Cornwall Trip – days 3, 4 & 5

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Day 3

Sunday morning we woke up to relatively clear skies though the wind was still strong and there were clouds on the horizon threatening the coast. We had a quick fry up then decided we’d take a look at a couple of spots on the Lizard peninsula which we had an inkling might be good for bass. We checked out the first spot near Porthleven and it looked ‘bassy’ but we’d need the westerly wind to drop off to give us a chance of fishing it. We then headed around the peninsula to the shelter of the eastern side looking at Porthoustock and Porthallow but neither looked like the type of ground that would throw up bass. We had a chat with a couple of local kayakers who’d just come in at Porthallow and they had had little success on the water that morning.

It was all a bit frustrating really – the areas we wanted to fish were blown out and the one’s that looked to have a bit of shelter did not look like there would be fish there. We were fast running out of options and after a quick scout around the top of St Ive’s we concluded the only spot realistically we knew would give us a bit of protection from the wind and swell, and which might get us amongst the fish, was near Gurnards Head again….. and so that’s where we headed but this time with waders and cags on to try and keep ourselves dry. When we arrived if anything the swell was bigger than the previous day  with some big waves crashing against the rocks – the pictures don’t do it justice really. The good thing though was that the fish turned up again though not in the same numbers or size.

Nobby was first in with a bass on his faithful Zonk and had a couple more to his name before I managed to break my duck for the day with a small bass on the Xlayer…

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The emergence of a large seal close in to where we were fishing soon meant the fish dried up though so we decided to have a look further round the bay as the tide was still pretty low. It really is a beautiful spot…

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We threw a line in the surf and from some of the prominent rocks here but nothing was taking a lure so we checked the roving seal was nowhere in sight and headed back round to the spot we’d caught at earlier… and sure enough the bass were back if only small ones with most falling to the Xlayer though I also took a couple on the IMA Sasuke…

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That was pretty much it for the day aside from a very small pollack and a launce sand eel caught on a set of feathers at the end of the session.

We headed back to the North Inn and over a couple of pints contemplated what we were going to do on Monday but we both agreed we should move on from the North Inn and head either down to the Lizard area or further up the north coast depending on the weather … the forecast was not great.

Day 4

This was the windiest night to date with the occasional squally shower to boot which rattled the sides of the tents making for a restless night’s sleep at best. Luckily though the strength of the wind meant the canvass was pretty dry come morning and could be packed up easily enough.

After a quick bacon butty we were on the road away from the North Inn and back down to the first spot we’d looked at yesterday on the Lizard near Porthleven. We hoped that the spot would be fishable but when we got there it was clear it was a non-starter. The seas were monstrous with heavy waves dumping on the beach.  A fellow angler turned up to have a go with a heavy lure rod and plug – we watched him have about three casts but each time it nearly blew back in his face so he soon left… as did we. There really was no option today but to get ourselves some shelter on the east coast of the Lizard peninsula.

We had a scout around and eventually found a spot at the end of the River Helford north of a small hamlet  called St Anthony’s where we found some rocky marks with gullies into fairly deep water. It was relatively sheltered but even here the wind was howling down the Helford valley.

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I managed a solitary small pollack and had an unsuccessful take from a bass close in on a grass minnow soft plastic. There were thousands of fry hanging around and some huge mullet cruising around but it was slow fishing and as the squalls became more frequent and heavier we headed back to the car as we needed to sort out where we were going to camp down that night.

As it happened a quick check of the weather forecast again proved wise as the worst of the weather was due to hit that night with gale force winds and driving rain expected – not ideal for camping out! Luckily enough Nobby had good friends Paul and Carol who lived in Newquay who were extremely accommodating when the despairing phone call was made to see if we might have a night with them and a few home comforts! They were legends and we had a great night out and a couple of glasses of plonk as well to see us right… they also have probably have the most comfortable sofa in the world – anyone could fall asleep there you  know!! It was about 3:30 in the morning when I awoke on said sofa and dragged myself to my pit… the wind and rain hammering against the windows… not a night to be in the tents!

