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Fishing in the UK

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my trips to Key West but I’m getting older, my joints are creaking and cracking and to be honest I don’t think I’d have the strength to fight a giant Tarpon or Grouper these days.

Fishing for Carp has become a very popular branch of the sport here in the UK, both for those anglers trying to catch a monster and also  for competition fishermen. Many lakes have been built just to satisfy the demand for carp fishing.

GLEBE AERIAL 2014
The Glorious Glebe

Having lived in and around London for most of my life I have now moved some 100 miles north, near to the city of Leicester and just a couple of miles from my all-time favourite freshwater fishery, the Glebe Fishery. Containing 8 lakes, this fishery is a favourite of many UK match anglers and the waters are host to a number of important fishing competitions each year.

Living so close to the fishery and fishing the lakes several times a week I’m often asked what baits are working, what fish are being caught etc etc, so I’ve started writing a blog, www.rosscoe.co.uk,  that has up to date information about the fishing, together with some hints and tips on methods to try and what baits to bring when visiting this amazing fishery.

Whilst I was browsing around Amazon the other day I came across a so-called “fishing kit” supposedly for youngsters and beginners. It was awful, it even contained lead shot which have been illegal here in the UK for at least the last 20 years. I determined that I could put together a much better fishing kit than anything on Amazon, so I’ve also started building my site that features fishing tackle for beginners. It’s a work in progress, there’s lots more to be added but it does have a few decent, suitable kits suitable for beginners and youngsters.

Just an Average Day in Paradise

This was to be our last day in our trip to Key West and we awoke to a glorious sunrise and no wind.

The start of another glorious Key West day
The start of another glorious Key West day

The A team consisted of Robber; Sergeant Geoff who got promoted yesterday and Chris the AJ who also got a citation. Our Captain was Big Bill and we were on the Cool Water.

Days as calm as this are a rarity in April & May
Days as calm as this are a rarity in April & May

The B team was Keith and Cruncher who were with Captain Manny.

The A team had a plan and after buying some Goggle Eyes from the bait boat we set out to fish a wreck in 240’’ of water hopefully for some Red Snapper.

Unfortunately no one had told the snappers and first drop down a reef donkey (AJ) was hurting Geoff’s back, Next, it was Chris’s turn and it was the same story.

Bringing these monsters up from 200 ft involves a great deal of pain for the angler...the fish are all safely returned to grow even bigger
Bringing these monsters up from 200 ft involves a great deal of pain for the angler…the fish are all safely returned to grow even bigger

Robber was under fire for not having a go but was forced into it and no one would take the rod off him when it bent double.

This Amberjack has brought The Admiral to his knees
This Amberjack has brought The Admiral to his knees

Being an Admiral he set the scene with an 8-minute battle with an Amberjack a tough target to beat.

Plan B was set in motion; the idea was to slow troll a whole Bonito on the beastie gear for a Hammerhead.

This is the bait !!
This is the bait !!

This was trolled around for about an hour around the wreck but no Harry Hammerhead.

Then another boat close by reported seeing a big Mako and by big I mean about 600lbs.

More slow trolling but no Mako.

Plan C was next, fish the whole Bonito alongside the wreck 240’ down hopefully for a giant Jew Fish or the Mako which may have gone down.

This was Robbers last chance for another “personal best” and we had the tackle to do it.

The plan was to have so much drag on the reel that humans couldn’t pull it off, the rod would be in the holder and if a fish was hooked the boat would hopefully drag it clear of the wreck.

On our second drift the rod arched over and Robber was on the reel, note the rod is still in the holder, with this much drag it could be man overboard.

Everyone thought we had a Big Jew Fish, but we were wrong another greedy Amberjack had taken the whole Bonito and Robber slowly cranked it to the top.

It was decision time and the crew opted to have a last shot at the Tarpon, they jumped two and landed none.

Not a brilliant end to the adventure, but how could you complain about an AJ every drop after all they are fish and they do pull….and pull….and pull !

The B team were also having a tough day although they did catch some big yellowtail snappers.

Robin Cruncher mentioned that he hadn’t caught a Permit for 16 years; Captain Manny said he could change that.

A 10-mile run to the Permit Patch and the last cast of the trip Robin and Keith had a double hook up and both landed their Permits.

A beautiful Permit on the very last cast of the trip for Cruncher
A beautiful Permit on the very last cast of the trip for Cruncher
...and an identical twin for Keith
…and an identical twin for Keith

A nice way to finish.

All in all it was not the best fish catching trip, it started off brilliantly with 36 Tarpon to the boat in the first two days. Then it was patchy.

The Shark fishing was exceptional with the A team boating 26 on one day.

Robber had a P.B. Lemon Shark estimated between 230-250lbs, a big Bull Shark over 200lbs, Tarpon up to 120lbs and some superb Tunas.

Chris the AJ who prior to this trip had only caught fish up to 16lbs had dozens of fish up to 100lbs. Geoff broke the AJ record for the most caught.

Keith and the rest of the shipmates also had many great fish.

This year we had no broken rods and reels, mainly down to Daiwa.  Super Kensaki rods did the business and without doubt must be the best travel rods for the price in the world.

