Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary June

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frustration Continues!

After the highly unseasonal cold east winds and heavy rain, accompanied by hail, it was a pleasant change last week to find the new tench and bream water bathed in very warm spring sunshine. However, any thoughts that Alan and I were holding about the sun sending both species into a feeding frenzy were well wide of the mark. The only fish that were showing any life were the dozens of carp cruising the surface layers, but even they were very disinclined to feed. One angler pursued them both off the top and with zig rigs for two whole days and managed just one take from a 16 pounder. All those of us fishing for the big tench and bream recorded, once again, total blanks. In fact, since the end of the river season, there have been very few fish of any description banked.

It really is head scratching time. As with a lot of waters holding a smallish head of very big fish, when they have not really got their heads down in earnest, they tend to be very nomadic.  On a big gravel pit, therein lies the problem; location is a lottery. I’m sure that, if we had unlimited time on the bank, say seven consecutive days and nights, heavy baiting would eventually draw the fish in. But those days are long gone, Alan and I are both 68 years of age, and two days in a bivvy is quite sufficient! I did have some action, though. During the daylight hours, I concentrated my three fishing rods on rubber maggots and/or rubber corn, popped up to beat the bottom weed. At dusk, though, I switched two of the rigs to rubber corn/lobworm cocktails, with bream through the dark hours the target. As with my first session, this produced two screaming runs from small pike just as the light was fading. Not what I’ve waited for, but better than a blank, I suppose. Despite the lack of action, I’m thoroughly enjoying the fishing. It’s a very pretty pit and the potential of the water is outstanding, and when the fish do switch on, I want to be there.

My other news, for all the barbel fans out there, is that I’ve just had my first e-book published on Kindle, via Amazon. It’s titled Top Tactics for Big Barbel and is available for download at £2.85. If you’re interested, visit kdp.amazon.com for more details. The picture is of the 17lb 2oz barbel that features on the front cover of the new book. This new publishing outlet excites me a lot and I have a whole series of books planned under the Top Tacticsbanner. I’ll keep you all informed of progress on this front, as well as, hopefully, some big bream and tench. Got to keep the faith!!

Tight lines to one and all.

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.

A slow start…

My main target this spring and early summer is tench and bream, and the chosen water is a very pretty gravel pit containing big specimens of each species. Certainly, bream to 16lbs and tench just under 11lbs have been caught and verified. My biggest bream is the 15lb 2ozs specimen from Queenford Lagoon over twenty years ago and it has been 14 years since my last double figure tench; so, I’m champing at the bit!

I’m fishing the water in the company of my good friend and brilliant angler Alan Lawrence. Alan fished the water last spring and, after a slow start, amassed a staggering total of big fish of each species. He also took a handful of good carp on his tench rigs and, with the carp running to mid 30s, there’s the potential for a heart stopping battle on light feeder rods. I’m going to resist the temptation to deliberately fish for the carp, though. I have other carp waters to target; I am totally focused on the tench and bream.

I’ve just returned from my second 48 hour session on the water, and have to report that neither Alan nor I have had a bite! I do not count a 1lb pike that took a swimfeeder on the retrieve. We have been suffering the malaise of many waters up and down the country, with unseasonably cold conditions including strong east winds, heavy driving rain and water temperature more akin to February than May. I know, speaking to many friends, that most anglers are also struggling with the decidedly wintry conditions. I live in hope, though, that these cold, wet conditions will see some really heavyweight tench being caught once the weather normalises. My three double figure fish, plus a string of nine pounders as back up, were taken after the water warmed following an equally miserable spring in 1998.

Although there is no exciting fishing to report back on at the moment, I can report on some of the new TFG products. Having finally retired my battered old Armadillo bivvy, I can say that I am delighted with my new Lok Down. Finding bivvies that will do everything with enough space is hard enough. With almost two inches of rain on my first night using it this week, it could not have had a more strenuous waterproofing test, which it passed with flying colours. Also, the Armo was the Two-Man model and I did debate whether to go for a two man Lok Down as well. In the end I opted for the one man and it is very generously sized, more than big enough for a six footer like me plus a mountain of gear. The Two-Man must be like a dance hall!

