(3) November 1974, Bob Alexander talking to Clive Nash.
The lazy man's way to fish.
So far I have only been talking about spinning from the rocks. I admit that it is my favourite form of fishing – but I certainly haven't closed my mind to other methods. In fact, I pick up quite good bags while bait fishing. No, not the sort where you lob out a four ounce lead and sit back waiting, hoping you'll lure a fish and not snag the bottom. I mean float fishing; not the ultra light methods used by freshwater anglers, obviously, but float just the same. I use a variety of baits when I can get them, but divide them into two main groups, each fished slightly differently. One group is for crustaceans, and the other for fish baits and worms.
The same tackle will do for both types of fishing – the only difference being how you use that tackle. I use the same light, nine foot rod and light reel I spin with, but scale down the line strength to around 8lb. The hook is a 1.0 or 2/0 fine wire, short-shank job, keeping the six feet trace between hook and weight.
The only difference between fishing crab baits and fish baits is the depth I set the float at. The float incidentally, should be about six inches long, slim bodied and capable of carrying ½ oz to ¾ oz. I consider float fishing to be the relaxing side of my sport, when I want an easy, lazy day's fishing. Again, there is no need for distance casting, in fact the fish are often right under your feet, so a stealthy approach is called for.
The important thing is to keep the bait moving. A fish will inspect a static bait, but never take the suspicious looking offering. I prefer crustaceans for this close-in work – a crab or strange little creature we know as the squat lobster. This peculiar animal is about three inches long and very strong for it's size, so it works well on a hook. These need to be fished among the rocks and near the bottom, so I set the sliding float to about five feet. Coupled with the six feet trace, this gives you a depth of about 11feet to work with.
As soon as the float has settled, start to retrieve it slowly, so the bait is working all the time. When you've retrieved it right in, don't just lift the bait from the water. Swish it about a bit before lifting it clear, because a fish will often take at the last second. Concentrate on fishing near any rocks in the area, drawing your bait past them slowly. Remember to keep your head down, because you are fishing so close in – sometimes the fish are practically under the rod tip.
When I use a worm bait or fish – like a sand eel or whitebait – I fish nearer the surface, setting the float about three feet deep and retrieving faster to keep the bait near the surface. I find the right speed is when it tilts the float towards you at an angle of 45 degrees. Cast your tackle out – never more than about 40yards – and the current will push it to the edge of the tide. Then you can retrieve it along the edge of the tide, where the bass are sitting to feed. Prawns are an exceptional bait to use with this method – especially in calm, clear water. As with spinning, if you see a fish following the bait – speed up or you will put it off.
A method I use to find the fish that are lying further out is a mixture of float fishing and spinning. I use a float that will carry about two ounces of lead and bump my line up to 15 lb to take the strain of casting. Set the float ten feet above the trace carrying the lure of your choice and cast out where the tide is moving off a point out to sea. That way, your lure will be carried out as far as you want – 200 yards in enough – and you can get among those fish lying well off shore.
Retrieve as you would when normally spinning. Using this method you can often find an off shore shoal – and then you'll have all the action you want, taking a fish every cast if you are fishing properly.