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Improving catch rates

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So I’m trying to get my head around why fish are in certain marks at certain times. I have marks that I know fish better on the ebb or the last 2 hours of the flood for example but why ? I assume it’s to do with the strength of the tide but and topography of the seabed. But is anybody able to work out a mark by knowing how say smoothounds feed and looking at a chart and saying that should fish well  3hrs down at on such a tide with this wind direction etc ?  Or do we just all go out and trial and error, slowly build up knowledge without really understanding how fish decide where they want to be. 

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I suppose you also need to factor in the fish as well. Smooth hound and tope (I have read) move about more as they deplete available food sources whereas slower predators such as TBR will move about less quickly getting shrimp crab fish that a faster predator will miss? Plaice will (up here) be out of condition and hungry so baits will be devoured, but later on they will be fatter and need tempting. Keeping your options open is another factor, do you put down just big baits for cod or something smaller for whiting etc which cod might take too? I fish big paddle tail lures on the bottom for cod through the summer but put a dropper or two above with sandeel type lures above which are more visible to the cod grubbing about near the bottom and will be hit by pollock etc if they feel so inclined. 

I have a few hours of underwater video and it's surprising what is down there and how aloof they can be to your best efforts. 

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5 hours ago, JonC said:

I think the later, it’s something that takes years to get your head around. I understand that most species we fish for move along with the tide, running along certain contours where the water pressure suits them and where food is. I’ve caught very few fish in deeper water locally so I don’t bother fishing in the deeper areas much. 

It’s definitely the latter for me. I have a mark that always produces better smoothounds on the down tide and I have no idea why. We still catch fish there on the up just not as many and generally smaller. My mate fishes the same mark and says the same. If I knew why I think I could waste less time trying marks and moving about. I also don’t generally fish in deep water. 

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So many factors come into play when it comes to catching or missing out.

Firstly the fish not only need to be at the location, they also need to be in the mood to feed, which like any creature isn't all the time.

Even when in the mood to feed, you will need the right bait and good presentation. It could simply be be you're leader is to heavy or a colour that fish easily see and are wary of.

Moon phases, wind direction and barometric pressure are also all major factors that effect how fish will feed.

Are you noisy in your boat ? not just banging things around but leaving a transducer pinging away will effect many species and turn them off the bite. I believe that chirp transducers shut down fish bites quicker than traditional single frequency, so I will often pause the sonar.

Fish can often be turned on to taking baits by adding burley, something which can also attract unwanted species though.

Dropping down to very light line class will often get a fish to bite.

Fish are extremely efficient in what we consider fast current and will use that to their advantage hunting, so don't think the fish have shut down due to fast water, its the angler who shuts down to it. Again using much lighter thinner braid will allow you to fish easier in strong current.

Larger more predatory fish will often seek out structure and even small depressions on the sea floor to make themselves more efficient in the current. This can often be seen simply watching the likes of a big tout or salmon in extremely fast rivers as they lie in a slight depression barely having to swim at all but put a bait in front of them and they will explode into action.

There are numerous interesting studies you can find with google especially on the moon and barometric pressure regarding fish which will greatly help any angler.

Something that greatly helped me from an early age living in the UK was actually getting in the water where possible and simply observing as much as I could. This is something you can do to a certain extent with a low cost waterproof camera dropped over the side of the boat with bait in front of it.

All my fishing tends to be as you mention "planned" from charts or my own underwater observations, wind directions and times of the tide etc.

Beach hounds are extremely easy to work out in my area. They come close to shore around the full moon to hunt a white crab which I only see around the full moon phase. The don't tend to reach shore for at least 1.30mins after dark.

From my boat hounds are far less tricky to locate, as they tend to be mostly in 24-28m of water and hunt the edges of reef where reef meets sand. I believe they pick off any small fish or crabs etc which wash over the back of the reef and easily show from their contrast as they drift onto the bright sand. This is also where various other fish will hunt to, in the depression at the back of the reef hunting smaller fish swept across it.

Pelagic species are a whole different ball game but no need to go there given you don't have much on offer in the UK.


Edited by JDP
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