One of the more interesting aspects of being a sea fishing writer are the conversations I have with you younger anglers. My own son is not quite 16 yet, so Iâ€™m well aware of what current problems you junior anglers face.
Three factors crop up time and time again though…..lack of finance, tackle and rigs and how to locate fish! Now I may be losing my hair, but my head still carries memories of when I was just starting to fish. I had no one to ask, and certainly, money was a very scarce commodity for me, but instead of these being real hardships they were a foundation for a learning curve that has stood me in good stead for my adult fishing years. The basis of this feature is to try and highlight ways you can save a few bob, maximise your spending power, and more importantly, catch your self a few fish.
RODS & REELS
Younger anglers constantly worry that their rods and reels are inferior and costing them fish. Having a Zziplex, Century or Conoflex rod and Abu, Daiwa or Shimano reels, nice though they are, they do not make you a better angler. Good anglers catch fish with any tackle immaterial of price. That said, if youâ€™re looking to spend hard earned pocket money on a new rod and reel, then the bargains are there to be had. Due to the lack of money currently in many peoples pockets, tackle companies and tackle shops have had to look at ways to maximise their sales. One of the ways they sell is to offer a rod and reel combination. With the current lack of money, expect effective beachcaster and reel combinations to be offered in the tackle shops for as little as Â£39.99 and even Â£29.99 over the next couple of years. Still a fair wedge of money for a youngster, but achievable if you save hard and the most cost effective way for you to buy. This type of budget combination will fish well for you, and with care and good maintenance last a few seasons. It is also cheaper than second-hand tackle as second-hand prices have not fallen enough to match the value of the new combination kits available. I worry about young anglers buying second-hand. If you only have this option, you must take someone older with you when you buy. Second-hand shops arenâ€™t usually good places to look, better places are car boot sales or the community paper adverts section. Be prepared to politely
haggle, donâ€™t just pay up the price asked. Theyâ€™ll always knock something off if pushed. Check that reels fully work and sound right with a nice â€œclickâ€ as the bale-arm closes and that there are no grating noises as the gears turn. Look carefully for corrosion on multiplier reel cages and spools. A missing ring on a rod is not a major problem, but will significantly reduce the price for you. Whipping a ring on yourself is easy and you can read about this in most fishing books available at libraries.
CARE & MAINTENANCE
To keep your rod and reel in good working order, after every trip, wash the rod down in fresh warm water with a little washing up liquid added. Make sure all the salt is removed from the rings and reel seat. Now put it in a room that is warm to dry. I still put a coat of car wax over my rods now and again which puts a protective coat over everything and minimises corrosion around the ring feet and scratches to the blank. Reels need to be placed under a light running warm water tap to wash off the salt. Dry it in an airing cupboard and then wipe it over with some WD40 if you have some. A little oil on the handle grip and bale-arms moving parts on a fixed spool reel, and on the handle and inside the ball-bearings after every three or four trips with a multiplier will keep them fishing. On a multiplier, itâ€™s also worth taking all your line off now and then, and putting a coat of car wax on to the spool. This will help protect the spool from corrosion caused by water left on the line as you retrieved. Another tip to keep your multipliers looking like new is to put insulation tape around the outer edges of the side-plates. This avoids 90% of scratches and keeps the reel looking good. Donâ€™t be deceived by some anglers saying that tatty tackle means that that angler catches a lot of fish. My experience is that the very best anglers have tackle that is immaculate, a tidy tackle box and a neat rig wallet. Immaculate reels indicate they are well maintained and fully working with no reliability problems. Neatness means little time is lost when a rig needs to be found and changed. A good angler will always maximise his fishing time, and cared for tackle helps achieve that.
There is no need to fill your reel with all new line. Half fill your reel with old line and top the spool up with new line. If you have 100 to 150 metres of new line on top, this is plenty to cast and fish with in your early years.
Young anglers worry about not having a large selection of hooks. Donâ€™t worry! Immaterial of where you live and fish, if you carry a packet of Mustad Aberdeen 3261BLN hooks in sizes 4, 1 and 2/0, you can fish for everything youâ€™re likely to come across with most baits. Use the size 4â€™s for small worm and fish baits to target dabs, rockling, pout and small whiting. The size 1â€™s you use for medium baits when after flounders, bigger whiting, eels and school bass, and the size 2/0 for the bigger baits for codling, dogfish, bass, even strap conger if you have a mark that holds them. And donâ€™t throw your hooks away after each trip like some of the experts recommend. If the hook retains a strong point, wash the hook, dry it, sharpen it on a honing stone, and keep it for next time. Why throw good tackle away? If your money runs to it, a packet of Mustad 79515 Vikings in size 1 and 2/0 are better for crab baits, but not essential.
