I usually take a short break in Feb/March to chase pike and trout but with Covid 19 confining me to barracks I realised that this would be my first shore trip in 6 months. It was just a quick visit as I was under orders to be home early as “we” i.e. herself, had volunteered for baby minding. The car was loaded up with the almost certain knowledge that something would be forgotten; but it wouldn’t be bait as I selected three smallish frozen mackerel from the freezer. The sea was too flat for the beaches so I tried a deeper mark casting from rock onto sand. There were two guys already fishing there, thankfully with bait and not feathers as this spot is a handy one for the macky-bashers at times. I quickly fitted the multiplier to the fixed spool rod, spotted my mistake and corrected it, managed to thread the line without missing a ring and attached a single hook clipped rig and nice shiny new lead, (still warm from yesterday’s lead making session!). But on unwrapping the first mackerel to cut a slice of bait I discovered it was extremely soft and would require a generous application of elastic. A rummage in the box revealed what had been forgotten as predicted earlier. Out went the bait with a gentle cast. The other rod was armed with a 3 hook flapper, smaller hooks and matching strips of mush, sorry, bait. A very gentle swing out, a splash, down went the lead and rig leaving 3 strips of mush on the surface. Try again but this time stitching the bait on. After 20 minutes both rods were retrieved with every hook squeaky clean. Once or twice, I spotted a few quick nods of the rod tip before it went quiet and on retrieve the hooks were clean. It was too easy for the fish to suck the soft bait off the hooks. I checked the other macks and found one was slightly firmer so I cut some bait from this one and re-cast near and far. Ten minutes later and a good, persistent rattle registered on the flapper rod and in came a nice double of dabs, the bigger stretching to 29cm. Unfortunately it was hooked through a gill and was bleeding profusely and the hook snapped while I was attempting to remove it. It was probably a “gonner” so I asked the guy to my right if he wanted it. He thanked me for it and told me he had got a big “flamba” earlier (I’d guess he was from somewhere in the far east of Asia and his English wasn’t great). “A flounder?” I guessed. “Yes, big Flamba!” as he reached into a bag for it. “That’s not a flounder, it’s a turbot” “A tur-nip?” “No, a Tur-bot” “Turn-but?” “ No, TUR, TUR, no N,N,N. Turbot.” “Aaahhh, Turn-ut?” “No, tur…….Yes!” And we both laughed. A short while later I had a good knock on the flapper rod again but this time it was a small 23cm flounder. The distance rod with the bigger bait failed to register a single bite. By now the mackerel was softening and the rain was hardening, the bites stopped altogether and I was wondering whether this was coincidence. After all how would fish on the sea bed know it was raining and why should they care? It was near enough time to head for home so I packed up, looking forward to the next trip and glad, despite having poor quality bait, to have got a few fish. And, of course, I had met a man who couldn’t tell his flamba from his turnip!
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