This beginners guide to boat fishing explains how we fish here in Brighton and provides information on the basics of sea angling afloat including species, seasons, bait, fishing tackle and more. So if you fish locally to us, in the English Channel or anywhere else in the UK we hope you will find some useful information whether you are a novice or experienced angler.
Of course, if you are going on a charter boat to try a sea fishing trip for the first time it’s easier to hire the tackle from the skipper and he will show you how to fish! No doubt if you get the bug you’ll want to buy your own at some point and we’ll discuss tackle later in this article. If you are taking your own gear it’s always worth ringing the skipper to find out what methods and tactics are best for your trip.
UK Sea Fish Species and Seasons
In our part of the world there are many species of sea fish to be caught all year round. The Pollack fishing starts in January when large numbers of big Pollack congregate on the deepest wrecks to feed and spawn and the fishing continues through to the end of July.
April to October sees the best of the summer Cod fishing drifting or anchored over the wrecks. In October the Cod move inshore onto the ground when some decent specimens can be caught at anchor with squid, cuttle and lugworm baits.
Black Bream move inshore to spawn on the rocky ground in April and May which sees us heading West towards Littlehampton to catch them in numbers. From July to October the Bream move out to the wrecks where specimens up to 5lbs can be caught.
The Mackerel shoals arrive in April and are abundant until October and this coincides with the best of the summer fishing for a wide variety of species including Conger Eels, Ling, Rays, Smoothhounds, Flatfish, Bull Huss, Dogfish, Tope and of course summer is the height of the Bass Fishing season too.
Advice on Boat Rods and Reels
We are often asked what the ideal general purpose boat fishing outfit is. With the emphasis these days on fishing light for better sport our advice would be to consider a 4-10oz uptider or 12-20lb class boat rod coupled with a 7000 size multiplier loaded with quality 20lb mono or, better still, braid as a general purpose setup.
Either side of this a carp or spinning rod and fixed spool is a popular choice when sport fishing light for species such as Bream or Bass.
If Conger or Ling are the target you’ll need to step up to 50lb class gear but if you are on a charter it’s likely that you’ll be able to hire the heavier gear for the day – it’s not worth investing the money for occasional use in our opinion!
There’s no need to spend a fortune, but like all things if you get the boat fishing bug you’ll want to expand or improve your tackle armoury!
The Boat Fishing Tackle Box
So, what do you need in your tackle box for sea fishing from a boat? Let’s have a look at the basics:
- Hook Lengths and Leaders – A spool of 20lb and 40lb Amnesia would be a good starting point, it’s reasonably priced and better for avoiding tangles than cheap mono. The 40lb doubles as a rubbing leader if using braid on your reel as well as making a good hook length for Cod etc.
- Hooks – A box of size 1, 1/0, 2/0, 4/0, 6/0 and 8/0 will cover the vast majority of situations. Mustad Vikings are a good choice as a general purpose boat fishing hook.
- Booms – Simple plastic running booms around 10″ to 12″ long are ideal for most situations for running ledger rigs and for drifting the wrecks with lures. For wrecking some wire French booms are a good alternative but not essential. Some cheap paternoster booms will also come in handy.
- Swivels – A packet of decent quality snap or interlock swivels with a breaking strain of around 70lb will cover you for most situations. Some rolling svivels are useful too, especially when redgilling with long traces when you put a rolling swivel half way along hooklength.
- Beads – Some 8mm beads are needed to sit between the boom and swivel to help protect the knot. They are also used above the hook as extra attraction on some rigs for flatfish and the like. A bag of assorted colours is ideal for this purpose.
- Leads – A selection of leads from 8oz to 2lb will be needed depending on the depth and tide. If you are using braid you will get away with using less weight than with mono. Some lighter leads or around 4oz to 6oz will also be needed when feathering for Mackerel.
- Mackeral Feathers – A selection of Mackerel Feathers or Hokkai Lures should be in your box for catching bait on the way out. Any will do as Mackerel will attack anything!
- Wrecking Lures – If you are drift fishing wrecks for Pollack and Cod you’ll need some lures. For Pollack the humble Jelly Worm is hard to beat, although Sidewinder Sandeels and RedGill Evolutions really do the business! Sidewinders are also great for Cod, which are also caught using Shads and Lead Heads. Sidewinders are also very good for Bass – especially the pearl colour.
- Other Bits and Bobs – A pair of long nosed pliers are useful for unhooking fish and plenty of other jobs. Nail clippers are good for cutting line. You’ll also need to consider a bait or filleting knife which needn’t cost a fortune. Some bait elastic is good to help with bait presentation and is essential for baits such as peeler crab.
We originally posted this tutorial as a page on our website on the 11th September 2012, but it made more sense to move it to our blog which we did on the 27 June 2015.