The Sea

I have not exactly done a lot of sea-fishing. 'Occasional' would perhaps be a better word. Notwithstanding that I started my fishing in the sea, strictly speaking the Mediterranean Sea, hand-lining for rainbow wrasse, gobies and moray eels. And I like the sea, it is always nice to be near to, and while I am not ever likely to take to beach-casting in a big way, show me a rock with a depth of translucent blue-grey water off it or a small grey-stone harbour wall or even an especially deep rock pool, then I am twitching for a float and a few limpets in a box.

I have even caught the occasional fish.

(If, dear reader, you are wondering what this page's 'thumbnail icon' is...it's a mermaid. Honest. Peer closely.)

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The Sea in 1973 1973. Cyprus. Onward and eastward. Hot and dry. Sometimes very hot and dry. Sunny. Really really sunny.

I had the good fortune to live here from 1971-4, plucked, to Mother's evident relief, from the extremes of Boddam to 100°F (37°C) in the shade. Ow. This was where I started actually fishing, as opposed to dreaming about fishing while reading the "Ladybird Book of Coarse AnglingI'm not certain one needs to fish wearing a collar-and-tie...". I had neither rod nor reel and initially made hooks from safety pins (I read about how to make these in a 'survival' book) and for line used a single thread out of the middle of parachute cord (green for preference). This worked surprisingly well, especially with a range of safety pins, though the angle and length of the 'hook' and 'barb' was critical.

Once I found a 'pattern' that worked it was guarded with my life and copied. One pair of pliers and a concrete wall used for a file and sharpener - the wall outside the back door had three solid metal posts embedded (for some long lost wire) each making a handy makeshift anvil for beating home-made hooks a little flat and the fine-cast smooth concrete made the 'said perfectly serviceable file. Safety-pin hooks they might have been, but they were 'cold forged' and needle sharp.

Safety pin HookSafety pin Hook Proper 'paracord'Proper 'paracord': 'paracord' fishing line - (the core threads)

Eventually I gleaned enough real tackle (line, hooks and shot) by buying little bits and finding a surprising amount. I still find a large amount...I digress. I once came by a small cardboard box of 100 Mustad spade-end hooks, something about a size '14', I sometimes wonder where they all went.

The fishing, accompanied by various friends, was carried out while sitting on a handy 8-foot across flat-topped rock at the bottom of the cliffs. This, directly behind the house, was reached by walking over the hill with the secret radio-listening post, skirting the minor dump (where I once used a pallet as a stepping stone among the piles of old tins, in this way 'discovering' a bees' nest) then descending the rocky path on one side of a spur of soft sandstone. This was nearly as high as the cliff-top itself and was known to all as "Camel's Hump". There, armed with a hand-line and a knife, we fished from the flat rock for small wrasse and some kind of blenny, using limpets prised from the rocks with a pen-knife for bait.

A couple of split-shot were used to keep the bait down and your finger was the bite indicator. Bites were more or less non-stop, but wrasse have small mouths and hard teeth and as a result were hard to hook and on a good morning you might catch ten fish. These, cuckoo wrasse, were predominately green, with purple and yellow markings and mostly only a couple of ounces.

We envied the lucky folk with fishing rods, who could cast the 30 feet needed to catch bream or garfish.

If the bait was lowered to the bottom, then you would pick up blennies, easier to catch, but fewer and further between. The risk was, that a bait on the bottom became interesting for moray eels (aka the Roman eel, muraena helena), a sort of 'eel shaped demon' with sewing machine needles instead of teeth. And no sense of humour at all.

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This is the insane bit.

Once or twice we caught a small moray - a foot or so long, but still quite an exciting thing. The trouble was that even a small one would back into the rocks on the bottom and a protracted tug of war was needed to get them out. The only difference between being snagged on a rock and snagged on a moray, was that despite keeping the line as tight as you dared, the moray would give an occasional tug back. If there was more than one of you and the water was shallow, then the non-combatant would get in and move some rocks to loosen the eel.

At some point these accidental catches developed into a deliberate sport. The 'moray rig' was a piece of broom handle, some very heavy line and a wire trace with a big hook on it. I have no idea where we got the wire, but being quite resourceful, it was probably a strand of an old bike brake cable or similar. Then, you caught an unfortunate blenney and, using its head as a bait, searched out a big hole in between the large rocks and dropped the bait into the hole...

...if you were 'lucky' the hole harboured one of the three-foot mottled yellow and brown monsters. There was no 'bite' as such; just an inexorable tightening of the line, the response to which was to pull hard and fast, minimising, hopefully, the moray's purchase. I once hooked one such and anchored by its tail to its rocky lair, the top half was pulled clear of the water, with me on the other end...eventually, if one is resolute, the eel tires and is extracted inch by inch, then eventually and suddenly it lets go - a yard of well-armed thrashing airborne psychopathy heading in your direction focuses the mind somewhat - then it makes land in one's general area. A location that suddenly becomes marginally less comfortable than it was. As I said, 'no sense of humour'.

The only way (and I was very young) was to go after it with a knife and separate the head from the body, perhaps a little easier said than done...getting your hook back was troublesome, as the upper jaw bone was 'V' shaped and the hook tended to go right through the 'V'. It was a mistake to think that the head, only lately detached from the body, could not bite. You can take my word for that.

