The start of 2014 has been a stark contrast to recent years regarding weather patterns. The bitter drop in temperature didn’t show, but the rainfall seemed relentless. I normally spend the first two months of the season in search of specimen River Pike, but my local waters have been a permanent wash-out. The large females have passed through un-hindered on their way to spawning bays, which isn’t a bad situation I suppose, but it leaves my specimen tally at zero so far!
Being “confined to barracks” since Christmas I was beginning to go “stir-crazy” and desperately needed to wet a line somewhere, even for a couple of hours to keep the hand in. With the first of March arriving at long last, it gave the option of some local Sea Trout action. My angling mate Andy Wolsey needed little encouragement when I suggested taking him to one of my favourite shore marks.
Float-fished Sand Eel is a very productive method at this time of year, particularly due to the fact that there are no small Pollack or Coalfish present to steal the bait. In-line bubble floats are excellent and the simple set-up eliminates tangles when casting. With six feet of eight pound Fluorocarbon leader, the Sand Eel has a life-like appearance in the current. Hold the bubble float back every now and then and the eel will rise and fall enticingly. I use a size eight as a hook-hold in the head of the eel with a small “stinger” treble hook in the belly. Do not position the treble-hook too far back as this impedes natural movement and presentation, but also runs the risk of deep-hooking a fish.
Andy got off to a flying start, hooking into his first Sea Trout of the year within a couple of casts. Glad to see my guiding skills are still valid, well that’s my excuse anyway! Caught somewhat on the hop, we had a hasty photo shoot of our target species followed by safe release. I hardly had time to put the camera away when Andy struck into another, but at least this time I was ready and able to take an action shot! That put the score at two-nil and I hadn’t managed to cast a line yet!
With this initial flurry of excitement over, we settled in, going through the motions of casting, mending the line and “trotting” the Sand Eel down-tide at a natural pace, holding back now and then to lift the bait. The method here is half a dozen casts and shift thirty yards or so, seeking out small pods of fish feeding in the shallows. A second move along the shore and we were both into fish. This is superb and the only down-side is wasted photo opportunities!
With no more forth-coming, we ended our short session with four fish caught and released. Not having fished in earnest since Christmas, I was definitely starting to seize up a little and our short adventure not only wet a line, but also wet my appetite to get out on the hunt again. When the sea temperatures warm, I will hit these marks on the fly, and maybe this year will see my ambition of a six pound specimen realised, I can but hope. It’s another new fishing year, bring it on!