Well, with one thing and another, we were a bit slow this year to get out. Previous years have taught us that the fishing can be poor early in the season, with a brief productive spell before the dreaded "May Bloom" caused by algal activity puts dampener on things until the water starts to clear again. Quite often the period of the bloom is preceded by a spell of warm weather, which naturally encourages every man and his dog to get out on the water to fish!
|Cold sunrise at Sandsend, with Whitby harbour in the background|
So an early start was agreed. We left the house at 4am to get on the water before six. The night had been pretty clear, and temperature had dropped on the moors to 2.5 degrees Celsius. It was very cold first thing, with a stiff breeze numbing the ends of our fingers before we even started to tackle up. As neither of had navigation lights with us, we waited until there was enough light to go.
|Fortunately one of us had a flask of hot coffee to fight the chill!|
We paddled out in search of rough ground. As Sandsend is, naturally, a sandy beach, the fishing improves as you go north, where the sand gives way to rock scars and you start to hit patches of kelp. But just around the base of the cliffs the ground is pretty flat and shallow, so we kept paddling northwards until the ground started to show a bit more variety on the fish finder.
The plan was to use the tide to drift up to Kettleness, fish the really rough stuff over slack water at low tide, and then use the return tide to pull us back down to Sandsend. Although the tides were 5.5m, the wind was in the opposing direction and our drift speed was slow at first. But gradually the fish started to show in patches. We were fishing with strings of hokkais weighted by a pirk rigged with a single assist hook (you can see the set up here).
We were picking up codling and pollack at a regular frequency as we drifted, but without finding shoals or marks that would produce on a second drift. By around 10am we each had a bag of codling to show for our efforts. The average stamp of fish was on the small side, but that's to be expected until the bigger fish come close in to feed on the bait fish:
For me, it was the usual fight-to-the-death with my dry top to get it off, so that I could then get my waders off, so that I could finally have a pee! You really don't want to be in a hurry. Can't wait until my dry suit arrives with a relief zip... Still, it was nice to sit on the scar, feel the sun my skin and admire the scenery.