Day 5

After the stormy night the outlook for Tuesday morning did not look any better – whilst the rain was more intermittent the wind was still about a force 7 so we needed a sheltered spot again if we were going to have any chance of fishing. Paul pointed us in the right direction and after breakfast we packed up the car and made our thanks to our hosts for their kind hospitality. The car which was packed to the gunnels anyway was now beginning to smell badly from the various bits of wet kit, footwear and not least from us! It looked like a grenade had gone off and positively reeked as we left Newquay…

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We headed up the north coast towards Trevose Head where there was a chance we might be able to get out of the worst of the weather. As we drove up the coast we passed the coast close enough in to see some huge swells coming in…

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Even this picture does not do justice to the size of these waves and which were regularly around the 12-15 foot mark. Anywhere along this part of the coast was going to be a complete no-go fishing wise.

Thankfully, we found a mark behind in the area Paul had recommended around the Trevose headland. This gave us a chance to wet a line but even here there was some big seas hitting the shore. Here’s Nobby casting beyond the breakers before scarpering back up the beach to avoid a proper soaking…

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It was hard going not only with the weather but also with the three resident seals which were happy to chase the lures in at times! Eventually though I managed a take from a small bass on an OSP Rudra plug which was our only success here…

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And that was pretty much it for the fishing today and for the trip. The weather wasn’t really improving and it was near on impossible fishing the marks we wanted to with no let up in the conditions on the horizon. Reluctantly, we decided it was time to cut our losses and head home a day or so earlier than planned. We did stop off in St Merryn at the Art of Fishing shop run by Ben Field  to have a chat with him and salivate over the lures and kit he has in stock. If you’re down that way it’s worth popping in, Ben is a nice chap and in addition to being an experienced lure fisherman he clearly knows the area well… be warned though it may be advisable to leave debit and credit cards well out of reach if you’re inclined to go in the shop!

A quick mid afternoon pub lunch followed and then we were back in the, by now rancid smelling, car for the trip home arriving in Southampton around 7 o’clock in the evening.

So, that was it, trip over. The weather could haven been a lot, lot kinder to us and I’m sure we would have got a lot more fishing in with just slightly better conditions but that said it was a top, top few days with plenty of laughs to compliment the fishing and as always in excellent company. Cheers to Nobby for a cracking few days and thanks again to Paul and Carol for their hospitality when most needed. It’s certainly an area I want to fish again but, as I say, hopefully in better conditions!

Until next time…

Cornwall Trip – days 1 & 2…

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In the pipeline for a while had been a fishing trip down to Cornwall with my pal Nobby to explore some of the Cornish coast and hopefully bag a few Cornish bass and maybe pollack. We had contemplated taking the kayaks but the amount of kit required coupled with a less than favourable weather forecast told us it would probably be a wise decision to leave them at home… and so it proved as you’ll see further down in this article.

Here’s the day-by-day account of our expedition…

Day 1

We set off from Southampton around 11 a.m. on Friday with good weather but not so good traffic… took us nearly 2 hours just to get to Dorchester where we stopped off for a coffee and a quick chin wag with Richard Cake of Dorset Fishing Rods. Soon enough though we were on the road again and in fairness once we hit Exeter the trip down to Pendeen where we had decided to camp was pretty good. We had chosen our camping venue carefully and arrived at The North Inn in Pendeen by around 4 o’clock in the afternoon giving us plenty of time to pitch our tents and to head out and explore some of the local coast we had already earmarked as possible fishing locations.

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We took a look around the Cape Cornwall area and decided to wet a line for an hour as the sun went down near Porth Nanven. We bumped into a local who was rather glum on the state of the local fishing saying there were no bass around and hardly any mackerel which was a bit of a worry. We didn’t catch either but the sunset was pretty good…

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We were back at The North Inn camping ground by 8 o’clock and in the pub for our tea and a sampler of the local ales which were all rather pleasant I might add!

