Saturday, 2 May 2009

Saltwater Lure Fishing Fundamentals for beginners

Saltwater Lure Fishing Series - First Published Irish Angler 2004

  1. Improve your saltwater lure fishing introduction.
  2. Lure and tackle choices.
  3. On the big blue.

Part three

So here we are at part three already. Lets talk a little about techniques. Remember from part two that we said traditional metal spinners like the Abu Toby are simply cast and then retrieved at various speeds. This is an effective way of catching fish no doubt. With a lure you can achieve so much more. By using the correct techniques you can impart more ‘life’ into a lure that a metal jig simply doesn’t have. To be really effective at lure fishing you need to develop two things – understanding how to locate the fish and ensuring you are using the right bait and techniques.

There are times during the day that are better than others, in fact there are two times, which are generally considered to be – early morning before the sun rises, and evening time, just before and after sun down. There is also a number of tidal factors to consider that may or may not correspond to this timing but from a beginners point of view I would advise you to try and determine the dates when rising tides coincide with a rising sun (not exactly of course) or, when rising tides coincide with a setting sun. These two co-incidences are proven times for fish catching, the change of light creates a hunting instinct in most predators. But don’t become restricted to these times only – there are other hours in the day too!

Regarding your search tactics for locations its up to you to put in the hard work and slog it out I’m afraid. It can take some time and effort. Getting up early, travelling long distances, trying various states of the tides. Expenditure on equipment and lures can run high. Sometimes it can be frustrating but eventually you will be rewarded. After your hard work you will have determined the patterns and success is yours to enjoy.

Ok so lets get to the serious stuff. This could take some time I’m afraid but lets begin. The equipment jigsaw consists of three main pieces, lets start with the reel. You will more likely than not be using a fixed spool reel. The activity of lure fishing means your reel will be in constant use during your fishing sessions. This is not like bait fishing where you cast and retrieve maybe every fifteen to twenty minutes, sixteen to twenty times in a session. When you are lure fishing you could probably be casting and retrieving as much as forty to fifty times and hour or two hundred times a session. This means your reel needs to be of good quality. Its internal workings need to be tough and smooth with correct bearing placement. The outer coating needs to be saltwater resistant and able to withstand the odd knock on rocks.

There is also one factor worth bearing in mind especially if you choose to use braid as your mainline, which I would recommend. When you retrieve braid onto your spool the line needs to be placed in neat parallel coils, this is achieved by a ‘slow oscillating’ mechanism within the reel. If you are purchasing a fixed spool reel for lure fishing look to for this or similar methods of line lay. The Shimano range is particularly suitable for this.

Your choice of mainline is one of two – traditional monofilament which is not too expensive or the more expensive option which is braid. I’m afraid I favour the latter for a number of reasons. Despite the initial outlay, if looked after properly braid will last three or four seasons. It has a much thinner profile than monofilament and hence will cast a lot further, there is another added benefit to this thin profile, it will help in the lifelike action of your lure. Braid has no stretch so there is a unique experience in fish and lure contact. This allows you to control your lure in ways that monofilament never can. When fishing with braid I would recommend that you use a short length of clear mono of fluorocarbon of about one metre at the end of your line. This allows for a little shock absorption when striking fish and prevents wear and tear on the braid from a lure or when fishing in rocky areas. Powerpro, spiderwire, Dynacable are all good brands that work really well. When using new braid take it easy with casting at first until you ‘break it in’ over one or two sessions. It is prone to wind knots at first but these will soon disappear.

The last piece of the jigsaw is your rod. A much talked about, and hotly debated topic. Lets look at the fish we are aiming to catch, sea trout, bass, mackerel, pollack. Not exactly huge fish are they. Ok so each has its particular strengths but these are not the hard fighting toothy species of the tropics. So matching your rod to the species you intend to catch will enhance your sporting experience. I have spent a considerable amount of time looking for suitable lure rods that fit the species to be caught in Ireland and generally I use two very light specialised saltwater rods. They are both of the same make. The first rod is an eight footer that casts lures between 10g and 30g, the second rod is just over nine feet and casts lures between 30g and 75g. It is important to mention that these are not classed in the traditional sense of the spinning rod. These are specifically designed saltwater lure fishing rods. Rings are Fuji sic and the carbon is of a very high modulus. Each rod has a specific line strength recommendation

The reaction that most people have to these rods is a how remarkably light and somewhat stiff they are, they then follow it up with the question how can you land a big fish on one of those? And herein lies a lot of information. These lure rods are constructed to do a number of things,

  1. They allow you to control and work you lure as effectively as possible
  2. They translate the movements of the lure into your hands and arms
  3. They allow you to cast a long way when required
  4. They allow you to apply power to a big fish when you need to avoid an obstruction and when you need to land the fish quickly
  5. Is sensitive and balanced enough to allow you feel the power of the fish

You don’t need a heavy spinning rod for fishing saltwater in Ireland. Travel light and enjoy the sense of freedom rather than becoming bogged down under the weight of your equipment. Enjoy the feeling of being in touch with your quarry and the sense that your effective equipment will put you closer to the fish and your fishing. This will allow you to enjoy your surroundings and learn from what you are witnessing in a more intimate and productive way.

I think we couldn’t finish this series without returning to the lures and some techniques. I’m afraid that in a short series like this it is simply not possible to cover every tactic or technique. The choice of lures facing the angler is huge so how does he select the correct one. Understanding the feeding habits of the target species will help, for instance sea trout are known to feed on sand eels at sea and in our estuaries. They are very wary of ‘artificials’ so a small light lure that resembles a sand eel closely and one that is fished n the correct manner will give you a lot of success. There is no point in targeting sea trout with large red lures that are designed for toothy critters.

Sea bass on the other hand are often aggressive and voracious hunters. They will respond to a number of stimuli and the ‘trigger’ points in many lures take advantage of this. Lures that splash and pop on the surface will attract bass, lures that flash and dive under cover will attract bass, and lures that bounce and crash into rocks will attract bass. Bass generally have no problems attacking large lures with big eyes that make lots of noise. If you have experienced a surface smash take by a big bass then you have experienced what makes this sport so addictive.

Learn to make you lure move realistically by watching bait fish in their natural environment. They don’t swim constantly in a straight line now do they? What colours of natural bait do you see watched up after the mackerel have attacked them? What kind of fish live under or close to the rocks where you are fishing, what colour are these guys, how do they behave, what does an injured fish look like in the water? What are the terns feeding on? It’s a case of constant observation and a applying what you see to your fishing.

Ensure you have a deep diving lure, a mid-water lure and a surface lure at all times. Animate your lure to enhance its swimming motion. Be confident in your lure choice and concentrate on what nature is telling you. Fish with a frame of mind that tells you - you will catch a fish on the next cast or the next or the next. Don’t mind the guy up the beach screaming at the bass he missed – its now swimming in your direction!

I must warn you that, and I’m sure you probably don’t need to be reminded of this that lures are an obsession. I have a few lures here at my house might I say, when I say a few I mean a large number. The fact is I only ever fish with about six or seven. The few that I fish with are firm favourites. They have all caught me a lot of fish, and they all have hundreds of fishing hours on them. On the odd occasion that I might loose one of them it’s a tragedy. There follows a little ceremony and a period of mourning whilst I decide how and with what I will replace my lost friend! Sad I know, but it will happen to you too! SEAi does provide counselling services for loss of loved lures!!

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Forwarded to - The Irish Bass Policy Group (David McInerny, John Quinlan, Shane O Reilly, Mike Hennessy, Dr William Roche, Dr Nial O'Ma...