LRF in Essex is fairly unheard of unfortunately, due to the muddy murky Thames, it makes lure fishing for mini species incredibly difficult. The marks that Devon and Cornwall have, just aren’t here, strong tides also makes life difficult. Overall, we just have smaller populations of those mini species.
However, those don’t mean that it can’t be done. After a trip to Devon and enjoying what LRF has to offer, I got a bit of a bee in my bonnet and spent a bit of time going over the Essex coast looking for potential features and marks where catching these mini species can be possible.
The first features I found where tidal pools, the likes of which are packed with kids swimming in during the summer and low tide. These often have crabbers in, so bait in a sense is being put into them, water all day round, and plenty of weed along the walls with cracks for these mini species to hide.
I spoke to Shore Fishing Essex, a YouTuber who spends a lot of time foraging the Essex coast, and he has dragged a net along these pools and got the odd shanny. What was left really, was for me to try one of these pools!
And myself and Shore Fishing Essex gave it go with small lures! The method was size 18-20 hooks, and a single swan shot to hold bottom, and just slowly drag along the deck…and it worked! We caught several sand and common gobies, although only small, we proved these small species can be caught.
Of course, these small species are a challenge to catch, but when you think of LRF, you think scorpions, bennies and bigger gobies.
So the search for more marks continued, a few weren’t what you hoped they would be over google maps.
However, a big mark I wanted to try was at Harwich…Ha’Penny Pier. The only issue here is the tide can push through, so working out a time with a smaller tide, and going at low tide and fishing up, was key.
Myself and Simon from Reel Anglerz decided to give this a go, and with the stronger tide we had to change out tactics.
We opted to fish drop-shot, 5g seemed enough to hold bottom, and this time a size 14 hook, with a cut up small bit of pink isome.
We struggled at first, with only a crab being caught, and felt deflated, we had a few bites, but we put these down to crabs.
Then striking to one of these bites, a black goby was caught! We happened to find a little nest, and I quickly had 2 others.
As the tide came in, we moved to a staircase by the promenade wall, and continued trying, after another Crab capture from Simon…he had a Scorpion, a beautiful little fish!
This mark seems to be a good little mark, with the potential to be prolific.
I want to encourage those in Essex, or around, who want to try LRF, go, give it a go! The species are there and they can be caught! Lets build an Essex LRF community!
It’s funny what you remember from school. Even stranger at times is what from that you learn, what you chose to actually use in life. Probably the most important thing I learned from school was down to my RE teacher, Mr Marshall. He was weird to say the least. Resembling the John Pertwee version of Catweazle, Mr Marshall would walk on the desks whilst essays were being completed, treading painfully on fingers of those who were not giving the answers their full attention. But he was funny too, he had an imaginary wife in his top drawer that at regular intervals, to gain our attention, he would berate and threaten with his trusty wooden rule. Get the picture. No wonder OFSTED can along…
He didn’t even teach us anything abut religion, not even remotely. But what he did teach me has been the bedrock of my work as a post conflict negotiator in some of the toughest places on earth. He taught me two basic models that have stuck in my mind forever. Before you do anything important you should..
CAF – Consider all factors; and
OPV – Other points of view
These two simple processes worked through frame arguments and scenarios on fact not emotion, and help you see life through the eyes of others. You might not like it or agree, but these two basic methods have, quite literally, kept me alive.
So why mention this now? Simply, of late I have heard so many comments in our various chat groups about causes for poor catches, most commonly blamed on trawlers and seals. I thought that it would be useful to investigate this a little to get to the data behind these emotive rogues in the eyes of the sea angler., so here goes.
So let’s look first at the seal issue. Don’t we just love it when one hangs around a charter boat or pier head. And how many are there these days! Millions of them. As a kid fishing on the River Crouch you may have seen a dozen or so basking on the Foulness sandbanks. Now there are what seems thousands that line the sandbanks from the river mouth all the way to the end of the Foulness Sands. But just how does this impact our hobby? I took time out to research via UK fisheries agency and what I found was rather surprising. I was astounded by how much fish a seal can eat in a sitting. 12-13lb of fish in one go. Greedy or what! Headline figures that would confirm our annoyance indeed. OK this is tempered by the fact that they don’t eat every day but still…no wonder I blanked a few weeks back.
