Early Pike Fishing

After the fluky zander I told you about in the last blog, I returned for a proper go, bivvying up for two days. The zander tend to feed at long range in this water and I put out roach deadbaits over 100 yards via my Microcat, each being dropped accompanied by four or five sectioned baits which had been soaked in fish oils. I was really confident of action, at least from the big pike the water holds if not from the zander. But I came home a beaten man 48 hours later. In all that time, I had just one pike about 12lb plus a dropped run that I am fairly sure was from a zander.

With the zander fishing apparently at full stop for everyone else also, I switched my attention for the last few sessions to another water I am targeting for big pike this winter. On the first two days, in mid October, I had just three runs on mackerel tail, but they were all nice fish between 13lb 8ozs and 15lb 4ozs. I was fascinated to see the most incredibly dense shoals of roach, stretching from the margins to well over forty yards from the bank. Perhaps that explained the plague of around thirty cormorants working the water. It might also explain the low number of runs to big deadbaits, but I rarely switch to small livebaits at this time of the year as you can be plagued by jacks. I would honestly rather blank than catch 4lb pike!

My tackle usually consists of some beefed up coarse fishing tackle, leader is 15 lb TFG redmist mono and heavy, 3.25 or 3.5 test curve rods deal with casting larger dead baits long distances.

The last two days have given me real hope that the coming winter could throw up something special. On Wednesday, after arriving at the crack of dawn, I was away on a joey mackerel almost before it was fully light. Ten minutes later, I was unhooking a lovely looking fish of 14lb 12ozs and when this was followed ten minutes later by a 12lb 6oz specimen the omens were looking good.

By mid morning, the strong southerly wind was really gusting, luckily directly behind me. That made an extra long cast with a large deadbait straightforward and at midday a half mackerel was picked up at about seventy yards range by something that felt very big indeed. I have never felt that pike are particularly impressive fighters, when compared with carp or barbel, but this one wanted to give me a scrap. I managed to pump it within about thirty yards fairly easily but then the fun started. I lost count of the times I had it within feet of the net cord before it surged off again, taking yards of line against the clutch. I suppose it was a good fifteen minutes after the run that the fish eventually folded into the net, and I could see that it was certainly a twenty plus. When I had it on the unhooking mat, I saw a magnificent, darkly mottled fish in absolutely tip top condition. It took the scales to 23lb 8ozs, a great start to the winter campaign.

There was to be one more fish before I packed up at dusk, another chunky fish of 15lb 9ozs, to complete a quartet with a very pleasing average size. I was back in the same swim yesterday morning and again the dawn period did not disappoint. This time, however, I had two runs simultaneously, making my decision to set up two landing nets a wise precaution. Once I’d landed the first fish, it was placed safely in the net in the margins while I dealt with the other fish. Both were safely unhooked and released, two more cracking fish of 17lb 12ozs and 19lb 4ozs. Again, they were in brilliant condition.

After that dawn flurry, there was to be no more action until mid afternoon, when the third and last fish put in an appearance. Again, it was a nice double of 16lb 12ozs, maintaining the quite remarkable average size. I also had two baits picked up by cormorants. Luckily, they both dropped the baits. Aren’t they the most horrible birds! This winter could produce something exciting. Although I’ve had lots of 20lb plus pike in my career, I’ve only had two over 25lbs. My target is to make that three before the season’s over.


For all those of you into e-books, I have just placed my third book on Kindle. The first two were titled Top Tactics for Big Barbel and Top Tactics for Big Chub and the titles really say it all. The newest book is called My Big Fish Life and is an autobiography of over 50 years of specimen hunting. It runs to well over 150 pages with 100 plus photographs and is priced at only around £4. I would welcome feedback from all those of you who have my Kindle books or intend to get them, as I intend to complete the Top Tactics series with all the major coarse species.

TF Gear Carp Masters Competition

Introducing the world’s biggest prize in carp fishing!

A marathon 5 day and 5 night fishing stint which has been designed to bring out the best carp anglers in Europe. Held at Lake Fishabil, Europe’s most prolific carp water which has produced a number of record breaking carp over the years and is notorious for testing some of the best carp fishing tackle in the world.

The TF Gear Carp Masters Competition is rapidly filling up with our already limited space, make sure to book now if your interested not to be disappointed, and be in with a chance of winning £10,000 cash!

