10th April 2011
The small island ‘target area’
At last a few of us found some spare time to get together on the bank together in search of a few carp……needless to say it wasn’t as simple a day as we had unfortunately anticipated!!!!
Dean sets the bobbins
The day looked to be glorious and the sun was shining from day break right through. In fact all three of us that went got well and truly toasted in the bright sunshine. The day started off with Dean and myself heading down to the lakes at around 8am with a view to seeing Peter later on after his beloved F1 had finished on the TV!
We arrived to see that all the lakes were pretty choc-a-block already by 8.15am. We opted to fish the shortest bank section behind the small island on the original carp pool. This meant that we could park fairly close to our swims too.
The tactics we’d decided on were to fish small stick mixes of groundbait and pellets and 8-10mm plastic Nash Mutant hookbaits. Dean and I fished up towards the base of the island margins with one rod each and then to fish our other rods to the edge of the large weeds beds.
This proved to be somewhat less successful than we’d hoped and Dean had a torrid time with his weed fished rod…..just about every take he had weeded him totally solid and ended in lost tackle!
Pete lands a nice mirror
Very frustrating really as he was fishing very tight lines which meant he received a lot less action than he would have liked.
The whole problem was though, that if the bait wasn’t presented with in inches of the weed then you just wouldn’t get any action at all. So this left little options other than to fish bolt up tight and sit on the rods!
Peter Roche with the biggest of the day!
Peter arrived around 11am and decided he’d tackle the fish off the top with floaters. This also proved to be very frustrating as the carp were incredibly cagey, which we couldn’t understand really as they appeared to be fairly new young fish which we assumed would take pretty much anything we threw at them! Pete did manage a few though including the biggest of the day.
My approach was similar to that of Deans, but i opted to fish a little less tight and keeping the line pinned down with heavy rig tubing.
The weed was incredibly thick, strong and stranded. This meant that if you took a little more than a second or two to reach your rod then you would end up losing both fish and tackle. Something that nobody likes doing!
Dean playing one out on a bottom bait
This was needless to say a little frustrating for us all yet not as much as was the overall size of the fish we caught! The original stock of pretty double figure carp were all bar gone and had been replaced by much small fish which was rather a shame.
We could only deduce from it that the owners had decided to take out the majority of better fish and placed them into their new home of the up and coming new ‘Lodge Lake’ soon to be opened to the general public.
All the same, we did have a good day out, with a stack of sunshine, good banter and even a few fish too. Total for the day was 11 between the three of us. Around half taken off the bottom and the rest falling to surface baits.
A pretty mirror for Dean
The one thing that I personally was disappointed in was the lack of people using unhooking mats…..there were to many of the anglers just placing the hooked fish straight onto the hard ground with little or no care for the well being of the fish. Something I think the management could have possible got a bit stricter on???
Keith Supple with a small mirror taken on a bottom bait set up
Anyway, all in all a good day out and something we intend to do more of this year, time and weather providing! I’m back off out soon to the banks of a new syndicate water that i joined in January.
This has also been very frustrating too. After 18 nights on there i still have nothing to show for my efforts. Something I intend to change very soon!
Tight lines all
A brilliant new sea fishing lead has been released by Outcast Fishing Tackle. The new company has hit the ground running with a revolutionary design for both the shape of the lead and a snazzy new bait release system.
No Blind Idea!
Available as a standard grip lead or with the bait release system incorporated these leads have been extensively tested to offer the perfect balance between aerodynamics, bait protection, reduced drag and stability during casting. This is a result of genuine wind tunnel analysis! The leads are available in weights from 125 grams to 200 grams.
The Bait Clip
The bait clip release system has been designed to retain the hook once baited and only locates to the release position once casting pressure is applied. This makes them ideal for off the ground casting as well as allowing the angler to set pre-baited rigs up for the oncoming session. Construction is also taken into account. The clips are made of Stainless Steel, meaning that if you prevent losing these leads to bad casts or snags then they are built to last!
So Why These Leads?
Although the leads were fully wind tunnel analysed Outcast insist that they are purely designed with the Angler and casting bait in mind. However, we gave Wayne Saunders, one of the leading casters of Team Surfcast Wales a few of the Clipped grips to test on the field to test the release system and gauge their casting performance. Here are the results;
Picking a day where there was little to no wind resistance I was asked to compare the new Outcast leads to 3 other brand leaders for both castability and effectiveness of the new bait clip. The Leads were tested at 150 gram weights, using an Abu 6500 reel and 18lb mono with 80lb Shockleader.
I was extremely impressed with the performance of the Outcast leads. The innovative design certainly contributes to smooth casting preventing any lead wobble when casting. Although distance is not the most important factor the Outcast hit a clear 15-20yds further than other market leaders consistently and reached 197m.
The new bait clip system was the real winner! A successful release of the hook on every occasion! This has been an issue with a few other bait release leads I have used. After fishing a bait you retrieve it to change and find that all the time the rig has been out it has still been clipped.
To sum this lead up I would have total faith knowing that my bait would be intact when it reaches the sea bed and would also be released and presented right. Performance aside, the price point of these leads is going to render a lot of other popular leads obsolete. A 5 out of 5! Wayne Saunders
And the Price Is?
Standard Leads are just £1.10 making them an ideal all round lead when you consider that the cheapest alternative is £1.30. Much alike the Clipped option at just £1.40 with its nearest competitor at £1.65!
Where do I Buy Them?
The leads are available from our main store and are supplied in a box of 10. If you wish to order please contact us on 01656 722448 or CLICK HERE!
As I begin this new blog (Boxing Day 2010), the air temperature outside is continuing at sub zero to the tune of -6 C plus (daytime), and unmentionable degrees below during the night. The main thoroughfares are clear with the motorway verges still banked high with compressed snow. Side roads, many have not seen a gritting lorry during the whole of the extreme cold spell, remain dangerous, snow bound and covered in a layer of solid glass-like black ice. Looking out of the studio window, across the roof tops, beyond the M4 motorway, the panorama is a classic “Christmas card” scene, with the isolated farms looking like large full stops, spaced across the solid blanket of pristine white snow; PICTURESQUE BUT INCONVENIENT!!
Time is rapidly running out for 2010, slowly but surely the demise of the old year is coming ever closer, replaced by the euphoria of expectation and the promise of good things for the new one. Human nature being what it is, come June, July and the peak of summer, when the bass, rays, smooth-hounds are in abundance, the traumas of the last few weeks will be but hazy memories, a timely reminder when thermal underwear, moon boots, and the all-weather suit have been replaced by a Flowery Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts, feather light chest waders, and WHINGING ABOUT THE HEAT!!
A New Year, New Tide Table Book!
A new year means a new tide-table book!! There are few stretches of coastline around the British Isles where these predictions are of more consequence than Wales, and in particular the Bristol Channel. The variety of different terrain and the extremes of tidal movement, second highest rise and fall in the world, makes the ownership of these small but invaluable booklets an essential part of a sea anglers armoury.
No sea angler worth his or her salt can seriously hope to operate with even a meagre level of success without access to a source of the local tide predictions, either through the appropriate web sites or the tide-table booklet, together with the basic ability to interpret the information it contains. There is no excuse for not having one of these booklets, they are available in a range of outlets such as good newsagents through to the prime source, the local tackle shop. Cost is minimal, usually under a pound, with some tackle dealers distributing them free of charge as a goodwill gesture to encourage customer loyalty.
Owning a tide-table booklet is a first step towards a better understanding of the moods and movements of the Bristol Channel. A brief discussion about the forces that are responsible for these tidal movements will make for better appreciation of the enormity of the phenomenon that we take for granted every time we go to the coast to fish, swim or just paddle our feet.
It may come as a Surprise!
It may come as a surprise that the Sun, despite being a much larger object, has only half the influence on the Earths ocean movements as the Moon. The size of the Moon and its proximity to the Earth, has the biggest effect by far, with its gravity pulling the Earths water towards it, affecting not only the oceans but land based areas of freshwater also. The “tides” are the rise and fall of the sea levels which occur as a direct result of this “tug of war” between the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the Moon, Sun and rotation of the Earth. The fluctuating differences between the levels of water at high and low tide is called the “tidal range”, and is the visual manifestation on Earth of all this invisible astronomical activity. High water normally occurs twice a day in the Bristol Channel approximately every 12 hours and 24 minutes, with each sequence on average advancing 50 minutes later than the previous day. The explanation why each tide sequence (low to high to low) is not an exact split of the 24 hour day (i.e. 12 hours each), is because the Moon takes longer to return to the same location in the sky after orbiting the Earth, following the same direction as the Earth on its axis.
Spring tides have the biggest “range” between high and low water, the result of the combined gravitational effect when the Sun and the Moon are aligned, and occur throughout the year when there is a new or full moon, approximately every 14 days. The highest spring tides occur after the equinoxes in March and September. The spring equinox occurs on the 20th/ 21st March and the autumn equinox, the 22nd/ 23rd September. (2011- Spring equinox 23.21 PM 20th March and Autumn equinox 09.04 AM 23rd September)
Neap tides have the smallest “range” and occur when the Moon and Sun are not in alignment, with the gravitational forces cancelling each other out. Neap tides occur exactly halfway between spring tides, when the Moon is at the first or last quarter.
It is worth repeating that the tide tables are indispensable to any sea angler, boat or shore, supplied in a handy size, say 6inches x 4 inches, and very portable. The outside front cover spells out the area of coast covered by the predictions e.g. “Swansea Bay and Bristol Channel” together with the year to which they apply, 2011. The inside front cover usually carries all the important information, including naming the “Standard Port” on which the predictions are based, together with a list of minutes to be added or subtracted to give the approximate time of high water at other designated ports along the coast. Also displayed are the all important dates when 1 hour has to be added to the high water predictions in order to calculate British Summer Time.
In 2008, B.S.T. fell between 0100 March 30th and 0100 October 26th .
2009, 0100 March 29th and 0100 October 25th .
2010, 0100 March 28th and 0100 October 31st .
2011, 0100 March 27th and 0100 October 30th .
It is worth remembering that the tide table predictions are an accurate guide assuming “constant” weather conditions. In reality, such events as an occasional strong onshore wind or storm surge can increase the “real” height of the flood above the predicted high water in the tide table book, and reduce the extent of the ebb at low water.
Managing the Time and the Tides!
Each page in the tide table booklet is assigned to one calendar month, January, February and so on, with the predicted times of high water expressed in Greenwich Meantime. There is a wealth of information to be extracted from the tide tables for those who are prepared to spend just a little time leafing through the pages, sufficient to illustrate, figuratively, the rhythm and extremes of water movement in the Bristol Channel.
Buying or acquiring a copy of the latest tide table booklet early in a new year, is a priority for many anglers, impatient to get a feel for what the new season may offer. My first task always was to scan the neatly set out predictions on the twelve pages, the purpose being to identify the Biggest and Smallest tides of the year. These two extremes became mental benchmarks, yardsticks against which all the other tide heights could be compared, immediately conjuring up an accurate image in the minds eye of the extent of the tidal range and behaviour. There are a total of 705 tides (morning and evening) in 2011. The biggest tide of the year (13.2 metres/ 43.2 feet) occurs at 08.14 AM (incl. BST) Monday, 21st March and the smallest tide (9.5 metres/ 31.2 feet) reaches its peak at 14.28 PM (incl. BST) on Monday, 28th March. Add 35 minutes to each of the above for Cardiff/ Penarth, plus 3 minutes for Porthcawl, with no add-ons for Port Talbot. (Based on the predictions for the Kings Dock Sill, Swansea). The principles of this exercise will be the same irrespective of the Standard Port. The big “secret” for getting the best out of the tide table booklet is to buy your copy from the same source year in year out, where the predictions are based on the SAME Standard Port, so that familiarity with the tide heights has continuity.
It is very much down to the individual as to how the information is used, be it to select a tide time and height for a “spur of the moment”, spontaneous session or a long term planning of times and tides chosen on the basis of experience, knowledge and behaviour of a particular species at a specific time of year.
Questioning the Accepted Methods!
