Good morning from a windy Foxford. It’s been a pretty rough week and I’m beginning to think all my prayers for rain have been answered, just two months too late. We have had some serious rain this week and water levels are flying up. I cut it pretty fine getting my boat off the Lough, had I left it another day or two I would have been swimming to get it. All is well that ends well and its high and dry now. The next few paragraphs might wet you appetite to try something different in the coming weeks.
Of all forms of angling, I have attempted I think shore angling was the one I was most reluctant to try. I had a fear of it caused mostly by ignorance. I always had a picture in my head of beach anglers standing waist deep in the surf with expensive gear using fancy casting techniques to throw large weight long distances. This was an image I most likely gained from the cover of a sea angling magazine and as we all know those magazines are aimed at the serious guys. The truth for most of us though is that we are not experts and probably never will be. We go shore angling to try something different and to extend our season, an excuse to get out in the fresh air.
Why wouldn’t we, we live on an Island and none of us are more than a two-hour drive from some beach, pier, headland or rocks where we can fish for a wide variety of species. The good news is that it doesn’t need to cost a fortune and we can keep it simple.
Time and tide : Yes, it is a true statement and both are very important when it comes to success from the shore. The nice thing is that we don’t really need to worry about them, particularly if we don’t mind what sort of fish we catch. Different species will feed at different times of day and at different stages of tide, it’s just a matter of not been fussy about what species we target. In my own experience I have found that for sea trout off the beach, two hours either side of low water is best while for pollock off the rocks, an hour either side of high water is best. Play around with times and species, you’ll catch something and as much as the serious guys detest sand dogs they have been enough to get my heart racing on a winters night as the tip of the rod started dancing, “The tug is the drug”
Rigs and bait :
A simple rig with one or two hooks and a piece of fish or other bait will work for most species. Mackerel strips, Sand eels, squid, rag and lug worm are all well recognised natural bait. There’s a whole load of natural looking soft baits available and if you prefer spinning, several sand eel imitations that work well are available. A little bit of research on line will lead to lots of info on what fish prefer what bait.
Rigs: We are not experts so let’s not worry about the rigs we use. I’ve caught lots of fish from beaches using just a piece of lead, a swivel and a hook baited wits some mackerel. Bait elastic is a good thing to have as it helps secure bait that is soft. Here’s two simple rigs and
The two hook Paternoster: A good rig to use on the beach or from a pier When fish are feeding close to the shoreline and distance casting is not essential. The Two Hook Paternoster offers the angler the best of both worlds, in that, a conventional snood can be fished while ledgering at the same time. It can be adapted for different species by adding attractors. Flat fish in particular like shiny, flashy things. A silver spoon bait tied in and a few beads above the hook work really well.
One Hook Paternoster: For the more adventurous who want to see what fish are lying out in the deep water or fancy living dangerously on the rocks and cliffs, the One Hook Paternoster is ideal. This is a very simple rig which sports a running snood, between two stop knots. Small beads act as buffers against the knots to prevent the snood swivel from moving out of its confines. At the bottom of the main trace is a bait clip. When the hook has been baited up, it is hung tightly into the clip. The bait will then be directly behind the lead, giving it a streamlined effect and lessening the possibility of soft baits flying off during the cast. When the trace hits the water, it compresses and the snood drops out of the clip, presenting a complete bait to any fish in the vicinity. The line strength and hook size are dependent on the species sought, but this type of rig is useful for codling and whiting in winter.
Rod and reel : This may be something you will do once and say never again or it might be your thing. Start simple, you can pick up a rod and reel that will get you started for a s little as sixty euros. If you enjoy it, you can always “invest”. I’m not saying the investment will be wise, saltwater and sea sand will soon take its effect and the second-hand saltwater tackle market is not exactly flying at the moment!!
The Ocean is a beautiful place to visit during the winter. Don’t be surprised when you arrive if you have the full beach to yourself. On a frosty starry night with the waves lapping on the shore it’s a magical place to be. No need for sitting around saying your bored and that you wish the fishing season would come around. There’s always a fishing season, you just need to try something different.