Tales & Tit Bits

Here we will publish letters or stories from any contributors, just email yours and leave the rest to us.

We hope to publish a new item each week. Notifications of each new item will be added to the forum where we will be pleased to read your comments on these tales.

One of our active members works away and has kindly volunteered to post a regular blogg from wherever his work takes him, these will be published: latest at the top of the page, as we receive them. You can either reply by email and we will post your comments or you can simply comment on the forum. It promises to be a good read. Thanks Rod.
 23/10/12
 
Number 6 posted 28/12/12
A few of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to take the opportunity of a day’s redd counting with our local EA officer for the Clwyd catchment area. I say luckily, although Clwyd and its upper tributaries were coloured that day and a touch too high to see anything but floating debris , the conditions were nowhere near like what was about to happen a few days later when the Great Flood of 2012 occurred.

Anyway getting back to our day of redd counting. I had arranged to meet up in Ruthin that morning with Richard where he outlined our day; he was a mite pessimistic about our chances of spotting anything as he had noticed on the way to our meeting point that the Clwyd was running a little high when he drove over the bridge in Ruthin. I too revealed that I had glanced at the Clywedog and that too was up when I passed over the bridge at Rhewl, but Richard was not to be put off as he still had a few jobs to do, so having been given the choice to abandon our trip or to stick with him I decided to tag along. I had been looking forward to a few hrs on the upper reaches of the Clwyd system much of which to my shame I never even thought about as I fished the middle/lower stretches of the Clwyd.

Our first port of call was the weir at Bontuchal.  Richard needed to check for any build-up of flotsam that might damage the weir or restrict the passage of fish trying to navigate this man made obstacle. True to our earlier observations the river was much too high and coloured to see any redds. So Richard began by explained how the fish pass worked, what the most favourable water height should be and what was needed to help fish gain access to the miles of potential spawning sites that was available above the weir.

After climbing back into his van, we drove past the weir  into what was for me virgin territory and although I have lived in the vale for many years and I have to admit my fishing or curiosity had never taken me this far upsteam so I was very interested in the type of water I was to encounter. The first thing I discerned was that these were not nameless water courses. Indeed not, all these little streams and tributaries we were driving by had names which to my ignorance I had never heard of before. As Richard reeled off these strange sounding names such as “Afon Corris, Afon Concwest, Nant Gladur and Afon Hesbin.  I began to wonder what their history was, in every language names have meanings so where did the names originate from and how far back into the past did they reach?

Driving up the ever steeper and narrower winding valleys we kept getting the odd glimpses of the chocolate stained waters as we crisscrossed the streams occasionally stopping off at various places to try to catch a glimpse of any redds that might be about but even this far up the river system the water was still too high and coloured for any chance to spot a redd.

Habitat improvement or the possibility of habitat enhancement is a major concern to Richard as he pointed out various places and what could be done to improve the quality of spawning grounds in conjunction with the EA, farmers and angling clubs but as there are no fishing clubs this far up stream part of that triangle of government/land owners/enthusiasts is missing. I questioned Richard about the possible damage that this height of water might have on redds already deposited, he didn’t seem too perturbed about it saying that mother nature had factored in for these types of conditions and that the majority of the eggs would be lying undisturbed between the gravel as the faster water passed over .

There was one particular spot quite a way up the Clwedog and not that far downstream from our club lake that Richard was in interested in seeing and that was a natural waterfall of around 6 foot, previously he had noticed a couple of sea trout redds above it and he was interest in observing this obstacle at this level and push of water with hopefully the possibility of seeing if any fish were attempting to navigate it. Needless to say we didn’t manage to see any fish traveling up the waterfall as we were only there for a short time but it was interesting to try and work out the different paths a fish could take to get over the barrier.