Day 2

We woke up Saturday morning to grey skies and a freshening westerly wind as the forecasters had predicted… whilst also realising the one or two samplers we had drunk the night before had done a ‘Proper Job’ on us! Nevertheless, we set off to recce the tip of Cornwall from Sennen Cove round to Lamorna where we eventually decided to stop off and try for a pollack in the deep water marks there using soft plastics. We fished here for a couple of hours but the weather was really deterioating now with heavy rain to join the ever freshening wind. We blanked again but here’s Nobby giving it a good go though…

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After the fruitless morning we headed back to the car, had a quick brew at the local cafe and not for the first time on the trip got the OS map out to try and find a place to fish which gave us a little bit of protection from the elements. We came to the conclusion that the best bet might be on the north of the tip of Cornwall and headed to the Zennor area where we found Gurnard Point. It’s a pretty spectacular bit of coast line here…

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The rain had stopped, but the wind was still blowing hard and it was good to find some terrain tucked in behind the headland which looked promising so we headed down to it. We had company though as there were several seals there sheltering from the conditions as much as we were. Nevertheless, we found ourselves suitable marks and began fishing. I was still opting to fish soft plastics with a 5g Iwashi jig head attached to a white paddle tail and as luck would have it within a few minutes I had our first fish of the trip and a bass as well which was pleasing…

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It was the only fish at this spot and as the tide started to turn we decided to move round the bay to a prominent rocky outcrop where it looked like we might be able to fish into some decent water. After a 15 minute stroll round to the mark we were pleased we had moved – the water looked very ‘bassy’ and as it was low water we were able to take advantage of some decent rocks to fish some of the gullies and as the tide turned so the bass turned up. I had just changed my lure to a Megabass Xlayer as well – this time on 7g Iwashi jig head and first cast … bang! Fish on!

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Next cast… bang! Fish On!

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… and to complete the hat-trick third cast with the Xlayer I was in again! Three casts, three fish! Soon enough Nobby was in as well using his Megabass Zonk plug…

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This was pretty much the pattern for the next 30 – 45 minutes with both of us nailing bass to 3lb – me on the Xlayer and Nobby on the Zonk plug. We even managed a double hook up…

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By the time we called it a day and walked back up the cliff in the now pelting rain we had bagged 17 bass in total between us plus Nobby took a solitary mackerel…

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So much for the local we’d spoke to the previous evening saying there weren’t any bass or mackerel around! We’d just had a great little session and although the bass were nothing spectacular they all put up good fights in a strong current.

We drove back to the North Inn in fading light and, with the heavy rain, in fading visibility just praying the tents hadn’t washed away! They hadn’t and thankfully despite the day’s deluge the camp was in a pretty good state. A quick clean up and we were nicely settled in the ‘Inn’ for supper and a couple of pints before heading back to the tents… finally it had stopped raining…

Days 3, 4 and 5 to follow…

Until next time…

Big kids and little kids

For this post I could almost just say to you to read the previous post as it was pretty much similar in terms of the catching although I did have some willing accomplices on this occasion.

The plan had been to take Billy down to Dorset to fish with my brother and my niece who has also got into her fishing with her Dad. Unfortunately, as anyone who had seen the news yesterday may have seen, there was almost biblical amounts of rain in Dorset the day before and neither my brother or I fancied risking the kids on slippery rocks so we decided on the safer option of the local spot near to me where I’ve had a few fish of late.

Low tide was around 8:15 in the morning so we got down to teh shore two hours after and began to fish the flooding tide all in similar areas I’d caught before and all using similar lures. The sea was pretty flat but was just starting to bubble up a bit with lovely bright conditions over head.We didn’t have to wait long for the fish either when I was lucky enough to get the first take and landed this beautifully conditioned bass of around 2.5lb……

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A nice start and I was then hoping one of the others would catch but within two casts I was lucky enough to be in again and a slightly larger bass came ashore after a feisty little fight, again in tip top condition……

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Embarrassingly, no sooner had this one gone back the very next cast I was in again with what proved to be the best fish of the day at 3.5lb. Again, a nice scrap ensued and a prime conditioned fish came to the shore……

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After that excitement I moved spots to let the others too it but it wasn’t to be and from then on none of us had any luck which was a shame for the kids though it didn’t seem to dampen their spirits in the slightest……

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We had a BBQ lunch on the beach and as the wind stiffened we decided to head for some shelter on the River Hamble to see if we could entice a few schoolies out for the kids. Aside from a couple of crabs on ragworm it wasn’t to be but being kids they didn’t seem to mind at all. My brother did manage to save a blank with possibly the smallest bass I’ve ever seen hooked… so small in fact he was too embarrassed to have his picture taken with it. He also managed to fall in at one point to the amusement of the kids and myself!!

