Friday, 3 June 2011

Seabirds and sunshine

The first heat of summer was set to sizzle the Yorkshire coast and naturally our thoughts turned to sea bass.  It's still a little early in the season (July and August being the best months), but there was the chance of taking the odd fish.   But it soon became clear that the bright blue sky and ultra-calm conditions were going to make things tough.
The water close in was very clear, too clear for my liking in bright sunlight.  I've never done well in such conditions - in fact, if I know the day is forecast to be like this, I generally plan an early morning or late evening foray.  But here I was, not a fish moving or bird diving anywhere on the horizon.  So I decided to enjoy the scenery a little.
Gannets came past me in little groups, glancing down inquisitively to see what I was up to.  Very little was the answer to that.  With no bass on the menu, I headed out into deeper water to see if I could catch what little remained of the tide flow and catch some cod.  I had plenty of cute but unimpressed spectators:
There seemed to be an endless stream of birds heading past me on their way south to the sandeel shoals, and coming back with their beaks crammed full of the little silvery fish.  Puffins were in abundance - no sign of the decline in their numbers that has been reported in the news over the last couple of years.
But I arrived at the rough ground too late to catch the tide, and after one tiny codling during slack water, decided to stop for lunch.  Inshore the chalk cliffs here are amazing, full of incredible gullies and caves.  This one was like a bizarre natural canal, curving and twisting towards the base of the cliffs:
At the far end, the noise and tumult of the screaming birds was quite an experience.  One you could smell as well as hear!  Although it wasn't a big tide, you can see it still has several metres to go.
The guillemots and razorbills cling to the cliffs on whatever they can find to make their nests.  The gully had a few broken eggs in it, so I guess the gulls were cherry picking what they could.
After lunch after I gradually made my way back.  It was so hot I had to stop and get in the water to cool down in my drysuit.  The sea is still pretty cold, so you only needed to be in it an minute or so to start to feel chilly.  I kept a careful note of the gullies and bassy looking spots on the way back to my launch site, and went through every lure in box but nothing was doing.  Right at the end of my day, the wind picked up and I put on a little saltwater Xrap, and finally managed a fish.  I got a few more follows but no takers.  By then I was too tired to try any longer.  So perhaps a poor return for 9 hours spent at sea, but at least I had our supper!

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