Thursday, 29 September 2016

Toddler holiday fishing.

Before I became a parent I stupidly thought that having a baby would be the most demanding aspect of parenthood. Well that was until that helpless little gurgling bundle of joy turned into a toddler. Jesus shit Christ how naive was I!!! Since mobility has been achieved I quickly realized babies are piss easy when they're just lying around and staring. Toddlers on the other hand still have the same needs as babies but with the added fear and danger that comes from them exploring the lethal world we live in with overkeen abandon; it sends shivers down my spine just writing it. Literally just a week ago, BB learnt that the world was not two dimensional and is in fact three dimensional and in the spark of a thought everything over twelve inches high suddenly became as dangerous as a nitroglycerine filled jack in the box.

The reason I write this is because when BB learnt this wondrous new climbing ability we were on our first ever toddler holiday. From the moment we arrived at our destination, literally within spitting distance of the sea, it became quickly evident that our excited toddler was going to need even more looking after in his new jungle gym caravan environment than he would in the confines of our baby proofed home. This in mind it dawned on me quickly that what for many years had been holidays where myself and JB had just relaxed, done what we want when we wanted, were now all about BB and my selfish desire to fulfill my fishing needs were going to be taking the quiet back seat of a family man..

Knowing I'd be within a very short walk of water I had however packed a rod, a few rigs, breakaway leads and acquired a small amount of bait so as to seize any time I could on the beach. The first opportunity came the day after arriving when after feeding young BB, I shot off for a few hours on the beach. The sea was almost dormant, which was perfect as I'd only brought a 3.5lb test curve Chub outcast carp rod along to use. A two hook wire boomed rig was generously baited with vicious rag worm and cast out towards the misty horizon.

Late summer can be a funny fishing time in land, but on the sea I reckon it's worse. The summer species are thinking about drifting out to deeper water and the winter species haven't yet arrived. The only thing that seemed to be on the feed was the ever present horde of shore crabs which were quickly finding my baited hooks and devouring the expensive bait that adorned them. Straight away I knew this was not going to be a bagging holiday and that it was going to taking some serious working out to be able to get on the fish.

The morning sessions weren't working out at all from the off. With my friendly little alarm clock waking up at 5.45am most mornings and quickly taking over our time it just didn't seem right to leave JB alone to bear the brunt of a fourteen month olds onslaught, so any fishing soon became an after dinner affair with me slipping off at dusk to fish into the dark on the eerie east coast moonlit beach.

First trip out it seemed a different world to the arid fishless days. Yes, the crabs were still feeding hard, but in between the crab knocks on the rod tips came a few hard twangs which set the night light lit tip of my rod dancing. At first I'd forgotten that you have to let bites develop when beach fishing and after a few fruitless strikes I finally began catching a few smooth hound pups in between the crabs stripping my hooks clean.

The next couple of short evening sessions were much the same, with me sneaking away as the little one went to bed and fishing into dark for little more reward than a pup here and there. Although enjoyable being on the beach in the dark, my head light had given up the ghost on the first night and I repeatedly forgot to obtain more batteries which left me fishing by the light of the moon. If trying to thread nippy king rag on a hook in the dark isn't hard enough, try untangling angry crabs from tangle prone rigs in silhouette against the moon for fun.

A change in the weather came just before we left, when for the first time in five days I looked out the caravan window and it wasn't wall to wall blue sky. Luckily I'd had the foresight to refresh my bait after the local weather had predicted overcast conditions. Fresh bait in the bag and rod in hand, I did my duties and nipped off for a few hours. The sea was a bit more active with an off shore wind and my makeshift beach rod was only just coping with the added tide and waves. But scaling up just a bit in lead weight I was able to target a sandy bank I'd found a few days before when the sea was clearer.

Really, the fish I had been hoping to catch in this area were the sole that are reputed to reside in the area and although they are predominately a night feeding species from what I've heard the overcast sky could mean they might have a feed in daylight. The crabs seemed to be a bit less active in the more turbulent water and when I got a couple of sharp jags on the rod tip I was keen to reel in what had found my bait. There was definitely a fish on the hook as I could feel it occasionally thump on the way in and when I saw a flash of white in the surf I thought I may have caught a small flat fish like a dab. As the rig came out of the surf I watched something small flipping on the shingle and I was about to swing what I now suspected was a tiny whiting to hand, but aborted grabbing it at the last minute as I realized its real identity.

Trust me to catch the one poisonous species of fish which swim in our seas! If you hadn't already identified it, the culprit was a weaver fish which can, if grabbed or stood on, inflict a very painful sting from the small spiny dorsal fin on its back. These nasty little monsters linger buried in the sand waiting for prey to pass by whereupon they shoot out and snatch it in it wide opening teeth lined mouth. Apparently the sting is very painful and can be so for up to two weeks.

My hopes of finishing in a flourish of flatties never came to fruit. In fact the only other fish that took the bait was a second smaller weaver fish which, same as the first, I unhooked using a set of forceps and was taken back to the sea by the waves. That was it for my holiday fishing on this occasion and although I know from this adventure that my holiday fishing might be taking a bit of a back seat I can't help looking forward to a few years time when I might have a little partner in crime along for some holiday fishing fun.


  1. Make the most of the solitude when you can Dan, don't rush in to it :) To be fair you will probably have a few years at least anyway. I value my time away from the kids, its the only peace I get. Sam might get a fishing rod for Christmas this year if he's a good boy and he's 5.

    1. I hear you Mick, but he's already interested in when I am messing round with fishing tackle. I reckon he might have been born with the bug. I think my solitude might be living on borrowed time already ;)