Frustration and Elation…Winter on the River Tamar (Part 1)

Well what a start to the winter season we have seen this year. Weather wise I can’t quite remember ever being faced with such a prolonged spell of bad conditions. Storm after storm appear to be hitting us and as I write this I’m again housebound as we’re in the midst of yet another one. The Met forecast rarely seems to show winds below 30 or 40mph and to say it’s been frustrating would be an understatement. That being said if you are prepared to get out among the stormy conditions it can offer some of the finest sea fishing you’ll get here in the UK.

High winds, big tides and fast currents are like a dinner gong for our Cod and Bass. It brings them closer to shore among the stirred up conditions in search of easy pickings and should generally be welcomed by us anglers. Yes, it’s not particularly comfortable and on occasions outright ridiculous but for me the potential rewards are far too much to resist.

The target venue for my winter campaign has like the past few seasons been the River Tamar in Plymouth. The Tamar is notorious for producing a few massive fish each winter and there is a small group of hardcore local anglers who know this. This year I have given up the increasingly combat style shore fishing in search of solitude and have been targeting a specific area only accessible by boat or kayak. Having the latter option available to me has been a huge bonus to my catch rate but has presented its own challenges with the weather we’ve been getting. Through trial and error I have learned to become quite strict in terms of the conditions I’m prepared to go out in.

As a general rule of thumb I try not go out in tides greater than 5.3m or wind gusts above 35mph as these create the most unpleasant conditions when night fishing in the river and have been the cause of some of my hairiest sessions when I have pushed my luck that bit too far! With safety in mind it’s important to plan your session very carefully prior to a night launch and you want to aim to be at anchor wind with tide. A big South Westerly combined with a flooding tide will generally mean the wind and tide is on my back at my chosen mark which is the safest and most comfortable when anchored or tied off at the rear of the boat in lumpy conditions.

My first few serious sessions began mid November when Cod catch reports began coming in. Weather conditions really were quite bad at the time but the urge to get out meant I was keeping a close eye on the forecast and waiting for the small lulls between weather systems. By being ready to take advantage of small weather windows and fishing short 2-3 hour sessions during peak tide times I was soon able to bag my first cod of the season, a fish of 7lb.

7lb cod2

It was actually during this session that I lost 3 big fish in a row before finally landing what felt like the smallest of the night. Tied off to a buoy in around 15 foot of water in a fast ebbing spring tide I hooked and lost three fish on the same rod within the space of an hour. The first fish pulled the hook and the following two snapped my 30lb leader, none of which I ever saw. It was at this point when I knew there were some serious fish passing through the area and I began beefing up all the gear I was using. Up to that point I had been using 5/0 Pennel rigs with 30lb leaders to present my whole squid baits, which had always been ample enough for me. I soon made the switch to 8/0 Kamikaze hooks and 70lb leaders in a bid to prevent any more losses.

After a promising start I then went on to blank for over a week, fishing every evening after work on the fall of a nice spring tide cycle. I just wanted to be in position with the big baits for when the fish moved back in and I began taking more risks with the weather and going out in some really awful conditions. It was at this point when I took a step back and set some rules for myself, including the 5.3 rule! Tides above this become unmanageable and seem to drag a whole manner of crap down the river with them; seaweed, logs, whole trees! Getting caught up in the tide with any of that at night isn’t fun I can assure you!

At this point I was becoming somewhat addicted to the cause and coincidentally the night after my trio of dropped fish – a monstrous Cod of over 22lb was landed from the river by a friend of mine, Frankie. This fish sent my head spinning! As now I had visual proof of the size of the fish making their way up the river and though I was over the moon for Frankie it didn’t half get me thinking about my own fishing…that was the caliber of fish I was up against! Did that snap me up on 30lb line? I’ve landed Cod over 24lb off wrecks on similar strained gear…was it bigger? All horrible thoughts when the weathers preventing you from even getting out the house!

Re-focused and now buzzing with confidence I carried on pursuing my area with my now seriously beefed up gear. The new game plan was to fish big and adopt the one bite strategy to target solely the largest. I was using double or even triple dirty Squid and Razorfish baits on 8/0 pennels in an attempt to ween off the attention of smaller Cod and Ray.


I now had no interest in Codling or big bags of fish like I had in previous seasons. One bite and one fish was all I wanted. I’d lob these monstrous baits into my gully and there they’d sit for up to an hour at a time before being checked and replaced. Several blank sessions and I was starting to question the decision until I finally got the bite I’d been waiting for. I was fishing the flood and had a strong South West wind on my back when I had two unmistakably large thumps on my right hand rod. That wasn’t the wind! After picking it up I was met with another big thud before the grippers pulled and it all went slack…Fish on! I wound down and into the fish, no need to strike here she was already hooked.