On the way back to Ruthin we dropped in at the junction pool of the river Clwyd and Afon Hebron which is at the very top of our club beats on the Clwyd. As we gazed over the bridge we could see the rushing cauldron of water below. Richard pointed out the slight differences in colour of the darker Hebrion water running alongside the more muddy waters of the Clwyd before the two waters finally merged as one. This slight difference in colour is more important than at first glance. The migrating fish probably use this to decide which water course to run up.  We continued to chat about all things fishing before hopping back in the van and finally calling in at the weir in Ruthin.

I was very unfortunate that day as the conditions were against us with regards to spotting any redds but on the plus side it was fascinating to hear about the hard work put in by our local EA officers and gave me an insight of what they do. The day was not a waste as I now have a greater insight into the Clwyd system as a whole, so next time I hook and release a sea trout I will have a much better idea about its life, as its makes its epic journey not once as in most salmon but year in and year out for our bigger fish. (note to self: must read Henry Wilkinson’s book Salar the Salmon again).

Dreams of silver fish; Reflections of an absentee fisherman(5)

The appended drawings have not shown: sorry I will try to correct the error (ed)

Every cloud has a silver lining or so they say and so it is with fishing. A normal summers fishing for sea trout is usually confined to low water spinning during the day time and fly through the night, with the rest of the time praying for rain, only this year it’s been very different. Our prayers had been answered in bucket loads.

So with all the rain we have been having since April through to July and onwards, the river has been nudging up to its winter average most weeks and often way above that. With this yo-yoing effect of these heavy prolonged periods of rain interspersed with short drier periods, the Clwyd had been running high but clear (well ! clear for the Clwyd that is). This unusual combination was just the excuse I needed to dust down my worming rod, hunt down my box of worming gear and turn the garden over for those lovely juicy worms.

It’s been a while since I have wormed for sea trout and as I sometimes find that spinning becomes bit of a mechanical routine of cast and retrieve. So it was pleasant change to have the chance of a prolonged spell of worming to coincide my leave cycle.

Those that fish the Clwyd will know what a “snaggy” river it can be and worming can be an expensive way to catch fish. You can always fish the stationary worm but I usually tend to only catch small Brownies and Eels this way. Mind you it’s been a while since I’ve caught an Eel on the Clwyd, years ago they were a real pest but recently they seem to have become very scarce. I tend not to fish static unless it’s to take time out to grab a bite to eat and the old adage “of not catching fish if you bait isn’t in the water” then comes into play. The way I really enjoy my worming is to keep the bait moving at all times. This is essential and can be difficult and costly in such a snag infested river but with perseverance it can and does bring its just rewards in bright bars of silver.

The tackle I use is nothing special, just a 7 foot spinning rod; mind you a longer one would probably be better say around 9 or 10 foot. A fixed spool reel with a full spool of 15lb. nylon line, then onto the business end I attach with a swivel to the main line a 3 foot length of 6 or 8lb. nylon on this terminal line I thread a pierced bullet and a small split shot “stopper” about 18 inches from a size 4 or 6 hook.  Another terminal tackle set up I quite often use is to swop the pierced bullet with a “Bouncing Betty” this gives me the advantage of easily adding extra weight when required. By threading a small length of wire through the “Bouncing Betty” swivel then onto this wire which is doubled back on to itself I can add a pierced bullet or two depending upon the flow and depth of water (fig 1) and therefore control the depth and speed of the bait.

 

“Bouncing Betty” Alternative set up with additional pierced bullet on bent wire

Fig 1

15lb Main Line

Swivel

6-8lb terminal Line

Stopper split shot

Wide gapped size 4 to 8 hook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


As I predominately fish for sea trout, I tend to look for a nice juicy worm of about 3 to 4 inches in length. The larger common or garden lob worms should be kept for the sea trout’s heftier cousin the   salmon. A “word to the wise” a worm straight out of the garden is much too soft to be much use as bait, so they must be toughened up first.

There are lots of debates about how to toughen up worms and everyone has their own unique recipe. Choose a method that you think will work and keep your fingers crossed as toughening up worms is definitely one of fishing’s back arts. Select your worm and thread on to the hook. With the worms head uppermost leave most of the lower body trailing. Some fishers only fish a single worm for sea trout which I think is fine for low water worming but usually I add a second worm when the water is anything but at summer drought level. This second worm is partially threaded up to the hook bend as shown in Fig 2. You can purchase worming hooks that have 2 or 3 small barbs on the hook shank to stop the bait sliding down but normal hooks will suffice.

