artificial lite.

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Archive .

A study in brown

artificial lite

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

beach bum.

artificial lite.



GDONK, GDONK, GDONK. Mile after endless mile of hissing tyres and red lights. GDONK, GDONK, GDONK. Round another lorry overtaking at one mile an hour more than the one on the inside lane can manage and taking five lingering miles to do it. It's 5 am and I am heading south west again, plugged into a free-flowing ribbon of humanity going who knows where. I've joined the daily migration that gets noticeably earlier and busier and more intense every year. Bring on the self driving car, please, I implore you mr google, but bear in mind that mine needs enough room for a couple of beachcasting rods and a bucket of stinky snot.

WHAP, WHAP, WHAP. The wipers are just about doing their stuff sweeping low cloud moisture from the windscreen as I crest the last great hill and suddenly it all clears, and there below, twinkle the lights of Weston. My destination. The motorway offers two and a half hours of tension and fear but gets me from my home within one mile of the dead centre of England to within three miles of my chosen mark before my wife has eaten her breakfast. No gain without pain they say, well as I stand on the cliff top looking out over a sea of mud and brown weed, at a gloomy grey sky and the turbid milky brown waters of the Bristol channel, I have to tell you, I am due some gain.

By the time I have scrambled down the cliff and slipped and stumbled my way across a lunar landscape of wrack and boulders, I feel that this place owes me even more. So, how to fish it today then? I can't help feeling that fishing a small bait for dabs and the like is a waste when there are so many bigger quarry to hunt. I would love a ray. My favourite catch to date from a boat was a most beautiful undulate over the Kingmere reef, but I have never caught any other species and this mark is alleged to throw up thornbacks on occasion. Big baits it is then. Big baits mean pulley rigs, because other than flappers that is all I have with me.

I've modified my pulley rigs to achieve two things that nobody else much seems to bother with. Instead of tying the snood directly to the stop swivel, I clip it on using a small genie clip. This means that I can swap snoods rather than entire rigs. I need less leads, less rigs and the spare baits hanging from the tripod don't hang in the mud when I want to lower the rods. I like 30lbs snoods to the hooks as a good balance between abrasion resistance, ease of tying and subtlety, but my snoods have a small size 8 swivel tied in to allow for a length of 15 lbs amnesia before the clip. Now if I have to pull for a break, the weak link in the snood breaks and I lose one swivel and two hooks instead of the whole rig and shockleader. Initially I was worried about tangling but in practice It hasn't been an issue as yet.

Baitwise I set up with mackerel on one rod and a squid/ frozen black lug on the other. Three hours before low water, out they go and at last, I can sit back with a coffee. Absolute silence, absolute peace. Fishing the North Somerset coast means that the prevailing wind blows from behind and at this spot is pushed up over my head by the cliff, the sea is calm with merest hint of a ripple barely turning over onto the mud. The only noise is the feintest background murmur of moisture in the air. It is foggy and while it isn't raining as such, the air is so wet you could wring it out. Occasionally wading birds sing a brief descant as they whirl and race up and down the estuary, adding a haunting highlight to a moment of absolute beauty.

There is work for me to do, when isn't there, but it is not too onerous. Occasionally I move everything down the shore to keep up with the ebbing tide and I change the squid or, thanks to the busy crabs, replace the mackerel, but that really is it. Fishing three hours down is fine here, but on this occasion little happens. Three or four knocks and rattles threaten me with another frustrating day of missed bites, tempting me to dig out a flapper rig, but no, I decide to persevere. The big plus with fishing tidal water is the knowledge that even if half the session is a dead loss, the tide will turn and then it is a new session altogether. Today was such a day.

Just before slack water, my right hand rod tip straightened up dramatically. I leapt to my feet. Drop back bite, or lead shifting? The tide was slowing and it hadn't happened before, but the tip resumed its previous set and nothing else happened. When I wound in the bait (mackerel) was stripped off completely so I still wasn't convinced.

When the tide floods here, everything is different. On the ebb I am fishing in the lee of the headland and it takes a reasonably long cast to reach the edge of the current which is where I like to fish. After all I am a coarse fisherman and the crease is the holy grail in my book. On the flood, the strong current runs close in along the drop off with a slack further out and more flow beyond that. Here it runs in harder than it runs out and the change is dramatic as was the way my rod tip sprang back. It pulled back down straight away then sprang free again. I rushed over to the rod which was clearly banging away. Even the clutch was chirping its annoyance at such a rude interruption.