The monsoon like conditions were also an extreme test for my new Dave Lane Mag Runner bite alarms. Where bite alarms are concerned, I have no patience with all the bells and whistles some anglers seem incapable of being without. All I ask is that they sound when I get a bite, they don’t give up the ghost in the cold or damp, and they don’t require a second mortgage to keep up with the battery use. I don’t need tone alteration or volume control, although the alarms are supplied with mufflers for those who insist on ultra quiet alarms. Personally, I am not a fan of remote receivers, although one is supplied with the Mag Runners. I suppose I’m a bit old fashioned, but still believe that when I have baits out I should be behind my rods. I will use the remote receiver, though, if I’m forced to sit well back from the rods in very rough weather, so it is an important addition.

I can confirm that they passed the cold and damp situation with no problems! What I particularly like is the small size, the lightness and the dumpy little 12V batteries which are so quick and easy to change. A few years ago, I had other alarms that used the same batteries, and the battery life was outstanding. The alarms themselves, though, were a nightmare in damp conditions, but that’s another story!

Lastly, I am delighted with the new Hardcore Heavy Duty Carryalls. For bivvy fishing, and for using a barrow, the traditional rucksack is hardly ideal. I wanted a tackle bag that was solidly free standing, and not always toppling over, making finding items a lot of messing about. Similarly, the rucksack is altogether the wrong shape for barrow work. I acquired two of the carryalls, one for my tackle and one for my food, stove, cooking equipment, water etc. As well as the easily accessible load carrying, the hard top makes an ideal table. I had several very favourable comments about this luggage and I predict this will become a big seller.

See you again in a couple of weeks, when hopefully I’ll have some big tench or bream to show. In the meantime, here’s a shot of a big tench from a year back to remind us all of what one looks like!

 

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary April

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING

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

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

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

Double figure Cassava from Radio Sid beach on a prawn

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

COMPETITIONS, ETC

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

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

TACKLE AND TIPS

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

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

See the range of new tackle in the latest TF Gear 2012 catalogue available from your local tackle shop or contact us at: TF Gear Sea Fishing Unit 5 & 6, Ffrwdgrech Industrial Estate, Brecon, Powys. LD3 8LA

Tel, 0871 911 7045

Web: www.tfgear.co.uk

Bream location in gravel pits

I’ve had a query from a reader of my last blog, after I mentioned that I was embarking on a tench and bream campaign this spring. Specifically, he wanted some advice on location of gravel pit bream. So, let’s have a look at this important aspect now. I’ll be reporting back on my first sessions in my next blog in a couple of weeks.

Most gravel pit location is a painstaking affair of mapping the contours of the water, and then trying to interpret how they will affect the location and feeding behaviour of the bream. During mapping, I am looking for the gravel bars and humps, areas of extensive bottom weed, areas of clean bottom and what that bottom composition consists of. Is it, for example, fine gravel or hard packed mud or silt? Most importantly, which features are naturally weed free? Unlike tench, bream show a distinct tendency to favour naturally weed free areas. Also unlike with tench, dragging has never proved very productive; I have had very poor results after manual weed clearance.

For the actual mapping, there is no doubt that the job is far easier if there is access to a boat or baitboat, together with echo sounder. But let’s assume neither are allowed, which is the case on many waters. Compared to the boat and echo sounder approach, the time spent mapping a pit with the standard plumbing methods from the bank is colossal. But it is time that must be spent to maximise chances of sport with big bream. The correct coarse fishing tackle must be used to generate a picture of your chosen fishing grounds. I use a TFG marker rod, in conjunction with Banana Braid braided line especially designed for feature finding. A bobbled 2oz Fox feature finding lead is slid on to the braid and large buoyant float tied on the end. The lead is mounted on a short link with a large enough eye to allow the float’s buoyancy to easily pull braid through it. To avoid the lead resting on the float during the cast, the lead is stopped about 18” up the line by a rubber float stop and bead. When this is cast out, the buoyancy of the float naturally makes it pop to the surface. Depth finding is then simple. Smoothly wind down the float to the heavy lead until the line is taut, and then allow off six inches of line at a time until you first see the float again break surface. You have now established the depth at that position.

Now wind in a few feet and repeat the procedure, establishing the depth once again at the new position. By continuing this process back to the bank, you now have a rough idea of the contours between you and the furthest cast. Any areas of real interest discovered can then be relocated and examined more carefully. I use a second rod, rigged identically. Having cast to the feature to be more closely examined, the float is then left in place as a focal point, and the float on the second rod cast all around it. You can build up a remarkably accurate picture of each feature in this manner. An hour’s work will give you details of feature size, and steepness of gradient. There is no need to use special braid on this second rod. The information I require about bottom composition will have already been established in my initial investigation with the actual feature finding set up.

