Light Rock Fishing "up north"...
My son Leo working the push net
LRF (Light Rock Fishing) ... Light Rock Fishing (LRF) is a style of fishing in which anglers use very small hooks and lures to catch mini species which are found around the British Isles (although other larger species may be caught as well).
I’ve just returned from a trip to see my folks in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. I squeeze in a bit of fishing and his trip was no exception to that rule, but I now approach every trip as inopportunity to learn something that might be applied afloat when we finally get B.I.F 1 in the water.
In this case it was to be lure fishing for flatfish, using isomes, gulp bait and miffle worms.
I’ve always found the single -minded pursuit of big fish a bit joyless and I don’t like the notion of ‘competition’ in fishing- there’s enough of that in real life thanks. My favourite days are those where there is some variety, experimentation and silliness. Best yet is when a hair brained scheme turns out to actually be a winner. So in Scarborough I had one day fishing off the rocks (north east rotton-bottom style) with peelers and cart (edible crab meat) finding a pleasing amount of undersized codling in the kelp. Assured that the next couple of seasons look promising I decided to spend the next day experimenting with LRF in the more barren shallower waters round the piers and south bay.
Typical push net catch
I always carry a large prawn push net when on holiday. It keeps the nipper amused for hours, and me too… I can never just sit about. The interesting thing about this is how localised the pockets of flat fish are that show in the net. It’s the same at Pevensey bay, you might find 6 sole in one 100 yard push and nothing at all on similar patches of sand nearby. In Scarborough there were a stack of small dabs up to 8 inches or so, around the fish pier in 4 foot of water presumably feeding on scraps from the commercial fish landings.
‘Ah ha’ I thought, ‘perfect subjects fro an lrf experiment’. So on the next flooding tide I was back on the fish pier flicking out a jinko rig (I’d just read about this in sea angler- an ingenious rig designed to keep the lure hard on the bottom). I’d scaled down to a single sibiki and a tiny bright orange isome on the hook, the ‘lead’ was a 5gram shiny chrome drop shot weight and some varivas PE micro braid which made the whole thing feel balanced. I’d love to say I caught a few but I didn’t. Nothing. Frustrating as I knew I must be bouncing the lure right over their noses. I’d caught plenty of dabs on isomes in Iceland too.
I went round the corner and tried the same tactic in the harbour. My boy had had nothing on baits the day before, not a nibble, but quickly I picked up a few tiny coal fish. I felt like I’d landed a double figure cod. Silly I know, but it quickly became very addictive, feeling out bottom with help of the uber responsive braid and looking for structure and tiny fish holding features. I moved to the end of the pier where I knew there was a sandback holding plenty of dabs and allowed the tide to move a 10 gram drop shot weight over the sand in a searching motion. I tried a selection of isomes before finally getting a bite on a berkely gulp lugworm. The culprit was a micro dab, but again it was like I’d won the lottery. Or at least a tenner on a scratch card. Movement as the key- although the isome and gulp baits are supposed to be fully edible, fish don’t seem to buy the idea readily unless there is the right kind of movement too, a combination of tide and tiny twitches worked for me.
So what’s the potential on B.I.F 1 for this style of fishing afloat? Well we have caught scores of plaice like this now, along with all sorts of other species. We know isomes and miffle worms work at least as well as bait, I think we can afford to scale down our lines and therefore weights and we’ll probably pick up more fish as a result.
It remains to be seen how close the shore we can go in the early hours when others are not around. We’ll pick up bass gurnards, mackerel and scad of course, but what about top knot, sole, turbot and brill? (small turbot are surprisingly common in the push net locally) and although a fish of a pound or so can really make your reel scream with this sort of gear, there is every chance of quality fish if one is angling so quietly and lightly, especially in clear water.
The way we work the lures will change with experience I’m sure- as will the variety of our rigs and bait from drop shotted minnows to corn bead micro hopper worm rigs its all to play for.
But of course all this is so little understood. We are all complete beginners in the grand scheme of things, and there’s a whole new world of fishing emerging here which we have an opportunity to pioneer On B.I.F 1. Follow the blog to see how we get on through the summer.