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

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 Sea Fishing Diary Nov 11

 

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING

The slow progress to winter weather has affected the shore fishing in my region of Kent and the expected cod have not materialised, YET, from the beaches. Instead the small whiting, dogfish and now an influx of postage sized dabs are eating all the other species out of house and home. It’s grim if you are a shore specimen hunter and my advice is to desert Kent for the many other regions that are fishing much better. The recent TF Gear DVD fishing in South Wales is an example – Plenty of codling throughout the South Wales, Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel region and some bigger ones from the boat. Other reports from around the country suggest the cod fishing is superb in some regions. The North East is enjoying an influx of codling and they are growing fast,East Anglia has some and the North West is improving rapidly.

With all this in mind much of my recent fishing at home has been in competitions and I have had a mixed bag of results recently, but the bright spots included a win from a dud peg on Folkestone pier although it proved to not be a dud and I suppose that teaches us all never to give up because in fishing you just never know. A catch of garfish and mackerel in mid November was something of a surprise – how a float outfit stayed in my tackle box I don’t know?

I had a pretty poor day at the TF Gear Kent Classic on the Isle of Sheppey, plagued with small whiting, I managed two goers out of 60 fish. However, the company was good because I was paired with a local junior. Although to be honest a paired peg was not what I had in mind and fishing in the disabled section was rather a handicap!

What I am doing is to try to get around catching those small whiting and any tips on that would be gratefully received. I have tried bigger hooks (2/0s) but even they don’t keep the 25cm whiting off!  With all the small fish around there is the temptation to go all in for the tiddlers with smaller hooks and lighter hook snoods, but the likes of size 4s and 10lb snoods really is a step too far and only practical in catch and release matches – Size 1s and 25lb hook snoods remain the sensible winter minimum.

COMPETITIONS, ETC
With Christmas and the New Year looming is time for those seasonal events. Turkeys and Christmas fares attract lots of anglers who would not normally fish competitions and all this proves that lots of prizes are far more attractive than a big cash prize and although I have said it before a return to the old prize structure system may be the way for lots of clubs who are loosing support to go.

My next away event is the Clubman final inNorfolk where the Sea Angler magazine staff etc fish against last years Clubman champions, Holt Sea Angling Club. It’s a bit of a fun event really although you can bet that everyone will take it very seriously indeed.

Coming up is my annual pilgrimage to Kilmuckridge near Wexford for the Irish Winter beach championships on January 26th/27th and 28th. A very friendly multi day match with lots of Irish Craic Further Details/Entries to:

Warren Doyle, 98, Seacrest, Bray, Co. Wicklow. Phone: +353(0)1-2828769

Mobile: +353(0)86-8069961 (Evenings Please)

E-Mail: warrendoyle@iol.ie

TACKLE AND WINTER TIPS

The new TF Gear Force 8 S MAGs with their one piece frame are proving popular – I have switched over to them after using one all season and I must say the addition of a power handle is essential for fishing.

Her are a few shore and boat fishing tips for the winter months.

Shore anglers watch out for frozen sand, cold shallow water and lots of fresh water, rain or snow melt. Nothing is worse for results at this time of year because the fish will not come inshore under such conditions. I have a rule and that is not to fish anywhere that I cannot cast past ground that is uncovered at low tide, from December through until April!

Bait shortages are the winter angler’s worst enemy and once the weather deteriorates to real winter mode and all the part time diggers pack it in you will start to feel the effect. No real answer other than to stay loyal to your dealer.

You can lay in a supply of frozen Calamari etc or even get the fork or bait pump out yourself.

The largest winter sea driven by gale force winds can ruin a good fishing trip because it’s always in the worst weather that the fish are around. Ways to keep you fishing when the wind and sea are near gale force is to include a few 8oz fixed wire grip leads in your kit. These help tow baits through the wind with a low punchy cast more effective than a high looping thrash, and ensure baits stay where the land. Also add an adjustable sliding butt cap to your rod rest because with it you can raise your rod tip and line much higher up above the waves and weed. Finally – don’t be afraid to fish the piers and deep water rock marks. Lots of beach anglers don’t even consider such venues despite them being so much more practical and productive in the “dead” of winter.

