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Tide race

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.




It might surprise you to know that I have a fault. It might, but I doubt it. In fact I have far more faults than I have qualities which at least makes life more interesting, for me.

The particular problem that I have is that I invariably have the whole day’s fishing planned out in my head before I set off. I know just how the shoreline will look, even if I have never been there before. I know just what tackle and bait to use, what fish and how many I am going to catch and on what method. Unfortunately I am never right and my stupidly over-confident and blinkered approach is found wanting with monotonous regularity. So, I thought it might be enlightening to compare the images in my head today before the truth materialises tomorrow. Here is my plan.

Tomorrow I am going to fish a creek that almost nobody ever bothers with. I walk alongside it every time I visit my usual mark and I have always wondered if it at least held any flounders. It has plenty of mud so I would expect a few to live there and even if they don’t eels probably will.

I visit the channel at fortnightly intervals when low tide coincides with my preferred time slot of 10 am to 2 pm. It is a low tide mark, three down, two up and that means I am fishing no earlier than 7 am or later than 4 pm. That’s plenty with all the driving I have to do to get there and all is well with that plan, until, as happened last weekend, my low tide Saturday is sacrificed for loftier reasons ( like taking Pete on holiday).

No problem, in fact definitely no problem, this would be an opportunity. I could seek out and try, as I so badly need to, a high tide mark. I cannot always fish the same spot. It’s good, but elsewhere may be better. How else will I find out if I never fish anywhere else?

I found two well known and well documented rock marks and came over all excited about drop nets, stronger tackle and bigger fish. I never gave the wind a thought, but this morning when I finally got around to checking and plotted its direction on google maps, I found myself, eyes streaming, beard flapping, facing straight into 20 mph winds. Not good.

I coped two weeks ago but that was at shore level, no swell was going to rise up and sweep me off the beach, but it might find it easier to steal me away from a slippery rock mark. And, I didn’t fancy the wind in my beard scenario at all. It’s hard enough coping with a new mark anyway, without being mythered all the time by the wind.


Then I remembered the creek. It actually cuts back inland so that I will be able to have the wind at my back and at the same time sit in the shelter of the cliff. On my last visit here I met two guys fishing close to the mouth of it and they had caught some decent bass there in the past. One even admitted that he had cast a rod into the creek once whilst awaiting his lift home and had a slamming bite which he had missed. He claimed never to have fished it again. There are certainly no signs of rubbish or tackle lying around either.

The creek is vary starkly contoured which may present problems, but the river that runs out of it is tiny. At low tide there is barely a ten foot width of water. The sides are steep, very steep, but they level out towards high water and while at the creek mouth they are rock and broken ground from top to bottom, fifty yards further inland the rock gives way to mud. Glorious slimy mud from bottom to top with a nice grassy sward above high water to relax on. I figure that fishing the edge of the rock line onto the mud will give me the best of both worlds.

I have packed some flapper rigs and may use one yet, but I have bass in mind and am tempted to stick with a couple of pulley rigs armed with a sandeel on a single 2/0 hook. I can see the slamming bites, the hard fighting bass coming across the mud. The weigh sling and scales are packed, I am all confidence but for one little nagging fear. I have no worm, just sandeels and squid. If I had worms, I would try a flapper rig, I still could with sections of eel or slivers of squid, but all I can see in my minds eye is a steady stream of 4 lbs bass hammering those eels, topped off by my first double.

I wake up and check the alarm, but it still isn’t time to go yet and I am scared to go back to sleep now in case I miss it..

Got that? Well this is what really happened. I left home at 3.30 am, dawdled down the motorway, filled my face on sausage batches and coffee at the excellent Gloucester services, arrived at dawn and was set up ready to cast into my chosen spot by 7.30.

The day had begun badly. Loaded to the gunnels with what passes for my light tackle approach of three hundred weight box on my back and holdall full of rods strung across my chest I ventured onto the slope that leads down from the top of the bank. I stepped tentatively forward onto the mud and just as I was going to put the other foot down, spotted the inevitable huge dog turd right where it was about to land.

Some nifty footwork saw me slide all the way down the slope on one leg like Robin Cousins before crashing into a heap at the bottom (not like Robin Cousins, more Eddie the Eagle perhaps). I was plastered, absolutely caked up and sopping wet and I had only gone ten yards.

Of course it was early yet, while my eyes could seenothing but mud, my brain could still only see the rods slamming over to the tune of one savage biting bass after another. I pressed on.

