Tuesday 18 June 2024


I’ve always been in pretty good health but I suppose as we get older a hospital trip is inevitable at some point.  Nothing too serious, I was in and out in a day and a week or so later I was eager to sit by the waterside having gone two weeks without my fishing fix.  So June 15th and there’s something about that date…  The last two years I’d started the river season out west but this couldn’t happen this year, something for a little later in the summer I hope?  The day had been a right mixture of glorious June sunshine with showers and stormy weather, in fact we drove through rain on our way east and at the car park sat in the motor for five minutes to let it blow over and welcome the blue sky back again.  I was a little anxious how I’d manage the hike but I was well strapped up and in the end it was no problem, by 1630 I faced the estuary.

Due to recent events I didn’t plan to be too active this evening and with a fresh south westerly blowing up river and the threat of showers, my first job was to get the shelter up and make sure I had a comfortable camp.  By 1645, two hours before hight tide, I had two leger rigs out; on the heavy rod I fished whole squid as far out as the current would allow.  I intended to cast this rod infrequently, just sit it out and let it fish, a big bait for a big Bass or maybe a Ray?  You never know what could take a bait in salt water, it could literally be anything…  Most of my concentration would be on the lighter rod, on which as usual I fished ragworm on a size 1, targeting Bass but hoping maybe a big flatty might pick the bait up?  The wind gusted rattling the shelter and a little way to the west a line of ominous dark cloud with rain falling not too far away.  Equally ominous was the Herring gull circling me like a vulture.

Giles had disappeared to explore a tidal bay while it was full of water and the first I saw of him was an hour later when he appeared grinning and holding a big Flounder which we measured at 33cms.  I’d seen a tug on the light rod and wound in a tailless rag but so far hadn’t had anything I could strike at.  The power of the flood tide and loads of shifting weed meant baits had to be fished in fairly close, it’s difficult if not impossible to hold a bait out in the boiling current from the shore, I wonder what would find it if we could?  But at the top of the tide the relatively slack water allowed me to chuck the squid a bit further.  By this time I’d gone two hours without a fish which is not at all what I expected when we’d set off, when I’d been confident of getting amongst the Bass.  Times like this mess with my head and it feels like a bite is never going to come.  Also I realised I’d missed a trick in not putting a bit just above a snaggy area when the tide had been flooding, through the evening the dropping water level taunted me by revealing a very fishy looking area which I’d neglected.  Come to think of it ignoring – or not even noticing the obvious is a bad habit of mine when fishing. There was still a line of dark cloud inland but now there was a second, out to sea and both were dropping rain from time to time while we sat on a dry, bright island with a rainbow bridge.

1900 at last a definite bite on the light rod and I hooked something with a bit of weight but it didn’t feel like a Bass…  oh dear an Eel but at least the blank was avoided.  The turn of the tide saw a gradual drop in the wind strength making the evening a far more pleasant one to be out in.  I watched a Kestrel hovering above the marsh, I’m not sure that would have been possible an hour ago or are these birds stronger than I think?  The rod tips were not being yanked over though and it seemed that we’d be waiting, hoping for the falling light levels to get things going. An hour after my first fish the tip on the light rod jagged again, I struck through desperation and thought I’d missed it but no there was a tiny Eel attached.  By 2115 the light was fading nicely and the wind had dropped some more, for the first time tonight it felt right for a bite.  I sat up straight in the chair, eyes fixed on the rod tips knowing a bite would come and believe it or not it did!  I completed a hat-trick of Eels…

By the time it was head torch dark things were definitely starting to happen, I was seeing fast tugs on the light rod, too fast for me to strike at and when I retrieved, I’d find a tail-less worm.  The bites weren’t coming with any regularity but there was just enough happening to keep me interested.  Around 2230 I had a proper rattle on the light rod and this time.  I felt a fish with a bit of weight which started to move down with the tide, and then the hook pulled.  Never mind where there’s one…  A few minutes later Giles appeared out of the gloom having managed to catch his first Bass of the night.  After a little chat we decided we’d had enough, it was last cast time so with fresh baits out, worms on both this time, I started to pack up in the usual fashion.  The rucksack was tidied and the bait put away.  The shelter came down then I packed up the tripod, leaving the rods balanced on the back of my chair while I found stuff to do that would delay winding in a for bit longer.  Then I was sure I saw the light rod rattle, it did.. didn’t it?  I picked it up and held it tight, yes a bite which I actually managed to hit and then I steadily would a fish towards the shore.  A flash of silver in the torch beam and a nice Bass wriggled up the beach, I laid it on the measuring board – 33cms or about a pound?  Nothing spectacular but the fish I’d set out after and enough to put a smile on my face.  The hike back to the car would have felt much harder without it.

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