Interestingly, the only fish I took today where the last treble had hooked the fish was the first and smallest of the fish – both of the other two went for the lure head on and hooking themselves on the first set of trebles – coincidence? Maybe, but suggests to me that with the first take the lure was being chased whereas with the other two takes it looks like the lure was ambushed from below…… that could of course be utter rubbish but a theory nonetheless?!

Best part of the day? Seeing the kids take such an interest in their fishing and enjoying being by the sea, sometimes the simple things in life really do give you the most pleasure. Happy days…

Until next time…

More bass, same lure, same spot….

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Certain venues seem to need a certain set of conditions to produce results and nothing proves this better than the mark I have recently discovered which has given a few nice fish of late. I fished the spot this last Saturday morning with calm winds fishing high tide down….. not a sniff. I’d fished it previously for an hour immediately after low tide in calm conditions and after low water up in rougher conditions – again nothing happening. The sweet spot here seems to be between 2 and 4 hours after low water in calm or semi-calm conditions when the water is fairly clear and around 2 – 4 feet in depth – no more than that. It produced in these very conditions again for me this morning – three fish hooked with two landed in little over an hour.

I had checked the weather and tide last night as being at home today it gave me the opportunity to fish early plus get home all in time to jump on the work treadmill. Low tide was at around 2:30 a.m. so I got up at 4:30am with the aim of being fishing by 5:15 a.m. just as the day dawned. Arrived and conditions were excellent with the light just changing and the calm conditions I’d hoped for. Short stroll to my favoured spot, Feed Shallow on and I was in business…… second cast and fish on… took a bit of line and staying down it felt like it might be a nice fish but then as it got in closer it made a kick for it and then all went dead… fish off…  didn’t even see it – shame but at least they were out there.

Luckily I didn’t need to wait too long for my next take as half a dozen casts later the lure was snatched almost the moment it hit the surface and this time the fish was obviously well hooked. After a nice little scrap I slid the bass ashore  which weighed in at 3.75lb

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Once again on the Tackle House Feed Shallow  – this variety is the Ochiayu which has an orange belly and is darker across the back. It has been very effective for me at this mark.

There was a bit of a lull then for twenty minutes or so before the lure was hit again. This time I had left the lure for a few seconds after it hit the water and had just started to twitch the lure on the retrieve when the take occurred. After another fine little fight a bass of about a couple of pounds came to rest nicely on the weedy rock ledge. You can see clearly the orange belly of the lure in this shot…

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After this fish I thought I’d try something different and switched lures to a rattling Z-Claw to see if might induce a strike off the surface but it was to no avail. With time cracking on and work in mind I called it a day – once again very content with my early morning foray. I was home by 7:30 a.m.

Will be keeping an eye on the weather and tides over the next few days to see if there is another opportunity to wet a line – got to take the opportunities when they present themselves after all.

Until next time…

Not a sausage….

Had a day off booked off work yesterday and hatched a plan with Nobby to head down to Dorset for a spot of lure fishing. Weather looked good for kayaking to be honest but after recent success plugging from the shore at this venue we thought we’d give it a bash again.

We set off around 8 o’clock in the morning and first off headed down to look at a couple of possible future marks which was worth the effort…… a useful reconnaissance for sure. We drove on to the preferred mark and arrived in plenty of time to fish from low water up. The conditions were flat calm and the water was gin clear – not a good omen as this spot always seems to fish better when there is a bit of colour and a swell coming in. Oh to have brought the kayaks……

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It was already fairly warm and the trudge, with occasional cast here and there, was a bit of an epic but eventually we were at our chosen mark and began fishing while the water was still pretty low. Little happened in the first couple of hours and we slowly moved along the  coast trying  a variety of lures including shallow divers, surface lures and soft plastics.

