVD on shore and boat fishing in South Wales. Boy did we have some weather to contend with, it rained and blew all week. But we caught fish thanks to the help of Clive Vedmore of Barry Angling Centre who sorted the bait, Roy Tapper our guide and Steve Jones on his charter boat, Indiana out of Cardiff who put is on the fish.

If you don’t have a copy of the DVD it is available from TF Gear dealers. For a list etc contact. TF Gear unit 5&6 Industrial Estate, Brecon, Powys. LD3 8LA Tel. 08719117045 Web: www.tfgear.co.uk

I bit off more than I could chew whilst fishing the Clubman Final at Kelling against the Holt SAC – Making a film for Tight Lines I was miked up all day and at the beck and call of the producer and camera man – It played havoc with my cast timing and time by the rod and I finished a dismal eighth out of ten, that’s my excuse anyway. The Sea Angler team who fished against the Clubman champions included: myself, Chris Clark, Joc Goudie, John Wells and the SA editor, Mel Russ. The Holt SAC team was Tony Thomas, Paul Fenech, Dean Conway, Peter Loke and Peter Morse. They pipped the Sea Angler squad by a couple of biggest round fish which was a significant margin because they had the only round fish caught worth 10 and 9 points respectfully. Otherwise it was a tight match – Star of the show was Tony Thomas of Sheringham who pegged next to me, ignored the dabs at short range and landed three codling at range for some mega points. A bit of local knowledge and some white ragworm did the trick, whilst the Sea Angler team had failed to spot the importance of the round fish in the complicated points system. A great days friendly club fishing, mind you one of the Holt Team did go a bit overboard with the victory celebrations and the best consolation was to see him posing as he reeled in for the TV cameras only to have three bare hooks! The film on Sky tight lines shows sea match fishing catch and release style and is bound to raise more interest in the Club fishing and the Clubman championships which is growing in popularity – If you want details or want to enter your club team e mail me on ; alankyates@aol.com

COMPETITIONS, ETC
The round of Christmas matches is upon us – A fun way to win a turkey dinner if you get lucky. It’s great to see match anglers spend a fortune on bait and entry fees and go home with a turkey when they could have brought six with the money it cost them. This sums up what I have known for years and that that just going fishing is more important to most than winning a prize, although a consolation prize is better than being a none mentioned also run. A lesson for clubs is that the Christmas match is always the best attended of the year because of the prize structure. Anyone thought of a similar prize structure for the normal club matches?

Some New Year matches worth a visit  include;

The Skua SAC Winter Open at Talacre on January 7th and 8th. Saturday fishing is from  1.30pm until 5.30pm and Sunday from 2.15pm until 6.15pm. Register at the Smugglers Inn. The event is three hooks but no crab. Contact Pete Corker on 07711622015 or Gordon Thornes on 01244 813003

On January 18th Mainwarings Angling Centre celebrate their 8Oth Anniversary with an open competition on Swansea Breakwater. (No juniors) Fishing is from8.30am until12.30pm. Its catch measure and return with a top prize of £1000. Meet at Fabian Way Park and ride for dock entry pass and peg etc. 200 entry limit. For tickets or more details contact Mainwarings Angling Centre Tel. 01792 202245

Nearer home I am organising the Kent Dab Championships on Folkestone pier on February 5th. Fishing is from10am until 4pm. Entry £10 plus pool but its pre book because pegs are limited. Alan Yates 01303 250017.

The largest Kentmatch in February is on the 12th and that’s the popular Fountain SAC Open event pegged along the beaches of Seabrook and Hythe. Fishing is from 11am until 4pm and the event carries a top prize of 1st £1000. The entry is £15 plus pool.  Brian Barnes 01303 260875

TACKLE AND WINTER TIPS

With proper winter looming its time to make the most of the mildest weather – Once the shingle and sands starts to freeze then shore fishing will be just the tiddlers. Lots of the mature fish move offshore to spawn at this time of year and it’s a time for tiddlers around much of the Country. Scratchy fishing indeed unless you are in one of the regions blessed with plenty of codling. It’s that time of year.

Coming up soon is the New Year and for me it’s a time for real scratchy fishing – I like fishing delicate for flatties etc and out comes the quiver tip rod. Can’t wait to get my hands on the new 16 footer – only tested the prototype so far. Arm that with three wire whisker booms, size four hooks and some stale lug and maddies and away you go. Even the tiddlers can give you a good bite and fishing with braid on a fixed spool reel magnifies bites even more and allows the smaller fish to pull back as well.

Weed in the water can be a real pain in the winter clogging and jamming the rod tip ring. One way to eliminate its influence is to switch to a tapered shock leader so that the leader joint knot is smaller. Check out the TF Gear Aftershock tapered leaders. They are 13 metres long and with five on a spool they are available in hi Viz orange or clear.