Over the years, I have from time to time, targeted a Sussex tope with little to no success. But, over the last two years I’ve been working harder and harder to get one off of the shallow beaches along here, with things starting to come together this last year...
I slowly started to get things sorted for the year, with a summer long look at them - picking the tides when I knew they should show each month, and hoping for the right weather on those tides. My biggest change was with my rigs… Years gone by, I was fishing a running up and over, but found I lost a lot of distance due to the whole joey mackerel flapping around in flight. To overcome this, I went for a pulley system with a stiffer rig body and hooklink in-cooperating 12-inches of 90lbs AFW wire, with a 10-inch twisted section to help grip the bait and keep it stiff. I then changed my swivels for smaller but stronger, so opted for the size 3 (220lb) Cox & Rawle Stainless Steel Crane Swivels, that helped keep my rig streamlined whilst retaining strength. On to the business end, and this was armed with 6/0 Cox & Rawle SCR44 Mutsu Circle Hooks - I loved this hook the moment I first got shown it, because of its pre offset, and found the 6/0 sits well behind the lead compared to bigger hooks that often don’t help with bait wobble. So, after a total rethink, it was time to put it into practice. My Game plan was to try and beach a Tope each month, for 4 months from my local beaches.
The end of May came, and on my chosen tides the weather was spot on. A couple of hours in, and the reel screamed into action, and what was a poor short fight, resulted in a 42lb Tope that as good as beached itself - with the Cox & Rawle SCR44 Mutsu Circle Hook set perfectly in the corner of her mouth.
The end of June was my 2nd trip, and the weather was perfect. Once again, few hours in - the reel melted off. After what was a good fight, a 34lber was on the sling, the 6/0 Cox & Rawle SCR44 Mutsu Circle Hook was again set nicely in the corner of her mouth. A few hours went past when the reel screamed at me again, but was sadly dropped on the 1st run, only to find the fish had folded the bait in half with the hook points unluckily being covered.
Two months in and all was going to plan, and at the end of July the weather was looking perfect once again. Much the same as my previous trips, a few hours in and the reel sprang into life. My friend Carl was with me, and we both watched this 33lber, with it twice, tail walking about 100 meters out - what an experience to see! Shortly afterwards, I had another dropped bait due to the fish folding the bait in half, unluckily masking the hook points.
The 4th and final month chasing the Tope came around, and this time the weather was all wrong and the fish never showed. I also, on every session, caught bass to nearly 7lbs -and at times were a pain. Roll on the 2021 season where I have a few more tweaks to try to improve on missed fish!