After a few poor enough sessions and a temporary diversion to the trout, I thought it was time to try the saltwater again. In with the gear and off I went. My primary intention was to try a shallow beach but with bright sunshine and mid ebb at around 6.30pm I headed for a deep water mark first. With two rods set up, 3 hook flapper and small baits and a pulley with a larger bait, the waiting began. An hour passed without so much as a tremble so a quick visit to the car for some grub seemed in order. 15 mins later I returned to the rods and decided to check the baits. I lifted the flapper rod and bent into something solid, a sandy bottom meant it wasn’t snagged on rocks etc. It slowly began to move and steady pressure kept it moving towards me. It suddenly took off in close and headed straight for some weed almost at my feet; a thornback. Twenty pound trace and size 4 hooks suggested a degree of caution and with the aid of a surge of water I beached her. After a couple of quick snaps, she weighed in at 9lb on the button, my best ray from the shore. I popped her back quickly as a happy event was imminent. This was my first thornback from this mark and it was also the earliest in the year I’ve ever got one so I was well pleased on all 3 counts. Things went quiet again for an hour, the weather as well as the fishing. Somewhere behind me I could hear a cock pheasant calling; I wondered what he had to shout about, I bet he hadn’t just caught his first thornback of the year. Something caught my eye in a nearby field, a fine looking cock pheasant out strutting in the sunshine. They’re just coming into their prime, a bit like myself. I was fairly certain it wasn’t the one I’d heard earlier, wrong direction, so I collected the binoculars from the car and had a scout around. Sure enough there was another one behind me, accompanied by a hen; that’s what he was crowing about! I wonder which of us was doing better? Even as I watched them I could hear a third one calling from further away. The things you see when you haven’t got a gun. Meanwhile a few delicate rattles showed on the flapper rod so I gave it time to develop before tightening into a fish; the first of three doggies, all welcome when there isn’t much else around. By now it was mid ebb and while sure I would have picked up a few more fish into darkness, I headed for the beach. There was very little surf despite the onshore breeze and I fished for a good three and a half hours without a bite. Eventually the larger bait fished at maximum distance induced a good strong initial lunge of the rod tip followed by a few more tugs and rattles so I struck but failed to connect. I fished on for another biteless 40 mins before deciding to pack it in. Still with the first ray of the year I was hopeful a corner had been turned.
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