This was the day the sun shone on a slick surfaced sea. The wind was light but still carrying a deceptive chill from the nether regions of the north - but the early Spring sunshine was welcome, surely this was a sign of better things to come!!
Shadowing the wreck was a cloud of fish rising fifty turns high over the tangled scrimmage and scrap iron. The Lowrance 15ct sounder screen was a riot of colour and movement as the fish jostled for position in the faster water created by the high rise wreck.
First away were Eddystone eels in the new steel blue and fluoro yellow colours, their long supple tails wig wagging at a rapid rate as they were towed into the depths by the sinkers.
Dave Beer the owner of Eddystone, and his son Martin, watched and waited with anticipation. It wasn't long before the slightly anxious looks were replaced with yard wide smiles as rod after rod heeled over under the weight of crash diving pollack.
Running back uptide after the first drift, Dave talked about these, the first of several new lure colours to be introduced this season.
He was smiling quizzically at me when he said "you remember those yellow lures I gave you ten years ago but I never put into production, well, you blighters must have been catching fish on them, because I am always being asked for the bright yellow eels. The steely blue is another dark lure colour, something like the black or the reds, which have always been top catchers. But the French anglers have been doing really well on these blue colours and you can see they work well here also".
Switching to a blue lure was the work of a moment; throw the lure uptide and swing the sinker up and out to give the lure and sinker maximum separation before it plunged forty fathoms into the inky black depths.
Reeling the little Calcutta 400 quite quickly in the slack tide gave the eel just that little extra zip and fish attracting noise in the water.
Tap-tap keep on reeling Symons! tap-tap, they were not giving themselves up today. Then the weight came onto the rod keep reeling to set the hook.
Yee-ha! My new Shimano Antares 6/12lb class rod heeled over into its potent fighting curve and the reels clutch began to sing its urgent songthis was good, this is where reliable tackle from the lure right through the rod, reel and line is totally essential over a deep sunk wreck.
After that tackle crunching first dive, the pollack came fairly easily to mid water where the brightening light gave the fish its second wind. My dickey ticker gave a lurch to the left when all of a sudden there was that sickening sensation of slack line.
Lift, lift, lift the rod high, reel like a lunatic. I've played these games before, the fish had swum up the line and was turning to dive against the slack line.
The shovel-sized tail and muscular body of these jumbo pollack can cause some serious upsets when anglers don't know the tricks these fish can play and try to heave and haul these fish on tackle that is not up to the job.
If the pollack are allowed to build some speed to smash against the slack line, they will pop quite heavy breaking strain lines, especially if any of the knots are less than perfect.
There was the weight of the fish again, pump and reel, keep the action smooth, keep the fish looking up the line. The skipper was at my side, a dip of the net and the fish was inboard. A glistening, scale perfect pollack, the new blue Eddystone eel had worked its magic for me!
Zap the Crapgo with the pro's!!
It is a sad state of affairs when anglers board a charter boat and you know before they hook their first fish that they are going to have a problem with landing fish.
Hooking fish is often not the problem, getting them to the side of the boat is another matter. So many rods today even from mainstream manufacturers are makeovers on blanks entirely unsuited to the British style of fishing.
Recently Shimano employed Dave Lewis in an effort to regain their credibility as manufacturers of classy boat rods. I have to report that Dave has done a brilliant job. The recently introduced "Antares" boat rods are the result of "hands on" fishing experience and it shows.
Available as 6/12, 12/20, 20/30 and 30/50 pound class they are a range of rods especially suited to fishing in UK waters and, in my view, anywhere else for that matter. For fishing Eddystone eels over a deep water wreck, bass fishing, inshore plaice etc, the 6/12 is the best commercially available rod I have ever seen in this class.(12lb line is best!) I can't wait for the season to get under way to give the heavier rods a thrash as well.
Reels for pollack fishing have changed in the last decade. Once it was impossible to sell a boat reel with a level wind. Nowadays in the smaller boat reel sizes, the level wind is a convenience that few of us would be without. Two economically priced reels favoured by many pollack pros today are the Penn 310 (if you like a star drag) or the Shimano Charter Special for those who like a lever drag. If you want to pay a bit more and buy a reel that will last your lifetime then take a look at the Shimano Calcutta's or the ABU Morrum's, these are state of the art reels very suitable for use with super braid line.
End tackle is simple. An 8 or 10 inch boom to give the leader some separation from the main line as it plunges to depths often in excess of 200 feet. The reason for using the boom is to help prevent the leader from tangling back around the main line.
This can still happen if you let the reel run too fast, an educated thumb on the spool will retard the speed of the drop, just enough to allow the leader to stream down-tide, away from the main line.
The fine wire knotless booms are favoured by some because of their skeletal profile. Plus the fact that tired sods like me, can make a leader up and clip it on to the main line via a crosslok swivel that is permanently attached to the main line.
The new generation of lightweight plastic tube booms are also very popular and favoured by many anglers.
Should you use a long leader or a short one??
Logically, on a spring tide a short leader should work fine and on a neap where there is minimal movement from the tide, a long leader should present an eel or bait to advantage.
Problem is, on a neap tide, if you use a long leader, you have to let the rig down so slowly, that it gets to be something of a pain in the rectum!
In recent years, on spring tides and neaps, I have fished a leader no longer than 10 feet over the wrecks and still caught my share of fish.
Make the leader up from 7 to 8 feet of 15/20 pound monofilament to a size 10 swivel, then a few of feet of 25 to 30 lb fluorocarbon line to the Eddystone eel.
The reason for this nearly invisible fluorocarbon rubbing length is that although the Pollack(or Bass) is not really a toothy critter, it does have some highly abrasive "rubbing strips" along the front of its jaw which will make short work of light breaking strain line.
The original Eddystone eels have remained unaltered since Dave Beer first made them commercially in the early 1970's. Since then the list of specimen and record fish caught on these eels is a long and distinguished one.
Highlights are a record coalfish apiece for Lloyd Saunders and his father. Pollack and bass records, giant cod and ling. The largest bass ever caught in France. A huge 62lb striped-bass caught from the shore on a Black Eddystone at Martha's Vineyard in the USA, and so the Roll of Honour goes on and on.
The evolution of these eels goes back many years before Dave Beer began to make the classic Eddystone Eel. Previously many anglers made their own eels and the shapes, proportions and plastics were guarded like the Crown Jewels.
Believe me when I say that in those halcyon days of the Mark 5 and Mark 12 Decca sets, "Industrial Espionage" was rampant, good catching lures changed hands in the pubs and clubs for real money.
Knowing Dave Beer for more years than I care to remember, it was without doubt the intrigue and the "clink of the coin" which resulted in the manufacture of the Eddystone Eel. I thought it was the best then, and over the years have seen nothing to change my mind. I believe it is still the best no-nonsense plastic sandeel available today.
This year will see the range of colours expanded to make available some of the "killer colours" used by some enterprising commercial bass trollers who colour their own lures for shallow water use, as well as some new deep spectrum colours for deep water use; try the new blue!
There are also some other "very interesting" new products in the pipeline which promise some serious catching and fun fishingwatch this space!