7th – 12th October will see 35 pairs fishing for the biggest cash prize to grace the carp fishing circuit. To secure your place the entry fee per pair is £1,000 (That’s £500 each) and includes 5 days/nights fishing, fishing fees, refreshments upon reception, accommodation and the Gala dinner with presentation.

Sponsored by one of the biggest fishing tackle retailers and covered by two of the most read carp fishing magazines, there are £1000’s worth of free tackle with great publicity.

More more information please visit the competition website here – TF Gear Carp Masters – Or alternatively Call Glenda – 01874612827

BIG money, BIG carp! Are YOU up to the challenge?

Coarse fishing on a Whim


Ten days after the last session I told you about, my youngest daughter had to undergo a very serious shoulder operation, meaning that my wife and I had to be on hand to help with our two year old grandson when my son-in-law had to be at work. My daughter has been told she cannot do any lifting for at least three months so my sessions were necessarily short and close to home from mid September. By the end of November things will hopefully be back to normal.

Just before her operation, I again joined Alan Lawrence for a two day Ouse carp/tench session. After the aggravation with signal crayfish on the previous trip we both went in from the off with popped up rubber corn on both fishing rods, in conjunction with sweetcorn laced method mix. We also baited with loose corn via our Spombs. By the time I was sorted on the first day in was mid afternoon, but only ten minutes after casting, both rods were away almost simultaneously. The first yielded a 6lb bream, closely followed by a hard fighting male tench of 6lb 14ozs. An hour later, another 6lb plus tench came calling and then, just before dark, I had a tremendous scrap with a muscular common carp of 10lb 14ozs. It went quiet then for a while and although I had caught no big fish I had thoroughly enjoyed the opening exchanges.

10lb 14oz Common Carp

Around midnight, Alan reported that he’d had a sudden flurry of bream, with four fish in a matter of only ten minutes, and then it was my turn. I only had two fish, around 2.00 am, but they were both nice fish of just over 8lbs.

The onset of daylight saw the tench become active and we both had three fish in the first hour, after which it was very quiet for the rest of the day. In fact, the light was fading before we had any other action, when two more bream each at least reminded us what a bite looked like. The entire dark hours were blank for both of us, highly unusual for that stretch which has such a large bream population. We were both leaving not long after dawn, but managed one more average tench each before packing away. The fishing had been patchy and apart from my common, the target species had again failed to materialise. But the tench and bream fishing had been very enjoyable. On a river, 6lb plus tench are big fish, although they wouldn’t raise many eyebrows on most gravel pits!

8lb + Bream After Dark

The first of my single day sessions was the following week, at a local lake with a night fishing ban. It is strictly dawn till dusk only, but with a decent stock density of good carp there is rarely a day when you can’t get a couple of fish. The stock is mainly mid doubles to mid twenties, but there have been three different thirties taken to 34lb. The most popular swims on the water are four where a 70 yard cast reaches the fringes of a long, narrow central island. Carp regularly patrol there, as they do in most waters with similar features, and I had enjoyed several good days there over the last two seasons. On this trip, however, I decided to fish a tight little swim, hemmed in  by willows each side, and put two baits in close, barely thirty yards out. Before I set up, I fired out half a kilo of 14mm boilies, scattering them well to give a browsing area the size of a tennis court at least. Twenty minutes later, with two rigs in place, I put the kettle on.

It took a while for the first action to occur, but at 11.00am the left hand carp fishing rod was shaking in the rests and the reel spool was a blur. What a run that was! After a great scrap, a long, lean muscular common carp of 18lb 12oz lay in the net, a good start. That first fish opened the floodgates. Only minutes after the recast, and topping up with another 100 boilies, the same rod was away again, and this time an 18lb plus mirror eventually rolled into the net. Without boring you with a blow by blow account, from midday until I had to leave at 8.00pm, I landed a further 15 carp, as well as losing one in a snag. The smallest I landed was a common of 13lbs, and the catch included a brace of 20lb commons, of 20-8 and 21-6. As I said for the Ouse fishing, no really big fish, but 17 carp in a day, all over 13lbs and including two twenties, is good fun in anyone’s language. Even for an out and out specimen hunter like me, it’s great to have a lot of good fish occasionally. It makes the hard days and the blanks easier to bear.

