Float fishing is a wonderful sport that is a little more simple than the traditional version of fishing. Unlike fishing with a weight on the seabed, where there is more emphasis on being static and fishing one particular area of seabed, float fishing offers a more dynamic approach where you can move around with simplicity and efficiency, with minimal gear and better catch rates. Welcome to the world of float fishing. Kids can partake easily and you can teach them this style in hours. It’s an easy inroad to beginners of all ages to the world of sea fishing.
Recently, I’ve been starting to do more float fishing on the Island of Anglesey using plastic lures. The fun that I’m having in fishing, has really gone back to childhood levels again. It’s been more about the simplicity and the ease, rather than a very targeted approach to fishing I normally do. I’ve been playing around recently with various different configurations of floats, ball weights, hook lengths, and ultimately the soft plastic lures which I’m using. It’s been quite an amazing experience to go back to my childhood days in fishing, by removing all the large complicated amount of fishing apparatus, in order to catch fish. I urge you to do the same.
Put simply, float fishing is a very simple, but yet effective form of fishing for the beginner fishermen. However its not limited to beginners, I know any of the Welsh team who fish using floats in the summer for various species.
As we speak, it’s the summer in North Wales, and the summer months are best time of year for float fishing. I personally love the Pollock fishing, which occur during peak summer months in north west Wales. Pollock unlike bass are non migratory species and stay put on their favourite reefs during the year. Bass on the other hand, move around and frequent the British and Welsh water in the summer months.
But your not just limited to catching Bass and Pollack, you will also catch, ballan wrasse, corkwing wrasse, cuckoo wrasse, garfish, mackerel, rockling, herring and other fish that will dwell in the mid water column region. You can alternate the height your fishing to target each species, so don’t feel you are pinned to just fishing for the above, you will be surprised at what you can catch at various points in the water column.
As a child I began my fishing journey on Newry beach at Holyhead on the slip ways at the age of 7 using crabbing lines to catch rock gobies and blennies on size 3 hooks. I can remember it vividly, my dear mother would have to come with me, crabbing line in hand. This summer days fishing where what began my journey into the world of rod and line fishing.
Fast and light fishing
You don’t need heavy amounts of fishing gear tackle, big heavy reels, heavy line and lots of lead weights to to go and be successful in in float fishing. For me, the reason I love float fishing is the fact that it is very simple, very light and I can move very quickly with the very little equipment. It’s the flexibility within the style of lure and float fishing that adds more of a dynamic feel to it, believe it or not, static seabed fishing is quite boring, unless you’re fishing for specific species such as Ray, Smooth hound or Tope. In those situations, where you are specifically targeting big fast aggressive species, bottom fishing can be very fun and the wait is worth it.
But its way more fun targeting fast moving more predatory fish such as Pollock, Bass and Coalfish. I like targeting these predatory fish with plastic baits moving in aerated white water at rock marks. The takes on the lure are incredibly fast and aggressive and the response from the fish is far more powerful.
It also gives me an excuse to explore coastal rock marks, deep rock crevices valleys gullies in search of an area that holds fish. I put a thick sturdy pair of walking boots on. Don my over the shoulder rucksack a light spinning rod, a bag full of lures, some floats, some weights, some fine wire Nordic bend hooks and them im off!
You can spend an incredibly peaceful and joyful evening with the wind on your back, finding beautiful rock marks that you hadn’t explored before with the ultimate promise of bagging a 5 ld Pollock. I can remember many times as a young adult, fishing competitions on Anglesey with Holyhead Angling club, and people routinely catching 8-10 ld Pollock in the areas that I go to, not even float fishing I might add!.
So now turning my attention to this fast and light style of fishing which I’m getting more and more interested in it. Float fishing holds quite a diverse opportunity for those willing to experiment and to step outside their comfort zones in the fishing world, and ultimately test new tactics and explore different variables, tackles and systems.
For so many years I’ve fished using the static bait and grip lead combination and I might add to great success. But when the fish stocks in the Welsh waters, became depleted 15 years ago, it got really disheartening to put all the bait preparation, and spend some much time lovingly preparing all your rigs and your fishing equipment and to ultimately go many, many fishing sessions without catching. So after taking a five to six year break, I re entered fishing world, and started exploring bass fishing on the lure with my mentor Richard.
