19 Dec 2010

How to get started Perch Fishing for Beginners

You can’t buy a better perch fishing rod than a John Wilson Rovex Avon/Quiver, there’s a reason this is Britain’s best ever selling fishing rod, because it is so versatile and excellent value for money! Use the Avon top, the other options are great for a lot of other species. The Avon rod is just right at 1¼lb test curve, ideal for both rivers and stillwaters.

I am like a lot of other anglers, my first ever fish, some 46 years ago was a tiny little stripey, obligingly gobbling up the maggot on my rather unsophisticated tackle. That perch changed my life, I became an angler that autumn day down at the mist covered Roman Villa lake. Whilst we all appreciate a bite, let’s look at bigger perch than that little chap.

Big perch can get caught on maggots, but if you consistently want the big ’uns, you’ll need to be using worms, livebaits or lures. The new found prevalence of the American monster, the signal crayfish have certainly done a lot for the sizes of perch in the last 10 - 15 years. Many more fish over 3lb or even 4lb are now being caught. If you can find a small lake or pond where perch are the only predators, then you can have some fun!

A reasonable sized reel loaded with some line, with 5 - 8lb monofilament will do the job, it sounds a bit strong, but with the excellent line you can get these days, why not err on the side of caution? I would use a 2500 or 3000 sized reel  that won’t unbalance the rod, after all this is about enjoying yourself, not dragging fish up the bank.

There are a number of ways to fish your baits, the simple legered lobworm is a killer, but a float fished or float paternostered live minnow or gudgeon liphooked on a single size 4 hook is about as exciting as it gets. Fish all the areas you’d expect a marauding predator to be, by sunken trees and structure, near reed beds, slacks and eddies in rivers. Use big enough bite indicators to get good bite indication but not too big and heavy as big perch, can be easily spooked by heavy tackle or line resistance.

Try and keep your fishing mobile, looking for the fish, not expecting them to come calling on you. So, there’s no need to camp out with rod pods and all that paraphernalia, just a couple of bank sticks and a roving approach will see you put a bait in front of more fish. Naturally if you are convinced that a huge sergeant-major perch is holed up in a snaggy swim, then sit it out, but in general, keep moving. Naturally, all of the above methods can also catch you specimen sized chub too, so be prepared!

A decent perch will put up a spirited and dogged fight on this outfit, there’s nothing quite like seeing a big pair of red pectoral fins appear as you play a big perch to the net. Talking of nets, you’ll have figured out that I am a fan of big round nets (you can get bigger fish in them) those with ½ to ¾inch mesh are ideal for both river and stillwater and around 18 to 20 inches diameter is perfect.

Big perch have pretty sharp gill covers and of course a spiny dorsal fin but once you have the fish held firmly, then these are not of great concern, bigger fish are always so much easier to unhook too! As with any other fish, get them unhooked and back in the water as soon as you can, if you’re looking for a trophy shot, then get the fish in a keepnet or sack whilst you get your camera sorted out. Like most predators, they tend to be quite fragile, despite their looks, so handle with care and get them back to fight another day.

Chris Leibbrandt has been an angler most of his life, at least 45 years anyway! Known primarily as a predator angler, he is a pretty consistent all-rounder fishing for anything, although river fly fishing and lure fishing are probably his biggest passions. Working in the tackle trade for twenty odd years, he has also run the Pike Anglers’ Club (PAC) and the Lure Anglers’ Society (LAS), being an Honorary life member of both. Chris is currently President of the LAS, and editor of their magazine, Chris is a published writer, designer, raconteur and wit.

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12 Dec 2010

How to Get Started Shore Fishing for Beginners

Most people who take up sea fishing start by fishing from the shore, as opposed to fishing from a boat.  Shore fishing can take many forms and, here, we are going to look at the most basic.  Legering is a method of fishing which involves anchoring a rig with baited hook, (or hooks), to the seabed with a lead weight.  To be successful shore angler, you have to be able to put your bait where the fish are and that often involves casting to some sort of feature, such as a gully or a patch of rough ground.  The nature of the area you fish will dictate what sort of tackle you will require, depending on the distance you need to cast, whether the ground is clean or rough and how strong the tide is, etc.  

Open sand and shingle beaches are, more often than not, devoid of obvious features other than subtle ridges and gullies that have been shaped by the weather and tide.  These can be anything from 30 to 150 metres from the shore so, to fish this type of beach, you need tackle that is capable of casting enough weight to hold your bait in position, a fair distance.  There is no need to spend a fortune on high performance rods.  In fact, a lot of the time, these rods will be too stiff and powerful for those just starting out and will hinder rather than help.  Ideally, you should look for a mid-range rod of 12 to 13ft, with a medium action and capable of casting 4 to 6 ounces.   There are plenty of good quality rods available which won’t break the bank and are more than capable of casting the required distances.  

