Alan Stevens

A Double – the fish are back

Well another week passes and the challenge of writing fishing blogs in these somewhat constrained times remains. I mean, even the Whiting deserted our shores so how hard does it have to get before we wave the white flag of surrender. But have no fear friends, I have some good news – the fish are back and I do indeed have some very pleasing words to write today. 

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With water cold, rainfall run off still in force and mid-day massive tides I went for a dawn low water session. My logic was to aim for the deeper, warmer, more salty water under the incredible moon and rising sun which would surely stimulate any sight feeding fish into a frenzy of desire for my lug and sprat wrap tempters

The first thing that went wrong was that I overslept. So rather than setting up at 5:30 am ready for the last hour of ebb I actually arrived at the beach at 7:30. If that wasn’t enough it was seriously foggy. No sight of moon, or actually anything come to think of it. Just a grey soup that would make picking the moment of splash own after casting nigh on impossible. Flipping a coin as to return home or plough on I manned up and trudged across the mudflats towards the distant sound of breaking waves beyond the battleship grey world that had engulfed me.

Finally I reached the point where land hit sea and set up, and for some reason having dragged a full size tackle box, trolley, rest, two rods and bait box half way across the dried out Blackwater I set up one rod and a spike. Worried that the tide would turn quickly I left the second rod in its quiver – so why I took it it the first place is beyond me but hey.

Low water meant casting into oyster bed rough ground so absolute suicide to us any terminal tackle that would snag, so a simple torpedo lead transporting a three hook clip down rig was flung out beyond the visible sphere of control. first cast, birds nest – my control over the recently serviced Penn mag 2 reel still work in progress made the thought of being at home with a big fry up even more of an appealing but no – I was here now and I had to go home with something to justify this lunacy.

Birds nest cleared and hooks re-baited given the g-force of the reel catastrophe having ripped the tender worms and sprats from my hooks all was set. I settled, tuned in to the geese noisily greeting the day and I breathed fresh air and immersed a selfish world of just me and nature for the first time in a week. I allowed myself to be absorbed by nature and felt totally insignificant within the context of the natural world.

In the back of my mind were however, two things – one was the catch reports from the last few days showing some good rays and secondly was a huge pull on my line last weekend which I missed out on. The positivity of the session potential ahead soon defeated the early poor form with sleep, reel and mood and I was in the groove. The fog began to lift in tandem with my emotions.

Second cast and I was in the fish. A real pull and the thornback I was targeting was, I hoped, hooked. The fish was putting up a good fight and worried about the line cutting on sharp oyster shells I was relieved when it surfaced. However, is was not a thornback but a decent Blonde Ray – the first for me on this beach. I was buzzing.

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Gloating over this with anyone who I had details for on social media,  after baiting up again I almost missed another decent tug but this time it felt more flounderish than anything. Easier to retrieve at speed to avoid the sharp shells I had the fish in quickly and the second gift of the day was in fact a beautiful Plaice. I know Carl and the Thames Estuary guys have been posting about them for the past week so I can happily report her that they have reached the Blackwater.

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By 8:45 the tide began to flood at real pace and I was glad that I only had one rod in the water. Trying to hit the deeper water was now impossible so I was in that in-between tide time on the Blackwater where the mudflats are too shallow but you can’t cast beyond them. I should have gone home there and then, but persevering without a hope in hell I spent the next 90-minutes falling back meter by meter to the beach. Two decent fish bagged and two species for the essexanglers hunt I was happy but in reality, like most days, focusing on a short period of high-probability fishing would have saved me from the last part of the session. I will never learn.

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