Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Catch Report 290512 - Urban Bass, Surgery and the Seagull

I have had THE funniest fishing session ever tonight!! I dont think we will ever cram more mayhem into one 4 hour session again..period!

Went off to a local mark to meet up with Mike Sullivan of RockFish Revolution and Andy YOUNGER of Finesse Fishing. Two top geezers and both very experienced anglers in their own right. So I packed the gear and before leaving get a text from MIke "Bring your metals. I think theres Bass". Now I have fished with Mike many times and learnt to trust his instincts  so luckily I had the metals packed as I was going to test the Fish League Tiebo as on ongoing test I have posted about here before on metal lures. Also met up with Luke RICHARDS who I haven't met before and who became a star of the evening a little later on during the session.

Arrived at the mark and Mike is already at it. So I attached my Rarenium 3000 to the MC Zaltz ZAT 7'3" and attach a clip. On goes the Tiebo and I launch the lure out to a patch of water where there has been some swirls. First cast, first retrieve sink and draw...Bam!! Ouch the drag is screaming and not stopping, Mike looks over grins "Thats gotta be a Bass" Now remember folks this is a rod rated from 0.5g to 5g. The line is a 6lb flouro leader attached to a 4g lure... what could possibly go wrong??!!

Five minutes later and Im still trying to stop this fish running. The Zaltz is bent near double and I have to release the pressure a lot and the fish keeps running. I finally get it close to where we are fishing and my god its a beauty. Now where we were fishing is a little bit off the water level (uhoh) and we dont think we have a net as I never take one LRF soooo what to do. Mike has a brainwave and suddenly legs it off to his car and returns net in hand ... thank you MIke :) So we land the fish finally, by committee, and its a cracker. 4lb 8 of silver!! Thats a new Bass PB for me and a first on the Zaltz. This has given me a huge confidence boost in the capabilities of this rod. Also a big shout out to Luke RICHARDS who did an epic spiderman impression with a net to get the ball rolling with landing this fish :)

Photos completed the Bass goes back in the water and Im back casting. Mike is updating the catch on his phone and before he can finish the entry .... whizzzz!! my drag is off again. I can do nothing but hang on and laugh... well it was probably more an excited giggle if Im honest. This fish is fiesty but it doesnt feel as big, Soon I land, well the commitee lands, another fine silver just shy of two pound. I had another Bass to finish the run around the pound and half mark.

Shortly after the insane Bass run Andy turns up and so we regale him of our adventures so far. He has  no time to get geared up before he is required for a very urgent assignment!! Whilst casting out my braid has caught on the last guide eye of my rod. The lure has flick out and buried two of the three trebles into my left forearm :( Yup that aint coming out easy!! One treble is stuck deep. One treble has gone in and the end has come back out again so I am well and truly hooked. Andy performs open air surgery then and there. Armed with a questionable pair of forceps he manages to remove one hook but we had no choice but to yank the second out under tension. Andy many thanks to you as those buggers werent moving and if you ever fancy changing job to a doctor... umm actually dont :)

Now free of my lure I change tactics and swap out the Tiebo for new jig I wanted to try, the Illex Gambit Straight 0.9g jig and attach an Ecogear Power Shirasu plastic to the lure. This is a superb combination and looks amazing in the water. The jig has a great action on the lure and really made it dance. After a long quiet spell the lure gets hit very rapid. It a light take and on the retrieve I find my first lure caught smelt. Cracking looking little fish and a new species for me this year so really pleased.

So all in all a great night and some strange goings on with the fish tonight...Oh before I forget the other incident :) So we had a mad Bass run on light gear, we had surgery in the open air due to lures catching their anglers and..... well there's a seagull incident!!

Andy had a good evening. Two flounder on lures which is a cracking session (and Im very jealous as I would love a flattie on light gear) however on switching to a small surface lure he also had the catch of the night. Whilst casting with the Illex Gambit I heard a shout and turning to face Andy and Mike I hear Andy shouting "No dont you dare.. argh!!" Whilst fishing the surface lure a Gull had spotted the tasty plastic morsal and dive bombed it taking it cleanly. Next we had a frantic 5 minutes retrieving said gull to the shore and then removed before mentioned lure before gull was safely returned to the skies. See not only do we catch and release fish but now Andy does the same with birds. A shining example of how it should be done. Nice work Mr YOUNGER :)

So to the testing bit. The Fish League Tiebo was a star. Casts well for a 4g lure and moved very well in the water. Although it has a treble hook there was no issues with snagging in the weed and the fish... well the loved the little pink lure a lot. Hook ups were solid and consistent. Hook strength was amazing (4lb 8 remember!!) and this is now fast becoming my go to metal lure. Considering there were aother metals in the water at the same time this lure must have something as it pulled fish ever cast when the water was busy.

In addition to the Tiebo I also tested the Illex Gambit Jig head. I love em!! Great little jigs. You slid you chosen lure onto the straight barb and it holds the lure on tight. The hook was strong and fine. Hook up was fantastic and there were no missed knocks. The best part is the action the jig gives to the lure. With a wedge shaped nose this lure darts about quickly and enticingly. One word of warning. Ecogear lures were great on the jig except the ecogearaqua strawtail grubs. Im not sure if its the new material used in the ecogearaqua range but the lure would not stay on the jig barb during a cast. So beware if you dont like losing lures avoid using the ecogearaqua. Im going to do some testing on other ecogearaqua lures and will update you with a result. Ecogear lures though are an amazing match for this jig and the Power Shirasu lure looked amazing.

So there we go a night ill remember. We caught Bass on light gear, we had two flounder on light gear, we had a new species, we caught anglers on 4g jigs and we caught gulls on surface lures. All in all a top night on the LRF.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Rant....... inshore netting !!!

