Alan Yates Sea fishing Diary October 2015

IT’S TIME FOR COD

The cod season has arrived and an increasing number of anglers are out after them, with catches from all around the UK being much improved on recent years. In some regions it’s possible to catch four fish over 3lb in a session and a few are making 6lb. Reports from various regions include the river Tyne being packed with small codling so the future seasons are also bright there. Inside the Humber estuary codling are showing at Immingham. In the East Anglia codling of 3lb plus are a regular feature of competitions and that shows they are around because the matches are not always organised for the best fishing, more towards social hours and the pub times.

Ian Dancey of Waterlooville, Portsmouth with two cod from Ferry Bridge, Chesil beach

In Kent Dungeness has already produced four codling in one session. Reports of cod from Brighton and Shoreham beaches show the English Channel has prospects, whilst the hot spot on some days is Dorset’s, Chesil beach. The Bristol Channel looks good with Blue Anchor, Dunster beach and Brean/Brean Down the top high water venues. The Fylde coast cod season looks good with codling showing already with fish averaging 1lb to 2lb. Best reports are coming from the northern end of the coast from the west facing beaches like Cleveleys, Dronsfield Road and Beach Road, Fleetwood.

Chesil beach – a great spot for catching cod!

All you need to do is get the sea fishing tackle out and head for the beach or pier, although a good overhaul of you fishing gear might be worth it before you venture out! Especially check you main lines because they will almost certainly require changing. Look at rod rings for wear and hair line cracks and reels for salt corrosion. Terminal rigs that have been returned from last year’s fishing should be binned and it’s not a bad idea to tie up a few new ones, especially because every season advances in tackle accessories are made and you may miss out on something special.

Check out the TF Gear web site: www.totalfishinggear.co.uk or www.fishtec.co.uk for a comprehensive selection of sea fishing equipment.

Bait wise, little beats yellowtail or black lugworm and squid as a front line codling bait, although a few fresh peeler crabs can be deadly on many venues, especially the rough ground and estuaries.

Ben Arnold of Brighton with an 11lb cod from Dover Admiralty pier – it won him the three day pier festival and is the first of the bigger shore cod from Kent

HANDLING YOUR CATCH

The way you handle your catch has become a far more important issue nowadays with political correctness demanding more attention to fish welfare. Dumping the fish in a fish box as they are caught is still practiced, but some anglers want to kill the fish that they catch, others simply release everything alive.

Personally I eat a lot of the fish I catch and so I do kill what I want to take home, but release those that are unwanted, or I feel need returning. There are of course rules and regulations governing legal minimum size limits and not all fish are legally big enough to retain, but those that are big enough are not always candidates for catch and release simply because many a hook hold is fatal to a fish, especially the small species and those species that always swallow the hook. So it’s an open ended situation and I sometimes take home fish I would otherwise have released. There are of course also catch limits nowadays, the new bass three fish a day is the first of many I think we have to come. Some species are barred from capture, eels, tope, shad to name a few.

Removing hooks is a major problem for a majority of sea anglers and lots of sea fish are killed by anglers who want to return a fish, but simply lack the technique and skill to remove a hook without harming the fish. Some hooks cannot be removed without damage, but the majority can if you know what you are doing. Using a sea fishing disgorger helps although many cannot work the likes of the Gemini effectively. It does take practise; get another angler to show you how.

If you are totally intent on fishing catch and release then use small hooks – these do less damage and are easier to remove. Size 8s or event 10s are not as practically efficient as larger sizes, but far more fish friendly if you can call a hook that. Such freshwater hook sizes being an example for their ease of removal with a simple freshwater stick (Stomfo) disgorger. Another good idea for C&R is to use crushed or micro barbs on hooks which make them easier to remove, barbless is less popular, but again it’s more fish friendly for those fishing catch and release.

Another major issue with fish welfare is handling the fish, grabbing a pouting, whiting, mackerel, etc around the middle, fighting the hook free and then releasing the fish does a lot of damage to the fishes protective, scales and slime coating. I am not in agreement with the theory that ALL mackerel handled die because of this. As a regular coarse angler I handle lots of freshwater fish and because they are caught and released regularly it is well known that they survive handling, although a wet hand, cloth or unhooked in the net, plus gentle handling is more commonly practised in freshwater angling.

At sea a problem is that different species are more delicate, some swallow hooks and some are reasonably tough. Bass for instance rarely swallow the hook and have a tough bony mouth and scaled body making them more resistant to unhooking and handling. Mullet on the other hand shed scales easily and need to be handled with great care. Dogfish are very resilient to unhooking and handling, whilst codling and the rest of the cod family and the other soft fined species are very easily damaged by a hook or handling and a very low percentage of those hooked survive. Dropping fish from a high venue is also a problem although this can be solved by the use of a bucket to net or even hooking the fish on the grip lead wire.

Flatfish are also prone to damage when the hook is removed because of the trap door nature of their mouth, many swim away strongly look like they will survive, but die later. The reality is that with the best will in the world some fish will not survive and it is my personal policy, provided a damaged fish is sizable, that I retain it for the table.

If you have to kill a fish or want to prevent it gasping its life away in the fish box then a sharp blow to the head is still the best method. Most boat skipper use the aptly names “priest” whilst from the shore small fish can be dispatched with the fish measure or knife handle

At the end of the day, fish welfare is and always has been a matter of personal conscience and although anglers may differ greatly in opinion it is totally their own personal decision and no one else’s!!!

Tight lines, Alan Yates

 

Alan Yates TF Gear Sea Fishing Dairy – September 2015

At the time of writing this I am also working on the prospects/hot spots pages for the next issue of Sea Angler Magazine with an eye on the coming cod season and I have got to say it looks good!

