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Topic: How to Read the Sea - Read the Water - Part 2  (Read 38372 times)

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Offline REEFMAN

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How to Read the Sea - Read the Water - Part 2
« on: November 10, 2011, 04:44:39 pm »
Reading the Water - Part 2 - Rock fishing

Please read Part 1 first, this covers the basic principles of Water clarity, Temperature and Wave action -
http://www.ultimateangling.co.za/index.php/topic,7396.0.html

The key to catching fish on Rocky shores is to understand what lies beneath the water. Water movement and currents are critical to understanding where fish will be. The exciting thing about Rock fishing is that there is a huge variety of species and sizes of fish, that are either resident 'reef' species or predators on the way through.

Obviously the same principles of Water clarity, colour, temperature and depth all need to be taken into consideration when deciding where to put your bait. What becomes more important when fishing rocks as opposed to beaches, are the formations available, such as Deep water, Gullies, Points, holes and drop-offs. These are all affected greatly by water currents, which are very important to identify and analyze.

Fish use the current not just to bring food to them and to get scent of potential prey, but also to help bring oxygen over the gills and provide some bouyancy as they glide or swim. The sort of places that are frequented by your bigger non-edible fish and edible game fish tend to be quite different to those inhabited by the smaller edibles.

Before we go into those details, let's try understand a little about the Hydrodynamics happening beneath the water surrounding rocky structures.

Consider a rock lieing on the beach...




Water flowing around and over a Rock on a Sandy bottom produces Eddy currents, potent little streams of water that erode away a deep gully all the way around the rock, from about half way forwards. The picture above shows a little stone, but the same principles apply to all obstructions in the water, including massive boulders, pinnacles and rocky outcrops. Where the gully formed with a small stone are not significant in depth, the gullys and troughs formed by a large rocky outcrop become 1-2m deep in places... these are perfect spots for Baitfish to take cover!



The Eddy currents extend toward the back of the obstruction/rock and reverse the flow of water due to friction. This creates a small surface wave disturbance on the shore side of the rock, forming white foamy water that generally moves shoreward with the swell. The currents here behind the rock (shore side) are generally weak compared to the main swell current, and the white water and bubbles created provide the perfect hiding place and cover for baitfish!

The same thing happens with Rocks lieing on a Rocky bed...



The softer eddy currents on the shoreside of the rock provide shelter for baitfish, along with the white water and bubbles that go with it.

Bare these principles in mind as we study some of the formations:

Targetting Big fish/Predators
Rocky Outcrops/Points

Most Rocky outcrops that stick out to sea are a lot more productive than those that lie flush with the coast. Points like these almost always produce a Rip current that runs out to sea along one or more spots along the side of the outcrop. Obviously this depends on the prevailing wind and tide etc, but generally, there will be a rip coming off the side of a Rocky outcrop. The less movement in the water, the less productive a point becomes. This current does not just provide a nice place to lie in, but it brings all the smells and the food out to the big fish. It is crucial therefore, to identify the currents surrounding a Rocky point, as putting your bait alongside a Rip current will increase the chances of a catch dramatically.
 



A Rip current even in calm, placcid conditions




And another example...




Water moving in a rip tends to look similar to a flowing river with obvious disturbance visible on the surface.
Another good indication is that when a swell encounters a current going in the opposite direction (backwash), it lifts a little higher than it normally would.
Yet another give away of a current is the scum line... where old foam is dragged out to see on the current - forming a clear line with the centre of the current marked.

If the current is fairly strong, one can often see a Scum line on the surface of the water.




In other places, the water on the one side will appear quite different to the water on the other, either by colour or turbulence. This current line is almost always patrolled by predators. These same fish will happily come in on the current as soon as they detect the scent of bait in the water.

A current line often takes the form of a band of 'shiny water' - which can be quite clearly seen if you look for it. Often this colour difeerence is associated with different water temperatures, as in a Thermocline, where colder water and warmer water have not had the chance to readily mix, due to one of the currents going faster than the other.

Some examples of what a Current line looks like:

Out to sea...




Baby Brazen...




Brazen Head...




Mbolompo




Try cast into the current, which gets the smell message dispersed over a much greater distance and also much faster, than if your bait was sitting in water with very little current. Almost every point has a very distinct current next to it. Obviously, certain points definitely tend to work better than others, especially in specific wind conditions. This is as a result of the current that is generated under those conditions. The more you look for the current and the Rip, the better you will get at finding it and the more use you will make of it.

