Well what an amazing sunrise this morning. I cannot remember such a picturesque dawn greeting at Mersea than I was blessed with experiencing this morning. The golden sun reflecting off the sand and multi coloured beach huts was picture postcard stuff and a timely reminder of how lucky we are to be living in such a beautiful location. The water was surprisingly crystal clear despite the recent heavy rainfall and I was cursing not bringing my new spinning rod with me (thanks Kevan @ Colchester Bait and Tackle) as the conditions for top water lure fishing were as close to perfection as you can get on the Blackwater.
That is of course until I mention the temperature. It was freezing! Seriously cold to the extent that the dew covered sand had turned to ankle breaking rough concrete ice and despite having numerous layers of clothing the easterly wind was causing my skin to burn. Amazingly, the swimmers were doing their thing despite the water being a ridiculous three degrees…. I mean just how cold does it have to get before these hardy ladies have a day off? Full respect to them.
Cormorants and their feathered cousins were getting stuck in to the billions of sprats that are still swarming in the river and of course so are the predatory fish, so on the premise of ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ I was clutching a kilo of fresh sprats acquired from Liza’s fish stall at Bonners Farm shop the day before. My rationale was that either the sprats would catch me something bigger, or themselves would provide me with lunch.. either way I was on a winner.
The reason I was at Mersea beach at all in these near ice age conditions was because I was planning to meet Lisa Wilson from the John Wilson Fishing Enterprise (JWFE) for a socially distant photo shoot. For those who don’t know of the Enterprise, it is run in the memory of the legendary angler John Wilson By his amazing daughter Lisa – and the primary purpose of the Enterprise is to support kids and young adults from across East Anglia who have not had the best of starts to life get experience in a positive outdoor activity. https://jwfe.co.uk/john-wilson At essex anglers we are striving towards closer collaboration with the JWFE and hope to bring more news on this soon. Like her dad, Lisa is an awesome fisher and boasts a skate of over 100 pounds in weight!
Sadly with snow on the way Lisa decided to head home, leaving me on the beach to take some fishing pictures alone. Quickly setting up my rods with sprat and lug wraps positioned as high above the weight on pulley rigs, I flung out the tempting morsels a short distance to ensure as best I could that the bait would present well above the bottom. I only use pyramid weights now at Mersea as I find that breakaway weights collect weed. It has helped no-end on the retreive and a four ounce pyramid holds perfectly except on the strongest ebb spring tides, where I move up to six ounce pyramids.
It wasn’t long before I had my first flounder and then as the tide began to ebb, in quick succession a couple of mid-sized bass came my way before being returned. The wind began to pick up and the clouds rolled in so I hastily focused on how to pack up when my fingers were numb to the point of being full of frostbite. With one rod back in its quiver a second, jet black flounder took the hook of my remaining rod to complete a worthwhile session of four reasonable fish and 95% of my sprat lunch still in tact. The one thing I did remember to take was my species hunt card to two more species bagged fellow essexanglers!
I reckon it will take me all afternoon to thaw out.