 

    Fig 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


For those who fancy fishing for salmon the larger lob worms are selected and a third worm is usually added in the same manner as worm number 1 and 2. A hook baited with three worms in my view looks comparable to a small squid as they float along with the current or glide along the river bed, even with 2 smaller worms selected for sea tout the effect can be the same.

Once we have tackled up and baited the hook where do we fish. As I have said before I almost exclusively fish the Clwyd, but whichever river you fish it’s best to know your river bed. This way you can avoid all those snags such as tree trunks, branches and weeds etc. At the height of water we have had recently. I would look for a smooth glassy glide with a steady flow of water, just enough to keep the bait moving and with a depth of 3 to 4 feet, if it has a high vertical bank and is shaded by bushes or trees all the better.

Standing at the top end of the run I would cast or lob the bait a couple of feet back from the opposite bank and depending on the depth and current slightly upstream this is to  allow the bait get down to the right depth so it can  roll along the river bed. This process would be repeated after one or two paces downstream until the run has been fished through

Using the tackle I have mentioned above you can feel the bait bouncing along the river bed, there is a continuous “tap tap tap” as the pierced bullet or “bouncing betty” navigates the contours of the river.  It also helps if you keep the reel line trapped between your finger and the rod giving you more sensitivity in feeling for a fish when it takes. This way you can also control the flow of line by letting more line out as required and with extending your arm up and out over the river (this is where a longer rod would have the advantage) the bait can be skilful placed where you want it. As the push of the current lessens, your bait will gradually swing into your side of the bank and as it comes to settle on the river bed, it’s a good idea to leave it a few seconds as a fish that has perhaps followed your bait for quite a few yards can pick it up at this point. You can also raise the rod to move the bait upstream a touch and they let it settle again. Similar to an induced take when nymphing for trout.

When a fish takes the usual “tap tap tap” of the bait as it journeys along the river bed will change to a rapid “taptaptaptap” and you should also feel a pull on the rod, you could correspondingly notice the tip of your rod bounce or curve as the fish turns away. At this point you have a choice and your actions will depending of which species of fish you’re after. If sea trout are your quarry then strike immediately and play the fish out until you either net or beach it.

Salmon are a different kettle of fish; When fishing for salmon and the bait stops drifting through a run tighten up the slightly and (depending on who you listen too or read) don’t do anything, let the fish have all the time in the world to mouth the bait.

When a salmon picks up the bait you ought to feel a steady pull or even sense a trembling vibration transmitted up your line and then a slow shaking of its head back and too. Depending upon what the salmon does next, will dictate your next move. If after picking up the bait the salmon starts to swim upstream all well and good just wait a while and that’s difficult as it’s bizarre to see your line traveling upstream but wait till the line is at such an angle that it will set the hook into the fish’s mouth when you tighten into it. If the salmon stays put, slowly walk a few paces downstream with only a light steady pressure on the line to keep contact with the fish until you are at an angle that when struck would pull the hook into the salmons scissors. How long you would leave the bait in the fish’s mouth that’s a question I have never found an answer to in all the books I have read, you just have to cross your fingers and hope the river gods are with you.

When fishing the worm you can start to explore all those spots that you miss out whilst fly fishing. All those difficult places can now be accessed, with just a flick of the wrist  a worm can be positioned in the most awkward of locations, under tree roots or through small gaps in the bank side vegetation but just give a thought on how you would land a fish if one is caught. I have a good long handled telescopic landing net but still if I’m not sure that I could land a fish safely then err on the side of caution if not for your own sake then the fishes as I would not be kind to leave a fish with yards of trailing nylon.

