Sometimes circumstances go against you. It’s been that way for many sea anglers of late with the serious flooding and severe gales all around the UK, not only affecting travel, but pushing major flood water in to the sea in many areas that has pushed the majority of fish offshore some way. Some anglers disagree with this flood water scenario, but you only have to look at areas where estuaries small and major enter the sea and the fishing has been slow throughout.
My own area of North Wales saw some of the worst flooding, and as a consequence catch reports fell away. What tends to happen is that many anglers choose to wait for both the conditions to improve and for others to get out, catch some fish and report back before they will commit to a trip themselves. But I’ve still been out fishing, and by targeting fish that I knew were there, I’ve enjoyed some good sport.
I deliberately chose venues well away from estuaries, and even ignored beaches where I knew small streams flushed across the sand. This to give me access to water that at least had some stable salinity levels. I also concentrated my fishing over the three hours before high water and the first hour of the ebbing tide, as this period sees incoming fresh sea water dilute the effect of any present flood water to a major degree.
My targets were mainly whiting, dabs and flounders. The reason being I knew in the conditions that these would be the fish I was most likely to catch. I see little point putting out big baits in the faint hope of a decent cod, if my logic tells me the fish will be elsewhere and out of range.
I kept my tactics simple too. I fished two rods as always, one in close cast between 25-yards and 60-yards fishing baits right in amongst the surf tables, and the other out at maximum range for the dabs, but also as a “suck and see” option.
My choice of rigs was a three boom rig in close, and a 2-hook clipped up rig at range. The boom rig, in these conditions, will out fish any other rig for me and on the trips made was often catching triple shots of whiting, mixed in with the odd flounder. The long range rig took way less whiting, but found me dabs in good numbers as the dabs stay further out than both the whiting and the flounder on the shallow beaches I fish.
Bait choice has been simple. I use fish, mackerel, bluey and sandeel for the whiting, and sticky black lug for the dabs. All bait with a high scent factor! The winter flounder I find take a mackerel or a bluey bait just as good as they do worm, so I tend to work the fish baits pretty much all the time on the boom rig in close, and will only use the worm at short range if catches are slow and I need to experiment to find out if the fish want combo baits, as can sometimes occur.
The other thing I find keeps me catching in these tough times, is to keep both baits and hooks small. I use Aberdeen hook sizes 2 and 4 mostly and adjust the size of my baits to these. And for the whiting try adding one luminous green bead above the hook, as this seems to increase the catch rate in murky water of bites are hard to come by.
Some anglers in the weather conditions we’ve endured try to continue fishing as before and don’t adapt. Inevitably their catches are poor or non-existent because they carry on targeting fish that are just not there. Many years ago I did the same and you get in to a rut of not going fishing at all. Yes you mainly target smaller fish, but it keeps you fishing and catching, and maintaining momentum and confidence is important. These thought through short session trips, as and when possible, achieve exactly that.