Saturday, 31 December 2011

30/12/11 Boat Trip No. 40

It's been a very lean December fishing wise with this, only the fourth fishing trip of the month. Unfortunately my main boat engine has caused me some problems which thankfully now, seemed to be sorted.
A couple of weeks ago I'd intended to get out on a cold frosty morning but, although the engine fired up to begin with, some very erratic cutting out before I'd even left the pontoon, led me to remove the boat from the river and investigate the problem at home.
On that same day Brian , a neighbour at the marina offered to take me out as he was going solo. Unfortunately , his engine suffered some similar running problems and we were forced to abort before we'd even left the river. Not a good day.
With the boat at home and having gone through the basics, I suspected a fuel problem so stripped the carb down for a clean up.Unfortunately, it was perfectly clean but at least the engine appeared to start and run reliably on the drive.
I say 'unfortunately' because it meant that I had not successfully identified the problem so, it was with some trepidation that I returned the boat to the water for a test up the river. Things started well but again, the engine died suddenly leaving me stranded for a while as the auxiliary was proving extremely temperamental to start.
I nearly had to employ the services of the marina but. at a £100 for a boat rescue, i think it was sheer determination that eventually led me to successfully start the little 'donkey' engine,  limp back to the marina, and spend another twenty quid just to have a tractor drag my trailer twenty yards up a silky smooth slipway! I even hitched the trailer and loaded the boat myself, so at a £1 per yard I think the marina is somewhat taking the piss out of me.
Back home again and she fired up and ran perfectly....until I stumbled across a possible cause for the problem by accidentally shorting out a coil lead. On closer inspection, a tiny, barely visible piece of insulation was missing from the wire causing it to momentarily cut power when earthed against the engine block......and it was probably the motion of the boat that caused it to die on the river. A quick bit of fine tuning to both engines was also carried out before putting her back in again.
This time I enlisted the help of Steve, a cheaper option, the drive the rig whilst i dropped her in  at the public slip and tentatively sailed her up to the mooring. She seemed fine, but I needed to gain confidence in her again, and this meant a proper trip out to sea.
Today was a rare opportunity with light wind forecast and the plan was to stay relatively close in and try a simple one mark at anchor session for a few hours making sure that I had ample opportunity to return on the flooding tide if needed, which would be achievable on the little engine.
Giving myself plenty of time at the marina  I started, and thoroughly warmed up both engines before setting off to #28.The fishing was unexceptional because of the lack of a cod, but virtually a bite a drop produced an endless stream of LSD's, whiting to a 1lb, a nice thornback and a tiny dab so I'm not complaining.
Far more satisfactory, was the outcome of the engine(s) saga and I'm happy to report that my fettling seems to have given the main engine a little more grunt, making a couple of extra knots on the run home , even with the added tail weight of a newly fitted, but lighter, second bait tank battery.
So, confidence is now restored, some very valuable lessons learned , and it was pleasing to get that 40th trip of the year in before the end.


Sunday, 11 December 2011

11/12/11 Wet, Windy Piking

A wet and windy session on P#1 with Dave, starting where we left off on our last trip together and producing only one take to my sardine which was positioned just in front of the reed bed in the picture.
I've almost fished the entire stretch now having ended this session within sight  of a long straight  where I'd finished last year fishing down from the Pulborough end. Interestingly, this area looks to be a little deeper so , from past experience, looks worthy of further attention especially as it creates a huge area of slack water even on the flooding tide.

Friday, 2 December 2011

2/12/11 Two Decisions.......

But only the decision to actually go fishing was the right one.
Low tide was at 10-00 meaning ideally, I'd want to be leaving the river at 8-00.Ten to eight and I was still at home looking out my bedroom window when I spied a familiar shape in the distance heading in a SSE direction. It was almost certainly Alan, aboard Walrus and If the weather conditions were O.K for him, then they were fine by me.
I'd hesitated mostly because on Windguru it was showing double figure MPH winds......but from the West which , with most of the fishing time today being on a flooding tide, shouldn't have been too uncomfortable. Having decided to go , I was crossing the bar at 0830 which , given the size of the tide, and the fact that it was ebbing which gives a little more leeway, was just in time to make it, although in places I had less than three feet under me.
It's not really too much of an issue heading out with the tide as , if it does get shallow, you just up engine and drift out hoping that there are no nasty scrapes but, memories of my stupidity in the early season when I trashed the prop came flooding back . Luckily nowadays, I'm a little wiser.
The second decision of the day which would eventually turn out to be the wrong one, was where to go. I'd called Alan up on the radio as I'd left the river but he was nine miles out at #11 after channels. He commented that the water clarity out there was 'reasonable'. I did think of heading to #31 but two things stopped me. Neil's recent comments about a coloured sea and, I was still a little unsure of how the weather conditions would pan out and felt I should stay in a little closer.
I chose to head for #27 and #28 in search of a cod........and proceeded to catch every single dogfish in the sea. Or at least that's how it felt. Even moving to an apparently barren area of what might have been Neil's 'mud' produced an endless stream of the  blighters, so many I lost count. The only let up in proceedings was a couple of nice bream ,one taken for the table, and a lonely pouting.
Luckily, the weather actually stayed fine, and for most of the day I was wearing sunglasses. Although there were very few boats out( I was the only one from the marina)I gathered from a bit of banter that there had been a bit of action over on #31 or thereabouts.
Alan and Ray had moved over there towards the end of the day and had indeed picked up a few 'spikeys' on lures, confirmed to me by meeting Alan at his mooring on the way in. I could have kicked myself.
The water clarity didn't seem too bad(not perfect) from about a couple of miles out and it's worth remembering for the future,that this was approximately 24hrs after the winds had calmed.
At the end of the day both my caution and inexperience might have caused me to miss a valuable and rare opportunity(the weather is looking pants for days ahead) to have a go at the bass but, I can't really complain as i did catch plenty and felt safe all day. Lesson learnt.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

