"The terminal tackle I ended up buying - The problem is how to use it?"
I have made the late decision to take the rods on the motor home trip to Ireland, and I have to say that I am a little bit lost with it all. Over the years I have dabbled in beach casting from sandy shores of the East Coast, but due to poor catches of small flatties, whiting, ling and the occasional cod thrown in I haven’t persevered with it. Beach casting in the East of the UK, particularly where I live is pretty rubbish. The North Sea is shallow and requires using super heavy leads to get as far out in to the water as possible, and even then you’re lucky if you can find more than five to six feet of water.
Blasting a heavy lead as far as humanely possible requires a broom handle of a rod, a large reel, super thick line (80lb leaders and at least 20lb mainline) and 5oz – 8oz leads. Combine the heavy fishing tackle with the tiny fish in the North Sea and it is easy to see beach casting in my area isn’t much fun.
I have been reading around fishing in Ireland and all the sites I have come across have a section on float fishing and spinning with light tackle from the shore. Lure fishing from the shore? This is something you can’t do from a Norfolk beach. Well, that’s a lie actually - you can cast a float or lure from the beach but you’re going to be fishing in very shallow water and you’re not going to catch anything. Float fishing is a method not used sea fishing in Norfolk, and if you want to use a lure you go out on a boat.
Spinning and float fishing from the shore is a totally alien concept to me, however it is one that excites and I really want to have a go. I have done some spinning before (for pike on the Norfolk Broads) and I have also float fished in various lakes, rivers and broads so the concept isn’t totally alien to me, and I know what to do. It’s just that float fishing in the sea and lure fishing from the beach seem totally different.
When think of a beach I instantly picture a flat, sandy Norfolk type beach and I struggle to see how to fish this. I have seen photos of rocky Irish beaches and can’t get it right in my own mind how float and lure fishing works. I have ‘Googled’ the campsites I am staying at and I have ‘Googled earthed’ them to see what the beaches are like but the images are such poor quality (the photos must have been taken on a bad day) that I can’t tell what it’s like.
All my sea fishing has been with food bait (lug worm, squid, mackerel etc.) and my wife has categorically told me fishing bait is not allowed in the motor home, so unless there are bait shops within walking or cycling distance I won’t be able to buy any bait. Consequently, I have decided to take lures, and if I do manage to bag a small mackerel cut that up and use it as a ‘food’ bait.
After a bit of internet reading the decision was made to buy some rubber sand eels, mackerel feathers and a sea fishing float (which comes complete with weight, swivel, beads and stop). Choosing the float was easy but deciding what mackerel feathers and rubber sand eels to buy was a head ache, and I still don’t know if I have bought the right thing or not! The selection of mackerel feathers and sand eels wasn’t vast (I could only get to Go Outdoors – where the selection is limited) but it still took me ages to decide – and in the end it was grab the closest and get to the tills.
With the terminal tackle sorted my next issue is what type of rod to take. Because we are in the motor home the rod is going to be telescopic, it’s just whether to take the beach caster or a carp rod? The beach caster is stiff and I will need to catch a big fish to get a bend in it, but I know it will be strong enough to cope with whatever I am (hopefully) going to catch. The carp rod, on the other hand is lighter and more of a ‘playing’ rod but I won’t be able to cast as far. Do I really need to blast the lures to the horizon to catch a fish? There is no definitive answer to this and there are mixed views on the internet, which really isn’t too helpful.
Another issue I have is what reel to take. Is a small carp reel with 10lbs mono enough? Do I need a larger reel with 18lbs mono? Do I need a 80lb leader? I have so many questions and can’t find a definitive answer online. Some anglers say fish light (but don’t say what is light), others say use 20lbs line (how do you cast a lure any distance with line this heavy?) and others say use a leader. Once again, opinion is split and I don’t know what to do.
The fishing tackle isn’t the only problem………
Even though I have bought mackerel feathers and rubber sand eels I don’t really know how to use them. I do have a basic idea – cast and retrieve but I have an inkling there must be more to it than that. How to weight the rubber sand eels/mackerel feathers is something that is already playing on my mind, as is whether I can use them with the sea fishing float I purchased.
In my experience if you don’t know how to use the gear you’re not going to get the most out of it and you’re not going to catch much (if anything at all). I am a little out of my depth with this and I feel like a total beginner again, which is not a great feeling.
I am hoping that I will find a friendly angler on the Irish coast willing to share a bit of information on what I should be dong, although this is not something I can rely on. I think I am going to end up winging it, experimenting with the fishing gear I bought and just see what happens. Even if I don’t catch, it will be a few hours out in (hopefully) the sun, soaking up what the West Irish coast has to offer, and I can’t wait.