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Closer to lunch

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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I never did get back after the flounders. My two new seahunter bass rods, bought for the purpose, lie in the corner awaiting a trip to the south coast later this month. Work intervened, and by the time I had wriggled free again, another trip to the English side was shouting louder, so I returned to my usual mark in the Bristol channel.

It was foggy on the way down, very foggy, but a glorious day was forecast which in itself would be a new experience here. I was way too early. I didn't know what might have changed in regards to access because the old military base on the headland had been scheduled to be demolished since my last visit, or so I had been told anyway. The pier had gone but everything else was unchanged.

I like to think that I get better organised with every trip, but its hard to tell sometimes. When I set off, within my box, there is a place for everything and everything in its place. When I leave, it is a crate of shit that takes me two hours the following morning to put right.

 

 

 

I had a plan today, to compare two rigs. On one rod, I would have an up and over rig, meant for rays and armed with a single 4/0. The second would be a standard pulley pennel with smaller 2/0 hooks this time.

One mod paid off. I have always had plenty of bites here that I have failed to convert into fish. Whiting I assumed or possibly crabs, although they seem far more violent than I can imagine crabs causing. On this rod, I fished a squid, cut in half along its length to make a long thin bait that would not mask the smaller hooks.

Bites on this rod started immediately. The more I get to understand this mark, the more fishing time I get. Before I came here, I found it described as a two down, two up venue. With a little knowledge, it has become a three and a half down and three up spot. It is all a matter of knowing just where the last few rocks are.

For the first time ever, I caught my first fish soon after starting. A codling indeed! Not massive, maybe a pound, definitely a bit small to take home, so it went back - eventually. What is it with sea fish that makes them want to die? Three times I set it upright and launched it. Three times it turned around and ran itself up the beach like a troop of marines landing under fire. The fourth time I lobbed it out and it turned and shot off out into the channel. Twenty minutes later, I had a second identical fish and a little later still, a third fell off en route to the shore. Dare I mention that the only other catch was a whelk chewing on the mackerel.

The second rod was showing more subtle signs of life that could equally well have been a ray settling on the bait or an army of crabs stripping the mackerel to the bone. No prizes for guessing which it was. Although, I did have a couple of big, sharp pull downs that never developed which I would like to have hooked up on.

One thing I have found hard to get used to, especially after my many years as a coarse fisherman, is that striking at bites appears to achieve virtually nothing. It would appear after much wasted effort that it is better, far better and more effective, to wait until the fish has clearly hooked itself. True, when the tip slams down and line goes off the clutch, it is obviously time to set the hook and wind in, but those pulls and bumps and rattles, I find harder to deal with. I have tried striking them to no effect. Today I just left them until the tip was going non-stop and that hooked me three fish.

It was lunchtime and low tide before the thick mist that had kept both light levels and the temperature low, burned off and at slack water the sun shone out hot and bright. It killed the sport completely, even in the river of liquid mud that is the upper channel. I had one more bite all day. It came as I was standing next to the rods taking a leak. The squid rod started bouncing around like a maniac, but by the time I had turned off the flow and tucked percy back through two pairs of trousers it was too late.

Far too quickly, the tide chased me back up into the rocks forcing me to stuff a mountain of muddy chaos into the top of the box and scramble back up the cliff. By the time I had trudged a mile over the undulating, hilly, headland, I was a sweating, sodden mess, BUT, I had caught two codling and proved that the smaller hooks were a worthwhile improvement. They weren’t very big, decidedly bigger than the first one a few weeks ago, but not quite plate sized as yet.

The up and over rig however, was not the answer I am looking for. It tangled constantly and resolutely refused to stay clipped up. I don't think that the six ounce lead is heavy enough to pull it tight enough around the top clip and keep it there, although I can think of other possible reasons. Maybe, just maybe, the force of the cast is stretching something that then becomes slack as the pressure comes off and the lead flies through the air.

I will try the drop down pulley rig next. If that fails me, it will be pulley or nothing. That rig is by far the most reliable I have tried yet. On a par maybe even better than a straightforward flapping paternoster. I want to be sure that that my bait and as much of my snood as possible is on the bottom for rays. I may be worrying unduly, especially as the only two I have caught so far came on the pulley rig, but those codling today suggest but don’t prove, that the bait was close to the sea bed rather than tight on it. The whelk clamped to the mackerel fished on the up and over rig, however, must surely mean that the bait on that rod was pretty tight on the seabed.  Ah well. I'd better get up and start cleaning out the midden that is my tackle box I suppose.
 

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