Monday, 13 September 2021

End of summer

Bank holiday Monday, hopefully all the weekenders will be heading home by now and leave the coast fairly quiet?  I fished the steep beach and found a few anglers in residence though not as many as I feared.  Due to a mixed forecast I’d packed my oval brolly which gave me welcome respite from the Northerly breeze.  This thing is pretty stable on the beach, at least when I remember not to try and set it up on a slope.  I got set up and was fishing a couple of hours before high tide, expecting a busy afternoon but the brightest moment was siting a Porpoise breaching the waves.  The wind was a cool one and it was noticeable how much the sound of wind and waves was muffled by the oval and a small ridge of shingle.  When I stood up it was a much louder day.

High tide came and went, my baits – mostly squid, remained untouched and I feared a blank might be on the cards.  But my fortunes changed when the sky grew dark, the close range rod started to signal the odd rattle and at last I managed to hit a bite, the result a Whiting.  A few minutes later I doubled my tally with another before the brief spell of activity finished.  A while later the close rod rapped round again and this time it wasn’t a Whiting, instead a lovely Smoothound but probably the smallest I’ve caught all year.

By 2130 I’d had enough, the bites had dried up and if I’m honest there’s something a bit spooky about being alone on the beach after dark, even when there are other anglers about.  The white tops of waves rolling southward catch my eye and deceive me into thinking it’s some ghostly animal bounding away from me.  There’s a weird foreboding vibe that keeps me on my guard.  It’s certainly an environment to be respected and not one you’d want to get in trouble in.

A few days later I was back at the same beach brimming with confidence, high tide was due at 2245 which meant I’d be fishing the flood in darkness, this had to be good, surely?  There were Swallows lined up on a wire in the car park, maybe getting ready to fly south?  A trudge across the pebbles saw me facing a sea that looked angrier than I’d expected and today I’d left the brolly at home.  I got myself settled and found my rhythm fairly quickly, against all expectations I had a fish first chuck on the close rod.  I say fish, it was a tiny Pouting and probably the smallest sea creature I’ve caught this year.  So small I briefly considered using it for bait but ended up sending it seaward without out any attachments.  The evening was clear with hazy light and a moderate north easterly causing sizeable waves.  The forecast promised the wind should ease at dusk.

I fished my usual methods, one close and one hurled, with various sized pieces of squid for bait.  Before next spring I need to research some other rigs and ways of doing things but at the moment I’m comfortable with the way I fish.  And today it seemed to be working, a decent rattle produced a small Bass which was followed on the next chuck by another tiny Pout.  Three fish already and it wasn’t even dark yet!

But it was all downhill from there… To start with I managed a spectacular crack off with the long range rod.  I tackled up again in fading light only to have another crack off on the next cast.  For some reason the bail arm was closing itself on the cast, by now I had the head torch on so I decided it needed further investigation during daylight and resolved to fish both rods close in.  Also the wind hadn’t eased at all, if anything it was increasing as were the waves crashing into the beach.  I tried fishing with a two hook flapper rig, kind of a paternoster with short hooklengths, but I didn’t like it so after half an hour switched this to a running leger as well.  Two sizable chunks of squid were fished about thirty yards from the beach in a boiling sea, I told myself I was fishing to my strengths or sticking to what I know?  I convinced myself I was after a big Bass…

Time passes quickly when you’re on the beach, high tide came with the waves coming close to the top of the shingle ridge but the expected fishy feeding spell didn’t materialise.  I fished on for another hour but in truth I was well beaten today and it was no wrench to pack up and crunch across the pebbles towards the car.

This sums up sea fishing for me at the moment, two trips to the same bit of beach; on the first I caught after dark on an ebbing tide then a few days later I catch on a flooding tide in daylight.  I haven’t got a Scooby do what’s going on most of the time but this only adds to the enjoyment.  However now the days are noticeably shorter, summer is coming to an end and my fishy thoughts are going in another direction…

Sunday, 29 August 2021


The Princess reminded me that we hadn’t spent a night at the Valley for two whole years and with a dry, warm forecast coupled with us having coinciding time off for a change it was too good an opportunity to miss.  Though to be honest I was considering suggesting an evening on the beach instead…  But for the first time since April the car trundled down the dusty track