The following week, I decided on an overnighter at another local water, which has produced bream to about 14lbs in the past, although doubles are hard to come by. It is only about three miles from home, making it the ideal place for an overnighter should the need arise to get home quickly. The water does contain a big head of bream of all sizes and it is vital to go in heavy with the loose feed to have any hope at all of holding a shoal long enough to catch one or two. The previous afternoon, I’d been over for two hours, when I’d introduced about 10kg of mixed particle feed, as well as a Kilo of 14mm boilies and twenty large balls of a method mix and Vitalin combination. I would be fishing three rods on different baits, one on a boilie, one on popped up rubber corn and the other on a lobworm/corn cocktail.

On the day itself, after a further baiting via my Spomb, I commenced fishing at around midday and packed up some two hours after dawn the next morning. Fish came steadily, and I had four bream up to dusk, best just over 9lbs. Then, as soon as it was fully dark, the bream went potty. From 11.00pm until 3.00am I landed no fewer than nine more fish, best 10lb 4ozs, mostly to boilie baits with two to popped up rubber corn. Surprisingly, there was no interest on the lobworm bait.

The most interesting fish of the session was the last, caught just before dawn. Following a screaming take on rubber corn, I played a strong fish for ages on the light feeder rod, convinced it was a rare big nocturnal tench. When it surfaced, however, I was amazed to see my first ever zander, fairly lip hooked in the scissors. I had intended targeting the species sometime this season, but to get my first in such a way was a little bizarre. Despite the slightly unsatisfactory manner of its capture, I was pleased with my first zander and soon recorded a weight of 7lb 14ozs. At least I can claim another personal best this season!

7lb 14 oz Zander

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary

The arrival of October signals a start to the cod season for most shore anglers, although in many regions lots of fishing rods are already out on the beaches etc because once the nights start to draw in the first autumn codling start appearing. However, its at the end of this month that a majority of venues start to see the odd bigger specimen moving inshore as the summer species move away and the cod follow the whiting inshore. The whiting are though becoming the problem because there are so many of them that they take baits aimed at big fish and appear to eat most other species out of house and home. It’s only the match anglers that are happy when it comes to whiting although the fact that there are so many that they appear stunted and almost always undersized can be frustrating. Dogfish and whiting are so often the sea anglers lot nowadays and it makes you wonder where we will all end up.

Last week a glimmer of hope came when a DEFRA survey team appeared on a beach at Deal in Kent. The anglers fishing were quizzed on what they had caught and how much they had spent on their fishing. One angler told me that the result of his individual statistics suggested that a small bass he had caught and returned was worth £57 a pound to the British economy! What angling brings to the economy is at last being examined and its my bet that it will open a few eyes and move DEFRA to start looking after the angling species, fingers crossed!

I am just back from a trip to Ireland with Sea Angler magazine and TF Gear where we spent a week fishing from boat and shore for magazine articles and a DVD which will be free on Sea Angler in the future. Our group included several well known sea anglers under the Sea Safari banner with the fishing funded by the Irish Tourist board and supported by the Inland Fisheries Ireland with two of their inspectors acting as guides. Unfortunately our visit collided with the worst September weather for a decade and we spent a week scurrying from venues to venue to get out of the gales. Fortunately this meant a couple of new venues and overall the results were good considering the weather. I cannot though leave Ireland without saying that the ethnic anglers over there are a problem for the Irish angling authorities because nothing is returned alive. Some of the marks we fished showed similar signs to those in England where catch and kill and the litter are so bad that it makes you wonder how anything can survive on the mark and that includes above the water line! Ireland already has a limit on the number of bass you can take in a day and a total ban on commercial bass fishing and I can see them extending it to mackerel, pollack and other species.

