Catch Fish with
For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).
A bit of everything.
One bit of angling behaviour which goes against the grain with me is mackerel slaughter. Of course I've caught my fair share of them over the years and I have to say that I've occasionally taken more than I should have. These fish make excellent food and are equally as good when used as baits but how many do you need? These days for one of my bass fishing sessions I might take two or three heads or four fillets. I suppose if you were going to fish all day (or all night) then you might want half a dozen fish (that's probably enough for three trips for me) but surely using feathers and filling bin liners with fish, as I've seen on the Chesil Bank and a few other places, has got to be over the top. The monthly mags pay lip service to the fine sport which can be had if you use a single lure for these game little fish (it's certainly a fact that you can but they then spoil it by showing someone with a 'stringfull') and to be honest, even if you do this, fifty fish in a couple of hours would be a fairly common occurrence. Where should we draw the line?
To go back to square one, if you catch and handle a mackerel there's not much point returning it to the water - it's as good as dead. As I've said before the only thing to do is shake them off the hook without touching their fragile bodies. Most other species are pretty tolerant when it comes to handling and unhooking but not the poor old mackerel I'm afraid.
Anyway, that's enough ranting. Needless to say I've been catching a few mackerel recently but my last three sessions using them as livebaits (just three baits in all) have been fruitless. Each time I only needed a single bait and it lasted me, in good nick (and untouched) , for the entire trip. My approach to catching a bait has been refined a bit. I generally start off by fly fishing as, if I manage to catch a bait, I know that it will be more or less unharmed by the small, single hook. If nothing is forthcoming on the fly after five or ten minutes I will switch to the spinning rod armed with a small spoon or a wedge and this normally produces a fish within a few casts. Sometimes, even though the fish, seemingly, are ignoring the fly the little metal lure generates loads of bites well within (even my) modest fly casting range - strange!!! To avoid any needless damage to the mouths of the mackerel that I catch, the wedge has now had the treble replaced with a feathered single hook (a simple fly). It doesn't seem to be as effective as the treble at hooking fish so perhaps a bit more experiment is needed.
My three early morning attempts to catch a decent bass were not completely fishless. In fact two of them were quite productive but not on the livebait. On the first occasion it was pretty rough and more or less devoid of mackerel (presumably they stayed further out to sea?) so it took a while before Richard managed to catch me a bait. The only other fish we had (a bass and a pollack) came unstuck as we beached them. The other sessions produced pollack and bass on both fly and lures and both times would have resulted in large numbers of fish if we'd persisted in catching mackerel but as I said earlier it's a bit pointless killing more than you need.
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