Tishing tips and techniques from the master fisherman
Fishing tips, tricks, stories and more from a
The Art of Fishing – The sports angler vs hobbyist................................................................... 3
A Fishy Tale to Tell ................................................................................................................... 3
My Lucky Birthday – Part 1 ......................................................................................................5
My Luck Birthday – Part 2 ........................................................................................................5
Ze Waggler Story........................................................................................................................7
Float Fishing – The Float .......................................................................................................... 8
Bottom Fishing – Running Ledger Rig .....................................................................................9
The Art of Fishing – The sports angler
Some will say fishing is all about luck, others
will strongly disagree quoting that fishing
requires a great degree of skill.
Well in actual fact both may be right, as in all
things in life it really depends on the way you
look at it. Basically today we shall dealing with
2 types of anglers. By angling it is meant the
method of fishing with a hook and line
attached to a rod or pole. Now let us see who
these two diverse anglers are. You might say
an angler is an angler and that’s it. That could
not be further from the truth. There is the one
fisherman who treats his angling escapades
plainly as a hobby and on the other hand there is the Sports Fisherman, who of course takes
things much more seriously. This does not necessarily mean he always catches more than the
former, believe me I have witnessed and experienced this many a time.
The hobbyist most of the time just goes to fish for the fun of it, does not target any particular type
of fish, or use any particular methods, he or she will not bother with fine lines, on the contrary the
policy usually is to use a strong thick high diameter line and a strong hook and an even stronger
rod just in case something big bites so it will not snap the line. And when a fish does bite and get
hooked, fighting the fish means literally that, one big tug of war, with the fish already being
envisaged in the frying pan and the angler wetting his lips in anticipation. The use of a landing
net rarely if ever is given any consideration.
On the other hand the Sports Fisherman is a different kettle of fish altogether. He tends to think
of himself as Gods` gift to angling. I myself practice sports fishing so I know what I am talking
about here. We have a multitude of rods, very fine and expensive, one for every type of fishing.
Most of these fishing tips and techniques we will be discussing in the course of these articles.
We fish with the finest of lines possible such as a .10mm line and small thin hooks, and expect to
catch and land a big fish for example weighing in at 1kg on a .500g breaking strength line. And
then of course brag about it to whoever would listen. Landing a fish is suddenly transformed into
art, as trying to persuade a large 2kg mullet to find its way to your landing net rigged with a 1kg
breaking strength line is no small feat. Now we are not fighting the fish anymore here but playing
the fish in, as the fish has to be cajoled to the shore to be landed. A genuine Sports greatest joy
then would be in releasing the fish.
So as one can see in the eyes of the Sports Angler fishing must certainly classify as an art. For
the occasional hobbyist perhaps not so much, but what is certain is that both depend on a certain
degree of luck, and both will tell you tales of the big one that got away.
A Fishy Tale to Tell
It dawned another beautiful day in September,
with initially calm winds and clear skies, but
the weather forecast was for a change after a
long hot summer. My fishing buddy Pierre
who was also my best friend and I were
looking forward for the first storm of the
season, knowing very well that it would bring
with it the right conditions for the fish to start
biting. I remember both of us waiting for the
South Easterly wind to caress our cheeks in
earnest. Sometime in the afternoon we were
granted our wish as the weather started to
change, were clouds could be seen
approaching and a South East wind picking up,
but most important of all the sea finally
roughing up. We started celebrating like crazy; I seriously doubt that we would have been
happier if we had won the lottery.
So it was decided that we shall spend the night fishing off the pier at Pretty Bay in Birzebbugia or
at least till the sea got so rough that we could not fish any more.
So at around 0800 in the evening, we got our fishing gear out and started off with a mission in
sight. This happened quite a long time ago, suffice to say that our fishing gear consisted of one
6m bamboo pole each which we had to manoeuvre out of the house with some difficulty careful
not to break anything precious and thus invoke the ire of our parents and a canvas bag
containing some extra hooks, a line spool and a large tomato paste tin with crushed bread mixed
with mature cheese for ground bait. And of course the then traditional bucket, as keep nets in
those days were unheard of.
