LEARN HOW TO FIND SEA FISHING MARKS (PART 2)
Currents, Water Outlets, Rips, Tides, Waves and Wind
All these have a huge effect on the mark you choose…. Do you know how?
You may already how currents bring different temperatures of water as well as water masses carrying food to different areas. It is a conveyor belt of food and riches for aquatic species.
Water Outlets / Streams / RIvers
Water outlets often attract small prey species feeding on the detritus produced from all types of water out lets. Power stations create warm water outlets which thrives with zoo plankton creating a sustainable food chain. Mullet can be caught in good numbers around features like this.
Lots of fresh water can put some fish off so think about the weather conditions. If we have had heavy rain there will be a lot of fresh water in the local area to the outlet, this might help or hinder your fishing, so consider this carefully.
Some outlets carry undesirables out to sea, so maybe you do not want to eat what you catch. Use your head or get some local advice!
Rip tides are caused by tonnes of water dumping on a beach in the form of waves, the water runs along the beach until it can find somewhere to run back out to sea. This might be a gully between rocks, a man made obstacle or a trench in the sand. Again these currents not only denote deeper water, but also carry highly oxygenated water, packed full of food stuffs. (Fish with caution as the current will take you out to sea if you fall in. Don’t try and swim against it, allow it to take you out swimming parallel to the beach until you are clear of it, then head back in!)
The coming and going of water happens normally twice per day. Spring tides are large, neaps are small. You get one of each per month with differing tides in between. Tidal flows carry fish and food aorund our coast line as well as water of differing temperatures.
Tidal flows are increased where rocks and other object restrict the flow of the tide so consider how this will effect your mark. Fishing in the lee of the tide (behind a rock for example) often proves productive as fish and food hold in these slack water areas.
Waves are circular in motion, as the wave nears the beach this draws up “stuff” from the seabed, pulls the items forward then down and backwards, although ending up nearer the beach than when it started. The pattern would look like a pulled out coil if seen from the side. See my awful sketch below:
This action scours the sea bed pulling lots of lovely food in to the water column. It creates rich and easy picking for many species. After a large storm or swell the food particles will be held in the water column for hours and even days.
Waves and the coloured water due to all the sand and mud the stir up also provide the fish with cover, they can hide in the coloured water and feed much more confidently. This is an huge advantage to day time sea fishing. but on the flip side lures moved quickly through the water might be harder to target with the lack of sight and noise and vibration caused by the moving water so consider this.
Another thing waves tell us when learning about the mark is the depth of the water, the location of underwater features including reefs, rocks and deep water gullies. I love this bit! A moving water wave will start to break when the wave reaches a depth about 1/2 of it height. So a 2 meter wave will break in 1 meter of water as a rule of thumb.
If you get waves known as spilling breakers where they slowly break starting from one point which seems to move along the wave, this is a sign of a gently sloping beach and a small hump in the sea bed with deeper gullies to the side the water breaks into last. A plunging break happens where there is a sudden change in depth, like a reef or steep shelving beach. Many other factors like wind and current will effect the wave, but you should have the basics now.
Features In The Sea, find, Record and Remember
We need to hunt down features that hold fish, to recap:
Gullies – areas of deeper water in sand or between rocks
Rocks – Create havens for sea life, large or small
Man Made – Piers, jetties, platforms etc.
Sand Banks – They often move
Drop off – Generally around reefs and rock areas
Currents – They come and go but are valuable sources of food
Habitat – Seaweed, mud, shale, pebbles, sand etc
Waves – Change lots but often improve fishing, look at what is effecting them
Pools and Eddys – Caused by objects, often create
Tidal flows – changing daily, some marks fish on low tides, some high, experiment.
Ecotone – the area between different habitats (valuable hunting areas)
Carry out some initial research with maps and google or bing. Then get to the water and look for the clues I have explained here and record with your camera phone where the features and fish holding areas are. Re-visit the mark in different conditions, low tides, storms, summer, from the cliff tops, in summer and winter and learn the mark inside out.
Make sketches, use your video camera or just remember the key points. Once you get the hang of it you will find it easier and easier and it will become second nature when you learn about new marks.
Great anglers rely on knowing which mark to fish under the conditions and seasons they are presented with. Good luck!
19TH JULY 2016
LEARN HOW TO FIND SEA FISHING MARKS (Part 1)
The fishing mark is the most important aspect of fishing. A good mark will produce fish, but spotting and researching that mark is often overlooked. Many people head to the sea, cast a line and wait, then pack up empty handed. The wise will read a few articles, head to the beach and do the same. One thing often not mentioned about the mark is the exact location where the fish are caught.
Chesil beach catches fish, no doubt. However, there are only a few real marks that hold fish on a regular basis. Your local tackle dealer or a copy of Sea Angler will tell you which beach to target, but rarely will they tell you exactly where to cast or work your lure.
I spent spent two years fishing a mark before I started the fishing-blog, catching the odd fish until one day I went snorkelling around the mark to find exactly what was in the water. Suddenly everything became clear (well through the planktonic soup), I could see where the fish were holding. As a result my catch rate improved and blank sessions became unusual!
