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Hooked on Fish - Hooked on Fishing

Tight Lines All Round
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   Home      Shore Fishing      Classic Shore Marks
Waterways (Estuaries)
 
The Seven estuary and the widening Bristol Channel is Britain's largest and deepest estuary, and has the biggest tidal range in the UK.  Famous for rays, bass, smoothhounds, congers and in winter cod, its top marks on the Devon side include Burnham on Sea, Sand Point, Clevedon on the Somerset coast, and on the Welsh coast, Sully, Goldcliff and Redwick and upriver as far as the Severn Bridge.  The Loughour Estuary and Burry Estuary can produce some magnificent fishing.  The are unsurpassed for flat fish.  The sand and mudflats are usually best fished from low water up.  Estuaries have areas criss-crossed with 'pills' in the mud, channels that can be a few inches or many feet deep.  Great care must be taken when fishing a flooding tide.  Always ensure that your avenue of retreat is clear - keep an eye on the tide and see that it doesn't creep in behind you.
 
 
 
Steep banks and sticky deep mud can make estuaries very dangerous over low water.  Never venture on to the mud unless you are sure it is stable.  What looks firm is often soft and boot-grabbing.  The big difference between high and low tide in large estuaries like the Seven, which is particularly high, poses real dangers.  Some estuary fishing spots are from high banks and promenades so fish nets will be required.  Estuary banks can often be flooded and the ground muddy, or can be reinforced with boulders and these can snag you tackle over high water.
 
Fish exploit food sources over different seabed types and varying depths of water, which is why there are so many species of fish in the first place.  Estuary mullet can cope with low quality food, such as algae and detritus, which means the mullet have the food to themselves and do have to compete with other species.  Similarly the flounder's tolerance of low salinity means it can graze between saltwater and freshwater and right up to the banks, where only a few other species are present.  Look carefully and you may see clues as to where the fish are or have been feeding.  Look for lip marks on weed around pier stanchions and supports where the fish have sucked on the vegetation. Estuary mud also reveals the presence of flatfish at low water, with fish-shaped indents in the mud where species like flounders have buried themselves to combat the effects of the strong tide.
 
 
 
There is a clear stop line for sea fish inside a river.  In the really deep reaches the depth of water plays a part, with the sea fish travelling further up the main boat channel, but not p to the shallower water near the banks.  That's why long casting can often pay off for whiting, pouting, codling, dogfish and rays.  Fish location varies with the tide because fish travel into the river using the flood tide along one bank and them swim the ebb on the other bank.  That could be why the flood tide might be preferred for some species and the ebb for others.  Sand bars, mud banks and large amounts of silt in the water are big attractions because the fish will feed in the dirty water even when the sun is shining, so fishing in daylight can be the sensible and safe option.
 
Rigs & Bait
 
Basically,  there are two rigs that work for this type of fishing, and the first is the one-up, one-down mono paternoster with size 1 or 2 hooks.  It is possible to use htree hooks at times, and spreading the hooks over a longer trace length allows longer hook snoods to be used, which spreads the bait out wider to cover more ground.
This rig design is good for flounders but can also be used for whiting, pouting, soles, dogfish and even codling, huss or rays when the deeper water of the boat channel is within casting range.
Bigger hooks and larger baits may be required for bass, rays and the larger cod, in most cases it may be wise to chose a single large bait.  When the deep water is some way out then a clipped version of the rig will be needed.  Breakout-style leads are needed in most narrow estuaries where the tide funnels powerfully between the banks and sand bars.  Some members fish a plain lead weight so that the baits can be trundled down the tide to find a natural slack or eddy.  This works fine for short range flounder fishing but is not practical at long range or where the bank is busy with anglers.
Most estuary species respond to natural worm baits, with ragworms and lugworms being favourites.  We have one or two match anglers who would never fish an estuary without harbour rag.  Peeler crab can be deadly because the warm mud is their home all year.  Squid and fish also catch, and adding a fish tip to the bait works for flounders in estuaries.
 
Piers on stilts
 
There's no better introduction to sea angling than fishing for summer fish species from piers on stilts.  Summer seas are perfect for fishing from piers that go some way out over the sea to catch fish at different levels, bottom feeders, mid-water and just under the surface. All requiring different techniques and skills.
 