I had a couple of rods out by 1800; double fake corn on the left and a pop up on a chod to the right.  Both were fished close in, just short of thick weed and the area had been baited with a load of hemp, a kilo or so of pellets and a few boilies.  Despite having a look around I’d found no clues so I was basically fishing blind, bait a spot and hope something finds the food.  This approach has never ever worked here before (well to be fair it almost did once…) but with a dramatically increased stock of fish I felt I was in with a chance.  I had several liners through the evening but these could well have been from the masses of Rudd that would have swarmed the hemp.  I couldn’t help but wish I was sitting on a beach, staring up at tips and listening to the sound of waves on shingle.

The conditions were pleasant for sitting staring at water, the light fell out of the sky and the stars began to pierce through.  Unfortunately the mosquitos were a permanent fixture and in the end they did for us and we sought sanctuary in a zipped up bivvy.  There we stayed through the dark hours, a liner woke me with light in the sky but I didn’t hurry out of bed.

I was up by about 0830 and started ringing the changes, which is just another way of saying ‘trying to catch something’.  I float fished corn for a while, in the hope of a Tench though quite why I’d expect to catch anything other than Rudd is beyond me.  The fish I caught were golden and beautiful, perfect livebait size too, now I’m thinking ahead.  I soon became bored of the Rudd so sat behind buzzers while I cooked breakfast, the smell of sausages lured the Princess out of bed and we sat in the sun for a while, breathing mozzie free air for a change.  Nothing fishy happened so we departed when the test match called.

Early (ish) on a Saturday morning, the car is slipping through quiet country roads…  Which sounds like a hideous C&W song but rest assured ‘Idles’ were blasting out of my stereo.  I arrived at yet another ‘new’ coastal car park and by 0830 I was fishing on another stretch of Suffolk shingle, staring out at the open expanse of the North Sea in front of me.  The morning was cool and mostly cloudy with light winds from the south east.  High tide was due around 1130, I would have preferred to fish this evening into darkness but the forecast was shit and I didn’t fancy sitting so exposed through rain and storms. 

Today my bait was squid, squid and more squid fished either whole or in strips of various sizes.  This was mounted on my usual set ups and fished at various ranges throughout the morning.  With everything sorted I sat on my comfortable chair and watched two stationary rod tips.  Unfortunately the tips stayed fairly still all morning; I had a couple of rattles ninety minutes or so before high tide and another couple ninety minutes after but nothing developed and I didn’t manage to bring a fish up the beach.  Maybe if I’d brought Ragworm with me things would have been different?  I did see a Seal, several Oyster catchers and a Ringed Plover landed close to me on the beach.  What’s more despite blanking I enjoyed myself, as I have done fishing saltwater all summer and nothing is more important than that.

Sunday, 8 August 2021

Wind, rain, mud, fish?

I’d been keeping an eye on the forecast all week, moderate westerlies with the chance of a shower, a comfortable day on the beach beckoned.  Then on Friday morning the BBC was threatening storms and a gale, that can’t be right can it?

Giles and I planned to fish a different shore once more and arrived at the coastal car park to find the sea was raging.  We checked out another spot which looked no better but a third gave us a glimmer of hope.  We decided to try it and had ourselves set up and strapped down by 1530, an hour before high tide.  An hour later we were back in the car, the tide had been dragging our rigs right down the beach and we had more chance of catching a gull than a fish.

Plan B was put into effect, an estuarine area which google earth hinted might have deep water close in.  This involved a drive through narrow lanes then a hike of close to a mile, we were fishing by about 1730 with the tide now ebbing.  Sheltered by an embankment it was nice to be fishing effectively in relative comfort but were there actually any fish here?  My first chuck saw a definite rattle on ragworm but this didn’t develop, the tide started to drop away as did our confidence, had I imagined that bite?  But out of nowhere Giles had a rattle and was in, a small but very welcome Bass hoisted ashore.  Where there’s one…  Time passed and the tide continued to drop away revealing a growing bank of mud in front of us, I began to doubt we’d found the right spot.  I went for a stroll and just around the next corner found what we’d been looking for.  Here the dropping tide revealed a steeper beach with rocks and gravel as opposed to mudflats, Giles agreed with the decision to move.