In the 60’s I began to question the accepted methods and approach to sea angling that were the norm at the time, convinced that LIGHT TACKLE and SPECIES SPECIALISATION was the best way to lay to rest some of the myths surrounding the “unusual” conditions of extreme tidal range, heavily silted waters and the closed geography of the upper reaches of the Bristol Channel, along the south east coast of Wales. Frustrated by the poor and random returns of the “lottery” or “Chuck it and Chance it” approach, which appears to have stood the test of time, remaining the most widely practised style of sea fishing to this day. I selected several species which were of special interest to me and set about learning all that I could about habitats, behaviour, both theoretical and practical, until becoming sufficiently knowledgeable to be able to predict where, when and under what conditions they were present at specific locations. My prime target was the Bass and it is no exaggeration to say that the wealth of information gathered made it possible to predict when these fish would arrive at the proven marks almost to the hour. My sons and I proved the value of this approach time and time again. I well remember an incident which personifies this approach to the upmost degree.
A Warm but not Boiling Hot Sort of Day!
It was the mid seventies, probably 1975, and I had left work to collect my wife and two sons from home to take them to the coast. I remember it was one of those warm, but not boiling hot sort of days, with some cloud cover, and a fresh breeze coming in from the south west. Ian at 11 years was the youngest, with Mark older at around 13 years, both well versed in light tackle fishing for bass, and knowledgeable of the most effective times to fish for them. Not unnaturally, with me being a rod builder, they were kitted out with up to the minute, custom built, fibreglass rods with spigot ferrules, matched to their size and capabilities. Mark preferred a multiplier reel, an Abu 6000, whilst Ian’s choice was a small Abu fixed spool reel. I reluctantly had to return to work, leaving the three of them to make the longish walk to one of our top marks. The night before, I had worked out the time of low water, telling Mark the best time and state of the tide to start fishing. My wife often relates the tale of how she couldn’t understand why having set up, the two boys didn’t start fishing immediately preferring to scrabble amongst the rocks looking for additional crab to add to the bait bucket, that was until checking his watch, Mark baited up and cast out, quickly followed by his younger brother. Within minutes Mark had struck into a bass and was playing, reeling in a fish that turned the scales at 6 lb. plus. Ian followed suit not long after, landing a bass circa 4 lb. plus. No other fish were caught in this session , but this was one incident amongst many, that proved the validity of knowing the marks and appropriate conditions in detail, combined with the value of using the tide table booklet to forward plan. This session lasted 2 to 2 ½ hours, about the maximum effective period at a known mark for bass, rays and many other species, if equipped with the appropriate knowledge.”
One of the many virtues of forward planning via the tide table booklet plus an intimate knowledge of a species behaviour etc, is that the prime period of activity can be identified and the time at the waters edge condensed to a span of 2-3 hours, rather than being at the mercy of chance for long hours of unproductive, standing around on a beach or rock station, in the forlorn hope that something, anything, will break the monotony by trembling the rod tip. Bass are not alone in being predictable, Rays also have a short period of peak activity at particular times through a tide whether shallow water fishing from a beach or deep water fishing from a platform. Knowing when these “peak episodes” occur, at what state of a particular tide height, under what conditions, can improve the enjoyment, satisfaction and results beyond comprehension.
Although I have no history of smooth hound fishing, apart from accidental contact, never the less if you refer to my blog “Smooth-hound fishing in south east Wales”, there is plenty of evidence to prove that the dedicated, successful anglers, are intimate with the knowledge of everything about this species, and likely contact is predetermined by long time experience and association with the smooth-hounds, the marks and arrival times.
How many times have you read reports by anglers complaining that nothing happened at the fishing spot for a lengthy period from time of arrival, when without warning, there was a sudden flurry of activity, a rush of bites, maybe some fish landed, before everything went dead again, until it was time to go home. In essence, the period before and after the “feeding frenzy” was a “waste of time”, and the “magic moments” when the fish were active, was probably a very small proportion of the overall time at the “mark”. Developing the intuition and skill to identify when these “magic moments” will occur is helped by forward planning, and an intimate knowledge of your local patch.
I guess the obvious questions that follow the previous paragraphs, must include (1) How do you achieve the level of skill and intuition to identify these “magic moments” and (2) How can forward planning through the tide table booklet help achieve better results. The answer to both involves not a small amount of both mental and physical effort on the part of the interested angler, and there definitely are no short cuts. It is difficult, if not impossible to be well versed in all the species met along the shores of the Bristol Channel, so the initial decision is to select the “in season” species that inhabit your patch which are especially attractive to you.
It is at this time of the year (middle of January 2011), with very little, worthwhile sea fishing activity locally, that provides the ideal opportunity to scout the low water area of the big, spring tides, seeking out potential marks for the new season, logging and photographing specific gullies for attention later, when the bass are present in large numbers. Likewise, patrol the exposed areas of the “storm” beaches at low water, again looking for salient, “permanent” features that could be feeding stations to be cast to when they are covered by the new flood. Trial and error together with an independent, enquiring mind are a must if seriously seeking the tools of consistency, finding out for your self rather than relying on the subjective recommendations of where to fish, supplied by others whose “expertise” is likely based on second hand, out of date information anyway.
Flagging up the Peak Times!!
Early season shallow water beach fishing for small eyed and thornback rays followed by bass fishing in all its facets, made up the bulk of my spring and summer fishing. This was more than enough to fill the disposable time available to satisfy that passion for sea fishing. The shallow, shelving beaches in the region can be an asset in April and May for the rays, results very much linked to the local climate at the time plus the warming effect of a sustained visit by a weak but plausible sun. After a prolonged, hard winter, the shallow waters of a big spring tide flooding in over cold sand, are likely to discourage the rays, keeping them at distance, but a gradual, reasonable, sun blessed improvement in temperature, may be sufficient to encourage them closer inshore, at least within the reach of competent long distant casting from low water. If the climate of the surrounding catchment area remains very low, possibly sub zero, beach fishing is unlikely to be productive, so any positive, early season contact with small eyed or thornback rays is more likely over high water from deep water marks like the ledges on the left hand side of Witches Point (looking out to sea) or the Deeps at Ogmore by Sea. In anticipation of the shallow water ray fishing, flagging up all the daytime SPRING tides that exceed 39 feet (H.W.) in April and May was my first job, highlighting them with a coloured marker pen. The next step was to calculate the low water time (adding 6 hours 10 minutes to the previous high tide), including the hour for BST, and enter the results in the tide table book against the respective height tide.
Similarly, the procedure was copied for the bass, but in this case, the low water of all the smallest (neap) tides (day or night) from May through to early September, were flagged up.
Tide Tables tell a Story!
The tide table booklet is beginning to tell a story, signalling EVERY theoretical, suitable tide and tide state throughout the season that experience had proven was the most likely to be locally rewarding. The reality was that, much as I would like, it was impossible to attend all of these predictions because of family commitments, work and those other obstacles that stood in the way of fulfilling my favourite pursuit.
The next step was to convert the priority, low water times into a more representative pattern around my domestic commitments, taking into consideration working hours etc. This was achieved by dividing the priority tides into two categories, CONVENIENT and POSSIBLE, then allocating the respective code from the chart below, to reflect the sociable or unsociable consequences well in advance of the day.
CONVENIENT is a state of the tide that falls at either a sociable or unsociable time, when your effectiveness following a fishing session is not a consideration. (Weekends, Days off etc).
POSSIBLE is a state of the tide that falls at either a sociable or unsociable time, when your effectiveness following a fishing session has to be a consideration. (Work, etc.)
The Final Piece of the Jigsaw!!
Having gone to great lengths to prioritise all the peak tides and tide states in the tide table booklet for the coming season, based on hard earned knowledge of species movements and behaviour inshore, the vital, last piece of the jigsaw that will confirm whether the theory becomes reality and rewarding, will be the prevailing sea and weather conditions on the day. In this modern, technological age it is so easy to source this information in advance of the chosen date, thus making the right decision on whether to go for it or not, a simple matter of clicking onto the appropriate websites. Listed below are some links that I have found useful.
XC. Weather: http://www.xcweather.co.uk/GB/forecast
Met. Office ; http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/uk/wl/wl_forecast_weather_html
BBC 5 day : http://news.bbc.co.uk/weather/forecast/8
Magic Seaweed: http://magicseaweed.com/Porthcawl-surf-report/29/
You are invited to visit my new website, “Ticker’s World”, which includes access to my blogs, details, plus a review by Mike Thrussell Senior, of my new book “Bass Fishing from the Shore in South East Wales and More”.
Click here to visit “Ticker’s World”/ Read Tickers Blogs.
Copyright Derek Townsend 2011
Well what a turn for the worse the weather has taken! Wow, I thought last year was bad, but I haven’t so much as wet a line for about 6-7 weeks now! And winter is by far my most favorite time to fish too…..well, what to do instead?
You could of course take up an other sport, watch endless videos or fishing documentaries or just spend week after week tidying through all your kit!
Just a few ingredients used in the formation of my most recent base mix
Needless to say I’ve done all the above except take up another sport! My main project for the colder, un-fishable periods though, is to get my teeth into some ‘proper‘ bait making. This entails lots of ingredients and the likely hood of a few domestics between myself and the beloved over kitchen utensils and honking bait ingredients!
If your a lucky bloke like me, then it’s not too much aggro to get the kitchen free time when the wife’s doing other things…..she has been know on a few occasions to even help me with the bait making! Much to her disdain!
Anyway, I digress…..this article is just a little tempter to get you started in small scale bait formulation. I’ve written a few bits and pieces before about how I would go about producing a bait using ready formulated base mixes, but never one about actual base mix formulation.
My new ‘low stocked’ water will require a quality base mix!
So where do we start? Easy really, the key ingredients, what they are used for and why? The first thing we need to look at is our water we intend to use this new bait on…..What kind of venue is it?
Large understocked gravel pit, small estate lake, river, target fish size, nuisance species, weed, water clarity, fish stock density, etc etc.
As you will know from my previous articles on here, I fish relatively low stocked waters throughout the season and have a back up runs water in tow for when things get a bit disheartening and i need a confidence booster!
Milk powders being weighed
My baits need to be able to withstand a whole seasons use, therefor it’s no good having a quick reaction bait that has no longevity to it. I need the fish to eat the bait and get something nutritious from it that will keep them coming back for more. If your on a water with a big head of fairly un-cute fish or your limited to very short periods of fishing time, then a quick acting bait is going to be the best option for you.
Using a food blender to insure all the ingredients thoroughly mixed
So what separates these baits from each other? The base mix ingredients do…..It’s absolutely no use introducing 10 kg of cheaply made rubbish bait into a very low stocked, nutrient rich water.
The fish will eat a little and realize quickly that this stuff is of no real advantage to their health. On the flip side….a water full of very hungry carp aren’t going to have a chance to examine their food or even decide whats really that good for them. It’s all about competition in this kind of venue.
How do we choose what ingredients to apply to the base mix then? My first bait formulations of the late 80’s/early 90’s were made from very low grade food products as these were pretty much all that was available at the time.
The bait scene was a hush hush place that very few discussed openly. Of course there were no bait companies selling bulk ingredients, no internet and very few books that gave much away to Mr average.
Tools of the trade, sausage guns and a good supply of nozzles
Therefore it became my operative to try and gain a leg up the angling ladder and try some ‘new’ ingredients out. These were purchased from health food shops, supermarkets and even out of my parents garden!
Gardner Rollaball tables
For most of the time, the bait was what we would now class as ‘crap’ bait, in that it held absolutely no real nutritional advantages to the fish, so it didn’t last long on a water before it ‘blew‘. This is a word that’s not used so much these days and I think it’s all down to the high quality ingredients that we all now use in our baits.
So why make your own when there are countless companies selling ready made baits that catch ‘whackers’ every day of the week, up and down the whole of the UK? Well, that’s again a simple question to answer…..Individuality and the obvious buzz attained from catching a carp on a bait that you yourself have formulated. Even now some twenty five years since I made my very first boilie, I still get the same buzz from catching a fish on my own bait as I did back then!
Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl
Now, where to start…..well we need food value. This can come in a format of Fishmeals, Birdfoods, Milk Proteins or even a combination of each. There are absolutely dozens to choose from but I’ll list my favorites here and why. First off is Fishmeal. My only choice here is for Norwegian LT-94 Fishmeal. A fishmeal produced from chilled raw fish and treated at low temperatures to maintain it’s nutritional values and amino profile.
These are drastically reduced when dried at much higher temperatures as is the case with lower quality cheaper meals.
Because of the low oil content, around 10% and the high protein content (70%) of which over 90% is soluble….makes for a good all year round base mix ingredient. It is a lovely light brown colour that binds nicely with other ingredients. I would tend to use LT-94 at around 40% max of the overall ingredients included.
Add your liquid additives, colours, flavours and sweetners
Next up is Birdfoods….again a huge array to choose from with some that clearly surpass others in the catch ratings! The most widely documented being Robin Red. A very rich, red food containing crushed seeds, oils, sugars and peppers which fish seem to find irresistible.
Stir in the dry ingredients until too stiff to use the fork.
Others include EMP, Insectivorus, Sluis CLO etc. These feeds are very soluble and work well when combined with milk proteins to make a reasonably good food source.
Milk proteins have been used in the bait industry from day one and make up around 80-90% of most base mixes available to purchase today. The reason for their usage is down to the fact that they provide exceptionally high protein, they are soluble and of course bind well too.
My favorites are the Caseins. Rennet Casein and Acid Casein both in 90 mesh. These are both very high protein milk powders that bind well and add very good amino profile to the baits. The mesh is usually either 90 or 30. 30 being the more coarse grade of the two.
When the mix is stiff enough use a small ball to collect the remaining mix from the sides of the mixing bowl
Other ingredients you can add to your base mix include: (exhaustive list!) Krill meal, Ground Peanut Meal, Vanilla Meal, Blood Meal, Lamlac powder, Calcium Caseinate, Limestone Flour etc etc.
Cling film wrap the balls your not using to keep them moist
My other choices for using to bulk up the ingredients for keeping the costs down a little include that of Soya Flour, Ground Semolina and White ground Maize meal. These all have a good binding character and will also add some small levels of food value to a bait.
Cutting the sausages coming from the gun
Right, we’ve discussed some of the ingredients added to the base mix, so lets put the mix together and discuss the way it’s formulated.
We need to obviously choose the ingredients to suit as above and it’s a little bit hit and miss finding out what will blend and roll nicely.
I’ll leave that to you guys to experiment with! My first choice though is to make the base a combination of fishmeal and milk proteins. I would include around 15oz per kg of LT-94, a 50/50 combination of Acid and Rennet Casein at a level of 10 oz per kg.
Place the sausages across the rollaball table
Now a few binders to help the rolling. 5oz soya flour and 4 oz semolina. These should bind well and produce a fairly consistent bait that catches fish.
My additives would included Green lipped mussel extract, Betain HCI. With a flavor enhancer ie, Monster Crab. A small inclusion of a tablespoon of salt and a liquid amino such as Multimino.
Once the base mix has been formulated it needs to be well mixed together in a blender before adding to the liquid ingredients.
Rolled and ready to boil!
Firstly crack 8 large eggs into a good sized mixing bowl. Add your liquid flavors and additives. Stir them thoroughly with a fork before starting to add the dry base mix ingredients. This should be done steadily and not all at once!
Using the fork, stir the dried ingredients vigorously into the liquids, adding a cupful at a time.
Continue doing this until it becomes impossible to stir any more with the fork. Now it’s time to get your hands dirty!
Pile of baits rolled and about to go in the pan
Place both hands into the dough and keep kneading it until it has soaked up all of the ingredients. Keep adding the dry base until the mix is fairly solid, like a lump of plasticine.
Once achieved I remove the bulk of the ball and pinch off a small piece with which to rotate around the mixing bowl.
This should clean the bowl nicely, leaving very little wastage and less scrubbing in the washing up!
If the mix is still too sticky then add a little more dried mix until it becomes more user friendly so to speak.
My next move is to place a few lumps of the ball into separate pieces of cling film and wrap them up until i come to use them. This will maintain the moisture in the balls and stop cracking when rolling the baits.
Ensure that the water is thoroughly boiling before placing the baits in the water
You’ll need to get yourself a decent sausage gun now with which to form the sausages with. Placing a section of the ball into the tube, use the gun to push out a few sausages at a time. The stainless guns are much better than the plastic ones which tend to crack when you use stiffer mixes!
Now the fun starts! Using a rollaball rolling table, available from Gardner in lots of sizes and guises! Lay the cut sausages across the rollaball table.
Once the baits rise to the surface they are ready to be taken out
If you find your mix is a tad on the sticky side you can gently grease the rollaball lengths up with Salmon Oil or similar pre-rolling.
Place the top of the rollaball onto the bottom section, press down to cut the shapes and then gently slide the sections apart and back again around 5-6 times. This rolls the baits into the recognizable shape we know as a boilie.
If you want to roll a different shape ie, dumbells, then use a nozzle of 2mm smaller in the tip of the sausage gun than the size of the rollaball. Example: 18mm nozzle and 20mm rollaball.
Remove boiled baits from the pan using a ladle or spoon
Place the rounded and rolled baits onto a non-stick surface and place a pan of water on the boil. Once the water is boiling well, place a handfull of the rolled baits straight into the pan.
Place the boiled baits onto a waiting tea towel to cool down
Not too many at once as this will reduce the water temperature too much and make the boiling time much longer.
You’ll read many bait making articles telling you to boil for ex-minutes….this is utter rubbish. Boil the baits until they rise up to the surface of the water.
Then remove them with a ladle or similar draining spoon. Now place the baits on a waiting tea towel to cool down and harden off.
My own base mix formulated, rolled, boiled and now ready to freeze
Once all the baits are cooked and cooled down on the towel you can place them into a seal-able bag, take them fishing or freeze them for another day.
I like to date mine so that i can maintain the freshness by using the oldest dated one’s first.
Ensure you strip all your kit at the end and thoroughly clean it up
Well, there we have it…..A fairly simple act that will save you a fair few pounds, give you a personalized bait that nobody else will be on and just wait until you bag that first carp on it!
Enjoy experimenting and tight lines for 2011!
Wed 24th Nov – Fishing 0 hrs – Pub 7hrs
It was time for our annual Dungeness pilgrimage. Steve had done all the ground work as usual. Digs, vans, bait and tides all sorted. So eight of us departed for Dungie at 08:00 Wed morning. First stop was 10 miles up the M4 in the opposite direction to get breakfast at Pyle. After a lovely breakfast we headed on our way for the 4 1/2 hr trip to New Romney. We arrived at our digs at about 13:00 we had made good progress. The plan was to fish Thur – Sat from 06:00 to 19:00 and then have a pint get some grub. Eat the grub at the digs then shower and crash out for the following morning. Leaving Sat night for the piss up. Things didn’t go quite to plan. As we arrived early the boys decided it was a good opportunity to sample the local beer early. We would then walk up to the Plough at the other end of New Romney for food. It was then back to bed.
Thur 25th Nov: Fishing 8hrs – Pub 7hrs
The alarm went off a 05:00 and we where down on the beach by 06:00. It was a tad chilly to say the least. A gentle breeze from the north. IT was beach buddy up first thing then sort out the rods. We where in the water by 06:30 about two hours before low water. We fished to the left of the board walk. It was quite rough ground as there is a ledge out at about 50 yards. The drop off is considerable and the line gets trapped under the shingle on the lip of the ledge. You can reel in untill the led hits the lip. Then you will be very lucky id you can get it back. Best bet was to only leave the bait out for 20 minutes or less. Low water came and went and all we had was Whiting. About two hours of the flood Sid was the first to make contact. A nice double figure cod 11.2lb a new PB for Sid. Sid was using a pully pennel rig with size 5/0 hooks. Bait was local lug and squid cocktail.
Not to be out done I saw Glyn hauling what looked like a very nice cod up the beach!
A superb Cod weighing 19.3lb. This was a new PB for Glyn. It fell to a pulley dropper rig using 5/0 hooks. It has taken a livebait Whiting.
Carl then landed a nice 4lb Cod again on local lug. . Then that was it. The usual whiting and not a lot else. The boys didn’t quite make it to the 6 pm go home time so we left the beach at 3pm so they could hit the pub again.
Fri 26 Nov: Fishing 7hrs – Pub 8hrs
Bizzy had left home at 01:00 in the morning and we waited for him to turn up so we could load his gear in the van. So we hit the beach a bit later than expected. Bizzy has more jam than Hartleys. His third cast produced a nice 10.2lb Cod. It fell to another livebait Whiting.
The team where getting bored again so we packed up early and you guessed it! Went to the pub. I crashed out at 20:30 so I was prepared for the following days session. But half team turned back up at the digs well gone 23:00 with tales of 12 pints of beer! So I wasn’t expecting much for Saturday.
Sat 27th Nov: Fishing 3hrs – Pub (we went home)
The plan this morning was to get up at 04:00 and get down to the beach by 05:00. But there where a few lazy heads after the piss up the night before. In fact some didn’t make it. Some stayed asleep in the van. We got to the beach by 6am. Just after we arrived it started to snow so the rest of the team bar Sid, Jeff and I packed up and went back to the digs in Tony’s van. Needless to say they where back on the beach by 10am asking us to pack up so they could go home. Snow had been forecast. So the three remaining packed up and headed for the digs. We didn’t even have chance to fish the flooding tide.
We where on the way home by midday. Shame really as I failed to get a Cod. Never mind there always next year.
There where very few small cod caught this year. The method that worked was waiting for a whiting rattle and then leaving it out hopefully getting a large cod to take it as livebait. I did pull in two Whiting and a flag pole at one stage. But alas no double figure Cod.
A Blast from the Past No One!! A 27 lb. 5oz. Cod from the beach at Llantwit Major!
A 27 lb. 5 oz. cod was caught from a beach near Llantwit Major by Paul Glover, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, 1st January 1980. The outstanding feature of this capture was the age of its captor, at the time Paul was 15 years old and a very keen sea angler.
One of the beauties of fishing for Cod along the South East coast of Wales is that, unlike bass, they are not restricted to localised pockets, but can put in an appearance in the most unlikely of places and often during the most adverse and varied weather conditions. Putting aside the draw of the well established “Hot Spots” which have earned a justifiable reputation over the years for producing racks of cod, it is the unexpected catches that fire the imagination and tempt the sea angler to fish venues that otherwise would not be visited.
Two friends, wyting (lhs) and neiltheknife (rhs) were fishing a Channel mark approximately one mile along from the old Severn bridge, in the early hours of the morning.. Wyting was convinced that 90% of the fish were caught on the ebb, and the bait claimed to outfish all other offerings was plain lugworm. Both anglers were using the same size 4/0 hook on a 50 lb. hook link, insurance against the very rough ground into which they were fishing. The popular Pennel/ Pulley rig arrangement was used to present the successful lugworm baits. Two rods each was the order of the day with wyting using Conoflex Nemesis SLR’s, Daiwa Slosh 30 multiplying reels loaded with 30 lb Ultima black mainline and appropriate leader. On the other hand, neiltheknife put his faith in Shakespeare 13 ft Salt beachcasters and an Abu Garcia Mag Elite multiplying reels loaded with 22 lb. mainline. Wyting was the first to land a plump 3 lb. 3 oz codling at around 2 o’clock in the morning, followed about half an later by neiltheknife with a fish that just pipped his friends capture at 4lb. dead.
The following is an edited version of a true story that appears in my book “Bass Fishing from the shore in South East Wales” and personifies this very unpredictability, demonstrating that patience, persistence, hardship and sheer “bloody mindedness” can result in the fish of a lifetime.
Porthcawl, A Winter’s Tale.
“It was late December, circa 1969, with Christmas just around the corner. The sky was pitch black, speckled with the large flakes of a heavy snow storm driving in across Coney Beach (Sandy Bay) by a force 7 or 8 gale,gusting 9 or 10. The density of the snow storm and the strength of the bitterly cold, easterly wind showed no signs of abating, so it was a case of seek shelter and continue fishing or admit defeat and retire.