Deep water spots

On a good clear day, one can easily identify the dark patches of rock as opposed to the much lighter sandy colours.
Most deep-water spots have a deeper water channel right up against the rocks with a shallower bank further out. Beyond this bank it drops off and becomes deep again.



In clear water one will see that the water up against the rocks is darker because it is deeper right where you are standing. This deeper water can sometimes be masked by the white water running over it, but generally all drop-offs, cliffs, points and ledges have a deep band of water found right at your feet - caused by the action of Eddy currents over many years. From there, the colour gets lighter as one goes further out (slightly shallower) and then goes darker again as the water gets deeper.




A good idea is to investigate your fishing area at low tide. Structure that would otherwise be invisible at High tide, can now be seen... like isolated banks of rock, isolated sand banks, churning water and sediment. These are all areas to be targetted. Bait fish are always attracted to Structure in the water and baring in mind the principles of Eddy Currents, these structures can be targetted. With Rocky structures, accurate casting becomes necessary, failing which, much tackle will be lost.

We are blessed with some awesome Deep Water points in our country. Next time you have the privilege of fishing one of these and targetting Big Eds and Inedibles, look out for the Rips, look out for the Current and colour lines... your luck will improve!


Let's move on to targetting the smaller edibles...

There are many edible species that are caught along the rocky shores of our coast. Most of these species are very specific in terms of their preferred structure or habitat. It is not possible to discuss all the species and their habitats in this article, rather the best approach is to decide what fish you are going to be targetting - study their habitats and bait preference, then study the water and put your bait in the best place possible.

Generally, calm, quiet, waters with deep, calm areas are not favoured by most fish. Especially when the water is clear.
Smaller edibles prefer working water... water that is being churned up by wave action, leaving a surface covered by white foamy water. This churning water has sediment/food in it, at the same time providing lots of bubbles and white water as cover while they feed.  The calmer the sea, the harder it is to find working water or some white water that is providing cover. There is nothing better than a moderately strong sea as it starts showing you a lot of what lies beneath, which way the current is going and where fish are most likely to be.



But when the sea gets "up" with strong surge and side-wash, things change for the worse. Then, the quiet little gullies and protected bays become places that the fish tend to congregate in.


Tides

Tides play a large role in determining when fish feed. Many species prefer feeding on a pushing tide, (an incoming tide), where the higher waters make stucture more accessible than would be possible at low tide. Swell Surge allows these fish to reach normally inaccessible areas, like seaweed, rock organisms, molluscs and invertebrates. When the surge retreats, the fish retreat with the swell and return to their resting spots. With a good pair of Polaroid sunglasses, and careful observation, one can often see these smaller fish surfing the swell as it surges in. This is particularly evident on the Spring High tide.



Gullies
Gullies are often a great way of fishing for Pan-size edibles with ultra light tackle and dropshot techniques.
Particularly when the sea is 'up', gullies, nooks and cranny's provide much needed shelter for fish. Most of these gullies have a cave overhang on the seabed, where wave action has eroded the bottom. These can be quite large, and are often perfect spots for your Rock dwelling species like Rockcod, Snappers and Musselcrackers. Other resident species of gullies and overhangs include Blacktail, Cave Bass, Karanteen, Stone bream, Zebra's, among many others. They are also major Nursery grounds for many species, and juvenile fish can often be found in these gullies in their thousands.



Often you will find that as water enters the gully from the sides where a wave has broken and rolled over the rocks, the gully fills up and needs to empty back into the ocean. Try to find the place where the water is sucking or being pushed out of the gully. This is normally identified by fairly turbulent type water - an ideal place for any ambush predators. Also at this point you will find any other fish that are entering or leaving the gully during their hunt for food. Where this water pours over the surrounding rocks into the gully, you will also see a bit of white turbulent water and those fish that are in the gully will definitely be keeping an eye open along that line waiting for food to be brought to them.



 
Again it is always necessary to fish areas where there is colour in the water. Very clear water, where you can see the bottom is not good. You will generally be wasting your time.


Ledges

Many parts of our Coastline, particularly on the North Coast KZN, are characterized by miles of flat ledges. A 20-50m rocky ledge that starts on the beach and protrudes out to sea. Where the ledge meets the sea, there is always a steep drop off into relatively deep water - this deep water forms a trough between the Ledges and a sandbank further out. Waves break on the sandbank, then dissipate in the trough and then smack into the Ledge with some force.




