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I hope that you find my journal interesting and entertaining. If, having read this, you think that I am talking rubbish then at least you have stopped and thought about it long enough to come to that conclusion which is something of a result in my book. If you would like to comment on this article or anything else relating to my website, please feel free to contact me using the adjacent form. Feedback is always greatly appreciated and very helpful when it comes to improving both my site and my angling. Thank you for looking. If this form will not work for you, please e-mail me at editor@ericweight.co.uk
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I've missed my sea fishing, I have to say. Everything about it should be a pain in the arse given that I have to drive three hours each way, wait for time and tide (it won't wait for no man after all), keep bait frozen at home and cool all day at the water, get covered in snot, risk a broken ankle on boulder strewn shores and spend all the next morning cleaning, washing and sorting tackle. On paper it is a waste of time and effort, yet I find it a great adventure and I have missed it .

Circumstances have conspired to keep me away, but this weekend a trip was on. The stars were in alignment, I was raring to go. I have a bait freezer now, well stocked with sand eels and squid so far. I like to use a fish bait on one rod and a squid bait on the other. I have been using mackerel, but it's messy and an absolute crab magnet. Sand eels seemed like a good alternative.

I want to catch rays and conger, and feel that a straight running leger would be more effective for the former than the more usual pulley paternoster. I have settled on trace body lengths, that allow a set length of snood to work on both when the running lead is clipped up in the up and over manner.



 

 

 

 

 

Having tried imps and those leads with the built in clips, I have finally settled on gemini splash down clips to retain the hooks. These never drop the hook if the line falls slack and make preparing to cast a piece of cake, where it used to be a frustration. They never release the hooks in mid air either and my casting distance is all the better for it.

I have reduced my hook sizes from 4/0 to 2/0 and 3/0. Using fine wire hooks means I can bend out of immovable snags when pulling for a break. Using a rotten bottom link for the lead now means that pulling for a break no longer costs me a leader whether it is the hook or the lead that is caught up. I don't foul up marks with rotproof braid any more either.

All in all, I feel more on top of the job now and was excited to get to my favourite Bristol channel mark early. I have been often enough now to get an extra hour out of the falling tide and I was lucky that I did today.

It was just fifteen minutes before the right hand rod slammed over and started shedding line, but I missed. There was little doubt what the culprit was though. I wound in an unfathomable ball of tangled and twisted line, hooks, clips and lead. Eel for sure.

I re-tackled, re-baited and wacked the rig back out. Time for coffee, no, no time for coffee, the same rod was off again. This time I hooked up and it felt reasonable, but given how often it all went tight and I had to lean into it to get it free of snags it was hard to tell. Another ball of twisted nylon was decorating the snout of a strap conger. Maybe three to four pounds, nearly big enough to weigh, but not quite. By the time I had cut up all the swallowed hook that I could reach and taken a couple of snaps, I just wanted to get it back which I did ok.

 

The next three hours swept by. I had six good runs, landed three, none bigger than the first, missed one and lost two. In between, I was truly happy, re baiting snoods, watching the storms over the welsh coast whilst sitting in glorious sunshine. All was well, too well.

 

Low water arrived along with uncomfortably strong, westerly winds which thrashed up the channel making everything difficult and tearing loads of weed free of the rocks. Within ten minutes that weed made fishing impossible and with potentially the best part of the tide to come, I had to pack early.

Disappointing as it was, it did allow me to see plenty of action on the one hundred mile long accident scene that is the M5 in summertime. Even so I can't help wondering how many more I might have caught if the weed hadn't become so bad.

As always I come home with questions and problems to resolve. I had no bites at all on the sand eels which seem to be an insignificant bait to me. Was it the bait or the rig? I was fishing them on the up and over, which tangled too often. Usually it became caught up in the rotten bottom assembly. There is an underwater video on youtube of a rig on the bottom at Chesil. In it, the bait can be clearly seen washing back and forth over the lead in the tide. I suspect something similar is happening here.

The pulley rig worked faultlessly probably because the snood is shorter than the lead link and is anchored away from it. My only concern with the pulley rig is that the bait is lifted off the bottom rather than being anchored to it when the rig is set. Maybe I shouldn't be worried, I have now caught ray and conger on it. Maybe I should ignore the common suggestion that rays need three feet of unfettered snood so that they can settle over the bait and just make some short ones?

My other concern is the hook arrangement. The pennell is undoubtedly effective in use, it keeps the bait secure and stretched out rather than balled up around the hook and it hooks up well. Unfortunately it is not always easy to unhook fish on it and if you have to cut up the hooks, a lot of metal may have to remain in the fish.

 

I am at least happy with where I am fishing. The tide race off shore, visible in the picture above, seems to channel fish closer in and the rocks around the headland attract plenty of strap conger. Repeated visits have given me a good idea of where to cast and when, but it is interesting how the fish turn up by species rather than numbers. I have caught nothing but dogfish one day, congers another, rays another and on one occasion, cod, but never more than one species in a day. I don’t know if that is chance or says something about the transient nature of sea fish populations, but it certainly explains days when I catch nothing at all. It suggests that when I catch nothing it is probably because there is nothing there to catch.

Plenty to ponder there while I wait out the combination of tide, weather and opportunity to allow my next dose of salt.

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