Many of us have caught the occasional herring while mackerel fishing, but I have always been convinced there are a lot more around. I received an email from Askari, the European on-line tackle store with their promotion “Get ready for the herring season”. If others can target herring why can’t we? I searched on-line for information about herring migration and established that although the main stocks are in the North Sea, there is a substantial presence in the English Channel. Perhaps when we see shoals of fish on the fish-finder mid-water but can’t catch them, they are herring not mackerel?
As a result of research and experimentation, I can tell you how to catch them but I am still working out when they will appear regularly in the Eastern Solent. All I can say so far is that in early April they were around in good numbers. If anyone has more information please let me know.
Catching herring is like feathering for mackerel but with some significant differences. Those differences become obvious when you consider the diet of herring compared to mackerel. Mackerel feed on small fast-moving fish so are caught on strings of flashy feathers up to 3cm long, jigged up and down to represent an escaping school of small fish. Herring on the other had feed on the larvae of crustaceans which float about on the sea currents. Herring are gentle harvesters of food with delicate mouths. Mackerel are fast, all muscle and have tough, fish-grabbing jaws. Big difference in appearance and behaviour.
Herring mouths are very soft so a rod with a soft tip will cushion any jerky movements that could tear the hook out. Use the lightest, softest rod you can get away with.
The best herring feathers are small, sabiki lures that look like larvae rather than fish. Size 6 hooks, small transparent fish skin “wings” and short sparkly tails will work well. This is what you are trying to emulate:
As well as different lures, you will also need different fishing techniques. Like mackerel fishing, you will need to try different depths until you find fish but unlike mackerel fishing, keep the lures still! The herring’s food just floats along in the water, so your lures need to float along too. Even too much rocking of the boat will make the lures too active. Keep them as still as you can.
When you feel a bite, which will be a gentle jiggle rather than the mad dives of a mackerel, wind smoothly and gently until the fish reaches the surface then swing it up and into the boat where it will probably fall off. Any jerky movement in that process will tear the hook-hold and you will loose the fish. That is all there is to it! The key is using very small lures, keeping the lures still, using a soft rod and bringing them in firmly but smoothly.
I have seen some interesting weights sold in Europe and Scandinavia for herring fishing, which are painted red and white. I presume these add to the attraction. I haven’t tried them but I have used a flashy pirk as a weight and that should have a similar effect.
We could not have wished for better weather for Southsea Marina’s third annual Fishing Show – bright sunshine and enough wind to keep anglers from being tempted out to sea. There was plenty to interest everyone, from the jumble stalls to talks, trade stands, demonstrations and some impressive boats.
The talks and demonstrations were very popular, with standing room only at all the sessions. Wayne Comben gave an informative talk on local fishing and inspired us with tales of giant sharks just off the Island.
I was particularly impressed by the demonstration of fish preparation by Johnsons Enterprises. I was even more impressed by the size of the plaice they used to demonstrate – caught by a local day-boat. There is hope yet!
The boat jumble was very popular. I was delighted to hear that Southsea Marina Angling Club raised £305 for the RNLI from the sale of donated items on their stall.
There were some interesting new boats too. You may be aware the Wilson Flyer moulds have been bought by Garry Bull, who is manufacturing them to order with some updated features. At the show, he was demonstrating the extended mould for the 24 foot hull which is now wider and much roomier. I am looking forward to seeing photos of the first build out of that mould, it will be huge!
The berth-holders are very lucky to have such a great team at Premier Marinas who made such a great effort to ensure the show was successful. I know how much work goes into running an event like this, and it is good to see all that hard work was worthwhile. Here is Rupert Bremer, the marina manager who can never resist dressing up. However, we usually use squid as bait so he is lucky he didn’t end up in the marina dangling from the crane after we had heard Wayne’s shark stories.
Finally, we must congratulate Lizzie Mitchell (PR and promotions for the Fishing Show) who got married before this show and will be having a baby before the next one! We wish you well Lizzie. Thanks for not giving up after the rain-soaked 2015 Fishing Show, and carrying on to make the 2016 and 2017 shows so successful. We look forward to the next marina event!
This is a recording of the recent Navionics webinar presented by Tim Macpherson of Saltwater Boat Angling, filmed off the Sussex coast. It shows some interesting underwater video footage of plaice behaviour when taking the bait. You need to register to view the recording but there is no cost. It is about 25 minutes long.
Click on this link to get started: