Ten Tips for Happier Shore Fishing
In the ‘The Rules of Disengagement’ I talked about making you and your enjoyment top priority in your fishing world and it was great to see that plenty of you were onboard with that idea from the feedback. What I didn’t address is ways you could go about doing that – I figured if I tried to cover all that in one sitting I would bore the tits off you. However, if you are in need of some inspiration to help you change your fishing for the better, I’ve come up with these ten ideas to help bring the fun back into the picture. So let’s rip into it!
- Fish with some new people – If you’re stuck in your ways and not enjoying your fishing as much as you could be, seek out people who are. Once you’ve found an angler or two who are all about the fun of fishing, arrange some sessions with them and let their enthusiasm rub off on you. This might alienate your current circle of angling friends but if you’re not that happy fishing with them anyway, it’s not going to be a loss you won’t get over.
- Do a species hunt – If you fancy a real test of your all-round angling skills then set yourself the goal of catching as many species as you can over a year. If you’re doing it for the first time then you will have to face down some fish that you would otherwise shy away from and this is a good thing. To start with, you’ll need to get a decent plan together for your year’s fishing and this is great fun in itself. You’ll be fishing new places, you’ll be learning new techniques and you’ll be rattling through it all fast. Conquer the obstacles, exceed your expectations and your confidence will soar. You’ll feel like an angler reborn.
- Try some new gear – It’s called retail therapy for a reason. Picking up a few new items of equipment can really help get you pumped up for your next session. It doesn’t have to be brand new stuff either – there’s a wealth of great older gear out there on the used market. Why not pick up an old rod from Ebay and fish it next to your modern stuff for a laugh? Maybe you’ve always wondered what a Conoflex Cod 6, a Zziplex 2500LM or a Penn Sidewinder feels like to use? You could find out now on the cheap. Also cheap are things like different rig components, mainline and accessories. These are small purchases but add interest to the sessions you use them on for the first time and you could find things that make real differences to your fishing.
- Fish some new places – When you’re fishing a familiar spot, the part of your fishing brain that works out where the features are and what the tide is doing stays pretty quiet because you already know these things. Try visiting some brand new places and bring those soft skills into play again. And remember, it’s never time wasted to go and look at an unfamiliar venue before you fish it, especially if you can get there on a spring low tide. Having a bit of prior knowledge of what’s out there will help you fish better and adds to the anticipation of that first session. Will you find the bass in the gully or around that patch of weed-covered boulders? Will that spit of rock produce on the flood or the ebb? You’ll have to fish it to find out.
- Change your approach – As much as we all love a session fishing heavier gear for bigger species, the action on those trips is often punctuated by a lot of down time. With the explosion of amazing light tackle out there for us, why not make it a priority to always bring along a lure rod, a float rod or an LRF outfit, even when you’re fishing with standard beach gear? The extra weight is negligible and you’ll be stimulating a different set of senses than you would just watching your rod tips for five hours. Catching bonus fish in a fun way will turn a slow session into one you feel much better about. Why not try and catch a species you would normally target with heavy tackle on lighter equipment? Maybe try and catch something in a way that you never have before? A turbot on a lure, a gilthead bream on a float – the possibilities are endless.
- Improve your casting – It’s a safe bet that the vast majority of anglers wouldn’t mind adding some distance to their cast. Going to tournament casting events is definitely the way that I’d recommend going about doing this. Whichever association you go to, you’ll be in the company of great casters who you can watch and learn from and they’ll be keen to help you improve to the point where you can make things interesting in the competition. You don’t need anything fancy to start with either, just your regular fishing gear. Go with an open mind, listen to what you’re told and you can’t fail to improve your technique and boost your fishing distances.
- Take someone under your wing – If you’re already an accomplished angler, why not share some of that knowledge with someone new to the game? It could be a real kick seeing someone going through their sea fishing milestones. It might bring back memories of your own fledgling experiences and remind you why fell in love with fishing in the first place. Falling in with more seasoned anglers has got to be the most common way for people to really improve their fishing so you’d also be playing your part in a time-honoured angling cycle.
- Take more photos and videos – My enjoyment of fishing has been greatly enhanced by taking a camera with me. Of course, you don’t have to have a dedicated camera – smartphones are more than capable of taking great photos and lots of them have fun features to get creative with. If you’re more into video, why not invest in a dedicated action camera like a GoPro? There’s fantastic fishing content out there done exclusively with GoPro type cameras. Documenting and sharing your experiences on a platform like Instagram or YouTube and getting that positive feedback from people who enjoy your content will add a whole extra dimension to your fishing life.
- Eat more of the fish you catch – It’s great to practice a mostly catch and release approach to sea fishing but there’s also nothing wrong with keeping the occasional fish for the table and enjoying the fruits of your angling with your family and friends. After all, how often can you buy a fish as fresh as one that you’ve just caught? If you enjoy cooking, why not flex your creative muscles a bit? You never know, if you amaze your better half with what you can do with a few bits of cod, they might let you go fishing more often.
- Chase a dream – I’ve left this one until last on purpose as going down this road may not be as immediately enjoyable as the other suggestions I’ve made. This is all about setting out on a personal journey. I’ll bet nearly all of us who fish from the shore have a dream fish. It could be a double figure bass, a four pound plaice, a forty pound conger – anything. I’ll also bet that many of the anglers who covet such fish haven’t made a genuine balls-out attempt to catch them. But why not? What is holding you back from going after the fish of your dreams? I understand if you’re not prepared to ignore opportunities to fish for other species to concentrate only on one. I also understand if you choose not to pursue a specimen as it’s not your style of fishing and you don’t enjoy it. What I don’t accept, however, is you not taking on such a challenge because you are afraid of failing. If you are consistently putting yourself in the right situations, fully dedicating yourself and learning along the way then that is not what I would call failure, even if you don’t get what you want. Not stepping up to the challenge in the first place is the real failure. The fishing gods also have a strange way of rewarding these kinds of efforts in my experience. You might not actually get the thing you want but you will almost certainly get something good, maybe something amazing and totally unexpected. If you do get dispirited, think on this: there will be a huge rush when you finally achieve your goal but it won’t last forever. After a while, you might even find yourself nostalgically remembering the days and hours of dreaming and hoping. In these times you were focused, driven and hungry. Now the hunger is gone. My point is this: if you do embark on such a journey, take time to enjoy it because every step of it is valuable. Don’t wish your time away and be in too much of a hurry to skip to the story’s end.