1/12/11 A Fat Bass

1000-1200hrs  LW-0907   5.4m tide

Compared to last year, It's been a very lean surf bassing season thus far, and not for the want of trying. O.K it's December but everything's running a bit late this year so IMHO it's still worth a go.
It struck me this morning, as I pondered over my porridge, that the surf visible through my kitchen window looked close to perfect and, the tide clock on the wall was luring me with it's indication that the 'optimum time' was NOW!
Within five minutes, I was out the door. On closer inspection and,  although there was hardly a breath of wind, the water conditions were indeed favourable, driven no doubt from the swell left over from last night's 'storm'.
Both water and air temperatures were agreeable which I was grateful for as I'm still feeling a touch 'delicate'. A whole squid on my usual  big hook pennel,100yd wade out into the 'wash' and a gentle 30yd lob with a 3oz lead saw me settling comfortably into one of my favourite fishing environments, though a little cautious about the prospects of a capture.
I didn't have to wait long. Second or third chuck and I felt an unmistakable 'thump'. I immediately responded by dropping the rod tip, the line tightened and the take was unmissable.
The fish battled hard, giving the impression of being far bigger than it's actual size and to be honest I was a little surprised when I caught sight of it. Running it up the beach for a quick pic before slipping her back, she measured out at 21 inches nose to fork but, as can be seen in the pic, she was a 'proper porker'. I'll settle for her being a four pounder but , who really cares, it's a bass caught from the surf and this year, for me, that's ALL that matters.
Now, I  suspect that there were a few more fish about as I'm fairly sure that I had a couple of further positive hits on subsequent casts but it's irrelevant as I failed to hook up.
After a couple of hours fishing, the tide had reached the foot of the shingle, I'd watched the 'energy' gradually disappear from the water, and by then I'd had enough anyway. Back at the house the conditions had changed so quickly that the view of the sea through the kitchen window suggested that it would be calm enough to go out in the boat.
A very pleasing result .

Monday, 28 November 2011

28/11/11 Motor Pikin'

 It's been over a week since my last outing due to feeling a bit 'under the weather'. Where does that saying come from? does sound typically English.
Talking of things meteorological, It's far too windy to even consider taking the boat out, and the timing and size of the tide this morning were far from ideal for an Arun pike session. I chose instead to get some use out of my Police ticket(much appreciated Dave), and try the semi -tidal stretch of the Adur.
Michael Kernan has  inspired me with fantastic news of a lifetime best forty two inch river pike taken only last week, and in typical M.K fashion..........on an artificial. Winter 'proper',  has still not really arrived so, reasoning that it was warm enough for the pike to 'chase something' I'd give lures a go for a change. I also didn't have the time, energy, and motivation to lug pike bait gear and all it's associated paraphernalia to the river bank, so decided instead to strap my battered, and recently repaired 'E.T sneaker ' four-piece spinning rod to my motor bike, and indulge in both my 'passions' in one hit.
Whilst Muck boots are certainly very capable items of equipment for the modern day winter piker being the warmest, and most comfortable 'walking' wellie I've yet to encounter, they are not entirely suitable for negotiating a six speed foot change, however I managed arrive at Nick's farm in double quick time without missing too many cogs. On the coast the weather was still quite mild(Andy's still catching mullet!), but crossing the downs brought a sharp drop in air temperature with four degrees showing on the bike's thermometer.
The river was clear, but still relatively choked with weed and certainly no place for a treble hook, so I chose to go with a trusty collection of Manns six inchers (probably the finest 'shad' known to mankind) and a couple of 1oz spinnerbaits. Both lures have one single hook, are virtually 'weed less', and can be worked at a snail's pace if needs be. In reality they were the only lures I'd brought with me.
I worked the river from the penstock at Nick's, down to the tidal barrier alternating the lures at every stop, and covering most of the water although the stretch above the bridge was , in places, totally blocked by weed and considerably shallower than I remember. The structure of the upper penstock has changed in recent years and this may have affected the geography of the stretch. I've caught some very big early autumn pike from here in the past but in a much clearer river, and suspected that there may have been pike lurking in the vegetation. If they were, they didn't take any notice of my offerings.
Below the bridge  the river opened out a bit, and I started to get some interest in the lemon shad from a couple of jacks whose eyes were bigger than their tummy, until eventually a good hit resulted in a positive hook up , and this nice looking pike, only ounces short of a 'double' ensured that the landing net went home with a 'fishy ' smell. Interestingly, there were already leaches present on her body which, according to pike fishing lore, does indicate some possible inactivity, although I'm not entirely convinced by this.
The barrier held back the tide just long enough for my liking and, once breached, the water quickly clouded up bringing with it huge rafts of debris but, by then I'd had enough anyway and called it a day.
It was pleasant to spend a couple of  hours fishing with lures but I don't think it could ever completely displace bait fishing methods for me where river pike are concerned. I actually quite enjoy contemplating a couple of ' marker buoys' on a cold winter's day, whilst consuming endless mugs of steaming tea and Dave's legendary sausage butties, and there's no doubting that 'the take' on a pike float is very entertaining fishing indeed. However, lures are certainly far more convenient, especially when fishing time is limited, and there's no doubting their effectiveness  on our 'tidals' in favourable conditions, as Michael had indeed proved. As the winter progresses and the conditions become more difficult, the pike in turn become increasingly difficult to 'move' and it's then that I'm more confident with bait on the hooks, presented statically, albeit with a 'roving' approach.
Whatever the case, to enjoy any level of success with river pike, it's useful to have both approaches in the armoury, as each have their day.
The ride home took me past a very attractive tributary  which enters the river just upstream of where I was fishing today and , Is available on the same ticket. I'd intended to stop and take a look anyway, and was quite impressed by what I saw.Much larger than expected it's a 'must do' for the future especially as Jan has some rather impressive 'night crawlers' available on her vegetable patch, and the little stream looks 'perchy' in a 'chubby' sort of way.


Monday, 21 November 2011

20/11/11 Out At Last.

