Friday 30 September 2022


Saturday came around again, high tide was due at 1630 which isn’t ideal but at least on these shorter days darkness comes earlier every week.  But where to fish?  I had a couple of ideas but Giles came up with a different suggestion; he’d fished ‘posh beach’ once before and had been tipped off it fished well on the outgoing tide which if true would be ideal.  I left in the early afternoon and had a strange journey through rural Suffolk with a kamikaze motor cyclist coming straight at me and a lost caravaner caused chaos on a narrow village street, rumour has it he was last seen at the low bridge in Needham…

Eventually I broke free of the carnage and found myself at the beach which is conveniently lined with a road.  This is good as obviously we don’t have to hump the kit too far but it does have some drawbacks…  There were other cars about too, mostly very large ones with vanity plates and also a couple of fellow anglers.  Giles was already fishing and his tips were bouncing, the waves were high and the sea was roaring but the fresh wind was blowing over our backs and the shelf gave shelter.

 By 1430 I had two baits out and it was pleasant sitting there but for two hours nothing happened except the sea marched towards us, the waves grew bigger and louder.  We sat and chatted and pretty much let the baits soak, with all the commotion we’d be hard pushed to tell a bite but when we wound in we still had bait attached.  Behind us cars came and went, some people sat eating chips and a couple of others just stood looking at us, as if we were some kind of spectacle put there for their amusement.

By 1700 with the tide on the way down and things relatively steady I thought I saw a fishy tremble on ragworm which I’d had to cast further than I normally would due to the big waves and heavy undertow.  This didn’t develop but when I wound in there was a fish attached, well an Eel but at least I’d avoided the blank.  A few minutes later so had Giles with a Whiting also caught on rag and this was the first of very many he caught over the next couple of hours.  As for me I really struggled to see bites or more to the point my tips wouldn’t stop moving and it looked like I was getting constant action.  Even moving the tripod and following the sea back down the beach didn’t help, for some reason my lines were at the wrong angle and waves were breaking over them at regular intervals giving false fishy rattles.  Giles had no such trouble and kept on catching Whiting regularly on rag or strips of mackerel, with darkness the wind dropped a bit and the action continued.  I did manage to catch a couple of Whiting on the lighter rod which I still had to cast further behind the waves than usual, to be honest I didn’t see either bite, the fish were just there when I wound in.  Then a few seconds of anticipation when I saw a thump on the heavy rod, the result was another Whiting.

Tonight we were reminded what a scary entity the sea can be, the waves weren’t just big they were unpredictable with rogues occasionally swamping shingle we trusted to stay dry.  This caused me two wet feet but Giles trumped this when releasing a Dogfish the first we’d seen in months, by falling over in an unsuccessful attempt to out run a wave while back peddling.  I did apologise for my spontaneous laughter.  By 2030 the fishing had slowed but Giles had massacred the Whiting, literally as he was well into double figures and took a load of legal ones to feed the family.  I had another Whiting, another Eel and after a decent rattle on rag a Bass which though not particularly big knew how to use the waves to its advantage.

By 2130 we’d used all the rag and had enough so we packed up and hiked for yards back to the car.  Posh beach isn’t as appealing as the wilder beaches but is definitely a good option for when conditions don’t favour our preferred places. The drive home was longer than it should have been as I missed a turn and found myself going in the right general direction but on entirely different roads but it all worked out in the end.

It was the unplanned bank holiday and my presence in the house was not needed so I spent a few hours in the garden, not doing anything at all that requires green fingers.  It’s that time of year, the great shed reversal ahead of the winter spent mostly Pike fishing?  I went through my bags and checked I had all I needed, Sharpened up some lures then went through the rods one by one, rigging them up for the season ahead.  When that was all done putting some of that gear to the test seemed like a good idea.