Alan Yates with a codling.

Well for many of us the cod are already here and although I haven’t actually hooked a codling yet, this week maybe, I have seen a few landed. Most striking is that they are not really as big as I thought they would be and this raises a few interesting issues. Back in the day it was said that the cod doubled their weight each season and I must admit to thinking that this September would see the last year’s crop of 2lbers return as fives! But no, depending upon where you fish, they all but that and in fact in the South East some as small as 3lbs. Other reports do put them at 5lbs, but of course you have to factor in the freelance sea angler’s reputation for exaggeration because most do add on a bit. I have always based my reports and news in the match result weights because they are truthful and in the case of codling size a match fish is 3lb and a freelance fish is 6lb.

Anyway, in some regions the fish are thin, as are the enormous shoals of whiting and I believe all this is down to the number of fish and the available food. Add in the dogfish hoards and the sea is being swept clean of food and those fish are struggling to put on weight. On the plus side of course is that with winter coming and the lower sea temperatures and gales the dogfish will soon move into deeper water in many regions and the codling and whiting will be inshore after the gales to feast and its then they pack on the weight – November and December.

Dogfish and whiting – eating the cod out of house and home.

In the meantime it’s a fact that the bigger codling will come from the rough ground and the richest sea areas in terms of food. Current reports put Chesil Beach and East Anglian venues as best for the plumper, fitter fish and the cod drought in South Wales may be over, whilst further north into the North Sea the codling are usually fatter anyway, I wonder if that down to fewer dogfish?

On my own patch, Kent the codling are expected to range from 3lb to 5lb and at that size the great thing is that they pull the string – no mistaking a codling bite and they pull and are far more difficult to land up a wall etc without a net. Of course the added bonus is that the off fish with beat 6lb even 7lb and now we are starting to talk cod!

And what about catching one or hooking one, how difficult is that going to be?

Well the answer does depend on the angler and lots reading this will have ambitions way above their ability – I don’t mean to be rude, but a majority of sea anglers, especially novices, live in a dream world when it comes to catching cod.

The first problem is finding a venue – A productive and worthwhile venue and lots can’t be bothered to make any effort in this direction and simple fish their nearest mark, usually close to the car park. Ignore the stories, look for facts! After that the choice of tide and weather are paramount and then there is the question of day or night? This makes up around 40% of the solution to catching cod – Remember you can’t catch em if they aren’t there! The spring tides are the best without doubt and coloured water is better in daylight than clear. At night clear water can be productive but make an effort to find and fish the venues best tide time. On some marks it’s the flood on some the ebb, but mostly around high tide. Long marathon sessions can be fun and tiring, but with knowledge you can spend the same hour on the venue as the cod!

Catching cod consistently from the shore is not about throwing cash at the subject, it’s about using a few brain cells and getting out there and making an EFFORT!

I would say tackle is just 20% of the subject and a quality rod and reel costing around the £200 is all that’s needed. Check out the TF Gear sea fishing tackle range because we’ve worked on a range of functional, tough tackle that can cope with the winter season. Look for a good reel in particular because that will help you to a smoother, longer cast – most beach casters in the 4oz to 8oz range are adequate and you only get a designer label for that extra cash – spend it on a top of the range reel instead.. Avoid cheap tackle, especially if you are a beginner because you will need all the help you can get. A couple of sessions with a casting instructor is next, 20%. He will put your right on tackle balance etc and may even add a few casting yards and they are vital in winter!

The remaining percentages needed to catch cod include the small things like bait – Black/yellowtail lugworm, quality frozen squid and fresh peeler crab if you can get them are the only essentials, other baits you can forget. After that terminal rigs, hooks, leads and the comforts like a day shelter, rod rest, good clothing are all not to be neglected because an efficient, warm dry angler is a contented angler and he will be more likely to be successful.

Things to avoid – rumours, myths and tackle shop talk – it’s usually too late to capitalise on a venue rumour, but what you can do is note the tide and weather on the venue and when it repeats, fish there then!

Be honest with your ability – if you are short on casting range looks for a pier or deep water beach where you can reach the fish and if you are really down on casting skills then only fish at night because the inshore sea is more likely to be stacked with fish closer in under the cover of darkness.

My final piece of advice is to buddy up, find a mate who knows how to catch cod or join a group club that have knowledge and ability and copy them – That’s how we learn life – copy others because it’s all been done before and nothing says that it’s not YOUR turn!!!

Cruise liner terminal venue at Dover.

Before I go, some good news for sea anglers is the opening of a new venue soon at Dover in Kent – Because the Prince of Wales pier is closing for a new Marina the Port Authority are opening an inside section of the Admiralty pier near the Cruise terminal.

Tight lines, Alan Yates.

Introducing FishSpy – See what You’re Missing.

TF Gear would like to proudly announce what we consider to be the most exciting product we have ever developed.

FishSpy is an innovative underwater camera, which we feel is going to be a game changer for carp fishermen world-wide. Our technical team have been working intensively on this project for over two years now, and we consider this to be an innovative product that is going to completely revolutionise the carp fishing world. Uniquely FishSpy is capable of transmitting live and recorded video direct to your smartphone or tablet with it’s built in WiFi, up to 100 meter’s distance away. FishSpy retails at just £249.95 and will be on the shelves early November 2015.

We think this short video speaks for itself:

Why did we develop FishSpy?

