Rock Fishing Techniques
Many shore anglers avoid fishing rock marks because they are scared of losing tackle. However, very few marks are totally unfishable, and often the most effective rigs for fishing rough ground marks are also the most basic.
Before fishing any shore mark, rough ground marks in particular, it is a good idea to visit the area at low water. The best time to go is at low water on a spring tide, when much of the ground that you will later be fishing over will be uncovered. Look for features like gullies, weed beds, or patches of sand sandwiched between kelp beds. These are the places where items of food collect, and the places where the fish will feed once the tide has flooded. If you are unfamiliar with the mark, it is also very important to try to pick out any area where the flooding tide could cut off your retreat.
The first stumbling block for many anglers preparing to tackle a rough-ground mark is the choice of end rig. End rigs should be tied as simply as possible. Rock marks are certainly not the places to use complex rigs with lots of swivels, bait-clips and beads, all of which will increase the rig's snagging potential. Rigs should usually incorporate some sort of rotten bottom to attach the lead (try using an old spark plug) as this will break free if it becomes snagged. A simple running paternoster is an ideal rig. You seldom need to fish at any distance and at some marks species like wrasse can be more or less under your feet. If long-range fishing is necessary, it is important to ensure that the lead will not break away from the rotten bottom during casting. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a pulley rig tied from a minimum 501b bs line with a loop at the bottom. The rotten bottom attaches the lead to the loop, and the loop is then pushed through the eye of the lead. A small nail pushed through a '/4in diameter polyball is then inserted through the loop of nylon, to hold it secure during casting. On contact with the water, the nail floats free, aided by the buoyant polyball, leaving the rig anchored by the rotten bottom. The addition of a lead lift can further assist end-rig recovery over rough ground.
Many anglers make the mistake of using too light a main line when fishing rough ground. You should expect to get snagged on the bottom from time to time, and you will need a fairly substantial main line to break even an 8lb rotten bottom. It is also inevitable that your line will get chaffed from constant contact with rocks, and chaffed 251b line will give you a far better chance of landing a big fish than damaged 151b line. Too light a lead is another common mistake. A light lead will get washed around by the tide or swell until it snags. It is far better to use a heavier lead, which will hit the bottom and stay put. If there is any lateral tide or swell consider using a grip lead, which will anchor your end rig firmly, preventing it from dragging into snags. The grip wires can even prevent the lead falling into tight crevices.
Another very common mistake is moving the lead after it has touched bottom, just to see if it has snagged. If the lead was not snagged, there is a good chance that you'll drag it into a snag when moving it. The first time that you attempt to move the end rig should be either when you strike or when you reel in to check your bait. In the latter case, lift the rig as high in the water as you can with one firm upward swoop of the rod. Then, keeping your rod tip high, wind furiously to get the rig up to the surface and clear of the worst of the snags. The new generation of high-speed-retrieve reels are better suited for this sort of work than small, baitcasting multipliers.
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