 
 

Pier fishing is characterised by fishing from a structure that uses stilts or pillars to support a large platform. These stilts, or pilings, serve several purposes in pier fishing. Mainly, they break up or alter the current, creating areas of calm or swirling water. The current will carry food to scavenger fish waiting in the calm spots. Potential food for small fish will attach themselves to the stilts. Because the stilts provide an opportunity for foraging, some species will stay close to the pier, while predators will move in and out with the tide and current.

Choosing where to fish on the pier is important. Simply choosing the end or the middle of the pier is not the most productive approach. If there is a bait shop on the pier, stop and ask what the surf conditions are like and what is biting. Another easy way to assess current conditions is to see where other people are having success. Look for troughs and sand bars and fish in between them.

One benefit of saltwater pier fishing is the variety of potential catch. A wide variety of species can be caught throughout the year, and a mixture of crab and lug cocktail can be deadly at the right time.  Mackerel is the main quarry in the summer and if you intend to fish with feathers and tinsel lures, either for bait or the barbecue then do fish with conservation in mind.Today the 6 gang feather trace is frowned upon.   For conservation in cut the trace in half or fish with just a couple of lures or cut the points off three or four - this creates a shoal effect but only catch two at a time. Lures and feathers are fished sink and draw (jigging).  The speed of lifting affects the depth the lures are fished at  and it pays to fish close to the seabed when the mackerel are scares. A heavy lead weight works well because it set sup a fizz of bubbles on both descend and draw. That is also why multi-feathered rigs work better than a more sporting, one-lure rig because of they create more fizz.

More often associated with novice anglers and casual summer mackerel fishers, or viewed only as suitable training grounds for youngsters new to the sport an are fishing locations experienced sea anglers often overlook to their cost. Man made structures, piers can be functional in design and built as they were in Victorian times with a social dimension in mind (Pleasure Piers) the latter built on a framework of stilts and pilings driven into the seabed.
 
Pier fishing can be a lifetime pursuit. Fishing from piers offers several advantages for both the novice and advanced angler. It is not as physically taxing as other forms of fishing, and it requires minimal gear. Piers are accessible to young and old. It can be a good way for families to fish together and to tutor the beginning angler. Piers are exposed to the sun, so bring suncream and something for shade.
 
The new life boat station at the end of refurbished Mumbles Pier has fishing platforms either side of the boat house for recreational anglers. These are the only place you can fish along the pier.
 
Image result for photos mumbles pier
 
Piers offer the sea angler easy access to deep water and a safe stable platform from which to fish. Mumbles pier is built on stilts  and by jutting out and deflecting tidal flow often create localised rips and over falls which concentrate bait fish so providing ambush points for predators such as bass and pollack, while relative to the coastal area and time of year they can also be frequented by bass, codling, whiting, coalfish, and mackerel.

Beach & Surf Marks

Few sea angling venues can better the surf beach for atmosphere and heart-thumping angling excitement, with the noise of the pounding waves stimulating the basic angling instinct. But what’s going on underwater and where are the fish feeding?
 
The classic day's shore fishing.  Standing in the sea, water lapping around your legs and the sound of the waves rolling onto the beach. Standing in the breakers, rod(s) held high, waiting for the fish to bite the crab, lugworm or squid bait.
Most of the fish are found inside the surfline and often very close to the shore which means the type of fishing is not for static angler. Surf is continually on the move and here lies the tactic for catching the fish looking for food, your bait.
 
 
 
Some of the best surf beaches stretch for miles of endless and featureless sand and surf, although some days the surf dies away, leaving the surface of the sea like glass.
 
 
 
With an onshore wind the sea comes alive as the surf stirs the seabed, and that's why the opportunist fish feeders are there. Water clarity is another important consideration, sand, sediment and silt content influences how the clear the water is, and what fishing are feeding in it, under varying sea conditions.
Bass prefer clear water even when the surf is raging, and this happens because the heavy sand sinks to the seabed rather than clouding the water, which is the same conditions around large silty estuaries. Hence beaches with this feature are known as good surf bass marks.
 
Fish location over miles of surf is important and not all white water contain fish. Wind and tide play their part in attracting or driving fish away from where you are fishing because food disturbed by a heavy surf may not always be pushed inshore. The food often travels along the surf line and creates hot spots in any deeper holes and gullies it settles into.
 