Rodd  Innhand esq

SSCV Floatabout

North Sea

Bergen

20 August 2012

 
Number 3 June 2012
 

Dreams of silver fish; Reflections of an absentee fisherman (4)

 

It’s pretty quiet offshore at the moment “fishing wise” that is! Not work wise though. So when you’re huddled behind a girder attempting to keep out of the wind that’s gusting 50 knots or so and at the same time trying to keep yourself warm and out of the rain that’s attacking from what seems every direction including vertical up!!!!, you tend to think of where you would rather be at that very moment.  June & July seem to have been a bit of a “one off” this year, where normally you would expect at least a bit of sun around this time,  all we are getting is  day after day of depressingly  leaden grey skies of low cloud. No wonder they paint war ships grey as you wouldn’t see on days like this if it sailed right up to you and blew their fog horns.

During one particular intense misrable period of icy cold rain that was doing its best to crawl its way through my state of the art water proofs,  I started to think of an article I had been reading in last month’s Trout & Salmon in regards to local files or flies from certain areas of the UK. Quite a few books on this subject have been published over the years, of which I have quite a few in my fishing library back home, a couple spring readily to mind “Trout Flies of Shropshire and the Welsh boarders” is one and “Plu Stiniog (Trout Flies for North Wales) is another, but various localities from all over the UK have their own accounts of local or regional flies with all sorts of strange and wonderful colloquial names

I’m probably like most fly fishers, always on the lookout for that holy of holy grail’s, an  irresistible mix of fur feathers and silk that will fool all the trout all of the time and probably like many I have experimented with many different ideas at the tying vice over the years. Most if not all of my concoctions are destined never to see the light of day but those that do manage to make the 2nd XI very rarely make the 1st team.

So what makes a local killing pattern? I would imagine many years ago when most people didn’t stray too far from their local river and our transport system was not so extensive as it is today, most patterns if not all would have been generally considered “Local” at one time or another, even those perennial favourites that we all use would have once been considered  local flies. To my mind, local patterns would have needed local materials that would have been easily available to collect and then to that add the ability of the local fisher to observe the flies and creatures that are on, in or under the water, mix that with the talent that few people have to think outside the box and “hey presto” you have a local killing pattern which would generally stay put in that area especially in the more remoter parts of our islands only later when the dressing started to migrate would the “local” tag disappear.

Does it still happening today!  Personally I don’t think it does. The true “local Pattern” must have died out long ago. Of course you still have fisherman trying to inventing new patterns at the vice or re-inventing, modifying and playing with older well tried and trusted patterns but as for that “Local pattern” those will have all but vanished. My reasoning is that with the amount of angling publications, web sites and forums that abound on the internet, word gets around pretty fast now-a-days of a new killer fly.

So what are we left with? Like me you will probably concocted your own top secret “never to be revelled on pain of death” pattern that you keep close to your chest, a pattern so secret not even your own spouse knows about it You could give it a strange sounding name that conjures up all sorts of romantic images . Can this then be classed as a local fly? Maybe but only if you’re willing to let others, locals to try their hand at dressing the fly and testing the fly in the local rivers but then  “the genie is out of the bottle” . Would you willing to do that?

Dreams of silver fish; Reflections of an absentee fisherman (3)

Has anyone wondered why we have the “Burma Steps”? I am not talking about those steps hidden somewhere deep in the darkest jungles of Burma, or as is it is now called – Myanmar; I am talking about those steep steps hidden deep in the middle of one of our beats on the River Clwyd.If you have taken the trouble to climb them and stopped for a moment at the top to take in the view (or more likely to catch back your breath if you are maturing, like myself), then you may have wondered why they are referred to as such or why there is this great mound of earth in the middle of this otherwise level valley floor. Take a glance down at our little river flowing down below and what do you see? Obviously there is the river and the beautiful valley, but that is not what I am actually talking about. Take a closer look and you will see that you are really standing on top of a cliff of clay and rubble. “So what?”, I might hear you say, “it is a bit of clay, what of it?” My question is thus – why is that mound of earth there and why do we call it “Burma Steps”?I have always known it as the “Burma Steps” ever since I started to fish the river back in 1984. I was told by someone who has fished the river much, much longer than me and who had actually helped to dig the steps in the first place that it found its origins in World War II when our troops were fighting in Asia and had to push back against the Japanese incursion into India through the Burmese jungle. Our troops had to climb up and down the Burmese valleys and mountains fighting the Japanese in order to halt their progress. So that is the easy question answered, but what about that mound of clay and why is it there?

