Boat fishing over rocky ground can be one of the most rewarding methods in sea angling. Even a small patch of reef provides shelter for many fish, and several species can be caught throughout the year. Inshore reefs are generally accepted to be those lying in shallow water within three miles of land. Beyond, in depths of 50 fathoms or more, reefs are classed as offshore.

Around the British Isles there are many places where excellent catches are made by rod and line fishermen, but it is the great reefs of the western English Channel that provide spectacular sport.

Light tackle a key to success

Light tackle is one of the secrets of good pollacking over reefs. Most experts use a hollowglass, twohanded spinning rod, 910ft long, matched with a small multiplier and 1215 lb b.s. Monofilament. A trace 1520ft in length gives both natural and artificial baits an attractive movement. It is vital to keep them moving at all times as pollack rarely go for a stationary offering. In the West Country the long trace is called a ‘flying collar’ and it surpasses any other method. It comprises a single wire boom about 8in long with a split ring swivel at either end and one where the weight is attached. On this tackle, hooked fish are able to work up great speed, which raises the quality of the sport to a magnificent level.

Pollack keep close to the bottom during daylight, but at last light they rise much higher in the water, and hectic action can be expected. This is also a good time to troll an artificial sandeel 6ft beneath the surface. It is often the large fish that are caught by this method. From June, red bream swarm over the reef and tackle should be scaled right down for this species.

Reef conger

Reef conger fishing during daylight, in water of less than 25 fathoms, is usually on the slow side. Few bites come in the first hour of a session, but things do improve after the eels get the scent of food. Seldom is a bait attacked with gusto, so it is important to allow ample time for it to be taken down. The usual way of detecting bites is to hold the reel line between the thumb and forefinger, with the rod resting against the boat’s gunwale, and the reel in check. When the line jerks strongly, the rod is picked up and any slack line wound in until the weight of the fish can be felt. A firm sweep of the rod will set the hook.

The best bream fishing is found in deep water, and tackle must be suited to the prevailing conditions. If the strength of tide is not great, a 9ft spinning rod will do nicely, as lead can be kept to a minimum. The normal method of fishing is with a two hook paternoster trace made up from 15 lb line. Bream accept all fishbaits, crabs and marine worms. All bites must be struck very quickly as the bream has a knack of ejecting in a flash anything suspicious. Drift fishing over many reefs in the western English Channel produces whiting, pouting and, unfortunately, loads of dogfish, which are a baitrobbing menace.

Fishing deepwater wrecks is a sport full of surprises, for large and powerful fish live in those shattered hulks. Therefore tackle must be of the highest quality.