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For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).
A hit and some misses.
As we approach the end of the year the days become shorter, the mornings are colder and it is more difficult to drag myself out of bed for a spot of early morning fishing. Last time I went bait fishing a blustery wind and a bit of a swell made it difficult to free-line effectively. Anyway, when I looked at the tide table this week it showed that on Wednesday morning, low water was just after 03:00hr and the surfer's website said 'no wind, no waves'. Added to the fact that it also said that the wind was going to get up and it was going to rain heavily the following morning - I just had to set the alarm for 03:30 and stick a couple of pieces of frozen mackerel in the bait bucket, which resides in my old car.
In fact, as often happens, I woke up just before the alarm clock was due to rouse me. I crept downstairs and put on the clothes I'd laid out the night before and looked out of the door. No frost on the grass, no wind and the full moon was hidden by cloud - perfect!. The rod was already set up with a trace of 9kg mono and a 6/0 circle hook and the bag was beside it, so I popped them in the car and set off for the coast. As I walked down to the water it was spot on 04:00 hours, so the tide would be starting to rise. The sea was as flat as a pancake, and there was enough light from the moon behind the thin clouds to mean that I didn't need my headlamp. I progged a chunky half-fillet of mackerel on the hook and flicked it out a few metres.
Leaving the bale arm open and holding the rod horizontal, I gripped the line between the finger and thumb of my left hand and stood, more or less motionless, waiting for something to happen. Now for some reason, even when there is no detectable wind or current, the line gradually slackens a bit when you do this; I presume that the almost weightless bait slides gradually towards the rod under the slight tension. Anyway, whatever the reason, every few minutes I find myself drawing a few centimetres of line in so that I can 'feel' the bait. At times so much slack develops that I even give the reel a couple of turns before opening the bale again.
About fifteen minutes passed and the finger-tips of my left hand were beginning to go numb and cold. I tucked them into my jacket pocket to warm up and continued holding the line with my right index finger by the reel spool. Was that a touch? It was! Both hands in action now; the line began to run out, faster and faster it went. I took a step forward, threw an extra handful of line off the reel and dropped the rod tip as I closed the bale. The line tightened, the rod bent and then - nothing! The bass (I was sure it was a bass) had dropped the bait - buns! Or words to that effect. I let it lie for a minute or two but the fish didn't return and I'd no idea where it had taken the baited hook to, so I reeled in.
I cast again. Five minutes later the entire process was repeated - how annoying! I checked the bait - still OK - so I cast for a third time. The next bite came almost at once but it was a tuggy, twitchy affair and after a few seconds it went away. I waited a bit before making my fourth cast (same bait). This time I had what I thought was an eel bite tug, take half-a-metre, tug tug, a few more centimetres. When I tightened there was something there so I reeled in. There was weed on the hook but there was also a fish tugging, as it reached the very edge of the water I saw the writhing black and white shape - it let go. Hurrah!
The bait was getting a bit thin now, sort of 'well chewed', but being lazy I left it on and cast again. Almost at once there was a run which felt like another bass bite, but after taking a few metres of line again it dropped the bait. By now I'm feeling a little frustrated; three decent bites missed. I checked my watch, 05:00, just one more cast then I'll go, I thought. Don't be such an idle sod Mike, put a decent bait on. My spare piece was a smallish 'head-and-shoulders' of mackerel. I carefully inserted the hook from under the chin and out through the snout to expose the maximum amount of shank, bend, point and barb. Careful not to cast too far with the heavier bait Mike.
Five or ten minutes passed and suddenly there was a twitch. The line began to run out through my fingers. Oddly it was running away to the right, all the others had gone to the left and outwards. The excitement mounted. I was dreading that I would miss another fish. I decided that it was time for action. The usual steps, give a bit of line, gently close the bale checking that the line was over the roller, wait with baited breath. The line tightened, the rod bowed, the fish splooshed - IT WAS ON! Now I knew what to do. I played it carefully as it made its first couple of runs. Now it was tiring and coming closer. I switched on the headlamp at low power. There was the silver shape in the water. I heaved. It slid ashore. I had it!
Just the formalities now. Measure on the tape - 59cm fork length. Take a couple of pictures. Remove the hook from the scissors - easy. One selfie then put the fish back. It lolled in the edge for five or ten seconds before righting itself and swimming powerfully away. Magic. I chucked the old bait away and gathered up the tackle before trudging back to the car. On the way home I wondered why I'd missed so many decent runs. As usual I assumed it was because they were small fish (but I'm not totally convinced of that). I suppose I shall never know.
Nice fish about 5lb (2.2kg?).
The mackerel head is still on the hook..
Better than my usual class of selfie - and the fish displayed its dorsal fins nicely..
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