But hang on a minute as I looked further, digging in to the data more I found that the seal population numbers directly correlate to fish stocks – basically aligning to the seal population consuming around 5% of available fish. This makes sense when you think about it – when food is abundant they breed, when food is scarce then the young don’t get fed and seal numbers decline. Obvious really. Now to add to this, scientists can identify from seal poo (can you imagine being asked what you do for a living and telling someone you dissect seal excrement) what type of fish they are feeding on. The data shows that their main prey is, in autumn and winter whiting, pouting and goby’s. Deep joy really given anglers hate catching them anyway. As the seasons move into spring and summer however, the seals favour a diet of sandeels, dragonets and dover sole. Shame about the sole but hey, if the seals are feeding on them surely that means they are here and all I have to do is work out how to catch them better right. Given the 5% consumed rule, this leaves 95% of fish stocks not predated by seals FACT. Seal numbers have increased because overall fish numbers have risen in recent years, meaning more for us, yay! Just happens that the rise is in whiting, something we all know about right and could perhaps be grateful to the seals for reducing a tad to let other species have a go.
So if the seals are factually not significant on fish stocks, if anything a population that reflects fish stocks not one that dictates fish stocks then what is it? The trawlers then I hear you scream…it must be right…
Let’s save time here right away. There should, in my opinion, be no place on earth for the supersize trawlers that scour the seabed for hundreds of tons of fish at a time. Industrial scale commercial fishing is wrong. The reality is that 80% of UK fish and chip shop cod comes from super sized Russian and German trawlers, not from our own waters. if you chose to buy fish from a supermarket or frozen food chain, then most probably, the fish has been caught by these methods. Not for me to make choices for you but to be clear, I never do. It’s wrong in my view and plain dumb, full stop.
But what about our own inshore waters, where small day boats work along the Essex coast alongside us recreational anglers. I was curious to see the world through their eyes. To get an insight into the world of a trawler man I have been super lucky to have spent time recently on board one of the Blackwater Estuary inshore commercial trawlers. A third generation commercial fishing family and part of a small community of fishermen who’s methods are strictly what is deemed as ‘light trawling’. Given some people here, despite what words will follow here, might excuse vitriol towards these families, I’ll keep names and faces out of it OK.
Now these guys know our waters back to front. They work them all year round and follow the seasons and the fish as they come and go, supplying local markets, some of the UK’s finest restaurants and more recently supplying the freshest fish imaginable directly to the public of Essex. We departed early morning for an in-shore trawl for dover sole, which are just arriving at our coast. Even on a calm day and inshore, it was clearly obvious that this was hard work and very dangerous. One false move and there is no plan B if dragged overboard or hit by the heavy equipment. My mind wandered to just what it would be like on a rough day. I kept away from the working gear as the first net was set and my shift as galley slave began by boiling the kettle.
The nets, as my skipper explained over a steaming cuppa, roll over the seabed so as to not damage the grounds. The nets themselves sit on a sacrificial mesh that brushes over the seabed causing the fish to rise and swim into the net itself. The mesh of the net is large, ensuring small fish could escape to grow.
Whilst the net did its thing and we moved ahead at 1.5 knots the skipper explained that the community work together to monitor fish stocks, taking what is plentiful but ensuring none of them exceed what they believe the waters can sustain. It appears to me that they are a community of conservationist farmers rather than hunters, thinking about the quality of water, how their methods act like gardeners, maintaining the health of the seabeds rather than destroying them. Interestingly, it seemed the main concern is overfishing of welks, which now back in fashion are being culled at alarming rates on our estuaries by those outside of the local community who are less concerned with longer term consequences.
One critical element of light trawling beyond the large mesh/small net approach is that the trawl time is short and in this case after an hour of trawling it was time to raise the net. The skipper explained by keeping trawls short, the fish are not damaged producing the finest, premium fish for consumption and ensuring that if any fish not desirable for market are caught that they are returned unharmed before the time in net became terminal.
Pre-trip to be honest I had imagined a bulging net would be the outcome. Sadly not so in this case, with a dozen sole and a couple of thornback rays kept for customers whilst my new job as sorter of shells, weed and the odd small fish that hadn’t escaped the net for return kept me fascinated by just what is down there in the dark waters. I was loving it. Some really strange micro-species that could be the ideal cheat for any species hunt were sent overboard unharmed and whilst the second trawl was underway I cooked breakfast.
And so the morning moved to afternoon. Four short trawls later we had half a box of soles and five roker for our efforts. The skipper was not impressed with the outcome but I was over the moon as we headed for home and readied the sole for sale. The skipper gutting ten for every one I managed as he explained the costs and profits in the inshore small boat industry. No wonder so few are moving into the industry when most of the profits sit down further in the supply chain. The crippling costs of maintaining the boat, fuel, nets, insurance etc all eat away at the value of the days catch and I was staggered by what little, at auction, the skipper would get for the haul for this prime condition produce.