Richard taught me many new facets of fishing, especially bass fishing. In general, we also covered fly fishing, sea trout fishing, salmon fishing, and all these culminated in re-establishing a new status quo and understanding for different fish species and way for me to target them. I learnt that the lure when presented was the optimum and most effective method for fishing.
It opened up such a large new sector of the fishing world in my mind, that I somehow boxed off previously down to just routine and habit. I believe these days, I’m now becoming a more well rounded and versatile angler in the style of fishing that I that I implement. I’m really enjoying float fishing and bass fishing right now and it suits my lifestyle too. Some fly fishing and seabed fishing is also great fun on the side along with some boat fishing.
The best way to get the best results, is to amalgamate all these types of fishing styles collectively, It allows so much more flexibility, better catch success, and ultimately greater enjoyment and fulfilment as an angler.
I absolutely love bass fishing, and I’ve spent the past four seasons, maybe even five seasons, learning my craft, and it is an art, to say the least. I’m also experimenting currently with fly fishing for migratory species such as sea trout plus mullet and bass. When the waters are clear Im also into doing a lot of spearfishing also as well. So I hope you can see, I like to keep many options open, in the the area of fishing.
Why float fishing with a lure
One of the great positives about float fishing is that you do not need to gather your own bait. You can use many of these very sophisticated soft plastic lures, which have been coming onto the market. The use of soft plastic lures, takes a great deal of time, and also skill of bait collection out of the equation. If you’re not a great bait gatherer, then it opens up the possibilities for anglers that are less good gathering their own bait to be able to catch more fish, win win right?
This in turn gives them the opportunity to, to learn to fish with replica baits such as worms, shrimp and plastic fish. Lure fishing also presents us the opportunity to test various types of lures in different locations and learn what the fish are feeding and predating on.
All these points are for me why, lures add up to a fantastic level of speed, and flexibility to the style of fishing. I have a box of soft plastic lures in the garage, my rods ready, and at any given time I can pick up my tackle and within 5 minutes, be out the door. Maybe 20 minutes, I can have my float in the water, fishing and catching within minutes. How cool is that?
Whereas, if I was to have to go and gather my own bait such as prawn, worm or sandeel, I’d have to spend two or three tides gathering the bait. Sandeels, worms and prawns all requite a lot of tlc to keep alive ready for the hook, this in turn take a lot of time energy to take care of. Bait storage is an art in itself, and for many people, this isn’t an option for people travelling up here fishing. I don’t even have the time to do all the bait gathering sometimes, so for people coming to fish here from away, they most certainly don’t, unless they buy it.
I firmly have got my roots planted in the Marine Biology world and I firmly love the art of bait gathering, which is a fundamental skill as an Islander. Having those skills at hand will serve me for life and you know hopefully I can impart and teach those to many people within the community and whatson and readers that enjoy reading about fishing.
How float fishing looks to me it’s quite simple I use a Savage Bushwacker seven foot six rod. I use a an Abu Soron 60 real backed with braid line. I run a standard high vis green float, with two beads at the side and a one ounce lead shot below down to a swivel.
And I have a three foot to five foot length of fluorocarbon hook line to fine wire hook which can vary in size from size one to size eight depending on the fish that I’m targeting and the size of lure I’m presenting. Lately, I’ve been testing, soft plastic worms mostly in my reintroduction to the float fishing world. With some good success I might add.
It seems Pollock really enjoy and take quite quickly to soft plastic lures, when presented on a float for some reasons. I use a drop of 15 to 20 foot drop from the floats to the actual to the hook, how I decide on the level of a depth in which I’m fishing depends on the location that I’m at, and I simply use an elastic band tide and doubled over a certain point in the braid line to prevent the float float going up any higher up the line.
This is key to some of the fishing as they feed at a certain heights and levels in the water, sometimes you might catch them on the way down as soon as you flick your float out and its sinking to the bottom. Other times you’ll have to fish at different levels, say the “mid water coloumn” and this is a key skill to understand and learn that at various heights in the water that different fish are present.
Don’t always fish in the exact depth of the water column that you’re fishing time after time, instead alternate and move up and down the various layers in the water columns, using (timing & counting) measuring, take note where you get bites and nibbles, snags and catches.
