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I went to explore on the North Coast of West Cornwall today. Wind had picked up, and I walked the rocks, rod in hand, looking for spots to fish from in the future, and to throw a few casts here and there.

After nearly an hour, reached a spot near a point, mussel covered rocks underfoot and deep dark water. Cast out a plug, and upon reeling in, could feel it bumping all the way. Slightly confused, looked down into the water beneath me, and it was a thick blanket of living matter. Not sure what they were, but they looked kind of like eels from above, but not just a shoal, literally so thick you could not see through. Tried to photo it, but very hard to capture.






So I cast out a bit more, maybe 30m+, and instant bumps, walk 50m down the rocks, and the same. The size of this mass was simply mind blowing to me. Maybe 80m out were a large flock of gulls feeding, so I guess it extended at least that far as well. The wind was blowing hard cross onshore, and they were right underfoot, tight against the rock edge and beyond.

I slipped an SP on with jig head, to try and sink below the mass. All the time, little bumps, sometimes stronger. Not sure if it was just hitting into them, or whether some were 'attacking' it. So I decided to strike now and then, and pulled in a couple of unfortunate fish, hooked badly in the body. Does anyone know what type they are, or will grow up to be?



Need some LRF kit!



I presume they are what the bait mass were, tho when viewed from above, looking into the water, they looked more eel like, hard to tell.

Fishing was never really going to be an option, mainly because I had maybe 15 seals sitting in the water, playing in the bait mass, I had already seen maybe 10 more walking to this spot.



So, onto the questions - Is this a common occurrence? Is it possible to use tactics to fish within a phenomonen such as this? (minus the seals!) I have only ever seen it on a much smaller scale, with the bait fish being of a smaller size.
 

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I think they are Sprats.

Every winter they shoal in the Bristol Channel.

One of the many thoughts on why the Cod fishing has been bad over the past years is that the Cod feed on huge shoals that enter the channel and have a vast amount of natural food
 

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Wow - Great bit of reporting there Paul. Something I really love about fishing(especially mobile lure fishing), is how many interesting things we get to see. Cool oily colouring on the Xlayer impaled fish.
 

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Excellent report there Paul and some great pics, the bait fish looks like a Sprat :p
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I was hoping by dropping an Xlayer down under the bait mass, that I might find something bigger picking them off. I guess the seals probably had the same idea! Funny how the seagulls were lazily plucking them out now and then, you could see they knew there was plenty of time, and more than enough to go around!

The top little guy shed loads of holographic scales as he flicked about. The second one, much smaller had a real blue streak running along its back. Both very reflective in the low light beneath the storm overhead.
 

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A member of the herring family, which one I am not so sure. Looks like a ideal spot to be fishing though-Got to be predators taking advantage of all that food-apart from Sammy the Seal.
 

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This is common here in Greece mass bait balls of sardines in the months of july august and late september mostly,most of the times i find this really big balls of fish even if there are predators around like cudas bass or bluefish they aren't easily fooled.I guess because the food is so much easy and it has a certain behaviour if u show em somethin else they just dont even bother.To me it looks like sardine or a cousin of her we call frusa.
 

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Looks like sprat to me. There was masses of them in a local estuary recently.....Trillions of them......Good job the IMF havent seen them or there would be cut backs for next year's shoals.....

VERY tasty rolled in seasoned flour and fried. Yum yum.
 

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Looks like a Sprat Must be thousands of them at the moment My local beaches are swarming with them Too far for casting into but i know that at night Bass drive them into the shallows Night time trip planned for next week
 

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Herring shaped to me...
 

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i would say almost certainly herring, as sprats dont lose scales when handled and you can see lots of scales which have come off this fish.
 

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Great report, you did a good job in captureing the detail of shiney silver and green scale colour of what looks like a herring to me. Its great to see the sights of nature like that.
 
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