OK I was posting today about HRF soft plastics and techniques but I really have to get this off my chest and share this information with other like minded people. The subject ..... illegal and "legal" netting of fish!!!!

First and foremost can I say how any netting  (the use of "drift nets") can be "legal" inshore defies belief. But it is, although there are control measures, so there we go. I don't agree with the idea and cant believe how huge a negative impact this has on our sport... Catch and Release Bass lure angling!

Now I am a) not naive to think this will ever stop b) not naive to think this is the only reason the fish stocks on our inshore coastline is in a decline nor c) an expert on netting practice and how its controlled. I understand in increasingly difficult financial climates individuals will seek income wherever they can. However...what I do know is simply this. There are people out there who think it's perfectly ok to go out for 4 hours "work" and bring home £2000 worth of Sea Bass per trip!! and continue to do this day in and day out. I know that there are some people out there who feel it is perfectly acceptable to FIX a net (illegal practice) in a huge stretch of water, including Bass nurseries??!! and catch all manner of species, I would hate to think what happens to Wrasse and Pollack, for example, that may get caught in these nets as I doubt very much they would be a valuable catch for our netters.  I do know that there are people out there who have disregard to legal size restrictions and will land undersized fish for sale. However I do also understand that there will always be a conflict between the protection of fish stocks, the fisheries economics and the social/recreational aspect of fishing.

All to often I see reports, hear stories or witness boats in the harbour/on the water engaging in this practice and I for one am getting sick to the back teeth of it. Now I am in a fortunate position to be able to make some inroads to tackling this practice but I urge anyone who feels strongly about the netting of fish to have a voice and report any information they may come across.

Having done a little bit of research there are 3 bodies of people who can help us minimise the impact of netting on our fish stocks. These are IFCA (Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority), EA (Environment Agency) and MMO (Marine Management Organisation).

IFCAs are either committees or joint committees of the local authorities that fall within an IFC district. They are tasked with the sustainable management of inshore sea fisheries resources in their local area. They are made up of representatives from the constituent local authorities (who provide funding for the IFCA) along with people from across the different sectors that use or are knowledgeable about the inshore marine area, such as commercial and recreational fishermen, environmental groups and marine researchers, who offer their time voluntarily. The Marine Management Organisation, Environment Agency and Natural England also each have a statutory seat on the IFCA. Through their local management and funding structures, IFCAs help put local authorities, local communities, local businesses and individual citizens in the driving seat, allowing them to play a bigger part in the protection and enhancement of their inshore marine environment. A local IFCA is responsible for sea fishing and environmental conservation out to the 6 mile limit and within rivers and estuaries up to the tidal limits.

Environment Agency (EA) is responsible for conservation of salmonids, freshwater and migratory species within streams, rivers, estuaries and the sea out to the 6 mile limit. Management of fisheries is through its own suite of byelaws. It does not regulate for sea fish conservation.

Marine Management Organisation is responsible for sea fishing activities out to the 200 mile limit using English government Acts / Orders and EC Regulations. This includes the licensing of vessels to fish commercially and management of fish quotas in England. It does not regulate using the more restrictive byelaws made by the EA or IFCAs.
By calling into these bodies and ensuring current information about netting practices is made available they we can each do our part in protecting the fish stock in our area. Now I know we will never get rid of netting practice but if we can force practitioners of netting to stop the illegal fixed nets and conform to restrictions on landing fish then we will make some difference to our local fishing scene.

See here for a list of all the local IFCA districts to find your contact.

Environment Agency (National hot-line number) 0800 80 70 60

What details to relay to a fisheries authority?
Place where event was seen and/or where evidence was taken;
Date and time of event(s);
Name, DoB and address of any person involved;
Boat description, any name and registration letters/numbers;
Outboard engine manufacturer and displayed engine power on cowling;
Vehicles involved including make, model, colour, registration plate;
Fishing equipment such as nets, pots, rods etc;
Fish or shellfish – species, if known, number of, or estimation of weight.

I dont want to come across as being on a crusade but I believe this practice, when done with disregard to the fish stocks in the area, damages our sport and the environment of our sport. If you see something or hear something pass it on. It may just help you increase the pleasure of your sport and to develop / conserve reducing numbers of fish in your area.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

HRF gear discussion.....

Ok so I have given you insight into my LRF setup and why I chose the gear I did. Next its onto the big guns as I drag out the arsenal I use to go HRF fishing..

As I have intimated before HRF for me is what I would expect one of my non fishing buddies to come up with if I asked them what fishing was about. I look for a good piece of coastline and the gear reflects this more rugged terrain. LRF is the ultimate in mobility coupled with a pick up as and when you feel like it ethos. HRF is a more planned approach for me as it means taking the right kit and normally driving some distance to get to my preferred marks.

So lets look at what I have used and currently use for my HRF fishing..

When I first started to branch out into HRF fishing I had already spent some money on an LRF setup. This meant I needed to be shrewd with my initial HRF gear. Luckily I had already made an excellent choice of reel in the Shimano Rarenium 3000. As I explained in my LRF discussion this was purely a future proof purchase to cover both styles of fishing as it comes with 2 spools and as they are shallow spools it fits the LRF and HRF braids easily.

So I had the reel ready to go and already tested heavily in the LRF sessions I had been on. So I made a visit, my first visit, to Art of Fishing in St MERRYN and spoke to Ben FIELD about braid lines and rods. My reason for my first HRF rod purchase was to take part in the Lure Forum D&C bumble of 2011. I had limited knowledge of Bass angling or HRF and after we discussed budget and plans I walked away from the shop with the 8' Shimano Beastmaster Dropshot. My reason for buying this rod.. simply price!! At £100 this rod is a capable rod for plugs and plastics. It looks beautiful too in the bronze and gold and shimano is a brand I have come to trust for quality fishing product. For me HRF was but a vague idea I had overheard Mike SULLIVAN talking about. This rod was to open a whole new world of techniques and lures in the form of hard plugs and the amazing soft plastics I use extensively now.