Isaac and I were fishing by 1600 on an afternoon that had become cool and cloudy with a light north westerly.  We took a boat out onto an old lake and after a long row commenced fishing with lures.  Isaac fished with floating divers worked slowly over the weed, I covered the same zone but fished with sinking lures, shads and curly tails.  It was slow to begin with but after a couple of moves we found a few fish.  Isaac was first to hook up with a Jack that nailed a salmo perch and unhooked itself beside the boat.  I bumped one on a big curly tail then shortly after hooked one on the same lure, this too was unhooked beside the boat, I reckoned it was about the same size as Isaac’s fish but he swore his was bigger.

We moved again and had a couple of fish that swirled at our lures and disappeared for good but it didn’t matter, we’d got what we came for, my first attempt to catch a Pike for six months was successful so I rowed back while Isaac trolled a lure but this didn’t entice anything.  A couple of weeks ago I wasn’t thinking about Pike but now it’s nearly time, I’m getting the pull.

Another day spent doing odd fishy jobs ahead of the autumn, putting the finishing touches to my Pikey kit ahead of the season.  There’s bait in the freezer and petrol in the can, I’m ready now.  But before that there’s still time for a bit more beach fishing and this weekend the high tide was pretty much where I wanted it.  All things considered it all looked good for another trip to the Cauldron.

I arrived at the shore at 1720, bang on tow tide and looked down at the boiling cauldron.  It was hissing violently as I expected but I’d seen it much worse.  I was in no great hurry to set up knowing the sea would become more manageable as time went on.  As the current eased so the waves should build, at the moment there was the barest ripple hitting the shingle but I knew this would increase and by high tide there would be a boom and crash.  By 1745 I had my usual two set ups cast out, or more accurately lobbed out a few yards as the current would allow.  Too far and the leads would be on their way to Holland.

The forecast had been iffy enough for me to hump the oval brolly across the marsh but once at the beach, for the first time this year, I discovered the north easterly was not half as strong as I’d been led to believe.  At least I’d be sheltered from the drizzle which blew through from time to time and I’d be snug and comfortable for the long evening ahead.  By 1800 I was all settled, sitting comfortably with tea brewing, all was right in my world and at that moment there was no place I’d rather be.  All I needed was a fish or two.  After five minutes the light rod signalled something had grabbed my ragworm, a decent Bass was winched ashore and I hadn’t even drunk my tea yet.

What experience I have of this beach suggested the fishing would be slow to begin with but I expected darkness to liven things up and the two hours leading up to high tide at 2345 should be the best time.  I had an eel on ragworm at 1830 and then waited two hours for another bite by which time it was deepest dark and the sea was growling, somehow I managed to miss it.  Another hour passed before the light rod rattled again and I had a second Bass of the evening.  I expected this to be the first of many but it didn’t work out like that.  I had bites alright, every now and then, never in bursts like can happen but I just couldn’t connect with any.  Many were plucks and rattles that didn’t develop into anything but for some I was too quick, some too slow but others I don’t know how I missed.  Most were on the ragworm fished close but there were two good thumps on the heavy rod which got the heart pounding.

I kept trying, kept casting and varying the distance on the heavy rod, kept dropping the banker bait into the dead cert spot but by 0015 I still hadn’t added to my tally.  Part of me wanted to stay on and keep trying but the sensible voice took over saying ‘get home you idiot you’re fucking knackered.’  A disappointing night on what will probably be my last beach trip of the year, probably but not definitely.

Monday 12 September 2022

Tonight, tonight

Saturday came around again and after a frantic morning and a rushed curry for dinner I managed to get everything sorted for a pick up at 1400, just.  But Giles had wound his watch the wrong way and we set off later than planned after all.  On the way we crammed another old friend into the car, Mr T is another angler who I’ve known for over thirty years though most of our shared experience occurred in pubs and parties in the early days.  The destination was Radar beach, mostly for convenience and the scenery.  The tide times weren’t in our favour but we were confident some Bass would put in an appearance.  This they did with a flurry of bites just after high tide at 1700 and another spell just into darkness.  I think we ended up with two each and Giles managed a Rockling.

