If you have ever taken children on a fishing trip with you, only to find it is a complete disaster and not at all fun, this post is for you! It is possible to keep your child’s attention and catch enough fish to make it enjoyable for the whole family.
Begin with the right fishing equipment. There is no point in getting silly little kids fishing rods – you’ll end up spending more time untangling the thing than actually using it! Simply go for an ultra-light rod and reel. Get the shortest one you can, but not less than 5 feet. A spool of good quality line and some torpedo style flotats will be good. Get someone at your local tackle shop to spool the reel for you and attach the float so that it can slide along the line to the desired length.
Find a good pond to fish at. It is a good idea to go for one which is quiet, kids can get quite excitable with casting and you don’t want to annoy too many others!
There are a range of different fish which are native to the UK waterways. Here is a guide to the different species you might find!
Carp: carp are found in the majority of UK canals and can grow to large sizes. They are easy to spot due to their dark brown and bronze colouration. They have a large, rounded body and strong fins. There are three major strains. The common carp are fully scaled, mirror carp are partially scaled and learther carp have practically no scales at all!
Roach: the roach makes up the largest numbers of fish within our canals. Roach are a shoaling fish, silvery grey in colour. They are often confused with Rudd. You can be sure by counting the lateral line scales (rudd have 40-55) and check the shape of the mouth – rudd have upturned mouths.
Pike: the pike is a spectacular predator! They have large, bony heads with upward looking eyes, a broad, flat snout and large mouth. They have a lot of sharp teeth! A torpedo shaped body allows for speedy movement!
You can find out more about fishing within our canal network over at the canal and river trust.
The spring is a great month to get out and about on the water, so here are our top tips for making the most of the new season.
The number 1 rule in spring is to simply get out on thwe water as much as you can! There is a wonderful saying that even the worst fishing day is better than no fishing day at all! You should also keep a close eye on the weather report – days of unexpected warmth or sunshine are good opporunities to get out and go fishing.
Whilst out, keep looking for the sunnier spots. The cold water will warm up quickly once the sun brightens up in spring, so more fish will be attracted to the warmer shallows.
Use smaller, more brightly coloured lures during spring, when the water can be muddier or murky. This helps the fish to see them better, and the smaller lures will seem like less of an effort to chase around.
Green pond water is a common complaint, especially during the summer months. The reason pond water goes green is because of a growth of algae. Pond algae feeds on the nitrates produced when bacteria break down fish waste, and sunny conditions can make algae grow very quickly indeed.
The main ways to prevent the spread of algae is to remove the fish waste, by scooping out the sludgey layer at the bottom of the pond, and by using algaecides which are chemicals to kill off the algae. These chemicals are dangerous to use when you have pets and children however, so do be careful! You will need to read the instructions carefully, and check if your pond fish will need to be moved into a temporary home while their pond is being treated. Some chemicals could harm your fish.
Decorating your tank is a fun part of keeping fish and reptiles – it gives you a chance to show off your sense of style and can help your fish and reptiles be happier in their tanks with places to hide and sleep if they want to!
Plants are a good way to start, as they also have the benefit of oxygenating the water. You can of course buy artificial plants for your tanks too, which are a good option for those who do not want to have to do too much maintenance.
Ornaments can bring your tank to life and can offer vital areas for your fish to hide in – classic ideas feature pirate themed items such as skulls and shipwrecks, but we are starting to see more and more different ideas coming into play these days. Why not give your tank a zen makeover with some japanese style decor?
Reptiles are a very interesting creature to own as a pet. They have features which are very different to other animals. For a start, they are cold blooded, with scaly bodies and they lay eggs. We lay out some of the facts about looking after your own reptiles as pets.
Compared to some animals, reptiles are actually pretty low maintenance! They are good for people with allergies to fur and for people who work long hours and aren’t always at home. It is however, still a living animal and we are effectively putting it in captivity when we take them into our homes!
Reptiles are not really an expensive pet to buy, with some suitable beginner reptiles like corn snakes and leopard geckos costing around £50. Some larger and more unusual reptiles cost much more. You need to think about the cost of setting up a vivarium too, plus all the accessories. A typical vivarium can cost around £200 to put together, with larger or bespoke designs costing much more!
