Deep sea fishing trips from Brighton
Cod or otherwise known by their Latin name as Gadus Morhua are the most targeted fish in the English Channel. There are several ways to catch a Cod. The most popular way is to drift over a shipwreck by using the tide. When we go Cod fishing we use lures like shads and sidewinder lures. We find that the Cod can be found in the front of the wreck or high above or indeed well down tide, especially when the tide is running hard. When Cod spawn it is around January to April and they peak around February. This takes place between Rye and Brighton areas off the Sussex coast. Cod can also grow at a fast rate in the deep waters. We go Cod fishing on the drift out on the deep water wrecks during the months of January and September, but February tends to produce the best results as this is the prime time. The Cod come in from the east side of the English Channel slowly making their way to the west. Cod also like to congregate around a wreck as there are smaller fish to eat around the superstructure. The biggest Cod caught in British waters went to Noel Cooly back in 1992; it weighed 58lb 6oz, which was a boat record.
WRECK FISHING FOR COD ON THE DRIFT
When we go wreck fishing for Cod we use the tide to drift us over the wreck. We would then run back up the tide going around rather than over the wreck and then drift back again over a different part of the wreck. We go around the wreck so that we do not spook the fish. When we are drifting we fish for the cod using wreck fishing lures. This is called the ‘gilling’ technique. We use a long trace about 8 to 15ft attached to a lure bait, which is then attached to a boom and an 8oz lead. While drifting over a wreck we wind the lures up and down approximately 20 to 40 turns. It all depends on where the Cod are swimming around the wreckage. When you have a Cod pluck at the lure do not stop winding until you are sure it is hooked.
PIRKING FOR COD
We use the tide as we would for drifting with lures but another way to catch Cod over a wreck is use ‘pirking’ for Cod. A pirk is a chrome bar with a treble hook and a muppet on the end. To use this pirk you have to drop it down to the bottom and then pirk it up and down. When the wreck is coming up, you have to lift the pirk up and over the wreck (it depends on how high the wreck is would determine how high to lift it up) or you will snag it and lose your tackle. Pirk sizes range from the smallest being 12oz up to the biggest being 20oz. You can also use a ‘hokkie rig’, which has 3 hooks above the pirk, which maximises your chance of catching a Cod. The heavier pirks are for getting down to the seabed quicker when the tide is running hard. We also find that when you are fishing the deep water wrecks, baiting a pirk can also work well for catching Ling.
FISHING FOR COD AT ANCHOR
The other way to catch Cod while offshore wreck fishing is to anchor. We do this by anchoring up tide of the wreck and then drop Cod baits up tide of the wreckage. This works well in the months of May to October. The bait we would normally use would be cuttlefish or squid, especially the small cuttlefish seem to work well. The tackle we would use is leads of 1 to 2lb on a leading sliding boom, and then a swivel attached to 8.0 hook. We would normally use a trace equivalent to that for Congering, which is 200 to 300lb mono, as the Cod and Conger swim together on the offshore deep water wrecks.
WINTER COD FISHING
Through the months of October to January, we would normally fish inshore. This is because the Cod come off the deep water wrecks at this time of year. We then enjoy fishing off ledges or mussel beds and really rough ground. At this time of year the Cod come inside to spawn. The way we fish for Cod at this time of year is to anchor up and fish with baits such as lug worm, squid and cuttlefish. We even use lug and squid baits together as cocktail bait which works well. A lighter rod and reel are required, such as a 20 to 30lb class rod and a smaller reel with mono or braided line. The end tackle is a lead connected to a boom with a trace of around 8ft long and we use a 2 hook rig called a penal rig.
COD FISHING TIPS
1) When gilling for Cod with lures you must keep winding in a steady motion. If you hook a Cod, it is important to keep winding, do not stop as they sometimes just pluck at the tail of your lure. The Cod will take the lure in its own time.
2) Make sure that your clutch is set, so that when you hook a big Cod it can take plenty of line rather than snapping you up.
3) Always keep the pressure on when playing a fish and do not give it any slack line as it can spit the hook out on you.
4) If your lure is not working on the day, try some different coloured lures, or if someone else is having more luck, check out what lures they are using!
DRIFTING ENGLISH CHANNEL WRECKS FOR POLLOCK (POLLACK OR POLLACHIUS)
The Pollock are a very hard fighting fish which can be found high above the wreckage and are normally a lot higher than the Cod. The Pollock come up from the west of the English Channel and we start fishing for them on the deep water wrecks in January. The prime time for catching Pollock on the wrecks off the south coast is in February. Another fish that we can catch which is similar is called the Coalfish, which can also fight even harder than the Pollock. The British Pollock record came out of Dungeness and weighed 29lb 4oz, this area is very close to where we tend to fish.
