Sunday 19 November 2023

Change of pace

Autumn is all but over for another year but as usual I’ve managed to cram a lot in, a dozen trips in eight weeks altogether, mostly but not exclusively spent floating around in the big swamp.  This was everything I expected it to be yet at the same time totally different to what I thought it would.  An Oozlum bird of a contradiction or just another way of saying it’s different every year even though some aspects don’t change.  At times it was baffling and exhausting but always beautiful and ultimately rewarding.  I fished hard again this autumn but by the time the clocks changed I was running out of energy, and once the fireworks had gone off I needed a change of pace.

Saturday came around again, cool with a clear sky but little or no wind and a high tide around 2230.  A night on the beach?  Yeah I don’t mind if I do.  On my first trip to the beach this year I’d been with Mr T and six months later we’d found time to do it again.  When I pulled up at his house I had a surprise, “room for another one?”  yes indeed!  “Biggun” is another friend who’s put up with me for well over thirty years and although he’s not an angler had decided a night on a beach might be fun, it was bloody good to see him too!

We shared four rods and were just about set up and settled before headtorches became essential.  I stuck to my normal squid on a pulley on the heavy rod but switched to a two hook flapper on the other.  Baits tonight, mostly squid and chunks of mackerel but I had a cool bag full of stinky things to try.  This evening the fishing wouldn’t matter, it was just an excuse for three old pals to get together for a couple of beers and a yarn, well that was the plan but the Whiting had other ideas.

Tonight we just couldn’t sit still, everything we cast out came back with a Whiting attached, on almost every cast and we had many double hook ups.  It didn’t matter what or how, whole squid hurled out or small strips dropped in close, we even tried chunks of sandeel but the Whiting ate these too.  It’s always nice to be catching fish… or is it?  I don’t know many we ended up catching but I’d guess between fifty and sixty.  Some bites were fold overs but most were tremors and quivers which we often left a while so were probably fishing livebaits by default.  Whatever we tried no bait remained untouched for long enough for the more interesting species to find them and so knowing it was Whiting all the way the fishing actually became boring.  Later on I cut to just the one rod and Mr T had spells where he just wanted to relax for a bit so couldn’t be bothered to cast.

In between the winding in and baiting up we did find time for a good catch up, Biggun and I realised the last two times we’d met had been funerals, old friends were remembered and later when his son and grandson popped down to see us it brought it home that we’re old fuckers now.  The wind stayed away all night, the beach shelters remained folded up and the clear sky gave us a huge starscape above and all around but once we’d found the Plough and Orion we were stuck.  Around 2130 a freezing mist rolled in and covered the sky, the temperature definitely started to plummet, we’d caught more than enough fish so a good time to call it a day.  The mist had become fog and it was a slow drive home but somehow Hendrix sounded just right.


The forecast for Saturday morning was horrible, heavy rain and fresh winds so I just couldn’t motivate myself to get out of bed early to wet a line.  When I did wander into the back garden in the late morning it was gloomy but the worst of the rain had blown over.  Could I be arsed to go fishing?  Not really but then again I needed to get out and do something, I can’t be cooped up in the house all weekend.  So I put a few lumps of bait into a cool bag and quickly sorted out my bank fishing kit before chucking a pie in the oven.

By 1330 I was pushing in rod rests beside an old land drain, I’d carried a brolly with me but it looked like I might get away without it.  I fished three deadbaits, near middle and far, recasting and moving all of them regularly, mixing it up.  Two rods were on float legers, the other a plain running leger but in my haste I’d forgotten the drop off indicator for this so had to make do with the classic bent twig combined with paying attention.  This would be fine unless I needed to put the brolly up, happily the cloud was breaking up and at times a little weak sunlight pierced the grey.

I hoped for a quick take but this didn’t come, though thinking about it, it rarely does on this water, whatever time of day I start.  Time passed, it was mild and comfortable, I was glad I’d made a little effort to get out into the countryside but a fish would be nice.  Should I have a move?  Go looking for fish, do I stick or twist.  Around 1430 I twitched one of the float legers back towards me, my half a bluey was now sitting just a couple of rod lengths out.  A couple of minutes later that micron sang out as something made off with it heading downstream.  The rod bent over and it felt quite reasonable for a bit but shrank as it came over the net, a long tatty fish with an ottered tail that would have weighed around seven pounds but should be a couple of pounds more.  I hadn’t had time to get this rod back out before the leger rod baited with smelt was away, the bent twig done the trick and I wound into another fish that felt decent, a bit of weight plodded upstream.  But once turned it came back easily and turned into a nice conditioned fish of around the same weight as the first, along with a lump of weed.  Maybe I’m not used to these twelve foot rods, when was the last time I used them?

With both rods back out I sat back in the chair, the rain was staying away and the wind seemed to be dropping, everything was okay in my world, I was glad I’d dragged myself out.  The truth is, nowadays there’s very little that can inspire me to get out of bed early, it really is the hardest part of winter angling for me.  At certain times and in certain places I put in the big effort and work hard towards the ridiculous aim of catching a fish then letting it go again but in-between these times I enjoy fishing that is comfortable and convenient.  A leisurely start and fishing into darkness fits the bill nicely and now I’d caught a couple of fish I felt no urge to move.

It wasn’t dark at 1555 but the light was certainly being turned down when another rod tore off, this time a herring fished in the middle.  Another fish hooked and this one didn’t feel heavy at any stage, the smallest of the day was soon released.  Should I recast it?  Yeah why the hell not.  Time passed, a little orange light squeezed out between the cloud and the horizon, I might as well sit into darkness for a while.  At 1645 a micron broke the silence and had me scrambling out of the chair fumbling for the headtorch, half herring again, this time placed in the margin.  This fish also felt a decent size as it charged up and down on a short line but I wasn’t fooled this time, another nice conditioned Pike maybe a little bigger than the first couple, was unhooked in the beam of the head-torch.  With that rod without a bait I decided to pack it away then slowly tidied up the rest of my gear until I was left with one rod.  It was pleasant sitting there in the dark so this I did for a little while longer before calling it a day.  Four modest Pike in as many hours at my own pace, that’ll do nicely for me today.

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