We felt the need to create a technological fishing product that would help the carp angler. Products such as water wolf are good for entertainment value (especially if you are a predator angler), but do not actually help you catch more fish. The same with GoPro’s – they make excellent recordings but these cannot be instantly applied on the bank side to help you land more carp. We thought about making a product that would show you the lake bed and the fish instantly, via a live video feed- therefore giving the angler the ability to adapt your tactics there and then. There was clearly a gap in the market that we stepped forward to fill – there simply wasn’t anything like this out there, or indeed technically possible to manufacture. So we looked at applying this concept by integrating a water proof camera into a marker float. Two years later, after thousands of hours of testing and hardcore fishing – and this is the end result. FishSpy will change the way you fish for ever.

Two years in development – A FishSpy underwater camera

What can it do for you, the carp angler?

FishSpy is very useful to the carp fisherman because it can give you an instant idea of what is happening on the lake bed.  The major benefit is feature finding – you can find a clear patch on a very weedy lake bottom, or a silt bed loaded with bloodworm. Once you locate a prime area you can use it just like a traditional marker float, and aim your cast right at FishSpy. Another benefit is you will be able to see just how your bait and rig behave on the lake bottom- seeing how your bait presentation sits in the sediment, allows you to adjust rig type, bait buoyancy etc. See how your bait stands out on the bottom, and throw in, bait boat, or catapult free offerings around FishSpy so you know how they appear on the substrate and act in the water column. This allows you to comprehensively fine tune your bait presentation to maximize your fish catching results- as any carper knows getting a perfectly presented bait into the right area is ultimately the difference between success and failure.

Using FishSpy to find hotspots:

Using FishSpy when baiting up:

Lets not forget the purely fun element for the angler – just like Water Wolfs and GoPro’s FishSpy has the facility to actually capture fish on film. So you can view the quarry themselves, plus record and save for future viewing and social media sharing.

Carp and Tench Feeding captured on film:

As part of our development process we have involved dedicated carp anglers all over the UK to help fine tune and tweak this product, ensuring it hits the floor running.
We presented FishSpy to Dave Lane, our carp fishing and tackle consultant. This is what Dave had to say – “Feature finding made easy, what has taken me a lifetime to learn, can be achieved overnight by using FishSpy – the ultimate edge!” We filmed this great video with Dave, showing just how effective FishSpy can be in boosting your carp catches.

FishSpy with Dave Lane – Live video to your mobile or tablet:

The technical stuff:

The FishSpy camera is housed inside an aerodynamic waterproof marker float that is built to withstand depths of up to 10 meter’s. FishSpy generates it’s own WiFi network, and allows you to connect to any WiFi devise, be it a smart phone, tablet or even a laptop. You do not need mobile internet signal or even standard phone signal for this to work with your devise.
Video is streamed in 640 x 480 quality – a great compromise between image quality and file size. This is the optimum specification for maximum streaming range and signal reliability, while still giving you an incredible view into an underwater world.

On the waters surface FishSpy can transmit up to 100 m distance. This range is assisted by a foam ring, which helps buoy up the camera from the surface of the lake, increasing the reliability and strength of the signal. Bear in mind from the surface you may not be able to see the bottom directly if it is very deep, light conditions are poor or if the water is murkey and stained. This is where FishSpy really is ingenious – you can hit a record button on your devise and wind it down very close to the lake bed for a better view.
Footage is stored on FishSpy’s generous 7 hour capacity memory card. You can then float it back up to the surface and view your recording instantly by hitting the play back button on your devise.

You can repeat this procedure in order to cover a vast area of the lake, giving you a true insight into what is down there. Yes you really can see what you’re missing!

FishSpy at the surface – giving you a live video feed to the world below.

 

 

FishSpy recording video footage fully submerged. Review instantly on the surface!

You can access the data from FishSpy through a custom designed app for apples iOs system, or a web browser for Andriod operating systems. There are several great features integrated into FishSpy’s software – including an action tag allowing you to mark a particular part of your video sequence, allowing for quick location when playing back at a later time. You can play back and delete any recordings you wish there and then, and any recording you choose to keep can be easily downloaded when you connect your FishSpy to a PC or laptop back home – by simply dragging and dropping the files. Battery life is 4 hours, and FishSpy can be easily charged back up using a standard micro USB port, just like on your android phone.

Some FishSpy screen shots from the Apple iOs app.

To cast FishSpy, simply rig up and attach to your fishing line just like a regular marker float. A boom is also included with the package, which allows you to wind right down to the lake bed.

How to set up FishSpy on your line.

A technical spec chart from www.fishspy.com

 

Watch this great FishSpy tutorial video which explains everything you need to know:

For more technical specifications and informative product videos visit the Fishspy Website.

How much can I buy a FishSpy camera for, and where can I get one?

A FishSpy underwater camera unit is £249.95 retail. We think for a technologically advanced fishing product of this caliber this represents incredible value for money.
When you compare a FishSpy camera to the cost of a baitboat, or a set of three decent rods and reels, your bivvy and bait over a year plus your syndicate and license fees, then the cost of a FishSpy camera is quite insignificant. The true value of FishSpy will become apparent when your carp catches radically improve, and backed by an unconditional 12 month warranty this is an investment for the future- not just a short term toy. FishSpy camera units will be available from early November 2015.

Find your UK dealer here: http://www.fishspy.com/stockists

We plan to have have Europe wide distribution of this product in the very near future, so continental carpers need not fear missing out on this fantastic product.

Follow us on social media:

We also created several new exciting social media channels for FishSpy – YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Pintrest.
So why not give them a follow and see what you’re missing!

