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artificial lite

At last, I was there. The evocative reek of seaweed and mud filled my nostrils. As well it might, the water was about a mile away in the distance, beyond a riven moonscape of glutinous and deadly looking mud. I was expecting this and had arrived with a full two hours recce time before the recommended two hours up and down fishing period. That was definitely the right decision. Google earth is great, internet advice is helpful, but both combined will only ever give the most basic of clues. It is the angler's, my, job to use that help effectively. Remote planning is fun, but the reality seldom matches the imagination's best efforts.

I walked up and down for a long while eventually choosing an apparently clean spot among the boulders and bladder wreck. There weren't an awful lot out there, enough to offer promise of a small conger maybe, but I had a selection of nice shiny weights in my box, so expensive that losing any number of them is the stuff of nightmares. From a practical fishing point of view I have always felt that picking a rod up to wind in and finding it snagged hard is proof of time wasted. Time is a finite thing anyway, it rushes past at the best of times but when the tide conspires with it to allow just a few paltry hours, fishing with the rig in a snag is a criminal waste.

I did like the look of it though. The mud was deeply riven and in my mind, I could see fish slipping through those gulleys searching for a snotty gob of black lug and squid. I couldn't wait. Despite dire predictions of big winds and heavy rain, the weather was fine. It had been torrential all the way down the M5, but stopped as I had arrived. Surely an omen. There was a line of boulders next to me swinging round and out further to my right, effectively meaning that I was fishing in a small bay and I figured that by setting up next to them, I could retreat up onto the sea wall without breaking too many limbs if the tide threatened to float my gear out to sea.

I wonder how many seasoned anglers can remember the feeling of trepidation and excitement that I was experiencing. I have been fishing for fifty years, but this was all new. I've never used gear this heavy, cast weights this big, employed rigs that I barely understood or bait so disgusting. I am an enthusiastic naturalist and as an angler caught many many different kinds of fish, but this would be the first time since I was twelve, that I didn't know what I was doing or even if I could correctly identify whatever I might catch. I had driven for two and a half hours through heavy traffic and even heavier rain to get here and would have just three or four hours to work it all out and catch a fish from water that hadn't even arrived yet and which I could barely see in the distance. So, so exciting. What I hadn't quite realised I think, was that I had done the easy bit. I was just about to discover how far out of my comfort zone I really was. I had turned from an experienced angler that others occasionally sought advice from to a complete and utter clueless numpty.

I set the gear up and even baited up with comparative ease. Everything looked good even though I already stunk like an unemptied chamber pot. Then I noticed that the sea had reached the point on my right and was flooding towards me alongside the rocks. In front of me, across the mud that I had so carefully selected to fish over, the water was still a hundred yards away. I looked at my watch. My two hours up fishing window was already fifteen minutes closed. I had to move, so after confirming that I could escape up and over them easily enough, I dragged all my gear out in front of the rocks enabling me to cast alongside the point and begin fishing immediately.

I don't get too energised about tackle, just good enough is fine for me, so I only detail it here so you can spot the mistakes. I had two 13 ft daiwa seahunter rods set up on the tripod. One carried a new Penn affinity 8000 long casting reel loaded to the brim with 20lbs power pro braid. The other was wearing an old Shimano Biomaster 6000 ( I think) inadequately loaded with another reputable brands stiffer, coated 20lbs braid. I am not hiding any company's embarrassment here, I threw the spool away and can't remember what sort it was although I do recall thinking it was a good make at the time. Both had the same, level, 60lbs monofilament shockleader on the end, tied with the same knots and both armed with identical pulley pennel rigs and 5oz impact breakaway leads.

The first rod, with the freshwater reel on was cast out into the flooding gulley and the the second with the heavier reel and bigger bait was destined to be cast inside it, closer to the rocks. Out it went, not great but good enough to get fishing while I baited two more rigs. I walked back to the rest, but could not get the line to tighten to the lead. Not surprising really, they weren't joined together anymore. A crack off already and a shiny lead lost, plus a bait, two hooks, a shockleader, two swivels, two beads, some amnesia and two clips. My wallet screamed. By the time I had finished it would be hoarse.

