Tope fishing – Tope are a great species of fish to target around the UK. Strong, streamlined, apex predators which give great sport, moreover they are an awesome looking fish. Tope can grow up to be around 6 foot in length of solid muscle.
Up in and around North Wales Tope offer some great fishing, they are targeted by the charter boats for that very reason. You can also catch them from the shore in some areas which is awesome.
Let’s have a look at what options we have when Tope fishing in North Wales, hòw to find the right venues and what bait and tactics to use.
Tope fishing the north wales shoreline is best between June and September, similar to smoothhound fishing. Smaller fish tend to appear first and as the months move on larger specimens begin to show. The charter boats can catch Tope year round in deeper waters.
Finding a Tope fishing mark
The coastline of north wales has a lot of variation in its geology, flat sandy beach’s to rugged cliffs. When targeting Tope from the shore we need a decent depth of water close in with a good bit of tidal movement. This generally rules out the north coasts beach’s with one exception, alas Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula are where to go.
Local knowledge here wins hands down but with a bit of digging through the internet there are plenty of clues. There are also a few free tools you can use to help find the right areas to fish. Google maps is definitely one of the key tools, it helps give an idea of the geology and where to park etc. Moreover the Anglesey coastal path has been mapped and you can just drop the little pin to explore the area. Great for finding new fishing marks.
Now overlay google maps with Navionics and you are on to a winner. Navionics is what is used by ships to show the seas depth at all states of the tide in the areas they are sailing. We can use it to identify deep water marks close to the shore, Google maps will help us get there. These two tools can be used to find great spots all over the UK.
The sea out from Dinas Dinlle are a noted hotspot for Tope fishing in North Wales, as is Aber Menai. Moreover both are renowned as beach’s where you can catch Tope from the shore.
Tope are both hunters and scavengers, it is always best to use fishing baits that are their natural food sources. Tope tend to stick to the bottom 12 feet or so of the water column. Smaller Tope travel in packs with larger specimens tending to be more solitary.
Tope have a great array of senses they rely on to hunt prey on the sea floor. Dab and flounder are what they are looking for, these make great baits. Rolled Dab with the belly side out is a top bait to get your shore caught Tope.
Tope are also known to chase mackerel higher up in the water column, it’s an oily fish too so gives of a good scent trail. Mackerel is also easy to get hold of so most Tope reports come from anglers using it as bait. Anglers who have a high success rate with Tope are known to chum up areas in the days before fishing. Its not always possible though, its over two hours one way to my closest Tope fishing mark.
I have heard of people using squid as bait too, not something I have tried personally though. They are also scavengers so it’s likely the will take most things. Close to Dinas Dinlle we have been caught short with bait on an evenings flooding tide. The cheapest peeled and cooked prawns from Morrison’s? Lashed on with bait elastic it caught us both Tope and smoothhound pups. If the bait is in then your halfway there.
Tope are a strong, powerful fish. Upto six feet long and weighing in just under 100lbs in specimen size. They are more than a match for some standard shore fishing tackle.
When fishing for Tope it’s best to use a wire trace snood, this helps prevent them biting threw your mono. A single clipped down rig should help get you that bit of extra distance. Try to use around 80lb mono for the main rig body, hook size is your choice but a size 4 should suffice. Make sure they are good quality hook that won’t straighten out as you fight the fish.
Mono line straight through will be fine, if you want to use braid at least have a decent size leader on for a bit of stretch. Straight through braid will not give any stretch if Tope take off quickly, make sure your ratchet is set for them to run too. Make sure you have enough line on too and you dont want to be spooled. Failing to do this make cause you to lose more than just your terminal tackle.
A good strong rod and reel are a must as you will be dealing with powerful fish. I realised when starting out fishing, in a lot of circumstances in this sport you do get hat you pay for.
If you find a good looking spot and you are fishing from rocky ledges it’s important to scope out where you will land the fish before you start. Take into consideration the rising tide to as you may have to have a fall back position higher up.
As always safety first, keep an eye out for growing swells when fishing in these conditions. If possible fish with someone else, even more so at night.
A 67lb Tope was caught from a rock mark called the Ranges close to Trearddur Bay a few years ago. They are about, you just have to find and catch them 😉