 
 
 
 Many surf anglers suggest it is possible to read the surf and sometimes it is the brown water showing in heavy surf that is the one area worth targeting. The best surf fishing spot is unlikely to be in front of the car park.
 
Key indicators of a good spot
 
Keeping your bait in the active part of the surf is a good tactic to start with.
Flounder are usually around everywhere, particularly over flat areas of seabed between the wavelets inside the surf. In flooding tides flounders have known to have their noses against the edge of the trickle that floods the sands.
 
 
A: Other species lurk outside the wave disturbance.   B: Bass look for food in the surf.   C: Low tide lip.   D: Wave action dislodges food and spews it inshore.   E: The main flatfish action is at the third wave flat.   F: Flatfish feeding inside the third wave flat.   G: Fish are moving continually on the flood and ebb tides.   H: Flatfish will nose the edge of the wavelets.   I: You can hold your rod or use a tripod
 
The action is where the surf gouges out the sand, with overspill of sand and food particles stretching inwards through the wave flats. The 3rd flat from the beach towards the main breaker is the hot spot on many a surf beaches.
 
Beyond the surf deeper calmer water is home to rays, dogfish, and the deeper water species, but from many surf beaches clearing the surf is near impossible because of the distance you have to cast. Accurate casting is needed because the surf line is always moving and you must keep your bait in the hot zone if the fish are to take the bait. Don't be surprised at how close the fish can be from your feet. It is possible to catch good fish with the leader knot close to the tip ring on your rod. With the fish so close it may be possible to dispense with heavy shockleaders because you are not power casting on a flooding surf beach to reach the the fish. A good tactic is to pull the tackle closer as you walk back with the flooding tide, because the fish are ever moving in order to examine freshly covered sand that has been exposed at low water. Change your bait regularly to leave a fish trail that ends at your hook.
 
The longer you leave your tackle in the sea the further out in the it gets and this is not always the best tactic, although it is a useful option on some beach venues.
A large bait or baits cast at low tide and then left as the angler walks back with the sea letting out line is a useful tactic on some estuary surf beaches like those we have in the Bristol Channel, and is also worth considering when it is calm.
 
On most days it is best to keep your baits in the active oxygenated part of the surf and will prove to be a good tactic.
 
Weighing up

Powerful surf can drag lines and tackle along the shore, so a wired grip lead is essential if you want to offer a static bait. There are also several odd-shaped plain lead weights that will stay put in surf, notably the pyramid and the old-fashioned watch shape. Awired lead weight cast into the main breaker may be buried and difficult to retrieve and so it is important to use the best lead style for the conditions.

Two grip wires in a breakout lead can be better than four sometimes, while the plain bomb, torpedo or pear are favoured in calmer conditions when they can be used to trundle your bait into holes and gullies where food may have collected.
 
The secret of the surf is putting your bait where the fish are located, using accurate casting to anchor the bait to the seabed or letting it swing around in the surf so it searches a bigger area. This is useful if the fishes food is in a virtual washing machine tumbled by the surf, the fish will be searching eagerly for anything they can eat.
 
What bait
 
Lugworms have the edge for bass, while small ragworms and harbour rag (maddies) take flounders and mullet.  Peeler crabs in their local season can be deadly, although shellfish are favoured on some venues where they are washed inshore, in numbers, by storms or heavy wave action.

Sandeels a basic foodstuff for bass,  are not so successful, although a worm bait tipped with fish, such as mackerel, does attract/catch flounders and turbot from many surf marks.

Old lugworms and shellfish also have the edge on occasions by leaving a big scent trail.
 
Rigged up

Perhaps the best rig is a simple one-up, one-down paternoster. This can be cast at short and medium range, which is often all that is required, and its configuration spaces the two baits as widely apart as possible in a standard casting rig.  Rig length is crucial because the fish are often found in a narrow band in front of the surf and a longer sprawling rig gives the baits more chance of being found by a fish.