It looked bang on when I got there, the tide I guessed about halfway up and three hours to go before high water, just as I had imagined it over and over again in my rather fitful sleep. I could retreat steadily in front of it up to the foot of the cliff where a clearly defined line of dry seaweed drew a black pencil line around the high water mark.

I rigged a sandeel on the left rod, and squid on the right. Both on pulley rigs, both on single 2/0 hooks. Both with three ounce grip leads on 2-4 oz bass rods. Perfect.

The squid went right out in the middle, the sandeel would have too if I hadn’t messed the cast up. It landed thirty yards out at most which was fine, I left it. I just had time to convince myself that this wasn’t going to work; that I had missed a good night’s sleep, driven three hours and spent too much money on motorway food for nothing. That never takes me more than ten biteless minutes for any kind of fishing. I can be a bit glass half empty at times, but suddenly the impossible happened.

The miscast sandeel rod lunged hard down in the rest and the clutch chirped. I still can’t help throwing hot coffee in my lap every time that happens, as though I was quivertipping for roach. I stood next to the rod and it pulled hard down again. That’s it pick the rod up, tighten the clutch, wind down, a deep breath, wait for the knock... Is that a touch.. Bloody hell, something tried to snatch the rod off me, I heaved back and an undignified tug of war developed.

It was clearly a good fish, but it kept going solid and then coming loose and fighting like a man for a bit , then it would just resist me. I had a feeling that I knew what this was going to be and it wouldn’t be a double figure bass. There was a huge commotion by a clump of weed wallowing on the edge of the tide. I wound down and insisted steadily. A hideous great head appeared out of the weed. It wasn’t going to be a bass, it was going to be a, Jesus Christ, a Jack Russel!


I’ve never caught a fish with a head like that before and for a while it was touch and go whether I would land one today. It was a conger of course. Its tail was round a rock and its head was two feet out of the water, the line was singing and the rod was moaning piteously. Something had to give, I put the rod in the rest and just skull-dragged it up the beach by the line. My God it was a beast.

I unhooked it easily enough, why wouldn’t I, the hook was crushed up like a bent pin, and the thirty pound amnesia snood was like a piece of hairy string. We had another brief tussle, that old conger and I, on whether it was going to go into my nice new carp sling to be weighed properly. I won, but only because the bloody thing tied itself into a knot the size of a thirty pound carp but made entirely of iron and muscle rather than boilie fat and hare lips.

I took the strain and lifted, rather too easily it turned out. My huge conger weighed nine pounds three ounces and a bit. Not massive after all, not if you are a serious conger person any road, but a dramatic increase in the personal best department for yours truly. I took some pictures including one with my leg in it for scale. It was pretty much as thick as my leg, but then I was always a bright lad at school in that my legs had more in common with twin fluorescent light tubes than anything you might see at Twickers. I don’t care it was a right result.

By the time I had it back in the water, my rods were standing up to the handles in incoming Bristol Channel. I moved everything up, re-baited, re cast and.... Moved everything back up again. It don’t half move and rather alarmingly within one hour the water had come up, not in, up, about fifteen feet. Worse still, the high tide flotsam and jetsam was floating about ten feet out in the tide. I would have to scarper, it wasn’t going to stop and unless I fancied a couple of hours hanging onto a chain link fence at the top of the rocks face with all my gear under my arm I would have to get round the headland sharpish.

I went to wind in and in a moment realised how accidents happen. There was no cause for alarm, but both rods were snagged. I was never going to drown here. It was warm, broad daylight and shallow with no current at all, but a soaking was coming across the grass after me at some speed by the time I had freed everything off, chucked in my bag and fled. So much for following the tide up and down, it was following me. It was 8.30. I’d only been here an hour.

I spent the next two sitting up the hillside on my box until high tide had passed and then I , quite literally followed  it back down at walking pace until I could get back to my favoured spot. If I’d thought I was muddy when I fell over I wouldn’t know how to describe myself now.


Bizarrely exactly the same thing happened when I returned. I cast out, five minutes in and the left hand rod (squid this time) started banging about like a drunk in a phone box. I picked the rod up, waited for the tip to pull over and leaned back hard into .... Nothing. Missed it! What an anti-climax. I’d sat for two hours on the side of a hill with all my fishing tackle, listening to an endless parade of dog walkers sniggering away behind me, then missed my only other bite. Oh, and no bass.


artificial lite