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.