Often when I’m Mackerel fishing and if I’m using a one or two ounce weight, I will count down how many seconds it takes to get to the seabed. Whenever I’m retrieving in. I will keep a mental note as to where in the water column level I caught the fish and then retarget them at that level on the next cast.
When to fish on the lure
One of the biggest questions I get all the time is when should I go lure or float fishing. And my answer, is normally from April all the way till October. Fishing on Anglesey peaks in summer like any other biological life, so follow the cycles.
If we’re talking about times a day, I prefer to go either midday when it’s brightest and also an evening when the sun is setting. If we’ve talking about Pollock fishing and mackerel fishing those scenarios applys. For Bass and Sea trout, we like to go at, dusk dawn or at night.
If I was to try to Bass fish in the midday sun, they probably wouldn’t the lure, as they are far more spooky than most other fish. But Pollock, in general, will hunt in the day in bright sunlight. If you look at the size of their eyes on a pollack they have very large eyes which means that their hunting bias is predominantly set to sight, which suits day time feeding.
Now for Pollock to see your lures you need the clearest possible water and the brightest sunshine. They fixate on their prey through their sight. Therefore, midday sunshine fishing in clear clear calm waters as long as you’re not spooking the fish can be very productive.
I wouldn’t apply the same techniques for anything like bass, mullet or sea trout though because those other, more sophisticated apex fish, are far more sensitive to their environmental surroundings than Pollock. They will spook far much easier. So, for those fish, you would have to arrange your fishing around dawn and desk sessions. Full moon or new moon fishing session tend to produce really good results if you’re targeting those species also (tending towards new moon rather than full moon)
In terms of time and tide I like to fish, low tide, for me works well, but this is just one of my preferences, you can fish at high tide medium and low tide.
The reasons I like fishing at low tide are, I can always go and see what the rocks are like low water, and see what the seabed topography is like. I can look at the rock shelves, look where the snags are and I can see where the kelp beds are situated. In turn, this gives me a greater understanding, as to where the fish are going to be, and where the snags are for me to avoid. There’s nothing more frustrating than losing your float fishing gear in the beds of kelp.
If you fish at low water, you have got the tide to rise with you. Plus, you can see your entry routes to the rock platforms that you’re fishing in you can also see the exit routes. Often I find that if you go on to fishing rocks or new locations, when the tide is high the swell is normally larger, wind can get up and it can create a more treacherous, dynamic environment for the beginner angler.
I have fished these rocky areas here for the best part of 30 years on the island of Anglesey. So I’m very keenly and aware of the environment around me, which, a lot of people are not. Things like incoming swells, tides and the movement of ferries, all can produce kind of tricky environments to to move in safely, if you’re unaware of your locale.
So going at low water, you have all the environmental factors at the lowest in order for you to survey the territory and learn your craft. Also, you can fish deeper in the water column aswell, because you haven’t got that the 30 foot overburden of water beneath you. In the regions in North Wales here we have very large rising tides (upwards of 30 to 34 feet on spring tides) and certainly sometimes bigger on equinox spring tides. The size of tides can be instrumental in success or failure in catch rates. Too much tide, you it can be tricky to hold piston with a float, too little tide the fish don’t feed sometimes, so its a fine balance between the two. Fishing at low water, therfore can prove very successful in terms of getting down to the level where the fish are at, and being able to access better fishing spots on the rocks, holding position with your float gear and finding better areas to land fish too.
How to avoid loosing tackle
There are some great ways to avoid losing tackle, which I’m just experimenting with right now In fact. One of which is using a section of light line, between your bottom swivel and your hook.
A lot of anglers that I’m referring to it and learning from at the minute use an eight to six pound line, beneath the float with the hook being more of a fine wire pattern (nordic bends). The reason is, if they snag into a rocky bottom or reef shelf, they can lift their rod, and pull back to remove the snag, the fine wire hook will bend out or the small, thin gauged six to eight-pound line will snap first before they lose the more expensive part of the kit which would be the float in the setup.
This can save on morale on many fronts, because one of the most frustrating points for me in any style angling, is losing gear. I really detest losing my fishing tackle as im sure you do. And I do spend many many hours of my vocation time on the rocky shores at low water retrieving tackle lost by many anglers. I must have picked over 1000 weights off the seabed many many many bags full of line, tackle swivels and hooks. Its quite fun because I get to explore and look for crab and lobster and at the same time clear the low tide line of this disposed plastic.
