Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Finally - a window of opportunity

After the most prolonged period of wet and windy weather that I can remember we finally had a calm day yesterday (Tuesday 25th) so I took advantage of the window of opportunity and headed to a beach that I reckoned would be fishable. February is almost over and this was my first time to get out fishing this month apart from a brief 20 minute session a couple of weeks ago which I abandoned due to gale force winds and heavy horizontal rain on what had been forecast to be a dry calm night. Although I still managed to get a small codling on the first and only cast of that night.

This time I choose a mark facing away from the wind so there was not a monstrous surf pounding the beach. In the past this has fished well early on the rising tide with the fishing slackening off closer to high tide. I arrived about 8.30 pm, just after low tide. It was a clear dark moonless night and a good surf was breaking on the beach. The first thing I noticed was that a rock floored depression which I used to fish beside was now infilled with sand removed from the beach farther along the shore. That was not a good omen as I think that the depression served to concentrate the fish. But as it was the only low water mark close by I decided to give it a go regardless.

I didn't have time to dig lug and with the slack tides I probably would not have been able to get crab so I just used razor which has been a good bait for this beach in the past. I set up two rods; one with a 4/0 pennel pulley baited with a full razor, the other a single hook flapper with a 1/0 circle hook with a small piece of razor. I cast the latter in close and the pennel pulley farther out into the surf.

There was not much happening, the rod tips remained motionless. Normally at this time of year coalfish would be pestering the bait within minutes of it hitting the water but this time the baits were coming back untouched. After a couple of hours I finally noticed some very light taps on the rod with the pennel pulley. I lifted the rod and could feel very subtle tugs from a small fish. I lifted into it and began to retrieve. I couldn't feel anything on the end and thought the fish was not hooked but as I lifted the bait out of the water there it was, the smallest flounder I have every caught not much more than 5 cm in length. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera.

After that I thought that maybe the fishing would pick up. But again there was a long period of inactivity, apart from one bite that I lost when the line snapped. It wasn't a big fish, probably a flounder, and I wasn't snagged but the line broke as I was lifting the rod. It was line I had been using over the winter when fishing the Blackwater estuary for cod so it had probably been damaged. Time to change the line!!!

A little later I had a stronger tug on the rod with the pennel pulley. I stuck fairly gently in case the line on this rod snapped too and slowly retrieved. The fish was putting up a bit of a fight but didn't feel to be big, either a small bass or a dogfish. As I got it in close I could see a glint of silver - a bass!!!  It was a small fish, about 42 cm.

I fished on for about another hour but there was no more activity. So I packed up at 12.30 am. It had been a slow session; the wet stormy weather over the last few months seems to have pushed the fish farther out to sea. But at least I did get one bass so it was not a total disaster.

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