Friday, 3 June 2011

The older Dan and the sea.

"Every time I cast into to the sea I find myself falling further under it's spell. Nowhere else feels like it; It's alive! Each visit reveals more of its ever changing environment and the species that are present at any particular time of year. The tides intrigue me the most. I hope to one day understand them. Though I believe I, nor anyone else for that matter will ever truly understand them. But most of all each time I go my passion grows and I know for certain I will be back, for I am drawn to it."

After an early journey east we unpacked and got settled in our accommodation on the Suffolk Norfolk border. It wasn't long after the last thing was out the bags that I was off with Jacky in tow to try and source some free bait for the week ahead. Before leaving home I had heard via the blog grapevine that the crabs were on the moult and I fancied my new crab trap might obtain me a few from the structured waters of  Lake Loathing which was conveniently a five minute walk away.

I know the clear shallow waters of this salt water lake are rife with crabs, but would I be able to nab a few? No was the answer to that! Crabs I caught, but were any of them peeler's? Were they heck! In three hours I'd bagged three hard backs and lost two more who were clever enough not to enter the net.

I am no expert at distinguishing a peeling crab from a hard back but I soon discovered the difference. The moulting crab which are referred to as peelers are shy and retiring due to their soft bodies, whereas a hardback is the hooligan of the Crustacea world, nipping anything that draws too close.

My crabbing attentions were soon lost when I sighted a pair of large mullet circling some pilings nearby. Both were close to ten pounds and both thought my vain attempts to get their attention with a strip of squid cast out under a float were comical. A fact confirmed by their ever seeming smirking lips.

- My first proper session came first thing Sunday morning when I dared to venture out into the by now horrendous 30 mph south west wind. I arrived at Pakefield beach early to fish the end of the flood tide and down the ebb for a few hours.
My first cast was pitched full force straight out in front of me and splashed in twenty metres to my left. This was by no way going to be an easy session! I endured only an hour of battling with the wind as it tore my rods down and put so much of a bow in my lines that it dislodged up to 8oz of lead from the bottom.

Not wanting my first trip out to be a total loss I upped sticks and headed up the coast to try the more sheltered waters of Lowestoft harbour. The outer wall was even worse than the beach, but fishing into the mouth of the harbour afforded me enough cover to at least hold bottom.

The change of venue had made no difference to my catch until I dropped a much shorter cast close to a tidal defence barrier. After only minutes the tip rattled the went over and stayed bent over. My hope that good fish my take interest in my bait was vilified as the beastie pulled back. As I reeled it towards the wall I kept hoping I would see a flash of silver in the water until I got the distinct feeling this fish was swimming backwards!!!
Damn right it was! My first sea bound eel was swung in at about a pound, it was followed quickly by two more, the best being 2.1lb. If dealing with a eel is not hard enough try adding three snoods, a heavy grip lead and a gusting wind mixed into the equation.

After this I did add a couple of small whiting but the biggest stir of the day was caused when I threw the eels back in, much to the dismay of some eastern European anglers; one quite literally threw his arms in the air whilst cursing me in some foreign tongue.

- My next session was due Monday afternoon and I had even roped Jacky in for a trip to the beach but we only got as far as the cliff top car park before I set eyes on the now tempestuous sea and thought better of it.

After making a hasty retreat I did what any self respecting angler would and went back to holiday diggs and spent the afternoon waiting out the weather in the steaming turbulent waters of our hot tub.

I waited and waited and waited a little bit more for the wind to calm and finally at that time just before the light went I nipped to another mark called the Rifle Range for as I described it to Jacky "to get in even one good cast". Just before the dark crept in and during a evil shower of rain my freshly bought peeler crabs did the trick as the left rod began to nod in the failing light.

In the surf I potted something silver flash but as it came up the beach the rig seemed to still be dragging badly until I spotted a something flat and dark flapping close to the lead. My first double shot of the trip produced a small whiting and a nice flounder.

To be honest that was enough for me. I was cold and wet and with no form of shelter on the beach it was time for the off, satisfied with a single bite for two fish on a day when even the locals were rather absent from this popular mark, There was was only one way a true English man can warm himself on such a night.

A cup of tea and cream scone!

- The next outing saw me return back to Pakefield with a freshly acquired store of crab to chuck into the brine. Before this session I had put two and two together and realised that as the crabs were moulting and the best bites I'd had came on them  that the fish may be a little preoccupied with them and other baits may prove fruitless.

I was right! My first chuck onto a much calmer sea didn't take long to get rattled, resulting in a nice plaice and it didn't stop there. For the first time ever on the sea it was a bite a chuck. Not one cast failed to receive attention of some kind.

The next customer was a nice flounder

Followed by another

And another

It was real joy to see what seemed like healthy population of flatties really going for it and not one of the was caught any further than thirty yards of the beach. It was great fun and luckily I had Jacky on hand to bag some great pictures of em all.

