Sea Angler (UK) - - SEA SCHOOL -

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.


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