 

I hope that you find my journal interesting and entertaining. If, having read this, you think that I am talking rubbish then at least you have stopped and thought about it long enough to come to that conclusion which is something of a result in my book. If you would like to comment on this article or anything else relating to my website, please feel free to contact me using the adjacent form. Feedback is always greatly appreciated and very helpful when it comes to improving both my site and my angling. Thank you for looking. If this form will not work for you, please e-mail me at editor@ericweight.co.uk
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The three hundred and one pound eel

I retied, a new shockleader, new rig, the works, strode back to the water and settled for a gentle lob. Clonk - Anova Krakov. Bloody hell, I was building my own reef here. Worse still, I was wasting valuable fishing time. I decided to recast the first rod alongside the rocks before I retackled so at least one was in the right place. I did eventually manage to cast a full set of gear and bait out on the big beech reel and sat down for a coffee and a good think.

And think I did. That was a bite I thought. Indeed the right hand rod was rattling violently, so gingerly, I took it out of the rest checked the line was all clear and seated properly over the bale arm roller and waited for the next rattle. There it was, a good heave and some rapid winding and my first fish from the surf was tying my gear in knots. Never have I been so proud of a three hundred and one pound eel. It cost me three hundred and weighed one.

Before I knew it, the sea had gone again. Along with four sets of shiny new tackle, all of them on the proper beach set up. I lost none on the makeshift one with not enough line on a freshwater reel. I struggled all the time with the springy 60lbs shockleader. Trying to position the knot at the back of the spool so that it wouldn't catch on the cast was a nightmare. Every time I would just get it right, it would all leap of in a huge tangle. Throw in the fully loaded spool of limp braid and it would appear that on the cast, instead of the lead peeling line off the reel, that springy shockleader was leaping off pulling loose braid over the rim before it was required. On one failed cast, I found a ball of braid wrapped around the butt ring. On another, I recovered the entire improved albright knot still with loop of shockleader wrapped inside the braid.

 

 

Clearly it is necessary to have a strong enough leader for casting deadly heavy weights, but my braid - mono set up is not fit for purpose. Firstly, I shall remove some braid and get the level back below the lip. It is standard practice and a lesson learned long ago in freshwater, but one I had ignored or forgotten in all the excitement. That springy shockleader and the clatter of even the neatest knot rattling through the rings set my teeth, those I have left anyway, on edge. It will be either a tapered mono leader, smaller knot but probably still springy, or more likely an 80lbs limp braided leader for my next foray. I may step up to 30 lbs braid running line as well. Coming from a freshwater background, I worry more than most about what happens to lost tackle. I hate the thought of a fish finding those lost baits and becoming tethered. Pulling for a break is going to be a regular occurrence I am sure, and I aim for rigs that break close to the snag, whether that is at the hook length or the lead. I caught somebody else's old rig today. It was still attached to sixty yards of the stretchiest nylon I've ever come across. He must have walked almost to Dorset to get any pressure on the line and could only ever have caught fish that swallowed the bait on it. He would never have seen a bite or struck the hook home with that stuff.

I reckon that the big spool was overloaded with braid. It is wise and common practice to underfill spools when using braid in freshwater, a fact learned long ago and forgotten in the excitement of having a reel with such outstanding line lay. The smaller reel not only had a lower line level causing just enough drag over the lip of the spool, but the braid on it was heavily coated and quite a lot stiffer than the power pro. Nowhere near as stiff as nylon even so. Keeping gear to a minimum and being prepared to move quickly may be wise. That nice clean mud that I first set up to fish over, never was covered by this tide. Tides will take some understanding. They vary in height, they can come faster or slower than they go out. They can cut you off or never reach you. Baiting up is a filthy disgusting experience that requires both practice and refinement. Judging the right amount to take and keeping it in good condition even for four hours appears to be something of an art form. I can't even cast out properly, and I am so unconfident that the line won't snap that I haven't even tried for distance yet. Oh, and by the way, how do you get the bait off the hook when it is buried in yards of fine elastic? Nobody tells you that.