Thankfully, down to the internet enabling direct interaction between the inshore trawlers and consumers who know their fish, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Increasingly, consumers are buying direct from the boats as they land the catch. The produce could not be better quality and at a lower price than the supermarket too. Mersea Seafood and Blackwater Fresh catch are just two of these boat owners who now sell direct. Honestly, why anyone would by elsewhere is beyond me.
Studying the volumes of fish caught by these boats, they clearly offer no threat whatsoever to fish stocks. In fact, quite the opposite as early messengers to the authorities if stocks vary in either way. If there was one message the trawler guys wanted me to take away was that the authorities should be more agile in quotas and work with the inshore local trawler community to build a long term sustainable, healthy fish population. This can be done now we are detached from the Brussels constraints.
So to conclude, are seals the enemy – well no. More seals means more fish are here. We just need to be better at our art. And when we see a trawler next, look where they are working and what they are selling and you couldn’t get a better indication of what species to target and where. I firmly believe that our coastal wildlife and working fishing communities are what makes our part of the world so special. We just have to manage the coexistence by fact not emotion. There is room for us all. Those seals eyes are so cute after all. And if you have to buy fish for dinner, think about where it comes from and please support our local fishing community. They are our closest conservation fellows, not pirates
A radical approach to glow in the dark tackle that seriously improves catch rates
Back in November I was watching an old episode of Only Fools And Horses – the one where Del Boy had acquired some cheap paint and was busy decorating a range of things from the kitchen of his local Chinese restaurant to his mums grave. It was all going so well until the evening, when as you may recall, everyone found out that he had bought tins of bright yellow glow in the dark paint. Brilliant comedy. I have seen this episode so many times but in this instance I had a light bulb moment which has become my world for the past winter months.
Let me explain; nothing makes me happier than fishing beaches in the dark. I love the closeness to nature, the solitude and time to think and drift into my own mind under the stars with minimal interference from human activity. I don’t want to talk, read or be seen. I just want to be detached from normal life.
For me, the enemy of night fishing is light. It dulls the senses, reduces awareness to simply what is lit up and for me at least makes the whole experience rather false and manufactured. Fishing under lights is like being at a theme park. Nothing is real. I respect the guys who fish with an array of lights to illuminate their area that would power a small town but that just isn’t me. Sure I have a seriously good head torch, but I use this for transporting my copious volumes of gear to and from the beach. Once set up I work hard to minimise light as much as possible.
The downside of my approach of course is seeing what you are doing. Specifically, casting and retrieving in darkness using multipliers adds a degree of challenge which I have always found somewhat annoying. This dear readers, is what I have found a way to solve which has supercharged my catch rates on top.
I have always used glow in the dark pop up beads and luminous sabikis to improve catch rates, especially when water clarity is good, but found that shop bought luminous weights are really poor in holding the glow. I wanted to try brightly lit up weights for two reasons – firstly to add more attraction to my terminal tackle for sight driven predatory fish and secondly, to help tracking the cast and retrieve saving my night vision by not using torches. On top of this, I intended to paint two of my rod tips to eliminate the need to illuminate the rods, or, as had been the case for me for some time, attach a couple of kids party glow sticks for each session.
Extensive internet searches kept coming back to a single stand out paint – spacebars glow in the dark paint. It comes in bright green and bright aqua (blue) so I bought a pot of each. This paint isn’t cheap I warn you, but an outstanding quality product.
Once in possession of my chemicals of magic light I set to work painting a variety of weights, some with the blue and some with green paint.
The same with my rods – the trusted Cinnettic Continental rods which I have been totally in love with for the past year. I chose these as they give a wonderful combination of being able to launch 6 oz plus large baits whilst retaining superb sensitivity to bites yet have absolutely no wind vibration.
Taking advice from the keyboard warrior fans of the paint I gave my weights a coat or two of plain white paint first to cover the dark metal than preceded to carefully paint the weights and rod tips with four coats of the glow paints. Lesson one was to keep the paint colours and partially painted weights separate as they both look remarkably similar under normal light and remembering which had been coated with blue or green meant me diving in and out of the under stair cupboard to see what colour glowed in darkness.