The initial run from this fish was so powerful I knew immediately I’d hooked something big and as it moved down tide, staying deep, I had flashbacks of lost fish and an image of a monstrous Cod in my mind. This thought was soon muddled as the runs felt too fast and there was a distinct lack of any head thumping. This was definitely a Bass and a big one! Several scarily fast runs later and the fish surfaced down tide thrashing its head, about 20 yards from the kayak. It was just getting dark but there was enough light to make out the unmistakable dark Silver flash of a very large angry Bass. As with most big Bass they tend to stay up near the surface and this one was no exception. It would come up and thrash its head before turning and using the fast current to create more distance between us. As the fish was moving further and further down tide and now dangerously close to the other mooring buoys, I was starting to doubt whether I’d be able to pull it back up on the 100g lure rod it was attached to. I began to consider untying and drifting down tide after it whilst at the same time fumbling behind me trying to untangle my net that had seemingly wrapped itself around every conceivable object it could!

Strangely enough shortly after this it turned and began heading back up tide towards me and I was so shocked I almost lost contact with it trying to take up the slack! Finally though the fish surfaced by the boat and with the flooding tide in full swing it was a very hairy maneuver to get her in the net, but in she went. I paddled the 80 yards or so to shore and measured her at 85cm and at 13lb 2oz the Bass was the fish I had been chasing for the past 4 years. A journey that has taken me to Ireland’s Copper Coast five times and an almost uncountable amount of UK lure and bait sessions I finally had a big double on the bank that I’d landed only 5 minutes from where I live!

13lb 2oz bass 2

13lb 2oz bass

The River Tamar can be a very special place this time of year. The size of the fish in its system is seriously impressive though at times fishing for them can be absolutely soul destroying. Staring at motionless rods while getting battered by the elements isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but for me it’s why I go fishing… you only need one bite!

Oxwich Bay Kayak Fishing Competition 2015

Well I can’t quite believe it’s been over a month since I last blogged on here! Time really is flying by and I think we’ve still not seen the best of the summer fishing season yet. This weekend was the 4th annual Oxwich Bay Kayak Fishing event held on the Gower Peninsula in Wales. It’s an event at the top of any serious kayak anglers calendar and one I know many have been looking forward to since the Ocean Kayak Classic last month. On the build up to this event we spent some time here at Bluezone preparing rigs and tackle for the day and having not fished the venue before some research and local knowledge was sought to get an idea of the types of fish found in the bay. This was also going to be a great opportunity to try out some of the new gear we’ve had in recently, all in the name of work of course!

Car fully loaded I set off late Friday morning with the intention of getting out on the water that afternoon to scope the ground for the following mornings species hunt. The M4 traffic soon put that idea to rest as I spent the better part of 6 hours battling my way up to Gower! Not the start I had hoped for as I rolled into the Oxwich Bay car park at dusk. I decided against a late launch and headed for a great looking pub I’d passed on the way in for a wind down and a bit of food before hitting the sack for an early night.

The big day arrived and the conditions luckily weren’t too bad at all. We had bright sunshine that was interrupted by the odd shower and the bay itself was fairly sheltered from the worse of the wind so I’d say we got fairly lucky that the boundaries weren’t brought in closer, giving us all more room to play in. 129 anglers registered on the day and the rules for this event were the same as the Plymouth event, most species wins and in the event of a tie the first one back takes it – simple, catch lots of fish really quickly…what’s hard about that!?


09:30 and we’re all lined up on the beach ready to launch. It was here I got to meet fellow Plymouth anglers Frankie and Lee who were equally as excited as me and were keen to bag themselves some new species that the bay had to offer. The sound of the waves hitting the shore seemed to drown out most of the safety brief though I think most anglers were by now pretty keen to get out on the water. No sooner had he wished us good luck than a barrage of kayaks hit the water and really went for it off to their chosen marks. The bay itself has plenty of features to go at, from rough broken ground, sand banks, channels and even a Wreck it was the perfect venue for a species hunt.

I began by fishing some short drifts with a scratch rig over the broken ground to the right of the bay. This was the general direction most people headed and it all looked a bit cramped in some places! I do like a bit of space when I’m on the water so drifted away from the crowds where I was soon joined by Frankie as we tried to try winkle out some minis to get going.


Not having much luck I headed out deeper and dropped anchor in some faster current that I felt offered a good chance of Pollock, Wrasse and Bass. First fish was this nice little Ballan and while I was trying to take his picture the other rod baited with Isome was engulfed by a greedy little Pollock. Two species on board at once, sound efficient though in reality it caused a massive tangle with two fish flapping about and me trying frantically to photograph them, but still we were off the mark!

Things went a bit quiet so down went a Sabiki rig. Sasame provide a very wide range of these and I have been playing around with the different patterns over different ground. This was the first time I’d used the S-851 Micro Shrimp imitations and I used a 5g Shout Dangan Jig to get it down. These jigs flutter on descent and will take pretty much any fish going so to me this rig was a winner! In quick succession I had three more species on board, a Smelt, a Corkwing Wrasse and a Mackerel, though unfortunately the Mackerel didn’t count in this event.