Applying our principles of Hydrodynamics... we know that right in front of the ledge, the sand/rock will be scoured out on the seabed, to form an overhang/cave, which gives the perfect conditions for Reef fish to inhabit.

Because there are many miles of similar looking ledges, one has to study the spots and choose one that is different... one with working water and with colour.

These ledges can only be fished at low tide, since the ledge drop-off becomes fairly dangerous to fish off at high tide, with breakers thundering into them. Spring low work the best, in a moderate sea, where the swells cause turbulence at the edge of the ledge with plenty working water and feeding opportunities.

The Sandbanks normally associated with these Ledges are usually within casting distance, so one can change plan of attack to target some predators by putting a bait out just short of, on top of, or over the sandbank.

Spinning with Poppers and Plugs also works well in the troughs off ledges. In this case... find some working water covering the trough, cast your lure parallel to the ledge and work it through the white water through to the other side. Numerous Kingfish species can be landed using this method.



Now is not a good time to go fishing... said nobody... EVER!!

#QAnon   
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Offline REEFMAN

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2011, 11:35:33 am »
OK - that's a wrap. I hope this basic guide helps someone out there!  :tite

Now is not a good time to go fishing... said nobody... EVER!!

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Offline CASTSA

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2011, 11:42:49 am »
THATS SOME GOOD STUFF.............

That is what makes UA stand out from the rest,

Tidy work Tony!

Offline SAfish

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2011, 11:57:13 am »
Another Super post by the master himself.  :udman: :+ cred:

Offline PH

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2011, 12:04:37 pm »
Nominated for post of the month! This is what I needed for my new rod!
 :+ cred:
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Offline Half-Pint

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2011, 12:09:47 pm »
Basic guide? What basics? These are 2 of the most in depth guides I have seen ever! What does worry me however, is when you're doing a root canal op are you thinking about ledges and holes or the poor sod in the chair

Offline Willie

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2011, 12:11:45 pm »
 :cgrts: :tkx: :appr: :+ cred:  What else can a person say. Excellent piece Reefz only problem is I now want to go  :fshn: :-(
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Offline strandloper

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2011, 12:22:53 pm »
Excellent Reefz!!!!!!!!
 
Two of the best tutorials (guides) ever!!
 
Num 6: 24 -26

Offline Rory

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2011, 12:34:48 pm »
Awesome post Reefs!! :resp: :bow: :+ cred:

Offline Psy

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2011, 12:38:01 pm »
 :resp:


Top Post Reefman.


:)
Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.

Offline Lichia amia

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2011, 12:40:34 pm »
 :FST:   Brilliant Reefz  (clap) (clap) (clap)

Offline Homie

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2011, 12:47:20 pm »
 (clap) (clap) (clap)

Awesome stuff Tony !

Offline Capt. Hook

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2011, 05:22:41 pm »
You have outdone yourself, excellent post Tony.  :+ cred:
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Offline jace

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2011, 05:41:27 pm »
From an Admin guy from a brother forum Your Part 1 and 2 are one of the best tuts ever posted in any forum in SA. Great to read and learn....Well constructed and a great learning / teaching tool

Offline REEFMAN

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2011, 05:51:52 pm »
From an Admin guy from a brother forum Your Part 1 and 2 are one of the best tuts ever posted in any forum in SA. Great to read and learn....Well constructed and a great learning / teaching tool

Wow Jace... thanks for your kind words... makes all the hard work worthwhile!  :tkx:

Now is not a good time to go fishing... said nobody... EVER!!

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Offline MIKE PIKE

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2011, 07:13:02 pm »
Absolutely brillant.. :bow:  Tony.

Offline Johane

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2011, 07:33:37 pm »
Great Work Tony

Offline hrogers

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2011, 03:45:31 am »
Good report !  :shre:  Next time i will look out for the good spots !!
Nice pictures of Black Rock !! I've been there but without any success...
 
But what can we do when angling at the rocks without getting stuck ?

Offline Half-Pint

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2011, 06:35:27 am »
As Reefz said accurate casting is important. I think you must also just accept that fishing around the rocks you will get stuck sooner or later its just part of the game

Online John F

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Re: Reading the Water - Part 2
« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2011, 06:46:11 am »
Another great contribution!

Really quality stuff which sets UA on its own league!!!

Almost made me wanna go back to R&S!!!!!
 
Thanks Tony!   :+ cred:

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