The conditions that prevailed on that evening excluded any fancy ideas of fishing marks any distance from civilisation, so a conscious decision finally found us parked at the town end of the Eastern Promenade, Porthcawl, within casting distance of the local sea angling clubs H.Q. The wall stretching along the left hand arm of the harbour, facing into Coney beach, in the vicinity of the sea cadets h.q., was the only possible haven. Distance casting was not an option!! It was a case of rising above the wall and despatching the large balls of squid into the maelstrom, quickly hunkering down behind the wall to seek solace in our own private worlds. The snow was three to four inches deep, the wind strength constant, bite detection non existent, the only distraction was the irritating but frequent, rod dislodged by the wind, that is, until my companions rod not only slid down the wall but started to climb over it. Rising and grabbing his fast disappearing rod, frantically winding in the billowing yards of slack line, until the feeling of solid resistance confirmed the probability of a very good cod. Landing the fish from our present position was impossible so the only option open to us was to guide the furious fish carefully around the perimeter of the arm into the relatively sheltered, but troubled waters of the inner harbour, a prolonged and anxious journey with my companion nervously leading and me following in close pursuit with the “Tilley” Lamp.
The next stage of the saga involved climbing down the narrow, rusty and unreliable “ladder” attached to the inner face of the harbour wall. A prudent reminder of the extreme weather and sea conditions will underline the dangers facing the luckless individual “nominated” to descend the rickety ladder, gaff the fish (no choice!) and deliver the prize safely to the pavement, at the feet of the captor. Holding the gaff in my right hand and grasping the rungs of the ladder with my left hand, I began the long, perilous descent to the water. The swell in the harbour meant that the water level was constantly rising and falling four to five feet, making it very difficult and dangerous to successfully sink the gaff into a large and infuriated fish. After several, unsuccessful attempts, I retreated up the ladder and we swopped jobs. After what seemed like ages, the captor and his cod surfaced, soaking wet, safe and jubilant.
The Cod was weighed at the Fishing Club’s H.Q., turning the scales at a pleasing 19 lbs.”
Conjuring up the image of the thawed imprint of that excellent cod, moulded into the deep, pristine white snow, is the permanent reminder of that memorable evening!!
This photograph depicts Nathan (Roamers son) presenting a clean looking codling circa 3 lb., caught at Sand Point during the first England v Wales meet. Conditions on the day were reasonably good spoiled by an easterly wind which made fishing difficult. The bait was Lugworm, fished at distance on a pennel pulley rig with rotten bottom.
Optimism, Pessimism and Realism!
Over recent years, the perceived and recognisable decline in the stocks of mature cod being caught on a regular basis by anglers fishing the South and East coast of Wales, has fermented an aura of despair with individuals so disillusioned with the likely poor returns, that some have even gone to the lengths of packing away their fishing equipment for the winter. This really is a sad state of affairs by any measure. On the other hand, the limited consistency of mainly immature codling being caught throughout the spring and summer, has prompted optimistic claims and benevolent forecasts based on the alleged growth rates attributed to this species. Both forecasts are subjective and born of assumptions, so, once again, I have used the virtues of the Internet to research as much data as I could unearth, to try and present a more realistic picture for the coast. I make no apologies for referring to the “Old Days” (60’,70’s and into the early 80’s) when the odds of catching a double were such that fishing extreme/ inhospitable weather and sea conditions could be wholly justified. The chances of landing several fish of, say, 3 to 8 lbs on a light tackle , bass outfit, in a 2 ½ to 3 hour session over low water of a spring tide, was a pretty fair bet, providing the angler knew his/her marks and self dug a useful amount of fresh black lugworm. There were good years and poor years even in those days, but what was classed as a poor year then would, probably, be welcomed with open arms today.
Cod (Gadus morhua), The Stocks, an Overview!
It is not unnatural to assume that a “Cod is a Cod” and all originate from one huge stock, migrating throughout the Atlantic Ocean, but the reality is much different. Within the boundaries of what is classed as “European waters”, there are six separate, managed stocks of which the Irish and Celtic Seas stocks are likely to have the most influence on Bristol Channel fishing. Each individual stock is independent of the others, with their own spawning sites, migration movements, different growth rates and volume of fish reaching maturity (biomass). The Celtic Sea stock , together with possible contingents from the Irish Sea stock, are most likely to be the origins of the fish caught in the Bristol Channel, although that assumption cannot exclude travellers from stocks farther afield. At face value, this could be good news for Bristol Channel sea anglers as the results of a joint tagging programme carried out by the Irish fishing industry and scientists at the Marine Institute, Galway, suggest. According to the report, one fish tagged and released in the Waterford estuary, confirmed the rapid growth associated with the Celtic Sea Cod. When released, this fish measured 23 cms (9.0 inches) long and weighed an estimated 120g (4.24 oz), and on final capture (15 months after release), length was 56 cms (22 inches) and the weight had increased to 1.9 kilos. (4.18 lbs) This fish reportedly had gained a nine-fold increase in weight in the first 10 months from release, and a total of a sixteen fold increase in weight in just 15 months.
Theoretical (early) growth/ weight per one year (12 months) from release of re-captured, tagged fish.
|On Final Capture
|Difference (over 15 months)
Theoretical (early) growth/ weight per one year (12 months) from date of initial release =
62.64 ozs. x 12 months = 50.11 ozs. (1.42 kgs or 3.13 lbs)
Total actual weight of the recovered, tagged fish (15 months after initial release) = 1.90 kgs or 4.18 lb.
This 13 lb. 8 oz Cod was caught by the crusty crab, following persistent questioning from his young son, “Dad, when we gonna get a fish” and “Dad, what we gonna catch?” This was the debut trip for the young lad, seen here holding the smaller of the two fish caught, who is convinced that the pair will catch cod every trip. The “Double” was returned alive.
Biology: Celtic Sea Cod!
The attached diagram, illustrates the extent of the Celtic Sea/ Irish Seas and their proximity to the Bristol Channel. The majority of Celtic Sea Cod spawn off northern Cornwall between mid to late March, with pockets of fish spawning in the Irish Sea. A female cod will release anything up to 500,000 eggs per kilogram of her own weight, therefore a female of 8 years could produce 2.5 million eggs. Unfortunately, the majority of the eggs and larvae will perish within the first three months of their life. The surviving eggs hatch in two to four weeks, depending on water temperature, and the resulting cod larvae are carried on the prevailing currents into shallow coastal waters. The number of fish reaching maturity (around age 3 years in the Irish Sea) can fluctuate during short periods, with most stocks suffering from over exploitation. Junior Cod can survive sub zero temperatures due to a special enzyme which acts as an anti-freeze. Here are some figures to illustrate just how vulnerable fish stocks are to over predation. The stock of mature fish capable of spawning in the North Sea, fell from 157,000 tonnes in 1963 to 38,000 tonnes in 2001, a 76% decrease. There was a slight recovery to 46,000 tonnes in 2004. The cod is a species that thrives in cold water, preferring temperatures of 2 to 8 c but can be found in water temperatures up to 20 c. Given a reasonable chance of survival the lifespan of a cod could reach 25 years, weighing circa 90 kilos (198 lbs). The answer to the perennial question, “When does a codling become a cod”, appears to be quite simple and straightforward. The “coming of age moment” being when the fish reaches maturity, which could be circa 3 years in the Irish Sea or older in the colder, Northern waters.
Aberavon was the selected venue, and rays were the target. Although low water was not until 10.00 pm, the anbassadeur arrived early at his favourite ray spot only to find it surrounded by swimmers enjoying the early, evening (May) sunshine. Conditions were perfect, a calmish sea lifted to a modest surf by a light easterly breeze. Fortunately, the swimmers decided to move away allowing room for safe casting, so one rod dropped a bait at 30 yards and the second rod at 80 yards. Choice of bait was “bluey” and sandeel, presented on up and over, pennel style rigs, each rig armed with Varivas 1/0 Big mouth hooks. The set up included an Amorphous Whisker 12 (Carp) rod and a Daiwa Millionaire 7 HT Turbo Multiplying reel. On the second cast with this outfit, a “cracking” bite followed by a robust fight, gave the impression of a good bass but it was a complete surprise to the ambassadeur when a codling was brought to his feet.
Global Warming and the Cod’s Survival!
Of course, this paragraph may not be of direct interest to the current population of sea anglers, but the predictions for the future do add weight to the fact of Global warming, whatever the cause, and the gathering momentum of change being affected on fish stocks. The observed responses of cod fish to the variability in water temperatures, predicts that by the year 2100, Celtic and Irish Sea stocks could disappear if the current warming persists.
Fishing at distance for smooth hounds at Sker, in late May, resulted in this unexpected 3 lb. Codling which was tempted by a crab bait, presented on Sakuma Manta Extra size 4/0 hooks, attached to a 60 lb. clipped down pulley/ pennel rig, 20 lb. Daiwa Sensor mainline, and an impact lead. The outfit included a Daiwa Saltist 20 multiplying reel and a Gary Evans Double Gold beachrod.
Features and Feeding Habits!
The cod has a very distinctive shape, the prominent feature being a disproportionately large head for the size of the body, a protruding upper jaw with a barbel below the chin. A distinctive lateral line runs along each flank from the point of the gill in a curve to the centre of the tail root. Three dorsal/ two ventral fins minus truncated spines, and a square ended tail fluke confirms this fish’s identity. The colour of the body can vary from a reddish/ golden to a greenish / blue reportedly influenced by habitat or food source. The cods menu includes bristle worms, squids, crustaceans and fish species such as sand-eel, Norway pout, capelin, sprat and herring. Adult cod are cannibalistic and do not hesitate to prey on smaller cod.
A Blast from the Past No. Two!! A Welsh and British (Rod caught) Record Cod!!
This blog would not be complete without a photograph (albeit hazy) of Brandon Jones’s Record Breaking cod of 44 lb. 8 ozs. (20.185 kgs), caught at Toms Point, Barry in 1966. This fish stands as the current, unbeaten Welsh and British rod and line, shore caught record Cod, and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.
Cod (Gadus morhua) National Statistics.
Welsh (Rod and Line Caught) Records.
Shore 20.185 kg (44.08.00 lbs.) 1966, B. Jones, Toms Point, Barry.
Boat 20.638 kg (45.07.00 lbs.) 1997, S.H.Williams, Swansea.
U.K. (Rod and Line Caught) Records.
Shore 20.185 kg (44.08.00 lbs.) 1966, B. Jones, Toms Point, Barry.
Boat 26.530 kg (58.06.00 lbs) 1992, N. Cook, Whitby, North Yorkshire.
Minimum Landing Size.
M.A.F.F. Shore 35 cm (13.78 inches) Boat 35 cm (13.78 inches)
N.F.S.A. Shore 35 cm (13.78 inches) Boat 35 cm (13.78 inches)
W.F.S.A. Shore 36 cm (14.17 inches) Boat 36 cm (14.17 inches)
Fishing a 10.1 metre tide, 4 hours up, 2 hours down at the Ranny Pool, the Donkey hooked into a plump 2 lb. 7 oz. codling an hour after high water, at around 6.00 a.m. This feisty fish fought well on the 50 lb. braid mainline. Bait was a whole squid, mounted on a pennel pulley rig and cast out about 80 yards. Of the total five fish caught, four were above the M.L.S., succumbing to fresh Devon peeler crab. Two of the fish were caught before high water, three on the first 11/2 hours of the ebb.