We started rigging our rods and planting our rudimentary ground bait in the sea hoping that the
fish would smell it and come swarming in. Our rig consisted of a .30m line combined with a size
4 hook. We were really going all out for the big uns. We did not use a float but we did put a few
grams of weight on the line as the wind was now blowing considerably so as to be able to feel
any bites on the rod tip. Our bait consisted of just plain bread paste mixed with cheese. And as
you can rightly guess we started fishing with great anticipation and imagine my glee when just
after a few minutes I could feel something tugging at my line. I struck and lo and behold I
certainly had something on, something heavy, and immediately told my buddy that I had a big
fish on and had already started taunting him that I had got the very first one and a big one. Just
imagine the look on my face when I saw the fish I had hooked, was none other than a size 44
slipper, Pierre could not stop laughing and making fun of me. I had to humbly put my head down
and accept whatever was thrown at me. I got the slipper off the hook and tossed it behind us so
we would not hook it again. Hardly 10mins had passed when I hear a shout and looking up I see
my friends rod bent and him struggling with whatever he had hooked. He let it be known in the
most clear of ways that his was most certainly a fish. But it was not to be as unbelievable as it
may seem another shoe was dangling from his line. Now it was my turn to laugh till I cried. He
kept on asking me why I had thrown mine back in the sea, I had not, but could not stop laughing
enough to tell him, I just pointed behind us to the other shoe, we had actually hooked a complete
pair of shoes.
But the next tug was not a shoe as both our rods were suddenly in action again, both of us
fighting a nice fish, hauling in a nice mullet and a bream (Sargu). But by this time it was near to
impossible to feel the fish biting as the wind had increased too much. So we opted to just leave
our fishing gear lying down on the pier and hoping that we would see the rods move when the
fish bite, and bite they did as whenever the rods bounced up and down it was invariably a mullet
or some nice bogue (vopa), on the other hand if the rod simply shoot out then it was a bream.
What a night we had, we could hardly carry all the fish home, it was a pity that we had to call it
an earlier night then we wished as the sea was getting so rough that we would not have been
able to crossover as we surely would have caught much more. Those were the days.
Landing a mullet during KFSA Singles League
My Lucky Birthday – Part 1
One weekend a long time ago precisely on my 16th birthday which by the way was also my lucky
birthday, the 16th of January 1975, my cousin
and a couple of friends of mine decided to
spend the weekend together at my parents
summer residence at B’Bugia, this was in the
winter of 1975. The weather was rather
cloudy with a strong North Easterly wind which
had started to blow on the Friday and
continued also on Saturday which also made
the sea very rough. Being my birthday the
next day, on the Saturday evening the guys
decided that we should have a fenkata night.
That is cooking a favourite Maltese dish of
rabbit stew and spaghetti and just a little red
wine. It was delicious. As they were about to throw all the left over bones and spaghetti in the
bin I stopped them, and told them to keep everything so that if the wind changed direction the
next morning and the sea calmed down enough I would use it to bait the fish. This is one fishing
tip that you should always remember, fish love our leftovers. So I put it in a bowl in the fridge.
The first thing that I was aware of early the next day was the silence of the howling wind. I
dragged myself out of bed and peeked outside, to the lovely sight of beautiful day but most of all,
the howling “grigale” of the previous night was now replaced by a very light South Westerly
breeze. The sea was still very rough, but a different type of rough, with a moderate sometimes
not so moderate swell, but fishable, or barely. So I left the guys sound asleep took out my
bamboo rod and gear out and went to my favourite saragi spot at a place called Wied Il Buni.
The first thing I did was calculate how the current was moving in the rough sea and throw most of
the left overs in. Take this as another fishing tip, never just throw the bait in, always take the
current in consideration so your ground bait, in this case the rabbit stew remains within your
fishing area, after all the scope of baiting the fish is to get the fish in your swim.
