Monday 16 October 2023

October New Moon

Mid October, the best time of the year and as always I try to cram as much in as I possibly can.  A few days spent at the special place, more memories made…  Elsewhere Giles and I had another evening drifting around in a boat, chucking lures in likely places.  On this occasion the fishing was tricky, the Pike had moved from where we’d last located them and when we did catch up they weren’t really up for it.  We moved several fish but they were mostly just swirling and bumping however we did manage to bring three small fish to the boat.

Then a week later, October new moon with comfortable conditions and a light north westerly wind, I’m not going Pike fishing, what’s going on?  Well if for whatever reason I can’t fish for Pike at my favourite place then why not do something differently entirely, especially when there’s a big high tide due not long after midnight.  So Giles and I loaded the motor and head east, I had a nagging feeling that I’d left something important behind, thankfully we hadn’t gone far before I realised it was my wellies.

We arrived at the car park at around 1815 with the daylight fading quickly, hoisted our gear then tramped through the unique back of beach habitat.  We set up where we always do and the way things have gone this year why wouldn’t we?  I soon had the regular two rods ready; a whole squid was hurled on a pulley rig and on my lighter set up I fished a running leger with a size 1 longshank baited with strips of mackerel.  I managed to get the shelter up and everything organised before the headtorch became necessary but the latter was strapped on soon after.  The fading light meant there was little time to take in the surroundings and sitting in the dark felt surreal.  We have little experience of beach fishing at this time of year and not much idea of what to expect but if we saw the rods knocking a few times and wound in a couple of fish that would be a result.

To say the evening went to plan would be an understatement, our rod tips were showing knocks and rattles from the first casts and there was barely a cast all evening that didn’t bring some kind of fishy attention.  Tonight there was little time to chat, we were on the go constantly, if not winding in or casting, traces had to baited up ready for the next chuck.  We began by catching mostly small Dogfish which were in the mood for a scrap, mine coming mostly on the lighter rod then as time passed all the rods were banging and most of the fish we beached were Whiting, many were big enough for Giles to take home for a feed.  This is all good fun but as time passed we grew greedy, would something big put in an appearance?

Not long after 2200, still a couple of hours away from high tide, I heard an exclamation from Giles direction and looked up to see him struggling with a seriously bent rod.  He had a bit of a pull me push me but gained line steadily.  I waded into the breakers and grabbed the leader to drag a big brown diamond onto the shore, a good sized Ray – actually a PB for Giles and a fish that made the night complete.  But we weren’t done yet.  Minutes later Giles other rod dropped slack and he wound into another good fish.  With heavier tackle this one put up less resistance and he soon had a second, smaller Ray at his feet.

So the Thornbacks were about and feeding, I must be in with a chance!  I decided to put a bigger hook and a whole squid on the light rod and freshen up the squid on the heavy rod too.  When I wound them in both rods had undetected Whiting attached, no wonder the Rays couldn’t get to my baits.  Within minutes of the recast I had a decent bite, the heavy rod again and found myself attached to something with a bit of weight.  It came in easily but I was chuffed to catch myself a Ray even if it was the smallest of the night.  With this rod recast I set about preparing the next bait but glanced up to see the heavy rod being yanked over heavily.  I struggled out of the chair and grabbed the rod and pulled into a heavy weight at long range.  This fish definitely didn’t want to visit the beach and hung in the fast tide like a drogue, pumping it back was hard work but steady lift and wind kept it moving.  After the normal tug of war in the shallows Giles grabbed the trace and dragged it onto the beach.  It was a good sized Ray but it had felt much heavier and I’d expected something about the size of a pool table.  I soon had a bait back out and a few minutes later the same rod went slack.  I wound into another good fish and another obvious Ray although this one was coming in a bit easier and didn’t make me work like the last one.  A bit smaller but still a bloody good fish!

Orion had now climbed above the horizon, we’d had five Rays in under an hour which had turned a good night into a brilliant one but after that things started to calm down.  There were no crabs about so we could leave our baits out and we still had bites almost every chuck but the gaps between them were longer.  We missed a few and caught a few more Whiting but we knew from experience that the best part of the tide was over.  Between us we must have caught over forty fish though Giles had the lion’s share, his flapper rigs were showing bites much better than my long hooklength and he had a few double hits.  At high tide the wind grew strength and veered to the north west, we could feel the difference straight away and the decision to call it a night was an easy one.

We walked back inland with the stiffening breeze in our chops, you could feel the north in it for sure.  After a busy evening on a rugged beach and a couple of hikes a soft car seat feels like heaven.  That was a good night’s fishing and I hope I can find time to have another go soon, October just isn’t long enough. 

Sunday 1 October 2023

It's that time again

Once back from the wild west the month of September was gone almost before I could notice… 

I had an evening on a beach I’d never fished before, soaking squid with some old friends, which I should point out is not a metaphor, we were fishing.  The lads had caught fish here previous years  but I didn’t feel confident at any stage, there was just something about the place that didn’t ring my bells.  I think I had one pull on a rod tip that might have been a bite and that was my lot but there were a couple of Whiting caught and we all had a proper good catch up which was the main point of the evening after all.

A week later the tides were all wrong so on a cool Saturday afternoon Giles and I stuck up two fingers to the Pike police and set off in a boat throwing lures around.  The afternoon was a mixture of sunshine and cloud with a light westerly breeze and it all felt right for an autumn Pike.  On the way out Giles trolled while I steered but nothing intercepted a lure and we soon reached our destination where we commenced casting from a static boat.

Our starting point was an area that has produced a few fish in the past but I realised hadn’t been particularly productive in recent times.  Every ten minutes or so we lifted the weights and moved back up the stretch in the direction of the car park.  Probably an hour had past before we reached the spot we probably should have started at and Giles soon hooked the first fish of the night, as he usually does! After that we had four more Pike between us, it didn’t seem to matter what lures we used but tonight they wanted them a bit deeper than I would have expected.  We were able to unhook all of these in the water with a quick flick of the pliers which was done for convenience rather than any Pike welfare paranoia.

Now autumn proper is here and I’ll be doing the same old things in the same old places, loving every minute and mostly saying fuck all about it.  It’s a shame it has to be this way and there must be many great stories that may never be told but that’s another curse of the social media age.

The summer sea fishing was a different experience this year, whereas 2022 had been all about the Bass in 2023 we done really well for Rays. Unlike previous years I may well have the odd sea trip through the autumn but for a few weeks at least I'll have a one track mind.