Picture: Giles Tipping
GO LIGHT: Use light tackle such as 10-15lb line, use a light rod such as a carp rod or a specialist spinning rod and a suitable small reel to balance the set up. This will ensure that you have a good fight with the fish but just as importantly, you will be able to feel the lure working much more effectively. Also by travelling light it allows you to move around and try different areas of the beach, pier, harbor or river.
WATCH THE WATER: watch the surface of the water for any bursts of action from whitebait or mackerel jumping to Bass chasing shoals of mackerel. Also the old fishermanís guide as to watching the seagulls can be very true as they can spot potential baitfish/food from the air and will never be far from the fish, watch out for them dive bombing the sea.
WHAT TO CATCH: If there are Mackerel, Whitebait and Gars about then you can be sure that the Bass are not far behind. be quite and stealthy though as they can get spooked. You can use a Mepps spinner and ragworm or redrag (maddies) to spin for flounders and Gurnards by reeling in very slowly, stopping for a few seconds and reeling again across the sandy/muddy bottom, replace the treble that comes with the spinner for a size 4 or 6 single hook. I know this works as i have done it many a times and am surprised at how well it worked. I stumbled on it while trying to catch Bass and Mullet this way. To catch Schoolie Bass or Mullet retrieve the lure slightly quicker, Mullet will give you plenty of follow ups so just keep persevering. You can also team this lure with a bubble float for added casting distance and to ensure that it stays just a few feet under the surface when fishing for bass and mullet at places like the river Ouse or river Adur.
STRUCTURES: You can catch Bass along open stretches of beach and Seaford and Brighton are very good examples of this, however, it is know that Bass like to hang around structures and ambush their Prey. Try fishing rocky marks, piers and groins for Bass using a variety of lures. The only thing i would say is to be prepared to lose a few lures and have spares at the ready.
CHECK OUT YOUR MARK: Check out some of the marks you intend to fish before you actually fish it. for example, if you wanted to fish Rottingdean/Saltdean under cliffs then it may be worth checking them out on really low tides as this could allow you to spot potential fish holding features such as gullies or ambush points for bass to sit in. Then once the tide comes in you can try the spot and see how you get on. There is nothing more rewarding then finding your own little area and then catching a decent fish from it.
EXPLORE: Try lots of venues, thatís the beauty of lure fishing as it allows you to move around and try different areas. Even in some marks you may not normally try its worth having a go as you could find a secret fish holding mark.
REEL SPEED: Vary your retrieve rates when lure fishing, also change the action when twitching the rod tip, when you get a catch note the speed and action you were using for next time.
LURE TYPE: You can be adventurous and try a variety of lures or you can try and match the lure/spinner to what the main food source of the area and your target species may be. For example if there are lots of mackerel about and you are after bass then try a fake mackerel but if you are fishing somewhere where there are a lot of sand eels, prawns, or whitebait then try using replicas of these. its a case of trial and error.
My 4 favoutrite lures, just in case your interested are
- Yo-zuri crystal minnow (Bass)
- Dexter Wedge 18-32mg (all lure fish species)
- Fake jelly prawns (Bass, Wrasse & pollack)
- Imitation sandeels from storm (good for all species)
This additional info (below) was supplied by Nick Thasarathar who I met on one of the SussexSeaFishing meets and has kindly wrote in with some fantastic tips.
Since we last met I've tried all sorts of sea angling - beach,
boat, pier etc but the one area I'm trying to major in and find really
exciting is lure fishing. I noticed you've started a new section on this on
the website so I thought I'd chuck in my 2 pennys worth from what I've
learnt so far in case it helps any other new comers to this type of
Rod: I'm using an 11ft 1-3oz Any Fish Anywhere Estuary rod for spinning and
lure work - lovely bit of kit. It's important when you choose a spinning
rod it has a slightly stiffer action than some of the light carp rods as
this gives you a bit more control and responsiveness from the lure; which is
essential if you're working in close to rocky features where the food (and
therefore the fish) gather.
Reel: I'm using a mitchell fixed spool. There seems to be more people
choosing small multipliers (3000 sizeish) for spinning these days because
they claim it gives better control, but I find, because you are constantly
casting and retrieving, that you get less birds nests from a fixed spool so
I would recommend sticking with one. If you're using braid, you don't want
a really deep spool because it can jam up on casting so choose shallower
spools. If you've already got a deep spool reel, one way round it is to put
some mono on first, then your braid. This makes the spool "shallower" - I
think they call this a "mono backing". It is well worth while under filling
your reel, especially in windy conditions, as braid spills out quite easily
on a packed reel and you can get quite a few wind knots with it.
Line: Braid is great for this kind of work, because of its low stretch you
have more control and the risk of a crack off is low as you're not usually
flinging out more than 2oz. I use 30lb braid (fireline) in a hi viz colour
(yellow stands out well) which helps me judge where sub surface lures are.
It is important though that you add some clear line in between the braid and
your lure. I opt for 3ft of 40lb fluorocarbon - theoretically invisible and
tough enough to take some wear and tear from the rocks around Rottingdean.
Lures: For Rottingdean you definately need floating/shallow diving lures to
avoid the numerous snags. Lures that I've found work really well in that
Surface Popper: Maria Chico Boco or Yo Zuri Mag Popper (but downsize the
trebles to size 2 on the mag popper to reduce snags)
Shallow Diver: Maria Angel Kiss or Maria Chase BW (they now do a really
cool mackerel pattern for the Angel Kiss and a silver holographic pattern
for the Chase which is a good sand eel impression)
In terms of colour - dark colours for dark days and coloured water, bright
lures for bright days and clear water seems to work best.
Spinners: Like you, I'm a big fan of the 1oz Dexter Wedge - to jazz it up a
bit, I bought some red and black buck tail from Lagoon Bait and Tackle. I
whipped and glued this to the shaft of the treble hook and covered the
whipping with a bit of luminous rig tubing. It makes a "tail" effect flowing
slightly behind the hook and seems to work well. If you use a wedge or
similar spinner around Rottingdean, don't let it settle before starting your
retrieve as it will snag much of the time. Best thing I found to do is to
use a fast retrieve/high rod tip as soon as it hits the water to avoid
Marks: I like Rottingdean undercliffs, roughly in the areas of the stone
groins below the pub car park. If you're going to fish there, I strongly
recommend you visit at low tide and have a good look at the rock features
that lie underwater when the tide rises. There are numerous rock gullys and
small shelves to trap food and attract fish. Take care though, it can get
really slippy on these so wear some decent boots. There's also some good
bait collecting opportunities; mussels, limpets, shrimps, crab etc so
another good reason to take a look.
As I said, I'm no veteran of this type of fishing, but that's what I've
found to be useful pointers so far and I hope it helps others who are
starting out on lure fishing.
Perhaps SSF should do a lure fishing competition at some stage so we can
justify all these expensive bits of plastic we buy - ha : - ) ((Response, craig: Im on the case nick and have one planned soon))