Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Most Dangerous Fish in British Waters!

What is the most dangerous fish in British waters?

In freshwater the pike is renowned for taking ducklings, but doesn't pose any threat to man. Catfish on the continent have been known to occasionally drag a man down to his death, but our catfish are relatively small and no such instances have occurred here.

Britain has a surprising variety of shark species, most are small like the welsh tiger shark (a.k.a the lesser spotted dogfish).
Mako, porbeagle, thresher and blue shark have been caught in the hundreds of pounds, but no man eaters have been recorded here. Despite sightings of supposed great white sharks being reported, not one has turned up to fisherman, and surfers remain unmolested. Stingrays are present in our waters but encounters with humans are rare, even abroad Steve Irwin's tragic death is an isolated freak incident.

After yesterdays warm up on Trefor pier I was ready to face danger. In fact the most dangerous fish in our waters is the lesser weever fish. True at six inches long it doesn't look scary, and is quite pretty in it's own right, but the dorsal fin contains a particularly nasty venom.

Each year hundreds of people accidently stand on the lesser weever, which has a nasty habit of lying in shallow water covered by sand apart from its top facing eyes and spiky dorsal. Anglers also get spiked.
There is no anti venom, at best you can expect an hour of agony, only mitigated by immersing the affected part of your body in the hottest water you can stand. Those sensitive to venom are in real trouble and unless immediate medical attention is sought could suffer paralysis or even death.

After being soaked yesterday I fished at Barmouth where I was sandblasted for much of the day. Who needs an exfoliation beauty therapy? The third mark I tried finally saw me land a lesser weever on a small strip of mackerel. As you can see I survived to tell the tale!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Charlene - I've been to paradise and have also been to me!

Jonah strikes again! A fishing weekend once again coincided with strong winds, which resulted in Sunday and Monday's planned boat trips being "blown off". To rub salt into my wounds Geth informed me that smoothounds had been taken to 20lb plus on the Friday.

 I arrived in Wales around lunchtime on Saturday, and after picking up some bait it was time to put Plan B into operation.

On my last welsh adventure I had visited Trefor on a reconnaissance mission and the photos of Trefor are from that visit . Plan B was to target coalfish from Trefor pier.

This weekend I would be living dangerously! There is a warning sign advising that the pier is dangerous. Clearly access to the pier is at your own risk and at the end of this session I realised quite how stupid I had been to ignore the signs, as a number of the pier legs were missing! The local council, strapped of cash appear to be waiting for nature to take its course so that they can save on demolition costs.

I would like to say that the session was pleasurable but with driving horizontal rain and strong winds it was an endurance test. The gusts not only threatened to knock me off balance but could potentially bring the pier structure down from under me.

To target the coalfish i fished a small strip of mackerel on a cut down set of sabikkis. This worked a treat and a succession of small coalies were landed along with a couple of small pollack. It is not until you catch both in the same session do you realise how different they are.

In Yorkshire immature coalfish are known as billet and I remember fishing for them in Scarborough
harbour, float fishing with light tackle and mussel as bait.

Trefor is famed for the variety of mini species it produces and by substituting the mackerel for a piece of ragworm I hoped to attract a dragonet or goby. Unfortunately I could not get through the small wrasse.

After three or four hours of fishing the tide down from high I was relieved to get back to the safety of the main harbour wall. Trefor is a stunning venue, being backed by Snowdon and its neighbouring peaks.

I would once again re-iterate that I had been somewhat foolish fishing off the pier and would advise others not to follow my lead. If I return to fish Trefor Pier in future it would be from a kayak!

Unlike Charlene I've been to paradise and have also been to me!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Modern Carp Angling - A Rant!

 Where to catch a grass carp? I have never caught one in Britain although I have had several from France to over twenty pounds. Few waters hold grass carp, and most of those that do, only hold a handful. Elphicks Fishery, a commercial water in Kent has a reasonable stock and the staff advised me to fish their Prairie Lake.