Tighten the clutch, wind the tip down to horizontal, tuck the butt into my leg and heave long and hard. This was it, I could tell straight away, the biggest fish I had ever hooked from the shore. I could feel it beating away against the tide and while it never took any line, it did have the rod hooped right over and working for its money. Wind down fast and lean back slow, bump, bump, thump. Whoa, more of this please. I am no great shakes as a caster. Maybe a hundred yards if I put my mind to it, but this was probably only sixty when it hit and it fought hard and heavy all the way to the shore where it grounded and I just couldn't risk the line trying to pull it up any further. I splashed into the shallow water and reached out. As the muddy water rolled back, I could see thorns everywhere. Not much doubt about that then, my first thornback ever.

Gingerly, I felt for the hollow in the cheek and lifted my prize from the mud. Only another angler will ever know how that felt. I felt full. Full of what, I'm not sure, but a mixture of joy, happiness, pride, a sense of achievement, just full. It is feeling you can only have once, next time it will be different because I have done it before.



It had taken the mackerel head. That was all I had left of my mackerel, it was what I caught my first undulate on as well and I like them for bait. It is mackerel that the crabs can't destroy so easily and the fish clearly agree. Mind you this one had crushed it to a pulp. I found out why when I went to unhook it. I couldn't believe how the fish's crushing jaws clamped so tight onto my forceps. Until it relaxed I couldn't physically move them, absolutely remarkable and brilliant for dealing with crabs, shellfish and mackerel heads obviously. I took a few snaps, popped it into a big plastic carrier bag (easier said than done ) and weighed it; 7-11, not too shabby that.


The hooks were way down. I could just see them, but it wouldn't keep its mouth open long enough to get at them. When it closed them it was hopeless, I couldn't even get the forceps or the disgorger back, let alone move them around the hooks. I persevered, eventually cutting the line and getting one back, the other would have to stay in and hopefully rot away, but it has already changed my thinking on rigs. Anyway I showed it to the scales and they reckoned 8-11. Broken my personal best already. It went back fine by the way.

That was it, all the drama the day could stand, the weed was becoming a nuisance, the rain had arrived and everything, but everything, was covered in sloppy brown shite. I was plastered, my gear was plastered but none of that could diminish the pleasure of success at last. I believe that blanks teach you nothing, they say you learn by your mistakes which is true enough, but success is the best teacher. I shall be looking at single hook rigs from now on and I shall find some long handled, stainless steel sidecutters so that I never have to leave a whole hook in a fish again. I will fish bigger baits here in future, I only wish I could buy mackerel heads, I can buy fillets, but I wouldn't mind betting the heads go for fertiliser or landfill, they ought to be really cheap if I could just find them.

I lost no gear today, my casting was fine, at last I am functioning a little more like a proper sea angler. Probably the most effective change I made today was in keeping the tips lower and letting out 3-5 metres of line instead of having everything tight as a drum. I was trying to ensure that my bait was on the bottom with enough give to allow a ray to settle over the bait? By its very nature a pulley rig is a paternoster and the hook length has to be shorter than the lead link for it to function. If the line is at too steep an angle the bait will be barely on or even off bottom, which may work for cod but will make it difficult for a ray to take. The stronger the current the more likely it is that the bait will be pushed up in the water as well and it was noticeable that all three bites came within an hour of low water. I think an up and over running leger would be better in this respect.


Anyway I was a very happy man when I left my sepia world on the channel shoreline and skipped back to the car and reality. GDONK, GDONK, GDONK, only another two hours of this.


I was out of mackerel now, so it was squid and lug for this rod now. Out it went, and I went back to my box, sat down and leapt up again immediately. Only a repeat performance on the other rod! Mega drop back and now it was dancing around in the rest like a punk on a high. Bouncing up and down to the rasping music of the clutch. Absolutely mental. Tighten clutch, bang the butt into my thigh, wind down and heave. Oh yes, I know all about this now. Wind down, lean back, wind down, blimey, my arms are aching here. Bump, bump, thump, thump, wind down, lean back. This one grounded further out, a good sign, especially as the hump of its back was above the water as well. I had to risk wet feet this time, but got away with it. This fish felt heavier but looked smaller, less wings, more body and unfortunately it was greedier with even stronger jaws.