Finally a window in the weather, and an opportunity to get out in the boat. It wasn't actually that comfortable on the way out despite quite light winds and I had to keep the speed down to 10kts. There was still a bit of swell coming from the S.E sector and for some reason this bumps up the sea.
First port of call was #31 and arriving at 0730,I had the luxury of having the place to myself. First drop with a stinger on the drift, and up comes a small bass 2-3lb almost exactly co-coinciding with a huge bait fish shoal showing on the sounder. In fact, I felt several taps on the lure prior to the bite proper so there were obviously plenty of fish about.
Unfortunately my peace was soon shattered when it seemed as if the whole world and his brother turned up. I quickly decided on a move elsewhere but not before I'd landed  another better bass 4-5lb on the same drift, attempting to conceal it's capture by landing it on the 'blind side' of the boat. Perhaps the arrival of the crowd had moved the fish away because it did go quiet after that.
Seeking a bit of solitude, I headed for the bass drift at the top of the leg and quickly lost a good fish on the first run, but successfully scored in the same area on a subsequent pass with-another good sized bass.
Apart from a pout which took a shine to my lure things went a bit quiet but at least I'd found a few bass so was pleased especially as the tide wasn't that favourable. Most of the boats that had turned up on #31 were anchored up and getting bream among other bits and pieces. I decided to motor over to #13 and anchor up on the east side of what looks like a depression on the chart. This time round I chose to use the bruce, as the grapnel had slipped on my last visit here.
Thankfully the mark, and general area was deserted boat wise and, fishing the remainder of the ebb, it was a 'dogfishfest' from the 'off', with a take on every drop although I did get a welcome change in the shape of this little gurnard.To be honest, I'm still at the stage in my boat angling career when I still enjoy catching anything, particularly if the rod tips are continuously rattlin' which , at the moment, they still are, so 'doggies' are more than welcome. It's time I learnt to skin one for tea!
At LW slack I upped anchor  and headed back to #31 for another go with shads and stingers, but was unable to find any more bass.
By now the wind had dropped a little and , despite now blowing against tide, the bumps had settled making life aboard a little more civilised. Once the tide began running again, It was time to return to #13 and this time. with the current in the opposite direction yet still anchored on exactly the same mark the species changed with a welcome run good bream, three of which were taken, and yet again, another double figure male undulate to complete a pretty good day's work. Reckon the total catch for the day was around 50 fish.
On return to the marina I had a quick chat with a neighbour Phil who'd also been out. He has a much larger boat than mine yet found the morning conditions quite uncomfortable and I must admit to gaining a little bit of extra confidence in my little boat from his remarks.
Nothing exceptional was reported on the radio, although Alan and Ray were their usual entertaining selves. Ray in particular, was on good form today. There was at least one decent cod caught somewhere so I'm still pinning my hopes on getting one on board.

0700-1430 HW 0605 4.9m

Thursday, 17 November 2011

17/11/11 Piking

I should have taken the plunge and gone out in the boat today.I deliberated on the way past the marina this morning, and I had to visit the boat again this evening . Clive had just come in reporting that the weather had been reasonable, and that he 'hadn't had a bad day' which means he probably crucified the bass. Naturally I didn't like to ask any more about the fishing , but it was useful to ask him about the winds. It had been blowing double figures(mph) but from the south and comfortable.Noted for the future.
Instead I went piking to the lower P #1 stretch for a few hours dropping a small pike on a big rudd, and finally nailing a big tail walking single on a small rudd at the top of the stretch.
On closer investigation of the picture of this pike, it would seem that once again , it may be a recapture.I can't be sure because the photographs are of opposing flanks but, if the fins are opaque and the markings the same on both sides, then this is the same 'tail walker' that I caught,from the same spot,on 30/10. Bugger!
 The flooding tide brought huge rafts of debris  ending the session slightly prematurely, just before dusk. Meanwhile, down by the red bridge at HW, Andy scored a mullet .This is the latest Arun mullet that I've heard of due in no small part to the exceptionally mild November we're experiencing.
Well done that man.

16/11/11 Abort To The Pond.

I had hoped to get out in the boat and did indeed try today but within yards of the entrance, I decided that it was far too lumpy so returned once again with my tail between my legs. I'd seen Shaun(our friendly commercial 'cuttler') in the channel on the way out and he'd warned me that it was horrible out there, and  he was proved to be right. Easterly and South Easterly winds against a flooding tide don't make for a comfortable ride.
'Spirit' did get out with James Elton on board and he reported a catch of bream with a few bass and a cod thrown in but, it was the roughest he'd ever been out in. I would have been mullered.
Instead I nipped to the farm pond where the tiddlers were not exactly obliging and the perch were nowhere to be seen. Got broken again by what I think was a carp and ended up with seven rudd and a roach, some of reasonable size.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

12/11/11 Repeat Capture.

      Dave and me have decided to move a bit futher afield with this year's piking campaign in the search for bigger fish and that elusive Arun thirty. It will mean a bit more walking especially on the P #1 stretch but neither of us are particularly bothered by this, and we'll be fishing in even more remote locations.
We began our session today at the 'esses' and gradually worked our way upstream to the first fence, an area I think we've  only bank fished once or twice before.Both fishing deads, It was Dave's turn for action today with a dropped fish(definitely a double) and this double which was successfully landed from the reedy bend.It was immediately recognisable by a growth under it's gill plate, and later confirmed by comparing photographs, as the same fish that both Dave and me had taken in the last week, of last season, a hundred or so yards downstream.

This is actually the third confirmed recapture that we know of although I'm conviced there have been others.Arun fish are generally pale and therefore quite difficult to compare markings in photographs but, we know that my first ever twenty, caught on New year's day 2008 was caught again from quite nearby,and photographed by a different angler in March of the same year.And of course my two biggest ever pike are, rather disappointingly, actually the same fish caught two years apart.
I think it's dangerous to conclude that pike remain within the same area of the river all of the time and it's far more likely that they move about, perhaps revisiting certain spots at random times dependant on food source.It's entirely likely that they move less during extreme water temperatures or flood conditions.However, i think these recaptures may give some indication of the population level of big(double figure) pike in the river, and that perhaps there aren't as many big fish as some would imagine.
Mike Ladle estimates that ,on the Frome, there is a pike for every ten yards of river bank.Obviuosly this is an average figure and is simply given to represent a 'best guess' of the population density but, having fished this river with Mike I would conclude that this distance could be increased four or fivefold for the lower Arun.
Due to the unstable nature of the tidal stretches, i really don't think  ' hot spots' or holding areas, as discussed by Barrie Rickards, exist.If they did, with the amount of effort we've put in over the years,I'm certain we would have discovered them on the stretches we've fished.I suspect that smaller groups do occur occasionally, and we've proved this to be the case with double or triple consecutive captures from a single swim.

Notable features, such as last trip's 'banker' tree,are either rare, or of a transient nature and many are just exposed completely by the tide rendering them useless as a reliable spot,  or destroyed or moved by the severe nature of flooding.
The only real solution is to search the river methodically in the hope of putting a bait near a pike.If conditions are favourable then all the better, but we can't be too choosy when we fish.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

8/11/11 A 'Twenty'

