Andrew Kennedy's Angling Adventures

Travel Tackle Guide - Part 3

By Andrew Kennedy

Sea Rods

Sea fishing is what I've done most of when I've been on holiday, as most resorts have nearby harbours, breakwaters or piers, which are good to fish from.

Besides the odd bit of saltwater fly fishing, I have one main sea rod, which is a "Mitchell Neptune" telescopic, capable of casting 50-150g (1.75 to 5.25 ounce). This rod is designed for beachcasting and has a bright white tip for easy bite indication. If your intended quarry is not likely to be on the sea bed, a large sliding float, or fixed bung can also be hurled a great distance with this rod. There is an extreme amount of power within it's construction, so it will handle almost anything you're likely to catch from the shore.

Matthew Liston, who I fish with regularly was impressed last summer when he managed to pick up a telescopic 12 foot "Storm" surf rod for £20. This rod is rated for even larger casting weights (4 to 6 ounce), and Matt landed plenty of Mackerel last year, by casting feathers off rocks on Anglesey, punching out a 4 ounce lead with ease. This highlights perfectly the amount of power available from these modern telescopic rods. Despite this power, the rods still manage to be sensitive. During the same holiday, Matt also caught plenty of whiting by beachcasting baits out and watching the rod tip for bite indication.

My powerful Mitchell sea rod, left, will cope with casting weights of over 5 ounces!

If you're heading off-shore and would rather catch a fish on your own tackle than that supplied by the boat, there is now even a wide selection of boat rods made in 3 or 4-piece designs!
Shimano's "Beastmaster" and "Exage" ranges include boat rods and stand-up rods with line ratings of 20lbs, right up to 250lbs, with trolling rods available in sporting 20lb to 50lb classes.

I currently own one travel boat rod, which is a 4-piece model produced by Harris Angling, called the "Poacher". This rod has heavy-duty, lined chrome rings, a heavily padded butt and handle with a capped fitting for a gimbal belt or trolling rest. It's 30lb line class is possibly even a little light, as this is an extremely powerful rod, suited mainly to fishing with lures - reaching just 6 feet in length when fully assembled. I have yet to test this rod to it's full potential, although I have used it for lighter work. The spigot joints are very firm and appear to be graphite. I have not found the same problem with this rod as I initially did with the glass four-piece rod - once the joints are pushed into place they will remain so for the rest of the session, resisting numerous casts without working loose.

The Harris Poacher, left, packs down very small, but has stacks of power when it's required

So, that's rods covered...
What about everything else? Obviously the reel, line and terminal tackle you take with you is dependant on the species you intend to catch and the methods you intend to use. It is best to have at least some idea of your potential quarry, before you start to pack your tackle. The internet is a great way to "do your homework" on your destination and it's fishing potential before you leave the UK. Search for fish, angling or fishing and the name of your destination and you should find pages telling you what species and conditions to expect. Also, make yourself a member of at least one of the many angling forums. This way you can ask specific questions to the people most likely to know the answers - other anglers! Most angling forums are very friendly and welcoming to new members - don't be afraid to ask the questions because it will save you time and worry when it comes to packing your tackle to take on holiday.

In order to keep the space taken up by your tackle to a minimum, purchase a small box for floats, weights and terminal tackle. I find that the triple-seal food boxes are perfect, because they're available in a variety of shapes and sizes and cannot pop open in your suitcase - sprinkling hooks through your underwear! If you fit your tackle to the box, rather than vice-versa you'll be surprised at what you can fit in such a small space. If I'm going with an open mind of species and techniques, I'll take two or three floats, some swivels, split shot, a variety of hooks, two or three lures and some leger weights. This way I'm prepared for the majority of situations I'm likely to encounter.

It's surprising just how much tackle will fit in a lock-lid food box. The contents shown are from a half-filled box!

A little tip - take some floating putty with you, available at fly fishing shops. This stuff is so versatile and you can make emergency floats by moulding some around a split shot or swivel. You just add as little or as much as you need to reach the required casting distance. It is luminous in colour, so it is quite visible at range. I also use this for surface-feeding carp. It makes a far less conspicuous "plop" as it lands in the water than that of a controller float.

The putty saved my blushes in Canada in 2003, when I was failing to catch anything on lures, but repeatedly saw fish rising at around 45 yards into the lake. So, I dived for some mussels from the lake bed, made a putty float set at 2 feet deep, and proceeded to catch a seemingly endless supply of bull trout. Once again, my trusty telescopic carp rod was the tool of choice.

A small fish caught by improvising a putty float, when other methods had failed

If you are intending to bait fish in another country, I strongly advise you to purchase your hooks at home and take them with you. In the majority of Countries, angling is a popular pass-time, but usually the prime reason is for food, not sport. Some tackle will be available to you out there, but in the UK tackle is generally more refined than most other countries. Hooks can often be of questionable quality and they may not be available in the size you want - especially if you are looking for small hooks, for mullet, etc. Try purchasing a pack of size 20 barbless and an insert waggler in any other country and I promise you, you'll struggle! On the other hand, if you're lure fishing in America, Australia or Canada for example, there are some stunning bargains to be had on lures, braid and even rods, so it's possible to pick up all of your kit once you get there - or at least stock up on tackle for use back home!

Make sure you always take a good disgorger with you if bait fishing, or a good set of forceps/hook-outs if using trebles or large hooks. I've had tiny wrasse swallow hooks when fishing from breakwaters, while sunfish and crappies will swallow impossibly large baits and hooks, if you're freshwater fishing in the USA. I don't believe that not being able to remove a hook is a viable reason to kill a fish, and it is the angler's responsibility to go fishing fully prepared and have the right tools to remove the hooks humanely.

Unfortunately I've seen sickening sights in the US, Malaysia, Australia and the Canary islands, where small fish are killed because the angler simply cannot be bothered to remove the hook properly from the unfortunate tiny fish. I think that in Britain we are lucky in the fact that most anglers are responsible and take good care of their catch, regardless of size or species, but this is not the case for the whole world. As ambassadors for our sport, it is important to take this respect for the creatures we seek, with us when we travel. You may get some funny looks if you put back a good fish to fight another day, but if you aren't going to eat your catch, it should be handled with care and returned quickly and safely to the water, just as you would at home.

A tip born from experience when using telescopic rods is - when you're first setting the rod up, don't ever 'flick' the sections out as if you were casting! Instead, pull the sections gently into place, starting with the tip section; making sure all of the guides line up with each other. If you do flick the sections into place, there is an extremely high risk that they will jam into place permanently - so your handy 60cm telescopic rod becomes an impossible 3 metre one-piece rod in a split second! Grit and salt can also cause sections to stick in place. Occasionally, a dunk in warm water and/or some WD-40 around the joint will free it, but once a joint becomes stuck it is usually permanent.

If you are fishing in saltwater, make sure that you thoroughly rinse your rod, reel and line in fresh water as soon as possible, to stop any corrosion, or in the case of line - rotting. A shower is great, because you can direct small jets of water into all the nooks and crannies. Doing this will ensure your reel continues to run smoothly and your rod rings do not become scaly and corroded. It will also help prevent a build up of salt around the rod joints, which can make them jam, or even chip them at the ends.

If you would like to discuss anything related to this issue, or if you have a question I may be able to help with, please feel free to email me.

Good luck and good fishing to you all - wherever in the world you go!

Andrew Kennedy.


My Angling Blog
My Fishing Blog can be accessed at the following web addresses:

www.andrewkennedy.info
and
www.just-fish.co.uk/blog