This area definitely looked better but to begin with nothing much happened, I thought about maybe saving the ragworm and sneaking out again early morning?  But then I thought I saw a couple of slight downward pulls on rag, I gave it a couple of minutes but nothing happened so on winding in I was surprised by a bit of resistance.  This was long, slimy and snake shaped but I’d caught a fish!  This hadn’t seemed at all likely when we were getting battered on the open beach.  From there things just got better, Giles added an eel and then for a couple of hours we were getting bites fairly regularly, usually after we’d relaxed and we sitting mind numb and comfortable in our chairs.  Giles had a nice Bass which gave the confidence a big boost then a while later I had one.  Now the fishing was interesting and the bites kept coming, mostly on ragworm but I had a rod thumping pull on squid which I managed to miss.  When we packed up around 2200 I’d landed three more Bass and Giles had a couple more than me, these weren’t in any way big fish but a decent average size. 

The walk back was long but we were on solid ground not shifting shingles so less gruelling than some.  I couldn’t help feeling satisfied, we’d persevered and caught fish when a blank seemed certain and I have a feeling we’d found a spot that might be a bit special; sheltered, fairly deep and miles off the beaten track.  I think we’ll certainly be back and not just when the weather is rough.

Sunday, 18 July 2021

Reasons to be cheerful

I was feeling pissed off, angry and I couldn’t really put my finger on why?  But really it was just the usual reasons.  I’m just so used to these things boiling my piss that I failed to notice the intensity of these irritants had cranked up a notch or six over the last few days. 

Reason one, our leaders.  Forget party politics, they are all bastards.  Forget party politics then it’s easier to see that the whole shitshow is fucked, it just doesn’t work for 90% of us.  Are they blind?  Stupid?  Or do they just not give a fuck?  The state of the planet renders the collision of “isms” irrelevant, Vote Greta.

Reason two, the great British public.  I wanted England to win, I really did but face it, Italy were better than us.  The way elements have behaved since is shameful and ironically we would have seen other people behaving even worse if we had won.  The Kiwi players and fans at Lords and around the world gave us a lesson in sportsmanship in 2019 and I was glad of their success earlier this year.  But cricket is far more cerebral all round. 

Then combine both of the reasons above and I give you so called ‘Freedom day’.  Just fuck off.  Working with the great British public as I do, I can state that my experience leads me to believe that there are far too many fucking idiots at large for the lifting of restrictions to be anything other than brief window before another lockdown.  People do not socially distance, the habits of a lifetime take over and there are plenty who think that avoiding wearing a mask makes them clever.  Like the silly bastard who invited us to his bonfire party where we could all burn our masks, just one of all too many whingers.  These wankers fussing over a thin piece of fabric covering half their ugly faces for just a few minutes.  I’ll still be wearing mine, all day every day, for the foreseeable future.  Reasons for being pissed off, bastards and wankers, yes the culprits in both cases are almost all men.

I needed to fish, needed fresh air, to clear my head…  Three in the afternoon, Giles and I are hiking along an embankment on unfamiliar soil heading for a spot that someone kind had recommended.  We assembled our kit on a steep beach but not the steep beach.  This one was an outer estuary a few miles from any area we’d tried before.  Half an hour later we were fishing, the water was building and high tide was due around 1700.  With the usual two rigs cast I sat back under the bright sunshine and let the cool north easterly fan me while I stared up at two rod tips.  All the bollocks that had been churning in my head melted away…

Then I was on my feet as a proper rattle had the light rod bouncing, I wound in a small Bass, silver, spikey and perfect which had fallen for rag on the running rig.  As the tide rose bites came to this rod at intervals, I added two more Bass and an Eel.  For the last month I think all of my fish have come to ragworm at close range, the big bait has consistently been left untouched.  Then would you believe it, an exciting moment when the big bait/big chuck went slack and I wound down to find some resistance but this was an anti-climax that was long, thin and slimy, another Eel.  Towards high tide the flood was slowly bouncing my long range rig to the left but slow enough so I felt/hoped the bait would be fishing effectively…  When the tide peaked the rig held and I was happy, content with my place on this earth on this Friday afternoon.  A beautiful vista away from the rat race, great company in comfortable weather, with the sound of shingle being thrown against shingle and two nodding rod tips.  Angling is a bloody silly sport really but what would we do without it?