I now have one word for affordable HRF when considering rods and it is simply Majorcraft, Majorcraft, Majorcraft!! Ok I am a little biased here. For me the Crostage range of rods are a thing of beauty. Very well priced these rods are affordable, cast like a dream and handle both plastics and plugs with class. For all my HRF angling I currently use a MC Crostage Hard Rock at 7'6". This baby tames Wrasse with finesse on the plastics and still has the guts to bring home a disgruntled Bass on hard plastics! I have had both Wrasse and Bass to 4lb on this rod and I know it will push me further this season. I have had so many people cast this rod and be amazed at the distance and power produced by this little hidden gem. This rod will be my angel on my shoulder until I can afford my dream HRF rod, The 7'3" Century HPR.. Im in love with this rod!! I have used it for a number of sessions and its the ultimate Wrasse rod in my opinion. Designed with a particular role in mind JBG's Keith White has helped produce a superb piece of gear. Texas rigging, weightless worm rigs and still capable of handling the hard plugs, this is my end game rod for HRF.

Other rods of mention in each price bracket are

Entry level rod - Shimano Beastmaster and Speedmaster in 7' and 8', Sakura Shinjin 782 and 862, Spro Vortezza S80ML, Garbolino Magister Allspin 240 and the awesome Savagear Bushwhacker.

Mid level rod - Majorcraft Crostage range, Hearty Rise Bass force range, Sakura Mazzera 742 ML, Anyfish Anywhere range and Lucky Craft ESGII.

Upper level rod - Century HPR 7'3 and 7'7, Tenryu Injection range, Tenryu Super Mix range, Nories Rockfish Bottom Jighead Snapper, Nories 'FlatFish Program' Rough Surf 88, Megabass XOR XX SXX-85L

The list is endless so I have taken some of the ones I see out regularly or talked about in the circles I mingle :) Now I have purposely left this very simplistic. When it comes to HRF your rod choice CAN be very dependant on the type of fish you are specifically targetting. Some rods are designed more to be used with Bass, others with Wrasse etc. Again you cant go wrong talking to your local dealer or local anglers to get an idea whats best for you, your budget and your style. I use my Crostage for the majority of my HRF angling, however if I want to go Bass specific and the conditions are a little rougher than I would like or Im casting surf off the beach I do have a Graphite Leader Argento RV 9'6" to assist with the conditions. It allows me to casts heavier weighted plugs into winds and allows me to get the line up out of the surf should I need to. This is an example of how HRF rods can differ in function.

Ok so we now know I fish the MC Crostage HR and to start I was using the Rarenium 3000. This reel has now been moved to exclusively LRF trips out as I purchased the delectible Daiwa Caldia 3000 to take over my HRF fishing. Now I came about this reel purely by accident as my intention was to go with the Theory 3000, also from Daiwa. Due to some unforeseen circumstances I ended up with the Caldia.

On its merits its a super smooth retrieve and casts very well. Mag sealed, a process developed where a magnet and mag oil creates a barrier betweenthe  opening of the body and the rotor of the reel causing a seal between the inside and outside of the body. This stops salt water getting inside the body of your reel causing potential smoothness and repair issues later on. It has quite a large body, which I like and balances just as well with my 7'6" as it does my new 9'6".

My main concern about this reel is spools. It comes with a spare spool which is great but Im a bit dissappointed with the build in the drag plate. Compared to other reels I have had this seems rather weak in regard to the strength of the components and I find I have to swap my spools over carefully so not to cause metal spurs developing on the section of the drag plate which runs the reel spindle through. Not ideal for someone with my patience, it isnt a strong trait of mine :) However that aside the reel is light and comfortable to fish for hours at a time. Very good reel for the price, which I was expecting to be much higher than what I paid for it.

So there we have my current HRF setup. The MC Crostage HR with a Caldia 3000 loaded with a spool of Sunline Castaway 1.2 PE with 16lb siglon leader for Bass and a lighter Sunline Castaway 0.8 PE with 12lb Siglon leader for everything else.

Im going to be sensible and split lures into two later posts. Wrasse fishing on plastics is a particular passion of mine and I will write endlessly on the subject. Bass on the other hand covers the world of Hard plugs and some interesting plastics so Ill cover that seperately.

To finish with, a quick run down of the extras and how I carry them.

Due to the nature of HRF fishing I tend to find myself out on the rocks in numerous types of conditions so quickly switched on to the safety aspect of this fishing style. As a measure toward that I hooked up with the RBB flotation vest as my main luggage option for HRF fishing. This vest is the ultimate carry all for the gear you require to fish effectively. The front pockets are good for small sized lures boxes or small bits and bobs boxes. It has a holder for a flask and a rear "backpack" for lunch or more of your favourite gear. I usually wear mine with a small Snowbee lure box in one pouch and a pouch for leader, scissors and bits. I also have a Spro Boga Grip mounted on the side of the left front pocket which does not hinder my fishing in the slightest. On the right pocket I have a pair of small pliers and Rapala Carbide Pro Pliers, these are a do it all set of pliers and I havent required anything over and above them. A further luggage option.. which will likely be my replacement purchase for my RBB is the Ultimate Fishing Vest. This vest appears to have better pocket placement and no "Backpack" which I do sometimes find annoying on the RBB vest. And for those calm days in the sun with low risk of being swept away to Davy Jones' Locker then there is the awesome slingbag. This is an alternative to the vests and believe me on hot days I would rather be carrying my essentials in one of these over wearing a heavy vest. My slingbag of choice comes from snowbee. Easy to carry and easy to access all your gear there isnt many better options out there in my opinion.

