072315002I have been fishing for over forty years both fresh water and at sea where I for many years owned and skippered a charter fishing boat. All fishermen are the same, no matter how many fish they catch it’s always the same story, why did I not catch more or bigger fish. Maybe it would help to rectify this by remembering the following tips.


Today there is a huge selection available for every kind of fishing and most of the top brands extremely expensive. This does not mean that you cannot catch plenty of good quality fish without spending a fortune.

Decide on the type of fishing you want to pursue and kit yourself out accordingly within your budget but don’t expect you can use your fresh water tackle for sea fishing or vice versa. Ensure you have all that’s necessary, carry out a regular inventory of your tackle box and obviously maintain all your tackle as new. One important piece of equipment that so many overlook is a good quality stainless steal and very sharp knife.

Also included in your tackle box should be a reasonable size first aid kit including protective sun cream especially if sea angling.


Whether to go or not to go? If sea fishing it’s obviously up to the skipper to decide if conditions are suitable but it is also your choice. If it is your first experience of sea fishing and it is blowing a force four or more do not go, it could put you off sea angling for life. So many times have I had fishermen turn up for a trip and when I warned them it was going to be rough and advised those not experienced to cancel, had them tell me,”No problem we have fished in rough weather many times” only for half of them to be begging me to take them back within an hour. It is unfair to the others on board if you go on a trip without being 90% sure you will not get seasick.

The weather also effects the fishing, the old fishermen’s saying, “The east wind doth blow, no fish will show” has a lot of truth in it from my experience. I have found the most productive days to be overcast with a light to moderate wind. Cloudless totally calm days while a pleasure to be at sea are not always so good for the fishing.

For fresh water fishing weather is also a factor, again those cloudless hot days seem to put the fish to sleep whereas a nice breeze and slightly overcast sky is better. Wet days are also good although not pleasant for the angler, but I have had some of my best catches in these conditions. Try also to fish with the wind in your face providing it is not too strong to prevent casting. During the summer the water warms up and fish seek deeper cooler water so a nice deep pool under the shade of some trees should be a good choice.

Attire and Approach

Remember above all you are a hunter, so dress and act accordingly. A suitably camouflaged and waterproof set of clothes is essential for the fresh water angler and stealth must be used when approaching your swim. If you see other anglers who are on a day out with the family keep well away as for sure they will be making a lot of noise.

When netting your catch place your landing net in the water and bring the fish to the net and try to avoid letting the fish thrash around on the surface. When replacing the fish do so very gently, don’t just toss it back as I have seen so many anglers do which can not only harm the fish but will certainly disturb any nearby feeding on your ground bait.

For the sea angler clothing is vitally important although camouflage is not so important it must be of good enough quality to keep you warm and dry without being too bulky. Beware of the sun, it never seems so hot at sea but believe me you burn quicker. If you must expose you lilly white body make sure you apply adequate and high factor cream. The wind will burn your face and can chap your lips so a large brimmed hat is a good idea plus some lip salve.

While at sea keep the noise to a minimum, you should be wearing soft soled waterproof boots. Avoid banging the lid of your tackle box shut, letting your rod bang against the side of the boat, dropping you can of drink on the deck, etc. I remember one skipper who threatened to throw anyone who whistled while on his boat, into the sea. He called it “Whistling up the wind”

There is only one time you need to cast while boat fishing and that is for spinning but ask the skippers permission first because this is dangerous to other anglers.. I always insisted that only one angler be allowed to spin and that had to be done from the fore deck away from the other anglers.

One good tip about fishing from a boat, always try and fish from the stern, you are less likely to get tangled up with other anglers lines and from my experience anglers in this position catch more fish. Maybe it’s because the experienced anglers always go for this spot!


It goes without saying that bait and ground bait needs to be of the best quality and fresh. For the sea angler a good skipper will have a supply of bait but will also try and catch some fresh mackerel or sand eels etc. while on the way to his selected mark.

The fresh water angler must decide on the bait to be used and ensure he has a sufficient supply. Nothing is more infuriating than to run out of a bait that is constantly catching fish.

Ground bait too must be fresh, no good expecting to use last weeks left- overs.

While ground baiting or attaching bait to the hook, ensure your hands are clean, not coated in sun cream or anything else that will spoil the bait. If you are a smoker wipe your hands thoroughly before handling either the ground bait or the hook bait, a good idea is to rub them in the grass or soil, if on a boat in the sea.


Fishing is, in regard to numbers participating, the biggest sport in the world with millions fishing every day. It should be obvious that it is vital to conserve the fish stock, whether it be sea fish a fresh water. Most sea fish are good to eat but what is the point in keeping and killing more than one can eat and it is criminal to kill undersize fish.

While fishing in Darwin a couple of years ago I was delighted to learn that all the charter boats now operate a policy of catch and return. All the boats have an adequate fish tank to keep alive enough fish till the end of the day when the anglers can choose the ones they are going to eat that evening, the rest being returned. Any fish too big for the tank are weighed and photographed and returned immediately. Gone are the days when anglers came ashore with the days catch to be strung up and photographed.

Fresh water anglers should have a keep net big enough to allow the fish to be returned unharmed at the end of the session but unless you are competition fishing it is better to weigh and photograph your fish and return immediately.


I hope you have found my article informative or at least given you food for thought. If you would like more information, advice and sources for where to go for fishing holidays, where to buy good tackle, bait etc. etc. please join my newsletter and immediately receive for free a forty year old proven method to catch fish without fishing, they actually catch themselves.

Good Fishing


The author was the first to set up and operate a charter fishing business in Jersey in the late 1960’s/70’s. “Phils Angling Charters” Over forty years experience of both fresh water and sea angling.