Monthly Archives: August 2016

Blue Thursday

Andy Copping joined Phil Stares aboard his 16’ Fast Liner out of Looe on Thursday and enjoyed some frantic, if a little brief, blue shark fishing. A plan was formed to fish a patch of ground some twenty miles offshore in a bid to make the most of the settled weather before the wind picked up over the weekend.

Heading out at high-water with a view to fishing the ebbing tide, the dynamic duo set about feathering out sufficient bait for the day and soon found they had enough mackerel and whiting for the chum bag and hook baits.

Armed with Shakespeare Ugly Stix 20-30lb rods and Shimano TLD reels loaded with 25lb Varivas Yellow Sport line, traces were assembled in the form of long 49 Strand wires to 16/0 circle hooks.

It didn’t take long for the pop bottle float’s to start signalling the presence of the target species and before the guy’s knew it they were both into fish, with Andy taking the best at around 70lb.

Best of the blue's to Andy

Best of the blue’s to Andy

A succession of fish followed, but unfortunately, as soon as the fun started, the sea kicked up and with a weather front looming they were forced to head for harbour.

Mike Ladle on baited spinners

Today, Mike Ladle gives us his thought’s on the baited spinner. In recent times this lure has become somewhat neglected, but as Mike proves, it is still worthy of consideration.

The Baited Spinner – a tactic for all sorts

For many years now I’ve been making and using baited-spinners for the purpose of catching mullet and flounders.  I was inspired to give this approach a go by reading J.P.Garrad’s wonderful book “Sea Angling with the Baited Spoon.”  In it he writes detailed accounts of how to use these gadgets to select for flounders (particularly big ones), eels or bass (mostly schoolies) depending on the arrangement of the spoon used and how it was fished.  For some reason Garrad never caught a mullet on his lures (Heaven knows why – there must have been lots of them where he was fishing) but it is a fact that very similar lures are deadly for catching thinlipped mullet.  It’s a long time since I hooked my first mullet on a ragworm baited spinner and I now regard the method as essential for these fish.  However, I’ve also experimented with them in lots of waters and have probably caught at least twenty species of fish, both saltwater and fresh, on various spinners adorned with bait.  Some species (bass, pike, perch, etc.) would take the spoon without bait, others (flounder, bass, wrasse, etc.) would take the ragworm alone but for mullet the combination of flashing blade and tasty bait is essential to get the best results.
Mullet run up my local river in springtime to feed on the bloom of diatom algae which occurs at that time of the year.  This season, by mid-June, the river was clearing nicely and I’d seen a few thinlips so I fancied having a spin.   Then it rained.  Despite the heavy rain the river stayed in reasonable condition (it clears quickly) so I decided to give it a go. I put the gear in my car – Teklon Concept rod, Mitchell reels loaded with Nanofil braid and my bag containing everything but the kitchen sink.   A visit to my local tackle shop produced half-a-dozen nice fat ragworms, more than enough for a couple of spinning sessions, and off I went.

It was a sunny afternoon but a strong northerly wind was still blowing.  I baited up the Pennel arrangement of hooks on my spinner with a short section of worm and began to fish.  For twenty minutes I saw nothing and was beginning to wonder if the rain had sent all the thinlips back down to the estuary.  I started at the upstream end of the stretch casting down and across.  The spinner was allowed to swing back across in the current before being retrieved along my bank.  Between casts I walked down five or six paces, searching for a fish.  As I say it seemed almost dead until suddenly I saw a grey shape following and mouthing the worm, my spirits rose.  Next cast there was another interested mullet, then on the following one nothing!  I walked down a few more paces and cast again.  Sure enough there was another follow.  I changed the bait for a fresh piece of worm as the scent soon washes out in the fresh water.

I’d moved down perhaps fifteen metres when suddenly a mullet took the bait and was hooked.  It twisted and wriggled violently before coming unstuck. Nearly there!  It was probably five more minutes, several casts and another change of worm before I finally hooked a fish.  I saw this one take the worm and turn away.  It tore off downstream dragging off line against a moderately tight clutch.  This was more like it.  I extracted my little camera from the bag and took a couple of pictures as I played the mullet.

A thin lip takes the bait- at last!

A thin lip takes the bait- at last!