Now with 4 species it was time for a move and I was keen to try the cleaner ground for a Smoothound. This is a species I’d not caught before and I knew it was a very good venue in which to try my luck. Down went a big crab bait while I continued with the scratch rig in the hope of picking up some more elusive mini species. Not more than 5 minutes had passed when the crab was picked up by what I was convinced was a hound, right up until I parted the net to reveal a Dogfish!


Slight disappointment though it was still another species and one I needed so I whipped on another couple of crab and lowered it back down in the hope that one would find it. I was now against the clock so decided it wasn’t to be, it was now 13:30 and I knew it was time to fish the drift and target the flatfish and Gurnard. I was looking forward to this the most as a Gurnard was a fish I’d not had before, it was also the perfect situation to test the new Bluezone Telepower 300 as this was exactly the kind of fishing it was designed for. The rod itself was designed by Bluezone and built by Artico and is Telescopic out to 3m with a grommet that allows you to fish it short and long. The extra length and plug in nylon tip gives insane sensitivity and a lovely fish playing curve. I Fished it at full length with a baitrunner loaded with braid coupled with a two down rig baited with Lug and Squid. The bait soon found a Tub Gurnard, these have got to be one of the prettiest fish in UK waters and really do look cool with the neon blue running through the plus size Pectoral fins!


I quickly rebaited and lowered it back down. The drift was very quick and I was covering a lot of ground so was now fairly confident I’d find something else. Literally next drop was a repeat of the first and after a fairly decent scrap species number 7 was on the boat, this time a lovely little Grey Gurnard.oxwich7


I was now the only kayak right out on the left of the bay so paddled hard to set up for another drift over roughly the same ground. I then hooked and lost a fish before lowering it straight back to nail a nice Dab making up my 8th species, excluding the discounted Mackerel. After two more blank drifts I knew realistically I still needed a few more species and that my best bet would be the Wreck for a Pout, Poor Cod and Bream.

It was now crunch time, 8 wasn’t going to be enough to place but it had just passed 15:00 and I was a good 20 minute paddle away from the beach. Looking ahead it was also low tide so add another 10 minute traipse up to the registration tent! Had I not been in a match I would of carried on the drift fishing, it really was good sport though I headed in quite content with my debut session at a new venue. What ever happened I’d had a cracking day on the water catching two new species on a new rod to boot! In the registration queue I could see some familiar names up there in the double figures, with 14 at the top!

That really is an impressive tally of fish and hats off to the guys who placed. Just behind me in the queue was David Morris of Anglers Afloat who managed a red Mullet among his catch to give him 9 species to finish in 10th. I’d not placed but did manage 15th so not too bad for a days work and a thoroughly enjoyed day on the water. I have to give credit to the organisers of this event, the work that went in meant things on the day ran very smoothly indeed and I will be back next year for sure!

Ocean Kayak Classic 2015 in Plymouth Sound

When I first heard this event was being held in Plymouth Sound I must admit I was a tad excited! Competitive Kayak fishing brought to my doorstep, thank you very much! I’ve always believed Plymouth Sound to be a fine venue for this kind of event. The breakwater offers shelter from the wind and the fishing ground itself is so varied it makes it a great prospect for a species hunt, which was the format of the event.

The conditions on the day weren’t too bad though the westerly wind was forecast to increase throughout the day and a glance over the sound saw a notable bit of chop, but it certainly could have been worse. We arrived at Mount Batten at around 8am and with the event due to begin at 10am we were greeted by a fine sight of fully rigged Kayaks along with anglers fumbling into dry suits and arranging their gear ready for the day ahead. Feeling we’d perhaps arrived a bit late we hastily rigged up and began the usual pre launch checks. Did I really need that? would I actually use these lures? just some of the questions I asked myself as more and more gear was loaded into the hull! I had a game plan and it involved covering some distance so keeping the weight down was an issue for me and could make the difference to getting back in time. I find deciding what to take a difficult task as I only really like to take the minimum. This keeps me nimble on the water and it’s also easier to find things. A quick glance over some of the other watercraft however and it appeared some anglers didn’t agree with me! Some of the kayaks were seemingly carrying more electronics and gadgets than the QE2! An awesome sight to behold, some seriously impressive bits of kit were laid on the slipway awaiting the launch and it just highlighted to me the standard of anglers that get involved in these events.

Being sponsors of the event I popped down to have a chat with one of the organisers Jon who the day previous had kindly helped me unload our new Bluezone kayak, in the pouring rain I might add… thanks mate! Jon explained that due to the conditions on the day a new zone had been opened up which allowed anglers to fish up the river, with Laira Bridge forming the boundary. With the safety briefing and birthday sing-alongs out the way the fleet of 80 Kayak Anglers left the slip to the sound of an air horn. This was it, my start of my first Kayak fishing competition and I was loving every minute, the atmosphere had been great, now we just needed some fish!