- On the Wednesday I turned thirty four (I think!) and as always my first choice of what I would like to do is go fishing. I had pre planned this trip to head down the coast the the uber quaint Southwold to try these hallowed waters for the big bass that supposedly exist there.  

Conditions looked great, the sea looked great, I was in a good area and I had a bucket full of crab how could it go wrong, but it did! I couldn't buy a bite and nether could two other anglers further down the beach.
Like every other angler I can take a blank here and there, BUT! I do not take the birthday blank well, if at all.

By 5pm I'd fished the last part of the flood tide, the slack and two hours down the ebb and had absolutely nothing to show for my efforts bar good case of wind burn. At this point I had to do something and made the snap decision to head north wards back to fish a more reliable mark.

After dropping Jacky off I rushed down the to Pakefield to try and make the best of the day.
The sport here wasn't much better and soon I found myself in a Mexican stand off with the north sea. It wasn't yielding and I wasn't leaving till I felt the wet slap of fish on my hands.

Finally after what seemed like hours the tip trembled and I struck. Again for the second year running I landed a single fish on my birthday. A perfectly formed plaice.

After this I cut my losses and left, calling in to pick up a bit of ironic supper on the way back!

How could I not?!

- By Thursday I had figured that most of the areas I had been fishing the last few days fished best from the slack down the ebb tide, so I waited till evening to take the last of my peelers on a day trip to flattieville.

There is no more punishing place than the coast in bad weather. Caught in the no man's land between the land and the sea. On land the differing pressures effect the weather and as it meets with the open and more consistent pressures of the sea it seems ether collide with it violently or get sucked out to sea speeding up as it does. 

It had been sunny all day but the weather report had indicated a weather front would move eastwards into the evening and it did just after my second rod was cast. The sky darkened and the wind picked up stirring a healthy swell.

The rig of my left rod held well under the crashing waves but my right one even with a heavier lead was being pulled by the receding tide and kept get deposited back on the beach. With it now pouring with rain it was struggle to get it to hold at any range. But it seemed to work to my advantage a little as this was the first rod to go when a nice flattie grabbed the moving bait as it passed it.

It didn't take long for it to find a second and as I was baiting up to recast, the still fishing rod went mental. It literally hooped over instantly and was lifting off the rest before I was to my feet.
I was straight away into something better which really gave me some stick in the fast falling tide. The weird thing was as it neared the surf it seemed to be swimming in two separate directions, and it was.

A flash of silver confirmed it. Bass! Not one but two. My first ever double shot of bass scored for a rough sea whilst soaked to the skin.

An absolutely stunning a pair of beautiful schoolies one of about a pound and a half the other just under three. I went home that night as high as a kite and happy as a dog with two.... peters.

- After the highs of Thursday I could have stopped there but I still had bait and Jacky fancied the beach so what could I do but fish. The weather was good, the sea calm and I was happy.

It was no red letter day. More a good bye for now to the sea, but I did manage to eek out one last flounder on my very last crab which seemed a good way to end a great trip east. 

- That should have rightfully been the end of this one but, whilst away and having a pocket full of birthday pennies, I made pilgrimage to one of the fast appearing Angling Direct stores, which are spreading over the east like a case of acne on a teenage boy.

I went with the express purpose of obtaining a new umbrella to replace my still unretired one, but....

And here it is!

Yep you got it they didn't have the umbrella I wanted so I settled for a gleaming new pair of  Korum KXi 60 freespin reels.

Like anyone I could wait to use them. So I did before the sand was even off my feet. And how did they go on the first run out?


Very well!

6.6lb tench first cast. :)


  1. Brilliant post! What diversity of species...and even an eel! I wouldn't have known what to do, reeling that one in. ;) I must say though, my favorite picture was that tea and scone! 'Twas a great read!

  2. Seems like you've had a great holiday Danny. Nice mixed catch. On your pic before the scones, looks like snow on your jacket!
    Just booked a week in Southwold early Oct. Hope the bass are still about.

  3. Wow those are some great pics and fish. Like the "new umbrella". Looks like the Tench Troll will return later:) Great Post.

  4. Full-on laugh to on oneself at the photo of you soaked to the skin with the whiting and flounder.

    I still don't 'get' sea fishing. You're all effing mad.

    Love the tench though... what a christener! Tench are my new Ruffe i.e. I don't seem to be able to catch a proper one.

  5. Great post Dan, great to see those bass coming out, I'll have to get some tips off you before my next sea trip.

  6. 4/5ft running ledger rig with a pennel. size 6/0 to 8/0. biggish baits, couple of squid or whole cuttle. dont go to light. i use 60lb minimum but regulary go upto a 100lb if theres alot of conger about.
    fishing heavy end gear doesnt put the cod of, and when hooked you dont want them to come of. ive seen alot of cod lost to poor end tackle, normaly fishing to light. big cod have big teeth! do you use crab lures