We found some deeper water and had a go there and it was here I had my one and only take but lost the fish in the rocks – didn’t see it so can’t speculate on whether it was decent or not. Soon after I had a follow from a wrasse and then a bass but they weren’t taking the bait. And that was as good as it got for the day to be honest though Nobby had a couple more follows but nothing seemed to induce the fish to strike.

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We toiled away in the sun fruitlessly for near on 8 hours before finally admitting defeat around 8 o’clock in the evening. Dehydrated, hot and pretty exhausted we walked wearily back to the car. It was just one of those days and in retrospect we probably knew it wasn’t going to be a good one when we saw how benign the conditions were.

It was so hot at one point that Nobby decided the only thing for it was a swim…

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So there you have it, a poor day on the fishing front but really can’t complain being out in the sun, getting a nice lot of fresh air, good company and above all it beats working that’s for sure!

Until next time…

Bass-man Billy!

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Buoyed by the recent early morning foray before work which yielded some nice local bass I had one eye on the weather forecast last night. I thought there might be the chance this morning to give the mark another go and also thought it might give my son Billy the opportunity to get a bit more practice in and maybe even break his proper fishing duck… yes he’s caught a couple of tiddlers but nothing that could be deemed all his own work. Today that changed!

His casting has improved significantly and he was getting some good distance with his lure using his 8ft rod – albeit slightly wind assisted. He was also now twitching the lure on the retrieve much more confidently and it proved too much of a temptation for one greedy bass.

It was  a real magical moment when I think about it. We were fishing a groin with our backs to each other when I heard Billy shout a single word to me…

“Fish” he cried, as the reel’s drag kicked in and the fish took a little line. 

Frantically, I pulled my line in and went to assist but really there was no need apart from telling him where to bring the fish in. It was all under control and within the minute Billy had his first lure caught bass on the beach. It was nothing huge, maybe 1.5lb at best but was in perfect condition and most significantly it made for one very happy boy and an equally proud Dad! As I say, a magic moment.

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After a few quick snaps we slipped the fish back in the water and watched it swim off with smiles on our faces. It didn’t matter what followed after to be honest but for the record I nabbed a bass soon after that was barely bigger than the lure that caught it and then I had a better one of around 3lb  which we returned to fight another day…

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The fish of the day though belonged to Billy… it may not have been the biggest but if it gives him the encouragement to get hooked on fishing, excusing the pun, then in times when there are so many other distractions for children, I think that is something of an achievement.

Well done Billy!

Until next time…

Bass before work anyone?

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The weather has been relatively settled the last week but there just hasn’t been the opportunity to get out on the kayak which has been disappointing. However, with a few whispers of mackerel and bass in close locally I needed to get out and fish.

Last night I settled on a plan of getting up early this morning before work and having a couple of hours plugging for bass. With the aid of one of the dogs barking at an intruding fox in the garden at 4 a.m. I dragged myself out of my pit, got my kit together, made a coffee and headed out into the dark – it was perfectly still.

Within half an hour I was at what turned out to be the first of my venues. It was just getting light and the sea was flat calm but not a lot of activity on the surface which was contrary to recent reports. Nevertheless, I walked along the shore casting into the water to see if anything was out there and to my surprise on about my twentieth cast the rod slammed over and I was in to a fish – nothing huge and after a decent little tussle this nice fish that weighed in bang on 2lbs came ashore…

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Encouraging I thought but then it went completely quiet for the next half hour so I decided to spend the last hour I had at a venue a bit further down the road I had an inkling might hold some bass but had never tried before. It proved to be a good decision.