2 A thinlip from freshwater on the baited spinner

It was two or three minutes before I had the fish on the bank.  One or two more pictures, take the hook out and slip the mullet back into the water. Excellent!

A tamed fish and a quick snap

A tamed fish and a quick snap

I didn’t catch any more after that and, in fact, there were no more follows as I moved further downstream.  I only had another ten minutes fishing before I had to leave as I was going to meet my pal Bill for a trip to the coast. Anyway, I was well pleased with my first thinlip of the year.

A week or two after my mullet spinning sortie my pals and I been anticipating the set of spring tides keenly.  Everything looked good, calm conditions, decent weather, weed on the beaches, etc. etc.  The first decent tide of the series arrived and Bill, Nigel and myself tramped along the shore to our selected spot.  On the previous set of springs there had been loads of feeding mullet and bass so we were feeling quite optimistic.  Our optimism was soon dashed when we saw that the little bit of remaining maggoty weed was isolated from the sea by a pile of fresh kelp.  Not a good sign!  We thrashed away with our spinning tackle waiting for the bass to turn up, but they never came.  This was the sea so I was now using my Surespin rod, Stradic reel and 30lb Whiplash braid.  We all spun with a selection of reliable lures – not a sniff.

As it happened, and for some reason I can’t explain, I’d decided to take the dregs of my mullet fishing ragworm down to the sea that evening and give the baited spinner a go.  As I’ve said already many years ago I did a fair bit of experimental baited-spinner fishing, some of it from the open shore.  I knew that thicklips would take the rag baited lures at times but in the past this tactic it had often produced a by-catch of bass and wrasse, including some big ones.  Anyway, anticipating the presence of lots of feeding mullet I’d rigged up my biggest (ancient) baited spinner armed with two small hooks and determined to give it another go (after years of sitting in my lure box unused).  Fishing alongside my pals with their more normal bass lures I did no better than them.  Nothing was biting.  A fishless session was on the cards.

It was past high water now and we hadn’t seen or touched anything.  I’d got the message and I decided to work my way back to a spot of deeper water alongside a big ledge in one last attempt to catch something.  Out went the spinner.  Was that a tap?  I wasn’t sure.  Out it went again and I began to turn the handle of the reel.  Bang! I was in.  Clearly it wasn’t a very big fish but it was a fish and I was pleased.  Soon I was taking a picture of a small schoolie. Excellent!

An obliging schoolie on the open coast

An obliging schoolie on the open coast

I popped it back and cast again.  Once more I hooked and landed a bass.  This one was almost a-pound-and-a-half.  I returned it thinking “At least I’m going to catch a fair few bass.”  It was not to be.  On the next cast the bite was less sharp and I landed a small ballan wrasse.

A Ballan wrasse- the first of many!

A Ballan wrasse- the first of many!

Well, beggars can’t be choosers so I took its picture and released it.  Then I had another wrasse and another.

And another

And another

By the time my ‘still fishless’ pals turned up behind me I’d landed eight ballans of similar size (round about one pound apiece).  As they watched I had another bite which turned into the only corkwing wrasse of my session.  We ‘gave them best’ and walked back towards the car park, casting here and there as we went.  I had one more wrasse and missed a couple of bites before we packed in.  All in all, not quite what I’d hoped for or expected but at least it saved me from a blank.

Devon Delights!

Kevin Legge is on the fish trail…

The warm weather and an exceptional influx of mackerel along the north Devon coast has seen a vast improvement in the fishing this year. After several years of the mackerel failing to show, the likelihood of shore anglers latching into the fish that follow them inshore was doubtful but thankfully, mother nature made a few tweaks and the fish have arrived! 

Kevin Legge has experienced some rewarding fishing over the last fortnight. A trip to the sands west of Minehead produced a good number of small eyed rays together with some turbot and dogfish.

A fine small eyed ray- one of several

A fine small eyed ray- one of several

Taking the easier option a few day’s later, (not something Kevin is known for!) he decided to fish at Ilfracombe for a change and was rewarded with this nice bass. The fish fell for a mackerel bait on Varivas Big Mouth Xtra hooks.

A silver beauty for Kevin Legge

A silver beauty for Kevin Legge

With another spell of settled weather looming, things are looking promising for the coming autumn when hopes will be high for the arrival of tope that are currently plentiful just off shore.

Worthy of a second picture? We think so!

Worthy of a second picture? We think so!