Monday, December 30, 2013

Light fantastic.

Over the last week or so I've read a few reports online from other anglers catching flounder using heavy tackle with the anglers concerned asking how to avoid deep hooking flounders. I offered some advice and decided to practice what I preach, heading out on Boxing Day to have a go for them on light tackle and using circle hooks. I drove down to West Barns, parked the car and crossed over the Biel Burn before strolling down to fish from its mouth at the end of Belhaven Beach.

This bridge is partially submerged either side of high water. This catches a few people out and results in either getting quite wet or a very long walk.

It was a lovely day with hardly any clouds and a slight off shore breeze flattening the sea. Perhaps a little too flat. I prefer to fish for flounders when there are a few small waves breaking as it stirs up the bottom and encourages them to feed but I gave it a go anyway.

Not the Bass Rock again! It's been on the horizon at the last few marks I've fished. I'd love to visit it one day.

My setup for the session was my Nories Flat Fish Program Rough Surf 88, Daiwa Caldia 3000 reel spooled with 15lb Sunline Castaway braid. At the business end I tied on about five feet of 15lb leader using a uni to uni knot onto which I slid a 1oz egg sinker followed by a bead and tied on a small swivel.

Get with the program. Light is the way to go for flounders. This 8' 8" rod is rated 10-40g and combined with braid the bite detection is very good. 

I then snelled a #4 Mustad Demon Fine Wire circle hook using a knotless knot onto a fairly short 6" 10lb snood and tied this onto the swivel. My bait cocktail of choice was a small section of black lug, which I doubled over and bound with bait elastic, tipped off with a small sliver of squid.

Snelling circle hooks will help them work properly by turning them into the mouth of the fish.

Casting out I found my lead was resting on the bottom. Flounders are attracted by movement and I would have changed to a lighter lead so that the current could wash it and my bait around a bit but didn't have any lighter leads with me so instead every minute or so I would turn the reel handle a couple of times to bump my bait along the sand and try and tempt any fish that were in range. My setup was very light and comfortable and holding it at right angles to the line I watched the tip for signs of activity whilst feeling the line also between my thumb and finger.

Holding your rod tip at a ninety degree to the line also helps with bite detection.

Fishing with circle hooks it is important to remember that you do not strike when you feel a bite. Instead you let the bite develop before slowly reeling in or lifting the rod tip, feeling for the weight of the fish which will hook itself as the shank of the hook is draw out of its mouth and the hook point turns into the lip. After forty five minutes or so of casting out in various directions and slowly working it back I felt a gentle pluck of a fish and waited a few seconds before slowly reeling in. My rod soon had a nice bend in it, the fish on the end nodding its head so I knew the circle hook had done its job and a nice flounder was soon on the sand ready to be easily unhooked and returned to the water.

Success! A nice flounder perfectly lip hooked.
Off it goes again to grow bigger!

I carried on fishing for another hour or so but had no more bites before I headed home. Still it was very satisfying that everything had come together as it had been a while since I'd fished for flounders on an open beach using this method. Circle hooks are great and really reduce the chances of deep hooking. It can still happen occasionally if you don't notice the bite though and this alone is a good reason to fish lighter particularly if you are a catch and release angler. However even if using Aberdeen patterns whilst fishing light for flounder it is still so much more enjoyable than the two heavy rods and a tripod approach and the additional bite detection provided should still reduce the chances of fish swallowing baits right down making unhooking difficult. I would even go so far as to say that the tackle I was using was still a little on the heavy side as the use of ultra light tackle really transforms flounder into a sporting fish so the next time I go I'll be going even lighter!

Tight lines, Scott.

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