Saturday, 9 July 2011

A tale of two days

Another calm spell of weather, another sea kayak fishing trip!  This time we planned to do it a little differently.  As it looked like we might be blessed with two consecutive days of calm weather, my friend and I rashly decided to try an overnight stay with the help of an enormous cool box.  No not for beer, for the fish caught in the first session obviously!  We planned to fit both kayaks to one car, and take the camper van up to sleep in overnight.  Things got off to a very bad start, as I rushed out of my parking space, scraping my van on my opposite neighbour's car.  Groan, that won't be cheap I thought!
This was to be the start of a rather traumatic day, and a splendid demonstration of Sod's Law.  About 30 miles along the road I realised I'd left the bag with my spare clothing and jacket, and all our food for the trip in the kitchen.   Aaargh!  Things could only get better.  We arrived at the car park and unloaded the kayaks.  Given it was a mid-morning start, the car park was busy by the time we got there and we were lucky to get spaces.  My mate gets his trolley out.  I try to get mine and discover one of the supports has managed to get stuck inside all the way down the opposite end of the kayak to the hatch.  Aaargh!  Cue much grunting and swearing as we lifted the kayak onto its nose to try and rattle and shake the offending trolley support down towards the hatch.  After about 10 minutes of cursing, it's finally fished out using one of the heavy boat rods.  Things can't get any worse I promised.

After what seemed an eternity of messing about, we're finally down on the beach ready to launch.  We both start to tackle up.  Yep, you know what's coming.  Bugger me, left my fixed spool reel in my bag back in the van!  Long and sweaty walk back up to car park in full drysuit.  Came down now in a filthy temper and we set off.  The sea was surprisingly lumpy due to a decent swell and gusty conditions.
But at least the fish were obliging.  I was jigging with my Storm Giant Jigging Shads and a string of three hokkais.  Mackerel were everywhere, and we quickly had a sackful of them. But not far behind came the pollack and cod.  The big shad was once again picking out the bigger cod.
It amazing how well this rig works and how selectively the different species of fish go for either the shad or hokkai.  I had a couple of decent cod around the 4-5lb mark:
If it was pollack, then you could pretty much guarantee them on the first hokkai above the shad.  Unlike the cod, they never seemed to go for the shad itself.  My best pollack from 4 or 5 was about six pound:
The fishing at times was fast and furious, with the conditions adding to the fun.  Heading back into that big swell was occasionally like something off Hawaii Five O!  Eventually after pretty near filling my fish bag with cod, pollack and mackerel, I decided I'd have a little try for some bass.  Which is where my final bad luck of the day came about. 

First cast, I lose my new 42g jelly eel.  Feeling a bit miffed, and knowing that we had to head back to port to catch last food orders at the bar before 8pm, I decided enough was enough and I'd call it a day.  Went to put my rod in its holder, and thought...   ...where's my paddle?!  Aaargh!!!  It was gone, looked everywhere but it was nowhere to be seen.  I got on the radio to my mate straight away and (after some choice words of disbelief) he came over.  His face looked white at the prospect of towing me nearly four miles back through a fairly heavy sea!  As we tied our kayaks together, I had one last final look around for my paddle.  Suddenly, my luck turned and I caught a glimpse of it floating about 100 yards off.  Thank god for that!  My mate was only too pleased to head off to pick it up and swore he was never going to sea with me again until I got that paddle on a leash!  To be fair, I used to keep it on a leash but got sick of it getting in the way.  I know better now.

We made it back to the pub in time for food (steak pie and chips) which was washed down with just enough Black Sheep Ale to ensure a good night's sleep (!) which believe it or not, we had.  Next morning after a cup of tea (with no breakfast), the sun was out, the sea looked nice and calm, and the swell seemed to have died down a fair bit from the day before. 

We launched in good spirits, though in truth as we had both come back with full bags the day previously, there wasn't any real pressure to connect with the fish.  Which was lucky, as we didn't.  It was hard to believe and understand, how exactly the same marks 12 hours previously had held plenty of fish were now devoid of anything wearing scales.  It was as though the sea had mysteriously emptied of fish overnight.  Perhaps the warm, settled weather was partly to blame, and maybe the drift wasn't as fast as the day before.  Whatever the cause, it was very hard going and we gave up around lunchtime.
Still, we'd had a great session the day before and couldn't really have asked for better fishing.  I've now stocked up my freezer with cod, pollack and mackerel, and will turn my attention back to bass.  Got just a few weeks fishing before heading to France, so hopefully the bass and weather conditions will be kind to me!

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