Sunday, 1 June 2014

The cod start in earnest...

So, after the misery of our May bloom trip to Runswick Bay, and despite all the recent rain, I took advantage of what were forecast to be several days of calm weather. Turned out we only got a couple, and the day I went the forecast was pretty well wide of the mark.

Last year I fished behind Filey Brigg systematically for the first time, trying to work out what makes it such a productive but frustrating mark. On its day it's hard to beat, but there can often be long patches where the tide doesn't seem to do much and the fishing is dead. Then all of sudden, you'll have half a dozen fish in the same number of drifts. It seems to be all about trying to work out the sweet spots, both in terms of depth (which varies quite a bit behind the Brigg), place and tide. I guess that's the same for every mark you fish anywhere, but the Brigg can be mystifying at times as to why the fish are not there.

The forecast on Windguru had the swell at a foot and wind speeds under 10mph. I should know by know that a) the Brigg seems to always generate its own little local weather spot, particularly for the wind that comes down the edge of the Brigg, and b) the back of the Brigg is always a tricky, sloppy, unpredictable sea state, even on the calmest of days. So it was on Saturday. I was out on the water for around 6am and the weather on the Bay side was quite nice. But as I rounded the corner of the Brigg, sure enough I started to see the waves kicking up ahead of me and even breaking beyond the bell buoy.  Going round the corner is always the "stomach in your mouth" moment of the trip, as the waves come in several directions at once.  If the tide is running at pace, there are generally standing waves to negotiate into the bargain, and the whole bit is one where you need to keep your wits about you as you paddle.
Dark and gloomy, but plenty of birds about this year.  Noticed quite a few puffins too.
That bit safely negotiated, the far side was pretty sloppy too with a far bigger swell than forecast making its presence felt via the usual clapotis off the back of the Brigg. Sure enough, I fished for a couple of hours with not much to show for my efforts. Then, as the tide really picked up pace, I started to catch cod. First up was the classic 'cod on the bottom with a pollack on the first'. Well, if not a pollack then its close cousin the coalfish. But it is remarkable how often that pattern is repeated.
All the fish were on my new weedless rigs, with a big bottom soft plastic weighted with an inline trolling sinker, topped by a string of smaller soft plastics.  Cod as always, fell to the big soft plastic on the bottom.
After that there followed a hectic period, with a fish every drift and many missed. The wind was gusting quite strongly by now, which meant if you came too far out from the lea of cliff then the full force of both the wind and tide would catch you and you would end up drifting too fast to hold bottom. I don't generally like going much heavier than 4 or 5oz, so I restricted my drifts to short bursts that went outwards from the cliff at the 45 degree angle due to the tide. While the tide was running, the fish kept coming. But as it reached low water, and the flow slowed, the fishing dropped dead once more.

I hung around for a bit, but by now I had 6 good cod and a coalfish, and I felt that was enough for the day. Plus I was desperate for a p*ss and there's nowhere easy to do that round the back of the Brigg on a kayak, especially when half the world and his dog seemed to be out either fishing or walking! So I ran the gauntlet past the end of the Brigg, which for once had decent waves in my favour and I had a bit of nervous laugh surfing them for a few minutes until I was safely back in the calm waters of the Bay. One thing I love about the Stealth Profisha models is the built in rudder, it really does make a huge difference when you have to surf waves and it's an absolute joy to paddle in cross winds, which used to be the bane of my life trying to keep a straight course in the Scupper Pro.

Rare shot of a cod bag for me, as the fish are still intact.  Generally parts of them are feeding the crabs before I come home.
Good first trip round the back o' the Brigg.  No tackle losses, which suggests my new weedless rigs are working on the rough ground.  The only downer for the trip was the fact I'd forgotten my knife, which meant I had to fetch all the fish back with their heads and guts intact!  Bit of a nightmare, and not very green either, but it did mean you get what is a very rare shot from me of a bag of fish that actually look like fish in the bag, and not just carcasses!   Fish stock anyone?  :-)

Good luck to all those fishing.

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