TACKLE AND HOW TO CATCH A POLLOCK
When we are fishing the deep water wrecks in the English Channel we use lures to catch Pollock, similar to drifting for Cod. A French boom with an 8 to 10oz lead is used with a swivel, then a long trace line of around 10 to 15ft long. This trace line should be less than your main line so that if you snag the wreck you are able to get your boom and lead back. The lures we use are red gills, which vary in colour. I find that the red and black with red tails or orange can work well. Shads can also be used and jelly worms can work too. To catch a Pollock while wreck fishing the English Channel you have to drift the boat over the wreckage using the tide to take you. The Pollock can be very high above the wreck so you have to wind your lures nice and steady between 30 to 50 turns. IT IS IMPORTANT TO KEEP WINDING AS THE BITE STARTS TO DEVELOP. You should also set your clutch on your reel, so that it can take line rather than snapping you off. You can also use an up-tider rod, which can work well. The reels I would use are either a Penn May or an Abu Chrome Rocket, you do not want to have heavy gear as you take the fun out of catching one of these hard fighting wreck fishing Pollock.
POLLOCK FISHING TIPS
1) When gilling for Pollock you will find that they pluck at the lures. Just keep winding until the Pollock takes the lure and the rod will bend over and take line.
2) Make sure that your clutch on your reel is set right as it will scream off when it is hooked.
3) If the tide is not running hard, wind your reel a bit faster. Whereas when the tide is running hard you need to wind your reel slower to make the lure work properly.
4) If you are not catching using a lure then change it for a different lure or even a different colour, or if someone else on the boat is catching – have a look to see what they are using!
ABOUT THE CONGER EEL (OR CONGRIDAE, CONGER, CONGAR)
The conger eel or otherwise known as conger oceanicus. They have been recorded to grow up to 250lb which was caught by commercial fisherman, while the rod and line record is 133lb 4oz. There was an eel caught in Iceland which weighed 305lb. Ocean Warrior 3 has caught congers up to 103lb off the south coast of Sussex out of a port called Newhaven. Congers are mostly found around shipwrecks which they like to hide inside the wreckage. For safety, congers spawn at depths of 10,000 to 12,000 feet. The baby eels are called Larvae and are transparent and flattened and drift for up to 2 years before we see them in our English Channel.
WRECK FISHING FOR CONGER EELS
Wreck fishing in the English Channel for Congers on the deep sea wrecks is an awesome experience if you have not been before. Ocean Warrior 3 specialises in deep sea wreck fishing for Conger eels and has done so for over 20 years, throughout the English Channel. The wrecks off the south coast vary in size and age. A lot of wrecks went down in the 1st and 2nd world wars and scatter the seabed in the English Channel. Wrecks such as; submarines, trawlers and coasters. There are many sorts of different wrecks out there and some that haven’t been identified and remain uncharted and they all hold some big monster congers. When we fish a wreck we anchor up tide of the superstructure, so that the baits are just in front of the wreck, this is done with a GPS on the boat for pinpoint accuracy. If we need to move our boat 30m either side, we put a shear rope on to our main anchor line and the boat will shear across with the tide. You would put the shear rope the opposite side of the direction you want to travel. This can be important when deep sea wreck fishing for Conger as you have to find where they are on a wreck as the wreckage could be in two halves. Most shipwrecks have a hole either side of the wreckage depending on which way it lays on the seabed. On occasion you may find that you can catch fish only on one side of the wreck this can be, the ebb side or the flood side. This depends on where the break or the hole is positioned on the wreckage.
HOW TO CATCH A CONGER
When you are deep sea wreck fishing for Conger they can either bite fiercely or gently, it all depends on how hungry they are on the day. They generally like a bit of tide running as the flow of the tide will take your bait straight into the heart of the wreck. Female Congers tend to be largest. A typical conger bite would be a few taps on the end of your rod tip, followed by a steady pull as the conger backs off. This is when you start to crank your reel and lean into it, and then the Conger is hooked. I work on the thinking of when you have hooked a Conger, it is 30lb plus 10lb for every dive it takes, so working on that theory, an 80lb eel will dive 5 times. This is only my theory but it isn’t normally too far away. When we are Conger fishing mid-channel we take the smaller congers off at the side of the boat. We do this by using a T-Bar. This works by turning the hook upside down while in the conger’s mouth and using its own weight to unhook itself. The bigger eels we use a long net which is purpose built for netting Congers so that they do not get hurt. We then photograph the Conger, weigh them and return them back to sea alive unharmed. We fish for Conger in the middle of the English Channel in depths of up to 60 metres of water.
The tackle you should be using to catch a Conger while offshore wreck fishing would be at the least a 40 to 60lb class rod. I find a Penn 4/0 reel (star drag) or a Shimano TL20 or 25 (lever drag). Both of these reels are robust and do the job well. The line should be between 50 to 80lb. A lot of anglers tend to be changing to braided line now. This means that you can cut the tide better as this braided line is designed so that anglers can use a lighter lead. I have found that Ocean Warrior 3 has lost some really big eels on braid. The art of using braid is the same in any type of fishing we do; you must have your clutch set right. This is because there is no glue in braid whereas with mono it has an element of glue, which will stretch, this helps the angler. It therefore makes it harder for it to snap as it is more flexible, but the disadvantage is that you have to use more lead with mono. The end tackle we use would be a 1lb up to 3lb lead; it all depends on the strength of the tide you are fishing. We find that the ebb tide does not put pull as hard a flood tide. You would then attach it to a running boom then a snap swivel. The trace we use now would be a 200 to 300lb mono with a hook size of 8.0 or 10.0.