The Allure Of Winter – Age Lundström
So, what does a lure fisherman do when the nights draw in and the temperature begins to drop? The traditional summer species start to disappear and the weather takes a turn for the worse. Lure fishing can appear to be a futile pursuit under these conditions, and, in the past, many have stowed their rods away until spring, switched to fishing for freshwater predators or even succumbed to the dubious attractions of standing by the water for hours, in the dark and in the freezing weather with a heavy rod and big lump of “smelly bait”, dressed in so many layers of clothing that the Michelin Man would look positively malnourished by comparison in the hope that a cod or whiting might happen to fancy a snack. Traditionally a time when the UK based lure angler scours tackle catalogues or holiday brochures (or both) and dreams of standing on the rocks at dawn battling with a pugnacious bass, or a brutal ballan wrasse or maybe, even being on holiday in Cornwall, enjoying the late summer sun and pulling mackerel out for the evening barbecue, as the icy wind whistles around the chimney pots and Strictly Come Dancing reaches its’ climax on the box…. It doesn’t have to be like that!
Over recent years, it has become apparent that lure angling can continue right through the winter months, often, with spectacular results …. and LRF/HRF techniques can lead the way.
If, like me, you are lucky enough to live in the far Southwest of England (Devon and Cornwall), bass and wrasse can be available to the shore-based lure angler all year round – especially if the sea temperatures remain in double figures (10 degrees Celsius) – my first bass of 2016 was landed on 2nd January. The fishing is slower than during the warmer months, but a greater chance of a big fish – the smaller fish are affected by temperature change much more than larger fish, and will migrate to deeper water. For winter bass, soft plastic lures are king – paddle tails and senkos performing best of all, Gulp and Isome can also be successful …. but, be warned, it isn’t easy and a blank session is on the cards more often than not.
Wrasse can be caught throughout winter, but again, the fishing can be painfully slow. For many, the extra challenges presented by fishing during the cold months can create a bigger sense of achievement when successfully catching your target species.
The other major target from the rocks at this time of year would be the ever obliging pollock. The mainstay of winter lure fishing, the quality of these fish is usually better during autumn and winter than summer, often regarded as a blank saver, a decent size specimen can provide very exciting sport on light tackle. Fish for them in the same way as you would at any other time of the year, but …… slow everything down! Fish are trying to conserve energy when the temperature drops and are less likely to chase a fast moving lure – so slow it down, and then slower still!
If, you don’t fancy a trek over slippery, razor sharp rocks in the cold and dark; then urban lure fishing is the way to go. Dig out the LRF tackle and micro lures and jig heads, and a whole host of species become available from the harbour walls. Winter reduces the numbers of people wandering around the urban marks, and nothing can quite beat the feeling of peace fishing a well lit mark completely alone when normally it would be bustling with people going about their normal business. It can seem quite surreal at times, in your isolated bubble of light, so quiet. So, once relaxed and in a contemplative frame of mind, it is possible to catch loads of fish! The usual mini species (gobies, blennies, sea scorpions etc.) will fall to the usual techniques when used in slow motion, although artificial baits such as Isome and Gulp are more successful than the regular soft plastic lures at this time of year. Also available are whiting, small codling, pouting, poor cod, some very decent pollock, flounder and herring (to name but a few).
For me, after dark has always been the best time of day in the winter …. and we have a lot of darkness during those months, so that’s handy! The fishing can be slow, it can be patchy, the weather can be cold and miserable …. but, some of the sessions are outstanding!
I have had sessions of over forty pollock plus a couple of bass and pouting, as well as three figure hauls of herring caught in a short session by a group of three or four of us. So, why give up on the lures in winter?