A variety of Daiwa reels were used and every one has an incredible drag, without a good drag you will not land anything of any size.

Yes we had the bad luck stories mainly revolving around broken hooks, that’s fishing and it can happen.

Amberjack & Tuna Fishing in Key West

The weather forecast was spot on, not a breath of wind and the A team consisting of Lemon Geoff, Chris the Wrasse and Robber were out with Captain Manny.

Capt. Manni - My favourite Key West captain
Capt. Manni – My favourite Key West captain

This time we found the Thread Fin Herrings there were millions in a weed line; my guess is that they were spawning and within 15 minutes we filled the bait well.

Using 6 hook Sabiki rigs it was often 6 fish every cast.

Catching the bait can be as much fun as fishing for the big boys
Catching the bait can be as much fun as fishing for the big boys

Captain Manny who is Cuban decided on a very long run in fact 44 miles to a place where few white men know about, except Keith and Roy because they had been there with Manny a couple of years ago.

Its amazing miles of ocean with hardly any fish then an oasis of fish over a wreck or just a few rocks.

This location was a small sharp drop off where the water went from 220” to 230” along a shelf.

It was just over an hour away and a very pleasant ride in near calm conditions.

The fish finder was showing a few fish and Captain Manny skilfully positioned the boat so we could fish down the drop off.

The plan was a couple of flat lines fished with threadfins on the top and then bottom rigs with a 6 ounce sinker, the current and the colour were perfect and we were optimistic.

Last time Keith and I fished this spot we bagged up on Huge Mutton snappers and some Tuna then we were plagued with sharks.

Robber had a cunning plan quickly hatched, the fish showing on the scanner were off the bottom and big, Amberjacks were first option and in 220” of water could be very painful so he told Chris to have first drop whilst Robber played with setting up the flat lines.

I bet it's an Amberjack - They can really pull, especially when you hook them 200 ft down.
Chris hard at work, I bet it’s an Amberjack – They can really pull, especially when you hook them 200 ft down.

What a good choice, within seconds of the bait hitting 220” Chris was into a powerful fish that Robber told him would be a big Mutton Snapper or Grouper.

15 minutes of grunting later an AJ came to the surface.

Chris giving his AJ a cuddle
Chris giving his AJ a cuddle

A great fish but not target species and now an aching back was mentioned.

Robber during this time had pulled the hook on two Tunas and was not a happy bunny.

Admiral Marlow playing a Tuna - One - nil to the fish
Admiral Marlow playing a Tuna – One – nil to the fish

Lemon Geoff was next on the bottom rig and it was the same story, more pain.

Robbers skilfully landed a Tuna after a hectic fight and guess what he had foul hooked it in the cheek.

Roy decided that hooking them in the cheek would add to the fun
Roy decided that hooking them in the cheek would add to the fun

Sweat was now falling off the crew and it was decided we would time the quickest AJ landed.

Everyone had a go and we got it down to less than 10 minutes per fish, but the pain was showing, even Robber looked like he had been thrown overboard he was that wet with sweat.

Lemon Geoff had sweat falling off his nose and this was cooling the reel.

In between Robber who was concentrating on the flat lines hooked another fish that smoked the reel, after a fierce battle it was a nice King Fish, guess what foul hooked again, he is lucky.

A Kingfish, another of the ocean's best scrappers...and again foul-hooked
A Kingfish, another of the ocean’s best scrappers…and again foul-hooked

Robber being a nice person let Chris and Lemon fish the flat lines and almost immediately they had a double hook up with fish that headed straight down.

Geoff and Chris both playing fish caught just under the surface...surely these will be tuna ?
Geoff and Chris both playing fish caught just under the surface…surely these will be tuna ?

Different fights to a Tuna so it was guess the species time.

We all got it wrong because after 20minutes of sweating and even more grunting two big amberjacks were in sight. These were on 12lbs outfits with 20lb braid and as you can see they really can bend rods.

Cutting to the chase, the shipmates landed 4 Tunas, 1 King Fish and 13 Amberjacks, that meant at least one fish was being fought all the time they were out there.

What a fantastic day as eight of the AJs were taken off the surface.

Lemon Geoff was told that one of his surface fish was an Amberjack his little face dropped a mile after a 20 minute fight,  however Robber had seen that it was a Tuna when it took the bait.

The Admiral told Geoff that this fish was another Amberjack, but he had seen it take the bait and knew that it was a Tuna
The Admiral told Geoff that this fish was another Amberjack, but he had seen it take the bait and knew that it was a Tuna

Eventually big smiles all round as Lemon saw the funny side.

What a great day, the shipmates had a long run home and were very tired, they clocked 96 miles from leaving the dock, this adventure is for men only.

Chris the Wrasse was promoted to Chris the AJ.

Lemon Geoff was promoted to sergeant and Robber is still an Admiral.

A Day Shark Fishing in Key West

The shipmates were rested and ready for another Big Adventure, tactics and meticulous planning was the order of the day.

Off shore fishing had been slow and with slow tides and low tides around midday a decision to go shark fishing on the flats was made.

