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Muddy dogs

LT 13.17, 12+metre, warm and sunny on ebb, warm and dull on the flood. No wind.

I'm still getting used to fishing around the tides, and for my third effort, due to the timing, I needed to find a spot that fished around low water. Luckily there was one just a couple of miles away as the seagull flies from my previous venue. I arrived with three hours still left before low water. It might have been nearer four if it hadn't had such an almighty struggle yomping all my gear for three quarters of a mile around a headland strewn with smooth round boulders between six inches and two feet across. They were as slippery and unstable and every bit as impossible to walk over as you might imagine. God knows how I made it but I did. First job then was to find an easier way back, up the cliff and back over the top which I did fortunately.

I must say this looked a much better spot right from the off. I knew from my research that there would be a sandbar running parallel to the shore which had created a deeper channel within casting distance. What I couldn't tell when I started fishing, was where the boulders stopped and the mud began. As luck would have it, I pretty much arrived at the right time, setting up close to the edge of the rock. As the level fell, the tide race was pushed away from shore by the headland to my right. A 5 oz lead was ample, I could probably have got away with 4 and there was almost no drag on the line. Later when the tide turned and began flowing in from left to right it was a different story. With no headland to deflect it, I needed 6 oz and the tips were pulled hard over all the time. There was also a bit of weed coming in with it to make things harder still. At all stages of the tide, the water was very muddy and churned up.

 

 


I had already decided to change my approach this time. I would use the standard pulley pennel rig on one rod, 4/0 hooks baited only with squid to start with rather than the squid/lug cocktail. Later if I ran out, mackerel could go on there. There are usually some heads, tails and other remnants left. The second rod would be armed with a two hook flapper. Size 1 hooks baited with half a frozen lug and tipped with mackerel strip. Maybe a flounder or two would save the day.

It looked to start with as though this might be another one of those days. The first rod went out ok with the flappers on, but I cracked the other one off. It was the one with the heavier thirty pound braid on as well. It took a long time today but eventually I believe that I found the, or at least a, reason for it. On the canal, with lures, casts tend to be short, fast, sharp and flat. The power is applied quickly to keep the trajectory low and push the lures under overhanging vegetation. Out here on the beach, I found that less is more. An easy lob with a high trajectory actually goes a lot further and that knot doesn't zing and clatter through the rings in the same way. I never lost another set and cast a lot further once I had cottoned on. Even my 'tied on the beach, no glue' improved albright knot lasted the course.

Not expecting much to happen on the ebb, I left the baits out longer, which paid off to start with. The tip of the flapper rod really started banging down, so I picked it up, tightened the drag, wound my way to the water's edge and pulled hard to free the lead and pull the hook home. I was surprised at just how much the fish fought given the apparently unforgiving strength of the rod compared to those I am used to, but I soon had my first and very welcome dogfish on the mud in front of me. While photographing it, I was surprised to see it throw up a hermit crab as I never saw a single shell on the beach anywhere.

 

Two and a half pounds maybe, it seemed determined to spend the rest of its days on land, repeatedly swimming back in on the waves and beaching itself. It had only been liphooked so there was no reason for it to die and eventually, after hurling it out in a most undignified way, it swam off strongly. I don't suppose anybody has ever been so pleased with a dogfish, but I like them, good bites and some weight to them, what's not to like, at least at my stage on the beach angling journey. On the next cast, I missed a similar bite, probably by being too keen and striking too early. By the time that the tide turned, the baits were all being hammered by crabs.

 

After that early success, I was expecting more but it was an hour or so into the flood before the pulley rig was taken, the tip of the rod slamming down repeatedly before I was in a position to pull back. This felt a much better fish and it fought strongly all the way in. The rod had taken on a very healthy curve and I couldn't wait to see what was bumping around on the end. I guessed maybe a conger. What I wasn't expecting was my first ever bull huss, or that it would be my first weighed fish at 5-13. That too was liphooked and equally reluctant to swim away from the shore and back out to sea, but in the end I saw it safely off.

All to soon it was over, the tide was threatening my tackle and really hammering through. On top of that my beautiful sunny morning had turned into a very wet and miserable afternoon. The walk back over the top was much easier and safer than scrabbling my way around the shoreline, but the three hour journey home in the dark was dire in heavy traffic and torrential rain. It couldn't have spoiled my day though, why else would I be writing this at one in the morning, still unable to sleep with the excitement of it all and plans to be made along with lists of gear and bait to be ordered. All this at my age over a couple of dogfish caught while wallowing around on the edge of a muddy Bristol channel mark, so undignified and so much cleaning up to do tomorrow.
 

 

This headland sports a natty line in disused military facilities and silpways where surplus ordnance used (I hope) to be blown up, and here and there were a disconcertingly large number of what looked like mines to me, not to mention odd lengths of steel tube poking out from beneath the seaweed that could have been anything from scaffold poles to exocet missiles for all I know. None of them looked blown up to me, just very rusty, so it seemed best not to jump on or kick them too hard. I was surprised how difficult it is to fish with so many of one's fingers crossed.

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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