Your other options of the same rig include the use of one hook (size 3/0) specifically for bass, or three hooks (size 1 or 2) for fishing for flounders, dabs, turbot, mullet and coalfish. Adjustable rig stops used to fix hook snood positions allow the snoods to be moved up and down the rig body and are perfect for flapper-style rigs fished in surf. For fishing in or beyond a distant surf line the standard one-up, one-down clipped loop rig streamlines hook baits and offers extra casting range.

Keep moving

Setting up camp is not really possible when fishing the surf, so your tackle needs to be compact, minimal and light so you can keep close to the sea at all times.

Fishing 100 yards back from the wave edges is not ideal, especially when trying to judge casting distance. Chest waders are an essential part of surf fishing, not only because there is no chance of erecting a beach shelter, but also because you are always on the move. Chesties keep you dry and allow you to wade and beach fish without fear of getting a soaking.

Most anglers also prefer a tackle box, not least because it keeps gear dry even if floated by those rogue surf surges. A clip-on side tray saves the need to place bait on the sand where it is likely to get washed away.

A tripod is handy if it incorporates a butt cup and head that allows the rod tip to be raised above the wave movement which, even when fishing close, can produce lots of false bites. A clip-on bait tray under the tripod holds items you need at hand when fishing the surf. If you like holding your fishing rod, a simple monopod stand will suffice while you are baiting up.
 
Careful wading
There is a natural instinct to wade into surf, especially when fishing for bass, because standing holding your rod in the tumbling water is exciting. On many venues the surf line is distant, particularly during a big sea, and a few extra yards gained to reach the surf hot spot can be invaluable. However, around the UK the surf beaches have several species that are found almost under the angler’s feet and these include flounders, mullet, turbot and sometimes even the bass.
So wade if you wish, but remember that you may wade past the fish and it may be unwise to go too far or in front of anglers casting in case of a snap-off.
Fly-fishing, spinning and plugging for fish are possible for some surf beaches when conditions allow but quite often fishing with a big juicy bait is the only way to catch fish.
Breakwater & Solid Pier Marks
Breakwater can be a nightmare to fish, but if you can master the deep water, fierce tides and closeness of other anglers you could be in for some good fishing.

Breakwaters attract fish, especially during winter when they get driven out into deeper water due to the cold.  You need to be able to handle the strong tides that wash around these structures and how to land good fish from the high fishing marks. Winter fishing from beaches exposed to heavy frosts or get frozen over at low water is usually not very good. Because when the tide turns the fish don't return, they will stay in warmer and deeper water.



Breakwaters that go out in deep water are good to fish in winter, when bigger species go off to spawn and the fish that are left are looking for more stable conditions under which to find food.  No two days fishing from breakwaters are ever the same.  In calm weather and on smaller neap tides, snag are less of a problem. It is possible to cast over the problem area, while the lack of tide means the gear stays where it is cast and not swept into the tackle heap of other anglers. But watch out in a strong onshore wind and during the strongest spring tides tackle snags can be huge.



Breakwater and walled pier
 
Walled piers are best fished during or just after stormy seas and the highest spring tides.  Be careful, such conditions can pose problems for all anglers, experienced or not. Strong tides running parallel to the wall, coupled with exaggerated wind and swell, can cut casting distance, and worse.



Handling the wall
  • Best not to cast uptide in the region of any snags, this avoids your rig being carried by the tide until it settles, usually in the snag.
  • Always use heavier lead weights than normal to hold bottom.
  • Cast straight to make the rig sink quickly and travels less distance down the tide.
  • Try bending fixed-grip wires in a curve to escape the snags.
  • Piers have hot spots, usually around the eddy caused by the tide scouring around the end of the structure. Moving from one side of the pier to the other with the flood and ebb tides.
  • Rods propped against a wall or railings can be dragged over and into the sea by the wind and tide. Use ties or covers to prevent this.
Casting & retrieving
 
Cast over snags to avoid them and do a really rapid retrieve to get through any snag areas. A fixed spool reel winds in faster than a multiplier reel.
Most fish species stay out in deeper water  in winter when the noise and disturbance of the sea pounding against the wall drives them out. In the quieter summer months the fish can be found right up against the wall.
Fish maybe more plentiful past he halfway length of the structure, below the low tide lip or the main depth change ledge these feature are usually where the best fishing starts.
The tides at the beginning of the pier is less severe and so the fishing is not so good, but is the best place to learn how to cope with the problems of the tide and bad weather.
 