Around 1730 the tip on the heavy rod sprung back.  As I scrambled to my feet it jagged down again… And again…  Something was definitely moving off with a lump of squid in its gob.  I wound down and pulled into something heavy and began to pump it back towards me but this thing didn’t want to come.  It thumped and throbbed and hauled the rod back down, I had to tighten the drag to get any line back.  For the next few minutes I really did play tug of war; something unseen would pull and bump the rod down, I began to pull back further and harder.  At one point it just went solid for a few seconds but steady pressure shifted it and the push & pull resumed.  Meanwhile Giles had sprung into action with a camera, recording me gurning with a bent rod.  Eventually there was colour in the shallows and with the next wave I managed to drag a bloody great big Ray onto the beach.

I thought it looked about the same size as the one I’d caught a couple of months ago but this one was much more vividly coloured.  In fact it was an awesome, beautiful creature which actually weighed a couple of pounds more and I was blown away.  I know these things exist around our coast (and actually get a bit bigger) but I never really believed I’d see one on the end of my line.  But back to the present, maybe we’d have a chance of another one?

The next hour drifted by, I added another nice Bass and another slimy bloody Eel but despite fishing just a few yards away Giles hadn’t had one single bite.  As the tide started to ebb so the current became more and more powerful, in fact too powerful for us to cope with.  We decided to move along the beach to a spot slightly sheltered by a ‘point’ of sorts and this was a slight improvement.  Although our close range rods were fishing effectively we couldn’t get our heavy set ups to hold at any kind of distance.  I did manage one bite on squid shortly after we’d moved but this was yet another slimy rig mangler.  We stayed fishing until the light faded, the receding tide revealed much and yet again we had learnt a great deal.  We hiked back needing head torches to light the way on a tricky path, no thoughts of what goes on in the real world were polluting my mind just reasons to be cheerful. 

Monday, 12 July 2021

Mostly Bass

A day off but a busy one with annoying, tricky jobs to do, tackle to sort and a dinner to cook, it was mid afternoon before I had loaded the car and steered it eastwards.  The cross country route has been frustrated by roadworks for weeks and I needed another diversion today, then nearer the coast the traffic was building, when I got through the worst I was stuck behind a mob of fucking cyclists!  The road to radar seems to be never ending but I eventually made it and found a space in a busy car park.  The weather was clear, bright and dry with an onshore breeze, would the beach be busy?  Thankfully not, there were a few ramblers and one bloke about half a mile away who appeared to be fly fishing?

I was settled and fishing a little before 1600, high tide was just after 1800.  I used the methods that I always use only with ragworm added to the bait bag.  I’d chosen to return here because the steep beach has been poor lately though on this evening’s tide I may well have caught fish there anyway.  I still haven’t a fucking clue what I’m doing to be honest.  It seemed I’d made a good choice when the close range rod rattled violently on the first cast, the result was a small Bass and bearing in mind what happened last time I made sure I got a photo of this one.  Second cast I had a more delicate bite on rag and wound in something small, flat and brown.  A tiny Flounder flapped it’s wings comically when I threw it back into the sea.

After that I had a bite a chuck for about three quarters of an hour on the close in rod, some I missed and some I hit adding two more small Bass to my tally.  With plenty of small fish close in I decided to drop a big lump of squid in short on the other rod in the hope of something big feeding on the schoolies.  This signalled a quiet period when both rods stayed motionless but when I whacked the big bait out again bites resumed close in…  Another hectic period ensued and on the ragworm fished close it was a bite on every cast for over an hour, by the time the tide had turned and was inching away from me I’d caught another six Bass.  While this was going on I had one decent bite on the squid at range but managed to miss it.

On this gently sloping beach the tide recedes quickly and I moved camp nearer to the water, the area I’d been catching from earlier was a mix of sand and shingle but now I was sitting on it.  As the sky began to dim I felt confident as we’d done well here after dark last time but then again the tide was later…  Tonight the bites just dried up.  With the line going into the sea at a lower angle so the waves made the rod tips bounce more.  Sometimes this makes bites hard for me to spot but tonight they’d been whacking the tip round and I was sure I’d see them.  It’s always much cooler by the sea and by 2000 I had added three more layers but was still comfortable.  I tried mixing things up; fished Ragworm on the long range rod for a while and changed leads on the Bass rod so I could fish it further.  This latter move brought me a couple more bites and another welcome shiny silver thing.