I may want to leave in place a permanent marker for the duration of the session. To do this, I set up a marker float slightly differently, in a traditional sliding float arrangement with normal monofilament line. If you haven’t fished a slider, it is set up as a normal float rig but the float is not fixed in place but simply allowed to run freely on the line. A stop knot or rubber float stop is placed at the appropriate place depending on the depth of the water. Having again located the feature and made any fine adjustments necessary, I cut the line about a foot above the float stop and tie a loop in the free end. A similar loop is tied in the end of the reel line and the two loops joined with a firm tie of PVA. The float is then cast to the required position, left for a minute or so until the PVA has melted, at which time the free line is retrieved, leaving the marker in place. Make sure that you can retrieve the float after use. I use a special grapple made up of an in-line lead and large sea treble, which casts like a rocket.

Having found the features, which ones do we fish? Reliable areas do seem to be gravel bars, especially those that exist in otherwise weedy areas and are themselves clear of all but light silkweed. The other reliable feature is the clean, apparently barren area of either mud or silt. This area more closely mirrors the situation in a reservoir, and big pit bream, once they arrive in such an area, will often hang around for days. Small gravel bars and humps, while reliable, rarely hold big bream for more than the odd night.

If I am fishing within range of my Spomb, about forty yards, I usually do not bother with leaving permanent swim markers in place. Having found the area to be fished with a marker float I then cast one of my rods so that the terminal rig alights alongside the marker. The line is then inserted into the reel line clip and the line marked at the spigot with a thin sliver of insulating tape. When doing this, it is important to wrap the tape round the line with the sticky sides perfectly flush with each other and that the tape is then squeezed flat so that it adheres properly to the line with no air gaps. Then trim the tape as close to the line as possible and put a slight bevel at each end so that there are no sharp angles to foul the line during casting. My finished markers are around 1mm wide. I then walk out the rod on the bank until the line tightens to the clip, and mark the bank. Next, assuming I am fishing the other rod or rods at the same range, it is a simple matter to walk them out, clip up and tape as before.

The same procedure is carried out with my TFG spod rod and, before retrieving the marker float, the line is put into the reel line clip as well. This now means that every rod when cast out will land the terminal rig, baiting cone or marker float at the same range. All I have to ensure is that my direction of cast is not wayward, simply by lining up a horizon feature such as a tree or telegraph pole.

For baiting up, all I have to do is cast my Spomb hard enough to tighten to the clip and then I can be certain that the bait is in the correct position. The reason I also fix the range on my marker float as well is if I decide to do any baiting by catapult, say for balls of groundbait or loose feeding boilies. Obviously, I then need a visual target at which to aim.

Proof of the pudding..

A Stop Start Winter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING

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

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

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

COMPETITIONS, ETC

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

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

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

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

TACKLE AND TIPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tel, 0871 911 7045

Web: www.tfgear.co.uk.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary March 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TF Gear Sea Fishing Rigs with Alan Yates

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

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

 

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

Available Rigs –

1. TFG BITE TRACE CONGER AND TOPE 6/0

2. TFG UPTIDE PENNELL TRACE 3/0

Flapper Rigs

3. TFG 3 HOOK 4 FLAPPER WITH STOPS

4. TFG 2 HOOK 4 FLAPPER WITH STOPS

5. TFG 1 HOOK 4 FLAPPER WITH STOPS

6. TFG 3 HOOK #4 FLAPPER LIGHT VERSION

7. TFG 2 HOOK #4 FLAPPER LIGHT VERSION

Clip Down Rigs

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

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

10. TFG LOOP RIG #2/0 CLIP DOWN

Pulley Rigs

11. TFG 2 HOOK PULLEY RIG #1

11. TFG 2 HOOK PULLEY RIG #3/0

12 .TFG 1 HOOK PULLEY RIG #1

12. TFG 1 HOOK PULLEY RIG #3/0

13. TFG 2 HOOK FLOWING TRACE #2/0

14. TFG 1 HOOK FLOWING TRACE #2/0

To purchase, visit – TF Gear Rigs for more information