Captain Mike aboard the Coolcast was going to take us to a secret location that few white men knew. It seems that I was one of them because I had been there before.

Captain Mike
Captain Mike

The A team today was Cruncher Robin, Chris the Wrasse and Robber Marlow it was hot and humid but the shipmates were now hardened and were pacing themselves.

The secret location was a long winding channel with flats both sides, the problem was it was between flats with only a couple of feet of water available to gain access.

Captain Mike skilfully got us into position and our fresh Barracuda and Bonito were hung over the side to attract our target species.

After about 30 minutes the chum slick was about ½ mile long snaking its way over the flats, which were at high tide averaging 4 ft of water. Visibility was excellent and soon our first customer arrived, it was a Lemon shark and we decided that only one of us at a time would target a fish until we hopefully had several to go at.

To cut to the chase sport became hectic and we were soon into double figures with several fish approaching 100lbs being skilfully released.

Another one for Chris
Another one for Chris

Robbers arm was playing up so it was down to Chris to keep the count going up.

This was Chris's TWENTIETH shark of the day !!
This was Chris’s TWENTIETH shark of the day !!

In case anybody is feeling sorry for Robber Marlow and his “bad arm”, DON’T. The bad arm only comes into play when he’s hooked an average size fish and can’t be bothered to play it. The arm is particularly bad when he hooks an amberjack and he was most upset when I was sharing a boat with him a few years back. He attempted to pass the rod over only for me to refuse….the reel handle was on the wrong side…I’m left handed !.  I also remember him going out with Dave Burr tuna fishing around the shrimp boats. That day there were a lot of bonito around (they’re like little tuna and fight like hell). Poor Dave had to land so many bonito that he was proper poorly for the next three days.

Robin also had some great fish including a couple of black tip that really smoked our 12 and 20lb outfits.

Cruncher's shark is heading for Cuba !!
Cruncher’s shark is heading for Cuba !!

Chris was awarded a special prize by landing a shark with his hook through the eye of a hook that had previously broken off, an amazing rare picture.

There's much more chance of winning the lottery than being able to perform this trick...our hook has neatly hooked a hook that was already in the fish. We removed BOTH hooks
There’s much more chance of winning the lottery than being able to perform this trick…our hook has neatly hooked a hook that was already in the fish. We removed BOTH hooks

The Tide turned and we moved up the channel a few hundred yards to a better location.

It wasn’t long before we had several more sharks around the boat but way out on the flats were two real monsters.

One was a Lemon the other was a big Bull shark that looked like a mini black submarine.

These big fish aren’t stupid and are always out of range.

Robber caught a nice Jack and quickly had it out on the edge of the flat under a balloon.

This should have done the trick but despite some major chasing the big bull shark did not catch the Jack and it gave up.

We needed a new Indian trick.

Robin soon had the answer he hooked and landed a Barracuda and a fresh fillet was soon out there.

Barracuda are very oily which makes them a great shark bait, as the scent trail is carried on the tide.
Barracuda are very oily which makes them a great shark bait, as the scent trail is carried on the tide.

The big Lemon picked up Crunchers bait and the reel smoked as about 200yds of line disappeared off the spool, then disaster, the hook broke in half and it was gone.

Robber had been studying the big Bull shark and noticed that now and again it left the flat and disappeared into the channel, a new tactic was employed.

A sizable piece of Barracuda was cast way down the channel and it wasn’t long before the beast was sizing it up.

These big sharks aren’t stupid and over the years we have found that the wire puts them off, so we use short pieces of around 20” and strike quickly.

The beast picked up the bait and Robber set the hook, the first run was over 200yds and it was looking like Robber would be spooled out.

The Bull Shark is now 200 yards away and Robber's spool is emptying fast.
The Bull Shark is now 200 yards away and Robber’s spool is emptying fast.

The beast stopped for a few seconds, but then raced off with another 100yds, the situation was now critical as the bottom of the spool was showing and there was no time to pull the anchor to follow it.

Robber used another Indian trick and did the opposite to what most anglers would do, he reduced the drag rather than increasing it and it did the trick the Beast stopped.

This time there was no bad arm and slowly the beast was pulled back to wards the boat, it was a major effort with some very serious drag on the reel and sweat from Robbers nose dripping on the spool to cool it down.

Eventually after 45 minutes it was along side, a magnificent Bull shark estimated at 200lbs plus.

The photographs do not do it justice regarding its size. Another Personal Best for Robber.

 

The bull shark was safely released to fight another day
The bull shark was safely released to fight another day

We finished the day with 26 sharks of various species, 1 Barracuda and several smaller fish, a fantastic day for the crewmates.

The B team were out with Captain Jack, Keith and Lemon Geoff was the crew.

They also went shark fishing in Jew Fish Basin, it was a slow start but eventually the customers turned up and they also had some great sport landing 14 sharks of various species.

Lemon Geoff playing his namesake...a lemon shark
Lemon Geoff playing his namesake…a lemon shark

Everyone was tired out so we dined at the Raw Bar eating some of our fish from the previous day, it was awesome and the perfect end to another great day in paradise.