Ideally I would have liked to surface fish to try to select a grassie, however the conditions were against me so I would have to fish blind. The lake was packed to capacity and I slotted in between two long stay anglers as the wind was blowing into that bank. Once the long stay anglers left I figured that the carp would follow the wind and come into the edge. I fished method feeder with popped up corn or white boilie and also float fished the margins. 

Things went to plan and I landed four of the six carp that I saw landed during the day with the biggest a common of around fourteen pounds. 

This is no criticism of Elphicks but I was reminded why I don't often target carp nowadays.

1. I fished a two and a half acre lake today which had nearly thirty carp anglers on it, with swims every ten yards or so. Carp fishing is too popular!

2. Apart from me, to a man two rods were fished to the Island, the tight lines effectively pinning the spooky carp to the island margin. Carp anglers are unimaginative!

3. Why do carp waters have dug outs filled with bark or gravel, not grassy natural banks. Elphicks even had astroturf lining each swim! See no. 6

4. When did the Koi and Ghost Carp escape the pet shop!

4. Does nobody know how to floatfish or use leads under three ounces? Why drop three ounces of lead in the margin and spook fish when a float will get your more bites. Carp have long forgotten what a vertical line means. If I can cast to the island with an ounce why use more?

5. Wheelbarrows.....are they moving house or going fishing?

6. Bivvies the size of double decker buses, I am sure that the carp leap to check out whether there are any carp houses set up before feeding. In years gone by we would have been sat behind screens or reedbeds hidden away.

7. Why on a snag free lake where the maximum cast is perhaps sixty yards stocked largely with singles and doubles do you need three pound test curve rods. This is all about fashion, if you are fishing a weedy lake at range maybe, hoever both Dick Walker and Chris Yates landed record carp from Redmire (a weedy lake) on Mark IV carp rods (1.5lb test curve). 

8. Boilies are not the only bait!

9. Baitboats..................after pushing the barrow presumably they are to knackered to cast!

10. Mallets............aaaarggghhhh

11. Why are there two number 4's in this blog article!

Rant over. 

Such a shame as carp are lovely fish, shame about most carp anglers! At some stage I am going to have to target a grass carp again.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

I can't catch turbot!

Strong winds are the bane of the sea angler and all boat anglers experience the frustration of trips being cancelled due to strong winds. Even shore anglers may struggle to fish with rock marks becoming dangerous and weed being ripped up and thrown to shore. Additionally the coloured water results in poor fishing for most species.

 I had planned to fish three days out of Weymouth with Colin Penney on Flamer 4, unfortunately the first two days were "blown off" due to strong easterly winds. Luckily the wind dropped and Thursday's planned flatty trip was on. The plan was simple we would fish the mussel beds for plaice during the morning before moving onto the shambles in search of turbot.

After a slow start plaice started coming on board and with each drift the fishing improved. There is an optimum drift speed and Colin moved to different areas of the mussel bed to maximise our chances. Only two anglers failed to catch a plaice before it was time to move to the shambles.

Colin asked whether I had caught a launce (the greater sand eel) and I replied that I hadn't. Launce make good bait, so we spent five minutes working a set of mini sabbikkis just off bottom.  I replace the lead with a shiny pirk as the flash apparently attracts sand eels, it seemed to work as I caught first drop down.

Turbot fishing is a waiting game and we made several long drifts. Eventually my rod banged round, I let out a little line before lifting into my first turbot, however by the time it reached the surface it had turned into a plaice. Colin had said earlier that occasionally plaice were caught on the mackerel or launce strips that are used for turbot.

 My plaice took the boat tally to twenty-seven for the day, however the big plaice eluded us. Five turbot were landed including this beauty of 17lb which won the lucky angler the twenty pound sweepstake for the best flatty of the day (it certainly made up for the plaice blank on the mussels).

Although I didn't catch a turbot my time will come, every trip you learn something new, I learnt that garfish make excellent baits for turbot and that I still can't catch turbot!