Job done I left the weights to dry over night and it was at this moment when, turning off the lights to retire to bed I found that tiny speckles of paint had attached themselves to the table, chairs, door handles and pretty much everything I had been in contact with that evening. Lesson two – do the painting outside. On the bright side (sorry) at least I knew that this past was seriously good at it’s job
24-hours later and I was ready to trial my new toys. The two rods were set up an hour before darkness to allow the painted rod tips to absorb the last of the sun’s rays and my painted weights were laid out similarly. My plan was to use two identical three hook flappers but with one set up using glow in the dark beads and one of my painted weights. The other terminal tackle had no light enhancement and a plain weight. Both set ups had identical baits so my aim was to test the impact of light one way or the other.
As dusk appeared I was deflated as it seemed that my paint was useless and I began fumbling for my lanterns and head torch. However, as the final effects of daylight past and true darkness arrived my kit lit up way beyond my expectations. This paint is seriously good. Firstly the green paint exploded into light, followed by the blue which is more subtle and required much darker conditions to be as effective.
Casting was so much easier with the glow weight, resembling a firework easily tracked by sight to the water – in fact much easier than in daylight – enabling me to control my mag 4 multiplier perfectly for maximum distance and control. On retrieve it was the same, being able to pick out the weight 20-yards from shore with ease. I was over the moon, fishing in almost complete darkness with the soft glow of my rod tips being the only thing preventing my eyesight becoming totally dominated by the billions of stars and glowing moon above my silent bubble. It seemed to be working fine.
Over time the weights in my tackle box began to diminish in light, so I put them inside my seatbox with one of my lamps switched on, charging the weights energy back up for me to switch weights periodically ensuring maximum glow was in play at all times. This wasn’t ideal as opening the seatbox to access the weights diminished my night vision. Lesson three – I should have listened to the advice of a friend who told me I would need a UV light.
One duly arrived before my next session which is amazing at recharging the luminous weights without impacting on night vision at all. All is good
So the most important thing is of course – does it help me to catch more fish. Well I can say, as it stands, absolutely YES. Firstly the handling/casting/precision of placing baits where you want them is greatly enhanced when you can so easily track the weight when casting. Glow weights take all the guesswork out of where you cast to at night. Secondly, I have found that in clear water conditions, glow terminal tackle increases the catch rates when fishing for sole, whiting, bass, flounder and dabs. On my first trial the glow tackle caught three times as many fish as the conventional set up. In more cloudy water the results narrowed as I guess the fish were feeding by taste rather than sight. To date I have found no adverse reaction from the fish to the presence of light.
I have been using these weights for four months now. The rod tips retain the glow and the paint has not flaked at all. The weights however lost some paint due to abrasion with the seabed. Lesson four – coat the painted weights with clear varnish.
So am I a convert to luminescence, absolutely. In fact, I am out using this method at the moment this blog is published. I have also acquired some luminous soft plastic lures for the 2022 bass season. Fingers crossed and I hope to blog about them soon
OK let’s be clear from the start. Sprats don’t catch mackerel, well at least they don’t on Clacton Pier on a cold, misty January morning. But the sprat season is well under way and as I watch the birds working the oily water surface I can only imagine what carnage is going on underneath the waves as the shoals of sprats are being targeted by all sorts of predatory species.
I love the sprat season. Mainly because it brings an additional challenge of matching the hatch but also, as anyone with a fish finder will confirm, the challenge is recognising that the action mainly occurs mid water as the sprats bring the usual bottom feeders up to play. I see so many facebook posts at the moment talking about poor catches – for me I believe and often prove that the fish are still here, just not in their usual feeding modes. understanding this can bring outstanding results during these often meagre months, especially from shore.
Thankfully, Liza at Mersea Seafood Company had top quality fresh sprats at bargain prices and my detour to her fish stall at Bonners Farm on the approach to Mersea Island meant I had the finest bait ready to tease the passing target species of thornbacks and dabs, with of course the mandatory whiting which you either embrace or stay home.
I did, on top of my fresh sprat baits, have a variety of lug worms, which being totally honest here was the originally intended subject of this blog. So, my session on the pier was turning out nicely with fresh seasonal fish baits and the whole spectrum of lug choices. Let me explain more about the worms..
We are spoilt on our coast regarding fresh, high quality blow lug. Our estuaries are prime breeding grounds for these beautiful and succulent baits. But let’s be fair, those who dig them earn their money. It is really hard work so many of us use the great baits shops such as Colchester Bait and Tackle and Jordan’s King Rag in Ipswich. Sometimes, for very understandable reasons, supplies are limited so it is handy to have some frozen or preserved lug to fall back on. Also, at times when sneaking out for an ad-hoc mid-week session getting to the shop in time, without booking worms in advance isn’t practical.
