Keep it small and keep it simple

Getting started with Andrew Hart

When my Natural Science teacher asked me for six sizable fish for an upcoming lesson, I replied very confidently, "No worries!" Thinking that this would be an easy task, I headed down to the Tamar to my favourite Mullet spot, where previously I'd had plenty of success.


After two fishless, I headed home, fearful I would be the laughing stock at school!

Fortunately, I had another chance to prove myself before the lesson, and did end up catching my six fish. However, the fish were not there in numbers and , as I arrived, several young fisherman, who had been trying their luck for quite some time, were all packing up with empty buckets.

It took me a couple of hours to land six fish, and I had to work very hard for each one. This incident made me think about the number of different ways to turn fishless days into memorable ones.

Techniques and tips that can make a difference
For anglers who are merely trying to catch a feed of fish, successfully following a few easy steps could mean the difference between hunger or a full stomach.

Catching fish starts with the tackle that you are using. There are now so many different types of rods, reels, lines, hooks, sinkers and lures on the market that is easy to become confused. The two rules in choosing such tackle are to keep it simple, and to stay as light as possible.

Rods and Reels
To get the best performance from a rod and reel, the outfit needs to be balanced, and balancing is not always easy. However, popular brand names such as Shimano, and Shakespeare have a range of balanced combination rods and reels on the market, for budget prices.

The next step that must be taken in selecting a rod and reel is to think about the type of fishing you will be doing, and what species of fish you are chasing. On the top end of the market are the heavy setups that are used for catching Tuna, Marlin and big Sharks. Many people will not wish to catch big fish, and thus only need a light outfit. When you have chosen a balanced rod and reel that suits your fishing type, it is time to match your outfit with line. Usually, printed on the rod is some indication of the line breaking strain. Follow the instructions and you will be well setup.

Hooks and sinkers
A common mistake that too many people make is when starting out, is using hooks and sinkers that are far to big. It is good to have a wide range of different styles and sizes of hooks and sinkers in your tackle box.

When selecting a suitable sized sinker, one must take into account, the line strength, the depth of the water, the speed that the current, and how far you want to cast. What is desired is for the sinker to carry your line down to the bottom, and to hold your bait in place. Therefore, to find a sinker that suits the environment where you are fishing, one must experiment. The general rule is to use a sinker "as light as possible"so that if a fish takes off with your bait, be will not be spooked by the extra, unnecessary weight of a sinker.

Hook size is a very important part of fishing. A rule here is to remember that you can catch big fish on small hooks, but you will find it very difficult to hook a smaller fish on a big hook. There are hooks of all different shapes and sizes and the easiest way to select a hook, is to think about what it is you are trying to catch. If the fish has quick bites at the bait then a smaller than normal hook is needed. Another piece of advice about hooks is to try the super sharp chemically sharpened hooks.

Bait and Berley
Berley is a part of fishing that will help your success rate. Berleying is simply throwing pieces of old bait, fish, bread, cat food or any manner of foods into the water. This will often bring the fish to the area you are fishing.

Bait is another very important part of fishing. Too many people use last night's steak, or sausages with minimal results. By paying around $3, you can have a packet of bait that will last the day, and is a natural food for the fish. There is a new bait box available with four or five different baits that is very good. The thing to remember is to keep your bait on the small side, and to have plenty of the hook exposed so that hooking the fish of a lifetime is not missed.

Fishing in the saltwater is a wonderful and relaxing pastime. The thing that I like about it, is that there is so much variety to be caught. So if you are just starting out, remember the two golden rules - "Keep it simple and keep it light"   

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