First off - wreckfishing. How about loading a big fixed-spool reel (say an Emblem 6000 or similar) with 20lb braid, matching it to a heavy-duty 7í spinning rod (say an UglyStick) and banging your pirks and hopper-rigs far beyond the wreck as you drift down on it, similar to what many Europeans and Yanks do, but no one does here. Why ? Well, youíll end up with a chance at fish on the wreck while youíre still some way away from it, youíll almost certainly fish vertically for much of the drift, and handling a fixed-spool reel all day on a boat with high railings and a slippery deck is infinitely more pleasurable than trying to align braid with a raw thumb. Oh, before anyone mutters anything about fixed-spool reels, if they can cope with a 100lb fish from abroad theyíll cope with a poxy cod or pollack, believe me. Fishing is supposed to be about fun, not fashion, so get a kick out of trying something different. My goodness, I used to laugh at my French anglers in Alderney back in the Ď70ís who used to fish with beach-casters and fixed-spool reels for cod in mid-channel. Well, I say we did, because we very soon didnít any more. Can you imagine the action a 12í rod can give to a Yann down at 200í ? Deadly, if slightly unorthodox and cumbersomeÖÖÖÖ.hmm.

Ground-baiting. Probably every UK coarse angler uses ground-bait or loose feed while fishing. Almost every boat in the USA will use chum while bottom-fishing, especially in the Keys. Almost every shark fisherman and mullet-man in the world uses ground-bait for his intended quarry. Why is it UK sea-anglers in general are loathe or sceptical or simply too lazy to use the damn stuff ? There is no finer way to get a man hungry than to let him sniff something cooking - good grief, I know some guys whom even the smell of food will wake up !! Itís exactly the same with fish. A sack of crushed crabs for wrasse, a sloppy bucket of loose wet bread and a can of sardines for float-fished gar-fish and mackerel, a handful of mackerel heads chucked into the slough behind the first wave for bass. The list goes on and on.

Your ground-bait does not have to be fancy or something direct from the sea. The most cost-efficient and effective method of ground-baiting is the good old perforated sardine-can. Critturs canít eat the contents, it can get washed around without too much harm, and the smell, oils and particles will attract everything. Bass-fishing over rough ground is where I do a lot of ground-baiting along these lines. Incidentally, if you have small fish around eating your ground-bait, catch one and live-bait it on the fringes of the activity. You could be very surprised. As a tactic, ground-baiting is one of the most important skills you can develop to help you catch more fish.

Big pollack. Now, how come more big pollack arenít caught from the shore ? By big, I mean fish of about five pounds or more. Thousands are caught every summer's day by anglers perched on rock ledges and headlands, and although most of those fish weigh under two pounds, there are some bigger ones out there. We all know that. Every year some lucky conger fisherman catches a biggie, so why donít regular anglers ? In a nutshell, try a bigger bait. Trust me. Anywhere youíre catching small pollack on the float with a frozen sand-eel, throw out a whole fillet of garfish and put it down halfway through the water column. Donít be tempted to do with this light line as you will assuredly come a cropper. These big pollack hang well down in the depths, especially in tidal runs, and simply donít get tempted by a piddly little ammo eel or small artificial lure - although there are exceptions to every rule, of course!

No, to catch a big pollack, you have to overcome his natural secretive inclinations in shallow water and make his eyes water with greed. As well as a fillet of garfish, a huge launce or other livebait also makes a good offering. When I used to target these fully-grown guys from the rocks I used to use a medium-actioned beach-caster coupled to a multiplier loaded with 15lb line or so and a decent float capable of supporting up to 2ozs of weight, which you can chuck out an awfully long way when you know how. This is also a good way to catch surprise bass and you can always contact a tope or two - I kid you not. Just think big and use a decent pennel-rig for those long baits - there are many more double-figure pollack out there to be caught than people realise!

Big plaice. Most shore anglers associate plaice with beach-fishing. Long rods, multipliers with lightish line, worm/crab/mussel baits and long casts to find the fish out there. All right, of course, but if you want to catch a big fish you might want to think again and start to treat big old orange-spot as more of an ambush specialist - if you go and find a reef or rock-pile you might well realise that as they get bigger, plaice eat more fish. Chances are, big mama plaice is right in there with her head stuck up under the weed on the rocks. I kid you not.

This is especially true in shallow water where one of the greatest exponents of this knowledge was the late Herbie Pike of Alderney. Herbie was a multiple British record-holder of many years and almost all of his fish (including sole, bass, red mullet and bream as well as plaice) came from under his feet, often from water that dried up on a big spring tide. He knew his fish well and knew where they lay, moving along the reef under his feet as the tide progressed. So, if you fish from rocks onto sand for flatties, chuck one out ten feet and settle back - truth is stranger than fiction. If you donít believe me, ask any skin-diver where he gets his big flats - the answer may shock you !

Can things ever go according to plan ? Oh yes, of course they can. I remember as a kid being so impressed by one of Keith Linsellís plates of a stone-bass eating small flatfish in the famous Osprey series of books that I rushed out to the local shop and bought a small pack of plaice fillets from the freezer section. Rolling one around a hook and then whipping it tight with elastic cotton I flung it out with excitement into some sandy patch and waited with my rod in hand and heart in mouth. Within a minute there was a tug, then a wrench round of the rod-tip and I found myself playing a bass of about 4lbs or so which was duly beached. With blood pounding in my head and much joy I re-baited and chucked out again. And waited. And waited. In fact, Iíve waited another 25 bloody years or so for the damn bait to work again !

Another thought for the year - Mako. Well, mako and thresher, anyway. I challenge a charter captain in the south of the country to catch a mako this year on the troll. I know that if every skipper trolled a jet-head or similar out to the fishing marks and back this summer then someone is going to catch a mako. No doubt about it. It doesnít take a lot of kit to do this. A 50 or 30lb outfit (yes, youíll catch a big fish on 30lb line) with plenty of line, 15í or so of 300lb mono and a four foot length of 200lb cable with a lure on it.

No rod-holder needed as long as you have railings. Simply take a foot of 8mm rope, put a carbine on each end, and double the two ends back through themselves around the railing. Put the carbine hooks on the reel lugs and you have a horizontal rod that will troll all day long. Allocate one guy in the party to watch it on the trip out and back and see how your charter parties keep happy all the boring way out there and then all the boring way back. Hey, and guess what - you may well catch something else besides a shark !!


As an added incentive to that, Iíll give a trolling bait, completely rigged, to any skipper listed in the Deep Sea Directory (www.deepsea.co.uk ) who e-mails me with the answers to these two questions.

1. Who held the world record for bluefin tuna in 1932 ?

2. Which two species of billfish have been officially recorded in British waters ?

Answers to me at hays@dial.pipex.net .