The tide was slowly rising but at this particular place the water is pretty shallow and in fact there was probably only two or three feet of water there at best when I arrived. The water was fairly clear though with some weed cover and encouragingly there were a lot of fry moving around. Even more encouraging though were the occasional swirls amongst the fry and that said to me either mackerel or bass. It was bass. First cast and I hooked a schoolie of about a 1lb which was released but then second cast the lure was slammed by a slightly better fish around the 2.5lb mark – perfect eating size so that one went in the bag. A couple more schoolies followed but then I connected with a better fish and the result after a brief scrap was this nice bass a little over 3lb…

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I walked along the water’s edge maybe 20 yards and the very next cast I was in again with a fish of a similar size… this one had a bit of fire in his belly and for it’s size put up a really good fight…

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This was all in a little over a single hour’s fishing and the lure that took all these fish was the Tackle House Feed Shallow UB 15 which has certainly once again proved it’s worth. It’s funny how you can have confidence in one particular lure compared to another and that is definitely the case with the Feed Shallow range. It’s probably unjustified as there are a lot of good lures out there nowadays but psychologically it makes me think I am going to catch every time I use one!

By soon after 7.a.m. I was walking back to the car ready to head home to start work. A really enjoyable couple of hours and a great way to start the working day that’s for sure.

Until next time…

Charter trip…..

A few months back when we heard our mad keen fishing mate Ian was coming over from his adopted home in Australia a date was put in the diary for a charter boat session primarily to have a few laughs but hopefully to land a few fish as well. A much needed day off work was booked and yesterday, for once, the weather played ball so six of us – Kee, Ian, Dee Bill, Doc and myself – headed out from Lymington on the good ship Shogun skippered by Rob Thompson.The general plan was to fish a couple of wrecks and sandbanks off the back of the Isle of Wight and see what species we could pick up.

We were shipshape and ready to go around 8:30 in the morning ……well, most of us were shipshape and ready but there was one notable exception!!

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From Lymington marina we headed out into lovely conditions in the The Solent and it did cross my mind it would have been nice out there on the kayak! We passed Hurst Castle and headed on towards The Needles…

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The engines were shut about a mile off the back of The Needles and it was feathers down to bag up on mackerel – it didn’t take long with enough to live bait, dead bait and eat pulled up in no more than 15 minutes tops……

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Tried to get a picture of them in the live tank as well but didn’t come out so good……

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Before long we were over the first wreck mark,  Dee and Ian fishing with mackerel live baits and the rest of us on soft plastics hoping for a pollack. First drift was uneventful but second time round Dee had a hit on the live mackerel and up came this nice pollack…

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A couple more drifts proved fruitless so Rob moved us on to another wreck which again was uneventful so the decision was made to head for some sand banks and try for a few bass. Four rods went down with live baits and two with soft plastics and on the first drift Dee was in again with a bass followed shortly by Bill with a slightly bigger fish…

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That was it for the bass here though Doc did have a decent bite and when the bait come up it was cut cleanly in half…… it was widely suspected a tope had nabbed it. We moved once more to a mark further round the back of the island, again over some sand banks, where we anchored up for some dead baiting using fillets of mackerel. There was a nice tide requiring over a 1lb of lead to hold bottom. With baits down and a couple of beers on the go it wasn’t long before Bill was into something a bit different that was pretty much a dead weight in the tide. A ray was suspected and we weren’t wrong, though maybe it wasn’t the species expected, when up came a rare small eyed variety…

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Kee was next off the mark – mackerel aside – with a dogfish leaving Doc and myself bringing up the rear on the fish front! The tide had slackened off by now so less weight was needed to hold bottom which was pleasing. Dee was probably having the best day so far and it was about to get better when he was in again and this time to something a lot better which was a good test for his 12lb class rod……

IMG_0644After a decent tussle he was rewarded with this beauty of a blonde ray which weighed in at 19lb – a very respectable fish…

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Nice mouth on it too…

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As I say Doc and I were not having much luck but at least Doc was getting the odd bite and for a few seconds he had a run on his mackerel but it soon went dead and on retrieval he was missing both hook and bait – the suspect again being a tope!