So here I am – evaluating the merits of a collection of worms. I have fresh blow lug; frozen blacks in wraps, frozen black in oil and sand, and preserved lug in oil. I like them all and have very different uses. Let’s take them in turn.
Firstly fresh blow lug. My absolute go-to bait on our coast. Great for single small hook baits, full of juice and loved by pretty much every fish going. Colchester Bait & Tackle has outstanding fresh blow lug. If we ever lose these kind of shops to online competition it will be criminal. Using fresh blow lug it on it’s own or tipped with a bit of squid or fish.. and bingo. Fresh blow does have several drawbacks however; most notably they don’t keep for long, they are predated by crabs easily and they can’t be sub-divided for wraps or cocktails.
Next let’s take the second type – oiled preserved lug. These are great as can be kept in the fridge in vacuum sealed packets for months and as they are loose in packing can be portioned out for short sessions. I love these worms for pre-prepared wraps as with low moisture content, they wrap and freeze so easily with squid and fish baits. A really unique thing about these is that you can use tiny portions of them on very small hooks such as sabiki’s. I love doing this, especially with glowing sabiki when targeting dabs. As single baits however I find them relatively unproductive as they lack the scent trail of other options and don’t present so well on the hook.
Moving on to the next option, I have discovered these frozen blacks preserved in sand and oil. I really like these as, so long as not compressed in your freezer too much, keep separate in the packaging, making it easy to take a few out of your stores for a session as and when needed. They are soft, almost having the consistency of a fresh black and present on the hook really well. On being underwater for a time they maintain their shape and colour well. The trouble here is they are about as rare as cod. Jordan has them from time to time and when in stock I grab as much as he can spare.
Finally, the classic frozen black lug wrapped in newspaper and sold in packs of 10. Absolute monsters in size and, when preserved well, hold stacks of juice and present the perfect scent trail for larger predators. Great to keep in the freezer but, when you chose to use them you are committed to the whole wrap as they don’t, in my experience, catch anywhere near as well when re-frozen. The worms can be used in portions or whole and of course in a classic cocktail with crab, squid or fish. Once more, obtaining good quality frozen blacks isn’t so easy, obtaining poorly preserved blacks is really easy sadly, especially on-line.
So coming back to the session, I was conscious of the unknown depth the fish were feeding at so a variation in depth of baits was critical. With this in mind I was using 14ft continental rods rather than my usual shorter pier rods to keep a high angle on my line along with a combined set of baited sabikis sitting on top of three hook flapper rigs allowing me to cover around 8-feet of water from seabed. My thinking would be the sabiki might either catch fish or act as an attractant to the bigger baits below.
To see how the worms compared in action I rotated them, giving them all a chance to be at different water depths. In addition, I used the sprats singularly and as wraps with the preserved lug. I also used squid and lug wraps as well as tipping worm baits with squid to really see how things would turn out
So how did it go. Well, small sprat fillet and frozen black lug combo wraps won the day overall. Fresh lug was the winner with the smaller whiting and in terms of fish numbers, with bigger whiting most certainly going for the sprats. Whiting over a pound in weight were exclusively taking the fish or fish/lug wraps and when gutted for the table were absolutely full of sprats.
Pin whiting totally ignored the sprats and stuck to worm. The bigger dabs seemed to prefer blow lug tipped with squid or sprat. Smaller dabs found the saki irresistable, even at 6-7 feet above seabed. Two thornbacks were caught on whole sprat and black lug wraps, including one in excess of 7 lb taken on a hook sitting about 3 feet from the seabed.
To conclude; for me I’ll always try to get fresh good quality blow lug if I can. If not, the frozen worms worked well, especially in combinations. And as for the sprats – amazing bait that is ridiculously cheap when in season and is an absolute game changer at this time of year. Fill your boots folks and use them at various depths to find those illusive fish.
I’ll be writing more about this over the coming weeks, especially using sprats on slides for flounder, bass and dogfish. Who knows, I might even get lucky with a cod. I’ll be posting here at essexanglers and I am delighted to say that, from March will also be writing for Hookpoint Magazine so watch out for me there too.
Welcome back everyone to another JT Carpers blog, we hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Years and are looking forward to the year ahead, we know we are!
So, unfortunately, we have not had the chance to hit the bank so far this year 🙁 So this will be a little blog just for a recap of our last year and a look forward to the next year.
So let us start off with a look over a few nice surprises we had last year, from capturing new species, to some stunning carp and finally 2 brand new P. B’s.
The next few images are of the new species we managed to catch last year, we do not venture away from carp fishing much so when we do and we are met with something new we really enjoy it, last year we finally managed to get on our annual sea fishing trip as it was cancelled several times due to Covid restrictions, we managed a few new species for myself and Jack including, Bass, Flounder, Pouting and finally a very strange sea anemone.