Anglers tore off to their chosen marks and began setting anchors, some close in to Mount Batten pier itself with others choosing to drift adjacent the Eastern shore of zone 1. With the conditions as they were I continued with my plan which was to head straight out to the breakwater and fish my chosen mark near the fort. I knew of a spot here that was sheltered enough from the wind and offered access to mixed ground that I felt held a good chance of several species on my list. I also wanted to beat the crowds and give myself plenty of water to explore without treading on anybody’s toes. After a 40 minute paddle I was soon anchored in tight to the rocks and began tossing my groundbait mix up onto the higher boulders behind me. This is a tactic I’d used here in the past and was taking advantage of the rising tide to slowly release my bait into the water for me. It keeps the chum in tight to the rocks and the aim was to draw in the mid water species – Mullet, Smelt and Garfish while I had a crack at the Rock Species.


A quick glance around and not another kayak in sight! was this a good thing or bad thing I wasn’t so sure? It had been quite some time since I’d fished this mark and having not fished a kayak competition before I wasn’t really sure how the other anglers went about it. Was it better to stay in close to give yourself more time fishing and a better chance getting in early to register your catch? To me it was just fishing and I knew I could catch a few here and confidence plays a huge part, I’m sure you will agree.

Anyway back to the fishing, it wasn’t long before the LRF rod registered a rattle on the 2 hook scratching rig. I’d baited two size 10 Sasame Keiru Ringed hooks with chopped pieces of Ragworm and soon had a Goldsinny Wrasse on the deck awaiting its photograph. I have to admit to not being much of a species angler and usually focus my attentions on much larger fish; though what struck me is how pretty these little fish really are when you look closely enough.


This was even more apparent when the next fish arrived, a beautiful neon coloured Rockcook Wrasse. This was a first for me and what better time than in a species competition for it to arrive.


This was shortly followed by an aggressive little Pollock that grabbed my scratch rig on the retrieve, ideal 3 species and only an hour in I was starting to think I’d made a good call with the mark. With a few more wrasse left on the list I continued with the scratch rig and with no signs of any mullet over the bait I switched from the float and bread flake and baited a larger 2 hook rig with worm and Squid cocktails and launched it the 40 yards or so into the cleaner ground in front. The target being Dogfish, Pouting and Poor Cod or anything else that fancied a go. No sooner had I got that rod into position then a flash of silver caught my eye over the baited spot to my left. The water here was crystal clear and I saw a small mullet make its way between the weed beds before darting off. kayak-comp-5

Typical, though sighting only one fish wasn’t enough for me to wind in and set up the float again so I baited the bottom hook on the scratch rig with a small bit of mackerel flesh and plopped that over the baited spot. Not ideal but it would do for now while I decided what I was doing. I have to admit to feeling a bit indecisive a few times on the day and getting into a rhythm was hard when your constantly chopping and changing. This doubt soon shifted when the scratch rod hoofed over with what could only be a mullet attached. I grabbed the rod and immediately loosened the clutch, I certainly wasn’t ready for that as the Goldsinny hadn’t exactly given me the run around! The Mullet gave a few sharp thuds and then came straight to the surface thrashing its head before the hook popped out, it was quite a big one and another species to boot so it was a blow to lose that one. After an hour or so trying for another I was finally rewarded, not with a mullet but another Wrasse, a Corkwing this time so a welcome substitute. This signalled time for a move and I upped anchor in search of deeper water where a Ballan might be lurking.

After a few attempts I finally got the anchor to bite and began fishing the channel between the fort and the breakwater. A sensitive tip was inserted into the Bluezone Telepower 360 and again rag and squid was loaded onto a 1 up one down rig. After an hour or so of nothing and now feeling the full brunt of the ever strengthening wind I began clock watching. Should I head in and attempt some mini species along the harbour wall, or stick it out? Fortunately for me the thumping rod tip made up my mind for me and after a rather nice scrap a beautiful Ballan was on the hatch ready for its picture.


Not sure if anyone else had the same trouble as me but I certainly learned my lesson when it comes to my kayak photography skills. Wet hands and touch screen Iphones do not mix! The amount of time I wasted just trying to unlock my bloody screen was ridiculous but somehow I managed to get all the pics I needed, though not exactly inspiring I think a GoPro is on the shopping list.

Now with 4 Wrasse species and a Pollock it was time for a move. It was approaching 14:00 and with the comp finishing in two hours and a good half hour paddle back, I decided to try a drift on the way in to cover a bit more ground. Fortunately the drift was taking me in the right direction so I made good use of it to hook my 6th species, a tiny little Whiting.