In this particular location a small underwater rock ledge ran from the beach and the tidal flow pushed from out to sea, along the ledge into the beach. Guess what… All the small prey fish, small critters and rotten fish were being pushed to within 5 yards of the beach on a low tide. It was a fast food takeaway, crabs were eating sick fish and bits of worm, predators (Mackerel and Small Pollock) were crashing in from deep water filling up on prey and lurking in the deeper water, ambushing the Mackerel and Pollock were Bass! Under this feeding frenzy were flatties and Crab munching on the left overs.
A simple rig cast between 5 – 15 yards depending on the tide produced fish, lots of them….. Learning these marks in detail and understanding the conditions that make them work then recording this data in a diary are vital tips to successful angling.
Tips On How You Can Find Fishing Gems
You need to do some research, but where do you start! You need to start by thinking about the species you are looking to target. Flounder, Mackerel and Wrasse like different kinds of habitat. This post explains where different fish live in the water column – Sea Fish Types, but as an overview:
Round fish (Pollock, Mackerel) generally live in the Pelagic zone (from the surface down) and flat fish live in the Benthic zone (the sea bed into the substrate). So if you are fishing for flat fish you will want to get your bait on the bottom and round fish can be caught on the bottom up to the surface. Great image on zonal explanation here
We need to study the species that we want to catch. The first consideration is looking at the habitat of the fish. If they like muddy bottoms then we need to consider harbours or estuaries, lots of round fish like kelp and weed beds because this is where their prey hide and the weed offers cover for the prey species and helps ambush attacks by the predators – think about lions using long grass to stalk their prey.
The habitat will also teach us what bait or lure we need to be using to induce a take, combined with the season. Muddy bottoms will attract worms and small crustaceans, rocks hold Crab, Prawns (Learn to catch Prawns here) and Mussel beds. Kelp hold larger prey items like Blennies, young Pollock, Slatters and many other creatures. Open water is home to Sand Eels and Mackerel…
So we know the species, the habitat and likely bait / lures, now we need to locate these areas. A bit of local knowledge, a good OS Map or Google maps will help us to find the basis of what we need, but then we need to look closer and find exactly the features required to hold prey and predators in large numbers.
Fish the Ecotone
Animals tend to congregate on the edge of a particular habitat this is know as an ecotone. There is generally an occurrence of greater species diversity and biological density than in any of the adjacent ecological habitats. These zones can be very small ie around a small rock on a sandy bottom or a large scale like the Great Barrier Reef with its deep water drop off’s. The bottom line is this is where we need to cast our bait or present our lure because the chances of attracting a fish here are greatly improved.
Check your map and look for some ground that might be worth fish, look for a local mark. I have helped you here by pulling up a mark local to my self that fishes well in the right places in the right conditions.
Armed with the information above, knowing the season you are fishing, the species you are going to target you can start to hunt ground that is going to have the right features to hold fish in numbers. Play with google maps and look for the ecotones which will hold the diverse species we need to feed our quarry.
Now that we know what marks to look for, in next weeks part 2 of this blog i will explain the impact and importance of Current, Water Outlets, Rips, Tides, Waves and Wind on Fishing Marks.
FISHING ROD CHARACTERISTICS
When talking about construction of rods, or when looking at buying a rod, there are several terms used; primarily “action” and “power”. Many folks assume these terms to be interchangeable, but they are not. They each describe unique characteristics that affect rod performance, how the bait is presented and ultimately how, or if, you catch fish.
Let’s get one thing straight: Not understanding the difference between action and power will not prevent you from catching fish. However, knowing the differences and understanding how they affect your application and presentation will make you better and land you more fish. It’s like the saying “when all you have is a hammer in your toolbox, everything is a nail.” You can catch fish with a broom handle and twine, but this will limit your options and opportunities. Hopefully, if you read this article, at the end you will understand why.
Action refers to the “movement” of the blank. How and where the blank flexes dictates the action. A “fast” blank will flex in the upper one-third of the blank, while a slow “softer” blank will be more parabolic and flex almost over the upper three-fourths of its length.
Think of action as how “fast” it takes for the blank to return to “rest” after being put under load. A fast blank is not going to flex very far from its resting state. Once the load is released it will not take long for the blank to return. Conversely, a “slow” blank is going to flex in the top three-fourths of the blank. The range of motion is going to be much greater and will take longer for the blank to return to the at-rest state, thus, the term “slow” is used to describe this characteristic.
Extra fast, fast, moderate and slow actions refer to flex and ultimately the relative time it takes for the rod to return to the at-rest position once released from under a load. By knowing and understanding the action of a blank, you can utilize that blank’s properties to enhance a particular technique.
Now that action is understood to describe how a blank flexes, let’s look at the blank’s resistance to flexing. The resistance to flexing is called Power. Power refers to the blank’s resistance to flexing under load. Remember Newton’s third law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Resistance to flexing (Power) is an inherent design characteristic based upon the taper and wall thickness of the blank. The power for blanks may range from Ultra-Light to Heavy to even Extra Heavy – the broom handle previously discussed.
