Meerkat Charters - Skippers Rigs
In fishing there are loads of rigs and methods out there to try and catch certain types of species. These rigs and methods change depending on where in the country and the type of ground you are fishing on. There are also hundreds of different company’s for all the rig components, so there is no massive right or wrong. It’s all about being confident in what you are using yourself.
To help you out this is a small example on some rigs I fully recommend and use myself on a day to day bases from Weymouth and Portland.
Flatfish Days - Tips & Rigs
Fishing for flatfish can be extremely simple with which rigs to use and when but at the same time can be a very effective method in catching some of these tricky fish. Personally this is my favourite way fishing for Turbot/ Brill.
Yes, if you wish you can turn this into a 2 hook version and adding a little bit of bling to the traces can sometimes give you a little bit of edge, but not always. Flatfish Spoons, Orange and red beads or even just a couple of yellow beads work well.
TIP: It’s always best to fish the lightest trace you can, so the fish can’t see the line going through the water as the Turbot and Brill can be very sensitive. Back in the day it was Normal to use 30lb+ traces, but nowadays I wouldn’t go over a 20lb trace. If the Turbot are being very finicky you could even go down to 10-15lb but run the risk of getting snapped off if you do pick the better fish up but sometimes it’s worth it to get that bite.
Now for our red spotted friends the Plaice. Plaice fishing can be a little bit more brutal than the finicky Turbot and Brill. For Plaice we use a lot bigger baits and loads of bling around the hooks to try get them to take a bite. Typically I would use 3 or 4 big ragworm and a whole prawn. Never go to long on your trace out of Weymouth, 18 to 24 inches is the perfect length around the Portland area, if you was going along sand banks, at another harbour or down near chesil beach I would opt for 4ft+ for the trace.
The small clip in the diagram can then be attached to either a short Portland rig or a running ledger. You could even have a couple rigs baited up and ready to go, so if you miss a bite you can quickly unclip the old rig and put a fresh new bait straight down. This way you're not wasting 5 minutes baiting up in the middle of the drift.
Tip: The reason behind changing from 30lb to 20lb line along your trace (like the diagram shows) is when fishing the Portaland mussels beds it can be a very hard and snaggy bottom. If you get stuck in, the idea is the hook is stuck so the 20lb line will snap first leaving you with the rig and all the beads attached. It’s a case of a new hook and line and your good to go for another drop. Instead of snapping all your gear and having to start from scratch.
Big Fish Days - Tips & Rigs
When targeting some of these big fish you really don’t need to over confuse the rigs, simple the better and easier for you guys to tie up and handle on the day.
Rays – 60 to 100lb trace 4ft long depending on strength of the tide and a nice strong 6/0 hook is perfect.
Spurdogs – 100-120lb trace 3-4ft long and a 6/0. You could even go thicker again as we have had Spurdogs biting through traces especially after already catching a few but 100-120 is a good in the middle line and still easy to tie.
Tope - 150lb trace 4-5ft long with once again 6/0 or even 8/0 hooks depending on the marks we are fishing. Some guys do use 80-100lb with a 8/0 or 10/0 circle hook so the aim with the circle is to get the hook hold in the side of the jaw so there’s no chance of getting bitten off. It’s all down to personal choice and having a practice with both methods.
Conger - 250lb+ trace 3-4ft long and again 8/0-10/0 strong hook. I wouldn’t recommend using a circle hooks for these due to Congers being able to swim backwards so the circle hook never really has a chance in finding away into the side of the jaw, unlike the Tope turning around and swimming away.
I’m sure by now you can see it’s all pretty much the same traces and ideas so you can’t over complicate it. It all depends where you are fishing on the day but the all round in the middle trace would be 100lb 4ft trace with a 6/0 you can’t get much more even than that. But it’s all so simple it can be changed on the day once we’ve met in the morning and made are plan for the trip ahead.