Now it was definitely time to head back and with wind and tide behind me I anticipated a nice easy ride…Wrong! The swell and chop appeared to hit me from all angles and the paddle back was miserable in all fairness and I took a bit of a battering, costing me a good quarter hour. Back in sight of Mount Batten Pier I could see several anglers were still going so with an hour of the comp left I decided to have a go inside the wall in an attempt to bag the 7th species, since when have Pouting been so elusive!? The conditions here were quite awful and the wind made the drift much too fast and I even managed to break my anchor reel trying to drop anchor in tight so decided to head in and register my catch and hope it was enough. It was only 15:20 and I was surprised to see so many people already back before me, had I missed a trick? In the event of a tie then the first angler to register his catch will take the position so it suddenly dawned that maybe I’d pushed my luck, conditions were pretty bad and 6 species might not be too bad after all.

After the event everyone gathered around the registration area for the results. Rumours were going round that someone had landed 14 species so I loaded the van a bit deflated and cursing myself for losing that Mullet.To my surprise I scooped 7th place with Mark Crame landing an impressive 9 species to take the win! It was a tough day on the water but thoroughly enjoyed and for the debut of the Bluezone Kayak I was made up with placing..

Here’s the scores on the doors.

1. Mark Crame. 9
2. Graham Shaw. 7
3. Mark Radcliffe. 7
4. Liam Faisey. 7
5. Ian Pickering. 6
6. Keith Ward. 6
7. Kyle Waterhouse. 6
8. Dane Wood. 6
9. Martin Collison. 6
10. Kieran Faisey. 5

And let’s not forget that the event was in aid of Heroes on the Water with Scott Ward winning that category.

Heroes on the Water
1. Scott Ward. 4
2. Neil Whitehead. 4
3. Glynn Barrell

Species hunting isn’t a style of fishing I’m used to but it opened my eyes to a new angling challenge that actually gets you thinking much more than traditional match fishing. You need to fish multiple styles, methods and marks to rack up the points which means planning your time on the water around the tides and weather conditions. You also have the added tactic of knowing when to come in and register your catch and interestingly enough the two gents in 6th and 5th, Ian and Keith -also had 6 species but obviously knew when to call it a day!!

All in all an awesome event with 19 species landed including the awesome looking Red Band fish. For those of you I had the pleasure of chatting with it was lovely to meet you. Thanks to Ocean Kayak and Heroes on the Water for allowing us to be sponsors of the event, we’re always keen to get involved in such a great cause. Bring on the next one!

Night time is the right time, After-Dark Predator Fishing

In the last blog I introduced Sasame’s new Junglegym range and talked about some recent test sessions with the new gear on the local canal. Among the catches was a rather memorable Pike of around 15lb caught in the dark on a lure. This got me thinking again about just how active these predators become once the sun sets and are we missing a trick by packing up and going home just as the fish are switching on? Now I don’t proclaim to be a strict Pike angler and only really fish for them now and again but up until then I’d never really had much success with them once the sun had set. Lots of thoughts go around my head and I question do all predators instinctively use the cover of darkness to ambush their prey? I know from my Bass fishing experience that this top salt water predator is highly active in the dark and without question fishing at night for them can be highly productive.

Now I said last week that it was time to switch species and start targeting the Bass and despite managing to hook and subsequently lose a nice fish on a popper last Friday evening I am still yet to land one this season. Now this doesn’t phase me too much as some of my best fishing is had in the Autumn and winter months and besides, here at Bluezone we have been working on some big projects so that has kept me more than busy! Continuing this train of thought I’d like to look at last winter as it was here when I first got the bug for night fishing with lures. I’ve now begun trying to think more like a predator and feel this tactic is slowly filtering in to my other angling styles, bagging me some bonus specimens.

These days a big part of my fishing revolves around the use of soft plastic lures and the versatility these offer makes them a great choice for night fishing. Last Winter began very mild and big female bass were schooled up in the local estuaries, you just had to find them at fish for them at the right time. The nights drew in fast and it was a case that to fish the most productive gullies, at peak times, you would have to be fishing in total darkness. Now If I’m honest I never initially planned to night fish with lures it was just a case that in winter it was dark most of the time I wanted to fish!

Now I’m no stranger to night fishing and very much enjoy shore fishing at night with bait. Though what did surprise me is just how productive lures and in particular soft plastics can be at night. At first it’s hard to believe that a fish can see a lure in the dark and until I started catching, I admit that I was skeptical. It’s like anything you do in fishing you can never truly be confident with what your doing until you have landed a fish and this was no exception.blogger-image--84341218

I was having success on the Fiiish Black Minnow and Crazy Eel patterns and having caught a bunch of fish on them both here and in Ireland I was confident they were the way forward. Being so versatile they allowed me to bump them in the tide, slowly twitch them, sink and draw or just straight retrieve them to find what worked best. The slow retrieve is a tactic I’ve been replicating with the Junglegym Be Free Texas Rig and I’ve got to admit it is exciting casting into the abyss knowing it could all kick off any minute!

I remember hitting this chunk last winter just as I was lifting the lure out the water. It was so close that I felt the leader knot come through the tip so it’s important to constantly check your drag (and your knots) so you don’t get caught off guard. And yes, you guessed the lure; I like the disturbance these paddle tails make and by using a slow exaggerated sink and draw I feel I can maximise their potential in the dark when perhaps more disturbance will get you more attention.


One thing I will say about lure fishing at night is be prepared to lose more gear. Over fairly clean ground that I thought I knew well it’s not uncommon to lose five or six lures a session so it’s important to carry enough to compensate for this. Frustrating as it may be tying on new leaders and leaving expensive tackle in the rocks I can assure you it’s far more frustrating having to cut a productive trip short because you didn’t bring enough! I put this down to the way I fish soft plastics at night as unlike with hard lures that tend to be fished just under the surface, with softs I like to work all of the water column in a slow sink and draw motion. This means you’re fishing deep which lends itself well to finding snags and as I’m also reluctant to use my headlight it can be quite easy to get disoriented and simply cast where you’d otherwise avoid if you could see.

IMG_3441 blogger-image--2046607965

Once a fish is hooked I’ll then use my light to help me safely move around whilst I’m playing it. If I’m changing lures or checking knots I’ll aim towards land as the fish come in so close If you don’t then you will spook them. This one fell to a Sandeel pattern in close to a very snaggy gully and without a decent LED headlight I would of struggled extracting her. You need to see where your braids going so you can keep the fish heading the right direction so I prefer bright yellow braid. I have been using the Sasame Dyneema Samuline in 0.16mm which is around 16lb breaking strain and very thin, though if you’re a bit unsure of the ground then probably wise to carry a spare spool of 0.20 or heavier. What I like about the Dyneema is it’s so bright that it shows up very well under the light of a headlight which is exactly what you want when night fishing and even fishing lures through surf and chop in the day. By seeing exactly where your braid is you can impart the correct movement of the tip to really feel the lure working, just don’t forget to put a nice long Fluorocarbon leader on.

For me the allure of night fishing isn’t just about these wonderful fish it’s also simply the pleasure of experiencing that moment. It’s an eerie and satisfying feeling casting into the unknown and your mind can really run away from you as you anticipate what could happen. Often you don’t see the fish until it’s been landed which just adds to the mystery of it. Even if you don’t catch you can often be greeted by a sight like this as you head back to the car and what a sight those first light big skies can be.


Predator Fishing with the New Junglegym range

Well what an up and down month May has been and it certainly feels like the weather has been against us for much of the time so far. For the majority of us who are only able to fish at the weekends it has been hit and miss at best with the dreaded easterlies seemingly making an appearance most Friday afternoons! That being said here at Bluezone HQ we have had more than enough to keep us busy in the meantime. Our website is now fully up and running and we have a constant stream of new tackle items being added to the site. Among the new arrivals was a range of LRF and light game tackle from Sasame that is branded under the name Junglegym. While Neil is predominantly a boat angler I’m a lure fisherman at heart so I was certainly intrigued by this innovative range, as were several other anglers who we work with.

As I understand, the Junglegym brand is quite big in Japan but as is usually the way it has taken some time for it to filter its way over to us. The cat is out of the bag now though and we’re pleased to say we have the full range in stock and there’s more on its way from Japan too, including some exciting new mini 3-5g LRF casting jigs from SHOUT – but more on them once they arrive!

Anyway back to the fishing…we met up with Ant Glascoe Jr from Savage Gear at the opening of the new Gerrys Of Morecambe store last month. As you may or may not know Ant is a Savage Gear consultant and knows a thing or two about catching big predatory fish. Well that’s kind of got to be on your CV to be employed by Savage Gear I think! We loaded Ant up with some of the new gear and here’s what he had to say after using it on a recent Perch expedition.


A real killer combo for Perch, perfect for keeping your Lures close to the snags. Getting some great results on the Beans! the stoppers act as a bolt rig and no need to strike. The Savage Gear 3D Bleak Real Tail is a perfect combo, for dormant Perch this rig is kept and controlled close hard on the bottom.
Ant Glascoe JR


You can see the way Ant has rigged his lure and the extra freedom of movement offered to it as a result of the ring on the hook. Another thing I like about the Ring Rockers is the relatively wide gape of these hooks once they have been rigged weedless. When fishing for Pike and Perch you do need that extra gape to push through the body of the plastic to give yourself a better chance of hooking up. I’m still yet to use these hooks sea fishing but looking at the rigging of this it looks killer for Wrasse and Bass to me and the finer wired versions go as small as size 6 which would suit LRF styles very nicely.

Ant hasn’t been alone in testing out these new rigging systems as I’ve also been out and about targeting Pike on the River Exe and Exeter Canal. I switched the Ring Rockers to Tenka trebles and combined these with the Beans sinkers. They are a great way of adding weight to the lure when you’re fishing into weed and want to move away from standard jig head presentations. The fact there’s sizes from 3.5g right up to 28g means you can find the perfect weight required to slowly sink your plastic lure. It’s simple to set up too you simply slide the wire through the slot on the sinker above your clip and then reattach your clip, incidentally there is even a Clip in the range to go with it!