Also, to top it off, with a short carp session at Waldegraves Holiday Park planned whilst on a weekend away with our families I managed to capture my first ever Gudgeon, awesome little fish and that was a very enjoyable day, chill time with the families and to really top it off Jack managed this awesome looking carp last knockings, honestly one of the most beautiful carp I have seen with amazing colours and looks!
Following on with awesome looking carp Jack managed to grab this beautiful Koi from a lake we loved to visit when we could that had a fair few Koi in its waters, unfortunately this lake has now changed to a membership lake and we do not fish it enough to warrant becoming members so as of right now we may never return to that lake, but I hope we do in some shape because it is an awesome little lake with some cracking fish like below.
Finally, as I could never miss these 2 absolute beauties out, here we have mine and Jack’s current U.K P.B. carp, mine going an awesome 31lb and Jacks spinning the needle a little further round to 31.8lb, whilst I will not go over the whole trip (If you are interested, please read the whole blog here Red Letter Session – Essex Anglers & Dreamland Continues – Essex Anglers)
So, with that little recap complete I want to touch on our targets for this year, we both would love to catch a 30lb+ mirror carp from our club lake and personally I would love to catch a 30lb carp from the guest lake on the complex too as we aim to visit that a few times this year with some guests, there is an awesome 30lb+ Ghostie which resides in the guest lake which would be the tip of the iceberg for myself!
I personally would love to start taking up other forms of fishing in lure fishing/predator fishing and fishing for some crucian carp as I have a water not too far from where I live that offers awesome Crucian Carp fishing so fingers crossed.
Well, that is all for our first blog of 2022, the next one will defiantly have more recent fishing trips in it, so until then, good luck all.
Navionics should be an important part to every anglers tackle box. It works best when you have a large water you need to cover like lakes, reseviours, and the sea. Most of the time fish will be stuck to structure this could be anything. For example depth changes will hold fish. Navionics has a setting called sonar chart this will show you the depth changes and the shapes of the bottom. This can show you where the predators will be holding up out of the current waiting for baifish behind underwater mountains, sat in crevaces etc etc.
accompanied to this they have the relief shading setting. this really benefits sea anglers as it shows rocks, sandbanks and drops. In the photo below you can see the structure. This can make finding marks an absolute breeze and should be one of the first things you reach for when searching for marks.
Hopefully you can see the importance of navionics for finding marks and actively searching for fish. Paired up with a fish finder, sidescan or livescope system and you are on for a winner! crucial on the reservoirs
hope you enjoyed this read and its showed how important and how much of a bargain you can get by using navionics.
So if you read my last blog know that been fishing with a close mate of mine who runs a charter boat, well today we left the rivers and went back to his prime, the sea! Whilst waiting for the punters to arrive we were talking and both know what to expect due to it being October we had the chance at literally anything! my expectations for this trip was NOT what it turned out to be. Upon arrival of the mark we dropped down baits, squid for me uptiding hoping for a late bass or hound, and ever so quickly i was blessed with a slack line bite i knew it was something proper, the tide was ripping and my mind was racing, big bass? hound? ray? blue shark?! When i finally managed to bully the big girl up in the water column Dan did a sterling job of netting her, hook was out in seconds and returned to live another day.
As expected whilst waiting for the tide to sort itself out it went pretty quiet, apart from a super interesting bite on a clients rod, no big head shakes, no line taken but a very interesting bite indeed. As he picked the rod up, an guided him and helped him with the best way to play the fish, the big net was put in hand and we were all on the edges of our seats. When it came up everyone was shocked, this was the first time id ever seen one of these, never mind hold it. It was a Dover sole! in ramsgate! Dans only had one of these on the boat before and a super rare catch for this area. Holding one was something to experience slimy like a snake and moves like one an interesting fish, a very interesting fish.
A little bit later on the boat and i got another very heave bite, big rod tip movement, i kept watching it for 5 mins, id seen this bite before i knew what it was so i didn’t want to rush it, but as it just kept bobbing away instead of going solid i thought id just pick it up, as i struck into the fish and caught up with all the slack line i felt it… rod bent in double heavy shakes and a cruising fish, i knew this was a ray so instead of wearing myself out i just applied pressure and waited for it to glide up in the tide, finally netted and landed my first spiky rat since around march nice to get back on track just in time for winter. If you haven’t tried rays on light tackle i suggest it its super fun! i posted a video a couple months ago on it.
