As those of you who have been reading my articles will know, part of my fishing plan of 2013 is about building knowledge, particularly around new to me techniques, to be employed on the south coast.
It was with some interest that I started reading about squid fishing in the Brighton area, particularly off Brighton Marina wall, where the annual Squid Championships are held.
Much like many of the people reading this, I thought that squid were only caught in hot places at night. Why I thought this, I donâ€™t know, as squid is excellent bait in English waters for species such as bass and skate. This was to be my first meeting with Robin Howard, AKA â€˜Fishyrobâ€™. Rob is a very knowledgeable guide operating out of Brighton, and at the forefront of modern techniques. He has been part of the pioneering squid movement off the south coast, and is willing to share his knowledge through his â€˜squid safarisâ€™.
The idea with the squid safaris is that several people are rigged up with gear, and Rob oversees, trying to make sure everyone catches. The location however was far from safari-esque, being one of the Marina walls. We met at 8 am on a bank holiday Monday, and there was already a good showing of anglers taking their positions. The sun was bright and high by the time we left Haywards Heath, and as soon as we hit the downs we were in the middle of a real pea souper, which wasnâ€™t to lift until around noon.
As Rob welcomed us, he quickly got us to the right part of the wall for the state of the tide. We were fishing the flow just before high tide, and then out again. The rods were assembled, Robin looking really quite excited about the prospects. It was one of the first days the sea had cleared of the various blooms that appear in early spring, and nice and calm. Perfect for squid apparently.
Accompanying me were Mrs Church, and some friends of ours, Tom and Lucy. The girls were given the two lure rods, baited with nothing other than an Egi, or squid jig. These a prawn shaped, with a lead at the head to make them move correctly, and two or three rows of 20 spikes, almost like a row of hooks next to each other. The method is to cast as far as possible, allow the lure to hit the bottom, and then violently make a couple of jigging movements. Retrieve the slack, allow to sink again, and perform the jigs again. And so it goes on.
Robin had Mrs Church and Mrs Rose casting faultlessly , and within 3 casts Mrs Church hooked and landed a cuttlefish. She demanded it was killed nice and quickly â€“ they change colour immediately to white, and then ink gets everywhere.
Ten minutes later, Mrs Rose caught a squid â€“ her first fish. It seemed to fight a bit, unlike the cuttle which simply came in like a plastic bag full of water.
Tom and I were using float roads, and the rig is basically a sliding float with a squid jig on the bottom. These are left to move with the tide. The jigs themselves, somehow, maintain a temperature a degree higher than the water. Donâ€™t ask me how, but they are designed by some very clever Japanese fisherman.
The floats werenâ€™t really doing much, and after much rotation of set ups, Natalie and Lucy wandered off to find some sun to lie in. Whilst they were away, Tom and I managed a cuttlefish each, and it was lucky we had the evidence as the girls simply would not believe us.
The day rounded off nicely at 1pm, with another two cuttlefish in the bag. The afternoon was spent cleaning them in the garden. There was ink everywhere, and the boy from next door was enjoying sticking tentacles all over himself and generally getting covered from head to toe in ink.
The day ended with barbeque cuttlefish, and very good it was indeed!
Details of Robinâ€™s guiding services and latest condition and catch reports for the south coast can be accessed through www.sportingfish.co.uk