I found the sinker actually locks into place onto the crimped loop on the wire so there isn’t need for a Stopper like you do with mono/flurocarbon Perch set-ups. I have been targeting the Exeter Canal which is notoriously deep and quite weedy at this time of the year so this approach has been working well. The Pike here seem to like big plastic lures presented deep and on a slow retrieve. I have found the actual lure choice to be less important than the method in which it is retrieved. Too fast and you’ll simply pull it past them and not fast enough and you will snag the weed, It takes some practice but making sure your lure is the correct weight will certainly make it easier!

Here’s a nice double figured Pike caught at night on a slow retrieved Twin Tail, rigged with a single size 6 Tenka Treble.

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With excellent Pike fishing on my doorstep I’d almost given no thought to the start of the Bass season. With lots of reports of decent Bass now being caught I know deep down it’s time to switch species so I’ll be targeting Bass over the next few weeks while testing and reviewing the new products arriving in our warehouse.

Until next time, tight lines all!

Bluezone Team members take 1st and 2nd place at EFSA 2015 German Championships!

This Wednesday the EFSA German Championships were held out of Northney Marina, Hayling Island. This annual 2 day event which is held in different countries each year sees German anglers travelling to compete against England in a species hunt. With a poor forecast it was a challenge to find sheltered ground as conditions certainly left a lot to be desired. Strong Southerly winds on the first day meant the boats were forced to seek what shelter they could in the shadow of the Isle of Wight.

I caught up with EFSA England’s Ray Barron who took 1st place at the event after boating a total of 9 fish on the first day and 17 on day two!


It was tough fishing but luckily conditions did improve on the second day and I was able to catch enough fish to win the event. I had 9 on the first day and the nearest to me had 5, so I was pleased with the result!

Ray was using his Artico X-Power, which is fast making a name for itself as a great all round boat rod as we saw with Jim Whippy’s 20lb Cod a couple weeks back! If you haven’t seen that yet then check out Big Cod on Artico X Power

Ray told me he had the rod closed to its smallest length of 3.0m when fishing for the larger species such as Thornbacks and Smoothhound but then fully extended it to 3.8m to fish for the smaller species. Ray explained that he did this as the extra length enabled him better bite detection from the smaller fish such as Wrasse and Bream. A crafty tactic that enabled him to switch styles very quickly which could have been key to his success in the event.

Hook choice were Sasame’s F-955 Worm in size 2 and the F-724 Chinu ringed in size 4, used to present Mackerel, Squid and worm baits which were used by all the competitors.

Second place in the event was secured by EFSA England’s Perry Dack who used an Artico LA150 which is a rod designed for exactly these kind of events. Again being extendable Perry was able to increase the range he needed to fish. Top fishing to the pair of them!

Introducing the new Sasame LRF range

Sasame are well known for producing an excellent range of hooks and terminal tackle so I was more than a tad excited to see what their new LRF range was like when it arrived in the warehouse. On first impressions the gear stood out as something a bit special and the Light Game range includes two new lure rods – The F-S01 Curiomax and the F-S02 Voltina. Both made from high grade carbon complete with Fuji Alconite guides they are designed for use with one of Sasame’s 4 new spinning reels, the F-R01 Metalica, F-R02 Musashi, F-R03 Voltina and the F-R05 BlackJack Baitcaster which vary in price to suit budgets and requirements with the aesthetic Red Metalica XR topping the range.

The 7-20g Curiomax Light Game coupled with the Metalica XR Red 3000 spinning reel makes a stunning little LRF set up and I put this through its paces over the weekend in some challenging conditions!


With a bitterly easterly wind stirring up some big seas I sought what cover I could on the North Cornish Coast and fished both off the rocks and off my Kayak. At just over 6ft in length the Curiomax is a foot or so shorter than I’m used to for shore fishing and you won’t be casting to the horizon with it. However coupled with the Metalica XR and 0.16mm diameter Sasame Dyneema braid I was having no trouble punching a plastic a good 60-70yds. I used a variety of lures throughout the day, including a 25g Black Minnnow which it handled but would be about the limit of the casting weight. The optimum weight I found to be around 10-15g which is the majority of small soft plastic lures when fished with sinkers or dropshot.


In true LRF terms this rod is on the heavier side with a casting weight of 7-20g but from my experience this is well suited for the types of lures needed to catch Wrasse, Pollock and other rock species. It also means you have a bit more grunt in reserve to extract them without sacrificing sensitivity in the tip.


The Curiomax blank is very thin and available in 3 weights, 5-20g, 7-20g and 8-30g all at 6ft in length. I found the 7-20g to be a good compromise for both LRF and Kayak fishing though in hindsight the 8-30g may have been better suited for the heavier lures I was using on the Kayak. That said, I found the rod came into its own when vertical jigging with plastics and small jigs and being so light the small Pollock and Wrasse that I was catching made a great account for themselves. I also liked the extended butt and one piece design of this rod and found the through action curve you get when playing fish so much fun!