My rig consisted of my then usual 6m bamboo pole, which did not remain 6m for long, but more
about that later, I rigged it with a strong .30mm line and a size 6 hook, together with a homemade
cork float for which I needed about 3g of weight. I used to make these floats myself by, carving a
wine bottle cork, using a sharp blade to make it as round as possible, and burning it so as to
make it black, for more visibility, then making a slit in the middle, winding the line through the slit
twice and inserting a pin right through, it was a common technique for making floats in those
days. My bait as usual consisted of bread made into paste with smelly mature 10 year old
cheese and blended together. One thing to keep in mind when fishing for sargi in rough weather
is the technique used when plummeting the depth; it is of utmost importance to go over depth.
Here I was fishing in about 1m depth but the float was calculated at 1.1 m, that being 10cm more
than the actual depth in my swim. But now even more important, the first weight I put on the line
was 10cm from the hook. This type of bream is a bottom feeder and will go more easily for bait
lurking on the bottom, swimming in the current then above the bottom. It always boils down to
presenting as natural as possible a feeding environment for the fish to entice it to bite.
So I let loose my first cast on the unsuspecting fish. If you want to know the rest of the story
stay tuned for part 2 coming soon.
My Luck Birthday – Part 2
After casting my first cast of day, I kept in mind
that in such rough seas there is always a
learning curve especially when you are fishing
over depth, as you have to learn to distinguish
between a bite and the hook brushing the
bottom and the sea swell, but the moral of the
story here is when in doubt strike. So when
after a few casts the float went down but never
came up I struck, and thought I had hooked
me a nice fish but when the “fish” would not
budge it started to look more and more like I
had snagged the bottom. So when in the
following cast the float went down again I did
hit but this time with much less conviction and
lo and behold I had snagged the bottom again,
or so I believed until the bottom actually
started moving! I had hooked me a whopper,
it was a real battle, I could hardly move the
fish off the bottom. After some 5mins I heard a snap and realised that I had lost a piece of my
rod together with fish and line. I just stood there staring at what was left of my rod in utter
It was already difficult to fish in such a high swell with a 6m pole, let alone now with 6m minus
some 20cm. The risk of ending up in the frigid January water now seemed more of a reality than
This time I decided to go for a different technique when rigging my line, by first winding some
35cm of string (lenza) to the top of the pole, and then tying my line to the tip of it, so if the rod
had to break again I still had a fighting chance of landing the fish if the string remained attached
to the remaining pole. After a few casts I had another bite and got me a nice Sargu, and another
soon after, but nothing compared to the one that had broken my rod. I threw in the remaining
leftovers since now the bites and had become slow, although I had landed another smaller sargu
and a mullet.
15mins or so later I thought I had snagged the bottom again, but it was one of those monsters,
which this time ended up in snapping the line close to the hook with its sharp teeth; I put another
hook on this time a bigger size 4, cast again with exactly the same result. By now I was getting
desperate. A veteran angler Leli who was observing me fish, may God bless his soul, told me
that he was going home to get me a better hook for this type of fish. When he returned he had a
very large size 1 long shank hook with him which he proceeded to tie himself. He was convinced
that if I were to get a big bite now I would pull the fish out unless it broke the rod again. I had
never fished with such a large hook in my life till then. But when a veteran like Leli gives you
advice and a fishing tip you can never refuse it.
So I proceeded to cast again, and got me a few bites but could not make a hit. But when I was
thinking that the hook must be too big, I finally hooked the bugger, and what a strong fish it was,
it started pulling out and me inching forward just holding the fish steady till it tired down, when
suddenly I must have inched an inch to far as a huge wave came and literally swept me over, at
that very same instant my rod snapped again but I could tell that the fish was still there the line
hanging by the string I had wound on the tip and as strong as ever. I never even realized how
cold the sea must have been, all I had in mind was keeping the fish on the line and swimming up
with it. Suddenly I was conscious of people shouting at me to let the rod go and to swim out to
avoid the rocky area, but I was never letting my fish go, though I found that I could not swim
away from the rocks the sea was to rough but I still held on, a few seconds later I found myself
being bashed on the rocks till 2 pairs of hands dragged me out, complete with rod and my prize
fish. I was sore and bleeding all over but by some miracle I did not have any serious injuries.
