Thursday, 30 May 2013

May bloom in full effect...

Well it's that time of year.  The sea gets green and gloopy, algae spawn or "bloom" and the fishing goes stone dead.  Or at least it does for lure fishermen.  For those fishing bait, there are fish still about to catch.  The May bloom is a curious and mysterious event.  No one's really sure why it seems to put the fish off (despite the obvious lack of water clarity - but I'm not convinced this is a huge issue when you're fishing a hundred feet down in dark water), but it definitely does.  There's nothing for it but bide your time and stay at home.  Unfortunately there's always that first trip when you realise it's arrived...

I paddled out from Runswick on Sunday with nothing to show for my efforts.  It looked bad from the moment I got on the water, the water was a bright, nearly opaque green.  There wasn't a bird to be seen anywhere and it all seemed lifeless, except for the billions of little critters that make up the bloom.  As got I further and further out, I realised the water was probably green for several miles and there was no realistic hope of getting beyond it.  You have to be careful at places like Runswick, where the majority of the rough ground is fairly close in.  If you go too far out you'll end up on a smooth bottom sea bed with no features.  Sure there are wrecks that are reachable in good weather, but they can be a bit hit and miss, not to mention the horrible feeling of nearly reaching it just as a charter boat steams past you full of anglers and hogs it for an hour or more!

When does the bloom go?  Again opinions vary.  It seems a bit later than usual this year - how far through its cycle it is I don't know.  Generally it lasts about two to three weeks, but there are probably quite few variables that might affect it, such as wind, weather and water temperature.  Without checking the forums continuously or speaking to the charter boats (who tend to go out beyond it anyway), it's hard to gauge when it's gone.  The best option is probably to head somewhere where there is the option of doing a bit of sea kayaking tourism in case the fishing turns out to be poor.  My favourite place for this is Bempton Cliffs to see the gannets, puffins, guillemots and razorbills.  The cliffs tower about 400 feet above you, and Mazy Shelves is one of the great views from the sea - fantastic metamorphic contortions of chalk sediments.  For those that don't know it, I've added a couple of photographs from a few years ago.
The gannet stack
They can be a bit flighty as you get close, but they resettle soon enough.
Clearly this is where the second class gannets have to stay: the sunless side!
Look closely and you can see the nests (click to enlarge).
More amazing folds in the cliffs.
 Tight lines to those fishing!

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