2200, the head torch had been on a while but the darkness hadn’t brought on a rush of fish.  I was considering packing up when a slight rattle on the Bass rod got me out of the chair.  This didn’t develop but when I wound in found another Bass had hooked itself bringing my total for the evening to eleven.  I gave it another hour but had no more bites, I knew my best chance had come and gone but still I didn’t want to stop, in the end good sense prevailed before fatigue set in.

Another week, another fish...  We’ve been fishing the same few beaches exclusively and had discussed trying out a few different spots.  This need to explore saw us taking a slow crawl through coastal car parks at low tide, which was a good idea in hindsight as we could see what we’d be fishing over at high water on other days.  After having a good look and sussing a few things out we eventually set up at a narrow estuarine beach, across the water from another more familiar haunt.  I say we; to begin with it was Giles, Isaac and myself, as the evening wore on we were joined in the fishing by Rich and Trev and later nephew Ollie popped in to socialise.

The rain stayed away, the wind was light and the evening was warm.  The beach here shelved steeply and there was deep water close in.  We began fishing with our usual methods, Isaac was first with a bait in the water and was soon getting bites on ragworm.  Giles and I had hardly started fishing when Isaac winched in a small Bass which shook the hook at the edge and disappeared back into the sea.  He followed this a while later with an Eel, which seem to be Isaac’s pet fish at the moment.

Time passed, soon there was a nice group of friends laughing and chatting on the beach but the fish weren’t joining the party, we all had the odd bite but no prolonged spells of action and nothing hooked.  The tide rose and the current flowing upriver got stronger and stronger shifting our leads from time to time.  We could probably have coped with that alone but drifting weed carried on the boiling tide made fishing at any range impossible so all rods were dropped in close.  I had a short spell of luck catching a small Bass and a Pouting on the ragworm then a decent sized Eel on Squid.  Thankfully this was nicely hooked in the bottom jaw and was returned quickly and easily without too much slime being transferred.

Darkness descended, the tide crept ever higher and moved ever faster, in theory this should have been the best time for a bite but nothing happened.  One by one the crowd began to disperse but Giles, Isaac and I persevered until midnight but that was that.  It was good to fish a different area, catch a few and learn a bit more but this won’t be a beach I hurry back to, not until I have more idea of how to fish these conditions at least.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Late June

This Covid blighted world we currently live in has caused many families to feel heartbroken and although ours has avoided the virus so far, we’ve had our own share of distress in recent months.  It came to a head at the weekend with tears shed and a permanent hole left in our lives.  Then followed days of logistics; phone calls and forms to fill and meetings to arrange and Jesus Christ why is this so fucking complicated at a time like this?  It doesn’t help when someone interferes without invitation and you wonder how fucking pig shit thick people can be?

The need to heal, patch myself up, fresh air and countryside was required and a beach beckoned.  I’ve spent some of the best days of my life trying to catch fish and it’s also been something I’ve used for restoration after some of the worst.  A few hours by the waterside, trying to outwit a creature allegedly way below us on the evolutionary scale (except carp of course) and regularly failing.  It’s hard to explain the compulsion, even to another angler because we don’t all get the same things out of it.  For me it’s been a different buzz at different times over the last forty five years; catch the most, catch the biggest, catch the most difficult but throughout there’s always been an element of problem solving and a wish to discover what unknown creatures are swimming around down there.

Anyway…  Giles and I found ourselves at a coastal car park in the middle of the afternoon, as we unloaded another angler was heading home.  His news was grim, just one small Bass in eight hours fishing but he kindly gave us his leftover ragworm.  Undeterred we headed for the sea and for once walked across sand and through bushes before emerging at radar beach.  Having endured a series of trips that have featured crap tides (?) and poor conditions for once things seemed to be in our favour.  The day was dry and at times we even saw the sun, there was an onshore wind but the high tide would come after dark, just after 11pm.  It didn’t take long to get set up on this gently sloping beach, as usual I fished a leger rig close in baited with rag to begin and a whole squid was given the big chuck on a pulley/Pennell.  With two rods fishing I relaxed into my chair and made a brew expecting a wait before any action.