 

If you have heard of ‘terminal moraine’ then you, as well as the dictionary, will know that it is “a mass of rocks and sediment carried down and deposited by a glacier”. “What is a glacier doing in the Vale of Clwyd?” I hear you say, well it is a long story that begins many thousands of years – 14,000 years in fact.

 

During the Ice Age, ice flowing south from Scotland filled the Irish Sea and reached inland and into the Vale of Clwyd as far south as modern-day Denbigh doing what all glaciers do best – pushing all the rubble in its path until it comes to a stop, in this case just outside of where Bodfari now is. So, all this sediment and debris just got left behind when the glacier retreated and this is what you now climb today as you ascend or descend the “Burma Steps”. Those who travel the A 541 between Bodfari and Trefnant most likely cross it every day without even realising.

 

As you approach the “Burma Steps” from downstream you will be walking where the glacier, maybe 1 kilometre thick, would have been. Then as you stroll down the more gentler slope on the upstream side, this is where fourteen-thousand years ago you would have gazed across a large lake that would have formed behind the terminal moraine as the glacier finally retreated.

 

Now stop and take another moment to think and then you will understand why, when we get all that rain we have been getting recently, the bottom section of the Vale of Clwyd once again turns in to a wet, boggy marsh and in time of floods the vale almost reverts back to its former self as a shallow lake.

 

Over time the river has cut its way through the terminal moraine to create that steep cliff. So the next time you stand on top of the “Burma Steps” to catch your breath, just enjoy the view and think of all that has gone before, in time immemorial, to create the fishing we relish today.

 

Just one final thought – have you ever noticed that as the river meanders and cuts its way through the bankside it exposes lots of tree trunks? I have often asked myself how old these trunks are as they are typically very hard, black and found usually many feet below the surface of the bank. I think it would be interesting to have them dated. Perhaps they were around when the Romans were building their Villa at Bodfari or when the hill forts were being built along the Clwydian mountain range. Perhaps they are even older than that. I wonder what the fishing was like then.

Rodd  Innhand esq

SSCV Floatabout

North Sea

North Norway

June 2012

 
Number 2 late May 2012
 

Dreams of silver fish; Reflections of an absentee fisherman (2)

Back in port, and yes you have guessed it, the fishing ban is over for the time being. The boys are out en masse at the stern with their hand lines feathering for mackerel. It is a bit hit and miss as we can not follow the fish – we have to wait for them to come to us. There is a lot of waiting around but when a shoal does swim by the fishing is always fast and furious, and until the shoal disappears the action is frantic to say the least. There is a mad dash to get the fish off the hook and the feathers back in the water as fast as possible. The sun fades slowly over the horizon and its disappearance gets later each night. At the moment it is well after 11:30pm and it is a pleasant change to spend a couple of “off shift hours” relaxing and enjoying the view of the Norwegian fjords as the mountains recede into the sunset, and to hear the excited chatter of foreign tongues as they haul their catch up over the hand rails. You get the odd raised voice floating out of the darkness every now and then when something out of the ordinary is caught but whatever it is, it all goes into the bag for the cooks to collect.It makes a nice change to have some fresh fish for lunch because it is nearly always out of the freezer, but as they can not catch enough to feed the whole crew and there are almost four-hundred of us on-board, you have to be pretty quick off the mark at lunch time if you want your share. There is always a loud groan from the Asian crew when today’s fresh catch runs out.Quite often the Thai welders will save the odd fish or two fish and cook their own behind the welder’s shack. It’s quite a simple operation; they built themselves a large wok and in that goes a couple of inches of well-seasoned & spicy oil of their own making. Then, the fish are usually cut up into steaks and deep fried – heads, tails everything goes in, and it’s not long before the aroma of deep fried fish is wafting down the deck. Another subtle hint is when you see a large queue lining up (out of sight of the bridge, mind you) for a sample of deliciously hot deep fried spicy mackerel or whatever it is they managed to catch that day. When we are in warmer climates they will also salt and air-dry their catch in the hot sun. It takes a bit of nerve to try this salted fishy delicacy as the environment is not that hygienic behind the welder’s shack to say the least, but what the heck. I always think it tastes a bit like pork scratching and just as chewy.Whilst we are in port, our Southern Italian crew members have over the years made themselves various types of crab and lobster pots and have become quite proficient and this time is no different. The pots are baited and in the water almost before the ship had moored up against the quay wall. The fitter foreman has a passion for seafood as do most Sicilians and has dedicated part of his motley crew to the sole aim of supplying the chosen few with the fruits of the sea. Quite often you will see our small crew boat making its rounds checking the pots every few hours. Those crabs that are unlucky enough to fall foul of the pots are then boiled and either dressed or made into a sauce to add to whatever shape of pasta we are having that meal time or occasionally, if the chief is feeling adventurous, we will have a seafood risotto special with a mix of all that days catch.  