Kee was feeling the effects of his antics the previous night but that didn’t stop him catching and whilst he was sat recovering  he had a tentative bite on his mackerel fillet which actually resulted in the best bass of the day…

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Time was getting on and before we knew it, it was time to head back to port …… but with a stop off on the way. Rob had noticed on his trip the day before a lot of school bass activity at the back of the island where they were chasing fry and suggested a bit of fun plugging for them on the way in. Sure enough when we got to the same mark the sea was boiling with bass attacking a bait ball of fry from below and birds working at the surface. With plugs and lures at the ready we fizzed them out and as hoped we were getting hammered by them pretty much immediately and at last I saved a blank with a  steady stream of bass in the 1.5 – 2lb bracket similar to the one below…

IMG_0660It was great sport for an hour in terrific conditions and in the end we literally lost count how many we actually caught but it was a mental hour for sure. 

At near on 8 o’clock though it was finally time to head back round The Needles, through The Solent and back into Lymington harbour……

IMG_0662 A fantastic twelve hours on the water in great company as always and especially good to catch up with Ian on his trip here from Australia. The only thing appropriate to do after such a day was to finish it off with a couple of cheeky beers – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Until next time…

Nice bass but oh the one that got away….

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When you talk to fellow anglers a story that often crops up is about the one that got away and we all listen and say “yeah, yeah, sure it was a big fish!”. Well, yesterday I had that moment and as I write this I am still sickeningly picturing the nano second when the line went slack as the lure pinged out of the fish’s mouth. My only consolation was I managed to nab it’s younger brother a bit later.

I’d been keeping an eye on the weather predictions all the weekend and there looked like there might be an opportunity for a 2 – 3 hour lure session on Sunday late afternoon/early evening – no chance of getting out on the kayak with the incessant windy conditions of late. For once the forecasts held true and I made my way down to Dorset. Conditions from the car park looked good with a bit of a chop and plenty of colour in the water on a rising tide. I trudged off and about half an hour later I was at the start of my favoured length of coast. Here’s a taster of the type of conditions I was going to be  fishing in…

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For the first hour there was not a lot of response to any of the lures I was sending out there whether it be shallow divers, surface poppers or soft plastics but eventually I settled on the Tackle House Feed Shallow 18g lure I started the session with and after a further 20 minutes as the tide really started to push in I saw a fish follow the lure in … encouraging. I was fanning my casting out to cover as much ground as possible and from the next but one cast, which was more or less parallel to the shoreline I had a really strong take – fish on! With the clutch set line was coming off the reel at a decent rate and I leant gently into the fish as I let it move off into open water – it felt decent and gradually I managed to get it back in towards the net… then I saw it and it was easily the biggest bass I’d hooked on a lure, broad across the back and a visibly big head… it was also the point the fish saw me and with this it made one last desperate bid for freedom – it succeeded – the lure pinged out and fizzed past my ear. I don’t mind admitting I was gutted and the air turned blue for a few seconds as the disappointment dawned on me. There’s a fine line between the adrenalin rush of having a decent fish on and then the agony as in a split second it disappears. I’ll never know how big this bass was but I’d estimate it was double the size of what followed based on the fight, the bend in the rod, the swirls on the  surface and not least the visuals I had of it.

It sounds stupid but it took me a few minutes to regroup and put it behind me but it’s what you have to do and it wasn’t long before I picked up my consolation prize from a mark 50 yards further along the shore. Again, it was the Tackle House Feed Shallow that came up trumps with the fish hitting the lure hard, just as I started a slow retrieve, within seconds of hitting the surface. It put up a nice scrap but was nowhere near as strong as the previous take and thankfully I managed to successfully slip the net under it – a fish in perfect condition of 4lb which, as I say, was a nice consolation prize to what had gone on before and a nice way to christen my new rubberised mesh landing net at least!

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Time was getting on so I fished my way all the way back to the car but there was no further action and after de-rigging I was left to reflect  about the one that got away and also on the lovely fish I did land.

I love this stretch of coast and hopefully it will remain fruitful in the coming months and maybe, just maybe I’ll get to hook that bigger fish again. Fingers crossed.

Until next time…

Catching up but not catching a lot!