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary – August/September

I enjoyed a hectic weekend at Amble in Northumberland organising the Sea Angler Magazine Penn National final. Forty qualifiers from all over Britain and Ireland competed in what is essentially sea angling’s major ranking tournament. The full results will be in the next magazine issue, although I can tell you that southern anglers, especially the England and Wales Internationals, did exceptionally well with Cardiff Matchmen Chris Read the overall winner.

Penn final 2015 Warkworth

Back from the Penn final, my next trip was to fish Folkestone pier which has been closed for repairs for over a year- Work is complete and its opening for the Folkestone Sea Angling Association competitions only at present. The problem being that an open free for all will inevitably produce problems, especially with the mackerel fishing hoards who are considered lacking in any angling etiquette by all.

A sunny day with a light breeze produced a few fish for those at the end of the pier with local angler, Herbie Tyler winning with 9lb 14oz; he included the limit of three dogfish plus twenty pouting. Runner up was John Wells of Hythe fishing on peg two and john landed the biggest fish of the competition, a 3lb 13oz smoothhound taken on crab. I managed a steady third with a few pout and dogfish

. John Wells with a smoothhound from a refurbished Folkestone pier

Talking to Folkestone SAA Secretary and Treasurer, Robert Harwood Brown about the future of Folkestone pier. He said it is only open for FSAA club competitions at present. However, a meeting with the port authorities is imminent and this will decide, things like access, times and the rules and regulations effecting angling on the pier.

Extensive repairs have taken place with new gates and handrail, a new tarmac surface and safety furniture. Work is ongoing and the pier will be closed for work on the wall in October (Let’s hope not too long because it’s the peak of the cod season)

A number of local anglers have expressed concern that the pier is taking on a drinking culture and that angling will be pushed to the side, especially because the major work has been carried out on the non angling areas, but I can assure all that the officers of the Folkestone SAA have no intention of allowing that to happen.

Staying with piers the next casualty is another Kent pier, the Prince of Wales pier at Dover which will close for a major port development and may not return going on Dover Harbour Boards record of public access. The Prince of Wales pier is the only pier in the South that allows disabled anglers car access to fish the sea wall.

Dover’s Admiralty pier has reopened but there trolleys are barred because of the narrow walkway and so the less able angler has restricted access. Meanwhile Dover breakwater remains closed and it looks like that is it for the venue with the Dover Harbour Board having no intention of ever allowing anglers back!!!!!

Autumns coming, time to take your beach shelter.

With a change in the weather looming shore fishing is set for a major change to Autumn and winter mode and a return of crowded and snaggy venues. Losing terminal tackle is one of the shore sea angling’s major problem areas and nothing is worse than finding your gear in a snag just when the fish are starting to bite. A major cause around the UK shore, especially in the popular sea angling piers and beaches is that anglers uses heavy (60lb +) leaders to help them cast long with thin mainline (15lb). Obviously once the lead or terminal tackle is snagged the main line will always break, usually at the leader knot leaving leader, rig and lead to increase the snag. This over four decades or more has created lots of huge snags around many parts of the coast and because mono degrades very slowly these snags stay in place. On some venues regular dredging clears them, whilst on the most volatile storm beaches the weather breaks them up or buries them, but they remain a big problem.

No matter what tackle you chose to use for fishing over snags of any kind and that includes rocks and weed as well as line snag, the first essential is choosing where to fish to avoid the snag and that vital speedy tackle retrieve.

Watch an experienced rock angler and he will make the fishing look easy, but this is because he will first select his fishing spot based on his experience of the venue’s snags. Have you even looked at low water to see what you are fishing over? A few yards along the venue can make a difference to hitting the worse snags or missing them completely, plus you location in terms of closeness to the water’s edge creates a different line angle to the any snag and a high position will give you a steeper angle of retrieve which often does the trick. Add to that that there will be a difference between fishing the flood and ebb tide and either can increase or decrease a snag’s ferocity.

A failure to grip the rod and reel firmly so that the reel can be cranked at maximum speed is a major failing on many, especially novices. Too many believe that all they have to do is clip on some gimmicky snag-avoiding accessory and all the problems will be solved. But far more effective is to pick the rod up and slowly wind the rod down to point at the lead and then with that one lifting movement lift and reel as fast as you can, keeping the rod tip as high as possible. Fixed spools which have faster initial retrieve speed than the empty spooled multiplier, are gaining popularity on snaggy venues.

If your sea fishing tackle is snagged then there are several things you can do to try to escape. First change the angle of the line to the snag, walk down or uptide and try a gradual pull, or get higher up so that the angle to the snag is more acute, this often works. If that fails then try letting the line slack or pulling sharply on the rod tip. Take care with the latter because if you get over violent with the rod tip you may break it

When you are so badly snagged that there is no alternative, but to pull for a break by pointing the rod at the snag and make sure the spool of the reel is not being pressured by wrapping the line around the rod butt. Straining the spool of the reel can result in the spindle bending and the spool jamming. Walk backwards slowly tensioning the line to its limit gradually. This can sometime move a stop knot on the rig causing it to slip and jump free. Finally, fishing amongst snags is about losing tackle, it’s an inevitability of this type of sea angling that you will lose a rig sooner than later. So always have plenty of rigs and a spare reel available and if you are consistently snagged “MOVE” it’s amazing how many anglers ignore this way to avoid snags!

 

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary – July

A mixed month for me with several sea trips, a trout reservoir and a week in France carping. Midsummer and the weather can be tough for fishing in all disciplines and the sea angling tends to get hardest from the shore with the calm, clear water deterring all except mackerel and a few others from coming into the inshore shallows. The angler’s best bet is to take to the deeper rock marks, piers or the boat and for me it was the latter. Currently the smoothhound population is at its best ever with the hounds growing in size and numbers every year. This year Kent is amongst the many UK coasts experiencing a hound invasion. Catches from the beach have included fish to 20lb with 6 for 31kg in a recent event at Beltinge near Herne Bay. Which leads me on to another story..

