Q: I am interested in catching new species, especially mini-species, how small a bait do I need to use? DALY FRANCIS, DONCASTER, SOUTH YORKSHIRE
DL says: Everything depends on the species you are targeting, but for most mini species, the smaller the bait the better. A piece of ragworm mounted on a size 12 or smaller hook, as shown, is ideal.
Q: How do you tell the difference between a small bull huss and a lesser spotted dogfish? PETE HAMILTON, GLOUCESTER
DL says: Bull huss (shown below) have distinct nasal flaps, whereas lesser spotted dogfish do not.
Q: Our club are keen to charter a boat to go species hunting. Will all charter skippers agree to spend the full day seeking different and invariably small species of fish? PAUL MANNING, DARTFORD, KENT
DL says: To a varying degree yes, but it is important that you tell the skipper exactly what you would like to do when you make the booking.
Some skippers are far more enthusiastic and knowledgeable about species hunting than others.
Some ports, such as Weymouth (see page 58), have considerably more potential than others for catching lots of different species.
Q: Do you have any advice on identifying mini-species? SAM PRINCE, HASTINGS, EAST SUSSEX
DL says: There are several excellent guidebooks available that will help you identify which species.
However, often it is difficult to be 100 per cent sure exactly what you have caught.
Take a few good-quality images showing various aspects of the fish, such as this sand goby, then research your fish online when you get home.
There are several websites where species enthusiasts share information, and help identify a new species. This is a particularly good one: britishseafishing.co.uk.
Q: I usually fish on holiday, but have a lot of difficulty identifying the different species, particularly when the locals refer to various species generically as snapper or rock fish. Any advice on making an accurate identification? ELLIOTT SMITH, PORTSMOUTH, HANTS
DL says: Once again, good-quality images are the key to making a firm identification. As you say, locals invariably refer to fish generically, so it is often easier to confirm a fish’s identification when you get home.
The vermillion rock fish (above) was one of about a dozen different species of ‘rock fish’ caught during a recent trip to the west coast of Canada.
Q: Can I use my freshwater tackle in the sea when targeting mini-species? PAUL RIDER, READING, BERKSHIRE
DL says: Yes, you can, but, of course, it is essential you thoroughly wash all rods and reels in fresh water immediately after use. Clean them using a light spray of WD40 to guard against corrosion.
Q: I recently caught this strange little gurnard that had distinct blue spots on the pectoral fins. I was told it was a tub gurnard, but I have caught plenty of tubs before and none looked anything like this? SOL BERGER, LONDON
DL says: I have seen several similar gurnards to the one you caught and, at first, I, too, thought it was a new species, but I have been told that it is a tub gurnard.
In addition to the lilac blue fringe on the pectoral fins, they also have spots.
Q: What is the smallest size hook you can use in saltwater? BILLY CARSON, BIRKENHEAD, MERSEYSIDE
DL says: There is no limit. You can use any size hook in saltwater, but everything depends on your target species. I have fished with anglers who regularly uses size 14 hooks and even smaller when looking for tiny and obscure species.
Q: Can you buy pre-tied rigs for mini-species? ASHLEY WARREN, STOWMARKET, SUFFOLK
DL says: The only pre-tied rigs I have seen are either Sabiki type lures, which are ideal when baited. Both are widely used on the Continent, and an increasing number of UK tackle shops are starting to stock suitable rigs.
Q: What is the difference between a poor cod and a pouting? CALLUM WILKINSON, DORCHESTER, DORSET
DL says: A poor cod (right) is generally slimmer in profile to a pouting and lacks the vertical bars on the body. A poor cod easily loses its scales when handled.