These southerlies and south-easterlies are really causing cabin fever for me. Strong winds forecast once again, big chop from the easterly bit and frankly it wasn’t going to be fishable off Corton today. bad enough, hat made it worse as Brian’s news that the day before had yielded 32 keeper codling between five of them on Cleveland Princess and he’d personally had ten or so spit the hooks at the surface. That’s all day of course rather than the 3-4 hour trips I do which, with two rods, might have seen four or five decent fish in that time. So, what to do, where to go?
North Norfolk was one option but too far to go with no reports of fish; north east could be doable, if I headed to Sea Palling he wind would be cross-shore and inside the reefs we wouldn’t need to battle the swell or chop much and, if fishing light, could have decent sport and perhaps a few oddities in regards to species. Sea Palling it was then, Shaun back from Holland and keen to go as well. I left the house at school run time and made it there in an hour, Shaun arriving soon after with some fresh lug I couldn’t pay him for as I had no cash on me…cheeky! I don’t use fresh as a rule, it’s not been necessary for my codding and the versatility of frozen blacks going in and out of the freezer is a great bonus for me. There’s a good stock in there next to the case of unwashed squid split into smaller bags…I brought a wrap as spare though and plenty of squid to tip the baits with, giving Shaun a bag as he’d left his. We were sort of even now… Down to the beach and ready to launch, trolley in the hatch, rods leashed, rigs tied, bait and eights to hand, cameras switched on and a quick look at what’s been washed up; razor shells and the first dogfish egg case of the year – empty. I was only using the one Warbird 220 today, I had been sitting on the Maxximus 11+1 for over a month and decided, with the freshwater being so poor right now, to give it a work out on the sea. It’s such a lovely reel, smooth as silk and really good looking so it deserved some use at last! Loaded up with 40lb braid it’s principally going to be used for spinning for pike and bass but why not stick some lead on it and hurl things to the horizon? It may only be a light reel but it looked up to the job, paired with the right rod. We head out. Even inshore it’s rough, plenty of water funnelling through the gaps between the artificial reefs. The wind was really strong and I was paddling one-sided, the MidWay weather-cocking downwind; I wish it had a skeg. I started off close to the rocks in the hope that some coalfish might be lurking, or other fish that prefer the rough ground but having to pull out of snags each cast soon had me changing, heading inwards and to the end of the reef to get to the deeper water though it was still only around twenty feet deep. I cast in my bated feathers, three on one and two on the other, with a small fresh lugworm tipped with a sliver of squid and waited… Shaun as in first with a huge whiting to start his species hunt for the year! Without a camera as evidence though it was down to me to record his trophy shot: I had to wait a bit longer for my first bite and then in came the greenest dab I’ve ever seen. It fought like it was healthy though, clearly it was a British Racing Green Dab! It was a bit more difficult to identify than normal though as it was slimy and smooth rather than rough and the curved lateral line was difficult to see but yeah, it as a dab alright. It went back and swam away. At least my reel was christened. A more healthy looking one next, on the 220 this time. 18cm. Next up, a whiting at 24cm. Then Shaun, after a few more pin whiting, gets what I’m hoping for, another rockling (five-bearded). …followed by a dab putting him on three points! I get another rattle on the Warbird, wind it in and the two hooks on this rig are both filled with a double shot, dab and whiting. Good variety but still no rockling? The wind as really cutting through us and with Shaun out of worms and me down to my last few I rebaited, using them all up and cast in, dumping the unused scraps of squid left over and we agreed to get one more fish each then go. Shaun had another dab shortly after but apart from some big bites that didn’t result in fish – perhaps the hooks were too small – I had to wait a good ten minutes before a proper knock and a hook-up…what would it be? Success! Another five-beard slug! Ugly beautiful…slimy…golden brown and quite stunning; a great fish for the aquarium I wish I had! Five protrusions, four above the mouth and one below. ] That’s it then, baits stripped and into the water as freebies and we pull up, turn to go and see that the tide has dropped right down and we now have only a hundred yards at best behind us. Shaun, who has just christened his new kayak that I last saw paddled down south by my mate Richi, decides he would rather paddle in the rough stuff than drag it over the sand all that way so we head out through the reefs to paddle the very rough, quite large water beyond. And it is rough. Blowing a hoolie and with 3ft waves all over the place, close together, confused and rebounding we put the MidWay and Scupper through their paces; some waves rear up larger, fives, and we ride up and over them before they curl over fortunately, grinning at the fun we’re having. Then into the more sheltered water by the slipway and we surf in. Shaun hops out and into my MidWay, takes it out and stays on, he looks quite comfortable and paddles for a while before surfing in again. That’s it, time to drive the 25 miles home and get dinner on; we’re not eating fish this time!