My Irish adventure also proved interesting because I got to try out some LRF. Now this stands for “light rock fishing” and it’s fishing with extremely light gear using lures. TF Gear have introduced some new sea fishing tackle items to compliment the style and part of the trip was to test out the new rod, reels and lures. Now I am a bit cynical when it comes to lure fishing because I believe that more fish can often be caught on bait than lures and view the style of fishing as an alternative rather than the be all and end of sea fishing. The fanatics must get used to catching nothing and so I am going to stick with the beachcaster and only use the lure rods when conditions are perfect. In Ireland a rock mark out of the wind was perfect for a spot of wrassing – trouble was whilst the plastics barely got a look, the ragworm was seized every drop by hungry wrasse topping the 3lb mark. I fished a small 0.25oz bullet slid down the line to the hook knot, jig head style. Baited with a whole ragworm this was cast and fished sink and draw – The bites were fierce, the fight fierce on micro braid and a 10lb mono leader – check out the forthcoming DVD. Incidentally if you need to know anything about the venues that appear on the DVD they will all be featured in Sea Angler magazine in forthcoming issues.

At the time of writing this report the England shore squad are out practising in Holland for the forthcoming World Sea Angling Championships. – My son Richard is a member of the England team and so I have a vested interest. Particularly because my first world gold medal came in Holland in 1991 with England – Good luck to all the home nations who are competing in the event – Its close to our style of shore fishing and the best chance the home teams have of a medal away from the Mediterranean style of most other countries.


Dave Lane Carp Fishing Diary

It’s that time of year now, when the nights start to draw in and the mornings are always damp and soaked with dew, the time of year when carp start to feed again. Gone are the long and sweltering days when all you can do is watch them lazing around on the top or pugged up in a weed-bed somewhere, its fishing time!

I love September and October, it’s still nice enough not to be classed as winter but carp fishing over a decent deepwater mark and a pile of boilies can produce fantastic results. I tend to fish in clear areas on the actual bottom of the swim as oppose to bars, plateau’s or shallower features at this time of year, preferring to place my offerings down in the silt where all the natural food items are. It’s not uncommon to see huge sheets of bubbles hitting the surface on a calm morning as the carp root around in the silt, feeding on anything and everything they can find. I have just arrived back from a particularly successful session over in Northampton, the first day of a new south westerly wind, a drop of ten degrees in temperature and nice overcast skies; it was never going to be anything but good really.

I arrived on the Monday morning at first light to find a totally deserted lake and, rather than my customary walk around, I headed straight up onto the windward bank, rushing to get the carp fishing rods out while it was still nice and early, convinced I would be in with a chance straight away. Although the lake is still choked with weed I knew where the clearer areas were so it was only a matter of minutes before I had two rods fishing properly. Before I had a chance to get the third one out though, the first one was away and, after a bit of a tussle and a net full of weed, I found a beautiful thirty four pound linear lying in the bottom of the mesh, what a way to start. That fish let me know I had picked the right area and, given the conditions, I really stepped up the baiting, making sure I had at least a kilo over each rod, topping it up after every fish.

The plan worked perfectly and later that evening one of the other rods was away, this time the weed gave me a lot less hassle and pretty soon a twenty nine pound mirror was hoisted up for the camera. Two good fish before I’d even done a night and, over the next forty eight hours I managed to add a thirty three pound common, and three more between twenty and mid doubles. The fish came at all times of the day and night which a good sign that they are happy down there on the bottom. Throughout a lot of the year they only spend small amounts of the day actually near the lake bed and this leads to very short and precise feeding times.

During the summer it can be too hot and the oxygen levels are so low that they lay just below the surface and again, during the winter, the temperatures are so low that the air pressure seems to affect them more and leads them to lie in mid water for most of the time. During the autumn however, everything is just perfect so, don’t just sit there reading, grab your rods and get out there fishing, you know it makes sense!

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary September

The slowest fishing of the year from the shore for many is during August whilst in contrast the arrival of September and its failing light and falling temperatures marks the beginning of some of the best fishing of the year. Already here in the South East there are codling being reported and in weeks some bigger bass along with the first of the cod will arrive. In the meantime it’s not too late to catch smoothhound, ray, bream, mullet and a whole host of summer species, so make the most of the next two months.

Good news for Southern anglers is the return of Dover Breakwater as an angling venue. The “Concrete boat” as its called at Dover has been closed all summer because the boating company operating the ferry chose to close the service. But Dover Sea Angling association have stepped in buying their own boat and employing an ex charter skipper to operate it weekly. Currently the boat goes to the wall on Wednesdays and weekends although private parties can be arranged through Dover SAA Tel 013034 204722 subject to the availability of the operator.