When I finally looked at the size of my Sargu, I could not believe my eyes, when we eventually
weighed it at my cousins house it topped the scales at just over 5lbs.
After I was rescued, I thanked my rescuers profusely, went up home, took a cold freezing shower
to clean my wounds, put on some dry clothes with every intention of continuing with my fishing,
but I was persuaded otherwise when my friends reminded me that my rod having broken again
was now to short, and next time I might not be so lucky.
When I look back through the years past, I now realize with mature hindsight what a terrible risk I
had taken, holding on to the rod and fish thus risking life and limb. If it were not for those two
kind Samaritans who had come to my rescue, in all probability today I would not be here writing
this piece. The one fishing tip that all of you should take out of parts 1 and 2 is to always be
safe, especially when fishing in rough seas as this story could have easily ended up in a tragedy.
Ze Waggler Story
As promised in todays fishing tip we shall have a look at how to put together a waggler rig. First
and foremost we need to see what type of gear we will be
using. I personally would prefer a 5 to 7m telescopic rod. A
casting weight ranging between 5 to 30g and less should
suffice. Three piece match rods which usually are not more
than 4.5m in length should also serve our purpose nicely but
always with the same indicated casting weight, as anything
stiffer would not have the capabilities to cast our waggler as
we wish it to. The ideal reel should be of the 1000 or 500
series although bigger reels can also be used. The most
important thing here is that the reel is proportionally
balanced with the rod. Ideally reels should be spooled with
line gauged between .18 and 14mm. I would go for the .
16mm option as the best solution. Most will query, as to
why we have to use such a low diameter line.
For the time being just imagine that we need to cast a
distance of around 20 meters with a 3g waggler and a .
30mm line in our reel spool, the friction that such a line
would create due to its high diameter would be such that it
will impede us from casting long distances, whilst the finer
the line the less the friction, resulting in longer distance casts.
I like to fish a weighted waggler, especially when fishing for mullet. It’s a fine windless day with
calm clear seas, not exactly an ideal day for fishing,
so we have to be extra crafty to get such a shy biter
as the mullet to go anywhere near our bait. As
always presentation is the trick. The depth of the
sea where I am fishing is in the region of 4 meters.
So first we have to cast out, that is not to close to
shore so as not to spook the fish. I shall be using
my 6m rod today and a reel spooled with a .16mm
line. I am going for a 6+1g waggler and a leader of
not more then .10mm fluorocarbon line. We use
fluorocarbon not because it`s stronger then
monofilament, because it is not, if anything it is less
strong, but because it is practically invisible. So let
us see now how we are going to attach our waggler
to the main line. Cut a piece of .16mm line of
around 15cm and tie it to the eye at the bottom of
your waggler, with the other end going to the T-Bar attachment (illustrated). With the T-Bar
attachment you will also have 2 rubber sleeves, which are to be slipped into the main line, with
the T-Bar now attached to the float slipped inside these rubber sleeves. Viola now you have your
waggler attached which can easily be moved up or down to set the required depth, today not
more than 7cm from the bottom.So now that the float is ready, we need to attach a small swivel
to the end of our main line, to which we will now tie our .10mm trace, which should be of a length
of around 80 to 100cm and our hook, a size 10 should do. What‘s left now is our 1 gram of
Complete Waggler set-up
weight, which with the sea being so clear I would prefer to divide it in 2. With .5g right near the
eye of the waggler on the 15cm extension and the remaining .5g on the .10mm trace about 25cm
from the hook, thus enabling the bait to go down slowly swaying with the current tempting the fish
in the process, by now they would be literally watering their mouths waiting for the bait to reach
the bottom. One important thing is, that only the small tip of the waggler must remain on the
surface so that when the fish bite it will meet with the least of resistance and your float will be all
that quicker to register the bite. Now you know how to rig your waggler, next time I will show you
how to bait your fish. In the meantime remember always treat you fish with care and use keep
nets. My greatest satisfaction apart from catching the fish is when I see them swim away after I
release them at the end of the day! Tight lines and stay tuned with our weekly fishing tips.