A 22lb Blonde Ray actually...but more of that later! A very interesting trip this one more for information gathered than anything else., Still nursing 'man flu' I'd intended a short session to 'blow away the cobwebs', setting off from the marina at 0930, spending three or four hours fishing the #2 area, and then return before the lock out at 1330.
There were plenty of boats in the general area when I arrived and set up on #29 in quite a bumpy S.E F4 . I couldn't help but notice that the water was surprisingly clear, and did wonder if a bass session on #12 would have been a better bet.
Target was, of course, cod but , listening attentively to the radio, it would appear that they were scarce indeed, however, Dick and Neil were obviously playing with a few 'spikies' somewhere out east, so my reading of the water may have been correct.(Logged for the future)
I did briefly consider running over to #12, but settled instead into a steady stream of dogs, punctuated with two thornbacks and a spotted ray as the tide ebbed nicely. By 1300 all the other boats had disappeared home and Neil called me up to say that he was popping over for the rest of the day, persuading me to stay for the 'lock out' in the process. The wind had dropped considerably by now, making conditions much more comfortable. John on 'Moonlighter' also paid me a quick visit hailing me on the radio whilst I was taking a quick doze under the cuddy. Nice to finally meet in person .
I watched Neil circle around me in the distance, 'searching for some mud' and eventually drop the pick just NE of #6.The slack had given me a quiet spell so I decided on a move to #28 for the remainder of the session.
Neil soon called me to say that one of his crew had dropped a likely cod, and then followed it up minutes later with a successfully boated big double. He knows his stuff this boy.
As the tide flooded a bites began to materialise again and along with the dogs came a welcome bream. Chatting again with Neil on the wireless, I had to cut short our conversation as my whole squid baited heavy outfit was slowly disappearing over the side. After a prolonged battle with several dives and three failed attempts to squeeze the beast into my, on this occasion, totally inadequate landing net, up came this beautiful female blonde ray tipping the scales at 22lb.
The fourth boat fish 'event' of this season for me, and dimensionally the largest fish I've had inside the boat, so far. With her tail extended ,she could possibly just have touched both gunwales, and was actually quite difficult to frame for the shot. Luckily she was cleanly lip hooked, and went back easily gliding like a kite into the depths.
This fish illustrates the fact that in sea fishing, particularly in a boat, you never really know what might turn up. I was indeed elated, and Neil was equally as enthusiastic when i called him up.
Fishing on until dusk, I joined 'Spirit' for the run home in the dark making the mooring at 1800 .
Both Neil and Dick had indeed picked up a few bass out east ,but not in great numbers and it was refreshing to hear Dick mention that he'd upped the size limit for his crew obviously to preserve this valuable asset. I would imagine that numbers will increase soon and I'll be keeping a close eye on windguru. No cod for me again but most of the other boats that I know of faired similarly except for those 'in the know'. I tip my hat to you blokes.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

30/10/11 Ole' Snaggletooth....The Return.

After a couple of false starts, the Arun pike season got well and truly under way today. Dave joined me on P #1 for a 7-30am start at the bottom end. We found the river at half ebb and, despite the recent rain and the poor conditions downstream, it was in good health showing ideal colour. The mild, low pressure conditions led me to leave my coarse baits at home reserved for harder times, and I decided to go with sardines.
In stark contrast to last week's trip, the river seemed alive throughout the session with plenty of bream topping and, not uncommon for this time of year, endless eel  activity on the baits.
My first pike(of the season), a lively fish of 15-08 came minutes after plonking my bait within inches of a sunken tree 'banker' and before Dave had even finished setting up his rods.

 My second, at the top of the stretch and after a couple of hours, a long, lean, tail walking single, and I think from memory, the first pike that I've ever caught that performed these aerobatics .
Both pike were boldly marked by Arun standards almost certainly because of the generally clear water conditions experienced over the spring and summer period. Undoubtedly, the pike will lose their markings as the season progresses and adopt that electric blue hue so commonly seen on our fish.
We rod hopped for 200yds until the light began to fade, and the flood, on still quite a big tide, made effective fishing impossible, but had no more action. A good start to what I'm sure will prove a challenging season as usual .

Saturday, 29 October 2011

28/10/11 Another Fine Bass.....But No Cod!

HW 1250 6.4m  1030-1430hrs  BT36
On the 24th I made another attempt to winkle a bass from some ideal surf at the secret mark but to no avail. In fact, I found it a little uncomfortable standing in the sea for two biteless hours. Simon has fared similarly, although he did spook some bass whilst wading in the shallows on west beach. They're proving difficult this year although a few are being caught locally including a recently reported 'seven' from Felpham .
  On the 27th I had a short pike session behind Dave's and again, with no success at all. I didn't feel too bad however, as fishing the same bank was my old mate Martin Ayres ,one of the first Arun pikers that I'd met in 2005 on the Watersfield stretch, and indeed possibly the only regular piking face I've ever seen on the river.
Martin has 'defected' over to P.A.S waters possibly due to P&B losing the Hardham stretch and with it, 'the jungle'- Martin's favourite beat and the scene of a few of my own successes. It's unlikely to be available in the near future as the farmer is adamant that, following the completion of the reservoir, he doesn't want people on his land.
  It was interesting to compare our results with pike on the river( I would imagine we both put in a similar amount of effort) and to discover that he finds it just a difficult as I do. He'd blanked that morning as well.
  And so to today's little outing. I'd contacted Neil with a question about the likelihood of the conditions being favourable for reef bass due to colour in the water after recent rough weather. Here's his fascinating reply;
  'I reckon the water will be dirty, it pushes the Bass inshore, they feed heavily on ragworm, which are in their spawning cycle now, the ragworm come out of the sand at night in the dirty water, the drift nets < twin sisters>and <voyager> hit them hard but they have to get the fish to market quickly as they are stuffed with ragworm and spoil quickly, the price drops dramatically very quickly as the market gets flooded with fish, I spoke to Paul on voyager   yesterday and he has already started netting with some success , our turn comes as the water clears, and the fish move back to the rock,where they concentrate on spratt, which is why i favour the fladen 60 gm stingers, as they are a good representation. Cod are now showing heavily in the nets, especially around the weather station, but i personally haven't caught any there despite several attempts, ive had about a dozen Cod now to 15 lbs, all on squid baits, ive had them at the fishtail, west ditch, kingmere, Black ledge, and the dutchess, so well spread out,,,, hope to see u out there over the weekend weather permitting, let me know how you get on, all the best.'
   Being in between night shifts and taking advantage of the one day window in the weather, I decided to head straight for #28 and fish squid baits at anchor until about 2-30p.m.The water wasn't actually that coloured but boats on the radio reported a barren Kingmere, so it was the correct decision.
  Bites came from the off with an endless stream of pout and dogs as the massive 6.4 m tide flooded. The boat turned quickly at slack, but the 'nuisance' species seem to shut off as the ebb picked up and I hoped that my squid baits would be left alone for something bigger to find.It didn't take long for a screaming run to materialise on the light outfit(yes i can now hear the Avet's clicker)and up came this cracking bass(yet another 6 1/2 pounder) which shouldn't have really been there..........or should it?
  A few more dogs and pout showed and then the big baits were getting mullered by 'snappers' so, on with a small hook, and up came a nice bream to take home for tomorrow's tea. Eventually the strength of the tide and huge clumps of weed, proved to be too much so it was time to call it. 
A couple of cod did come up to boats in the area-Russ who'd anchored a few yards uptide on #23 got a 15lb fish for his boat partner, Alan(Walrus) on #2 reported a 'Greenback' (cod) and I think two clonkers also came up on #2 also, but I can't confirm it.
  So, I didn't get a cod but know roughly their whereabouts but was i disappointed with the day's fishing?........................ I don't think so.
Back at the marina and mullet are still in evidence, and in numbers. The water is very murky due to both upstream rain(it's running like tea at Arundel)and rough seas, but the temperature hasn't dropped yet this year. In the past we always thought they left the river with the first of the heavy autumn rain and It's been a real rarity to catch a November fish but, how much of that is because we've been unable to see them? I'll keep a close eye out for them in the coming weeks.
   How did the new kit check out? 
I 've used the Avets a few times now and despite it being quite difficult to be objective about something that you just spent a few hundred quid on, I really cannot fault them. Quite simply, they are both superb, and even the clicker on the Sx has improved volume wise, since I removed some of the grease from the mechanism. 
The Kenzaki 12/20 was my light outfit today and whilst it is a very good rod, and I can see why it's so highly regarded, I still think the Sk is a better tool for various reasons. What i will try Is rigging the Daiwa with mono and using it as an uptide outfit as a full-on uptide rod is far too cumbersome in the confines of my small cockpit. 

