Break The Mould And Do Something Different
The city of Istanbul assaults the senses. It bustles. The traffic is manic and the people, shall we be kind and describe them as excitable? And persistent? London is pedestrian by comparison. But walking across the Galata Bridge last week which spans the Golden Horn I was shocked by the number of anglers dangling lines into the Bosphorus. With a spectacular backdrop of the Tokapi Palace and the Blue Mosque the locals squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder in their efforts to catch what looked to me like sardines, which was quite apt really.
For a few Turkish Lira you could purchase complete fishing outfits from street vendors. It was certainly popular with the locals and set me to thinking. How many of us spend our holidays baking on a sun lounger bored silly when just a few yards away we could be wetting a line and having fun?
Now the Galata Bridge is the last place I’d personally want to fish but I started racking my brains and it dawned on me how often I have watched and even sat with locals fishing from the rocks around the Mediterranean. They tend to favour telescopic whips fishing to hand with conventional pole floats and bread on the hook and they get lots of bites. Best of all a telescopic whip will fit inside a decent sized suitcase and do bear that in mind because the airlines will rip you off if you try and stash a rod tube in the hold.
A mate of mine used to really look forward to his annual trip to the Costas. He had the place sussed and swore by a 3AA waggler, again using bread, but he fished in the harbour around the boats for mullet which averaged anything from 8 ounces to about 3 lbs.
More memories came flooding back. On a trip to Morocco we joined a boat party that promised freshly barbecued fish on board. The best bit was we had to catch them on hand lines – great big mackerel provided fabulous sport and sumptuous eating. Later I discovered you could see shoals of them in the breaking waves not 10 yards from the shore. If only I’d had a spinning rod.
Local fishermen once showed me how to catch moray eels from the rocky shoreline in Malta. They took a small fish and rubbed it on the rocks where the waves were slapping. Scales, bits of flesh and the scent of fish weren’t carried far on the current before an eel popped its head out from a crevice in the rocks sensing an easy meal. The fisherman quickly lowered down half a fish on a hand line and within seconds they were dancing around with a moray eel that I swear was nearly 3 feet long.
When I visit places where the sea is likely to be warm I like to pack my snorkelling gear and it’s amazing how many fish are to be found close to the shore in the Red Sea, off Mexico, Florida, and particularly the Caribbean. It’s the same in the Indian Ocean and although I’ve never been, I’m sure Thailand offers similar opportunities.
The number of jacks and barracuda is remarkable and they’ll all attack a spinner or plug given a chance. A 4-piece travel rod, a fixed spool reel loaded with 30lb braid and a wire trace is all you need to get started.
But what of those who stay closer to home? What can they catch?
My wife and I rented a weekend cottage at Blakeney on the North Norfolk coast last year. We drove up to the village of Cley and walked along the vast shingle beach. Anglers were catching flatties, bass and whiting casting 3oz leads not 40 yards out. Anyone with a carp rod could do this. Apparently there’s a good run of cod, too.
But for real excitement I’d head to the south coast and the further west you go the better because one of the real challenges of angling is waiting to be tapped into. Mullet fishing is described as one of the most frustrating angling disciplines. You’ll find them around harbours and any rocky shoreline and it’s dead easy to cast too far out. Mullet seldom venture too far from the edge.
You need nothing stronger than a decent float rod matched with 4 or 6lb line. Float fishing’s the game and think chub – mashed bread, a float taking a couple of swan shots, size 6 hook wrapped in a piece of flake. Bites range from tentative to violent and the fights are spectacular. Proper heart stopping stuff. You can even catch them on fly fishing gear.
And then there’s light rock fishing. For this you’ll need hiking boots to protect your feet and the methods range from float fishing to casting small lures. Expect to catch wrasse, Pollack and if you’re really lucky, bass.
In all cases I’d recommend a visit to the local tackle shop and picking the owners’ brains but failing that, you can spend a few hours Googling web sites and blogs.
Finally, there’s another route, one that I can thoroughly recommend and that’s to book a day out on a boat trip. Now do beware that in the busy tourist centres you might get poor value for money, especially in the more glamorous holiday locations promising blue water fishing for marlin and sailfish but if you’re a bit closer to home then the chances are you can enjoy a fantastic day out without breaking the bank.
The UK’s inshore waters have been visited by good numbers of cod in recent summers and catching them couldn’t be easier. I recently had a day out of Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast. The method was to bounce small rubber shads close to the bottom. At a fiver a packet shads hardly cost the earth and you can get away with any decent lure or pike rod which most anglers own already.
The secret is to book your trip on the final day of your break because then you can take home what you catch. I caught a dozen cod between 3 and 8lbs, tipped the skipper a fiver to fillet and skin them for me and filled up my freezer at home.
Fishery Of The Week
Wold View Fisheries, Pelham Road, Claxby, Lincolnshire, LN8 3YR
As commercial fisheries go you’ll go a long way to find one that’s more impressive than Wold View. Nestling neath the Lincolnshire Wolds the entrance gates and driveway, not to mention manicured lawns, would grace any golf club. Drive up to the lodge with the lakes and a panoramic vista on your left and you’ll be left in no doubt this is a very special fishery. The lodge has a tackle shop and serves hot food whilst those with a tourer van can book one of the permanent standings. There are six lakes with well spaced out pegs and the fishing is superb. Day tickets are £7, concessions a fiver. The gates open at 7.30am daily. For a guided tour of the fisheries visit the web site where you’ll find a couple of film clips in which top angling personality Jan Porter introduces each of the lakes.