This weekend I was lucky enough to be invited on board the Anne Clare of Torquay with Mark and James from Exeter Angling. Leaving the harbor at around 7.30 we were on our way to the first of many wrecks. The Anne Clare is capable of a cruising speed in excess of 20knots and being a catamaran it certainly felt stable in the choppy conditions. Skipper Kevin Tate offers the best angling he can possibly provide off the coast of the UK so it is not unusual to find yourself surround by ocean 50 miles from shore.
After 3 hours of sailing we arrived at the first mark, a wreck that had recently been fishing spectacularly producing large numbers of specimen cod and pollack. There was a definite buzz aboard the Anne Clare, anglers keen to be given the nod from the skipper releasing a spectrum of coloured shads down into the depths.
The rigs could not be simpler, a 14ft 40lb Amnesia mono leader is tied to the braid using an Albright knot (amazing knot). A plastic boom (with snap link) is threaded on followed by a black plastic bead, the leader is then tied to a swivel. Because I was using braid reducing the influence of the tide dragging the line I could get away with using a small 10oz cannon ball lead. To finish the rig I tied around 6ft of 30lb Amnesia mono to the swivel and then attached a weighted white 6inch shad. A top tip to keep the skipper happy is to be extremely careful when you are lowering your rig over the side, you can do some serious damage to the side of the boat with your lead.
Kevin gave us the all clear and we started to send our rigs to the rough ground around the wreck. It is an eerie feeling setting the reel into free spool and watching the line peel off silently for what seemed an age. I was impressed by how much feel braid gives you, the lead touching bottom is so positive, you really can feel every little tap, knock and pull. The boat drifted slowly over the wreck as everyone slowly retrieved their shads between 10-15 turns before sending them back down and repeating the process. The first drift was unproductive apart from a foul hooked pouting and after a few more drifts conditions looked like they were stacked against us.
We moved on to another location and again the conditions were proving to be other than ideal. Wrecks attract and hold huge numbers of fish so you expect an instant reaction when you are dangling a delicious looking luminous orange shad within gulping distance. However when you pass over the wreck and 10 anglers don’t even get a bite you know something isn’t quite right. The skipper was becoming increasingly frustrated for all of us, he could see the fish on the echo sounder but they weren’t playing ball. After some more smallish Pollack someone landed a Ling. With tides turning and the appearance of Ling we moved to an area of rough ground around a wreck.
Ling have an awesome set of teeth inside a particularly enormous head so 100lb mono and size 6/0 or 8/0 hooks are a must. Mackerel were caught for bait using feathers and we baited up using a fillet / head section gettingt ready for the first drift.
I felt my lead touch down and made 3 turns leaving the bait as near to the snags as I dared. Towards the end of the first drift I felt a few plucks before everything went solid, having snagged the wreck previously I started to wind down and got ready to hang on and pull the rig free. The rod tip then started to violently jerk, this wasn’t the wreck, it was a fish. Line started to peel off, I placed my thumb gently onto the spool in an attempt to put the brakes on but whatever was hooked had other ideas.
For every yard I gained the fish took two, it was making every attempt to get back to the wreck. After a couple of minutes I managed to gain line significantly enough so the fish was no longer in reach of the wreck, but I was presented with the new problem of my arms potentially falling off. The skipper gave me some words of encourgement, “You’re making a meal of that”. I laughed nervously, what if this fish was a 3lb pouting? After several shoulder aching minutes something very large emerged from the depths, a 22.5lb Ling.
The Shimano forcemaster boat pack I purchased for this trip exceeded my expectations. The 12-20lb Shimano Forcemaster rod and Shimano TR200G reel loaded with Power Pro 44lb braid gave me all the feel and control needed for wreck fishing. As well as the Ling I caught a Conger eel, every little shake of it’s head could be felt and I was extremely comfortable with how the set up was performing.
The trip was excellent regardless of the tough conditions. Kevin Tate is a credit to the fishing charter boat industry, he genuinely wants you to catch fish and will do his best to make your trip a memorable one. I can’t wait for my next trip in September. Click here for more information about the Anne Clare