All through the spring and summer of 2010, satisfying quantities of small codling up to 3-ish pounds, with many falling below the minimum size of 36 cms (14 inches) and returned, have featured in local catches. With the arrival of autumn and the pending onset of winter, the drop in air temperatures both daytime and, significantly, during the hours of darkness, seem to have coincided with an increase in the number of juvenile cod putting in an appearance relatively close inshore. It seems inappropriate to seek fish of this size range on the normal beach-casting outfits, which has prompted some anglers to switch to light, even ultra light tackle, as a way of enjoying this welcome phenomenon. To maximise the opportunity presented for some light tackle codding, try low water plus 2 ½ hours, of neap tides (beach) which occur during the hours of darkness; a good starting point, maybe reverting to the more substantial, casting friendly sticks on the medium to big spring tides when the “doubles” could be lurking in the deeper water. Browsing the photograph captions will show that these fish have been caught up to high tide, and on the ebb from venues above sea level into deeper water, so there are plenty of options. The equipment and methods suitable for “proper” cod fishing are well established and practiced, so for a change, the “Specification” as set out below is directed at the light tackle, juvenile, codling scenario.
Prey Species: Juvenile Cod (Gadus morhua)
Venue Description: Varied, no hard and fast rules.
Rod: The arrival of the juvenile cod inshore in force, has prompted some to seize the opportunity to switch from the standard 2 x beach-caster outfit strategy to single bass, carp and spinning rods where ever practical. (Pristine seas, calmed to a gentle swell, after dark, plus a low air temperature, frosty atmosphere, could tempt the more adventurous to use float fishing tactics.)
Reel: Small multiplier or fixed spool reels.
Line: Narrow diameter lines in the 8 to 10 lb b.s. test range, plus leader.
Leader: 10 lb. test strength line for every ounce of lead weight used, i.e. 2 ounce lead weight x 10 lb. test = 20 lb. test strength leader, plus a tolerance of 25% as an additional safety margin where high energised casting is required.
Weight: 1-2 ounce lead weight (grips or no grips depending on degree of sea activity and fishing station)
Rig: Running Paternoster (single hook) constructed from same test strength line as the leader.
Hook: Mustad 79515, size 1 well sharpened hook or similar, attached to a 9-12 inch snood. (As a suggestion, modify the hook to a “barbless” format with a pair of pliers, so that the hook can be removed quickly with the minimum of damage to undersize fish due to be returned alive and in a healthy state)
Rod Rest: None. Holding the rod, whether standing in the water at beach level or off a higher platform into deep water.
Bait: Worm baits, black lugworm and mud-worms proving particularly effective.
Casting: A gentle “lob” is all that is necessary to place the bait approximately 30 to 40 yards out.
Sea conditions: Ideally, medium to calm water activity, with a low surf to activate the sea bed if fishing from a beach.
Weather conditions: Wind direction not critical, but light to moderate breeze.
Time of day/ state of tide: After dark, low water plus 2 ½ hours from a beach, plus options including 3 hours to high tide not excluding 2 to 3 hours of the following ebb, from a platform above sea level into deep water. Daylight hours with cloud cover could also prove productive from deep water stations.
A 13 lb. 13 oz. cod caught at Divers, Sudbrook by Primosyncro.
Acknowledgements: I would like to take this opportunity to thank those members who responded to my request for photographs of their cod catches, and for providing me with the details for interesting captions.
Read Mike Thrussell’s review of Derek’s book “ Bass Fishing from the shore in South East Wales and More”.
Click here for Review.
Buy the book “Bass Fishing from the shore in South East Wales and More” by Derek Townsend.
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© Derek Townsend (The views expressed in this blog are those of the contributor)
Visit Derek’s Website “Ticker’s World”
Its been a little while since I posted any form of catch reports on here, so I felt that it was about time I told you all what I’d been up to the last few months of the summer season!
I’d now like to tell you all about the hundreds of massive carp that I’ve banked from my private syndicate waters, but unfortunately that’s just a pipe dream and the ever present truth of a very hard summer season presents itself instead!
I can’t complain really I suppose as there have been some great captures which I have truly enjoyed and feel thoroughly grateful for the opportunity to fish for these giants…..So here’s a little report that kind of sums up the summer so far…..and I hope will instill a little faith in some of you, that all the hard work is worth the effort in the end!
As some of you will know, I have 2 syndicate tickets running at the moment. One on a small and fairly quiet water nestled in amongst the countryside of Devon. The other is Crayfish Pool, a high profile and less quiet water!!!! on the Horton Complex near Heathrow Airport.
Both these venues hold some real gems, Stenhill in Devon holds around 50+ twenty pound fish to low thirties and Cray holds 34 carp to mid forties, including a mere 11+ thirty pounders!
Stenhill Carp Syndicate
Both have their popular swims and preferred techniques, yet I have found only particular techniques to be effective in my own aspects of angling these venues.
I have been making my own bait now for some 20+ years and I feel that i have now pretty much perfected the ingredients list to a level that I am perfectly confident in. This bait has served me well this season and accounted for around 130 fish so far.
Rig wise I have scored on two adaptions. The first rig for bottom bait presentations is the ‘Blow back rig’ using a small section of silicone tubing to present the hair right down the curved section of the shank of the hook.
This makes the point of the hook very heavy and will almost without fail make the point turn in and take hold of the fishes mouth. I prefer this setup on a soft braided material such as the Nash Missing Link or Kryston Silkworm Braids.
The other rig I have used to great effect this year has been the ‘Hinged Stiff Rig’…..this I use with numerous baits for popping the bait up off the bottom of the lake bed. This can be a killer method for presenting a pop up boilie or even maggots which we have discussed before in previous articles.
My bottom bait presentation
Hinged stiff rig in action using bouyant maggots
So, to the fishing this year! Well, its been a tale of two halfs really, the first half being the colder weather of February through until early May where I spent a good deal of time on the banks of the small yet pretty Stenhill syndicate water in Devon.
The fishing there has been very productive and over some 30 nights spent there I have amassed a good catch of around 100+ carp to 29lb 2oz.
Many of these fish were over twenty and as yet not a single figure fish amongst them! Pretty good catch ratios in my book.
There are some truly stunning old English carp in the place with lots of Zip linears and really scaley old carp. There are also plenty of commons to boot too.
The other half of this years angling has been spent on the ultra tricky little 3 acre pool known as Crayfish Pool.
Just one of the very pretty scaley carp that inhabit Stenhill
A famous water fished by many celebrity anglers during prior decades. The vast majority of the old stock has unfortunately passed on to the big pond in the sky, but 8 of the originals still remain. To top up the stock level there were around twenty or so hand picked carp introduced about 5 years ago.
These fish have packed on some serious weight, gorging themselves on the abundant supply of Signal Cray’s that inhabit the water. Some of these fish are now busting their guts out at an incredible forty plus pounds in weight!
With only twenty members allowed on the venues it makes for a fairly tight knit community of anglers. Most are fairly good souls who will help you along the way and are a pleasure to spend time on the bank with. There are of course the small handful of anglers who prefer to keep themselves to themselves and hide their rigs when they see someone coming! lol
Albeit, these places hold some treasures to behold and I’ve spent some magic times at both venues this last summer season. I think I have amassed around 70 nights spent between the two lakes so far and my word how I’ve enjoyed my times there. There have been incredible highs and some incredible lows too. Yet I still find the urge to get in the car and drive the 160 miles to each venue in search of a dream fish.
Awesome! ‘Totland’ at 32lb 7oz!
The season has obviously been a lot harder on the ‘Cray’ as there is such a smaller head of very tricky carp in there.
Yet 3 separate fish have fallen for the tactics presented and I’ve bagged ‘Totland’ at 32lbs 7oz, ‘Bulla’ at 31lb 10oz and most recently last week ‘Baby Long’ at 21lb 6oz. All three of these fish were worked hard for.
There have been times I felt like hanging myself from the nearest tree and others where I couldn’t stop smiling for a week! This is surely why we all fish though?? Isn’t it?? The ups, the down’s….it’s all part of everyday life on the syndicate waters and I’m sure it’s the same for many of you who fish day ticket waters too.
The very sought after ‘Bulla’ at 31lb 7oz
It’s been an amazing chance to try and many new things this year on the easier lake of the two (Stenhill) and then take those results over to Crayfish Pool with an added sense of confidence that what I have been doing is and will continue to catch me some fine specimen carp.
So, there we have boys and girls just a little taster of whats been happening for me on the lakes this summer. I hope you’ve had just as much pleasure from your sport as I have had and lets hope this winter isn’t too bad!
Baby Long at 21lb 6oz
If you want to follow my angling exploits a little closer then have a pop over to my website where you can read a little more in depth into whats been occurring and how its come about!
Tight lines to you all
Nuts about Carp
It is always difficult, pin-pointing a date with any degree of accuracy when looking back over the years, but the story I am about to tell happened towards the latter end of the 70’s. However, there is no doubt in my mind that the incident occurred in early July, during a heat-wave spell, not long after the tide had turned at low water. The sun beating down mercilessly from almost directly above, confirmed that we were fishing a big tide, at mid day and three quarters into a waxing, spring sequence. Flat calm, not a ripple, the forward fringe of deposited sediment disturbed and lifting into an impenetrable curtain, the first indication that the new flood was slowly, even sluggishly, reluctantly, silently and unobtrusively meandering across the hot, baking, dried edges of the beach at the water line. My best friend, the late Robert (Bob) Townsend (no relation) and I were setting up the bass gear at one of our top marks, more out of habit than expectation because the placid sea appeared so out of line with any text book description of classic bassing conditions. As luck would have it, I was the first to be fully operational right down to the medium sized, soft, frozen edible, neatly wrapped and secured around the shank of the sharpened Mustad 79510 (now 79515) size 4/0 hook. With conditions so unbassy, I was regretting having used one of the prime, frozen baits from the bait bucket, the thawing process was in full swing, perspiring rivulets of aromatic juices, the result of the oppressive heat.
Without warning the sea in front of us, probably 20 to 30 yards offshore from the low water line, erupted in a thrashing, smashing, maelstrom of frightened baitfish, desperately leaping clear of the turbulence in the hope of escaping from the gaping mouths of the closely following large, mature bass, the sun reflecting off the mirror- like silver of the pristine flanks for little more than a split second before disappearing back into the boiling water. For a second or two, we both stood rooted to the ground, bemused by the suddenness and unexpectedness of the spectacle being played out before our eyes and within a short casting distance. My first cast landed right in the middle of the turmoil and before I had had time to settle, Thump, the first bass had taken my melting softie, without any noticeable caution. Meantime, Bob had waded into the water and expertly landed and removed the hook from the first bass. There was no hesitation, another softie elasticated to the hook and despatched post haste into the milling crowd of bass and baitfish, short pause and another, “no messing about” Thump. In total, I landed three bass in quick succession before the shoal of baitfish and bass moved out of casting range. Bob, who was selflessly landing, weighing and returning my bass, had little opportunity to wet his line. In the short span of 10 to 15 minutes, highly energized activity, three bass, all in peak condition, each exceeding 6 lb. to a total weight of circa 20.5 lbs were beached.
The aftermath was an anti-climax as the sea once again settled to a pond like consistency, but both Bob and I put good baits out into the circle of water where the recent spectacle had taken place. Talking over what we had just witnessed lulled us into a relaxed frame of mind, convinced that any further sport with the bass had evaporated together with the distant and disappearing shoal of baitfish.
To tell the truth, I was on the verge of calling it a day, selfishly pleased with the rewards enjoyed but feeling pangs of guilt that Bob had been so busy administering to my fish that he had missed the moment. Caught unawares, the Bones bass rod nearly leapt out of my grasp, I had the sense to slacken off the drag and put the reel in free-spool, controlling the despatch of line with gentle thumbing, standard procedure when playing a decent bass in open water. I couldn’t believe the power of whatever had taken my bait, and was forced to concede more line than would have been expected for a mature bass. The initial flush of excitement had passed and I settled into the business of playing the fish. Bullying a fish to my feet was always avoided wherever practical, providing the underwater topography was clean and free of snags as at this venue. Letting the fish have its head, playing it out in deeper water using the drag, free-spool, thumb control and taking in line as and when possible, was the best way of ensuring the durability of the light line test (11 lb. test “sewerage brown” Sylcast) and maximising the properties of the Bones Bass rod’s flexible tip and stiff lower section until, at last, the tiring prey began to give ground. Bob once again took to the water in anticipation, but it became obvious as the fight progressed, that this prey was no bass. The large, front dorsal fin breaking the surface of the water, confirmed what I had suspected, that this was my first encounter with a smooth hound. It was unhooked and returned. Comparing the size to recent photographs, I guess the weight must have been in the 7/ 8 or even 9 lb. range. (An honest reflection, given the passage of time, not a deliberate attempt to overcook the weight!)