To finish.. a means to stay dry. HRF can mean wading through gullies to get to a particular mark, standing in the path of sea spray or just plain falling around in the drink (this is me btw!!) so my final piece of advice is get a pair of waders and boots. This was the single most important purchase I made as it makes HRF more accessible.

I personally use the Scierra CC3 chest waders with the Riptide boots and have found them to be everything I require. Both have already given me a good year of service and I dont expect ill need to replace them this year either. Now you can spend anything from £90 - £700 on waders and boots. It is purely down to your choice but I can point you in the direction of Glasgow Angling Centre HERE if you wish to have a look at some of the styles available. I would also suggest you look local, as I did. I found it invaluable to try on before I bought as the sizing chart is confusing at the best of times. A recent article from Henry Gilbey also spiked my interest as it was on the subject of waders so Ill include the link HERE.

So here we go. HRF rod reel and arsenal covered. The next few posts on Rockfish Rookie will be around HRF lures and how to rig/use them. Ill start off with Wrasse HRF on soft plastics and I cant promise a short post on that subject :)

Till then .... tight lines and happy fishing!!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Testing Testing... Metal lures

Ok so I thought i would introduce a range of posts I will call testing testing. Why??? Well because they're posts about me testing different gear...

The first of these posts comes from my experience with the higher winds at one of my last LRF sessions where the lighter jig heads and plastics couldn't really cut it. I introduce.. the metal lure.

After some consideration I chose three different lures from three different companies and will test one exclusively for a session each over the coming weeks. These lures were the Ecogear VX35 3.5g , the Fish League Tiebo 4g in pink and silver and the ILLEX Shobu 5g in pink and silver.

Ecogear VX35

Fish League Tiebo


Last night I went out for a session with Art of Fishing's Matt Newcombe and decided to exclusively use the ILLEX Shobu on this session.

Awesome little lure, this thing casts well and although there is an exposed single hook I found it did not snag very much on the weed and structure at our first of two marks that night. Fishing the first mark of the night we had little in the way of knocks until I felt a nibble on the lure whilst bumping it along the bottom. Then the rod bent over in a hard take. I have had some strong hits on my MC Zaltz but this was stronger than any take I have had on this rod. Now I would be able to tell you what it was if I hadnt had to learn a big lesson for the night. Having tightened my drag for a weeded area on the previous cast and not loosened it again... ahh!! The fight with my first hook up was vicious and I lost the fight as the lure sprung out of the water. Damn it!! Now any number of fish come out of the water at this mark so I cursed the loss as it would have probably been a new first in regard to species landed on my LRF. I then looked at the lure to see the hook had straightened out.. further disappointment as both Matt and I agreed that was a good fish, whatever it was :(

Still the lure performed well and attracted the only solid take of the session for this mark. Moving to a new area Matt and I continued with the metals. Now the next mark looked promising. Ah my I can see swirls :) First cast out and bumped too many time than I would like. Next cast and the rod bends with a screaming drag as line peels away... oh yes its definitely Fish On!!  As I played the fish closer to the shore I could see the unmistakable markings of mackerel and this one was not happy. Playing a mackerel on this light gear gives me a similar buzz to playing a Bass on heavier gear. Drag screaming, pause for a retrieve to have the drag scream again. Loving every minute of it I land the Mackie and quick photo before release back to the deep. My god that was awesome fun!! The session progressed with four Herring landed for myself and Matt having Mackie and Herring as well.

So to the lure. Retrieves well and didnt snag a great deal even through the weed of both marks. The fish were obviously happy to take it and when hooked the lure didnt let go. One downside was the hook up rate. With the single hook a good percentage of takes did not result in hook ups. A little infuriating at times. I would imagine very if the number of takes were low. Thankfully there were a good number of fish after the lure so it wasn't too bad. Finally the hook strength. Survived the fiesty fight with the Mackie but straightened out on the "one that got away". Hook wasnt a strong as it could be and I would have doubt on it surviving a good fight with a bigger sized fish specimen.

In summary, it was a good lure that the fish had a liking to. Of those that hooked up the lure held well and landed fish. Some issues around converting bites to hook ups and the hook strength let it down but I will definitely use it again as I think the fish loved it!!

LRF Gear discussion...

After my last LRF session I looked into getting some small metal lures and settled on three they I will test over the next few sessions. But before I get to that I decided its about time I shared with you some of the gear I use and some suggestions if your starting out so Ill start with .... LRF.

To start with let me come straight out with my thoughts on buying gear... it does not have to be expensive to catch fish!! Be very careful when you start off to buy sensibly and dont be drawn in to the bling. Yes there are some amazing pieces of gear out there, yes they MAY help you catch more fish, to a degree, BUT, you need to learn the basics first to enable the use of that better gear. However, I would also say that if you can invest in some good gear to start with it will put you in good stead long term. Buy the best you can afford!! If the next stage up the ladder is just short of your budget, wait!! Save that little extra then buy that slightly better gear. I hope that comes across ok and doesnt sound contradictory :)

So how did I start out. Well I had some good advice from local LRF crew Mark POWER and Mike SULLIVAN. I decided to wait and went for a middle of the road price bracket. I ended up buying the Major Craft Zaltz ZAT 7'3" and matched it with a Shimano Rarenium 3000.

