EVER considered sea fishing with your coarse tackle? Well, with thousands of miles of coastline it’s certainly worth considering, and if you have any UK holidays planned for the summer period you could find yourself at some stunning locations which are absolutely begging to be fished!
Blazing hot sunny days aren’t always conducive to great sport on rivers and lakes, and the busy summer school holiday period often sees the day ticket venues packed out with slowly cooking anglers.
But such balmy conditions can often yield some fantastic marine action, with all manner of weird and wonderful species willing to give you a bite or two – most of which can comfortably be tackled with coarse tackle.
So don’t become despondent by sulking carp, and barbel, lazily basking in the heat of the day.
Just swap your boilies and pellets for some ragworms and sandeels and head off to the sea. But be warned, once you have tried it, you might be hooked.
1. With thousands of miles of coastline to choose from, the UK offers some great sport from stunning venues such as this rocky paradise called Seacombe which is part of the Isle of Purbeck coastline in Dorset. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was the Mediterranean, but it’s actually much better in terms of fishing, with a healthy choice of marine fish on offer, from tiny blennys and gobies through to double-figure bass and rays.
Float fishing is the favoured method for these rocky locations. Kelp covered sea beds make bottom tactics tricky, but most species will be found in the upper layers, searching out any tasty treats. High tides bring in the bigger predators, in the shape of mackerel, garfish, pollock and bass, but other species hug these rocky shores around the clock, finding food in the rocks and weeds which also serve as a perfect hiding place against bigger fish.
2. This is my favoured kit for a spot of rock fishing. Nothing beats using a float and I opt for a rod and reel combo (an Avon style rod is perfect) for targeting the bigger species on an incoming tide, but I like to use a heavy-duty carp pole fished to hand with the elastic tightened right up for tiddler snatching on a low tide. Reaching some of these spots involves a fair trek, so keep your load to a minimum. A small box of end tackle and cooled bait all fits in a medium backpack leaving my hands free to carry my pole, rod and landing net.
A large bucket is also useful for carrying any fish destined for the table. Mini species should be released unharmed, but the odd fresh mackerel is delicious – and winter pike think so too!
3. Receding tides usually take with it the larger marine fish, but these locations offer a permanent safe haven for smaller species, especially little wrasse. They dwell in the kelp beds, cropping tiny invertebrates and remaining safely hidden from view by bigger fish and numerous marine birds. Even miniature species such as rock loving corkwing wrasse can give you a fair old scrap on light gear, and their gritted determination to dive into thick weeds and crevices calls for robust pole elastics. Have them tightened right up, otherwise you’ll lose the majority of the fish you hook as most sea species punch well above their weight. Other low tide species you can expect to catch are ballan wrasse, shannies and even bizarre looking dragonets, but keep the bait well clear of the deck – if snags aren’t bad enough, bait robbing crabs will strip your hook of bait in minutes.
4. Choose heavier float tackle for the rough and tumble of rock fishing. I use the same gear as I use for winter trotting for big chub – large loafer floats, with all the shot bulked a couple of foot from the hook, 4 to 6 lb mono and strong hooks ranging from sizes 12 to 6, depending on the size of the bait. Barbless patterns are a lot kinder on little wrasse, but barbed will hold firm should the bigger predators turn up. Bait wise, ragworms will catch virtually all marine species and little 2 cm sections are perfect for tiddler snatching, while whole king rags are a more suitable mouthful for bigger species. Sandeels are the key fodder for many marine fish and are an excellent bait to present under a float, especially for mackerel and garfish which actively seek out shoals of these little fish a mere foot or two under the surface. Little slivers of fresh mackerel also make cracking bait, especially the silver underside which stands out brilliantly in the turquoise water.
5. It’s not often pole anglers are seen fishing for marine species, but you’ll love the sport from hard scrapping fish such as these omnipresent corkwing wrasse which rarely exceed 10 oz in weight. You can catch these little chaps with virtually every cast, while you await an incoming tide which usually brings in the bigger fish, often in vast hungry shoals. Mini species are total suckers for a juicy piece of ragworm and savage bold bites are often instant. Ragworms certainly aren’t as robust as lobworm and die quickly in the heat, rendering them pretty useless and unappealing to fish. Keep them (and all your other baits) out of direct sunlight with a couple of ice blocks to stop them perishing.
6. Rock loving species blend in perfectly with their surroundings as this little wrasse shows. Small marine fish are predated by numerous other fish, as well as birds, so survival odds are vastly improved if you can hide yourself in the rich beds of kelp and other weeds. Stunning rocky ledges such as Seacombe are the perfect habitat for all wrasse species and they are sporty little fish and can be caught throughout the whole day, regardless of the state of the tide. Take plenty of ragworms with you – it’s a real bummer running out, and put the sandeels aside for targeting the bigger species that the tide will hopefully bring in.
7. What a way to spend a few hours in the sun! Time shoots by with so much scenery to take in and hot days are often pretty lousy on lakes and rivers as we all know, but coastal sea fishing isn’t affected by high temperatures, bright sunshine and drought like river conditions. Scanning the horizon can often tell you if fish are hunting. Look out for diving sea birds such as terns and guillemots. These diving birds seek out the huge shoals of sandeels which are also eagerly pursued by fish, notably mackerel, garfish and bass, which can push bait fish near the surface producing a classic bait ball. If these birds edge closer to the shore you can expect some hectic sport.
8. These little corkwing wrasse look like two different species – it’s amazing how varied the colours and patterns are of fish caught in the same spot. Males take on vivid colours to impress females in the breeding season; they wouldn’t look out of place in a tropical reef! An impressive set of teeth ensures that these rock dwellers can easily crunch through hard molluscs and other armoured crustaceans. I prefer using barbless hooks for these little gems – they have a habit of clamping their lips firmly shut, which can make a barbed hook tricky to remove.