That was my first of many encounters with smooth hounds, but always as an accidental contact when bass fishing on light tackle.
(Footnote: My best friend Robert (Bob) Townsend was an experienced and competent sea angler, familiar with the vagaries of this coast. He and a colleague were swept into the sea by an unexpected but not unusual, freak wave surge, and lost their lives whilst fishing off the end of Witches Point. To this day, I make no apologies for relating this tragic story to any anglers I meet fishing on the Point, in the hope that it will act as a warning and save any further, unnecessary loss of life.)
The Common smooth hound is reportedly the least likely to be encountered in Welsh waters, so to hook a fish of 17lb. 12oz., play and land it from the raised fishing station of Mumbles Pier is quite an achievement. The fish snapped up the crab bait on the first cast of the day. Battling against a 12 metre tide run and six to seven earnest attempts to rap itself around the Piers Pylons, the fish was eventually brought to the surface after 15 minutes, guided into the drop net and lifted to the deck of the pier. The Shimano Aspire 130m 13 foot surf multiplier rod and an Abu Ambassador 6500 Rocket multiplying reel loaded with 12lb. breaking strain test main line and a 60lb. test greased Weasel shock leader was the armoury. The terminal tackle was a three foot Pulley Pennel assembly, constructed from an 80lb. Sufix body, and a 40lb. Sufix supple link trace to 2 x 4/0 Mustad uptide Viking hooks. Mumbly Zac’s fish was reportedly 2lb. over the current Welsh record.
The Birth of a Cult!
It was probably around the same period as my first encounter, that the awareness and potential of the smooth hound as a sport fish became more widely recognised, a target species rather than a random experience, in South East Wales. The coastline to the east, in the vicinity of Aberthaw, was the initial focus of interest, but as familiarity with the species behaviour, appetite and habitat developed, other venues were investigated and took their place in the growing list of “hot” marks. At the time there were no forums or the like to broadcast instant information, so the development of the smooth hound fishing was allowed to grow at a sustainable rate rather than being the subject of the “gold rush” mentality, as is so often the case today. As a result of this steady recognition of the smooth hound (both starry and common) as a genuine “Sport” fish, capable of satisfying the “combat” desires of many sea anglers, it has reached “Cult “ status on a par with the bass, and has become the subject of single minded attention ,in season, around the coast of Wales. One of the major differences between bass and smooth hounds is that the latter has no, or very little commercial value as a food source, unlike the bass that is, reportedly, being predated to “extinction” as things stand at the moment. This means that the populations of smooth hound packs are less likely to suffer any noticeable depreciation, provided they are treated with respect, handled and returned with the minimum of stress or damage. A golden opportunity to preserve, sustain a genuine “sport fish” at a level readily available to those who have developed the knowledge, skills and tactics.
Phillip Bissmire, fishing at distance over low water at Nash Point, was using crab tied to a Sakuma 545 Manta Extra size 4/0 hook, presented on a Pulley/Pennel system, when he hooked into a 16lb. 8oz. Starry smooth hound.
Facts of Life, Starry and Common Smooth Hound.
Starry Smooth Hound
Common Smooth Hound
( Mustelus mustelus)
||A moderate, slender shark with two triangular Dorsal fins, a pale brown to grey upper body decorated with white spots, above the lateral line.
||As the Starry Smooth Hound minus the white spots.
||S.S.H. are fully mature between 120cm (47.25ins.) /130 cm (51.25 ins.), to 140 cm (55 ins.).
||C.S.H. are fully mature between 120 cm (47.25ins.) /135 cm (53.25ins.) to normal size of150 cm (59 ins.) and a maximum of164 cm (64′h ins.)
||Females mature at 85 cm (33.50 ins.) at Approximately 2-3 years old. Males mature at 78 cm (30.75ins.) to 85 cm (33.5ins.)
||Females mature at 80 cm (31.50ins.) and Males mature at 70 cm (27.50ins.) to 74 cm (29 ins.)
||Live bearing. Litter size 7-15 pups, larger Females have bigger litters. Size of pups at birth is 20cm (7-8ins.) Gestation period is 12 months
||Live bearing. Litter size 4-15 pups although usually less than 15. Size of pups at birth is 30 cm (11-12 ins.)Gestation period is 10-11 months.
||Found both inshore and offshore near the bottom, over sand or gravel sea beds, at depths up 100 metres.
||Commonly found in coastal shallow waters,( occasionally at mid-water), In open ground, but not reefs. Up to a depth of 150 metres.
||Crustaceans (Crabs, Hermit Crabs and Squat Lobsters).
||Crustaceans (Hermit Crabs, Shore, Edible Crabs, Squat Lobsters) and, occasionally, Ragworm and Shrimps. Less likely to eat squid, octopus, small Boned fish or eels.
||British Isles to Iberian Peninsula It/c1uding Mediterranean waters.
||British Isles to Cape of Good Hope, Including the Mediterranean. Mainly Coastal regions.
|Uk. Record Weights on Rod and Line
||Shore: 23 lb. 20zBoat: 28 lb. 2oz.
||Shore: 20lb. 30z.Boat: 28 lb.
STARRY SMOOTH HOUNDS ARE MORE COMMON THAN THE COMMON SMOOTH HOUND
Welsh (Rod Caught) Records – Smooth hounds.
Starry Smooth hound (Mustelus asterias)
Boat 11.510kg (25.38lbs.) 2007 Holyhead B.Taylor of Wigan.
Shore 9.638kg (21.25lbs.) 1998 Aberthaw M.Cole of Cardiff.
Common Smooth hound (Mustelus mustelus)
Boat 10.206kg (22.50lbs.) 2006 Holyhead M.A. Evans of Anglesey.
Shore 7.144kg (15.75lbs.) 1981 Boverton G.E. Jones of Cardiff.
The tide was on the ebb when two, well known local brothers (Browny 81 and SW) arrived at their mark, with just three hours remaining to low water. Browny 81 (above) suffered a mishap with the first cast of the day, the line piling up on the reel spool brought the flying line to a dead stop, with the result that the rig and bait splashed down a mere 40 yards out from the waters edge. Fortunately the crab, secured to a single Varivas Big Mouth size 2/0 hook, Pulley Rig/Rotten Bottom set up, survived the abrupt stop. Having sorted out the “birds nest”, Browny 81 was holding the rod, reeling in the slack line when the tip arced over and line was being pulled off of the reel at an alarming rate by a 12 lb. 15oz. Common smooth hound (returned). In retrospect, Browny 81 said he enjoyed the experience holding the rod, feeling the bite and the direct contact as the fish tried to make its escape. Meanwhile Browny SW (below) busy taking a digital pic of his brothers smooth hound, had to rush to his own rod , which was dancing perilously in the rest and at risk of being pulled into the sea. A common smooth hound of 15lb. 3oz. (returned), a Browny SW personal best, was the reward for the frantic activity. Once again, bait was crab but attached to a single Sakuma Manta Extra 2/0 size hook on a pulley/rotten bottom setup. A total of 29lb. 5oz.(two fish) caught in the first flush of the new flood. As it turned out, the rest of the session was equally as busy.
A Duty of Care.
Most informed, responsible sea anglers in the 21st Century are aware of their “Duty of Care” towards all species, and accept the moral obligation to treat all fish with respect. Handling, especially during landing, unhooking and photographing smooth hounds, is the critical period when the fish are most susceptible to accidental injury. This could have a profound influence on the long term survival prospects of any specimen intended for return, alive and in good condition. Reportedly, it is not unknown for some smooth hounds to swim away as if in good health only to die a few days later, the victim of unintentional poor handling. In many ways, the cult of the bass has been the catalyst that has drawn attention to the culture of fish care, but it is not exclusive to this species. As a result of scouring the websites and reading up any literature about Smooth hounds while researching for this blog, I unearthed an excellent document titled “SSACN – Small Shark Handling. Code of Practice” produced by the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network”. It is exactly what it says on the cover, and the five pages of downloadable information should be of interest to those who fish or intend to fish for both species of smooth hounds, from Boat or Shore. Outlined in these pages are recommended good, common sense practices, which if implemented, should help to sustain an active and healthy smooth hound population. The address for this SSACN Document is as follows:
Both species of smooth hounds are members of the shark family and as such do not have a bone structure capable of supporting the internal organs, when removed from the sea. Unhooking the fish while it is still in the water is the ideal way to resolve this dilemma. In the event that the fish is removed from the sea for unhooking or photographing, there is a real risk that the internal organs could be ruptured. Following the guide lines as set out in the SSACN papers is essential reading.
This Starry smooth hound (15lbs. 1oz.) was caught by Foreshore Fisher over low water of a neap tide at Lavernock Point. The bait used was half a crab on a size 3/0 hook and a 15 inch pulley rig.
A “Win, Win” Situation!!
In the story related at the beginning of this blog, I made it clear that my contact with smooth hounds during the 70’s and early 80’s, was by accident rather than design, during bouts of “light tackle” bass fishing in rough ground. The “Bones” Bass Rod mk.3, Abu 6500 (1975) C, 11 lb. test Sylcast “sewerage brown” monofilament line, 2 ounce no grip lead, a single Mustad 79510 (now 79515) 4/0 hook attached to a running paternoster, not even a leader in those days, was the set up inadvertently used to play and land the occasional smooth hound interloper. I admit that fighting an estimated 8 lb Smooth hound proved a greater challenge on this “light gear” than had been the experience with the equivalent weight of a bass. The unintentional contact with the smooth hounds, undoubtedly tested both me and the gear I was using, but not one fish was lost through snagging, hook breakage or line/ trace failure. During the same time period, I was involved in tope fishing from the shore with a group of forward thinking, light tackle specialists from Swansea, who applied the same approach and light tackle logic to tope fishing as they did to other species, bass in particular. Bearing in mind that tope of 20 lb plus each were not unusual, the rod was an O.D. constructed on an 11 to 12 foot, fibre glass, “Fibatube” blank rated for 3 to 5 oz lead, an early Abu 6000C or 6500C reel (original small Abu handle) loaded with 12 or 15 lb test (probably Sylcast Blue) monofilament line, a 55 lb test Leader, a running ledger, wire trace and a Mustad 5/0 hook. The biggest tope was a female in excess of 50 lb that gave birth to a batch of new born pups shortly after weighing. All the pups were returned to the sea immediately and in good health, as was the mother.
Due to my admitted lack of expertise in smooth hound fishing on a regular basis, I am falling back on my experiences as set out in the above paragraph with the intention of putting together a theoretical but logical “Tackle and Tactics” scenario for the species Starry and Common smooth hound. The anglers who target the smooth hounds are in a “win, win” situation, unlike the bass angler. The lack of commercial predation on any significant scale, the fact that anglers return alive a large proportion of the smooth hounds caught, and most telling of all, is the fact that there is no incentive to kill because they are not good company for chips! I doubt if there are many freezers filled to brimming with dead smooth hounds in order to feed the relatives!! The up-shot is that due to the minimal predation, this burgeoning population is being allowed the opportunity to attain a maximum growth rate, which could mean a larger proportion of specimens reaching high double figures.
Fishing an ebbing tide as the sun began to slip below the horizon, the atmosphere humid, with no wind to speak of and a sea like a mill pond. This was the back drop to the capture of Browny SW’s Starry smooth hound following a cast of approximately 80 yards, around one hour before low water. The 14lb 2oz. fish was tempted by crab bait on a single 2/0 Sakuma Manta Extra hook, presented on a pulley rig/rotten bottom set up. Immediately upon capture the fish was gently placed in a spacious rock pool to recouperate and minimise the risk of any physical damage through excessive handling, photographed and weighed using a sling, before being returned to the sea.
In a Rut?