This made a really fun video, apologies about the wind noise but if you’d like to know how to use your time wisely at this time of the year then give the video a watch there might be something for you to learn in there!
Towards the beginning of last month, my Dad and I headed to our local mark on the River Crouch in search of anything that would bite. We’ve fished the Crouch, with mixed success about a dozen times in the last few years because it’s only 10 minutes from home. We’ve caught the usual bass, whiting, dogfish and even a cod but the Thornback Rays, which the river is renowned for have never played ball with us. With my dad working away in Switzerland and myself headed north for university, this was to be one of our last fishing sessions together of the year.
High tide was around 6:30 however we had to leave at 5:30 because I was heading out for dinner. We arrived at South Fambridge around 1 o’clock and made our way along the river towards an area known as the saltings. Although it’s about a 15 minute walk from where you park, the fishing is much better and the area of marsh means that your fishing away from the sea wall where you can get caught in rocks and weed. If you’re looking at fishing the saltings then make sure to check the height of the tide because anything over about 5.2m and you might be getting wet feet.
By 1:15 our first rods had been cast in. We were planning on fishing 2 rods with bigger baits out for the skate, 1 rod on a 2 hook flapper for anything that bites and 1 rod on a float with ragworm as we’d heard that this was working well for the late bass. For this reason I hadn’t packed a 4th beach caster, instead I packed an old 12ft carp rod which I thought would be more suitable for float fishing.
We hadn’t anticipated the strong winds. Upon arriving realising the strength of the wind, we decided that it would be too difficult to fish with the float. I wasn’t sure whether the carp rod would be able to cope with the heavier leads needed to hold bottom in the strong tides but rigged it up with an up and over rig anyway and baited up with a chunk of herring.
While rigging up my second rod, I hadn’t noticed the line slacken on my other rod rigged up with a 2 hook flapper. I tightened the line back up to the lead then the rod tip just hooped over. It was a classic ray bite. I excitedly picked the rod back up and started reeling. The fish didn’t put up much of a fight, as people say it can be almost like reeling in a carrier bag. It’s safe to say that I was delighted with my capture, it was the first ray that either of us had caught from the Crouch. We were surprised to catch it on the top hook of the 2 hook flapper which I had baited with only a three inch piece of ragworm.
The herring on our up and over rigs wasn’t proving successful so we both opted to change over to squid. I pulled the head off the squid and stuffed it into the body before hooking it and wrapping it with bait elastic. I was really happy with the presentation. The squid had been in the water for about half an hour and I was debating bringing it in to put fresh bait on. Before I could decide, my rod hooped over and I was into my second skate of the day. This one felt much bigger and was darting left and right. It was putting a great bend into my 12ft carp rod. The tide still wasn’t in much and so we had to drag the fish a little way up the bank. As I was lifting the fish up the bank, the hook link snapped leaving the fish stranded on the clay. Without much hesitation I made my way down the slippery mud to unhook the fish and get a quick photo before slipping it back.
It was about an hour before any other bites came. It was finally my dad’s turn to catch one. We were both standing by my rods when his rod hooped over and my dad rushed to his rod, nearly slipping in his haste. It was his first ever thornback ray from the shore and he was absolutely chuffed. This fish also fell to a whole squid.
Shortly after slipping that fish back, I had another bite which resulted in another beautiful ray. This one fell to a whole ragworm and put up a great scrap on my 12ft carp rod.
Around half an hour later, I was rebaiting one of my rods. I looked up and my other rod was on the floor along with the tripod. What had happened? Had it blown over? I picked up the rod and something pulled back. I noticed the line wasn’t where I had cast. The fish had kited around about 50ft to the left and would have swam over my over line had I not just reeled it in to change the bait. It was probably the smallest one of the day but more than welcome.
Despite our best efforts, the last hour was drawing to a close and it was time to start packing up. As I mentioned at the start of the blog, I was heading out to dinner with some friends so we had to call it a day a little earlier than high tide. My dad went to reel his first rod in, ready to pack it away however the fish had other plans. He was hooked up but the fish on the end had given no indication that it was there. He reeled it in and it turned out to be the biggest fish of the day and brought out total fish count to six.
We finished packing up in a hurry as the fish had put us slightly behind schedule. It was a great afternoon spent with my dad and the fishing made it even better. It might be our last proper fishing session together of the year so it was great to end things on a high note with some amazing fish caught.
All Aboard!! Welcome back to another instalment of the JT Carpers blog, this week we have something a bit different to usual, an awesome little social sea fishing trip with the miniature comedian himself Jon over on the North Star!