 

We are going back offshore soon so the fishing will be put on hold again so it will be back to reading the “Trout & Salmon” magazine and dreaming of all those fish heading back to our little river. I just hope our paths cross in July.

Rodd  Innhandesq

SSCV Floatabout

North Sea

Stavanger

28 May 2012

 

Dreams of silver fish; Reflections of an absentee fisherman (1)

 

So, it is the middle of May and I am back at work. Sadly, I only managed to get two days of fishing under my belt – what a wash out April became!

I came back from Mexico with the whole season stretching out in front of me. Having missed the mini heat wave we had at the end of March due to a course in Rotherham, I was ready to hit the river with some vengeance. The whole season’s campaign had all been planned down to the very last detail over the winter months; I would be home to catch the tail end of the Grannom hatch if I was lucky. I always look forward to that. This sedge is the opening batsman in the trout flies’ team but it now seems to have dwindled to a part-time player over the last few years so it is quite a rare occurrence now to see the females swarming upstream, dipping there bright green egg sacks in the water. Looking back, my favourite place for seeing these was just below the old railway bridge at Bodfari, down as far as the stone pool. Those who fish this beat will probably know where I mean.

March and April for me is also a time to get to know the river again after the long months off the water during the winter. It is like coming home from a holiday only to have found that someone has moved the furniture, not all of it, just the odd piece. It is the same room but different, though just not quite what you remember. Then there is that anticipation as you round a bend (fingers crossed) of always hoping to see that your favourite sea trout pool is still in one piece and that the winter floods have not changed it in any way or even, heaven forbid, washed it totally away.

As you walk the bank casting here and there, in the vain hope that a desperately hungry trout will take pity on you and grab your fly, your mind wanders (or it does for me anyway) to seasons past. It’s a halcyon time of when you flicked a fly under that bush you have just passed only to lose a decent sized fish, or of the time when you trundled a nice juicy worm under those roots and managed to winkle out a surprisingly large Seatrout – but that is in the months to come. Right now, however, it is cold, wet and windy.

Early spring is a strange time on the river; the trees are not quite in leaf and the bank side vegetation is nowhere as lush as it will be in June. The banks have a sort of “short back and sides” cut and the weather, which can be all over the place, for example one minute there are ice cold showers, and then the next the sun pops out as warm as toast – that is if you can find a stretch out of that biting cold wind – but whatever the weather, there is always a fly hatching somewhere to tempt the odd fish to rise.

Anyway, back to the present. I was going to tell you about the fantastic fishing to be had on-board, but the weather has been too rough out here in the North Sea and the welders have been too busy doing their day job to get their lines out. Besides, the captain has banned fishing whilst we are in the oil field, “clients instructions” he says, but just wait until he fancies a bit of cod or such – then he will change his mind and send the boys out fishing again.