Feeding your reptile is altogether more interesting than other pets…for a start, many reptiles enjoy eating live prey…so you’ll need to be able to feed them the right things! Corn snakes and bearded dragons need to be fed defrosted mice.
One of the most fun and interesting developments in fly-fishing in recent years has been the rise of fishing with two-handed rods – widely known as Spey fishing.
Most fly-fishing, of course, is done with a rod designed to be casted with just one hand. And most of the time, that single-hand rod is used for “overhead” casting – flinging the line back behind the caster to flex the rod, then flinging it forward over the water to deliver the fly.
The trouble is, there isn’t always room for a back cast. And salmon and steelhead rivers tend to be big, requiring long casts to seek out the fish.
Spey casting makes it possible to throw a long line with very little room behind the caster, because there’s no back cast. Instead, the caster flips the line into position on the water in front of him, then swings the rod back and makes a simple forward cast. It’s not as easy as it sounds – there’s a learning curve – but once you get the hang, you can send 100 feet of line sailing smoothly out over the river.
Dry flies, wet flies, nymphs, streamers: almost all of them were devised to catch trout.
Thankfully, almost all of them catch bass, too.
Most fly-fishing is conducted in pursuit of trout in streams, where fly-fishing gear is perfect for tossing feather-light imitations of aquatic insects, crustaceans or baitfish onto or into the currents. In many places, this activity peaks in the spring and declines during the heat of summer. Trout are cold-water fish and just don’t bite very well when the water gets up around 70 degrees.
Once the water warms, many trout anglers switch to bass, which don’t mind 70-degree water a bit.
Despite their status as Plan B fish – something to fish for when the trout fishing’s no good – bass are great fish for fly-fishing.
It’s not unusual for a trout fisher to think he or she has hooked a large trout, only to find out the fish is a small bass.
They are accessible. Many streams that are trout fisheries in their cooler, upper reaches are great bass fisheries downstream. So the same river where you fished the Hendrickson hatch in May might provide exciting bass fishing in July. Smallmouth and largemouth bass are widely distributed across the U.S., and almost everyone has good bass water nearby. Bass generally don’t prefer truly cold water, but in places with water temperatures in the 60s, they often coexist with trout.
One thing beginning fly fishermen struggle with their first time on a trout stream is locating where fish are feeding. It’s not the pattern, cast, or the retrieve that gets them in trouble, it’s the presentation and figuring out how to get that fly in the strike zone. Here’s a look at the four basic feeding zones on a typical trout stream and what percentage of the time you can generally find fish there. You might be surprised to find trout feed under the surface 90 percent of the time.
On the Surface
Trout rarely feed on the surface, hitting insects in the surface film no more than 10 percent of the time. It will be evident fish are feeding on the surface when you see boils at the surface, hear fish slurping bugs off the top or even jump out of the water to haul in adult aquatic insects as they emerge. This is a common sight in the evenings when mosquitoes are prevalent at the water’s edge.
Just Below the Surface
Same goes for the immediate subsurface bite, or the first two or three inches below the surface. Trout consume about 10 percent of their diet here as well, snacking on adult insects as they make their way to the surface. Dry flies will still work at this stage, although switching to a light nymph like a pheasant tail is probably a better idea.
If you’ve ever asked fellow fishermen where a great local fishing spot is, you might not have gotten a clear answer from them. There’s good reason for this. Firstly, they don’t want to give away their best spot! Also they don’t want their favourite area to become overrun with other fishermen…
A good start to finding a great fishing spot is to use a topographical map of the area. You can even check on Google to find one. On this map, look for places where a topographic line crosses a river, a stream, or a brook. This will often indicate a potential sudden drop in elevation, signalling the beginning of a rapid and a likely pool at the end of the rapid (a “pool” is a depression caused by eyons of erosion). Find this particular spot on Google Earth and locate the co-ordinates (usually in the bottom corner). Pop these into a GPS system and there you go!
The next step is to pack up all your gear and go fishing! When you move to a new area it can be tricky finding somewhere good to fish, especially if the locals are a bit shady about where to go. This method above is a great way to find excellent fishing spots wherever you are in the world. It does take a bit of practice, but practice does make perfect as they say!