Friday, 21 October 2011

21/10/11 First outing After Pike.

Not good news i'm afraid. Initially I'd intended to go out again in the boat but this time after plaice. I've got some marks to try fairly close to the port and the winds did look marginal when i looked at Windguru last night. This morning, they'd increased slightly with gusts of 15mph forecast for the 'shut out' so those marks will have to wait for the next set of tiddler tides.
Instead i headed up to Pulborough #1 in search of pike and failed...................miserably. Not one take in six hours despite good river conditions. Never mind. There are five months of the season still left.
 On the 'tackle tart' front, the first of the Kenzakis has arrived(the 12/20) and initial impressions are mixed. The reel's set much higher than on the Soniks which makes the rod 'feel' lighter and will be better for casting but may not be so comfortable when playing a decent fish, especially when seated. A critism raised in a review of the rods.
It's certainly very convenient having two equal sections and storing the rod fully made up, and tucked under the cuddy will be useful but, after rigging the Kenzaki ,I found it softer and less powerful than the Sks which have a sweet tippy action with more power under load. The Soniks have a slimmer, more modern feel but I'll know more when I fish them both alongside each other. I'm sure the Kenzakis will make a suitable second set of rods which is what I'm after.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

20/10/11 More Bass.....and A Full Landing Net.

There was quite a heavy frost on the pontoons this morning when I arrived at the boat about 8-00a.m. The intention was to try again for bass and after a brief chat with Clive, who gave me a great tip to 'stick a bend in the lure', I headed out to #31 on a pretty calm sea.
  The small tide meant that other boats were trying for different species(Clive was after plaice) and I had the mark to myself which didn't initially fill me with confidence. Beginning my drifts in the middle of the reef I soon had a small bass on board which was enough confirmation for me to stay and give it a good go. They weren't easy to find(more on the southern edge which appears to be more rocky) but I managed to catch four, plus a bonus mackerel and garfish, the best being pictured above, pushing five, complete with the newly white painted, and bent, Norden.
  The standard lures don't last longer than one session before the paint drops off leaving them a dull grey colour and useless.I decided to dip my duff lures in white gloss, and spray some new lures with acrylic lacquer-both of which seem to make the lures more durable.
Interestingly the sounder regularly showed what I think, are the bait fish-in this case sprats. I'll have to confirm this with Neil or Alex which is why I've included the picture of the screen.
Towards the back end of the flood the fishing slowed considerably and I fancied a change of scene so moved the boat and anchored at #13.I'm really not sure of the bottom make up here but, for the second time I've lost anchorage using the grapnel so perhaps the ground is cleaner than I suspect and the mark is not quite so close to the reef edge as i had originally suspected. Eventually she held and i had instant action with nice bream, the Inevitable dogfish and this male undulate ray which filled my net completely. I'm sure it was the biggest undulate, dimensionally, that I've caught so far but, it was also very thin indeed(time of year perhaps?) and surprisingly it only weighed in at 12lb. Nevertheless, it was a fine fish to catch on the light outfit and ended another successful day afloat.
  I was doubly pleased with the bass as Clive had mentioned that I'd done well to find them on such a short tide but it did take no end of patience to track them down, and even then, they were solitary fish. It looks as though they haven't really arrived yet on the reefs in any significant numbers so it will be interesting to see what happens on the next few trips out.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

18/10/11 Justice Is Served.

After yesterday's tribulations(just kidding-you know I enjoyed myself really) it was time to seek revenge, square up with the mullet gods, and redress the balance.
Confident of success, I was already writing this blog entry, in my head, on the drive to west bank. Low tide again, nice murky water and , on a day when I noticed the first hint of winter's 'nip' in the air, a nice bit of bright sunshine to warm their backs and get them into snacking mood. Perfect conditions to do battle.
I didn't have to walk more than a hundred yards to find the first group of mullet although, there were noticeably less fish showing in the river than yesterday possibly due to the drop in temperature. Slight alteration of tactics today in order to combat the finicky bites of the day before.-a change of float to and old favourite quill avon of my own concoction with a thin tip and shotted to almost neutral buoyancy. This ploy would make a huge difference.
Tide was still just running off when i took my first cast and it was literally a bite a trot from the off. Still a little tentative in nature but at least this time around, the float, with less resistance, was submerging properly and the mullet were hanging on to the bait just a fraction longer....long enough to soon connect and successfully land a fish of about 2 1/2lb . Job done.
Roger just happened to be standing behind me exercising his mutts, as I landed the fish and was glad to take a snap for me.Pity I couldn't have held on to the fish properly but it decided to continue its fight on the bank.
I could have packed up there and then but decided to hang on for another, but in a different swim-in fact the scene of yesterday's lost fish. Again, once the ground bait had gone in it didn't take long for the first tentative nibbles which eventually turned into a hit and another slightly smaller mullet of about 2lb. No.2
I decided to remain in the same swim and try for the hat-trick, as the last capture hadn't caused too much commotion, and it wasn't long before mullet no.3 was in the net- a slightly larger fish of 3lb and probably, i thought, the end for that swim.
By now the flood had set in but, being a moderate 5.1 m tide, which I prefer, the push of water wasn't too violent. Leisurely strolling back downstream, half intending to call it a day, I caught a glimpse of a flash and decided to give it a try. Mullet no.4 was a better fish again, in the 3-4lb bracket and concluded one of my best sessions of the season all in the space of two hours fishing. Not quite the stamp of fish I tangled with yesterday but very satifying fishing and,compensation enough for the torment they put me through. Justice was done. Harmony restored.
In fact I've decided that it will probably be my last mullet session this year as my thoughts are now turning to other ,predatory species in both fresh and salt water, when the weather's too rough for the boat. It's always a good thing to end a season on a high note, and I've no doubt we'll get together again in the spring.
Changing tack slightly and some news for all budding tackle tarts-Avet No.2 has turned up from 'Longfintuna' in New Jersey.Don't you just love the Americans! Slightly bigger version this time(still pretty tiny) but just as sexy as her silver sister and already set up on the heavy outfit for a possible cod. Watch this space.