But I was wrong, it didn’t take long at all before the rod baited with rag was bouncing and I was moving across the beach at a speed not seen since I disturbed a bee’s nest last spring.  My rapid pace was rewarded with a bending rod and my first Bass of the year splashed through the surf.  I love Bass, glorious bars of spiky silver and I returned it quickly, without a photo as I was positive there’d be more about.  But I was wrong.  We did have a few more quick bites on rag, or at least Giles did but the only thing he connected with was an ‘orrible rig mangling Eel.

Time passed, the waves gradually crept further up the beach and our camp had to be moved accordingly but the fish weren’t having it.  Rich popped in for a brew and a chat but in the hour or so he was with us we didn’t get a bite.  The sun disappeared behind us and the moon sneaked above the horizon in front, as the light gradually faded so at last we began to get bites.

Giles started the action with a couple of nice sized Dogfish then I caught one myself.  On my next cast with the big bait/long chuck combination I had a decent bite.  I wound down to find my hooklength had parted…  I soon had a fresh bait on it and it didn’t take long before the tip was being pulled round again.  I picked the rod up but the line parted on contact!!  I couldn’t work out what had happened as the line had gone just beyond the rod tip but suspect it had cut on a post that poked out of the sand, now hidden by the high tide.

I scrapped this rod, deciding to sort it out in daylight another day but switched the Bass rod to a bigger lead enabling me to cast it further.  Meanwhile Giles was still getting bites and added another decent Dogfish to his score.  My confidence had taken a knock but this was soon lifted when a bite materialised on my remaining rod, I set the hook and felt some resistance but no great weight.  Something flat and Thorny appeared and I was pleased to catch a Ray, another cool creature.

While this was going on the tide had come all the way up then began to drop back down again but under the cover of darkness we were still getting regular bites and even catching a Dogfish or two.  This happens with coarse fishing too, hours of inactivity followed by periods of intense action but here on the beach, after dark you feel literally anything could be lurking out there.  We packed up after midnight, I finished with three Dogs while Giles had four or five.  Had we the stamina to carry on I’m sure we could have caught a few more.

An unexpected opportunity arose so I loaded the car and pointed it to the east.  It was a bright sunny morning and the forecast promised a light breeze, as I approached the car park a hare stood guarding the road but as I got closer it reluctantly hopped into the long grass to join a gang of four of its mates.  As I unloaded three vehicles had converged on the other side, their occupants all had loud southern city accents.  Will there be any peace and quiet today?

There were anglers to the north and south so I dropped in between them, there was loads of space for everyone, until the city boys arrived and collapsed with exhaustion under a mountain of tackle a little way to my right.  They weren’t too close but…  So by 0930 I was set up on the steep beach using my usual methods and mostly squid for bait on what most would describe as a beautiful summer day but will the fish agree?  The massive ferry to Hoek, bright white and serene like a giant swan cruised by heading for Holland and all kinds of adventure.  A group of swimmers arrived and plunged into the cold North sea, as loud as they were brave.

The day passed, the beach filled up with more anglers and loads of day trippers, though I don't know why anyone would want to try beach side activities on what amounts to a massive, shifting pile of pebbles.  Beach cricket would be impossible though the wicket would probably take spin of sorts.  The fishing was crap, I persevered past the high tide in early afternoon and outlasted the city boys but didn’t get a nibble.  My baits were mostly untouched meaning the crabs hadn't been getting away with it and I’d been fishing effectively.

Highlights of the day included the massively endowed hippy chick who exposed everything then went into the sea.  I didn’t know where to look, well I did to be honest, for probably longer than is appropriate.  Then there were the two middle aged ladies close to my right who kept smiling at me.  Was it my animal magnetism or could they not resist the alluring odour of squid in the sun?  Still smiling the ladies undressed right down to the wool before climbing into their swimming costumes and tiptoeing into the water.  At this point I decided I should get home before I got into trouble.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Not knowing better

 A few weeks ago I had a journey that resembled one of my mad pre fishing dreams, last night I had a typical example of the dream.  Everything went wrong, I hadn’t prepped my gear and forgot half of it.  I arrived to find the beach full of day trippers so set off to an alternative only to get lost.  While travelling I had to stop and report some building faults to a land lord (the building is a place I haven’t worked at in over a decade and the landlord is dead…), I never made it to the beach and woke up feeling stressed.

