As we fast approach May we are finally getting Aprils fishing. This time last year I had boated a few Bream and registered several more species but whether its from boat or shore this year has been tough. The bonus of not having anything silver to fish for yet is that the Plaice have demanded more attention when boat fishing and with the right set-up are entirely target-able with plastics. Last Sunday the weather gave us a window to try Hayling Bay again, we set off early with a plan to fish LRF/HRF for as long as the conditions allowed and for a few hours at least we had the perfect spring morning with no wind at all and even some sunshine. After a few initial drifts and watching the boats around us it was clear that not a lot was being caught and just as I was thinking about having a move Adam said what every angler wants to hear, “here’s a fish”. This wasn’t the Plaice we were after though, instead a lovely Thornback Ray came to the net having inhaled Adams Berkely Sandworm and as we were drifting at the time it wasn’t a lazy fish that had time to ponder over a bait, it followed then took the plastic just as any predator would. Not sure of weight, est about 5lb, but any bigger and Ad would’ve been in big trouble as this fish proper ‘hung-on’,
Still buoyed by the Ray we decided to get the anchor down and work an area around us. I started with a 3″ Reins paddle tail first, these supple plastics work with the smallest of movement and on a day where we hadn’t seen a Plaice landed around us it was fair to say that the fish were not in a chasing mood and we would need to attract their attention. Several dozen casts later I switched to the Ecogear Milfles mainly for the little grub-tail that is workable in short little bursts tight to the bottom and eventually I got hit. The fight was undeniably a flat fish, very up and down, and a good size Plaice it was at approx 2-1/2 to 3lb its an LRF best flatfish for me.
After some pics it was released, we tried hard for some more but without luck and after speaking to some other anglers who blanked I was more that happy to register anything at all. The sight of a red spotted Plaice coming up through the depths is a special one for boat anglers, and I would urge anyone who doesn’t dust off the lure gear until the Bass arrive to maybe give the humble Plaice a try and bring the predator out in these fish as they may surprise you.
Plaice dominate the local boat fishing at this time of year and traditionally herald the start of spring. Of course this year has been slightly different what with winter out staying its welcome but rather surprisingly the Plaice have been showing in very good numbers out of Southsea and Hayling Island beaches when the weather has actually allowed boats to get out with some good numbers of fish being caught at some old traditional venues that have been poor for several years, the bonus being these marks are right on my sea-door-step and very lure friendly so when the weather obliged last weekend we got old Drifter afloat and set about finding some fish.
With last years lure caught Plaice in mind we looked to work our day around the tide to get maximum time with the plastics while drifting but a lovely if cold spring morning quickly turned windy and colder and forced us to drop the anchor rather than battle against the wind. This made me fish heavier than I would’ve liked but just about enabled me to fish 8g jigheads and an LRF setup with the idea being that it was going to be a tough day to get a lure caught Plaice but if I did it would be worthwhile for the sport if nothing else. A few hours past without a touch on any lures we offered and it was frankly hard going but eventually I started to get a few tentative touches on XL Isome that I was casting uptide and very slowly retrieving. After a few lure and retrieve changes I switched back to the Isome and got my first fish of 2013, a small Plaice of around a pound that christened my new Tenryu Lunakia/Stella 1000 combo very nicely.
Adam also picked up a Plaice this time on a Reins plastic rigged on a jig head and fished tight to the bottom, we have found that Plaice will really attack when confident but its having the patience to keep working the lure without frightening an interested fish away that’s the key.
A nice start what we hope is a productive season, Plaice will continue to be the target for a month or so until the Bream and Wrasse take our attention.
For the past few years we have made the trip over to Nantes for the Salon Peche en Mer fishing show. An overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo and a bit of a road trip down to Nantes gives us plenty of time indulge ourselves in non-stop fishing conversation which is sweet relief from the work based panic that builds up to a weekend away.
For anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to attend this event its a lure anglers dream with all the main players involved and the bonus of largely being relevant to what we do over here in the UK, or should I say the UK lure scene is now relevant to what our French counterparts have been doing for some time. The sheer amount of information to digest is huge and we are still working through various catologues and creating a virtual shopping list for the year ahead but here a few highlights to wet the appetite for the upcoming season.
This is the new Reins Aji Ringer Professional rod, built for LRF and street fishing it features a tubular tip that behaves like a solid tip making it lighter and less top heavy than some of the solid tips available currently. Not yet officially released you won’t get much change if any out of £500 but let me promise you it’s a quality rod. Very light in the hand and beautifully built.
There is a buzz about the new Sakura Loondaka rods and this was my first chance to take a look. Very handsome and clearly built with some backbone these rods could be compared to the top end Hearty Rise gear, starting with a 7′ 2-15g and running right up to a 10’15-90g these rods will sell big in the French Bass market and as the trend for jigging and heavy shad fishing from boats in the UK increases they are well places to make a big impact.
Daiwa always have a cool stand and among the huge array of rods are some gems. The ever popular rockfish range of products are very nice as are the new Branzino spinning rods complete with AGS carbon guides but what often stands out are the affordable items and the new Darting jig heads will be within everyone’s reach. With a cut face these heads will ‘dart’ erratically when twitched and can be used with a variety of plastics. I picked up a few packets and look forward to trying them out soon.
These Flash J fish arrow shads are lovely plastics that will appeal to Bass,,Wrasse and Perch anglers alike which makes them a great lure to have in the bag. They have a reflective strip built within that sets them apart from most other similar shads, only time will tell if they will catch as good as they look but first impressions are that they should have fish crawling all over them.
Not meaning to ruffle any feathers but although the Fiiish Black Minnows clearly catch fish I find them too complicated, of course I may just be that my plumbers fingers are not suited to putting them together quickly but I can’t argue that the guys at Fiish certainly put their heart and soul into their products and this lure is the latest. The ‘Black Eel’ is so fresh it’s yet to be revealed fully but this half looks pretty good and the other half will not be supplied with sand!
The Ultimate Fishing stand always attracts a lot of attention with stacks of top end gear. The Tenryu European range was in full force again and I am starting to understand the value of the pricey red rods. I was quite taken with the Ultimate Fishing branded Armageddon rods, stripped back and stealthy in appearance these rods felt better than I had imagined, the 68L in particular was well priced and would be a well placed rod in the UK market.
Like I say I am still getting through the leaflets and pictures from the busy weekend and the birth of my little girl on the final day stole my focus a bit, not least because of a mad dash across France to get home for the arrival but once again a brilliant weekend full of inspiration and very friendly people. Lastly a big thanks to my good mate Adam aka FishingTackleUK for getting to Rennes airport in time to get home and see my little girl being born, cheers mate.
Looking forward to a cracking 2013 and wishing everyone good angling.