Saturday, 8 June 2013

The cod are back!

It seems like a long time since I last hooked up with a decent cod, but I heard that a few had been taken on shads off Filey Brigg and that the May bloom was clearing at last.
Back of the Brigg with Filey in the distance
For those that don't know it, the Brigg is a daunting place. You don't need much of a swell to have huge breakers booming against the far side, sending up sheets of spray twenty foot or more, while the Bay side can be in perfect tranquility! It's a funny spot, one that had to be treated with caution. It's all too easy to assume it's calm on the Bay side, get close to the end of the Brigg and be suddenly faced waves that appear from nowhere.  And it's not just the size of the waves that can be a problem.  On a big tide the currents swirl around the end creating whirlpools and causing waves to come at you from all angles.  Indeed, even once you're safely past the end of the Brigg on a calm day you can find that the clapotis (reflected waves from a cliff) can throw you about in unexpected ways. It's a place you need to keep your wits about you.
Looking along the Brigg towards Scarborough.  This is where the roughest ground is found, and some of the best fishing.
That said, when conditions allow it, the fishing round the back of the Brigg can be nothing short of spectacular. It's a big cod and pollack ground, a tackle graveyard for the unwary, and of course in the summer months the mackerel descend in their thousands.

The weather had been hot and sunny, not generally good conditions, but with the water still a bit green I didn't think it would do any harm if as much light as possible could get down into the depths.  It's amazing what a difference a week makes, last Monday the sea was dead when I went out.  Nothing except the minutiae in the bloom was moving.  Today it was a different story.  It smelt different, I swear I could smell something that said fish are about!  Gannets were diving in the distance and cormorants, guillemots and puffins were bobbing up all around me.  Sure enough I started getting fish the first drift.  At first it was mostly small rubbish, a lot of which were getting foul hooked on the big shad or chasing the first jelly up.  
Lots of small rubbish about!
Sometimes this is a sign that there aren't many bigger fish about.  But then bang!
Finally a better stamp of fish.  Taken on a six inch shad on home cast lead head.
First of the better fish to come to the big bottom shad.  You can see here that a 150g six inch shad isn't any bother for a 5 or 6lb cod.  Yes, four inch shad might get you more fish, but the big shads get better fish.  Sure enough, I started hitting big fish every other drift.  As some of you may know, last Monday I lost my rod and reel over the side (aaaargh!) after experimenting with a shorter paddle.  Today I was forced to fish with a back up spinning reel loaded with 18lb braid.  Not really heavy enough for the Brigg.  I got broken twice by big fish heading for the depths.  The first was definitely a pollack.  I didn't have my drag screwed down tight enough and the fish just stormed away into the rough where it snagged up for a break.  The second time, I tightened the drag and guess what?  Yep, got broken after discovering that you really can't hope to hold a big fish back on 18lb braid!  Still, I tied on a new rig and I was back in business:
Doesn't look it, but this fish was not far off the first one.  A lot fatter to boot.
The Stealth 575 was well and truly blooded now, and I always like to check what the fish have been feeding on.  For those of sensitive disposition, look away now...
The Stealth 575 is well and truly blooded with it's first cod guts!
So that's three intact crabs, one flatfish (what was that doing in rough ground?) and a good fistfull of part digested other stuff, mostly crab from the feel of it.  But no small fry or sandeel. Early yet, but worth noting.

The other thing of note that happened was that a seal came up right behind me while I was fishing. I never mind seals - they generally indicate I'm about to catch a fish.  Sure enough, I hit one right as this one was bobbing about behind, about a yard or two off.  I didn't know what was best, as I was in pretty deep water, I lifted it clear of the rough and just left it there on the end of my line, waiting for the seal to bugger off.  I turned round to see where it had got to, and found the bugger trying to climb onto my yak!!  I shouted "Oi!!", at which point the seal suddenly seemed to twig there was a human on board this bit of flotsam, panicked and dived at the great rate of knots.  I waited a few minutes and then winched my fish up as fast as I could.  Amazingly I got past the seal, as he came back a bit later, swimming right under the yak.  Great sight and a great way to end the day.  

Bring on a few more days like today and I'll be a happy kayaker!

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