Wednesday 5 June 2024

Working it out? Probably not.

After three weeks fishing the estuary we fancied a change so we made a plan to fish an open beach, one where we would have a chance of a Bass but also Ray’s and dare I sat it, a Hound.  High tide was around 1930 so it would mean another mad scramble around after work and today we had to detour via AD for a wrap of rag.  By 1730 we were hiking again, our destination ‘The Cauldron’, a fast shelving beach with shifting bars and ripping tides that make it difficult to fish. It’s an inconsistent place too, two thirds of the time we come away disappointed.  So why do we bother?  Because when it all falls into place the fishing can be spectacular, with big fish of different species so although we know what to expect we can’t resist going back.  The more we fish it the more we’ll learn and maybe one day we’ll work out when to fish it and when we should leave the place alone.  But probably not.

Tonight my light rod had a long running leger rig baited exclusively with ragworm.  On the heavy rod I started off with a leger but when the tide allowed us to fish further out I switched to a pulley rig.  Baits were mostly squid but also crabs from time to time.  As things turned out this was not one of the spectacular trips in fact it was a bloody struggle.  The high tide period produced just a couple of rattles and we didn’t get any proper bites until the sun had dipped and the light was fading.  In half an hour I had two decent bites on each rod; I lost a small Bass in the waves and landed another both on the lighter rod.  On the other I missed a decent bite on crab then straight away beached a Dogfish on squid.  Beside me Giles tried hard but fared little better.  We fished well into darkness but that was that, the cauldron left us scratching our heads again.

Saturday evening was so slow I still had loads of ragworm left and these had been carefully wrapped and given a cosy home in the fridge for another night, to the Princess’ disgust.  A couple of days later I had another spare day but I wasn’t motivated enough to drag myself out of bed to fish a morning tide on a beach so headed back inland for Bass.  We’re blessed with estuaries in Suffolk and this morning I head for one of the others, a spot I hadn’t fished since last year.  This one is the longest walk of all our favourite spots so I cut the gear right down fishing just the light rod balanced on a rod rest along with the lure rod.  The hike brought me to a spot where the deeper channel swings in close to shore and the bottom is a mix of shingle and lumps of rock where all around is soft mud.  The morning was warm and the sun crept through at times although it was mostly cloudy.  The embankment behind me sheltered me from the north west wind and it was a pretty pleasant place to sit, the scenery actually more like a big lake than a saltwater river.

I was fishing by 1000, pretty much bang on high tide and I was confident fishing the ebb here as the lower water can concentrate the fish.  This spot is usually a banker for Bass and sometimes we manage to catch them on lures too so I settled down with confidence.  It took almost ninety minutes before anything happened then a flurry of bites on the leger rod brought two small Bass through the weed followed by an Eel which helpfully unhooked itself before slithering back and disappearing amongst the tangle of whatever the hell that stuff growing on the rocks is.  After that the bites were sharp unstrikeable raps just at the point my concentration had wandered and my mind was miles away.

There were Bass there alright, swirling from time to time and scattering fry in very shallow water.  I spent much of the day on my feet throwing lures around and as I could see fish from time to time, I kept ringing the changes; shallow divers, spoons and jigs covering all the depths.  The dropping tide left miles of exposed mud and fish were swirling only a couple of feet from the edge in inches of water, surely a rubber sandeel inched along the bottom?  Whatever I tried I didn’t get a bite on a lure but when I removed a rubber worm and put on a real one, I had a third and final Bass of the day.

By late afternoon enough was enough, the rag was virtually gone, I was tired, covered in estuary mud and had a long walk ahead of me.  As I yomped back towards the car I could see Bass feeding in shallow water in other places too, food for thought for another day and if I could work out how to catch them on lures...


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