The ZAT I own is the solid tip version as I wanted the flexibility when casting that this type of tip offers over its tubular cousin. I planned to do more cast and retrieve style fishing. The solid tip is a softer tip to allow less resistance when a fish "inhales" your lure. Tubular rods tend to be stiffer and are designed around jigging (jerky vertical style angling) and deadstick (no action and let the movement of the water put movement on the lure) fishing styles. Generally a tubular rod will be more sensitive but with the quality of rods these days a beginner would struggle to tell the difference.

This rod is priced very reasonably for the quality and ability to detect the smallest of bites. It handles anything from the smallest of goby to a quality fight with a disgruntled Mackeral. Im yet to experience a small bass or similar but have faith that this rod will cope with anything I can reasonably throw at it on the Light Game range. However there are a number of lower priced reasonable rods and some exuberate pieces of art available to purchase should you wish.

Some rods in each bracket worth mentioning are

Entry level rods - Awa-Shima Q-lite spin 220/240, Garbolino Magister 220, Cormoran Carb-O-Star or the Shimano Catana 24MLS

Mid level - Joining the MC Zaltz you have the Graphite Leader Calzante and Corto range, Reins RAZ aji range, Varivas Violente or the Shimano Diaflash 220m light.

Upper level - If you want the top of the range you can go to the Jackall range including the Onda or Calico, Graphite Leader's Finezza or THE daddy of the LRF rods Nories with the Slow Retrieve or Rockfish Bottom rods.

The Shimano Rarenium 3000 is a work horse of a reel. The reason I went for this reel was due to the shallow spool (ideal for loading small diameter braid for LRF as well as thicker  diameter braid for HRF), the spare spool to make it dual function (one loaded for LRF, one for HRF) and a smooth action through the retrieve. My current setup for LRF still uses the MC Zaltz rod and this reel. The main spool is now loaded with Sunline Rockfish braid at 0.4 PE with a leader of Sunline Siglon leader at 6lb. I have yet to load the other spool with Flourocarbon throughout for those windy days or to facilitate LRF dropshot style fishing. When I do get to it Ill be using the Sunline Siglon flourocarbon in 4lb.

Now dont get too worked up about reel sizes. Many people think a 1000 size reel is the LRF reel to get. Not necessarily true. If you look at some of the Japanese LRF style anglers they seem to favour a 3000 shallow spool style reel over a 1000. So neither is wrong, its down to your choice. One advantage of the 3000 reel is the fact you can dual purpose the reel, which as a beginner is a huge saving straight off the bat. I would always suggest speaking to your local dealer and fellow anglers to match the reel best suited to your type of fishing. Reels like rods come from the entry level to the sublime with all manner of stages in between. Again some of the reels in each bracket worth a mention are

Entry level reels - Shimano range of Exage 1000, Nexave 1000 and Catana 1000. The Rovex Crosa 2000 and the Daiwa Caldia 1500.

Mid level - Shimano rarenium 2500/3000

Upper level - Daiwa Certate and Luvias ranges in various 2500 sizes and Shimano Stella 1000/3000.

The lists I have put up are the more popular rods and reels in the price ranges but by no means the only choice. Again a good chat with your local dealer and local anglers will give you a guide as to the best fit for your style of fishing and budget. A balanced set up is the best thing you could acquire at the start of your journey into rockfishing. By this I mean having a rod, reel and line which compliments each other. Having a reel that compliments your rod and gives you a centre of balance just above the reel seat is what your looking for. Having a suitable gauge line work with your reel and rod, not against it.

So you have a rod, reel is loaded and seated what else do you need. Well a good selection of jigs and lures. Now the list is endless here but I will share some of my favourites. I can summarise most of my LRF fishing, when I first started, in one word.... Ecogear.

Ecogear is by far a simple and quick way to start LRF. The Pocket In sets are invaluable and great to give you a superb launch pad. They can be easily purchased from Art of Fishing here. These sets, in particlular I would recommend the Aji set, come with shirasu jig heads and a mixture of minnow, straw tail grub and power shirasu lures. These will be very effective in retrieve style fishing. Other ecogear lures that are catching fish include the awesome aqua katsu aji lures in 2". Having equipped yourself with some jig heads (0.8 and 1.8g are good weights to have a selection of) another must have lure is another soft plastic in the form of the legendary Marukyu Power Isome. This lure is the ultimate for LRF in my opinion. Rigged on an ecogear shirasu jig (not the fine shirasu jigs for small isome as the retainer on the jig splits the lure) these lures will catch most species of fish...well !! Power Isome is a rag worm type immitation and comes in 3 sizes. I tend to stick with the small size in pink. Red also catches well. On the subject of jigheads there area lot of new jigs coming on to the market all the time. I would mention here the Ecogear Bottom Head and Illex Gambit Straight. These are on my list of must tries and I will update here when I get to use them.

Other companies to look out for in the LRF soft lure range are delande and of course Jacks LRF who do one of my favourite lures of the moment, Yoshikawa 2" paddle tails. It amazes me how many small fish make best efforts to cram all 2" of this paddle tail into their mouths. Scorpion fish seem to be a particular fan of this lure.

Due to a rather windy session lately, as posted here, I have started to test a few metal lures in the 3.5-5g range. The three I selected were the ILLEX Shobu at 5g, the FISH LEAGUE Tiebo in 4g and the ECOGEAR VX35 in 3.5g. I have tested the Shobu with amazing results and will post about that after i finish here.

For all the above pieces of gear at a cracking starter price I have to point you in the direction of Art of Fishing's LRF starter kit. Im not here to plug product but this is a really!! good deal and I wish it was available when I started out. If your looking to start out I would seriously recommend you have a look at the kit here.

