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Excessive wind

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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Dawn, dawned, clear and bright as I crested the last hill. Sunlight streamed through the roadside trees, filling the car with optimism. The crows and pigeons gave a glimpse of what was waiting outside however as they swirled over the ripening corn like dead leaves in a winter gale. It was windy out. Fifteen, gusting twenty the forecast offered. Why are they only ever right about bad news?

It wasn't until I had staggered and stumbled my way over the boulder-strewn shoreline and rounded the headland that the truth hit and hit me hard. This was not going to be the leisurely morning, hauling strap conger, that I had been looking forward too ever since my last visit.

But this a man's world and you have to be stubborn and just a bit obsessed to fish these kind of Bristol channel marks anyway. Even on a nice day, there is nothing easy or relaxing about it. The ground is treacherous in every respect. If you don't watch every step, a broken ankle is a heartbeat away. If you choose to walk on the sandy bits you discover that the sand is mud and it can begin sucking your feet in the moment you stop walking. You leave plastered with mud and with strained and aching leg muscles, muscles you never even knew that you had. But, for all that, I love it here. The channel has been kind to me so far.


 

 

As always, I was very early, too early to fish, but it is good to have time to recover, compose myself and tackle up carefully. Today I could give some thought to how I was going to cope with the wind as well.

I read and watch everything I can about fishing, but it is not until I ignore the offered advice that the reasoning behind it becomes clear. I think it is important not to just accept what you are to told but to bear it in mind and ignore it until its worth is proved or disproved. So much that is taken for granted about angling is just plain wrong, half of it at least, but the other half is hard-earned fact. I try to satisfy myself which is which.

With that in mind, I have been struggling since I first started sea fishing with rigs. Rays are my favourite quarry. They capture my imagination. They appear clumsy, ill-conceived and a little ugly out of water, but elegant and graceful in it. They pull hard, reach a weight that justifies the tackle required to catch them and present a challenge. What's not to like?

Big baits and big hooks on pulley pennell rigs, better still, up and over rigs pinning the bait to the bottom, long flowing traces so they don't encounter the wires on the lead when they settle on the bait, and 60 lbs leaders to stop them chewing through; the list of accepted 'truths' is long and begging for experimentation.

On paper then, The ideal appeared to be long flowing traces on up and over rigs armed with 4/0 hooks baited with large fillets of mackerel and whole dirty squid. In practice the trace would regularly come back tangled around the lead. I missed a lot of bites, the crabs trashed my mackerel in seconds and the combination of strong hooks and heavy leaders led to a lot of lost tackle.

Currently I am finding the pulley rig to be the most foolproof by a mile. Scaling down to 2/0 aberdeens and 30lbs leaders has led to far more bites being hit and importantly less tackle lost. Baitwise, I am using sandeel on one rod and whole, but small party squid on the other. So far, so good, today I would be trying single hooks and a much shorter than usual pulley rig on one rod.

I have favourite rock on this beach. It's a single vertical stone set above all the others, presumably by human hand. Once it is out of the water, I know my cast can reach over the rough and onto the mud and that gives me an extra hours fishing. If I cast at the black-tipped chimney on the Welsh side, I know I will be missing the finger of rocks that extend out to my left.

 

By the time I was ready to cast, the wind was whipping the channel to a foam, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. I sat with my back to the wind and my face to the sun. My back was freezing, my front was sweating. I set the rods parallel to the surf worried that the wind would blow them over otherwise. My braid had a huge bow in it and the tips were pulled right over and bouncing around all over the place.

For three hours, l sat there patiently re baiting and recasting, knowing that unless a bite was going to be utterly spectacular, then I wouldn't see it. I might have had a bite a cast for all I know until half an hour before slack, the right hand rod straightened spectacularly. I wound down, heaved and slowly recovered the line shaking dribs and drabs of weed off and hoping that the stubborn resistance on the end wasn't going to turn out to be another huge clump of the stuff.

 

 

It wasn't , it was a very wriggly and surprisingly colourful strap conger of what is rapidly becoming my standard size, around three pounds. Today wouldn't just be about pointless obstinacy after all. Last week all six of my takes came on the squid fished on the right hand rod. I am fishing into a massive eddy here, on the ebb anyway, as the headland drives the rip out from the shore and squeezes it between the sandbars offshore. I figured that the right hand rod was probably fishing in the prime spot just inside the crease.

On that occasion, I never had a sniff on the sandeel and to be honest they looked a bit lacking in substance even if they were resisting the crabs better than the mackerel had. This fish had once more taken the right hand rod but this time it had gone for the sandeel on the long pulley rig which was interesting. It only had a single hook on as well which made unhooking a breeze. In the interests of experimentation, I swapped the rods over in the rests and fished that set up to the left.

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For another hour, it looked like that was to be my only excitement of the day. The wind got stronger, the tide turned and began bringing some weed and rubbish in with it. The combination of debris on the line and wind pressure had the tripod over twice and to be honest I was becoming despondent. Twice my rotten bottom failed, not on snags but both times on rafts of weed on the way in, I really must replace the nylon link more often.

 

I had just snapped another lead off and decided to give in, but as I was packing that rod away, line started trickling off the left hand rod. I looked up at the tip and it was pulling hard down and line was disappearing faster and faster. It had to be an accumulation of weed, so I picked it up and started retrieving line. I kept shaking weed off and the tip kept bumping. A large plastic bag came out of the water and wouldn't come free, so I had to wind that up to the tip and pull it off by hand. At least I knew now what had been bumping on the end. Wrong again, free of the dampening effect of all that rubbish the line kited to to right and a beautiful male thornback was lying right there in the surf.

Four pound seven and pretty as a picture. I love to leave a difficult day behind on a high note. From that moment on I will be, and already am, looking forward to my next visit. The relentless crawl back up the M5 suddenly allows plenty of pleasurable thinking time. Long pulley rigs, baits, maybe two sandeels, hooks, one or two, which and why? In case you are wondering, it took the sandeel on the long pulley rig armed with pennell hooks and fished to the left. Hmmm, interesting.

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