An alternate way of rigging your waggler
Float Fishing – The Float
Being an avid float angler today I decided that
we shall have a look at the variety of floats
and techniques we can put to test when float
fishing. Eventually during the course of these
articles we will go into detail of each technique
one by one.
First some history of how float fishing is
thought to have come to be. It is not known
with certainty the origin of the much revered
float but it is believed that in the old days,
pieces of twigs, bird feather quills and even
leaves rolled into balls might have been used
as floats. Eventually the float started to be
carved out of cork, by means of a hole drilled right through the cork and a feather quill inserted to
hold it in place, this same concept is still used to this day. What is certain is that the need of the
angler to have some type of bite indicator goes back a long way.
There are various types of floats, such as the waggler, an elongated tapered float, mostly used in
still waters. We also use a variety of floats when Bolognese fishing, that being the method of
using a fixed float on a rod and reel; these floats come in all shapes and sizes as do most things
in life. There is also the now notorious running float, which as its name implies is not fixed but
slides across the line. This is used in areas where it is far too deep for us to use a fixed float. I
have personally used these floats to depths exceeding 20m. There is also what is called a
weighted float. As the name implies these are float that have a certain amount of weight which is
A variety of floats
integrated within. A typical weighted float would have something like this stamped on
it:4+3grams, where the 4g implies the weight incorporated within the float and the 3g being the
amount of weight needed on your line to stabilise the float on the surface, this type of float allows
us to cast at distances which would not normally be possible with a normal float. Now we come
to the controller float, which is also a weighted float but this serves a different purpose altogether.
The purpose of this contraption is that of casting further out with a longish leader and hook
attached with the specific aim of keeping your bait on the surface so as to attract those fish which
come up to feed on the sea surface. No further weight needs to be added to the controller float.
In the next write up I shall be showing you what setup you will need to rig up the waggler. Till
then Tight Lines to all and hope you enjoyed our float fishing introduction.
Bottom Fishing – Running Ledger Rig
We are going to start off with explaining a running ledger rig. What is a running ledger rig, how
do we make it, when do we use it, what fish shall we be targeting with a running ledger etc. etc.
A running ledger rig is a very simple rig ideal for beginners as it is very easy to put together, it is
also a very good way of presenting your bait on the bottom in the most natural way possible. All it
takes is a weight with a hole passing through, so it would be able to slide through the main line
coming from your reel spool, now slide through a small bead also so the weight will not wear off
the knot, which we shall be doing now by tying a swivel to the line. Finally attach your leader to
the swivel, this should be between 30 to 100cm, and tie your hook. With this technique now you
can present your bait on the bottom with the weight resting on the sea bed and the leader with
the bait, being able to sway with the current attracting the fish. The finer the line the more it will
act naturally and foil the fish.
It’s great fun when you use this technique in
conjunction with light ledgering, with for
example a 12gram casting weight 4m rod.
Using a low diameter line on your reel also
helps to cast further out, I would suggest a .
20mm line so that you would still have the
option of using it with a .30g weight on a
slightly more robust 5m rod. In this way one
could easily cast at least 80m and more.
It is best to use this system when bottom
fishing on a sandy seabed, and if no bites are
forthcoming consider pulling in slightly and
slowly on the rod to move the bait and help
attract the fish. You can also opt not to keep
the line to tight to the rod and give it some slack so that when the fish initially bites it will not feel
any resistance and will not be scared off. In Malta we use this method mostly for bream
especially the Gilthead bream and sea bream, but any fish will go for it.
How much weight and what hooks you use is entirely up to you as it depends how deep the sea
is and what fish you are planning to get.
Running Ledger set-up