A few Club events can be used to learn the basics.
 
To fish from solid structures jutting out into deep water swept by fast tides, knowledge of how terminal tackle , sinker and line behave once in the water is critical. Anchoring tackle in in the tide creates a downtide bow in the line as the sinker finds its natural position in the tide, which will always be slightly downtide of the rod tip.
When fishing close to another anglers you must be aware of this and do your best to avoid casting into another angler's bow.  Better to cast straight rather than uptide.
 
Whatever the situation, it is essential to watch your rod and line at all times. Tangled lines happen and if someone is pulling your line in or running across it your line could be cut.
Fixed grip wires and heavy leads are the most efficient, while plain and light breakout leads have no place on walled piers in strong tide or rough weather.  Adding another weight is unlikely to help hold bottom.
Squat and dumpy weights work best, with stiff wires required on some venues.
The further the cast, the more exaggerated the tidal pressure on the line becomes. Although, a long cast is often the answer to avoid snags.  Shorter casts are easier to control is handy at times.
 

Promenades

These are flat platforms with fish right in front of you.
 
 
 
Promenades offer safe, comfortable sea angling that are ideal for families, anglers that aren't very mobile or seniors who still want to enjoy their fishing. Most have a car park close by, which means very often the angler can fish literally within yards of a car.
 
One advantage of fishing from some promenades is the height they put the angler above the seabed.  This means most seabeds can be fished relatively easily. Another advantage is a flat and firm place to fish from and railings or wall that becomes a handy place to prop the fishing rods against.
 
The seabed below a promenade will vary.  There are many that fringe rock and kelp under cliffs, although most are the simplest form of sea and wave defence structures.  Some have long shallow sandy areas with groynes, others protect the cliffs behind from erosion.  Promenades protect low-lying land, or town sea fronts and housing from winter seas and storms.
 
Cheap rock infill promenades may have restricted access because fishing over or from slippery boulders scattered in a pile is virtually impossible and unsafe.  Concrete promenades and seawalls usually have a curved wave lip at the front, which turns incoming waves back towards the sea.  This a cracking advantage in an onshore sea, you may get wet from the occasional spray, but you are comparatively safe from the waves.  That's not to say you can fish in any weather,as you  must watch out for the odd rouge wave and stay away in a gale, but in general promenades are safe.
 
Often you have to fish good distances from a promenade to make a catch and as you know this means bait presentation is crucial. Neat compact bait may be cast long, but lack fish-attracting scent, and often a compromise between these two factors is essential.  Top bait combinations include a yellowtail lugworm with a squid tip for long range and bunches of small harbour ragworms for short range. To boost bite rates try a piece of fresh fish on the tip of the bait hook.
 
A promenade can make fishing a snaggy seabed so  much easier, so do not be put off by rocks, mussel beds and reefs. Where the prom. is high above the water level there may be problems landing fish.  Look for steps or access points down to the beach or even a slipway, where a fish can be lifted out by hand, if not a drop-net might be needed.
 
Where and how to find fish
 
Promenades come into their own during autumn and winter because there are less people around. There are also seasonal variations in terms of likely species, but in general they include whiting, pouting, codling, pollack, wrasse, dabs, rays and cod - all within easy range from a promenade.
 
Waves crashing into the face of a promenade, especially during high water, can push fish away from the wall.  Then the fish could be at long cast range. On calmer days accurate casting is often the key to a good catch. The low tide lip or gutter where the wave action action at low water has gouged a gully or ridge usually sees the greater variation in depth, and this acts as a natural boundary and a place where tide and sea-driven food collects.  The edge of the beach where it meets the sand is also often where the low tide lip is formed.  Being able to cast past the lip will improve catches, because although it may be a barrier to fish, it is where they pass through with the tide.
 
These concentration points, including obstructions like groynes, have to be understood because most species will not swim over a groyne, but will swim to its end and then around it - so this is the area to fish.  Tide and wave action will gouge out a hole on the downtide side of the groyne creating a tidal eddy where natural food collects.  Casting to or near natural seabed features will generally mean you are casting to a fish concentration point. Other examples include deep, muddy gullies or high sandbanks, both attractive to fish because the wave action can dislodge food from the bar and deposit it in the gulley. Small rock reefs deflect the tide, offering fish shelter and food, while seaweed is home to potential fish food.
 