So we have the basics. A rod, reel, jigheads and lures. How do we keep mobile and all this kit together and manageable? I introduce the subject of luggage. Now this can come in many forms. Sling bags, waist bags the list goes on. My preferred, and one I use at this time, is the awesome hPa TROOPER BAG. This is a serious bit of kit and carries everything I need for a good LRF session with minimal fuss and extreme mobility.

As you can see there is a lot of gear in there. The bag has a waist and leg strap and it sits comfortably on your hip making it easy to access at all times. Within my bag I have spare leader, lures, jigs heads, beetle light game grips, pliers and even space for the mobile. I cant sing the praises of this lil beauty enough. It has changed the way I fish LRF in the past couple of months since I acquired mine.

So there we go. What I use to fish LRF style. Like I said before you have to be sensible with this gear. I get so excited buying new bits I can sometimes lose track of the cost. Buy the best you can afford. Use what you buy and try your best to avoid those bling buys that are there to hook us, the angler, rather than the fish :)

Monday, 14 May 2012

Catch report 13/05/12

Just a mini catch report before i shoot off on the quest for more bass!!

Meet up with LRF buddy and enthusiast Mark POWER out on a local Plymouth LRF mark last night. Was hoping for a nice quiet session and as I drove to the mark there was a severe lack of the usual bait anglers. Awesome!! Well awesome until I got out the car and nearly got blown away.... Ah!!

Still I was there...Mark P was enroute so I got my MC Zaltz Zat 7'3" fixed with the old trusty Rarenium 3000 from Shimano. Now I recently respooled the Rarenium with 0.4 PE Sunline Rockfish braid. Feels a little more substantial compared to my previous braid, the Varivas Light Game 0.4 PE. Seems to have slightly more abrasive resistance in the braid  and not as "wispy" but Ill post more as I put it through its paces. Matched with the braid Im using the 6lb Sunline Siglon Flouro as a leader. Knots well very strong... Im liking the Sunline range at the moment. Good quality gear. You do pay a little bit more than some other products but the quality is there the minute you take it of the original spool.

Now my go to lure choice is usually the Marukyu Power Isome in pink on a size 8 1.8g ecogear shirasu hook. I decided to experiement a bit so went to a 2g size 4 jig from Jacks LRF and matched it with a 2" Yoshikawa paddle tail  in green. Casts into the usual areas are impossible. Braid acts like a superb sail on the light gear we use for LRF. Strong winds make retrieves laughable as the wind tugs on the braid and pulls the lure through the water at Mach 10. For these conditions I will need to get some Flourocarbon spooled onto my spare Rarenium spool and some 5g Metal lures are now on the shopping list. Flouro is slightly heavier than braid and is more resistant to the wind. Metal lures get that punch out through the wind. Still effected by the wind but less so than a 1.8g jig with plastic on board. Buying new gear never stops ;)

Finding a more sheltered area from the wind I start to cast along the harbour wall and I must have had in excess of 10 takes with no hook up. Now the Yoshikawa has done the business for me in the past so Im thinking my prey is a little to small but trying its hardest to swallow the lure.

So back to the Power Isome on the smaller size 8 and first try.. fish on!! Very little resistance apart form the usual pecking action. Its small and Im putting my money on a goby, as Mark P had a couple whilst I persevered with my earlier takes. Retrieve reveals its a strong coloured and small Long Spined Scorpion fish, my second this year.

Quick photo and back into the water. Im all over it. Staying on the isome I carry on when we both see flashes of silver in the water around our lures. With the light waning this can mean only one thing. The pollack have arrived to feed.

Soon we are into pollack one after the other. I manage three cracking takes and great fights on light gear! Just wish the pollack would fight for longer. They are not as fiesty as our last session but all worth it in the end. The cold winds finally get to me and its time to pack up for home.. Good session in all and always good to spend some time yapping with Mark P. A real LRF enthusiast with a huge passion for the little fish. Till next time buddy :)

Well thats it need to get my gear in the car and get off to the Bass mark. Till the next time, tight lines!!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

So LRF/HRF? Whats that all about??

The post I have been dreading as it will be so difficult to get this right!! But this is what we are all about here on the Rockfish Rookie, so Ill try my best to give you my interpretation of what it means to fish an LRF or HRF style. This is my thoughts combined with some info from those I have learnt from either personally or via blogs and reports. The main thing to remember is there are no rules. Any style can be tweaked and refined to fit many different situations. My advice.. experiment, fish and enjoy the journey!! Be your own innovator and fish what works for you. If it catches you fish can it be wrong?? I would say no.. how can it be wrong.

So LRF and HRF ... what is this?

LRF/HRF are fishing styles pioneered by the Japanese over the last 20 years and has been modified and adapted to suit the species of the UK in around 2009. So it is in very young stages in this country. It has been developed and shaped by our angling friends from Jersey and now features widely across the UK. My hometown of Plymouth can claim to be a jewel in the crown of LRF fishing in this country with so many LRF hot spots in accessible areas of the city. This is aided by rich HRF fishing grounds all along the South Devon coast, but  a mere stone throw away from the city.

LRF is Light Rock Fishing. Fishing for multiple species on extremely light gear. LRF for me is hitting the harbours, marinas, piers and easily accessible coastline in my area. By light we are talking about rods rated from 0.5-7 or 8g maximum. Remember I said in an earlier post my rod rated up to 113g would be significant. Here is why :) We would be looking to use small lures averaging 1-3" and jigheads/weights from 0.8g to 2g in the main. It also means small metal lures in the 3.5-5g range with a few 7g exceptions. Looks to good to be true?? Wait till you get a decent sized Pollack fighting on the end of this gear... its amazing!!