Typical smoothhound caught off Broadstairs.

Shark sighting reports litter the Kent newspapers and the tabloid media this month, after all it is July. Look out for Graham Pullen catching a big one in Cornwall any day now. The amusing thing about these sensationalist reports are that Kent’s sea anglers may have had a hand in it! Recent competitions at Reculver and Beltinge near Herne Bay have produced lots of smoothhounds – these are a true shark which have had a population explosion around the UK in recent years. They are not commercially fished for because they taste rubbish and are labour intensive to skin and pack etc. Anglers return them and so the population has not only increased, but the fish have grown bigger and bigger. Recent catches of hounds, also called Gummy sharks and Gulley sharks because of their lack of teeth are coming from all around the UK with individual fish of 20lb plus (9kg) up to five feet long. During the latest competition at Herne Bay one of the competitors, a well known Kent angler, told a passerby who asked what he was fishing for? “Sharks” he replied. Now the fish are landed measured and returned alive and it’s my bet that the one spotted in the media reports was a returned smoothhound. Whatever, it must be stressed that these fish are harmless and swimming near them the worst that can happen is a nasty suck!!!

Back to my boat trip and that was out of Ramsgate after bass and hounds – You can read the full story in a coming issue of Sea Angler Magazine, but the conclusion of the day was we caught plenty of hounds. Someone asked me how big was mine – Now I don’t know because I very rarely bother weighing fish except in competitions. It was a double and I’m just glad to catch and return them and don’t really keep a tally or personal bests. Although having said that my best carp from the trip to France were both PBs, a 47lb 12oz common and a 45lb 8oz mirror.

Alan Yates 47lb 12oz French carp.

Back to the sea and its coming up to that time of year I always label the doldrums – Here in Kent we have had such a fantastic winter, spring and early summer that the doldrums are going to be hard to take. What happens usually is that all the fish swim past us north and for a short period in August the fishing is poor. Eventually when the fish return it’s a bonanza in October and November, I suppose you can’t have it all, but the most sea anglers in my region are hoping that enough of those codling from last year survive to return this autumn. They should be four to five pounds, well big enough to pull the string and some fun fishing ahead.

It’s mackerel time and I have the light gear ready for a few evening trips on the rocks or beach after mackerel – well bass too, but the mackerel are more reliable especially as darkness falls. Any lead headed rubber eel sort of fish shape works, not too big. The savage gear sandeels just are perfect. Fish them on a spinning rod and braid for some really enjoyable sport all be it short lived at dusk.

It’s Mackerel fishing time!

I’m a bit piddled off with the LRF scene – its getting silly now guys, grown men chasing scorpion fish, etc – It’s just not that bad in the UK, there are plenty of quality sized fish to catch and there is no need to target tiddlers. I am more inclined to think that the LRF style is a great way of fishing for some species with better presentation the key; it beats 6oz sinkers and 70lb leader line. But not to catch the mini species like bullheads and rock cook wrasses, I leave them to the small boys. Get out with your LRF style gear, beef it up a bit too and catch some good sized fish. Wrasse. pollack, bass, mackerel etc – the best angling fun on the planet – Oh and before I go off the subject – Bait is far better than lures for some species so don’t get obsessed with lures!!!!!

I’m up to Northumberland in the coming weeks to oversee the Sea Angler / Penn National Final. It’s being fished at Warkworth beach and includes all of the top sea match anglers in the Country – Worth a visit if you are a shore angler because lots of the competitors will be fishing Continental style with fixed spool reels and light line – It’s a different approach and a bit like LRF with everything scaled down and refined. Check out the range of continental sea fishing rods on the TF Gear website.

Tight lines,

Alan Yates.

 

Alan Yates – Sea Fishing Diary June 2015.

Well June is here and finally the weather is getting better, as are the catches giving me more to write about for my monthly sea fishing diary. I have made several trips this month with mixed results – The long hike along Samphire Hoe, Near Dover, was made easier with a trolley and I have a large four wheeled freshwater version that allows me to take all of my sea fishing tackle… and the kitchen sink.

A trolley to help with the long walk.

The Hoe may be a long walk to my favourite spot at the western end, but its wheelchair friendly with slopes rather than steps to negotiate which makes it ideal for the trolley. I always fish the venue over low water when it’s calm and then the first of the flood, first because it’s less crowded with mackerel anglers and second because the ebb and first flood is the best time for the bass and pollack on a float. The ebb tide is not so strong so a sliding float, baited with a ragworm or frozen sandeel can be trotted down tide with ease and in comfort. Using a sliding float you need to continually adjust the depth by moving the stop knot on the mail line. The system is simple really, but a couple of novice anglers nearby were moaning that their float would not stand up – Really! I explained that they were fishing too deep and should move their stop knot nearer the float. We do take things for granted sometimes, not realising the simple things can baffle the novice – The happy ending was that they eventually cottoned on to the need to keep adjusting the depth they fished with the tide and caught plenty of pollack.

I have landed a few bass on the method, but netting them alone with the ledge below the wall is awkward. On this trip, no bass, but a 47cm pollack gave me some fun, not a monster, but from the Kent shore round about as big as you will get, great eating too.

Alan Yates 45cm pollack – at Samphire Hoe.