This time last week I had just arrived at Tom’s Field campsite in Dorset for a couple of days leisurely fishing and with the primary purpose of catching up with my brother Paul which was long overdue.  I say leisurely in the loosest sense as we did manage to get a few miles of coast under our belts… in waders, over rocks and up hills – no mean feat in the sunshine.

Tom’s Field campsite is tucked away in Langton Matravers, not far from Swanage, and is a smashing little site which was quiet for the couple of nights we were there – probably due to our stay being during the week – I imagine things would be different high season. Facilities are spot on though, flat pitches, plenty of reasonable showers and a small shop in great surroundings with the added bonus of a  couple of pubs within walking/staggering distance. Yes, there’s lots of bleating sheep in adjoining fields that wake you early but there are also enough rabbits here for many a stew if the fancy took you!

First night we set up camp and had a couple of beers to send us to our beds. The plan was for a fairly early start and to get ourselves down to Chapman’s Pool for a spot of plugging for bass. It wasn’t the preferred venue but we weren’t going to argue with the MOD who were firing along the favoured stretch of coast.

It’s  a big hike down to Chapman’s from the car park but nothing compared to the even more strenuous hike back up at the end of the day…… more of that later! We headed west once we were down to sea level towards the rocky marks and little bays that are at the foot of Houns Tout Cliff. The tide was low and we noticed the weed was heavy but the water was a nice colour and there was fair chop on the sea which boded well particularly for later in the day as the tide came in… or so I thought anyway. As it turned out it was very slow and the tides being neaps there was not much of a range between low and high water. Despite similar conditions to those where there had been success in my previous report Bass on the rocks there was nothing happening for either of us on surface lures, poppers or soft plastics. Whatever we tried it was just one of those days. I did get to take some photos though which show the terrain and Paul doing his best to entice a fish…

After a hard days slog along the shore we drew breath for the climb back up the hill to the car park. Now, my brother lives in Evesham so he rarely gets to fish the coast and usually has to settle for plonking himself by the side of a lake trying to tempt a fat carp to his net…… this fishing on the move and the health benefits it can give you may have come as a shock to Paul! I did warn him the climb back up was a bit gruesome but I don’t think he’ll mind admitting he didn’t expect it to be as tough as it was – I saw his spirits fall further when half way up he was overtaken by a spritely pensioner!! In fairness, climbing it normally is no fun but in waders, carrying kit, it’s a beast of a climb. Anyhow, he made it and was only too pleased to removed the cursed waders! When I checked the GPS we’d walked, hiked and scrambled well over 5 miles during the day so not bad going really.

Back at camp we flaked out for a bit, freshened up and then headed to one of the local pubs for food and a pint – The Ship Inn – food was good pub scran and the Purbecks Brewery beer was even better. We had four or five pints and slept well that night in our respective tents!

Unsurprisingly, we didn’t wake quite so early next morning and after a leisurely breakfast decided to have a less strenuous day so headed to Seacombe near Worth Matravers. It’s about a mile’s walk from the village and well worth the effort. It’s a flat rocky outcrop with deep, crystal clear water off the edge.

As the pictures show it was relatively calm when we go there and not a soul in sight. We started with more plugging with some deeper diving lures this time but again not a lot was happening aside from one species… wrasse. Whilst they weren’t taking the lure they would chase it right in to the ledge or come up for it from their rocky haunt below before turning at the last second. With the water being so clear you could see them like you were looking at them through glass. To give you some idea of water clarity here’s a picture I took with the camera submerged in a rock pool which was being filled by the incoming tide…

With the plugs and lures not yielding us a bass or even a small pollack it called for a bit of improvisation. There were plenty of limpets around so we decided to try free lining them off the ledges for a bit of fun with the resident wrasse and it worked! The fish weren’t of any size but good fighters nonetheless on light gear. They were all around this size and of similar markings…

However, most unusual limpet catch of the day went to Paul – a spider crab!

The weather was on the change as the seas became heavier and sooner rather than later it was time to head back the mile or so to the cars and make our separate ways home. A very pleasant couple of days catching up with Paul even though the bass didn’t play ball for us – as the saying goes ‘a bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work’ and that was very true. We mustn’t leave it so long in future.

Until next time…