Because you may be required to cast quite a long way, the lighter the line you use, the better.  This is because heavier, thicker diameter line creates more air resistance when casting and will cut down your distances.  Thinner diameter lines will also create less drag in the tide and will enable you to use lighter leads to hold bottom.   As most open beaches are relatively snag free, you can get away with using quite light line and 12 to 15lb breaking strain is ideal.  To prevent the thin line from breaking under the strain of casting heavy lead weights, a shock leader is required.  This is a length of heavier line takes all the strain of the cast.  The general rule of thumb for shock leaders is 10lb breaking strain for every ounce of weight.  So if you are casting a 4 ounce weight, you need a 40lb shock leader and if you are casting 5 ounces, then you need a 50lb shock leader, and so on.  The shock leader is tied to the end of your mainline and should be long enough to be wound four or five times around the spool of your reel, through all the rod rings and back down to the rod butt.

When it comes to reels, there are basically two options available.  You can either use a fixed spool reel, or a multiplier.  As the name suggests, the spool on a fixed spool reel remains stationary and the line is wound onto it by a rotating bale arm.  When you cast, the bale arm is pulled back out of the way and the line peels out over the front of the spool.  With a multiplier, the spool rotates in one direction to wind line on, then, when taken out of gear to cast, rotates the other way to feed line out.  For a beginner, I would recommend a fixed spool reel; simply because you will spend more time actually fishing than untangling the over runs and backlash that you can sometimes get with a multiplier.  Having said that, most modern multipliers have effective centrifugal and magnetic breaking systems built in, which help to minimise tangles.  Whichever type of reel you choose, this is one thing that you should spend as much money on as you can afford.  Cheap reels are unreliable and don’t last very long in the marine environment.  Trying to save money on a reel is false economy because a good quality reel, if looked after, will last a lifetime.  The reel needs to be able to hold 250 to 300 metres of 15lb line, plus the shock leader.  It must have a good, smooth drag system that can be tightened and loosened off quickly and easily.

If you are going to fish from rocks, or over rough ground, you will need a slightly different set up.  Deep water and fish attracting features will often be quite close in and, therefore, long casting isn’t necessary most of the time.  What is needed instead, is tackle capable of retrieving fish and end tackle away from rocks and kelp before they get snagged.  A longer and more powerful rod is required in these situations.  The length is required so that the tip can be held high whilst retrieving line to keep the tackle clear of the bottom, and the power so the tackle can be pulled free of any minor snags.  You should look for something of at least 13ft with quite a stiff tip action.  As long casting isn’t necessary, (or possible with limited room), the need for a shock leader is diminished.  Instead, a stronger mainline of around 30lb breaking strain can be used right through from the reel to the lead weight.  The lack of a shock leader is also helpful because there is no chance of weed getting snagged on the knot, getting jammed in the rod rings and slowing down the retrieve.  For this sort of fishing I would recommend a powerful multiplier with a fast retrieve and strong gears.  Again, a good drag system is essential.  Some of the multipliers designed for light boat fishing are ideal for rock and rough ground fishing.

Piers and jetties are very popular with people just starting out because they have so much to offer.  Apart from providing easy access and a comfortable fishing platform, they also act as fish attracting and holding features.  Their popularity also means they are great places to meet other sea anglers and to pick up tips and advice.   Because the pier or jetty angler often has access to relatively deep water, long beach casting rods aren’t required.  In fact, the structure itself is the feature that the angler should be fishing to and casting too far away from it will, in most cases, be counterproductive.  There are exceptions, of course, such as the scours and bars that can sometimes be created when the tide is deflected by the structure.  A rod of around 10ft in length is ideal for pier fishing.  Although it can be light, it has to be quite powerful because you may have to bully a hooked fish out of, or away from, the structure.  If you are dropping your bait close to the structure, there won’t be much drag on the line and you can use lighter leads of, say, 2 or 3 ounces to hold bottom.  You can also do away with a shock leader and use a mainline of 15 to 20lb breaking strain straight through.  (It is worth remembering that if you decide to cast away from the structure, there are often tide rips around the ends and heavier tackle altogether will be needed.)  Any good quality reel that is capable of holding 150 to 200 yards of 15lb line would be suitable for pier fishing.  A fixed spool will be more versatile but, as there isn’t any distance casting involved, a multiplier would be equally suitable for the beginner in this situation.  You shouldn’t use the reel to winch fish up the side of the structure, though.  Any fish you catch should be landed in a drop net.

Wherever you fish, make good use of local knowledge.  Speak to other anglers and pop into the local tackle shop for your bait, rather than using the one near where you live.  It is also a good idea to keep a Fishing Diary, so that you can work out over a period of time which tides and conditions fish the best.   

Good luck and tight lines!

Article written by Steve at Tacklebargains.

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