There were also plenty, but not too many dogfish, plus a few pristine and brilliantly bronze banded pout (is there a prettier fish straight out of the sea) along with some vivid green ballan wrasse. The venue is fairly snaggy and so the float for fishing alongside the wall is the most effective way to avoid hook ups – For the bottom little beats a Pulley rig, one hook only, fishing 30lb straight through. The Hoe has been taken over by new management and the day fishing ticket has gone up to £6 available from the bailiff on the wall, freshwater style, parking is a couple of quid and the wall open around 7am..

I also fished at Littlestone inside Hythe Bay and Dungeness Point – it’s a very shallow venue, great for lug pumping, but after or during a SW storm its sheltered and produces lots of fish. A bonus in summer is that the water is always coloured whilst elsewhere its gin clear and the fish love that. My day was punctuated by silver eels, now protected I landed several that wrecked by light mono rig, but included a couple of big beasties. Great to see them making a comeback despite their slime they give you a good bite and raise in adrenalin for a few minutes until you realise they are not a bass. I also landed lots of pouting and these too have made a comeback this year in the English Channel, I also had whiting, a double shot of schoolies and a small smoothhound. All on lugworm fished at 100 metres over high tide. The venue and the surrounding beaches have also been producing rays at night.

I was using the new Force 8 fixed spool reels with my Force 8 Continental beach casters – A great summer combination fishing light, although the new rods cast three hooks and a five ounce lead with ease. There is something about fishing with 8/12lb line on the beach – I’m using tapered carp leaders (40lb) and the whole set up promotes more refined bait presentation and yes I am seeing more bites and catching more fish, be some of them smaller. But getting a bite and catching something on some days is an achievement. I’m yet to test the set up on a big smoothhound and I guess a double figure hound will test the gear and my ability to flick the drag into action. Don’t I just hate yellow breakaway leads (150grams), I’m always going on about it, well Breakaway are now producing impact leads in Luminous – Great!!!

Mark Scott with a Wigtown bay smoothhound.

My only match this month was the Dover Sea Angling Association midweek species competition fished from the Prince of Wales pier at Dover in less than ideal conditions with an East wind gusting Force seven straight into the harbour and the competitors faces. The event was two rods with two hooks on each with one cast out and one down the wall and fished measure and return. Winner, pegged near the old Sea Cat gate was my son, Richard Yates of St Margaret’s with nine species. This included dogfish, pouting, whiting, and pollack, flounder, eel, weaver, blenny and wrasse all caught on a mixture of lugworm and ragworm. Richard claimed the top prize for the most species plus four biggest fish prizes. He fished Continental style with light gear and small hooks which is the way to go for species. My only claim to fame in the event was the biggest pouting which was a 40cm specimen. Other winners included Tim Fagg (dogfish and dab) Martyn Reid (smoothhound) John Wells (flounder) Alan Underdown (pollack).

Sorry about the pic of my biggest pollack from Samphire Hoe – No one has yet invented a selfie stick that can take a picture of you holding a fish – Ideas please to TF Gear!!!!
Talking about smoothhounds – some large creatures have been showing up all around the UK with venues in the Solent, off Lincolnshire and Humberside and even the Kirkcudbrigtshire coast in South West Scotland producing some large specimens.

John Lewis with another decent smoothound- from the south Wales coast.

Peeler crab is THE essential bait, don’t let anyone tell you different. Fresh crab switches the hounds into feeding mode, boat or shore. Other prominent species at present include the rays with plenty around plus some big stingers with the species like the rest enjoying a big comeback.

Dave Lane’s Top Carp Fishing Tips Competition

We recently ran a competition on one of our social media pages where carping legend Dave Lane asked for Facebook fans carp fishing tips for the month of May! The winner will receive a pair of TF Gear 10 foot banshee carp rods. We had a great response, and Dave has been looking through them all, and he decided that the winner is Paul Scott!

Here is Paul’s tip-

Paul Scott. This time of year the fish seem to be on the move quite a bit so although the key is to find fish, maybe take a bit more time in watching the routes they take and spotting traffic lanes they use. If your intending to fish that lake for the rest of the year, it will prove to be invaluable on the rest of your campaign!! Happy hunting.

The Key is to find fish – take time in watching the routes carp take.

Dave also liked Charlie Hallidays tip, so he gets a runners up prize of a TF Gear babes calander and baseball cap!

Charlies tip– When you want an accurate cast , mark your standing position and use a quick link to your lead’s swivel (for rig attachment) then un-clip your rig and cast to the desired area with just the lead , if you go into an snag or on an island you can get your setup back with ease and just keep casting until you hit the mark , then put your line in the clip and attach your rig ! Accuracy made easy with less fear of losing your rig don’t forget to use marker elastic for the next time and unclip after the cast for safety.

And finally the best of the rest-

Ashley Gray.
Make sure your bedchair is level before you attempt to go to sleep. It’s frightening when you slip down the end and then the bed tips up!!

Jonathan Ryder. I like to use solid bags but with a twist. Use a syringe to inject hemp oil and coconut oil into the centre of the bag mix. Has worked well for me!!

Anthony Bates. Coat your free baits in oil (i use tuna) then coat your baits in a good amount of salt its a big edge before they spawn.

Leigh Harmer. Keep mobile, watch the water and zigs are always a option

Dave Guy. Outside my bivvy I have three solar panel garden lights not bright but I can see my rods and nets and there not heavy and charge during the day.

Steff Parr. I found a pretty effective way to fish margins and near rushes if your able to lower your lead instead of casting and have your rig closer to the rushes than your lead and when baiting the area just plop a single boilie at a time and no more than 5 had a bite within minutes each time I do it now I always have one rig out and a popup near the rushes and if there is berry trees around the lake pick a few and use them as hookbait the lake fish know it to be a natural food.