But most of all we just sat, drinking beer, laughing and having the kind of conversations that you can only have with old friends because there is so much that doesn’t need to be said. Tonight we discussed dreams and drugs, politics and philosophy.  To be fair between us we have far more personal experience in some of these areas than we do the others.  Inevitably we dissected the state of our planet which is spinning out of control and unquestionably heading for disaster.  That we can find this as hilarious as we do horrifying probably says much about us, whether this makes us good or bad people is open to debate and ultimately irrelevant.  In the end the sentiment of the evening was to stay sane in a mad world you need to indulge yourself in the things you love and one of those is spending time with your mates, sitting by the water, watching rods.

A week later…  It’s been a surreal couple of days, people in general don’t know what to do, entertainment has ceased which is fair enough but work still goes on, of course.  But Saturday I am going fishing regardless and there was no doubt this week, I knew exactly where I wanted to go and felt a little nervous for some reason.  High tide would be just after midnight which seemed ideal for fishing the area I am going to call ‘the Cauldron’.  I didn’t have a plan B which I might have lived to regret but didn’t.

The day passed slowly, I wasn’t quite counting the hours but I did glance at the clock regularly.  TMS helped, an eerie start to the days play, the words have changed on a song I don’t sing.  Even over the radio it felt like a bowling day and England were just too good for a batting line up that managed to be even worse than it looked on paper.  England’s reply was emphatic and by the time a shower interrupted things we were only twelve runs behind with seven wickets intact.  With that I loaded the car, got in and head east.

After some long overdue rain (three months since…) Suffolk is showing signs of recovery, a little greenness lines the roads now for the next few weeks at least.  Relief at the little car park, for once there was room to spare, I was quickly laden and away on a footpath cutting through marsh.  Ahead of me the fun boat cruised serenely along the sea wall, or at least that was how it looked.  When I arrived at the shore there was another angler is situ but not where I wanted to sit.  I looked down at the cauldron, still boiling seaward so I wouldn’t be able to fish far out for a while.  A shower of drizzle passed over as I set up, I was in no hurry to get the baits out so started off with a lure rod, casting a savage spoon type thing which I worked with and against the current.  I felt I had a chance but didn’t feel anything fishy in the forty five minutes I was casting.

It was nearly 1900 by the time I had my two baits out; squid and rag but both had to be fished close for a while at least.  The sky had cleared and as the light faded the sea noticeably climbed the beach, waves building, sound increasing.  After half an hour the flow had eased and I was able to fish the squid at range and half an hour later, with the head torch now on and the full moon rising it was the heavy rod that signalled the first decent bite.  I hoped for big things of the sharky type but the result was silver, a decent Bass.  The recast brought a quick bite, a proper whack on the heavy gear and a rod bending result and after a bit of push and pull in the surf I beached a bigger Bass, one of my best so far.  The heavy rod rattled again soon after and once again it was a decent Bass on a whole squid.  Then things went quiet.

Two hours later I was wondering what was going on, three Bass on Squid but only plucks and rattles on ragworm, the banker bait.  But still I was confident, high tide was still an hour away and surely the best was yet to come?  With the cauldron almost full the bites began, the fish had moved in close and the ragworm was getting molested regularly.  Every cast brought a rattle at least, some I struck too quickly others not quick enough but there were many that I couldn’t miss.  The minutes leading up to high water were hectic but after the turn the fishing got progressively slower.  It was exhilarating fishing, the beach was illuminated by a full moon but the sea looked dark and threatening.  The noise of the waves had built to a booming, crashing wall of sound and I barely had time to sit down, on the go constantly.  I tried dropping bigger squid baits in close and had a couple of rattles but all the fish beached came to ragworm.  I finished at 0145 having caught nine more Bass, none bigger than a pound and a half but only one smaller than three quarters. 

The drive home was on empty roads but punctuated by thick mist patches, inside the car Smashing Pumpkins reminded me of the roaring sea.  I hit bed at 0300 and passed out.