At this time the first codling have been reported from the shore in Kent along with some big bass which are falling to live baits fished close in to the beach after dark and from the deep water piers. Check out the brace by Dover angler, Brian Price he landed from Dover’s Admiralty pier end on fresh mackerel. Around the rest of the country the arrival of the codling marks the beginning of many anglers winter fishing, don’t leave it too late to drag the beachcasters from the garage because the codling will be the only cod that show in some regions.

Its time to check over the sea fishing tackle too – Salt water can ruin anything metal and for those of you that put rods and reels away wet in February there may be a shock waiting now. Whatever, its time to give rods and reels the once over before you fish and that’s includes a wash down in soapy water to remove crud, sand etc, a ring insert inspection because even the smallest crack can shred mono line. Next do the same with your reels, a toothbrush can be used to remove the stains and salt and return the models looks although also very important is an internal check of reel brakes, bearings, free spool button or lever and some new line is also probably needed. After that terminal rigs need renewing etc – old worms, fish, weed, salt etc can take the point off hooks in a matter of weeks, apart from the smell which is a divorce waiting to happen! Play safe a make a new collection of rigs, if you cant make them or haven’t the time my range of TF Gear rigs is available, all on winders – Now’s the time to look out for the Pulley rig – my version has a Pulley bead, much safer than a swivel and it allows you to reduce the snood breaking strain to 40lb if you are overhead casting and the rubber stop allows the rig to extend more smoothly preventing fish being bumped off!

My personal jobs getting ready for the fishing to come have included replacing the rope to my landing net ready for the pier because the deep water walls and jetties can be the places to head for when summer has not quiet made up its mind to leave. Aside from the codling I shall be targeting mullet with some large specimens showing through September and October. In order to attract them its essential to have a mesh bag filled with bread. The trouble with that is during the stronger tides the bag rubs on the pier wall and the mesh gets damaged and releases most of the bread. Well I have found a solution, whilst in France recently on a carp fishing trip I found a small metal mesh freshwater keep net and I can now place my bread bag inside that and hang it beside the pier wall or leg in the strongest tide without it releasing too much bread!
Regarding the carp fishing – It was a great substitute for the sea during the August doldrums and I caught three carp over 30lbs, best 36lb 5oz in an afternoon. Now its time for a big cod or bass, fingers crossed.

My next trip fishing away from home is to the West Coast of Ireland with TF Gear and Sea Angler magazine to make a DVD and features for the magazine. I am joined by angling mates, Chris Clark, John Wells, Paul Fenech, and Norman Dunlop and with the help of Irish angler, Pete Atkins and Mike Hennessy we intend to explore a few deep water rock marks around the Clare coast. It’s a region I have fished many times in the past, in fact I won the World Rock Championships there five times during the 80s. In those days giant congers, bull huss, pollack, ray etc came from the rock marks around Black Head and although the venue still has its moments it’s the remoter venues off the beaten track that now produce the best fishing, isn’t that the case everywhere? So it’s Rockhopper boots and rucksack for a trek over the rugged Burren landscape and if we get the chance a spot of spinning for bass in the early morning.

The next few months are the peak of the competition fishing year with lots of major events taking place around the UK and Ireland to coincide with the improved fishing. Here are just a handful of the events worth fishing:

On September 15th the Brighton Marina RNLI Bass Open takes place from the Brighton marina Arms. Two rods. Entry £10. Craig Gosling 07732343792 or Andrew Bennett 07866 735355 or E Mail: andrew.bennett66@btinternet.com

The Scarborough Festival starts on the 16th September. Details 07557 683570 or 01751 475795

On September the 22/23 the Loch Ryan Festival is held in Loch Ryan. Fishing is Sat 7pm until 11pm; Sun 10.30am until 3.30pm. Book in at the Commercial Inn from 4.30pm. Entry £15 per day. Pre book Eric 01776702705.