Terry Robert Spurgeon. If using a long zig, loop the line then lick and fold over PVA foam at 2 or 3 places on the loop. Tangle free!

Kev Hudson. When using zigs I find placing a piece of pva foam below the hook , then cutting a few pieces of foam down and placing them a couple of feet apart down the zig line all the way to the lead negates tangling on the cast and makes sure your zig is sat correctly in the water column

John Buckingham. Always put my head torch in my boots at night!!! Or else I forget it.

Paul Jarvis. Check all your kit for wear and tear epically if it your first outing of the year, as mice can chew through anything

Glen Marshall. Don’t be afraid to move swims had one then nothing so moved swim had another two to 16lb…

Colin Smith. When zig or top fishing dip your bait’s in oil of clove’s work’s every time.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary MAY 2015

This month the mackerel feathers, floats, mini lures, etc are returned to the fishing tackle box – Its summer, well the calendar says its summer, although that cold easterly wind reminds us to keep that spare jumper handy.

Lures make a return to the fishing tackle box.

This time of year sees lots of species movement around our coasts and it’s a time to keep alert to what’s going on because the fish can appear and be gone in a week as they migrate north. Here in the South East the fish move through in a rush and it’s so often the anglers who are out and about regularly that make the best catches. Take the mackerel and garfish, they are now rare during mid summer. In the region with May the time they move through, you can make some great early catches of mackerel this month, but look the other way and they are gone all in a rush. One of the reasons why catching those early mackerel can be a good idea is that many consider they are the best for freezing down because they have not got the oil content of the late summer fish which have stuffed themselves with oily whitebait and other tiddlers and are said not to freeze down so well because the flesh is soft when they thaw out. How true this is I am not sure, but I have noticed a difference in the quality of the flesh of different batches of frozen mackerel. Same from the shop – have you noticed how some frozen mackerel, sandeel, even squid catches and others don’t and could this be the reason? It’s also worth mentioning on this subject that garfish flesh is far less soft when frozen than mackerel and many anglers consider it a better bait when frozen than mackerel.

Good news for fixed spool users this month is the arrival of the new TF Gear Force 8 fixed spool reel – Having been forced to swap from multiplier to fixed spool I nagged TF for a better fixed spool model. The cheaper models are great, but it’s like most things when you improve your skill, you want better equipment and that costs more. Well the new Force 8 fixed spool has arrived and I am well pleased with the result. It’s got all the features of the expensive models, but only sells for £129.99, currently on offer at a £79.99 introduction price.

The new TF Gear Force 8 white edition sea fishing reel

It includes a long tapered casting spool, 4 to 1 retrieve ratio, pucker front drag with quick wind off setting, a full set of bearings (7) a comfy handle and a cotton reel like line lay system all in a compact and balanced design that sits neatly under the butt and rejects the fixed spool past reputation as gawky. On the beach it casts great with 12 -15lb mono, not tried mine with braid yet – My only complaint and that may be rectified very soon, it doesn’t come with a spare spool. The big thing about fixed spool reels is that a couple of spare spools give you spare reels because the spools can be swapped in seconds and they can be loaded with different size and type of line – far more versatile than the multiplier.

Dogfish love or loathe – either way they are easy to catch!

I have been out on the club match scene locally recently and it’s noticeable that dogfish numbers have increased – SLIGHTLY!!!! The problem is that whilst it’s great to get a bite when you are fishing, after a couple of dogfish they get boring and on many venues it’s the guy on the dogfish hot spot, end of the pier etc, that wins the event. My local club, Folkestone SAA have tried to solve the problem with a three dogfish limit – You can cull up with fish so that you bring your three heaviest to the scales at the match end, but you are only allowed three. Not a bad idea, conservation, but killing a few to try to control numbers, although after a few events the general feeling is that a limit of five would be better. Other clubs in my region catch and release all dogfish so the count for 500 grams which also works well although at the end of the day being good at catching dogfish is what match fishing is all about in many regions! My advice in that respect is learn to cast long and fish with quality frozen sandeel, although in some regions a single black lugworm or a lugworm tipped squid bait works well. But beware when using tipped baits for dogfish, often the fish go for the main bait (worm) up the hook shank and line and can miss the hook point.

A typical summer shore Smoothhound

Species to look for this month include the smoothhound with the potential for some big specimens through the English Channel and up into the North Sea around Lincs and the Irish Sea and Bristol Channel. The species is growing in numbers and size and although the well known venues where the bigger breeding fish are found in a few small areas, the main run of fish is getting bigger on many of the other venues so keep an eye on your rod because even a three pound fish can pull your rod over! As for the best bait – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, the best bait for hounds everywhere is crab and that goes for the boat or shore – A whole common shore peeler, a hermit, a lump of edible, velvet or spider cannot be beaten.

Tight lines,

Alan Yates

 

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary April 2015

It’s April and the codling are still around and recently I have been out at Seabrook and Sandgate in Kent catching codling and plaice from the same venue – A reminder of the past when this was commonplace.

Alan Yates with a late 3lb Codling

The return of the plaice in the English Channel and Irish Sea is undoubtedly due to reduced commercial quota limits which have restricted the trawlers and this has not only given the plaice a chance to spawn and increase, but other species as well have not been scraped and churned from the sea bed and thrown back dead. This must have had an impact on the codling and maybe even the rays as well which are also enjoying a comeback. Long may it go on, but the commercials are screaming for quota increases and when this happens it may well see the plaice vanish again. They are a very slow growing species not being able to spawn until three or four years old and that’s the main problem with their survival.