Tip: Always make sure before dropping down that the hook point is showing amongst all the bait you are putting on. It’s also always worth carrying some bait elastic to wrap the baits up.
Pollock, Bass & Cod Tips & Rigs
Now we all love tying up the famous Portland Rig. There’s a couple ways to tie this famous rig, with a rotten bottom attached so if you do manage to find the wreck or ledge (highly likely) you might get a second chance in retrieving the gear and making the Portland rig heavier than your trace line that will give you a higher chance in getting it back if you do manage to find the bottom.
Recommend length of trace line from your Portland rig swivel.
Pollock: 15ft+ trace of 20lb line I never go heavier than this. Recommend lures Side winder Skerries, Rhubarb and custard, Pinks, Solid blue/ white, super slim greys with the yellow spot. The list could keep going on and on but they all have there days.
Cod: 8-12ft trace of 20lb. There’s also another method called Hoping what’s a Portland rig with a 3ft trace and you Bounce it along the bottom with a big high lift of the rod. This method was the most affective for the Cod back in the day, but the last couple years with the Cod getting harder to catch I personally go in the middle with a 8-12ft trace and do slow winds up to 15-20 turns from the bottom, this allows you the chance to catch Cod and Pollock at the same time.
Bass: Nice and simple 8-12ft trace and the recommended lures are sidewinder Blue/ White, Pearly hite, Sidewinder Minnow but once again there’s so many to choice from and they all work.
Tip: Don’t be scared to get nearer the wreck especially when the tide is running hard those fish get right inside to hide from the fast movement making it harder for them to feed. (You’ve got to be in it to win it)
Bream & Rough Mixed Fishing - Tips & Rigs
When anchored on the rough ground/ reefs around Weymouth and Portland there are so many species hunting the ground you just never know what’s going to come up next. There’s a handful of rigs I keep with me in my tackle box when anchored so it gives me a chance of a bit of everything depending on the strength of tide and what’s in the area.
Tip: If using crimps instead of power gum knots, I recommend using 30lb mono for the rig body instead of 25lb and don’t squeeze the crimps to hard otherwise you’ll weaken the link making it easy to snap.
Tip: Keep roughly to the sizes on the diagram. Once the rig is finished turn upside down and make sure that nothing touches each other, you don’t want the bottom hook able to touch or wrap around the the top trace and the same again you don’t want the top trace able to wrap around the top swivel. If it looks good this should help tangles when dropping down. If you still find your tangling when using just check your baits aren’t spinning around like a helicopter when dropping down.
Tip: Flowing traces will normally fish better than the paternoster when the tide is running fast and this type of flowing trace rig can be connected either to a Portland rig or running ledger. This isn’t the best rig as the tide starts to ease as it can easily tangle when dropping down also the Bream will come higher up in the water especially over the slack water, this is when I would swap to the 2 hook paternoster.
Tip: This 2 hook flowing trace is designed for Bream. You do stand a chance of hooking Congers, Huss, Rays etc but the chances can be slim landing the fish due to the strength of line and size of hooks. But you can change the design of the rig and make everything a little bit bigger like 60-80lb mono and 3/0 hooks then you stand a good chance in landing those bigger fish but a smaller chance in catching Bream.
The Combi rig also known as a type of 1 up 1 down rig is a perfect rig for when you want to give your self a chance at a bit of everything with out having to commit to just the one type of specie. This can range from Bream, Gurnards to Rays, Congers and many more.
Tip: ame as the Paternoster rig once you have completed making this rig turn upside down to make sure nothing touches, the prime one is not having the bottom trace to long so it tangles with the top, what can happen if dropped to fast or made a little bit to long.
Tip: Make sure your bottom bait is nice and stream line so there isn’t a chance of it spinning when dropped, don’t attempt to hook chunks of Mackerel or squid in the middle other wise you could be asking for a tangle, try and just hook it once or twice on the thin end to get the best result and sometimes even use a bit of bait elastic to help stay on the hook a little longer.