 

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary

October   2011

 

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING?

An autumn trip to Ireland with Sea Angler Magazine for the Irish Tourist Board proved very successful and you can read and see the results in the coming issues. I can’t spill the beans, but what I will say is that if you want to catch bass on lures, Ireland is the place to do it. The water clarity is a major factor and no matter how rough the bass can see your lure, unlike many venues that I fish in the UK where a pea souper is as good for bass as it is for mackerel. The latest soft plastic lures are deadly for school bass and the tactic is so addictive, it even got World Champion match fishing fanatic Chris Clark hooked with his intentions to rove the Perbecks near his home town of Lymington with a lure rod next summer.

Whilst I fished in Ireland for a week during a storm, England basked in a heat wave, but it did mean I had to avoid some of the best Atlantic facing Irish rock and cliff venues. The dangers of rock fishing in a large sea are not always obvious so I have included a picture with the caption “Anglers beware”

 

Back home all thoughts switch to cod and the Indian summer weather has made a mess of the daylight fishing so darkness has been the time to hit the beach, although in Kent the calm seas have produced more bass than cod and its still not too late to fish a live whiting or pouting very close in at night for a bass, The best venues are the steep shingle beaches, but avoid beach stone crunching and flashing head lights.

I am off to Wales in a week or so to make a second TF Gear DVD – hopefully we should find some cod or codling amongst the whiting this year and with luck a boat trip out of South Wales will produce some bigger cod. Target from the shore or boat is 10lb. That’s a bit below par for my memory because I caught over 100 cod over 10lb in a single winter season from the shore in the 1960s, nowadays ONE would be good!

FISHING NEWS, COMPETITIONS, ETC

For me it’s the main competition season, I don’t fish open beach matches during the summer because the fishing is generally poor and for tiddlers. But come October the water colours up, usually and the whiting, codling, dogfish, dabs and a whole lot more turn up for the feast. My match fishing philosophy has always been that catching lots of fish is more important than winning and I see no joy in spending hours on a venue without a bite. Of course plenty of fish means the challenge is catching them quickly and catching the most – Much more fun!

TF Gear are supporting the Kent Classic being fished on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent on the 13th November 2011. This event is nearly always a sell out of its 400 pegs so don’t lave it too late to booking. Fishing 11am until 4pm with 400 pre-book only. Prospects rely totally on the wind direction, strength and sea state – Rough and coloured and Sheppey fishes well with a draw around Barton Point usually good, but flat and clear and you will need those maddies for the odd flounder.

Booking in from 7am at Sheerness East working Men’s Club. Trevor 01795 877127 or trevback@sky.com

Ray 07930390761 or rayjeffrey@hotmail.com Entry forms can also be downloaded from the website http://sssac.webplus.net/index.html

TACKLE NEWS, TIPS AND INFORMATION

Chest waders are a real boon to the winter shore angler because they keep you totally dry and for the beach cod angler allow you to sit on your tackle box in the rain without a wet bum! The latest breathable waders are light weight and lots of sea anglers are switching to them, especially for bass lure fishing but on the beach I still prefer the older neoprene design. They may be heavier, but they retain warmth and best of all stand the wear and tear of rocks and shingle. Kneel down in a light weight pair too often and you go through the knees – I know because I did!

With the whiting hitting the beaches in numbers after dark lots of anglers caught up in the excitement will find their forefinger like a pin cushion after a whiting session. That’s OK whiting only have tiny teeth but a couple of nights of finger puncture and the bait juice will get into the holes, nicks and scratches and you will be in trouble, believe me its painful especially ragworm or crab juices. What’s more wrestling a hook out of a whiting is sure to kill it. A far more efficient idea is to use a disgorger and release the fish without touching it into a bucket of water for careful return later. A simple Gemini disgorger is the complete answer. Run its loop down the hook snood to the bend of the hook and then use the weight of the fish to pop the hook free “Simple”

See you on the beach.

Alan Yates

 

Bream Feast

An estate lake close to my home has long held a big head of bream but never, until recent years, did it produce fish to interest a single minded specimen hunter like me. The average fish was always around 4lb and 6lb was about the top limit. But, in recent years, that average has apparently started to climb quite significantly, so much so that I was hearing rumours of regular doubles being taken, with fish to over 12lb certainly genuine. Now, while 12lb is still nowhere near the top end of bream weights these days, it is still a very worthwhile target and definitely rates as a worthwhile specimen in my eyes.

Having taken delivery of three of the gorgeous new TFG Classic Nan Tec barbel fishing rods, I decided to put them to use as feeder rods, using the Avon top joint rather than the separate quiver top. A bream session was planned, and as the water is close to home I took advantage by driving there on the afternoon before my session to introduce bait into the selected area. In an hour, using a Spomb, I had fired out a large bucket of mixed Pigeon mix, corn, stewed wheat and TFG mixed halibut pellets. I also included a few 15mm fishmeal boilies.

The following morning, it took a fair while to set my camp and it was around midday before I was casting the first bait into position, after having introduced a further twenty Spomb loads of bait. That was baited with a boilie wrapped in paste, and accompanied by a method ball. As I set up my second rod, which was to be baited with lobworm/corn cocktail, the alarm on the first sounded and line started to disappear off the free spool reel. The bait had only been in place about two minutes! As soon as I struck, I knew I was attached to a fair fish but, typical of bream, it never gave me any anxious moments. Soon, I was weighing my first fish of the session, 8lb 6ozs, and a good start.

Before rebating, I cast the lobworm rod into position and then attached a new boilie to the first rod. With that one in place, I turned my attention to rod number three, which was to have a soft pellet hookbait. Just as I was moulding the method ball in place, the lob worm rod was off in a fast run. This was ridiculous! Soon, I was weighing a second 8lb plus fish. Fifteen minutes later, with all three rods out together at last, I was able to contemplate a cup of tea and fired up the kettle. However, before it had time to boil I had to turn it off again as bream number three came to call. 9lb 3ozs this one registered and did give me a decent scrap for a change. Just as that was being slipped back, a fourth bream had galloped off with a boilie. A few minutes later, and less than an hour after the first cast, I was weighing a fourth fish, this time 7lb 14ozs.

After that fish, I did have a couple of hours very welcome respite before another flurry of action commenced, and by dusk another four fish had been netted. These fish were significantly bigger, at 9-2, 9-9, 9-13 and the fish that turned out the biggest of the session at 10lb 7ozs. From then until about 11.00pm there were four more fish before the action stopped completely and I was able to get a little sleep. In a hectic afternoon and evening session I’d landed a surprising 12 bream with a very respectable average weight.

The action started again at first light, but during the daylight hours fish only came spasmodically. In fact, only two more bream came before dark, although I did land a solitary five pound tench and get bitten off by a big pike that had taken a liking to a boilie. After dark, though, the action turned absolutely manic. I won’t bore you with a blow by blow account but, during the night I was landing fish about every forty minutes. By daybreak, I’d had no sleep whatsoever and was absolutely knackered. In total, I’d landed 27 bream from 7lb to 10-7 plus the tench, approaching 200lbs in total.

Looking back on the session, it was great fun but obviously the chances of a really outsize bream appear to be limited by the sheer numbers of fish. But with bream you never really know. Anglers who have spent far more time than me after bream have told me that it’s very common for a huge fish to suddenly show up amongst much lesser individuals. I shall certainly go back and hopefully improve on my 10-7 result.