Monday, 17 October 2011

17/10/11 Arghhhhhhhhhhh!!! Two Lost Mullet!

Pure frustration this one and, it goes to show what a fine line there is between success and failure when targeting mullet. I fancied getting just one more before the end , which is nigh. West bank was the choice of venue-the tide was slack low , the water nicely coloured and there were plenty of mullet showing if you looked carefully. I didn't have a lot of time and just wanted to catch one fish, and then I'd pack up and get on with my work.
Mash in the swim, and literally first cast, I had a very delicate bite in the still water conditions. These finicky bites continued constantly and I just could not hit the buggers. I've seen this so many times before. They've got time to play with the bait and for no reason that's exactly what they do. You'd be forgiven for thinking that they were small fish but I knew otherwise and this would soon prove to be the case.
Eventually I took a gamble on a bite where the float was just gently gliding along the surface and , thank goodness, finally connected. A very powerful fight from, what looked like when it surfaced, a really good fish..............and then it was gone. Slipped the bloody hook. I was shattered but there was worse to come.
Ten minutes later, and still in the same swim, I connected again with another really powerful fish which tore off 30-40yds up river before I could even slow it down.......and all went slack.
I could have cried, and indeed would have if I hadn't just smiled knowingly to myself and considered how many times this has happened to me with these fish in the past, especially at this time of year.
I don't like to estimate the size of lost fish as invariably they are bigger than those landed, but let's just say that they're likely to have been a half decent size. Arghhhhhhhhhhh!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

16/10/11 A Fine Day Out #31

6 1/2 lb bass.

With weather conditions looking even more favourable for today, I simply had to take advantage and get another trip out.Yesterday Neil and others were doing well on #12 with bream, so I decided to start the day with some fishing at anchor In my own little space on the 'edge'.Squid for bait and the bites kicked off straight away with some decent  bream, undulate and spotted ray and a smoothound along with the inevitable doggie. Quality fishing with a bite on every drop.
As the tide went slack, and with a good catch already ,under my belt, I changed tactics and motored over to the east side where, following up on a tip from Alex,I drifted the boat,spinning with a pinky white, heavily weighted shad that Dave had donated to my meagre lure collection a couple of years back. Yesterday's big bass follow was the inspiration but it was a method that was suited only to the slack water period.It took a bit of time and a few drifts but eventually my lure was hit and this lovely bass of 6 1/2lb(returned of course) was the result...and what a result. I was over the moon to get a bass like this on a 'new' trick.Sadly the lure got snagged on a subsequent cast and was lost.
  Once the ebb had settled in , I changed to 'Norden' tactics roughly drifting the mid section of the reef.A couple of colourful wrasse showed ,but I couldn't find any more bass which was a disappointment after yesterday. With an hour or so to go Neil , who had spent most of the day on the bream on the west end, showed up with his crew to show me the way.His drift was on the southern edge and that proved to be the winning line. On heading for home he let me know of the six fish that he'd had which was invaluable information and noted for the future.

14/10/11 Abort!

Took a bit of a gamble on the winds today in my enthusiasm to get out in the boat. Managed to get about half a mile outside the harbour entrance heading out into a rather uncomfortable easterly,and decided that , at my age, I should be more sensible, so turned back with my tail between my legs.On the way out I stopped for a chat with Ted , who was cleaning 'Wicken Lady'. On the way back there was a knowing look on his face.

Instead I chose to get a quick lure session in up at the Ford bend.Missed a follow, and a definite take from bass , both on shads but that was all. Roger was also up there occupying the lower sluice and managed two small schoolies on popper and shad.Also passing by was Barrie out for a stroll.Nice little gathering of regulars we've got going up there.Barrie reported having a good fish the day before, but still reckoned it was a struggle.Taking account of my lure fishing results on the river this year, I'm inclined to agree.

15/10/11 Bassing With Alex #31

A Cracking day out with Alex aboard his very fine Day Angler 'Samax' hunting bass on #31 with lures.
They weren't easy to locate but we had some grand sport with Alex taking the best of the day which was 'ghosted' by a couple of accomplices to the surface., Nuisance pout , wrasse and a squid which took a fancy to Alex's Norden, also made an appearance
On one occasion a very large bass followed Alex's lure to the the surface only to shy away at the last moment-an event that would have implications on my next trip out.
Great day, great fishing and great company. Thanks mate.

12/10/11 Some Lovely Roach

Right then. Bit of a lean time lately on the fishing front and....the weather's pants so i can't get out in the boat. Not too interested in the mullet although it would be nice to get just one more but it can wait so, time for a bit of light relief and a session at the farm pond.
Usual tactics-pole snatching gear , a pint of maggots and an afternoon of fun. Actually, I really should borrow Dave's proper pole complete with that elastic stuff because some of the fish caught today were of quite a decent stamp and I hate to admit it, but I got snapped off a couple of times which is unforgiveable.
I would resort to conventional rod and reel , which would be fine for the perch and small carp which bite so boldly, they would probably sink a pike float but, every single roach caught, and there were three of around a pound or so, gave the most delicate of bites even on a bristle float which would barely support a fly.
I reckon I had fifty odd fish , mostly perch , a couple of lively common carp of a pound, and twenty or so pristine roach  with not a tiddler among them. Great fun.