HRF is Hard Rock Fishing. A broad generalised statement would be its fishing a smaller range of species than LRF. HRF for me is hitting the rocky weeded areas of the coast in my area hunting through the boulders, gullies and weed beds. The gear, seems heavy compared to our LRF arsenal but here we are talking rods rated mainly from 7-22or 28g. Using lures up to around 4.5", but bigger can be used. Here worm weights or jigs in the 3.5, 5, 7 and 10g range are common place, dependant on conditions. Although Wrasse is a common target species for this style of fishing, HRF does not mean exclusively Wrassing!! Wrasse for me is the main fish I look for when I HRF. An aggressive take and use of dirty evasion tactics is the way of this pig :)

Lets start at the bottom and work our way up. So LRF it is...

LRF - Light Rock Fishing

For the best read about this style of fishing I would thoroughly recommend you look up the ROCK FISH FILES #2 from the Jersey Bass Guides Keith and Kevin WHITE. These guys know fishing... seriously know fishing!! Keith and Kevin lay out the complex theory behind LRF in as simplistic a manner as possible for such an in depth subject. They explain methods of fishing like On The Drop (OTD) and I will leave you to visit the JBG forums and site to read up on a subject explained as good as it ever gets.

What LRF means to me is a style of fishing where I can ditch the waders, the wading boots and adopt what I would deem a more "urban" style of fishing. Now that might sound a bit odd but for me to go LRF I would usually be in my jeans and a hoody, in trainers or walking boots. My gear would be condensed into a small Hpa Trooper hip bag (more on that later) and I would have ultimate mobility. Now when I say urban I dont me in the city sewers ;p But im lucky to be living in a city where access to harbours, marinas and coastline is a matter of walking off the main city roads and being in these types of areas within seconds.

I also target a huge number of species from the ultimate in small fish right up to a crossover of smaller HRF species, although a 5lb Wrasse isnt an impossibility on LRF gear (just be careful not to pull it in using your rod). So what can we look at catching.. small pollack are a mainstay of LRF angling. But with this its not unusual to have scad, herring, mackeral, blenny, goby, wrasse, bass, scorpion fish, garfish, flounder, turbot.... if its small enough (with the occasional monster, in LRF terms) then it can be caught LRF style.

HRF - Hard Rock Fishing

Again I point you in the direction of the cracking Rock Fish Files #1 from the Jersey White brothers around HRF for Wrasse. Amazing read and a must for any potential HRF angler.

What HRF means to me is a more "recognisable" style of fishing to most. I would usually pull on the waders and the wading boots. Nice waterproof jacket and my RBB flotation vest (more on that later too). The reason for the change in attire?? Im heading out to the coast. I want rocky heavy weeded terrain. I want nice long gullies and protected pools amongst the rocks. I want swell, maybe some surf and I want it all now!! Again Im a lucky angler to be so close to terrain matching whichever conditions I need. From Basecamp Plymouth Im in striking distance of any number of varied and beautiful marks for this style of fishing.

Species of choice?? Well for me it has to be Wrasse. I love these guys on soft plastics! Aggressive takes and dirty tactics.. love it!! But as I said before HRF does not equal wrassing. So what other species can we expect... Bass and Pollack in the main.

So here we are a very summarised view of these two styles from my point of view with an injection of material and advice from some pro's. Im going to leave it here as this post is getting bigger by the second. I havent touched on the more technical side of these styles..mebaru vs aji rods, techniques and tackle. But I will leave you to do some digging yourselves.

Next post I cover my gear for both these styles and some advice for those starting out about quality versus affordability. In a later post we will look at some of the techniques using that gear to catch fish!!

Till then, tight lines and fish on!!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Catch Report 050512-080512

Ok I will get to more posts about LRF and HRF this week. But I have just had the best fishing weekend ever and wanted to share the antics with you.

So I have mentioned the illustrious Lure Forum and one of the highlights of The Lure Forum year is the D&C Bumble. What a cracker it was this year!! Its a chance for Lure Anglers to get together from across the country and fish, share ideas, show off the bling and have a good crack.

This year is my second D&C Bumble and its put into perspective how I have changed as an angler of the last 12 months. Last Year I attended in shorts and walking boots, 2 lures to my name and no clue!! This year saw me with a few rods to choose from, 8 months of soft plastic lure fishing experience to fall back on and a RBB vest full of lure goodies. I had an arsenal this year :) Now I havent been after Bass on Lures so Im still learning and this is the place to learn. Organised by Nick BENNET, Local Bass Master Extraordinaire and his Devon Dumplings the weekend was a total success and I learnt so much again!!

The Lure Forum Massive

So on to the antics. I will Summarise the weekend Bass catch... one fish in two days. Where they were hiding who knows but thats Bass Fishing :)

So I decided early on in the proceedings to go to my trusty soft plastics and hunt the prey of choice for me, Big Pigs!!

Wrasse fight hard and fight dirty. A Bass will fight for a looong time and the lunges are electric. Wrasse on the other hand hit aggressive and hard from the outset but give up a lot sooner. The past 6 months I have been experimenting with lots of soft plastic lures weighted with worm weights from 5-10g, dependant on conditions, and the lures rigged Texas Style. The Texas Rig is a superb weedless presentation that lets you hunt in areas of heavy weed and dense rock without loosing the lure. This is prime Wrasse holding areas and where an exposed jighead rig or plug lure fears to tread. I will post exclusively about texas rigging as its a must for rockfishing!!

