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 .