We are coming up to that time of year when many people are thinking about their annual holiday to the beach or to the country, on camp sites and the like.
Many Mums and Dads are wanting to take a fishing rod or two with them but are faced with the problem with a typical family car packed with a family and too much stuff.
The secret is to be selective in what you take and looking at telescopic rods and nets etc. If you pick the right tackle then it can work well at the beach and in a lake, river or even a canal.
Before we get into the tackle though, the thing to remember is that you don’t need a rod licence to fish in the sea but you do need a rod licence to fish on an inland water although it is not that clear cut and there is no dividing line on any given river or estuary.
It actually depends on the species that you are fishing for, not where you are fishing that determines whether freshwater fishing regulations apply or not, and that a freshwater rod licence might be required out to the six mile limit if you are deemed to be fishing for freshwater species.
Let’s talk about estuaries fist given the possible confusion. Most people on a typical beach holiday wanting to fish an estuary will want to be fishing for something like Mackerel, Bass, Mullet or Flounder all of which have a tendency to roam high up the estuaries and all of which can be eaten. So, the tackle you take will actually determine the type of fish you are fishing for and whether you need a rod licence.
The grey area will always be Salmon and Sea Trout but given that they are notoriously difficult to catch in an estuary then, as a casual angler then you probably don’t need to worry about that unless you have already planned your holiday around that and taken all the tackle you can as well as purchased a rod licence for migratory fish.
Mackerel and Bass are some of the most popular catches and as predators they respond well to lures and spinners. The beauty of this is minimal tackle, and maximum enjoyment, and also maximum taste if you intend to eat your catch. However, beware about taking Bass from the sea as the legal catch limit has been recently increased from 36cm to 41cm or 16 inches. There is also a limit of 3 fish per day. There is also a size limit for Mackerel that being 20cm but no limit on the number that can be taken with a rod and line.
There are also limits for other species but those are not likely to affect most people on a typical family holiday unless they venture out on a boat which is only recommended with a chartered boat.
The other great thing about fishing for Mackerel and Bass with younger kids is not only that you can get away with minimal tackle but you can also use lures that float and if a younger child forgets to reel in the lure then it doesn’t sink to the bottom and get stuck. The same applies to fishing on an inland water for Pike and Perch.
Fishing for Mackerel and Bass at the beach is very much like fishing inland for Pike and Perch as the fish put up a great fight and it is highly addictive and also quite tiring when the fish are there in big numbers as you need to move around a bit. Small amounts of the right tackle and a small bag are the key.
For those that like a more sedentary fish then fishing for Mullet in a harbour with a small float and a piece of bread can be good fun. They can often be easy to see on bright days swimming around harbours and where small steams enter the sea and are looking for scraps of food. Mullet don’t eat other fish and feed on plant life hence why a piece of floating bread works well.
Flounder and other flat fish can also be caught on simple tackle but given that they feed at the bottom then you’ll need fish differently again and fishing something like lug worm held to the bottom with a small weight. This is good for river estuaries, small sandy or even muddy beaches and harbours generally anywhere that is not too rough with surf. So pack your bucket and spade for digging up worms. If they are difficult to be had other bits of meat like prawns can work well. Garden worms will also work well but they die off within minutes of entering saltwater and lose their wriggle.
So, the key question now is what tackle. Ideally one rod and reel will do everything and if you are going to stick to fishing for those types of fish we have been discussing then one rod and reel can do the trick. The two key things to think about especially if fishing with kids is that some of the cheaper tackle that the beach shops and supermarkets sell in the summer tend to be a bit heavy for kids and also kids tend to put things down in puddles and the slightest bit of saltwater touching lower grade metals and you’ll be throwing the tackle away the following year when you get it out of the garage and it has rusted up etc.
A decent quality but good priced rod available from your local tackle shop that is 8-10 ft and designed for spinning is ideal. 8 ft is probably better for kids in terms of weight and casting especially repetitive casting. A good telescopic rod will suffice for those really short on space. But an 8ft might struggle to put a weight out any distance on a beach for Flounder, but ideal for the other methods already mentioned.
A good selection of lures is a must; a few inexpensive metal ones that can be cast a distance for Mackerel and Bass if you know you are amongst rocks and a few plastic “poppers” for dragging across the surface to attract Bass at high tide.
What’s the best time of day? If you’ve got small kids you might want to be building sand castles all day or swimmers might get in the way?
The thing to look out for when fishing for something like Bass is a high tide combined with the sun going down at dusk. For those with really young kids it’s a great sport when you only want an hour so of fishing after the kids have gone to bed and your other half is reading a book.
A few smaller spinning lures are also useful (rules allowing), if you end up at a commercial trout fishery of which many have sprung up near the beach resorts over recent years.
A few big floats – clear bubble floats will work well with both float fishing in a harbour for Mullet as well as surface fishing for Carp on a sunny day at a commercial fishery.
A medium sized reel typically used for Carp fishing works well for both basic sea fishing and inland waters for Pike, Perch, Carp and Trout. The added benefit of a Carp reel over a dedicated sea reel for the casual angler is that most such reels come with a freespool system allowing the line to run off the spool and prevent your rod being dragged into the water. This could be quite useful if that 10lb Mullet runs off with your piece of bread in the harbour and your 7 year old is watching the ferry to Ireland not the rod. It might also stop the child being pulled in off the harbour wall.
Line of about 10-15lb will suit most uses we’ve discussed and you can always tie a smaller hook and lighter line to stronger spool line but not really the other way round unless the amount that you tie on as extra is greater than the distance that you want to cast.
A net is not always that important at the beach as you can generally drag the fish onto the beach especially if you are planning on eating it later but it is more important anywhere where you might need to lift the fish such as when fishing off rocks or, on inland waters where you need to protect the fish.
A good bag that zips fully open will always beat the make do rucksack and constantly delving to the bottom for that different lure when you can literally see the Mackerel swimming in front of you.
Then, hoping you do catch don’t forget a pair of forceps to extract the hook, a rag to hold the fish with whilst you extract the hook – Normally the use of a rag is a big No No because it takes the protective slime off the fish, but Bass can have big spines that can pierce the hand. And, a plastic bag to carry the fish back in and prevent your tackle bag from smelling.
Finally the biggest piece of advice is to check the tide times, please do this before anything else so you don’t get cut off from the mainland.
Enjoy your holiday.
We hope you found these tips useful, for more help and/or advice contact us firstname.lastname@example.org