10/10/11 River and Surf

Oh dear another blank I'm afraid. Actually a double blank as i'd had a quick river session with lures up on the Ford bend meeting Barrie in the process.He'd not had a good season with  the bass in the river though I suspect that there may still be a chance of a late fish. This time last year we did so well.
Surf still looked good so trundled up to the the secret mark only to find two 'poachers' in my swim. LOL  Luckily it was Andy along with his mate Simon so I wasn't too disgruntled.Despite perfect conditions all three of us drew a blank and again, compared to last year.........................It's still a bit early to be fair.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

9/10/11-L.A Surf

The boat went back to the marina this morning having been anti-fouled, polished up and the engine serviced. She looked pretty smart and it was a satisfying task to complete. Hopefully, a few more trips out will be forthcoming but at the moment the wind is howlin'.
With the boat finished it was time to do a bit of fishing.
I considered going mulleting, but the surf at the back of the house looked so good and the low water was at an almost ideal time, so at the last minute, I decided to have a first crack at the  bass.
.Reaching the mark about an hour after low the conditions did look right and I was brimming with confidence. I fished for about 2 1/2 hours moving up with the tide until it was just lapping the the foot of the shingle bank but unfortunately, I didn't get a touch.
At least the new Avet reel proved its worth as a beach reel as well as a light boat tool. Super piece of kit.
These surf bass take patience and it was just fun being out there wading up to my thighs and soaking up the atmosphere.

Winds look good again for tomorrow, and the tide is slightly better giving me more prime time in darkness, so I'll probably give it another go.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

2/10/11 No Conger Here. #7

Took Andy out for a night time  session at #7 with the intention of repeating the success with last month's conger. Andy had plenty of action with dogs and pout on a light spinning rod whilst I stuck it out for the big snakes........ that never showed.
Great fun being out there in the dark, especially in the mirror calm conditions, and certainly something I'd like to try again especially as this mark has good pedigree for the specie.
With the boat virtually grinding to a halt with the weed issue, the following day we hauled her out for a look and it was pretty scummy. I've just spent half a day with some nasty acidic hull cleaner and the pressure washer getting rid of it and she's now ready for a couple of coats of anti foul and a service. Not too much of a chore as the weather has deteriorated and the winds are a howlin'. I do hope, however, to get it all done fairly sharpish and get her back 'parked' in her rightful place.

30/9/11 S-L-O-W fishing.

   #5 was the location in stunning weather conditions for the time of year, but a big 6.4 m tide. Very little showed up apart from a few pouting and mackerel and indeed little else was caught by other boats in the vicinity, including Alex who was out with a neighbour. Decided on a move but stalled a bit when I noticed some drifting going on in a 'pack' of boats on the middle ditch, Alex among them. A bass had been caught but alas, no more came along for any of us.
The only boat who did well today was Neil, who had a couple of really good bass and cod on a mark beyond Kingmere, although Russ reported some good bream and other bits off of Bognor.
Bit of a disappointment really and the boat is now crawling along under what I assume is some heavy weed growth on the hull.She'll not only have to come out for a clean, but also an anti foul.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

29/9/11 Christening The Avet!

Blisteringly quick trip this one, in fact it was just an excuse to give the boat a run out after finishing work and clean the hull of accumulated weed on what was a stunningly beautiful day.
With the boat left on the mooring unused for nearly a month, the hull was looking decidedly scummy. I do need to pull her out for a quick bi-monthly scrub, but the weather's exceptionally good at the moment so it seems a shame to waste opportunities despite the huge (6.4m) tides. I also wanted to try out my latest tackle acquisition- a new Avet reel. Whizzed out to the Frode area with just the one rod and a string of feathers to try and catch a few late mackerel for bait and , something for tea.
They weren't exactly plentiful but it is nearly October so it's hardly surprising. I had a half dozen mackerel, along with a similar number of scad, several follows up from garfish-no takes, and a surprise bream in about an hour of 'fun in the sun' Fresh grilled mackerel for tea was splendid ,and the new reel?..............pretty good, I have to say.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

19-21/9/11 The River Wye.

Tim had invited me along on this three day trip to make the crew number up to four. I'd fished briefly with Tim a few years ago when I'd introduced him to mullet on the Arun, and in return he'd shown me the ways of the Adur carp resulting in me catching a superb 'twenty' from the river.
  Also along on this trip was my old mate Russell Brown who I hadn't fished with for a number of years so It was good fun to hook up with him once again, and Tim's Mate Pete-a proper character and former acquaintance of the late, great J.D.
  Having just returned from France I was late  getting up to Ross-on Wye and met up with Tim and Russ at the tackle shop at mid-day.They'd fed up some swims and had already caught a couple of barbel so it was looking promising.Both Tim and Russ added to their total that afternoon-Tim taking his first ever double and Russ taking a further five single figure barbel , but both mine and Pete's swim didn't produce.
Next day I was offered a chance in both the producing swims but, I'd invested quite a bit of bait(hemp and pellet) in my own swim and felt confident it would produce so declined both offers.It was to be the right decision.
 Five barbel picked up my pellet baits, biggest at 10-04 and 10-06 both personal bests, first doubles for me, and best fish of the trip.
  Russell's swim produced good numbers yet again-nine I think, and Both Tim and Pete did very well on another section of river which Russell and myself would fish the following day.All told, it was a red letter session.
During the afternoon the river keeper visited us for a chat and whetted my appetite with tales of thirty pound pike that had be caught from the stretch.He also encouraged me to take a trip up with my small dinghy a he felt there was so much of the river left un-fished which would undoubtedly produce big pike-food for thought indeed.He also assured us that we'd been very lucky to get three doubles from the stretch,
  The following day, in the same pairs, we swapped beats and fished a stretch where the only swims were 'cribs'-man made structures similar to groynes protruding into the fast flowing river that created slack pools behind them. There were four on this particular stretch and whilst Russ elected to fish the Tim and Pete's 'banker' from the previous day,I chose one for myself a way upstream.
With the heavy rainfall of the previous day the river actually rose about a foot while we were fishing forcing us to move up the bank.Russell took a couple of small barbel from his swim before leaving at lunchtime for home,and the only action in my swim was a lost barbel which slipped the hook after snagging some weed. With Russ departed I decided that the 'banker' had a little more space so moved in and subsequently finished the trip with a couple of nice chub-one on the very last cast.
  A cracking trip with plenty of good fish caught and no end of lively banter. I shall look forward to a revisit.


3-18/9/11 The French Connection.

Just spent the last couple of weeks touring France in the camper with my wife , and packing a couple of rods 'just in case'. The first week was spent motoring to, and about the stunning Pyrenees ,climbing the various Cols made famous by the, it has to be said masochistic Tour De France cyclists. If you get the chance, the Col Du Tormalet, and neighbouring Col d'Aubisque are every petrol head's dream whether on two or four wheels. Jan wants to take her push bike next time.
The second week was spent travelling north, and a return visit for a couple of days to Menil-a tiny village on the banks of the beautiful, River Mayenne, where we are able to camp within casting range of the water.

A couple of years ago we spent four days here and quite by chance, I found out that the river had some quite excellent carp fishing. Not the bloated artificially fed still water type, but lean, sleek, fast fish which really know how to put on a show.