When blessed with a consistency of quantity and quality of species such as the smooth hounds, there is a tendency to fall into a routine of using the same tactics and tackle, the same format time and time again, so that the catching becomes “easy” and “predictable”, with the result that eventually the “novelty” could wear off and what was once thrilling could become mundane and repetitive. Of course, to reach this state requires knowledge and acquisition of appropriate skills. Bass fishing is a good example of how initiative and experimenting can produce a variety of different techniques (spinning, plug fishing, fly fishing, float fishing and bait fishing) as a diversity of choice to offset the risk of any one technique becoming “boring”. I hasten to add that, perhaps, none of these techniques are appropriate to fishing for smooth hounds, but never the less, it may prove rewarding to “step outside the box” and try something new. One of the lessons learnt living and fishing through the 60’s/ 70’s, is that the “How” was as much a contributor to the overall buzz of fishing as the actual hooking, playing and landing.
Targetting bass, Deejay (above) was fishing to the right hand side of the river Ogmore, close to a patch of light broken ground. Having cast no more than 30 yards out, he was suprised when a fiesty 10lb 2oz Starry smooth hound took the crab bait presented on a 3/0 size hook, Pennel/Pulley rig. Not to be out done, Barrel Reef (below), D.J’s son, also caught a double, 11lb 2oz Starry smooth hound at distance with crab. The smooth hound snatched the bait, at low water, just as the tide turned and the new flood began to move over the beach. Altogether, a total of three smooth hounds were caught in this session.
Specification…..Rough and Broken Ground.
Prey Species: Starry and Common smooth hounds.
Venue Description: Estuary mouths, Shallow bays, broken ground.
Target………Gully’s, Sand spits, patches of broken ground, mud and gravel sea bed..
Rod…….. Based on my unplanned experiences with the bass rod, tackling smooth hounds with this class of equipment is an extreme, but breathtaking experience. In the right hands, this is a feasible venture, the necessary credentials include courage and a patient mindset, prepared to play the fish rather than “outgunning” or “bullying” it ashore. When I worked with Mr. Mike McManus (Senior) of Conoflex, designing the blank for the “Bare Bones Bass Rod” back in the late 70’s, my specification included a fast tapered tip of 20 to 24 inches to act as a shock absorber on light lines, but once this was taken up on the strike, the remaining ¾ ‘s of the blank to the butt was relatively stiff, aiding positive strike and hook setting. Unlike the bass, there is nothing subtle about the bite of a smooth hound, more a brutal “hit and run” attack. Maybe, a beefed up version of the “Bones” specification, constructed to the same criteria and fabricated from carbon fibre, to a rating of 3-5 oz casting, would result in a blank purpose made to get the best out of smooth hound fishing, yet with the inbuilt capacity to cope with large doubles when they come along. My choice would be a 9 foot tip and 3 foot butt section. Fitted with the latest rod rings and reel seat, this could result in a formidable, sporting, “fit for purpose”, smooth hound fishing rod, light enough to be held for long periods, supported by a “fighting belt with cup”, fastened around the waist or the upper leg, to act as a fulcrum when the need arises to pressurise the fish away from obstacles.
Reel……..A modern version of the Abu 6500C type of medium size multiplying reel or equivalent fixed Spool Reel, of the manufacturer of choice. (Putting the reel in free spool and engaging the ratchet after casting, is a prudent safety measure)
Line……..10/ 12 or 15 lb. test strength breaking strain mainline, the diameter chosen will be down to experience, and confidence in one’s ability to handle a robust fish on narrow line. With a couple of provisos, using low test and narrow diameter lines is feasible. In the first place, selection of the line has to be based on quality with price a secondary consideration. Secondly, a line and reel maintenance regime is essential.
Leader……This will be determined by the location of the known feeding zone (close in or at distance), height and state of the tide being fished and the selection of the lead weight density. Short casting to close inshore areas of broken ground, a gully or small sand bank, on a neap tide at low water could justify “going light” with a 2 or 3 ounce grip or grip-less lead appropriate for the prevailing currents. If the known feeding station is at distance this may call for a 4 or 5 ounce lead. The formula for calculating the leader test strength was 10 lb for every ounce of lead, but as a matter of policy, I have taken the precaution of adding a further circa 30% as an additional safety factor. Therefore 2 oz/ 25 lb test: 3 oz/ 40 lb. test: 4 oz/ 55 lb. test and 5 oz/ 65 lb test.
Weight…. Tide and weather conditions, currents, size of bait, location of feeding station are all factors which could affect the density of lead weight selected. My advice is to always go for the lightest sinker without grips,that the conditions and the other factors would allow, without compromising the viability of the fishing session.
Rig………Single Hook, Running Paternoster (built from the same test line as the leader) or Running Leger. A popular “modern” rig is the pulley set up, often coupled with a pennel (2 x hook) arrangement. Personally, I have never felt comfortable with the double hook pennel, viewing it as unnecessary and a potential liability when striking and unhooking. The perceived risk was that the “two hooks in tandem” format could disrupt or interfere with positive penetration on the strike. A single hook, sharpened and honed, is more likely to penetrate the tough flesh around the mouth area effectively, if not hampered by a “loose cannon” in the form of a second hook. The other area of concern was the risk of “deep throat” hooking resulting in avoidable and damaging “surgery”.
Hook……Mustad 79515 (was 79510) size 4/0, well sharpened. The Sakuma 545 Manta Extra, size 4/0 is a popular hook with those who make smooth hound fishing a speciality. Snood length 18 inches.
Rod Rest…None. To gain the maximum enjoyment from any “sport-fishing” experience there is no alternative but to hold the rod so that all activity or interest at the terminal tackle end, is immediately communicated up the line to the angler.
Bait……..Almost exclusively crustaceans (peeler, soft, crispy and hardback crabs), Hermit crabs (remove from shell), shrimps, squat lobsters, ragworm and cocktails tipped with squid.
Casting…Smooth hounds are attracted inshore for two reasons, to feed and for the females to give birth.
Interestingly, a couple of the captions supporting the photographs displayed in this blog, suggests that at least two of the fish were caught close inshore, one estimated at 30 yards and the other at 40 yards, the latter the result of a casting mishap. This does beg the question as to whether L.D.C. is an obligatory requirement or whether some episodes of medium to close inshore fishing may prove rewarding. It is certainly the case when bass fishing that over casting the feeding zones means missed opportunities. The robust fighting qualities of smooth hounds even of single figure, weighted specimen’s, is such that they can test the stamina of most anglers. It is questionable whether long rods (above 11 or 12 feet) work for or against the angler during the duration of the “fight” sequence, submitting the angler to avoidable effort and pressure rather than the other way around. It is all about leverage! The longer the rod, so the extra leverage must work against the angler and in favour of the smooth hound. This is an inevitable consequence of “long” rods when encountering a species that puts up fierce resistance. I am an admirer of “Surfcast Wales” and the work they do to encourage and teach casting techniques, having been a spectator at one of their Sunday casting events. L.D.C. is not the exclusive province of 5 / 6 ounce weights. Light tackle and L.D.C. are equally compatible using 2 /3 or 4 ounce weights*, as the following list of Welsh record casting distances, comprehensively illustrates.
* 50 grams 1.77 ounces 200 yards plus? 150 grams 5.30 ounces 295 yards
* 75 grams 2.65 ounces 233 yards 175 grams 6.17 ounces 285 yards
* 100 grams 2.83 ounces 283 yards 200 grams 7.06 ounces 267 yards
* 125 grams 4.41 ounces 298 yards
State of Tide…This decision will depend on knowledge and experience, usually based on past encounters with the smooth hounds, but one of the popular periods is 3 hours of the ebb to low water and 3 hours of the new flood. Fishing up to and over the top of the tide has been suggested as a good time to fish for smooth hounds at night.
Tidal Volume (height)…Not excluding Neap tides, informed opinion does suggest that medium to Spring tidal sequences present the best opportunity to catch smooth hounds.
Sea Conditions…As with other species, water temperature is one of the influences which controls the behaviour of smooth hounds. Once again referring to the photograph captions, is it coincidence that several anglers make reference to calm sea conditions? In many ways, the smooth hounds feeding habits are similar to that of a bass. They will eagerly move inshore to feed after the sea bed has been disturbed following a storm, to “hoover up” the food items dislodged from under the rocks or in crevices.
Weather Conditions…“Humid atmosphere, very little breeze and the sea calm, like a mill pond” was the most popular quote describing the ideal conditions for catching smooth hounds, but I suspect this is not the whole story.
This blog is unusual in that I am not writing from a wealth of knowledge acquired over many years of smooth hound fishing, more a snapshot of irregular, accidental encounters that have proved to be thrilling beyond description on the “light tackle” gear employed. Much of the information has come from research and discussion with anglers who have been through the “learning curve” with these species. In many ways, being able to step back from a total involvement, it is possible to see the wood from the trees and suggest an alternative way to the current tackle and mental approach, which may or may not tweak a spark of interest.
A Starry smooth hound of 11lb., caught off Witches Point, Southerndown by Matt H.
I would like to express my gratitude to those anglers who supplied me with the excellent photographs, together with a concise and detailed cameo of the background to the capture.
(A brace of smooth hounds, one Starry (7lb. 8oz.) and one Common (6lb. 8oz.) both fish falling to whole squid presented on a pulley/pennel rig with a 24 inch hook length, caught and landed on the lighthouse end of Porthcawl Pier by Gerwyn mr2.
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© Derek Townsend (The views expressed in this blog are those of the contributor)
Call Me a Dinosaur!!!
It is likely that the reader is familiar with the old adage “there’s many a good tune played on an old fiddle”, accredited to a Samuel Butler (1612- 1680). It personifies my lifelong attitude to so-called “progress” and an inbuilt reluctance to automatically rush to embrace any idea, technology or material just because it is claimed as “New”! My long term “fishing” association with “monofilament, nylon” line prompted me to explain in my new book “Bass Fishing from the shore in south east Wales and More”, that I had resisted the temptation to use braid for my shore fishing for no other reason than that I was content with the results achieved with the former material. I have to admit that at the time of writing this piece, my sentiments remain the same and I am still not convinced that my style of sea fishing would benefit from any change.
Abu 2100 Sport loaded with 8 lb. test (.200 mm) Sufix Elite.
What’s my Line?
Of all the items that go to make up a “light tackle” outfit, it is the accuracy of the stated specification (i.e. diameter/ test strength) of the line to be used that will confirm the credibility of the exercise. It is important that the angler has confidence in the manufacturer’s statistics as displayed on the spool label, secure in the knowledge that the line selected matches what is claimed. There has to be an element of trust here, between the manufacturer and the angler but, for piece of mind, it may be worth paying that little extra for a line that has a good pedigree, and carries a respected brand name and “signature”.
Scouring the Websites.
Scouring the websites, swotting up on all the different lines including braids, that are on the market and available in 2010, produced a list of some 15 different names and still counting. Life was a lot simpler in the 70’s / 80’s, with a very limited range from which to make a choice. When I say “choice”, the probable reason that a particular “brand” found its way onto a fishing reel was either because it was recommended in a magazine review, or was promoted by the local tackle shop. “Sylcast” was one of the most popular “brands” of the time, and widely used by many in the sea fishing fraternity. “Sylcast sewerage brown”, 11 lb. test strength monofilament line was the mainstay of my bass and smooth hound fishing. “Sylcast blue” 15 and 50 lb. test mainline and leader, when loaded onto my second (1975) Abu 6500C (fitted with a large Abu 7000 handle), were important components of my “long distance casting” kit for rays and cod. In those days, the labelling on the spools did not include the all important line diameter (thickness), which was a handicap to those who had light tackle aspirations.
Monofilament or Braid. That is the Question?