Donâ€™t let the huge variety of rigs confuse you. Iâ€™d suggest you carry three types. Go for a single hook rig for bass and codling. For whiting, dogfish, dabs, flounders, eels and general fishing, itâ€™s hard to beat a two hook or three hook rig. When making rigs, you can minimise the items required, but you must use a strong swivel or link at the top, and a strong split-ring at the base to take the lead. You donâ€™t need bead trapped swivels. Either trap the swivels between figure of eight knots, or tie blood loops in to the rig, cut one side of the loop, then add a short length of weaker line using a leader knot to take the hook. The short stiff section created by cutting the blood loop acts like a boom and keeps the hooks away from the rig for good presentation. I like my rigs tied in clear mono line for sand fishing and daylight work, or green and brown over rocky ground. I find I catch more fish doing this. Coloured lines may look good, but fish can see them and can be put off. This especially applies to bass. After each trip, wash the rigs and dry them. After sharpening or renewing the hooks and checking the rig body line for wear, they are ready for further use.
If you donâ€™t fancy fishing rough ground, which tends to be where the better fishing and bigger fish are, because youâ€™re worried about losing lots of weights, try this. For about Â£1.50 you can buy pre mixed bags of sand and cement at a builders shop. Get some old egg cartons and wire coat hangers.
Cut the coat hangers in to wire lengths about 4-ins long and make a loop with long nosed pliers by bending the wire around. It’s important to bend over the ends as shown, this prevents the loops pulling out of the cement.
Mix some sand and cement with a little water and fill the cavities where the eggs sit in the cartons. Now push one of the wires fully in to the cement and leave them to dry for a day or two.
When dry you can seperate into individual weights
These are heavy enough to hold in rough ground or surf beaches with a light tide run and far cheaper than buying leads.
SOME FISHING TIPS
If youâ€™re lucky enough to live right by the sea, get in to the habit of walking the beach as often as possible and watching the anglers. Note what they are catching and what state of tide it is. This tells you the peak times the different species feed. Also note the different areas along the beach for different varieties of fish. Often, flatfish come from one particular spot, codling from
another, and bass from somewhere else. Itâ€™s to do with the different type of ground, how the tide runs over the ground, and the food stuff available in those areas. If you canâ€™t do this and have to evaluate a beach yourself, then hereâ€™s a few pointers that help. On a surf beach, the best fishing is usually concentrated at each end, especially if there are rocks present or the sand comes up against a rocky headland. If you have to fish the middle beach area, look for gutters running parallel along the beach that food will collect in and cast to these. Also try fishing where weed and other bits of floating debris wash ashore. This is an obvious wash-up and is a signal that food also finds its way inshore here. Flatfish, especially dabs and sole, feed in the holes that are washed out around the ends of wooden groynes. Fish tend to be close in amongst the breakers on flood tides, but much further out on the ebb. They know the dangers of getting trapped in deeper gutters as the tide ebbs. In rough seas, stick to fishing a wired breakout lead as fish will follow the scent trail up to find the bait. In calm seas, use a light un wired lead and let it wash around in an arc with the tide. This lets the lead and bait find deeper holes and gutters that naturally trap water borne food and are where the fish will hole up. This works especially well for flatfish and bass. Low water just after a storm has passed through can be a brilliant time to fish as there is lots of food washing ashore that has been torn from the seabed by the rough seas. Also carry a bucket with you at this time as whole mussels, razorfish, clams, queen cockles and other good baits can be gathered from the low water tide line and either used immediately or frozen for future use. When fishing from a pier or breakwater, donâ€™t be in too much of a hurry to cast. The fish tend to congregate around the pier legs and breakwaters base and you only need to drop a bait, preferably on the uptide side of the structure, straight down to catch fish. This especially applies to codling, bass, coalfish and dogfish. The very end of a pier is not always the best place to fish. Deep gutters will be washed out underneath the pier around the legs and these hold much more food than barren ground beyond the piers construction. Often, the middle of the pier will out fish the end for this reason. In estuaries, bass congregate around the outer bar banks just before low water, then move through as soon as the tide starts to flood and for the first couple of hours after. Once this initial period has passed, expect to find the bulk of fish as much as a mile or more inland working the smaller side creeks. That sums up bass fishing. Short periods of fast action, then you must move to relocate the fish. Look for bottlenecks in the main estuary channel and try spinning a Redgill or spinner across these. Bass use the fast tide to ambush sandeels in these bottlenecks.
Just some basic steps that have helped me over the years. I hope you find them useful and add a little to improving your catches. Remember, even on the days you canâ€™t get a bite, if you watch whatâ€™s happening around you, observe other anglers that maybe are catching, try fishing different areas along the beach or pier, then youâ€™ll learn a little more each time. Itâ€™s fun learning about fishing ….enjoy it!
Visit Mike’s site at: http://www.worldseafishing.com