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I've been desperate to get back to the channel, but everything has conspired to keep me away whenever the tides have been right. In the end I had to take what I could get, a 13 metre high tide under a blistering sun. It meant visiting a new venue, and a new kind of venue at that, at least down here.

 

It didn't start well. Getting down to the ledges involved negotiating twenty feet of vertiginous, boulder and bramble-strewn path. Of course I tripped and pitched headlong down the slope and into the brambles, clattering my knee on a rock. Before I'd even started, I was face down, head down and trapped under my heavily laden box. It took some wriggling and squirming to get back up again without falling even further, but I managed it in the end and like all true anglers I'd at least protected my rods when I fell.

Last autumn I fished off of some rock ledges on Mull, but the tide there sauntered up and down around 4 metres and a two or three ounce plain lead would hold bottom comfortably however far I cast.

Here, two ounce leads float in the rip and the level comes up over 40 feet at a frightening speed. It would and did test my technique a lot, but it is surprising how the seemingly impossible rapidly becomes feasible once you try. I blanked, in fact for only the first or second time that I can remember down here, I never had even a flicker of a bite.

 

So I left home at 1.30 am, negotiated six hours of accidents, road closures, pratfalls and snorkelers to chalk up another blank and enjoyed every minute of it. Fishing is still a great adventure to me and every time I go, I thank God that I chanced to follow my mate and his dad to the gravel pits when I was twelve. That was fifty years ago and counting, yet it still entertains, enthuses and fascinates my every waking moment.

As always I came away with a list of ‘to dos’ and ‘to trys’. I reckon that a bait very close in against the cliff, using expendable stone weights, might find some decent conger. Maybe I could walk further and find somewhere easier to get down to land fish and if not then I need to sort a way of landing them easily. I fancy a long extendable landing net handle with a rope attached to the net. I could use the handle to position the net and the rope to lift it. The bottom four or five of an old, cheap telescopic roach pole would work. Or maybe a telescopic window cleaners pole.

Might the up and over rig work best in fierce currents where the flow should force the bait down to the bottom rather than up off it as it could with a paternoster/pulley rig. In retrospect that was probably my biggest mistake. So now I don’t know if that blank was down to wrong rigs, wrong time of the year, wrong spot or just a bad day when the fish weren’t hungry. I always come back to the same problem in the sea. I live too far away to have local knowledge and can’t help feeling that if I get no bites it is just because the fish weren’t in.

So I learned a lesson or two, about fishing and casting off of high rocks in a fierce current. For a start, 6oz wasn't too bad, cast as far uptide as possible given that I only needed 40 yds to clear the rocks, but 7.5 oz was better. The task went from very trying, to comfortable because the grip wires weren't really penetrating the hard sand. That extra weight made a lot of difference as did longer uptide casts.

Given the sheer power of the current and the turd soup consistency of the water, you might perhaps imagine my surprise when a huge swirl appeared next to my lines and a 75 year old snorkeler appeared in front of me. "Where's Ladye bay?"
"Half a mile back upstream." I replied, "Where did you go in?"
"Clevedon pier."

And with that he scrambled back up through the brambles that I had earlier flattened so spectacularly and began the long walk back in bare feet and speedos, with his flippers under his arm. Every day spent fishing offers a new surprise, and that's just another to add to the nudists and trannies that have turned up in the past.

My initial worries about snagging the wrack festooned rocks beneath me on the retrieve faded as the tide rose. Using lead-lifts swept the gear to the surface plenty fast enough, probably because of my high vantage point, and as long as the water was close in, the snags weren't an issue at all.

The cheap rotten bottom hooks were not just very cheap, but easier to use and worked well, with no problems casting out at all. Definitely a less complicated solution than the very effective gemini rotten bottom links and far less likely to snag up.

I have to say however, that this spot, despite being a recognised mark, didn't have the features that my favourite venue has, the current just hammered past on its way in and if anything went back out even faster. Consequently I am doubtful that it is going to be a great replacement, however I don't yet have any other high water marks that are fishable on a big tide.

Two things that did work well today were my new penn liveliners. No more fiddly adjustment of the clutch to give line when a fish runs. Normally you have to slack it off once the bait is in the water and then tighten it up to strike or retrieve. With these you just cast in, flick on the baitrunner and that’s it. When it is time to wind in, just pick up the rod and wind in, the bait runner flicks back off automatically. I just don’t understand why everybody isn’t using them.

 

artificial lite