 I was lucky enough to Improve my personal best river carp with the rather handsome specimen(pictured above), as well as a handful of lesser nocturnal visitors, but In the two cold, clear nights that I fished this time on this year's trip, I could not repeat the success.
Despite failing with the carp, during the day we coarse fished occasionally, with float and sweet corn, much to the amusement of the locals, and did have some fun with bream, and a lovely roach for Jan.Most of the french anglers we met were either, fishing for tiny roach which were to be used as live bait, 'vif' in the native tongue, or had multiple rods spread out over huge distances intended for either brochet, (pike) or sandre (zander) neither of which seemed to show up very often. When they did, they were consigned to the 'pot' .
Interestingly a neighbouring camper proudly showed us a silure (catfish) of a pound if it was lucky, captured on 'vif' which he was about to cook for his mutt. Apparently, the catfish, which can grow to a couple of meters or more, are not indigenous to this river system, and are held responsible for the decline in the 'toothy' predator fishing, which they prey on.I have an idea that the french's love of all things edible may also be a contributory factor.
 On our penultimate night, we stayed at a campsite complete with every amenity you could possibly want, including a fishing lake.'In season' the place would have been pure 'hell' and we would have avoided it like the plague, but at this time of year we virtually had the place  to ourselves. Actually, this sort of location,far more common in England, is a comparative rarity over there, the norm being  sites which are set in quiet,picturesque spots with pristine basic facilities and all for about a tenner a night for two with the Vee-Dub thrown in. Granted, electric hook up is usually a couple of extra Euros......not exactly extortionate! Camping being a big part of french culture , sites can be found in most towns and villages, the government run 'Camping Municipal' often being the best.
A couple of hours float fishing in the evening saw us have some fun with some 'jet propelled' carp which was highly entertaining, if a touch 'artificial' and Jan, once again, took the best specimen with this scale perfect example.
So ended our little excursion across the channel but i had a few more days leave left,and more fishy targets to pursue.


Monday, 29 August 2011

29/8/11 Conger!..........#5, #7

0900-2100  HW 1208-6.1m

Good trip this one. Left the marina with just enough water under my hull, but on a rising tide which is always useful. Usually I just creep past my neighbouring boats often using them to gently 'pull' myself along to deeper water where I can use my engine. It must look quite a cumbersome manoeuvre to a casual onlooker, and has gone wrong on a couple of occasions, usually when there's a breeze.
The sea was a little lumpy on the way out and the plan was to head directly to the #5,gather bait, and then anchor up just at the turn of the tide and fish the ebb down-the supposed optimum time for a bass.
Stopping short of the mark I drifted with feathers and first drop down resulted in full house of pretty big shad-not really what I wanted. However the mackerel soon showed in big numbers and It wasn't long before I had enough not only for bait, but a few to take to work for tomorrow's lunch. Not another boat in sight so I settled virtually directly on the numbers at slack tide but was soon slightly miffed by another boat turning up and anchoring only yards away from me, and exactly where my baits would settle once the tide had turned. WHY would you do that.!!!
Before I'd even sent a bait down ,I'd upped anchor and moved to the southern edge of the reef as shown on the chart, to seek my own space. Big baits only and the fishing was predictably slow. A dogfish showed, and then a nice thornback on the light outfit which proved to be a handful in the now quickening tide .

Finally, what I'd come for turned up, and not for the want of trying.  Typical nodding bite-give slack, let her run a little, then gently lift the rod to set the circle. Head banging fight meant only one thing- a bass. Not quite as big as my last one, yeah right............ but......nonetheless..... a bass.
The self take was a little more successful this time , but needed a bit of photo shopping at home. I'll get there with this photography lark.

Apart from a tiny ballan wrasse (another boat first)things again went slow, so I decided to move a little further north on to the reef to try and locate Alex's elusive bass. .Nuisance bream constantly nipped at my baits and only heads survived for any length of time, but that was all that showed up. O.K I got my bass, but not in the numbers that I'd aimed for, and know, can be caught from somewhere around here. Again.................I'll get there in the end.

Ordinarily, I'd have packed up at this stage in order to make it over the bar and indeed, all the other boats in the locale were doing so but, it had felt like a short trip, and with France and the Wye barbel trip looming, it may well be a month before I get out again. I decided to sit out the lock out for another five hours, and return to port in the dark-not something I'd done before.
#7 was my chosen destination, and a slow cruise for the three miles or so over slack water would have me arriving just as the tide was making. Looking around, I had the sea completely to myself-literally not another boat in sight and , unusually, the air waves were quiet too. The shallow reef mark, around 35ft at L.W, does have a bit of heritage with conger and, as I'd not had one to the boat before, this was my target.
Once the pick had been dropped, I sent down about a dozen or so chopped scad and mackerel as chum. The tide hadn't picked up enough to wash them away so I was confident they were doing their job in my fishing zone. Heavy rod on a mackerel flapper with big circle to commercial mono (standard big bait rig) light rod on a 1/0 stuffed with squid and cuttle .
The wind had dropped, the light was fading and the boat, and lines, had settled perfectly in the steadily running tide-very comfortable fishing conditions indeed in a peaceful environment. Better sized bream of about a pound and a half steadily showed to the cocktail baits, a couple of which I took for the table- a welcome return after the palm sized ones that we've seen of late.

 It was whilst unhooking one that the ratchet on the 7001 ticked away at a pace. Allowing the run to develop at first, i tightened and set the circle into something heavy which continued to pull hard. The fight was nowhere near as fast as my tope, but just as entertaining with strong, line thieving dives, before the beast surfaced and grabbing the thick trace, managed to subdue her at the side of the boat. I estimated her at around five feet in length and a supposed weight of 35-40lb, got a couple of hasty snap shots, but unfortunately had to cut the line to free her as the hook had lodged inside the mouth and i didn't want to go poking around in there. I'm not too worried-it's barbless.

A fine , though it has to be said, hideously ugly fish but, I'd achieved my target and experienced another special moment in this year's boat fishing saga. A few more bream, and wrasse came along but darkness was descending and the tide would have flooded enough for me to get in so it was time to go home.
A silky smooth run in at 12kts,the speed restricted only by having to keep a watchful eye out for pots in the dark. I ducked under the anchor light using the peak of my cap as a shield, and my night vision soon adapted. I trickled in over the bar with one eye on the sounder but needn't have worried as there was never less than 6ft underneath me. The river was eerily quiet.
 It was great fun being out in the dark, especially alone, but I was satisfied to reach the mooring safely and without incident. I shall certainly be doing more of this night time stuff in the future.