The clocks have changed, the big autumn storms are winding up in the Atlantic and I’ve finally caught some fish! As I write there’s a huge low pressure system growing in the mid-Atlantic and the pressure is dropping like a stone. The warm, moist, air from the south is being fuelled by a meeting with cold arctic air from the north and it all looks like it’s right on track for us here in the south west. The last named storm called, Babet rolled through the north and we really didn’t feel much impact. It was breezy but nothing like the winds and particularly the rain that caused floods elsewhere around the UK. We’re not getting away with it when Ciaran hits on Thursday.
It’s weather like this that I’m glad the my boat lives safely at home in a trailer and not on a mooring somewhere, as much as I would like the convenience of it being on the water. What the weather certainly will do is drive in some massive waves to even the most sheltered coves and corners and that means one thing, Bass. After a pretty fruitless September where all my efforts drew a blank it started to feel like October was going to be more of the same. I persisted with the big bait, big fish approach using big squid, often as doubles in the hope of one big fish rather than lots of smaller fish which everyone else is enjoying. There’s been plenty of fish around and I was very close to buying some lug worms just to get some bites and a bit of sport but resisted. And it finally paid off.
On a Friday morning before work (again) after a slightly lazy alarm clock of 4:50 rather than 4am I got up and headed for the beach. I’d been trying a beach where we’ve consistently seen bass whenever we’ve snorkelled or spear fished there. Some good ones too. If they were there on warm, calm, sunny days between the tourists’ wrinkled toes, surely they’d be there after a big blow?
First cast, solid with weed. I thought I was going to break off but with patience and using the surf, eventually the big ball of mess rolled up at my feet. Time was then spent clearing it all but at least I didn’t have to tie everything again. Next cast, walk down the beach ten meters and try again. Less weed but still not fishing well. Another 10 meters and it was clear. You often don’t have to move far to get out of impossible conditions. The swell and rips will funnel the weed into one area so it’s worth moving if you get stuck in a patch. Third cast and here come the “wild swimmers” to whom I remarked, “which one of us looks more daft, you or me!?”. It was 6:30am, dark and fresh. I kind of admired their adventure but I wasn’t about to swap my fishing rod for a pair of speedos! They carried on and moments later a proper bite. A few twitches, a little line and, bang! A decent scrap and after a couple of minutes a nice fish was on the beach. New bait and with just a few minutes left before having to leave for work, one last cast. Just a couple minutes later with the bait just a few meters from the shore and a proper thump this time. A big splash at the surface and a really good scrap. Clearly a much better fish, I took what little time I had. A few nervy moments in the shore dump getting the timing right in thr surf and fish number two was beached, a decent one at last! A couple of quick photos and it was off to the car and for usual, chnage of clothes, deodorant, hair gel and a race to work, arriving a fraction late…
Just a few nights later and after the kids’ dinner had been sorted I was out again. North coast this time and in some really nice conditions. I love standing in the surf in early autumn. The sea is so warm and the surf is full of energy. I walked the surf in the dark looking for the rip. These “holes” in the surf form where the incoming waves rush back out to sea after breaking. They scour holes in the sand banks and the deeper water means the waves don’t break here. A nightmare for unsuspecting bathers, a haven for fish waiting for food to collect here.
I’d taken some frozen sandeels in the hope of small eyed ray. Conditions did look good. The first few casts brought nothing so a slightly larger four ounce weight was used to slow down the bait movement in the surf. I want the bait moving but with just two ounces it was pulling through too quickly. First cast with the bigger weight and a small, small eye ray found the bait and was soon joining me for a quick photo before being returned. Afresh bait and back out again. Nothing on that cast but the next cast got another result. I move my baits a lot when i’m fishing in the surf. I start with maybe a 40 meter lob into the surf and then as the swell pulls the bait to either the left or the right, I also work the bait back towards the beach. Just moments after drawing the bait in closer there was a decent thump and a typicaly ray run. I let them have one run then strike. This was met with a solid resistance, absolutely solid! It was clearly a decent fish and on the light gear (I use a light carp rod for my surf fishing) it was a proper scrap. The thing hugged the bottom and it was only with the passing of each wave that I could inch it back. It all got rather exciting! Eventually I flicked the light on and even when it was at my knees the fish was still stuck to the bottom. I teased up the line then took hold of a cheek of a large small eyed ray. Quickly to the beach to pop out the hook, try and get a photo (not easy) aaaand awwwaaay! Two fish, one really good one, weather getting worse, time to head for home, very happy.
We have been out on the pond a couple of times and the boys were keen to take a school mate who they’d been telling fish stories too. It was great fun and Oli and his Dad had a great couple of hours with us. I’m sure we’ll be doing more of that in the near future.
It’s time then to batten down the hatches whilst the next storm passes and then I’ll be back out there searching for more big fish in November.