The Metalica XR is a real credit to Sasame and features some impressive stats to match its awesome looks. Sasame have machined everywhere they can with this reel in order to reduce its mass and the sleek design of the aluminium Spool, Handle and bail arm mechanism have helped reduce the weight to only 252g. Now that’s very light considering the reel has a Stainless Steel main shaft and it needed to be light in order to be paired with the Curiomax.


The Metalica XR has 10 bearings and a super smooth drag system and is a very capable reel in the right hands. I used the 3000 size which suited the rod well though for an even lighter feel you could drop to the 2000. Along with Sasame’s hooks these reels are built in Japan and are set to make a big impact into the UK lure fishing scene.


Big Cod on Artico X Power

One name pops up again and again here at Bluezone HQ and that’s Jim Whippy! This man has enjoyed some awesome fishing of late including this Cod of 20lb that he landed last week on board Deep Blue Charter from Eastbourne.


This was the best of over 140 Cod landed that day between him and 6 other anglers! Impressive stuff and certainly credit to skipper Steve who has made quite a name for himself when it comes to putting anglers on the fish. Steve is known for pushing it to the limit to find the bigger fish and that often means travelling very far offshore among the mid channel wrecks. I was shocked to hear that this catch of 140 Cod was actually half the catch they landed the day before, with Steve’s average being over 100 fish based over 35 trips!

Jim landed 16 Cod that day and bagged biggest fish with his 20lbr. He’s been using the Artico X power for a couple of seasons now and says its’s so versatile he uses it for all of his fishing. Here’s what he had to say

It’s a great rod with a very sensitive tip – you can feel minute little Gobies nibbling away yet still have all the power through the butt you need to haul up these big Cod, I even used this same rod to land a 4lb 2oz Black Bream that bagged me EFSA fish of the year last year!

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Jim with another cracking Cod in what looks like mill pond conditions!

There’s been several reviews on this rod including one by Total Sea Fishing in their February edition which you can catch here

Total Sea Fishing – Artico X Power Review

Jim hooked the biggie at slack water and as others around him were struggling on Sidewinder shads he decided to switch to a Pink Fluro Twin Tail, fished tight to the bottom. Top angling by Mr Whippy and we look forward to his next catch report once these awful Easterlies have died down!


Bluezone catches up with England Shore Fishing Manager: Secrets to Success!

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Yesterday evening I was sent this lovely picture of the England Men’s Shore Fishing Team from the 2013 World Championships and I thought I’d try and delve into the story behind the picture…

I touched base with the England Shore fishing manager Martyn Reid to look to get an insight into some of the tactics and terminal tackle the boys used to clinch Bronze at the event held in Torremolinos. Martyn and the team are busy preparing for this years event in Portugal but he was kind enough to share his story and delve into all things fishy!

If like me, you don’t get the chance to fish Mediterranean seas very often then you might be wondering what type of fish were the boys were targeting during the World Championships and here’s what Martyn had to say:

“The fish that were caught during the Championships where Mormyrus (Striped Bream) , Bogue, Scad, Spotty Bass, Weaver, Sole & various other Pretty Mediterranean Bream”

So a large range of species to go at it would appear and this is the bit that really interests us at Bluezone. We specialise in all things riggy so were keen to hear the types of rigs used to target so many species. Martyn explained that:

“Rigs were two hooks above the lead and one below with snood lengths made of a metre of 0.16 diameter Sasame Fluorocarbon”. “Trace diameter was 0.47 with size 20 swivels trapped with stop-knots or glued tubing with 120gm leads used for maximum distance and less lead for shorter range” “Hook sizes for the Mediterranean were 5mm across the gape minimum size and this was checked every night by the officials. Our hook of choice was the Sasame wormer”

It sounds like the Anglers kept things pretty neat and tight in terms of rigs and we were pleased to hear our Sasame hooks and fluorocarbon were doing the business. Martyn explained that long range was imperative and some of the team were using line diameter as low as 0.12 with braided leaders, that’s just 8lb! It seems a world away from UK sea angling but obviously key to gaining the extra distance required to bag the prize and I think we could certainly learn a few tricks from these boys!

What about bait?

“The bait used was Special Catalana Worms, a very long thin Rag Worm which could only be transferred to the hook by a baiting needle. Various pop up beads, luminescent and natural were also added to attract fish to the bait and because all the competitions where fished at night an ultra violet torch was used to charge Luminous coated leads”
So there you have it, some pretty cool stuff there from Martyn and the England shore team and I’m sure you will agree that some of the extra touches these guys are using certainly offer them the edge. We’d like to wish Martyn and the team the best of luck this November in Portugal and here at Bluezone we will continue to support the team with the terminal tackle needed to bring back the goods