Rodd  Innhand esq

SSCV Floatabout

North Sea

Somewhere off Stavanger

 

Our ferret, Seajunky has volunteered to start the ball rolling. We look forward to seeing more in the future

The lady in the floppy hat!

 

Many years ago I used to work on a golf course. One of my hobbies at that time was badger watching. Which sometimes meant being on the golf course at silly o’clock: It was one of those really warm summer nights that we used to get down south quite often. The ground was damp, and you know the way a river will steam sometimes when the air is cold, it was just like that on the golf course, it was all a bit eerie really, the mist stayed below waist height, so badger watching was out for the night, so a friend and I started on our way home at around 0230am We were walking along the side of a bit of a hill, and the mist was rolling down the hill, Very horror film like, we stood and watched it for a while feeling a bit cold by now, a shiver run down my neck and back. The moon was out which gave the mist an eerie glow. In the hedge row was a gap of some 30 yards or so, in the middle of the gap was just one solitary blackthorn bush. We was watching but not believing what we was seeing, it was a lady dressed in a very flared Victorian type dress, with a tight bodice, and a very large floppy brimmed hat, that rose at the front as she was walking very fast, almost on the verge of running. She appeared to be floating in the mist, we couldn’t see her feet. She passed behind the solitary blackthorn bush in the gap. She didn’t re-appear on the other side. Not feeling like investigating this, we made a very quick exit from the golf course. The tree was always referred to as the lady tree between us from then on. And this area was always given a very wide birth by us each and every time we went badger watching from then on.

Copyright Seajunky 2010

The one that got away.

 

Since I started this thread, I suppose had better add my piece, I have 2 great memories that will always stay with me. The first one was that I had booked my very first sea fishing trip, back in the early 70′s aboard a boat called the “Lady Sybil” skippered by Bill Wilkinson, (Wilky) at Margate in Kent, it was to be a 4 hour trip. It was in August, it was a very bright day, a bit windy. I had been to the local tackle shop and bought some bait, and hired a rod, or should I say broom handle, it had a winch fitted to it loaded with line that must of been 70 or 80 lb breaking strain line, through fear of maybe loosing a hook I suppose. I went down to the harbour and was told the forecast was for rising winds, and that the trip had been called off. The skipper could see how disappointed I was and invited me to fish off of the end of Margate pier, to save wasting my bait and rod hire. There was a bar at the end of the pier. So there I was catching the usual fish, mackerel, pouting, garfish, the odd whiting. The skipper came out of the pub, pint in hand to watch me fishing. I caught a pouting of about 1/2 a lb. He said leave it on as bait, and I might catch a bass. This I did, I just dropped it over the side of the pier, propped the rod against the railings and turned round to speak to the skipper when the butt of the rod hit me in the ass, I quickly picked up the rod, the line was screaming off of the reel, I didn’t know what to do so the skipper put his beer down and became my mentor, he leaned over and tightened up the clutch as tight as it would go, the line was still running off of the reel, so he told me to apply thumb pressure to both sides of the spool on the multiplier, this I did, it was still trying to pull the line off, I got blisters on both thumbs. This had been going on a while, and by now a crowd of people had formed, a guy was down at water level with a gaff. We hadn’t even seen the fish yet, it was making huge runs and taking back all the line that I had got back onto the reel. Not to drag this out to far the line snapped, this had been my very first serious sea fishing experience. Fish lost but what an experience. Bill Wilky became one of my best friends, and I started to work for him on his boat after that.

The story doesn’t finish there,

The very next day I was down at the harbour just having a look around when a small gill net boat came into the harbour with a fish laying across the gunnels’, it’s head was hanging over one side and it’s tail over the other side. It was a tope, it was 70lb, the record at the time for a rod caught tope I believe was about 50lb. And you guessed it, it had my hire tackle hanging from it’s mouth. I had hooked and lost a record tope on my very first sea fishing trip.