So Day one and the pig hunt starts. At a mark with Carl T of the forum guiding us and I find fellow lure angler, Sam Clarke, in a cracking bay with rocky gullies. Yep this looks nice. My set up is aimed at Bass so a little heavier set then I would usually use for Wrasse but Im fishing a MC Crostage HR with a Caldia 3000 loaded with Sunline Castaway Braid at 20lb and a 16lb Sunline Siglon leader. Im fishing a 4.5" Do Live soft lure in green with a 10g worm weight as conditions are harsh, mounted on a 2/0 weedless hook. Like I say a little heavier rated gear than usual but trying to adapt :)

So casting across the gullies Im chatting to Sam and the rod bends over, locks??!! Damn it how can I snag a weedless set up?? then the rod lunges 3 times and fish on!! A strong initial fight and I know its a good fish. Landed with help from Sam I measure my first Wrasse of the bumble at 45cm and 3.5 lb.

Now one thing with Wrasse is to boga or not?? Bogas are the lip grip you see me using in that picture. I try not to use them with Wrasse as it can damage the membrane in the lower mouth so I only use it if I really have to. This one was a fiesty one and I didnt want to risk dropping it on the harsh rock area I was fishing on and decided to get more control carefully using the boga grip but with a lot of care. Its a choice each angler must make and I for one always have the fish's welfare uppermost in my mind when fishing... a thought for you.

This was the best catch of the day for me and I was pleased to be off to a good start. next day I was taken to a mark which was simply Wrasse heaven. What I look for when Wrassing is structure (rocks, gullies etc), lots of weeded areas or boulder terrain. This next mark had a bit of all the above. Fishing the same set up I decided on a smaller lure that catches for me on every trip. The Snowbee Stinger Slider in green again. This lure has done the business for me over and over again. Its relatively cheaper than most soft lures and a worthwhile investment.. Try them. They do not disappoint :)

Structure a plenty a spy a gorgeous looking gully with high structure either side. Shallow water and weed. It looked bliss. A few cats down the gully and the Crostage bends over bouncing an all too familiar Wrasse rhythm. Fish On!!

Fishing with Fellow Lure Forum legend, Kev Pugh, I land a new PB for Wrasse. Measuring 46cm this porker weighed in at 4lb!! Kev was a top man with the assist as this pig was giving me no end of stick.

This time no need to boga which makes me happier. Lots of soft weeded rock area to land the fish and protect it during the weigh and measure. You can see the worm weight just above the head of the Stinger Slider Lure on the close up giving you an idea of the Texas Rig.

A great weekend and a PB Wrasse! How do you top that... a flash of silver perhaps :)

Two days later Im at a local mark with Mark Q from Art of Fishing. Mark has been an inspiration to me as far as Bass angling goes. He has a complete passion for the Silver beauty that is infectious when you talk to him. Well respected amongst anglers up and down the country I feel privileged to be able to fish with this guy and count him as a Mentor.

So set up is my usual Bass set up. MC Crostage HR 7'6" perfection, Caldia 3000 with the awesome 20lb Castaway Braid from Sunline and a 16lb leader of Sunline Siglon flourocarbon to give me some abrasion protection from rocks and Bass hits. Lure of choice in the condition... the amazing Duo Tide Minnow 125 SLD!!

After a few casts, a follow and a partial hook up im in despair!! Come onnnn!! Few casts later Bam..Fish On!! Mark looks at the bend in the rod and the screaming drag "That's a good fish !!" This is going to be my first lure caught Bass and it is a good fish. Just shy of 4lb its weighed at 3 3/4 lb.. Im in Bass heaven and shaking like a 5 year old at xmas!!

Now thats a weekend of fishing!!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Where to begin??!!

Ok so today I want to tell you a few good places to start your own journey into LRF/HRF fishing. When I first looked at getting involved in the sport I was completely amazed by the amount of resource available if you know where to look.

But there are undoubtably two must have resources which will help you get involved very quickly and these are the Jersey Bass Guides forums/articles and The Lure Forum. Without a doubt both these resources have simply been a constant source of advice and information for me. This has helped me get the right tackle, talk to some very experienced anglers and give me the confidence to fish very quickly.

There are also a number of blogs which are a must read. Henry Gilbey is an inspirational angler/journalist who has a wealth of angling experience and a cracking blog here. He also has some impressive photography on the blog and well worth a look. Other blogs I have found to be invaluable are The Rockfish Revolution, written by my mentor Mike SULLIVAN and Smells Kinda Like Fish, by Paul GUNNING. Both blogs have inspired me to write this and have been a top source of advice and information for me starting out.

To close lets talk the final resource which is a must have.... your tackle shop. I am very lucky to be in Plymouth where Ben FIELD of St Merryn's ART OF FISHING has just opened a second shop. I cant emphasise how blingtastic this shop is and dare any lure angler rookie or pro not to be tempted to burn the old credit card at every visit. Ben is a true gent and having purchased from him in the past at St Merryn the new Plymouth shop has become a second home. The shop is staffed by two very experienced anglers, Matt and Mark, who together offer a wealth of knowledge and advice that's second to none. A new addition to my purchasing arm has been JACKS LRF. This site has a cracking shop with some awesome lures and tackle. Take a look for some very competitively priced items. And when I talk about resources I couldnt finish without mentioning the shop that supplied my lovely Shimano Rarenium 3000 reel, a true workhorse but ill come to this in my next post, MR FISH. The guys at MR FISH in JERSEY have been so so helpful in the past and is always worth a look.

So here it is. Probably as much info to start looking at as you could stand to take in a lifetime of angling. Matching gear with knowledge to start you off. I cant emphasise the most important resource that you could possibly draw on to get you along on your fishing journey, good friends to fish with. Fishing can be social or solo but having a good crack with some like minded people makes the experience all the more worth it.

Next time Ill talk about matching quality with affordability when looking at gear and share some of my thoughts on starting out LRF/HRF.