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.