Time: 21:00 - 01:00
Tide: LW 21:30 0.8m, HW 03:27 3.8 m
Wind: Practically calm
Conditions: Perfect, 2-3 ft surf, little weed
Rigs, 3 hook flapper #1, Pennel Pulley 3/0
Bait: Sandeel, Mackerel, Frozen black lug
Results: Coalfish 42 cm, whiting, dogfish
Arrived at the beach to find nice conditions and a gentle surf rolling in. Set up a 3 hook flapper with a different bait on each hook and lobbed it out thirty yards.
I was just after casting out the second rod at longer range when I got a thumping bite on the near rod. It was pretty much low tide at this point.
Reeling in I felt a lively fish on the line, giving a good account in the surf, pulling left and right. I landed the fish and saw a flash of silver and black, thinking it might be a bass, but I wasn't too disappointed to find a decent coalfish had taken the sandeel. He measured 42 cm. As I get a nice bit of abuse from my better half about my hours spent fishing and very few fish brought home (due to,ahem, very very strict C&R), I decided to bring home dinner for once.
I rebaited fast and cast into the the same area. As I cast I heard that sickening crack and a distinct lack of weight on the rod. Leader and rig gone, and a frayed piece of braid was the giveaway as to what had happened. Cue next ten minutes tying on a new leader , new rig and rebaiting.
The next hour or so was pretty quiet. As the tide started chasing me up the beach I started picking up whiting on both mackerel in close and on lug at range. Three were caught in pretty fast succession.
At one point the solitude of the beach was disturbed by screeching animal noises coming from the carpark behind. A fox out hunting perhaps? When the "fox" started whooping and hollering in a juvenile fashion, I realised that the animals in question were adolescent, and human, the area obviously a favourite place for the young and the restless.
For the next hour my audience would jeer and cheer every time I switched on my headlamp. I'm glad that I was able to provide some entertainment, and also mystified that I was the biggest show in town on a Friday night.
At about 23:00 I got another strong bite on the close rod. Again this felt like a lively fish. As I was reeling in the fish managed to somehow find a snag on the clean beach. I worked out of the snag but the fish was gone. Looking at the rig, he had taken a lug/mackerel cocktail and had managed to wrap the snood around the mainline, thus giving the leverage needed to get to freedom.
The last part of the session was quiet. As a last measure, I lobbed out the head of my big frozen mackerel mounted on a 6/0 hook to see if the bigger scent trail might tempt a bass. After a while there was some small movement on the rod tip which I guessed was tide or weed. Reeling in I found, of course, the dogfish who had tried and failed to fit the huge mackerel head into his mouth, but had gotten himself hooked just the same. Once hooked, the dogfish had decided to just sit down and wait for the whole business to blow over, as is typical of their species. I unhooked the length of sinewy sandpaper and sent him on his way.
All fish bar one came from within forty yards of the shore.
PS coalfish has a reputation for being poor eating. It's not as nice as cod, but once bled properly, it has perfect white flesh once cooked.
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