Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Be careful what you wish for

Be careful what you wish for…  A dry, bright Saturday with an evening tide is just what I hope for at this time of year, things couldn’t be much better, or could they?  Giles and I left mid afternoon and for once we both had a feeling for the same beach.  An hour later we left the car and hiked through the marshes, by 1545 we were settled and fishing at the boiling beach, all manner of fishy filth impaled on hooks and slung into the North Sea.  I fished how I always do but due to the nature of this spot you have to vary the distances.  A long cast at the wrong time in the tide will see a lead that barely seems to touch bottom.  This is a nice quiet spot in a harsh environment, on a strip of hard ground between a salt marsh and fast running salt water.  East of us stands a castle on a hill but not the one in the song by a son of the county that gets played too much.

The day was comfortable and the sea flat but nothing happened for an hour which was OK because on previous visits here early bites have seemed promising but led to a disappointing end.  A little after 1700 I had my first proper pull and wound in a bit of resistance, there was a weird something in the surf which turned out to be a small Dogfish giving a crab a piggy back, which was a first.  The most notable occurrence of the late afternoon was the Town confirming promotion which put a smile on my chops even though I only follow football from a distance these days.

Time passed, the tide crept up the stones and the sun began to dip.  We tried big baits and small baits, short medium and long range but whatever we chucked out, nothing happened although we both wound in baits with Starfish attached, another first for me.  High tide came and went with no change but with light fading the ebbing tide started to run and at last we began to get a few tremors on the rod tips.  Not proper bites but prolonged spells of fishy vibrations that didn’t amount to anything.

Around 2030 it was almost dark when I had a decent bite on a whacked out whole squid.  I managed to hook something with a bit of weight which allowed me to winch it in until it got fairly close where it decided to pull back.  Whatever it was it didn’t feel particularly heavy but didn’t want to visit the beach, then the hook pulled which for some reason didn’t come as a surprise.  I’m fairly sure it was a decent Bass but I’ll never know for sure.

We gave it another hour hoping this would be the beginning of a spell but it didn’t happen and we packed up without adding to the score.  Last week I’d wished for a quieter beach even if it meant fewer fish and that is exactly what we got!

A week later…  While the Princess was enjoying all that royal nonsense I made myself scarce, out in the garden sorting out fishing gear, getting ready to escape later in the day.  The morning was dry but the forecasters had promised a horrible afternoon of almost constant rain.  The south east wind would be blowing straight into our chops making things doubly uncomfortable but fuck it Giles and I were heading to the coast anyway.  The alternative was more of that unavoidable royal bollocks.

Today high tide was due for tomorrow, or to put it another way we would be fishing a rising tide through the evening which was due to peak around 0100, whether we would still be there at that time was doubtful.  As expected the afternoon was damp but seemed to be getting better as we travelled east.  We arrived at the coast around 1700 and tramped through the Gorse and onto a beach we’ve learnt fishes well on a rising tide, the weather ensured the place was deserted as we like it.  Today the beach shelters went up before the rods went out, comfort would be essential if we were going to spend any time on this exposed stretch of sand and shingle.

The first hour saw the tide still retreating which revealed parts of this beach that we rarely see.  The next time we see it this low it may well look completely different, wild waters are always changing which is one of the reasons I find them much more interesting than manicured ponds with hand reared stock.  So here I was on a rugged shore but it seemed hours since I’d had a bite let alone caught a fish. It was cosy sitting in the comfort of the shelter listening to the roll and hiss of the waves, the doorway framed the rod tips but they weren’t moving much…  By 1900 the sea was creeping back towards us and the heavy rod definitely jagged down then back up again.  It looked fishy but nothing developed, it seemed sensible to check the bait but I was surprised to feel a slight resistance as I wound in.  I could see something skipping the waves and this looked crab shaped but no it was a small flatfish!  I expected a Flounder but this was a slightly different shape, sandy coloured with dark spots.  I think probably a tiny Turbot but I’m still not sure, it was another first whatever it was so a PB by default.

Sometimes one fish brings many but not tonight, another ninety minutes passed without a fish but the cloud had broken up and the drizzle mostly stopped.  By 2030 the tide was halfway up the beach and the sky was darkening, despite recent form we were both confident, surely things would start to happen soon?  And so it did, Giles started things with a couple of Whiting then I had a bite on whole squid at range.  Whatever was attached felt heavy and I got a bit excited thinking maybe it was a Ray but no, an angry Dogfish appeared.  Giles quickly followed this with two more dogs before my next bite came on the light rod, this too felt heavy but wasn’t doing much.  As I dragged it through the surf I saw a Whiting attached to the top hook and a Doggy on the bottom one.  Most proper sea anglers have these double shots regularly but this is the first I’ve had since catching Mackerel on shark trips in the nineties.

The action continued on all four of our rods, Giles caught mostly Whiting with the occasional Dog, I had three more dogfish and another Whiting.  After 2300 the action slowed up considerably but we still got the occasional wobbly rod tip, Giles beached a couple more fish but I didn’t manage to hook anything else.  We gave it a last half hour and then another but by midnight we were knackered and happy to go.  After the previous slow trip to have such a productive one was just what we needed, between us we managed almost twenty fish.  But after that, next time out I’d be happy with fewer fish but bigger ones.  I should learn my lesson and be careful what I wish for.

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