As you can see, Action and Power are not the same and cannot be used interchangeably as some think.
One other note about Action and Power that further complicates the discussion and understanding is that there are no industry standards used by rod and blank manufacturers to describe Action and Power. You go to a car lot and see a car that gets twenty miles per gallon and goes from zero to sixty miles per hour in twelve seconds. You can then look at another car on the lot and see the car gets twelve miles per gallon and goes from zero to sixty in seven seconds. Right away you can make some distinctions, know what to expect and how it should (or should not) be used when you purchase based upon known, recognized industry standards.
Fishing rods do not have this “standard”. A fast action, medium power St. Croix blank may, and probably will, have different action and power characteristics when compared to a fast action, medium power G. Loomis or Lamiglas blank.
At this point you are probably thinking, “OK, I get it. Action refers to rod flex and Power refers the rod’s resistance to flexing. But how does all this techno-jargon help me catch fish?”
Using the design criteria and inherent characteristics of a blank will aid in specific techniques and presentations. Using blank characteristics to your advantage will provide you the benefit of making the most out of every opportunity to land fish. Let’s add more tools to that toolbox in addition to the hammer.
The discussion around technique application will center on Action as opposed to Power. Both traits are designed into the blank by the manufacturer, but action will be the most critical characteristic when discussing and evaluating techniques and presentations.
The primary benefits of an Extra-Fast blank are its sensitivity and the quick response to bringing the inherent power of the blank into play when fighting the fish. The Extra-Fast blank will be stiffer, which will transmit vibration to your hand much more efficiently than a slow/soft blank.
The Extra-Fast blank is a prime consideration for single hook applications where sensitivity is needed to detect the smallest of nibbles, then immediate power to set the hook. Primary techniques for these blanks are worm and jig presentations, spinnerbait and some swimbaits.
With everything there are tradeoffs.
Although the Extra-Fast blank provides exceptional sensitivity and efficient access to the power of the blank, the Extra-Fast tip works against you somewhat while fighting the fish. Because the Extra-Fast blank returns to the at-rest position very quickly, the Extra-Fast tip makes it very difficult to maintain proper tension to keep the lure secure.
As the hooked fish surges and lunges to get loose, maintaining too much tension with a stiff blank could cause the hook to tear a hole in the fish’s mouth or make the hole larger, allowing the fish to throw the bait. Too little tension will also help contribute to the fish throwing the lure. When the fish lunges against a loose line, then the line suddenly tightens, the force of the lunge in conjunction with the power of the rod could cause the hook to pull portions of the mouth, lips, or muscles off the fish. Not only could you miss the fish of a lifetime, but worse yet, the fish may be permanently injured.
The Fast action blank maintains most of the sensitivity found in the Extra-Fast blank, but given that it is a “Fast” action, has more flex. After hookup, the more flexible tip will provide better fish fighting capability. The tip, and in turn the blank, can absorb more of the shock as the fish surges and lunges and will maintain better tension on the line.
Good applications for fast action rods are techniques where sensitivity is just as important as fighting ability. A primary application for Fast action rods is throwing single hook rigs through and over loose weeds and grass. A more limber, flexible rod would have difficulty generating the needed power to jerk the lure free from weeds and grass.
Presentations and techniques that benefit from Fast action rods are jigs, Texas rigged and Carolina rigged worms.
Moderate to Slow:
The Moderate to Slow action blanks are usually good for multi-hook (treble) lures such as crank baits, rattle baits and jerk baits. These fast moving fish finding baits work best with a soft tip action and the ability to throw the lure over long distances.
These lures and presentations typically require less sensitivity and focus more on keeping the fish hooked. The wire diameter of the treble hook is typically thinner than a single hook and requires less pressure to set the hook. In addition, given that there are more hooks, there are more opportunities for a good hook set.
The Slow tip will cause the blank to return to the at-rest position much more slowly than faster action blanks. With this characteristic, proper tension is much easier to maintain, keeping the hook engaged while the fish surges and lunges. The rod is much more adept at reacting to the fish’s abrupt actions.
I remember fishing from the shore one time. I was getting ready to pull my lure from the water when I saw a three-pound Bass come darting in, take the bait and swim rapidly away. It happened in the time it probably took you to read this sentence. I didn’t have time to react, release the spool, drop pressure, set the hook, etc. Instead, the slow action of the rod allowed the fish to inhale the bait, turn, swim away and set the hook itself while I stood there watching in amazement.
Obviously, I had not fought it while bringing it to shore, so the fish was ready for a fight! With only a few feet of line out, I had to rely on rod flex to maintain a good hookup, yet give and bend with every lunge, surge and jump the fish made.
Ok, I am starting to get into fish stories now, so let me close this discussion. This has been a very high level overview for rod action and power. It is meant to cover the basics and how the two characteristics benefit and impact each other for various techniques. Use this information to better equip yourself when on the water AND when choosing a new rod.