Reflections and Momentum

Looking back, like you do at the end of a year, 2023 has been a lot of fun.  The fishing lessons saw loads of people catching their first fish and in my own time I’ve enjoyed a variety of fishing with a few really good fish along the way.  I’ve learnt a few new things which I’ll carry into 2024 and as usual there’s a few more new things I’ve pencilled in that I’d like to try.

The year started with some great Roach fishing on one evening a week after work.  We had some really cold weather, for Cornwall anyway with the temperature dipping to minus six.  That’s very rare around here.  The conditions were ideal for targeting Roach as other species grind to a halt in the cold.  Bog Roach will keep on biting and although I didn’t catch the hoped for two pounder, I got very close and it was a lot of fun trying.  I look forward to doing more of this but the weather at the moment is incredibly mild so I think other species like Perch and even Carp will be a nuisance.

The weather in early spring was really poor.  It rained and it blew for week after week. I did find a gap in the storms for a bit of fly fishing and vowed like I always do to do more fly fishing.  Needless to say, I only managed one other go in the year but as always, it was fun to be learning a form of fishing I rarely practice and if I’m honest, I’m really not very good at.

I then had a huge stroke of luck and was given permission to fish a really beautiful lake.  The lake held Carp and Roach although the latter appeared to only be small.  The Carp were a bit of an unknown entity so the bit of mystery in beautiful surroundings was a perfect combination.  The only problem was, as is often the case, Otters.  I watched them happily swimming around on the lake without a care in the world.  In situations like this the stock can literally be changing overnight so you never know what you’re fishing for.  The weather was really rubbish and took forever to warm up but I managed a few fish which was really good fun.  The first fish turned out to be the biggest in the lake.  It’s always a shame when that happens but there enough others to go for.  Then when the weather did finally pick up the temperatures shot up.  In both freshwater and notably in the sea there was a real heat-wave.  I can’t recall seeing the sea temperatures jump like that before.  Everything was affected and the fishing was poor.  And then disaster struck and the weather conditions lead to an oxygen crash at the new lake and lots of fish died.  I’ve not fished it since but will have a look again this year to see if anything has survived. 

In April the fishing lessons started and this year they were just brilliant.  Loads of new faces came along and enjoyed getting stuck in.  Yet again this year it was predominantly mums brining their kids to the lessons.  And more than ever they too got stuck and a few emerged as brilliant anglers themselves.  We shared some brilliant laughs throughout the season and it was a pleasure to see their skills and fishing independence grow.  I can’t wait to get started again this year and continue fishing with those that came along this year and see some new faces in 2024.

Alongside the fishing lessons in the evenings were my very early morning sessions on a Friday before work.  These four am starts weren’t easy but the results were good so it made the early mornings well worth.  It is also just a beautiful time of day too, even if I do get a bit sleepy in the afternoons after work. 

First on the four am hit list was a big crucian carp.  There are very few of these in Cornwall and even fewer people trying to catch them.  I hatched a plan and whilst Plan A didn’t quite work, I had some good fortune and Plan B worked a treat.  A crucian carp over three pounds was the best and it has to be the most excited I’ve been about catching a fish for years!

When the lake fish started to show signs of spawning I head to the coast and started Mullet fishing.  This was successful but the sea temperature shock that occurred meant numbers of fish were lower than in previous years.  It was fun exploring new areas of the River Fowey though and there’s more exploring to be done next year.  Learning which areas fish during the various stages of the tide is all part of Mullet fishing and the dynamic and beautiful environments make it all beautiful.

During the year the kids came fishing and as they grow and their skills develop we’re increasing the variety of fishing we’re doing.  It’s great fun guiding them through their fishing adventures.  It’s hard to not do too much for them but I love sitting back and watching them figure it out for themselves and the reward that gives them.  That will only continue next year and hopefully way beyond.

I was very fortunate to have a couple of days out with my good friend Mike and the TUNA CHART programme with him and skipper Steve Porter on his boat True Blue.  I didn’t fish but it’s just great fun being on the water, seeing this exciting fishery and everything that comes with it.  On one day in August when sea condition were just perfect we saw all sorts.  Tuna busts, free swimming sharks including a basking shark, dolphins, porpoises and both minkie and fin whales.  Breath taking stuff and all on the doorstep.  It’s a great place to be an angler that’s for sure!

I got my little boat out a couple of times but the autumn weather limited my chances as the wind blew and blew.  It was good to back on the water again and I look forward to more this year and I have my fingers crossed for some calm conditions.

The shift to autumn saw me, as I have done for a few years now trying to catch a decent Bass.  The north coast has proven difficult and all efforts there have just returned Small Eye Ray.  They’re great fun to catch don’t get me wrong but my Bass returns here are really poor.  I explored the south coast more and again, the four am starts were rewarded with some good fishing and some good but not huge bass.  More lessons learnt that I’ll carry into 2024.

Momentum is everything

Reflecting on the year I can see that the areas where I enjoyed success was when I had momentum.  It’s really easy in fishing to get out of the habit of going and so every trip then feels like starting from scratch.  But, if you have momentum you can bounce from one session to then next and success can at times feel quite easy.  It is, as is often the case, easier said than done.  I really worked on my fitness this year for a rowing event in August.  Feeling fit really helps with feeling fresh and enthusiastic, about pretty much everything.  If you’re feeling rubbish then a four AM alarm clock is not welcome.  For spring and summer this year I felt good and that’s when the photos show the most success.  As autumn turned to winter this year the bugs kicked in and soon the motivation to go fishing can lessen.  I want to be there but if you’re feeling rubbish, all the necessary planning each week gets harder and harder and soon you start to miss sessions and before you know it, it’s a couple of weeks since your last fishing trip.  As I write is December 31st and we’ve all had bugs in the house.  Between the five of us we share them around very generously.  Just when you think you’re on top of it, along comes another wave.  I did fish yesterday with Mike which was fun but this morning I’ve got a headache again.  It’s a classic New Year’s cliché but it’s time to stop the Christmas food indulgence, get back on the rowing machine, get fit again and get back out fishing regularly. 

I’m not sure what 2024 will bring.  Hopefully more time out on the boat, more time chasing bass and this year I will get on with chasing those Gilt Head Bream which yet again passed me by this year.  It’s always changing, I’m always learning and that’s what keeps the interest and the reward.