So, usually we book a trip with Jon once a year, for something a bit different than the usual carping and also this man is just awesome, complete bonkers but awesome none the less, this time we decided to book the whole boat out to ourselves and get a group of us going. This time we had myself, Jack, My Dad, Mike, Eddie, Billy and Brandon. We were originally booked in for last year but due to restrictions etc we had to postpone it to this year.
We set off early to meet up with Captain Small at around 6.45am, Jon is based in Canvey Island from the Lobster Smack pub, I will leave a link to his Facebook at the end of the blog, if you ever fancied a trip then 100% go with this man, in the unfortunate event that you don’t catch anything just being around him will make the day a memorable one believe me.
So, after a short boat trip out we arrived at our first spot of the day and it wasn’t long before we were into our first fish and it went to my dad with his first ever Dab, awesome little fish and one we haven’t seen on the boat before so we were already off to a great start.
The action continued consistently for the next hour or two with Billy landing 3 fish and all being different species, firstly a small bass, followed by a pouting and then finally a lovely whiting, once again apart from the whiting all fish I hadn’t seen in the flesh before so a really good start.
As a group we continued to catch several fish between us, my first fish of the trip being this lovely little dogfish, not a new species for myself but they always put a up a good account of themselves and are always welcome on board because let’s face it, they are cool looking creatures! And kind of cute too.
Whiting were being caught left and right with a few dogfish thrown in, when the action dried up Jon would move us onto the next spot, this just shows how eager and decent of a Captain he is, some Captains would just sit on a spot all day and happily take your money, Jon is a firm believer in making the day as special and memorable for everyone as possible and this shines through with his attitude and willingness to help everyone, top man!
This continued throughout the day as when a spot dried up, we were onto the next one. Jack got amongst the action too with some lovely Bass and some cracking little dogfish! I also went on to land myself a new P.B Dab as it is currently the only dab I have ever caught, honestly despite what the picture looks like I was actually very happy with the capture!
Mike & Eddie were having a tough time of it on the other side of the boat, it always baffles me how you can be fishing all of 2 feet away from someone else yet they will catch quite a few fish whilst you may sneak the odd 1 or 2 out.
With the action drying up once again we moved onto our last spot of the day and what a spot it was! Within a minute of being on the new spot Eddie was into only his 2nd fish of the day! When he landed it, he was met with this awesome little Bass, a great fish to end the day on or so we thought, the bites just kept on coming! For everyone around the boat too, bass after bass after bass, Mike was also into a bass too so all in all this last spot really paid off.
Dad was met with a few dogfish and a lovely little pouting, Brandon was continuously catching throughout the day and had a good few on the last spot too, so all in all the final spot really paid off with everyone catching numerous fish.
To top the whole trip off, Jack caught himself a Sea Anemone (I believe that is what they are called?) Or as Jon liked to call them, the arseholes of the sea, quite fitting that Jack would catch a rather large arsehole 🙂
With that our time was up and we were on our way back into dock, what a fantastic day it was, I believe we had in excess of 40 fish between us and top rod going to Dad with him catching the most throughout the day, we are all eagerly excited for our next trip out with the legend that is Jon in the summer of next year to try and get amongst some awesome looking tope!
So once again thank you for reading our little blog, we love hearing the responses and feedback from you guys it really means a lot.
On the day before this i planned to meet up with a mate and go to a super well known mark that is crazy good for things like wrasse. I’ve always wanted to fish this spot as its the best wrasse spot near me unfortunately there is about a 20ft drop so you have to headline or get a dropnet… which i don’t own… that was the scariest part of this session!
Whilst my mate was tying up rigs and baiting up i had already started fishing i had to use a 3oz lead on a 5-20g lure rod just to reach the water because the wind was that strong! after perfecting the rig i smashed a white curly tail on and started jigging. it was a lovely day with a large swell and brilliant water clarity. Within 10 minutes i was in!
With screaming runs and powerful head shakes i knew this fish was a good one! I lowered off on the drag and let the fish run, i was super scared of it getting into a snag, thankfully it didn’t and when it emerged from the bottom i saw it, the colour, size, and aggression was awesome i was shaking s i hand lined the fish up with braid cutting through my hands at every grab but i wasn’t bothered i was too focused on getting the fish in my paws.
She was up and in my hands we poured water over a piece of plastic to keep her off the hard concrete and got the hook out, i was astonished, it was my dream fish and i had it in my hand! i was ecstatic
Throughout the rest of the day we didn’t have anything apart from another small wrasse and a pouting aka conger live bait!