Monthly Archives: May 2018

Lure fishing on the drift

With spring time now well under way and the onset of summer promised by the met office this coming weekend, no doubt many of you will be taking to the ocean for that first attempt on the cod, pollack and bass. At this time of year, fishing with artificial lures on the end of long flowing traces can be especially deadly when working over an offshore wreck or reef system.

When we started listing Sidewinder lures ten years ago, we realised how good they were but what we didn’t realise was just how popular the lures would become. They are now our biggest selling ready-to-fish soft plastic lure and boat anglers seem to lap them up, buying dozens of packets at a time. Over time, the lure which started its life in just a few basic colours has evolved and is now available in a huge number of variations.

The Sidewinder Sandeel in the Cod Squad pack

A basic rod and reel combination can be used for fishing with the lures ‘on the drift’ consisting of a 7 – 8’ rod in the 12 – 20lb class and a small multiplier reel loaded with 30lb braid. 

Fishing with the Sidewinder Sandeel really couldn’t be easier. A simple flying collar rig should be tied with the trace itself constructed of a fluorocarbon with a breaking strain of around 15 – 25lb, depending on the size of your intended quarry. The trace length is the subject of much discussion, but something of around 10 – 15’ is generally considered about right.

A double figure pollack for Andy Bickle

Selecting your lure colour on the day is something else again and more often than not a favourite colour will reveal itself leading to those fishing with it getting hounded by their mates for any spares of that winning flavour. The moral to the story is that a selection of lures on the day will ensure that somewhere within your box you will have what the fish are looking for. 

The main point when fishing with this traditional flowing trace method is to take your time when lowering the gear down to the bottom. Drop the lure over the side of the boat first and allow it to sink a little before lowering the lead once the trace has extended in the tide. Keep your thumb on the spool of the reel (assuming you’re using a multiplier) and keep a controlled and steady descend of the tackle. Failure to do this will result in the lure rising up in the water and more often than not wrapping itself around your mainline.  

Once the tackle hits the bottom, wind up a few turns so that it is as near to the bottom as possible without snagging. If fishing aboard a charter boat, the skipper will inform you when the boat is approaching the wreck so listen out for his instructions. You may have to wind up twenty turns or more to clear the wreck, but it can be a fine line between getting as close to it as possible where the fish will be and snagging the lure on the wreck. 

If you’re able to get afloat over the Bank Holiday weekend, have a great time, stay safe and remember we’re always keen to see your catch photo’s.

If you’d like to share your catch, email any pictures to

Minehead boat fishing update

Today we welcome back Devon angler Scott Smy who gives us his account of a day aboard Minehaed charter boat, Osprey. It was one of those trips when the weather on the day makes you question whether you would be better off not going out, but as Scott explains, the skipper always knows best… 

With the wind howling out of the NE and white caps pretty much everywhere you looked, I think all eight of us stood on the pier at Minehead waiting for the charter boat, Osprey, to come alongside the steps and wished we were all somewhere else. However, skipper Steve Webber was sure he could find some shelter down in Porlock Bay and he was of the opinion that the wind would come in later than forecast so the decision was made to go for it. That decision proved to be right as the sea conditions remained pretty good all day – lesson learned there, your skipper always knows best!

Arriving at Porlock Bay and now out of the wind, a multitude of different baits were either cast out away from the boat or dropped over the side. A steady stream of dogfish came to the baits which was particularly annoying for those fishing prime peeler crab baits targeting the hounds. After a while Adrian Kruger, who was fishing from the stern, bent into something that we could all see was much larger than a doggie and after a short but spirited fight managed to get a nice double figure bullhuss into the net.

The first huss of the day for Adrian Kruger

A whole Joey mackerel on a flowing trace proved too good for the huss to turn down and shortly afterwards Adrian landed the first hound of the trip on a peeler crab bait fished uptide whilst the rest of us continued to get plagued by lessers. Dogfish can be a real pain early in the season in the Bristol Channel and today was no different.

With the tide starting to slow, the decision was made to move further down the channel to Ivystone to get a bit more tide and try and find a few more hounds. Whilst this move did find us a few extra hounds to just under double figures, on the whole the fishing was still very slow. I have found that any sort of east in the wind has the ability to kill the fishing in the Channel stone-dead and this seemed to be the case on this day. Luckily for us we were with a skipper who constantly keeps trying to find the fish for his customers so the decision was made to move just over a mile out over the slack water period to see if the fish were in the deeper water. 

We were all enthused by the news that Steve’s son Michael who runs his own successful charter boat, Teddie Boy, had anglers on board who had been bitten-off several times at another deep-water mark. This was a sure sign that the tope were already around, confirmed by Steve having caught one on Osprey the day before going 26lb.

The move out into deeper water paid dividends almost straight away and finally we seemed to have found the hounds as all of us hooked into some cracking fish, many of which were into double figures.


A double figure smoothhound for Scott Smy

Whilst peeler crab was by far the best bait for the smuts, several were caught on whole squid baits fished uptide. It looked as though the recent spell of slightly colder weather had resulted in the hounds pushing out into deeper water from the shallower marks in Porlock Bay.

In addition to the hounds a number of specimen bullhuss up to around 13lb were caught on fish baits fished downtide. The slack water period and the first push of the tide is always a good time for huss in the boat and today was no exception. Varivas Big Mouth Xtra hooks in 5 or 6/0 fished on flowing traces of 80-100lb Varivas Shock Rig Nylon proved more than ample for the huss whilst Varivas Chinu’s in size 3/0 worked well fishing peeler crab for the hounds.

Plenty of huss fell to baits fished over low water

As is usually the case in the Channel the deeper water marks gradually became unfishable due to the tide increasing so the decision was made to target some rays on the sandy ground closer to Minehead for the last few hours of the trip. This just resulted in one very small SE Ray to a sandeel fished uptide and a gradual stream of dogfish. With interest starting to wane and the forecast NE wind starting to come through as forecast, we decided to up-anchor and run for the harbour. Considering how we thought we wouldn’t even get out of the harbour some 8 hours earlier, it was a very enjoyable trip which was in no small part down to a top skipper and fishing from a port where you can get out in most weathers.