Sunday, 27 February 2011

Blondes make me sick!

After three cancelled trips, I finally got out for my first boat trip of 2011. I was on Silver Spray skippered by Sam Cumming in search of blonde rays and spurdogs that inhabit the offshore banks 15-20 miles out of Poole.

The tidal flow on these banks is so powerful that these marks can only be fished on neap tides.  The rays are here to breed and by April they are gone, leaving only a handful of days each year that they can be targeted.

Thirty pound class rods were required as a pound and a half of lead was required to hold bottom. A 6/0 hook on a four foot flowing trace of 100lb mono was baited with a mackerel and sandeel cocktail. The heavy nylon was necessary as spurdogs are toothy critters and there was always the chance of a decent conger.

The sea got a bit lumpy and for the first time during this challenge I suffered from a bout of sea sickness. On previous trips I had been so careful, avoiding alcohol and spicy food for 48 hours, combined with a preventative sea sickness tablet the night before the trip...... that will teach me!

It was a relatively slow day and we moved a couple of times during the day in search of better sport. Three blonde rays were landed with the largest, a male of 14lb (notice the long claspers in the photo) falling to my rod. These pre-historic looking creatures are really quite impressive in the flesh. The spurdogs were noticeable by their absence although one angler was bitten off having tackled up with a 40lb mono trace.

I also had a decent whiting which I rather dismissed at the time. In retrospect I wished I had got a photograph as at 2lb 6oz it was a personal best by miles.

It rained, it hailed, some of us were sea sick and it was difficult to keep your balance at times but as one lad said "you really know you are alive!"

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Red Herring!

Today I experienced my first blank session of 2011!

Reports of herring arriving on Brighton Marina midweek saw me drive down to Sussex in search of a new species. I decided to put all my eggs in one basket and travel light intending to rove around the East Arm "feathering" for a herring without the distraction of a second rod. My feathers were mini sabikkis.

On arrival the sea was coloured up and the wind strengthening,  I knew I was up against it as the herring would move offshore in these conditions. The East Arm was packed which meant that roving was not an option. Several hours later I packed up fish-less knowing that I would have caught a few flatties, rockling and whiting if I had put out a second rod on the bottom. If the sea clears out in the next couple of weeks I will be back!

Incidentally pike anglers might be interested to know that red herrings really work, they take on colour really well using the powdered food dyes that the carp boys use when making boilies!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Go with the flow when chubbing on small rivers!

I have just returned from a short session chubbing on the Upper Welland, catching a number of fish to 4lb 7oz. Rather than bore you with the details of the session I thought I would offer up my top ten tips for winter chubbing on small rivers.

Tip 1 - Have a lie in!  You will catch more chub late afternoon through dusk than at any other time in winter!

Tip 2 - Use a bobbin as well as a quivertip if you can! You won't miss many bites, I use an old squeezy bottle top with a betalight inserted for fishing after dark.

Tip 3 - Keep moving! Twenty minutes in a swim is ample, most of my chub come in within the first ten minutes.

Tip 4 - Don't use a bolt rig! Chub will often pull the rod right round without getting hooked as any barbel angler will testify.

Tip 5 - Keep it simple! Use a swan shot link leger, or do as I do and pinch on swan shot or two on the line 18 inches above the hook (unless you are using crust).

Tip 6 - Don't cast directly into the swim! Where you can fish down your own bank and cast into the main current and allow the bait to roll round into the slacker water. 

Tip 7 - Fish one new swim every time you go roving for chub, even if you think you know the stretch! Twenty minutes in the course of a day is not long and I have had a number of five pound plus chub from "unfancied" swims.

Tip 8 - Don't ignore maggots if the water is clear! Using big baits you might have to wait until dusk for a bite whereas you can catch on maggot all day long.

Tip 9 - Don't ignore the float! It's fun and it catches big chub. Boss the flow with a decent sized chubber or avon float and fish flake or maggot on the hook.

Tip 10 - Go with the flow! Probably the most important tip of all, unless it is really cold aim to position your bait just off the main flow. In icy conditions the bait should be placed closer to the bank in the slackest water.

Note: My scales aren't weighing light, the photo is of a big six from the Dorset Stour not a four from the Welland!