Alan with a lovely trio of Plaice

With summer coming lots of excitement for sea anglers with the arrival of the mackerel, smoothhounds and the bass which will all get anglers out for different reasons? Last year the mackerel season through the English Channel was poor and from other reports it was as bad elsewhere – Overfishing and the ability of the commercials to scoop up huge shoals of fish in one go has decimated stocks and a bad sign last year was that those that did show were tiny or huge – a sign of a species decline because it’s the middle size fish that do the spawning etc. The major mackerel venues will still produce fish and the main shoals move up into the North Sea from May onwards and in recent years this has meant they have bypassed the South as they move further North and this may have contributed to the shortage. The summer season being poor, but the fish return late in to autumn. The good news is that mackerel lures have become so deadly that the latest are really effective so don’t just stick to feathers and tinsel – look at the latest mini fishing lures, the Sabikis and Shrimpers which also catch herrings and launce as a bonus.

The smoothhounds too are subject to a longer summer migration route nowadays and it’s noticeable how they are moving further north each year, whilst the Solent was the hot spot for years the species now invade Lincolnshire and even further North and some of the southern venues are not as productive as they were. That is a key to catching big smoothhounds – fish where they are and not where they used to be!

Bass – well lots of anglers will be out with spinning gear and fishing the latest plastics for bass is all the rage and no wonder – It’s a clean and instant way to fish. No messing with smelly worms or bait, you can grab a rod and go fishing in an instant and wander where you like. No standing in the rain waiting for a bite for hours. OK lure fishing is not always successful and there are lots of skills and local knowledge attached to success but its fun fishing and getting a bass to take you lure is addictive. If you haven’t already try braid line on your spinning outfit, its lack of stretch increases the “feel” of the set up, anything touches the lure you will know about it and that goes for sea bed snags etc as well. Most anglers use a short mono leader to help cushion the abruptness of the braid with around 4 metres plenty. As for lures – there are so many new plastics available we are spoilt for choice although the sandeel shape does seem to rule with the lead head with a paddle tail design best for casting and lifelike action. Look out for the Black minnow and the Savage gear sandeels.

The latest from the European Union is a bass limit imposed on sea anglers of three fish a day – The Angling Trust are urging anglers to make this an election issue and to contact their local candidates for support for a balanced set of measures that include the commercial sector as well as anglers. These to include monthly vessel limits, a higher minimum legal size and seasonal closures. Personally, I have rarely landed three sizeable fish in a day and so am in total favour of the limit, although if I know the EU they will not restrict the commercial sector at all!

Before I go here is a picture of the biggest ling ever caught from the shore. It came from Bodo in Norway and was landed by Phil Hambrook of Ash in Kent. He has specialised in deep water fishing in Norway after losing a giant ling several years ago and his latest fish is a massive 59lb 8oz that took a mackerel head. It’s a potential World record for the species. Phil and his four pals have included halibut to over 50lb, cod to 25lb and haddock to over 11lb all from the shore.

Phil Hambrook 59lb 8oz new record ling, Norway

Tight lines, Alan Yates

TF Gear Compact Rods

Looking for a new rod to kick start your spring campaign? Look no further than the TF gear compact range of coarse fishing rods, ideal for those starting out in the sport and the seasoned veteran alike.

What are the compact rods you ask? Well the concept is these coarse fishing rods are shorter in length than the traditional fishing rods on the market. This confers many advantages to the fisherman.

  • Easy maneuvering – in tightly spaced commercial fishery swims, or on the river bank when you have to clamber through heavy bank side foliage.
  • Greatly reduced weight – These fishing rods are also significantly lighter in the hand making your fishing more pleasurable.
  • Easy transportation – these rods are guaranteed to fit in your car!
  • Better casting accuracy – with less leverage to deal with and a quicker recovery time accurate casting becomes much easier.
  • Improved control when playing a fish – its much easier to put the pressure on a decent fish and change angle of play quickly with a shorter rod.
  • Reduced cost – shorter length equals less carbon used. This cost saving has been passed on, so higher quality blanks and components are used in manufacture. You get a better quality product for less money.
  • Fish playing fun – feel everything, and put the thrill back into a fight! While at the same time there is enough power to quickly tame large specimen fish.

TF Gear produce a compact rod for every fishing scenario you will ever encounter. There are two ranges – The original compact rods, which and have a classic brown ground matt carbon finish, and feature smooth mid-tip progressive actions. These rods are great value, but no compromise has been made on quality or finish. Secondly the lighter weight and higher modulus carbon nantec range, which feature slimmer blanks and a slightly faster action. In addition most of the nantec rods come with a free TF gear Airlite reel, making them an incredibly competitive package.

The TF gear compact allrounders must be the best seller best in the range. These highly versatile rods offer you numerous options, you can go from a 8 to 10 foot length with a two foot extension piece. They are also supplied with 3 x push in feeder quiver tips and an avon top, allowing you to fish multiple methods – float, feeder, touch ledgering, surface fishing or even spinning.

 

The TF Gear Compact commercial float and feeder rods are available in either 8 foot or 10 foot configurations. The feeder rods come complete with 3 push in quivers. They are ideal for small fishery work, from roach and rudd to tench and bream, these rods handle them all. The 8 footers in particular are ideal for really crowded swims, and also make superb rods for youngsters to easily use.

TF Gear Compact carp rods are 10 foot in length with a 2.5 test curve. These fantastic rods are not just ideal for carp, they can be used for barbel, large specimen tench, chub or even pike and zander fishing using a float and deadbait presentation.

Alex Bones, expert carp and match angler talk us through the nantec compact carp rod.