The SAMF Daiwa Irish Pairs fished at Dingle, Ireland from Sept 29th may well be full by now, details: www;irishpairs.co.uk Nick Haward 01502724222

The Loughor Boating Club Open Flounder Competition takes place on the 7th of October. Fishing 8.30am until 1.30pm. The heaviest flounder is worth £1000. Gerald 07866447425

The same date (7th October) the British Open Sea Angling Championships take s place from the Deal and Walmer beaches. Fishing 11am until 4pm. £1000 first. Pat Heath 01303 361248

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary July


A busy weekend for competitions at Samphire Hoe, Dover recently when the Home Nations team Championships took place. Samphire Hoe is a very snaggy venue despite which it has become one of the favourite venue for international competitions because it’s a long fair promenade stretch that produces fish in mid summer in the calmest, clearest water conditions. The reason for this is that the sea bed out from the sea wall is a mass of rocks and kelp, many also say all the redundant dumper lorries and trucks used to construct the Channel Tunnel, the Hoe is a venue made from the tunnels spoil after all!

I tagged along on the Friday of the Home Nations with the camera and saw a few pollack, dogfish, pout and wrasse come in with the England youngsters doing particularly well fishing alongside the wall. In the event both the England Junior and Youth teams won their competitions, whilst the England seniors tied for last place and Scotland took the senior honours.

Interesting fact about the event was that like all Internationals nowadays they are bait supplied. This takes away the enormous advantage that many top match match anglers who spend several days a week digging and collecting bait have. I was very against the idea when I fished internationally because I placed great faith and effort in bait collecting, although it was a case of if you don’t like it don’t fish internationally and so I had to bow to the rule. Nowadays having retired from the international arena I am not so anti bait supplied. I suppose over the years I have become brainwashed into thinking it’s a fairer system, although in the back of my mind making an effort is always goes to by more important to me.

Bait supplied makes the fishing fairer, to an extent, when the bait supplied is good quality and the bait the fish are looking for, but being fobbed off with bad bait is the worst feeling in the World when you are fishing for your country – I remember when the World champs was fished at Dover being given common lugworm when my team mates and all other competitors all had yellowtails – It ruined my championships and was one of the reasons I packed in international fishing.

After the Home Nations had finished, I fished the European Federation event – It was also bait supplied, although a much lower key international event. More like a Saga International with all the old timers in attendance. Two days of fishing after the Home Nations had virtually cleaned out the venue proved hard and I struggled to catch because the venues fish are mostly localised and even fishing catch and release catching the fish totally ruined the fishing for the following days. Winner of the European was Reg Clough from Salisbury who amongst his haul included a specimen three bearded rockling. I took some pics of Reg’s rockling and in the excitement of it all he returned the fish without measuring it! Fortunately it had been pictured near a measure and he was awarded 45cm – I though it was nearer 50cm, lesson learned for Reg.


Coming up is the start of the major competition season, yes after a dismal summer, autumn is not that far away although hopefully there will be some sunshine in between. Lots of events to fish in the months to come with the Festivals particularly favourite for their friendliness and camaraderie. Some to look out for include:

The Filey Brigg Angling Society Sea Fishing Festival starts on Saturday 1st of September. For details contact Miss Carolyn Cammish, 01723 518457. Web: www.fileybrigganglingsociety.co.uk

Also on the 2nd of September the Weymouth Festival takes place. Contact 07967 018225.

The Torbay Sea Angling Festival takes place from September 7th until the 16th and that has boat and shore events. For details contact: Paul Vaggers  01803 551005   Mobile: 07967 647955  Email: paulvaggers@btinternet.com

Web: www.torbayfishingfestival.co.uk

The Scarborough Festival starts on the 15th September with the Bob Yarker Trophy which is a rover, there are competitions all week and the event is sponsored by Sea Angler magazine. Details on 07557 683570 or 01751 475795

Finally, its not a festival, but the week long SAMF Daiwa Irish Pairs is fished a at Dingle in Ireland from the 29th September. Places usually sell out early. www; irishpairs.co.uk Nick Haward 01502724222


It’s that time of year when sea anglers are starting to think about the autumn season to come. Its time for some sea fishing tackle maintenance, or an update of tackle ready for the cod and big bass season, or in the case of the competition angler, the larger autumn opens and festivals. Is your gear up to scratch, have you got the latest fishing tackle innovations and are you prepared?

A major job apart from some general maintenance of rods and sea fishing  reels is to renew the sea fishing line and shock leaders on all reels. Modern monofilament is tougher than in the past and will last on the reel for months, BUT the odd nick or damage could cost you a fish and so the new season is the time to renew line completely. On the beach nowadays I prefer to go for diameter nowadays rather than line breaking strain because its knock strength and durability that is so important from the beach. OK low diameter line casts further and resists the tide less, but if it pops on the first barnacle that counts for nothing. So I tend to stick with Nantec 0.40mm (18lb) for general fishing with a 0.37mm to 0.80mm Aftershock tapered shock leader.