Check out possible venues at low water to discover the layout, fish-holding spots and any likely snags.  Also look for comfortable positions to fish from at high water, room to cast and closeness to access from beach to promenade. On walls, steps are at regular intervals, on others groynes or a high beach allow access.
 
Terminal tackle
 
Naturally, the choice of terminal tackle depends on the type of seabed below the prom. For rocky ledges and weed then pulley rigs are one to go for. For clear sandy seabeds with shallow and deep water and the need to get over noisy scare areas give clipped rigs ago.  one-up, one-down clipped loop rigs are often used when looking to cast far out. With the bait close behind the weight it creates a streamlined casting combinations.
On some venues you may find paternoster-style or flapper-style hooked rigs will fish better than a hook on the bottom.  It might be worth trying a two-hook flapper paternosters with long snoods to catch the fish.
 
If the prom. is high above the seabed the line to the rig tends to be at an angle lifting the hooks off the seabed or washed about by a strong tide, if so make the snoods longer. As with all fishing venues trial and error is required to find out the best terminal tackle combination.  Don't over look a three-hook rig with long snoods.
 
General Public Warning
 
People like to walk along proms, so best not to block them with rods, tackle, tripods or leave bait, disused tackle or litter.  As we know all too well Joe Public can be very sensitive to how anglers behave when fishing and we don't want to lose access to venues because of complaints, injuries or leaving piles of unsightly fishing litter.
 
 
Steep shingle beaches
 
 
 
Shingle beaches are usually very exposed and subject to heavy surf or wave action which builds up steep banks of shingle. They are usually found along a rugged coastline but can also be formed as spits in estuaries, or bays or near headlands where strong tidal currents build them up. The shingle may be composed of small pebbles, or rounded stones as big as six inches across and usually has a very steep slope. Owing to the constant movement of the pebbles caused by wave action it is the most unstable of shores. On account of this and also because it cannot hold water, nothing either plant or animal can live on or within the shingle. The fact that there is no food on this type of shore does not mean it is not worth fishing. These types of beaches usually drop off steeply into deep water or are washed by fast tides or strong currents. Small fry or sand eels are often plentiful off these beaches either having swum in against continued offshore winds or having been channelled along it by strong tides or fast currents. In these conditions there is often very good fishing for mackerel, bass, sea trout and tope and in winter time cod. On the whole, however, this is the least productive type of beach.  
 
 
 
Although shingle beaches are barren, lacking food to attract fish, anglers will catch good fish from such beaches when casting a suitable bait into the gulley where the sandy or muddy seabed meets the shingle, being the zone where the fish look for food.
 
 
 
Steep shingle beaches are popular fishing marks if only because they offer comfortable fishing into deep water over a usually snag free seabed. The distance between low and high water marks, inter-tidal zone, is minimal, so you can fish from the high water mark without moving back and forth with the movement of the tide.
Deep water shingle beach marks are good for attracting cod and whiting. Shallower shingle beaches offer trouble-free fishing and good sport without having to clamber down cliffs, over rocks or through thick mud.
The seabed below or out from most shingle beaches consists of fairly clean sand or mud. Some have a patchwork of rocks and weeds, sand patches or clay ledges, reflecting the fact that shingle banks are mostly formed where stones are easily along a flat shoreline.
Storm beaches are so called because they take the full force of the sea and weather. These conditions crate a shingle bank, which acts as a storm buffer between the land and sea.
The spread of pebbles on shingle beach is down to the power of the incoming waves during a storm being greater than that of the wave's backwash. The largest stones are driven to the top of the bank, but the backwash is not strong enough to drag them back down again into the sea.
Stones being driven at an angle by the storm cause the shingle to drift, but the backwater can only drag them down at right angles. Shingle move along the beach by prevailing winds is also  continuously graded in size.
The seabed below a flat shingle beach will have sand bars, banks and gullies formed by tidal eddies, winds and currents, even water draining into the sea from the shingle can have a effect on the underwater terrain.
Some areas of sandy shore, with a foundation of heavier stones or even large rocks and ledges, are not easily shifted by tide or wind, and these features can create an often undulating seabed.
Groynes that keep the beach in place help to mould seabed features. That is why many shingle beaches have hot spots, or fish merging points which are often no more than fish paths that funnel the passing shoals into a small area. Fish location is so often about casting range because lateral sandbars and gullies that run the length of beach have gaps where the fish may congregate to move to move closer to the shore. Casting over a bar into deeper water beyond is always of benefit.
 
