For years, we stayed clear of wreck fishing. My Way 1, a 32ft Aquastar and an absolute beauty of a boat, simply didn’t have the power to commute to the wrecks and back in reasonable time with a steady 8 knots her best running speed.
In March of 2018, the UK was battered by Storm Emma, which was more commonly known as the ‘Beast from the East’. Storm force winds ripped through much of the country. Holyhead suffered greatly and the marina was ripped apart with over 80 vessels lost to the destructive forces of wind and tide.
It was a devastating time for the community and everyone that lost vessels. A good many skippers and boat owners saw their businesses left in tatters overnight. My Way 1, a boat that served us superbly for 14 years, was one of the victims. With holes in several places, it sunk and was declared a total destructive loss a week later.
After some tears and worry we set about looking for a replacement vessel, which we found shortly after in Gosport. Popular south coast skipper Steve Eastman was retiring and Kittiwake 3 was for sale. We had found My Way 2!
In comparison to our old work horse, My Way 2 was a totally different entity. A fast and spacious Offshore 105, powered by an impressive 420hp Iveco engine. Cruising offshore at a comfortable 14 knots with a speed of 20 knots + possible if required, the opportunity for more offshore fishing and possibly wreck fishing was now well within reach without eating in to too much fishing time.
The Irish Sea has an abundance of wrecks. These sunken vessels arising from accidents, weather related sinking and many deliberately sunk throughout both the First & Second World Wars.
The Western Approaches, as it’s known, is a large area of sea off the west coast of Ireland and the UK, including the St George’s Channel and the Irish sea. With most of the U.K.’s shipping passing through these waters, the area soon became a popular hunting ground for German U-boats.
The wrecks off the North Wales coast are generally full of pollack, we also catch cod, coalfish and ling. At certain times of year and on specific wrecks we may see more cod but in truth the bulk of a days wreck fishing will be pollack.
When deciding to add wreck fishing to the My Way 2 calendar we studied charts for wrecks, tides and depths before assessing their potential. With depths ranging from 150 to 400ft and upwards of 100 wrecks within reach, there was a lot to bear in mind. Additionally, the size of the wreck, how it had sunk, whether it had broken up, what ground it lays on and how the wreck lies on the seabed, together with the tidal flow all plays a big part in choosing which wrecks to fish to maximise your time on the drift. These factors can all be heavily influenced on the day, when the wind will also add to the dilemma of decision making!
We tend to spend most of our time drifting when out on the wrecks. This allows the boat to pass over the wreck in a way dictated by wind and tide. The direction of the drift depends on those two factors. We need to consider the depth of fishing, as the drift will start uptide of the sunken vessel so that the anglers have a chance to get their lures to the bottom before we pass over. Often this will mean issuing an instruction to retrieve some line as we approach the wreck, to ensure the lures stay sat above it and don’t snag it.
When we first arrive, I’ll make a brief decision on where I think we should start, track our first drift on the plotter as the guys finish getting ready, thus giving myself a baseline then to adjust future drifts, whilst noting marks on the sounder and how many or indeed the quality of fish we catch each drift.
There are many different styles of rods available to anglers, including downtiders, uptiders, general purpose boat rods, quiver tips and more continental style rods. As a rule, downtiders or a general-purpose boat rod will help you get the best from wreck fishing.
It’s fair to say that fish stocks have taken a battering for several decades now and long gone is the heyday of wreck fishing, when you would consistently haul two or three double figure fish on one rig with heavy duty 30-50lb boat rods. That said, there is still a plentiful number of fish to be caught but the sizes are now, on average, smaller than many of us can remember from years past.
Over the last few years, we have seen fish on the wrecks at 3lb up to 17lb, with a consistent average of double figures, with two at a time possible! Most of our wrecking tends to be with 12lb class rods. These modern low diameter and lightweight rods offer you great sport, but with the right style of rod also the ability to haul a good double shot of pollack or cod from 400 feet without too much trouble.
We also use 6lb and 20lb class, depending on the wreck depth and angler. At 6lb you’re really entering sport mode when hoping to tangle with one or two double figure wreck fish in deep water. It is certainly an adrenalin fuelled experience that can take the fight out of you. These rods tend to be more through action and takes experience to hook fish successfully every drop.
A 12lb or 20lb rod with a more parabolic action offers the best option for most anglers. Parabolic refers to a gradual even load along the entire length of the rod, but in a slower action, thus offering a quicker and more positive hook up than with through action rods that will fail to set a hook if not experienced in their use.
My Way 2 is fortunate to be sponsored by the worlds largest fishing tackle manufacturer, Pure Fishing, who have in their portfolio the likes of PENN, Shakespeare, Berkley, FIN-NOR and many more. We have a great stock of rods and reels from many of these companies available for anglers to use and enjoy, including Shakespeare Agility and from Penn the Battalion, Squadron and Prevail range of rods.
With our wreck fishing in mind, this year we received rods from the new Penn Prevail boat range. PENN Prevail boat rods are a modern range of saltwater boat rods, providing a combination of strength, versatility and performance.
The rods are equipped with one-piece stainless steel Dura-Guides that provide ultimate durability since these guides are designed without an inner ceramic. Available in 3 different weight classes: 12-20lb, 20-30lb and a heavy duty 30-50lb, ensures there is a perfect boat rod for every situation.