Terminal rig wise have you spotted that the TF Gear rig range includes rigs that use rubber stop snood fixings? These not only allow the user to adjust the snood position at will, but also if they get snagged the snood rubber can slip and spring the hook free, sometimes.

My most recent fishing session for Sea Angler Magazine saw me join Paul Fenech and Jason Davey in search of bass from a spectacular Sussex surf venue and was lucky enough to bag a 5lber. Read all about it in the next issue of Sea Angler Magazine.

One of the better size bass at 5lb 1oz for Alan Yates whilst filming a feature foir Sea Angler magazine

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.

Dave Lane filming the TFG Carp Fishing DVD

Well it’s been all change for me recently, I’ve finished on Monks Pit and I’ve deferred Black swan sailing lake for a year or two so it’s on to pastures new.

I figured that there was very little left in Monks for me to target, having caught most of the known biggies bar about two or three and two years is about enough for me on any water really. There are too many places I want to fish and too little time to fish them all. Black Swan was a different story as I still love the place and I know in my heart that I am not finished on there yet but I needed a break and the arrival of a new ticket helped make up mind.

I have been trying to get onto a new gravel pit in the Nene Valley and, as from April, I have finally managed it and it’s exciting times ahead.

The lake has only been officially fished for the past year so it is still full of mystery and intrigue and this, more than anything, is what seems to spur me on the most.

Before I could make my first trip however, I was needed over at the Linear complex in Oxford to make a new  TF Gear carp fishing DVD to go on the front cover of next month’s Total Carp.

I hadn’t been over to Linear for a few years but I always used to be a fairly regular visitor, often fishing there in the winter and also attending charity events in the warmer months, something I intend to resume later this year actually.

The filming was booked for the end of the bank holiday weekend which, in reality, could have been a big problem as the lakes were packed but, luckily, we had managed to book an area in advance and there were signs of fish out there right from the off.

Catching fish for the camera is always a fraught affair, if it doesn’t go right on the day or the fish are just not playing the game then a lot of time and money can be wasted so it always starts off as a bit of a pressure situation. Not only that but there is a lot of behind the scenes action going on so it can be tricky to concentrate on the lake which is something I like to do totally; I find that just watching the water can give you all the answers you need. Luckily for me I had a good crew there and most of the time I was free to ‘do my own thing’ and, once I had found the right range and a rig that worked the fish started to come.

We were on Brasenose two, which is well stocked with nice looking carp in the high doubles and twenties but, due to the early time of year, a lot of these were determined to stay out at long range. I was using the new TF Gear Multi-Flex carp rod, which comes with twin tips and I was genuinely amazed at how well they performed at range, bearing in mind I was hitting about one hundred and ten yards range to land on the fish and using fifteen pound line. The rods have two different top sections, one at 2.75lb for all close in work and the other at 3.5lb for long range stuff. It’s a brilliant idea really as it saves having two sets of rods for different waters or approaches or even times of the year and the action is superb on either set-up.

A couple of the fish were really nice mid-twenties and every one of them, no matter what the size, fought like a tiger all the way to the bank. On occasions I was amazed just how hard they did pull but it was all good fun and a great demonstration of the tackle I was using at the time.

I won’t go into too much detail and ruin the DVD but the whole session went really well and, on the second day the fish got up in the water and started moving around a bit which gave me the opportunity for a bit of zig fishing as well. If you do you watch the disk, which will be on the front of the June Total Carp issue, look out for the takes while we are actually filming other stuff, or sitting by the rods chatting as these are genuine takes and not mocked up for the camera. Moments like those are so hard to capture on film and were worth their weight in gold as they occurred, as if on cue, and really gave the finishing touches in my view. You might also see my new carp dog making an appearance or two, I’m not 100% sure if he will be in the finished version but he spent most of the session doing his upmost to appear on camera and, behind the scenes, there was a permanent ‘stick thrower’ trying to keep him otherwise amused.

All in all it was a highly successful session and, although tiring, we ended up with loads of good footage, I’m just glad I’m not the one who has to edit it all!



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.