 
 




Hot spots may put a gully within range of the average caster, but an angler who can put bait out150metres may find fish along the length of the beach.





Rocky Paths & Shores
 
 
If you fish from rocks you are going to catch bigger, bolder and more feisty fish. Our Gower coastline is dominated by these outstanding marks.
As you can imagine, fishing from rocks is not for the feint hearted or unsure of foot.  Casting from a high cliff mark into deep water stirred by a strong swell can be a heady experience - so if you aren't comfortable with it, don't do it.
We have the freedom to fish from most places, but you must be aware of what you are doing and be responsible for for your action. 
 
 
Assess the risks before you fish.
 
Fishing from the rocks or even a cliff is considered by many anglers to be far better than fishing from a clear sandy beach.
The more remote and rugged the venue the less it is likely to be fished and free from commercial fishing. A rough seabed tends to holds more and bigger fish.
 
When fishing from rocks - use your common sense, do not take chances and you can usually fish safely from the highest, most rugged rock/cliff-top venues. You will need a tough pair of boots, minimum tackle and never fish alone.  Novices should not fish rock/cliff alone, as for when and where to fish comes with experience and know when its wise to fish or not. If in doubt do not fish.
Fishing from rocks facing south, south-west
into the Atlantic can be a bit doggy as waves an swells driven by the wind can build up and become threatening, even storms well out to sea.  Always fish well above the waterline and be very careful.
 
Take just what you need
 
Rock fishing usually involves a hike or a climb to get to the mark.  Most rock anglers only carry their rod, rod-rest in a holdall with a shoulder strap, cool bag, and a waist mounted tackle bag.  This leaves one free to help steady you down the rocks and cliff paths.
You don't need an overly stiff rod when fishing from rocks as technique is as important as the best gear. A good fishing technique should allow the use of 6oz-rated beachcasters. Rod length can be an advantage, with longer 15ft models lifting gear slightly higher, while a lower reel position with a butt wedge in the hip offers more leverage, more positive and easy fast retrieve over the reel-up style tucked under the arm. If you do use a reel up the rod, stick the butt between your legs.
Reel choice is down to line load, build quality and gearing. Though, differences exist between venues. For clearer sebeds go for the standard casting 6500 size multiplier loaded with 15lb line. Fast retrieve models (6:1) offer an advantage, although they can lock up with a large fish on.
For mixed ground up the line strength to 18lb mainline, and for the extreme seabeds you'll have to go up to 25-30lb fished straight off a bigger reel without a shockleader.
Fixed spool reels tend to have larger retrieval length which can used to a rock hoppers advantage.
 
Top Gower rock marks are the Rhosilli Ledges. This series of flat rock platforms offers some of the few marks in the region that are comfortable and accessible. Access is via a steep but safe climb.
 
Species
 
Shore fishing rock venues offers a good variety of fish, due to the depth and habitat preferences of the species.
 
Wrasse - like to live near the surface around weedy rocks rock ledges and overhangs. the action of the waves and scouring swell offers them a ready food supply of crabs and shellfish. Small wrasse eat ragworms, big ones a whole crab.
 
Conger eels - like the roughest ground near to the rocks. Fresh mackerel is a good, bait but they have been known to take squid.
 
Pollack & Coalfish - feed on and off the bottom chasing small fry and like to hunt close to or amid the kelp and wee fringes. Lures, a sandeel, head-hooked ragworm or mackerel are worth trying.
 
Bull Huss - more common on west-facing Atlantic and Irish Sea coasts, they are found close to the rock edge and often take a mackerel or squid bait aimed at the congers.
 
 

Tope - Just a few rocky cliff marks offer tope at long range, casting on to sand, and this is some of the most exciting fishing available. Useful bait, large sandeel, mackerel fillet, or whole small flatfish.

Cod - can be found close to rock ledges and kelp, which gives them a local colouring.  Cod take various crabs, worms, sandeels and mussels.
 