I sometimes wonder who hooked who, did I hook the fish? or did the fish hook me? ;)

Copyright Seajunky 2010

O no it’s a dead body

 

The wife an I went fishing to Shoreham harbour, we had set up on the beach, it was a lovely still night, very calm, and we were getting bites straight away, mainly from flatties. When out of the corner of my eye I saw a hand sticking up out of the water. O my god it’s a dead body. The hand was blueish, as it would be if it had been in the water for any length of time, so one would imagine anyway. I couldn’t reach it, it was just too far out, The wife kept saying lets call the police, she kept saying it. And for once I stood my ground and insisted that we would call them in a minute when we get the body out of the water, by now she was half a mile up the beach. The current very slowly moved the body more inshore, closer and closer it came, until at last I could reach it with the tip of my rod. I tried to ease it towards me, it moved towards me, I could almost reach it now, Very slowly it moved towards me. I put my rod back on the beach and waded out I could now reach it, as I got hold of it there was no weight to it, I lifted the blue marigold glove out of the water. Air had been trapped inside of the glove making it float in a very menacing way; we often have a laugh about that to this day.

Copyright Seajunky 2010

Well, here we go, the second in the saga of tales from Seajunky.

The black dog Inn

 

Just after the hurricane hit the south of England in 1987, Geraldine and I had booked a holiday in Dorset. We had been out for a run out down to Lullworth Cove. We sat in the car park right next to the beach. The sea was still extremely rough; it was still so windy that we could feel it trying to pick the car up, it was battering the car quite badly. Some of the houses on Portland Bill still had sand bags against their front doors, and these houses were a good 100 feet above sea level. But with the wind blowing the sea high in the air it was travelling up hill and flooding the houses as it run back down.

We were making our way home and we decided to pop into a pub which is fairly close to our lodgings. By now it was really raining as well. As we entered the pub just imagine the site that greeted up, a huge log fire in an inglenook fire place, laying on the floor in front of the fire was a great big lazy black Labrador, and laying on him was a big fat ginger cat, they both lifted their heads as we walked in and lay back down, and apart from us and the animals the pub was empty. I said to the wife to site down by the fire to get warm as I made my way over to the bar. The landlord appeared from a back room behind the bar, and he greeted us by saying, good lord customers. He went on to explain because of the weather it had been very quiet. I asked for a pint of the locally brewed beer, and a drink for the wife. I asked him about the pubs unusual name “The Black Dog” He smiled and then he asked if we would mind if he poured himself a drink and joined us by the fireside, we of course said that he would be most welcome. He then started to tell us about how back in the 17th century the pub was very popular with the Dorset smugglers, who used to meet at the pub before and after any skulduggery that was going on. Under the pub there had been a long tunnel dug, this was used to enter and leave the pub unobserved, it came up about 250 yards from the pub behind a hedge row. The entrance is still there but it is barred up.  As he was telling us this story, the wind was howling outside , and the rain was lashing against the windows of the pub, the landlord got a pipe out of his pocket and slowly packed it with tobacco and lit it, the smoke was sucked towards and disappeared up the chimney. (You could smoke in the pubs back in those days) Anyway One day the customs men had been tipped off about the men using the pub, and what they got up to. And even in those days would you believe it, they had sniffer dogs, they were trained to sniff out tobacco and booze. The customs men had caught some of the men from the pub, then one day the customs men found the tunnel, and put their sniffer dog to work. Well the dog run the full length of the tunnel and came up in the pub, the smugglers got hold of the dog and killed it by chopping its head off. The windows rattled in their frames, At this point in the story he asked us to walk over to the window and look outside. There was an emergency run off, like you would have at the bottom of a big hill, (I think they call it an escape ramp, for when your brake fail) well the road outside the pub was dead flat; we sat back down by the fire. The landlord went on to explain that even to this day cars keep swerving to miss a headless black dog that runs across the road in front of the cars just outside of the pub, and its always in the same place. And sometimes on a still night the sound of a howling dog from deep under the pub can be heard.

Copyright Seajunky 2010