Whether “expert” or novice, selecting a fishing line today from the vast array on display in the local tackle shop, advertised in the angling press or on the various manufacturers websites, is a challenge in itself, but having to weigh up the pros and cons between “nylon” or “braid” only adds to the confusion. Selection is not made any easier by the manufacturers’ assertive claims, promoting the attributes of their individual products. Braid is not new, having been in existence for many years, the difference being the evolution of this material to the level of sophistication enjoyed today. My experience with fishing lines has almost totally been through using “monofilament”, apart from a brief encounter with Dacron. In the 70’s and 80’s, “good” lines were easy to identify because of the limited choice; not so today. Speak as you find, I have had few problems with “monofilament” line during the four decades plus of use, other than those caused by my own failings.
Monofilament and the much maligned “Stretch” factor.
Contrary to some expressed opinion, the much maligned “stretch” factor was recognised as an advantage rather than a disadvantage, especially when fishing light tackle. The cushioning effect of “stretch” when fishing with light line test strength’s, was valued as a creditable and effective “shock absorber”, complementing the properties of a bass rod during casting, striking and when playing a robust and determined fish. Any move to reduce the amount of stretch during the manufacturing process as a result of improved technology would be accepted as beneficial, but eliminating this “buffer” from “monofilament” lines would be detrimental to sea fishing. One of the drawbacks attributed to “stretch” was that it was more difficult to detect delicate bites. My experience would not support this conjecture, with a large proportion of my own bass takes over the years originating from the most delicate, almost imperceptible “ghost” bites. Maybe the perceived problems associated with “stretch” would be largely resolved, if holding the rod and maintaining close contact with the line became a more widely used practice.
Holding the rod and maintaining close contact with the line
Line Colour, Significance in the Real World of Shore Fishing?
A lot of emphasis is placed on the colour of the fishing lines in use today, with the promotion of certain functions attributed to a specific colour be it red, yellow, orange, blue or maybe green. Colour was not a big issue in those early days, maybe because the manufacturers inadvertently got it right at the time. It is questionable whether the colour of a line, bright or diffused tones, has any significant role to play in the real world of shore fishing or whether this is yet another promotional wheeze. Falling back on experience once again, the Sylcast brown and blue coloured lines more than adequately met the requirements of the clouded upper Channel reaches. I must admit that the compatibility of these coloured lines with these waters must have been through good fortune or coincidence, because I have never chosen a line of any make on the basis of its colour. Current lines in use are Berkely Iron Silk (Green), Stren (Blood Red), Sakuma Lite Crystal (Pale Blue) and Sufix Zippy (Clear). My conclusion is that if the line is selected on the basis of test strength (lbs. bs.), line diameter and relative durability, choice of colour is of no more consequence than a matter of personal choice.
Radical, Liberating consequence of Line Diameter Information!!
In my view, it is no exaggeration to state that the options presented by the different line diameters (thickness) per the same stated lb. test strength and the displaying of this information, is one of the most important and valuable assets of sea fishing generally, and for light tackle fishing in particular. The liberating consequence of being able to select and fish with a line of the same test strength but which is available in different diameters to match the known behaviour of the prey species on the hook, the type of ground to be fished be it rough or clean, and the sea / weather conditions on the day, is an opportunity not to be ignored. This approach to sea fishing does require a selection of interchangeable, spare reel spools, each loaded with a different test strength / diameter line. This could be an unusual concept to accept if the norm is one line test/ diameter for all conditions, ground and all species. It may appear radical at first glance, but if the aspiration is consistency, using the appropriate, sensitive, durable line specification for the mark and the conditions on the day, could enhance the chances of success. Drawing on my experiences of fishing for bass at various locations around the British Isles and southern Ireland, confirms that the inshore waters of the upper Channel reaches are not as densely populated with inshore bass, therefore additional sensitivity and concentration is needed to secure the desired level of consistency.
Downside, Not all Sweetness and Light!
It is well documented that “monofilament” line is not “all sweetness and light”. Casting “burn”, knots, kinks in the line following a “birds nest” and abrasion damage, are potential weak points that could lead to an unwanted break at the wrong moment. The detrimental effects of most of these vagaries can be neutralised and managed to a large extent, by applying the same level of care and attention to the welfare of the line as is applied to the other items of gear such as reels and rods. Regular line maintenance has always been top of my list of priorities, for the simple reason that this is the critical link between angler and fish. To a certain extent, rods and reels will continue to operate even if neglected, not so the line. There is no intermediate stage that will sustain effective and pleasurable sea fishing. Removing the line completely from the spool will release any tension that has built up during a normal fishing trip or casting session. It has been estimated that line left on the reel spool under excess tension for any length of time, can depreciate by anything up to 20 % of its original strength, of real concern to those making a calculated move to light tackle fishing. Slowly rewinding the line onto the reel spool through a small square of cloth, will not only remove particles of sand, salt or chemical accumulation, but will allow detailed scrutiny of knots, abrasion scuffs and any other possible damage which can be retied, cut out or replaced. In the early seventies, I designed and built a simple, cheap, motorised “Line Winder” which took the “chore” out of the operation, and eliminated the need for 2nd person assistance. The accompanying photographs are self explanatory. With the advances in rechargeable battery technology and the use of modern materials, it should not be too much of a challenge to assemble a more sophisticated version suitable for the 21st Century.
Derek’s motorised line winder
Braid, Positive and Negative Qualities?
There is no better method of evaluating the properties of a material than to use it yourself in earnest. Failing that, although not a substitute for the former, researching and reading the available comments from around the world on the internet and elsewhere, the consensus of experienced opinion on the subject of braid provided an insight into the positive and negative properties of this material. The most dramatic difference between braid and “monofilament” lines that the research exposed was the wide gap between the diameters of the two materials for the same test strength. I must admit that the extent of the difference in the diameters of the “like for like” test strength was a revelation, hinting at less drag in both water and air, less dense lead weights and greater sensitivity. I have assembled a modest table of comparisons, intended as a rough guide for demonstration purposes only.
|Test Strength (lbs.)
With braid so significantly (approximately 1/3rd) narrower than the equivalent in “monofilament”, there could be a temptation to select a higher test strength but of the same “monofilament” diameter being used. For example, my standard line when fishing medium active surf for bass is 10 lbs. test at .260 mm diameter (Sakuma Lite Crystal), whereas braid of a similar diameter, say, .230 mm has a test value of 20 lb. breaking strain. Succumbing to this temptation would negate any potential benefits of reduced surface area of the line, and void any claims of light tackle fishing. One of the long term complaints directed at “monofilament” lines was the retention of the “memory” factor, the ability to conform to the shape of the reel spool. In severe cases, the looping line being pulled off the spool could hinder casting and create unwanted slack line, a potential “birds nest” situation. Removing and relaying the line carefully onto the spool at an acceptable tension after fishing, the correct drag setting and a competent casting style, proved the best way to manage this problem. Braid has little or no stretch so it should clear the spool safely without “looping”, resulting in a smooth transition through the rings. The inherent strength of braid begs no argument, so the risk that vulnerable points may submit to stress or weakness are reduced, knots are stronger and less likely to be a breaking point. One of the reported downsides is that braids are more susceptible to abrasion, having a tendency to break easily when coming into contact with sharp edges. If correct, this would seem to exclude braid from use in rough ground potentially putting at risk the terminal tackle and any fish hooked in this environment. Finally, the oft repeated claims that braid could damage both rod rings and reel spools, together with inflicting painful injury on fingers, has convinced me to put any thoughts of changing over to this material on the back burner.
The Jury is out on this one!!
Each one of us is different with our own aspirations directing us to make choices that are sympathetic to our own, individual approach to the way we go about sea fishing. The chart set out below is not intended to act as a guideline for all and sundry to follow, but is simply an illustration of my considered choices.
|Berkley Iron Silk
||Abu 6500C (1975)
||Bones Bass Rod Mk.3
||Bass, Rays, codling
||Rough ground, close inshore.
||(Shock leader / Weak link)
||Abu 2100 Sport
||Med. Taper O.D.
||Light to No surf (calm)
|Sakuma Lite Crystal
||Abu Garcia 1000
||Fast Taper O.D.
|Sakuma Lite Crystal
||Abu 6500C (1975)
||Bones Bass Rod Mk.3
||Heavy surf.(30 lb leader)
|Sakuma Lite Crystal
||Abu 6500C With 7000 Handle
||ZZiplex 2000 Sport
||Cod and Rays
||Clean ground from beach or Rock Platform.
“Cheap as Chips?”
My non-scientific res earch of the different brands of monofilament and braid lines, leads to the conclusion that the good ones inevitably cost a “bob or two” more. This is the one item of the tackle set up that deserves the best, anything less is likely to have a payback in frustration, spoilt fishing sessions, and the loss of a good fish. Is it worth the risk?
Read Mike Thrussell’s review of Derek’s book “Bass Fishing from the shore in South East Wales and More” Click here for Review.
Buy the book “Bass Fishing from the shore in South East Wales and More” by Derek Townsend. Click here for Details.
© Copyright Derek Townsend 2010.
New version of the highly successful 60″ Oval Brolly but now with the addition of 2 full length ribs that ensure that 4 ribs are in contact with the ground at all times.
JRC have also added a full length detachable pole so the brolly can be assembled quicker.There is also a few new extras available in the shape of a full on mozi cover and an overwrap also available from Keens
Highly waterproof material with hydrostatic head of 10000mm.
Bar stitched and Fully tape sealed for maximum strength and durability at all stress points and seams.
*Stainless swivel storm pole attachments included
*2 x 24″ storm poles included
*PVC groundsheet included
60″ Oval Brolly with Mozi Infil Panel attached
*H/duty pegs included
Ok, so that’s the gen up on the product but how did it perform in the real world? Well, I took my brolly down to my syndicate water Crayfish Pool, near Heathrow Airport for 4 nights of vigorous usage!
The first thing you notice with the brolly is that it is so incredibly quick to erect! Seconds and you have a totally waterproof canopy to start your session under. I was a little skeptical as to whether or not my huge Nash Wideboy bedchair would fit under it, but my concerns were flawed as it fitted under with ease!
Pegging all around from back to both sides
What you have to remember though is that it is just a brolly with storm sides…..it’s not a bivvy and obviously won’t give you the same level of protection achievable with a much larger bivvy.
What you get for your money though is a very stable, waterproof and well constructed oval brolly, which if you like to travel light, as i do….will provide you with the perfect tool for moving swims quickly and keeping your kit dry on overnighters and short sessions.
It really is the most ideal bit of kit for the mobile approach as it packs down into a long narrow fabric bag which will fit into just about any rod holdall.
The ten screw in style ‘T’ pegs are a little on the weak side and the rubber heads tended to twist a bit on attempting to screw them into the hard soil of the Cray pool. I didn’t use the ground sheet as Ive never been a fan of them really.
Top notch stiching all around and excellent strong feeling storm pole attachments
Not because of the quality or any problems….I just prefer the quickness of not having one. Or having something else that gets damp to put into the car at the end of the session!
There are numerous pegging points around the back and sides of the brolly and these offered up a really good purchase to the ground with the pegs.
Karabina attachment for the Mozi infil panel
The two supplied storm poles are only designed for the sides, but there is a further two storm pole adapters at the front of the bivvy which will screw into any long bank stick or selected storm pole, which is not supplied.
Further more you can now purchase the extra mozi cover which drapes over the front of the brolly. This was a must purchase piece of kit for me due to the masses of anoying little biting insects that inhabit the numerous venues I regularly fish.
The mozi net attaches via a small Karabina to the top of the outside of the brolly. It then drapes over the front and side and pegs down all the way around.
The release catch inside of the brolly feels strong and robust.
There is a good quality, strong feeling zip down the front center of the net which allows good, quick and clear access to your rods.
If you plan to peg the mesh all around then you’ll need to get yourself about another 6 pegs which don’t come supplied. Albeit I felt that it didn’t really need them.
Mozi infil panel draped over the front of the 60″ brolly
All in all it’s a cracking piece of kit which will save you a stack of time and effort on the bank side. It will keep you dry, warm and very mobile.
I don’t honestly know how I managed without one this long????
Great stuff from JRC….a really well thought out piece of kit which will certainly see a lot of bank side time with me. I’m smitten with it even after just 4 nights of fishing with it.
8/10 for this piece of kit….the only reason it didn’t get full marks is that I felt the pegs could have been a bit better.