Rays - feed on on sand and mixed grounds, mostly at long range. Baits include peeler crab, sandeels, blueys, and mackerel.
 
Flatfish - most sandy cliff marks offer dabs with a chance of a turbot from the deeper marks to worm and fish baits.
 
Mackerel - this species are a feature of deep water cliff edges and are around at most depths. Lure them on a string of feathers for a quick bite or try float fishing with sandeel.
 
 Rigs
 
Sliding float rig is good way to target wrasse and pollack. Pollack can be caught on freelined and slowly spunsandeel or ragworm.  Lures work also.  For mullet try a light float outfit.
 
Conger/Huss rig with a single hook attached to the mainline via a three way swivel with the lead tied to the bottom end of the swivel through a lighter, weaker line. For the conger use heavy mono on the hook length or even wire, with 6/o hook baited with fresh a mackerel head. The line is usually fished on upward of 30lb line going straight through with no shockleader. Scale this rig down for catching wrasse.
 
Loop rig, basically a one-up, one-down clipped rig for maximum distance to get to the rays, flatfish and tope when available. 
 
Heavy Kelp Marks
 
 
 
Kelp helps support numerous species from tiny plankton to large fish, and living reefs (made entirely of organisms like mussels or tubeworms) provide food and shelter for marine wildlife. In the shallows, seahorses and bass hide among underwater meadows of seagrass.
Rocks and ground covered with thick tangles kelp can be fished for cod and wrasse. Though your fishing gear needs to tuned and adapted so you get it all back from the seabed with a good fish attached.  The basic style of rock fishing is good for light kelp marks. There are other extreme kelp-style, tackle hungry marks in parts of Wales.
Tackle and techniques for fishing this range over rocks and through heavy kelp varies, as some marks will have more snags and weeds than others.  Extreme ground can be beaten when the angler is either positioned high above the snags or fishing into deep water. It is the shallow-water marks that create the biggest headache because the angler is usually fishing at the same level as the tackle grabbing kelp. Which means hooks, sinkers and fish have to be dragged through the rocks and kelp.
So strong tackle is needed, because you will not be casting out over the kelp onto clean sand. Fishing amid rocks and kelp means tackle losses are inevitable which is whygear needs to be beefed up.
Lines of 25lb-plus, with 30ib the standard as it can be used without a shockleader. Leaders mean another knot in the line, a weak spot and snag point.
Using a stronger line means a larger reel (multiplier) so you can launch a lead weight and bait knowing there is a good you will get it back with a fish.
Using a stiffer road and you should be able to bully fish through the kelp.
 
 
Rig for landing cod through kelp
 
Catching fish
Cod do not hang about in the kelp, they move in and out with the tide and weather conditions. With roughest onshore gale attracting the fish, and the first few tides after a storm dies away can be the most productive period.
However, on many marks it is not wise to fish when the sea is rouhed up. Cod may also move in when it is calmer in search of a peeling crab population or other easy prey.
As usual, experience will tell you when and where to fish as there are no short cuts to learning that vital information.
Catching cod from heavy kelp requires very good casting accuracy rather than distance, as is the case with most rock fishing as the fish tend to have pathways through and around the rocks and kelp. If bait lands on top of a rock ledge it will be above passing fish. A hook can catch in the kelp as it sinks, again putting the bait out of the way of any fish.
Accurate casting, knowledge of fish location and and being in the right place on the mark is crucial. Which is probably why rock anglers seem to fish together in groups. They gather by the fish 'highways' and try to trap them as they pass through.
A range of specise can be caught but will require a diverse range of tactics to catch them.
Using thicker, stronger main line does create problems because the heavier diameter mono acts like a kite in strong tides and is susceptible to wave and tide action, which can result in the line and rig being swept round into snags.  To help here you need the ability to wind like mad to get the end gear up of the bottom rapidly and getting it to skate across the surface quickly back to your feet.
Multipliers should be fully loaded with line and have a fast 6:1 retrieve or a fixed reel with 5.2:1 or higher retrieves and braid for for fishing because of the massive increase in the retrieve rate and instant puck-up, no line stretch, that braid offers.
Reeling in means lifting the rod in one sweep and reeling as fast as you can until the terminal gear is is safe above the kelp.