For our wrecking and offshore anchors in deeper water we stick with the ever-popular Penn Fathom 2 Speed range of reels, using both the 15 and 25 versions for much of our wreck fishing. Fathom reels are built with all the quality and performance normally associated with Penn Reels. The Fathom Lever Drag 2 Speed series of reels allows the angler to change the speed of retrieve quickly ensuring complete control when fighting a hard fighting fish or retrieving heavy terminal tackle from the depths. Simply push in the button at the base of the reel handle to drop from 5.5:1 to utilise the lower gear ratio of 2.7:1. A quick twist on the button and the reel is back in the higher gearing
Unlike the more frequently used Fathom 15, the 25 version is a narrow spool reel. This design of reel is proving extremely popular around the world for various styles of fishing, in particular deep water and jigging. Not too long ago, reels used to be loaded heavily with monofilament, requiring large and wide spool reels to accommodate the distance of line often required when searching out hard fighting and fast swimming predators. Reels have evolved greatly over the past couple of decades, keeping up with the development of super braids that have allowed many reels to become more compact and easier to handle for general use.
Braid is always chosen before mono when drifting over wrecks. The low diameter allows for less drag in the tide, so less lead is required. Braid also has very minimal stretch compared to mono, allowing a lure to be worked with more feedback and to set into and bring a fish away from a wreck more reliably. Spiderwire and Berkley are long established market leaders in braid, with Berkley Fireline regarded by many as the best in the modern Superlines for over two decades. It has a reputation for being strong and more abrasion resistant than others yet maintaining a low diameter for its strength.
If we head back several years, it’s no doubt that sandeel imitations were amongst the most popular styles of lure deployed over the wrecks. Red Gill & Eddystone leading the way, established in the 1950’s and 1970’s respectively, they have accounted for numerous fish over the decades and are still as popular in the modern angling era.
Softer materials offering more lifelike appearance together with enhanced designs have evolved so much in recent years, that today’s wreck or lure angler is offered a multitude of designs and colours to choose from, designed by many leading artificial lure manufacturers including Berkley, Sidewinder, Savage Gear and Fiish amongst the most popular.
Shad and eel designs are by far the most productive aboard My Way 2, in a variety of colours. Watching the crew fish and catch, they can be from a variety of colours, I couldn’t say there is anything aside from the shape of the lure that proves paramount. A shad, or eel tail, together with a small lead head hook certainly out fishes other more creative designs.
Personally, I will always have a variety of colours and lures available to me when setting off on a wrecking trip but favour the traditional rhubarb and custard, simple black or a yellow and white combination. Others have their own favourites and much of that will come down to those that have caught for you before and instilled that very much needed confidence.
A popular design that we keep aboard My Way 2 is the Berkley slick flanker in the ‘Greenback Tomato’ colour. This is a high-profile paddletail that creates a high amplitude vibration on every speed. This soft lure makes a lot of noise and is ideal when searching for numerous species over our wrecks.
Another popular option is the TronixPro HTO Eel Tailz, in yellow & white variations. This is a long, soft plastic sandeel lure body. It an be used on a variety of weighted jig heads. The body shape of the eel is thick at the head end moving down to a thin tail with a heavy paddle tail, the combination of the thin tail and large paddle tail adds extra movement and vibration as the lure swims through the water.
Traditionally, the Flying Collar Rig is the most popular single hook rig used when wreck fishing. This consists of a long flowing trace and on one end the lure of choice, whilst the other end is tied to a boom with a weight, linked to your reel line.
The boom needs to be a good quality stiff wire, this stops the boom flexing and helps maintain a distance between the hook trace and the reel main line thus preventing tangles. That said, a controlled descent to the seabed is still advised to avoid the chance of tangles and missed opportunity.
The skipper will set the drift up a fair way uptide of the wreck, giving the angler sufficient time to carefully drop to the seabed to begin the retrieve.
As soon as you feel the lead hit the bottom, put the reel into gear and take 2 quick turns on the handle to lift the lead off the bottom and straighten your hook length, after which you begin a slow retrieve on the reel. I advise 10 – 15 turns of the handle, then if no hook u follows, drop down and start again.
As you approach the wreck, the skipper will keep you informed of how close you are, any debris appearing on the sounder along with fish marks and relative height from the bottom. It may be a case you need to drop your retrieve to 5 – 10 turns or adjust to a greater height based on the fish marks coming back.
If you feel a fish bite at the lure, don’t strike, just carry on with the retrieve. The fish may just be snatching at the lure, if you strike it will spook the fish. Continuing your same rate of retrieve will tempt the fish to bite down fully on the lure and dive for the wreck thus setting the hook.
A double figure pollack, cod or coalfish from up to 400ft of water is great fun, but two fish can be even better. We tend to use Flying Collar Rigs mainly on wrecks up to 225ft in depth. When fishing much of our deeper water wrecks we tend to go for a simple 2 hook paternoster, 3 hook if you’re brave enough!
A two up paternoster style with short snoods and links on the end to facilitate a quick change of lure has become the most used rig aboard My Way 2, resulting in a double shot of quality table fish most drops. The greatest feature of this rig is that with the short snoods there is no risk of tangling and no need for a controlled descent, just drop it to the bottom and away you go!
My Way 2 is licensed for up to 10 anglers, when chatting to our anglers I always advise a maximum of 8 anglers for our wrecking trips and for individuals we take a maximum of 6. A full boat charter is priced at £600 and for individuals £100.
Fishing in up to 400ft of water, tangles are inevitable, regardless of any precautions taken! A three-way tangle for example, may take 10 mins to undo, add to that 5 mins to travel back up to the wreck and we have lost 15 minutes fishing time. 4 similar tangles and you’ve lost an hour of catching and filling the freezer.
My Way is a very spacious boat, but we prefer to have space around the boat, check anglers have the correct weights in use and maximise their chances of catching not tangling.
Tel 07971 924046