The weather had been hot and sunny all week but the forecast threatened showers and as I pottered around getting kit ready the clouds were looking ominous.  I wasn’t keen on the idea of lugging my big heavy oval brolly onto the beach but it seemed I’d have no choice.  There was no play at Lords and by the time I left home it was pissing it down.  I picked Rich up at 1330 and our actual journey to the coast was not much better than my spaced out dream.  Firstly there was stationary traffic on the A road and our protracted diversion met with yet another closed road and another very circular route.  We arrived at the steep beach an hour after low tide and later than anticipated but were pleased to see only a couple of other anglers present.

We were fishing by around 1500, I used my normal two rods and rigs baited with squid, Rich fished in almost identical methods.  The oval had been erected and was actually ideal in the circumstances, for the first part of the day we sat huddled underneath it to avoid the worst of the wetness.  It was the sort of rain that you barely feel but then suddenly realise you’re soaked, thankfully we were both dressed for it today.  The sky was gloomy and the wind from the north but on this strangely curving coast our spot was fairly sheltered.  As expected things were slow to start with but we were content to sit in shelter, chat and sip tea.  However when we did wind in we were finding our baits had vanished, we guessed the crabs were very active and indeed I wound a couple of the crusty buggers in during the afternoon.  These were returned to the sea, crabs are quite cool creatures really but if they grew to any kind of size they’d be terrifying.

As the afternoon turned to evening the gloom lessened and the rain mostly stayed away.  We were treated to the sight of a porpoise breaching frequently as it moved northwards.  As we’ve grown to expect the fishy activity increased as high tide approached.  Rich caught a Whiting then I missed a bite I really should have hit, both of these came at close range.  Then Rich had a proper bite on his long range rod and wound into something heavy and plodding.  I reached for the camera as Rich did battle but unfortunately all went solid and after a few seconds the hook pulled leaving us both gutted.  We suspect it was a Ray but we’ll never know what it was…  But that was the start of a burst of activity, Rich’s freshly recast rod bent over and he wound in a good sized Dogfish, a few minutes later it was my turn and another Doggy on the long range rod.  For an hour a so we had regular bites, Rich managed a Pouting and another Dogfish but all I managed to strike was thin air.  I had three good bites on the close range rod, all three were unmissable but I managed to find a way to do just that.

By now it was dark, the drizzle had returned and the bites slowed up for me although Rich managed another Dogfish and one of those beautiful baby Smoothound.  We gave it one last cast and then one more but that was it for the night.  We trudged back across shifting shingle with the wind whipping drizzle into our faces, it was a relief to peel off the damp layers and get out of the elements.  

Another week crawled past but I held little hope of getting out fishing.  My second Covid jab was inked in meaning I wouldn’t be at the beach anywhere near high tide so was it really worth it?  But Isaac was up for having a try at this sea fishing lark so it was settled, stuff the tide we’d try our luck.  Then with a couple of days to go, both Giles and Rich expressed an interest, so four of us assembled at the steep beach in the mid afternoon.  The weather was glorious in a traditional seaside sense though weather hot, bright stillness would be any good for fishing remained to be seen.

In short it wasn’t.  We all had a few rattles though I certainly didn’t get a proper bite.  Isaac lost a fish of some kind and had another good bite.  Rich managed a Pouting at long range just as the tide was on the turn and the dusk period brought hope and renewed concentration.  The highlight of the night was seeing Isaac’s rod (actually my old semi retired carp rod,) get yanked towards the sea.  Three of us roared encouragement but he didn’t need any, he was already on his feet and pulling something towards the shore.  In other circumstances a small rig tangling Eel might have been an anti climax but this was Isaac’s first sea fish, he was chuffed and I was delighted he’d had some reward for his patience. 

We fished on into darkness but nothing happened, the tips stayed still.  The fishing bug has bitten us and we keep trying our luck when tides and conditions are against us.  If this had been freshwater fishing we’d know better and not have bothered, but the unknown is still exciting and enough to get us off our arses.  It's good not knowing better.