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.