Loosing tackle can be more of a mental game, it can be very frustrating loosing tackle, so if you adopt those two strategies you will minimise the amount of gear you will loose.
1) Using a weaker line for your hook lengths – I would say keep it at eight pound strength, breaking strain.
2) Use a fine wire like a mustard Nordic bent hooked, that you would then place your soft plastic lure on. You have to get out clauses, before you lose your tackle.
Increase your chances
A couple of tips and tricks that I’m employing at the minute in all my forms of lure fishing. I choose my times and tides very selectively.
Now, I know it’s not going to be that way for you all.. I don’t have any children and dependants on me and my time is pretty much as free as I make it a part from working and doing these blogs.
But if you have spare time use it wisely the fishing, schedule your fishing sessions to tie in with very specific tides and also to tie in with evening or morning fishing sessions. If you’re targeting bass and other other migratory species, then you will find your results will vastly improve.
Look at when the low tides occur, look at when the fish on larger moon cycles so new moons and full moons are very productive in the fishing world, you have a highest amount of magnetism and gravity working which fish in other animals, we now know through the soluna theory. They fish Much better on these points in the moon.
So, by scheduling your fishing sessions, to time with larger tides at low water in locations that you’re maybe familiar with and ones you have done your prior research on, you will increase your results. You need to know your spots hold fish, when the fish move in when they feed.
You can narrow down the variables to give you high catch rates more consistently, look for areas with, you know hold fish with lots of moving visible lines on the surface of the water, such as tidal streams and mixing fronts. Look for birds, look for other mammals feeding such as dolphins or porpoise, they are giving you great clues as to what lies beneath.
Look for cormorants, herons, and turns feeding, they’re all going to give you signs as to what the environment is providing on a macro level, so that then you know what the environment is showing you what’s going on beneath the surface of the water.
Always look and survey nature to give you the clues as to what’s going on. Don’t assume, you have all the data in front of you usually. Look at the environment, watch the birds look at the tides.
Check the wind out, if its blowing east- the fish bite least. Follow the moon cycles.Pick your fishing sessions, very specifically. Look up tides for fishingwebsite.
I found that the optimum for me, was picking a two hour window and mastering that two hours on a specific location and tide
Keep a fishing diary
keeping a physical note in a computer or book as to what the catch rates were. Will give you a starting point and a database to work from in the future. This is really important principle in fishing results – “if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it”, and it applies to every sector in life. Keep a diary of your fishing results.
So if you can’t measure your success, you can’t manage it. By keeping notes on a laptop of what you catch, where you caught it, what the weather was like, what bait you use, what plastic lures you were using, what rods you used, what the tides were like, all this information will will become a very useful database of catches within two years.
I’ve proved this time and time and time again, and my mentors and peers who are some of the best fisherman in the world, they employ the same tactics and the same systems to create their success also.
Tackle. Keep it simple,
You don’t need expensive tackle to do flow fishing, you need a basic spinning rod for spinning real simple main line I like to use braid, 15ld pound breaking strength. You need a float and some beads, a swivel and an elastic band.
You also need some eight pound breaking string line, and some Nordic bend hooks, or other fine wire hooks of your choice. sizes can range from size one, down to size eight. You also need some soft plastic lures.
here are many many many versions to choose from on the market. Currently I’m using some savage ones.
I like to keep a fish bag that’s made by Titan over my shoulder with my tackle him in the fish bag, the kind of things that I carry are : Scissors, pliers, a priest, a couple of extra floats, a handful of one ounce weights, too. Types of breaking strain line between eight pounds and 12 pounds. Some hooks and spare hooks and tubs of soft plastic lures.
I sometimes also take a pack of frozen squid. If the float fishing is not turning on as I planned. I have a quick means of changing tactics and fishing the bottom. Using a very very basic to work rig with size six to eight hooks and tiny slivers of squid on.
We hope this blog is a little insightful and gives you a little taste as what the waters of north Wales off for float fishing. The waters are rich with fish beyond belief if you just learn their environment.
Thanks for stopping by and reading our blog we appreciate every single one of you. Feel free to leave us a comment and let us know what you have been catching on the float of late and how?
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Tan Y Tro Nesaf / Until the next time,
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