Maybe this is why I am tolerant of anguilla anguilla - compared with the muraena helena, the freshwater eel is a friendly and harmless thing...mostly.

should be old ledger weights...coffin...(and back to the top of the page) should be old ledger weights...barrel... should be old ledger weights...coffin... should be old ledger weights...barrel... should be old ledger weights...coffin... should be old ledger weights...barrel...

The Sea in 1975 1975. Rhyd y Gari, Cymyran. There are three contrasting ways to fish the sea here (or there were). You can fish off the south beach or in the channel between Holy Island and the Main Island or fish on the vast flat exposed by the falling tide, through which a few back-channels fill on the incoming tide, one from the far side of the sand. This was not quite as risky as some places. That said, keeping a close eye on the water was necessary if you chose to fish off the exposed sand, especially as one of the first channels that filled ran on the inside track, cutting you right off with five knots and four feet of cold water.

• This brings me to 'The Barnes Wallis BassYou can hum the theme music to 'The Dambusters' while reading this bit if you like.'...we had the good fortune to have a neighbour (whose name escapes me) take myself and my brother out bass-fishing from the sands at the south end of Rhyd y Gari, opposite Cymyran (Pathfinder 750 for the curious) - "rhyd" translates to "ford" which some might think optimistic.

The channel between Anglesey and Holy Island is narrow with a ferocious flow. As the tide turns you can watch the water stop, hover and start to move in the other direction. It really rips, you would be lost in an instant. If you skip a flat stone across this flow and get it right you get a perfect parabola of splashes that holds its curve for a moment before vanishing. Anyhow, our neighbour lent the brother a beach-caster and as my seven foot rod had the oomph if not length, I used that. He also very decently gave my brother a 6' white fibreglass spinning rod, which he still has and should not be sneezed at. Solid fibreglass has a good springy action, better than hollow and is very tough. I digress. Again.

The first part of 'Operation Bass' involved finding peeler-crabs, which was a new experience for us and good fun. Rooting around the seashore is a satisfying activity at any time, probably due to it being difference between 'lunch' and 'being lunch' at some distant point in our collective ancestry. You hunt around for crabs in the seaweed and under rocks and if you find a crab, see if it is ready to peel by looking for a crack in the back of the shell or breaking off a bottom bit of leg and see if a new skin is forming underneath, the precursor to shedding its old shell. Occasionally a soft-shelled crab can be found that has just 'peeled'. These are pretty useful bait as well.

Anyhow, we were tackled up with the crabs secured by cotton thread on a large bright barbed-shank hooks All three of us stood on the sand at the edge of the flow, cast in and stood there holding our rods. At this point there is a vast expanse of sand when the tide is out, some 200 yards across and stretching all the way back to Four Mile Bridge some two miles away. My brother asked what we should do if we got a fish and was told that bass had large mouths and a tendency to head towards the shore when hooked and were best dealt with by retreating away from the shore while reeling in, both to be done at a brisk pace. Time and tide came in, the weather and surroundings were pleasant, a few words were exchanged, but we were thirteen and eleven and our guide was an adult and there was little to discuss.

During one of the short exchanges, I turned to our neighbour and became aware that there was someone missing from our little party. I looked round - 30 yards away with a beach-caster over one shoulder was a diminishing form not inconsistent with the younger bother. I looked at my neighbour and he at me, then there was a splash between our positions, followed by a large silver object that skipped out of the surf, bounced off the shelving sand and once more between our feet before skating and skipping across the sand. I think we both yelled words to the effect of "you can stop now" to a now distant and determined figure...

The stunned fish turned out to be an 8lb bass (this was the biggest fish either of us caught for five years). It was a tremendous fish which ever way you look at it. I am still a little envious and only partly because I was reminded on a regular basis for the next five years who had caught the family record fish. Interesting use of the word 'caught'. It was a bigger bass than our erstwhile mentor had ever caught either and I think it rather got him down at the time, although he was very decent about it.

This is the nature of fishing, you can spend a lot of time trying for the elusive and next day someone turns up out of the blue, bungs in a bait and wallop. Luck counts for a lot, which is part of the point. I do not recall my brother coming again, but I certainly fished there on several other occasions, but never did catch a bass there.

The Sea in 1975 1975. Rhyd y Gari, Cymyran. I went at least twice more with 'the neighbour'. The first time, I switched from bass-fishing off the steppe, to fishing a baited spoon in the channel that the incoming tide ran through between the house and the sand-steppe. I had read about it you see, although I could not convince myself that the hook mounted directly on the spoon would work, so removed it then tied on a foot of line with the hook at the other end. I perched on the rock and fished this modification 'sink-and-draw' and nabbed two flounders, the second large enough the pull the tip of the old blue 'pool cue' right over. "If they get any bigger", said the bass-fishing responsible adult, "I shall fish for them myself."

I subsequently modified the spoon by adding a couple of small drilled bullets under the bead, to add casting weight. On another occasion having bass-fished off the steppe sans bass, after the tide had run in a little I fished the channel to no avail, then decided to cast into the filling lagoon behind - once having reached dry land that is. I stood on a handy rock and did get my flounder but it was decently sized, caught the current and I had to fall in or step in. I chose wisely, so had to empty the wellies and endure jibes along the lines of "A flatty pulled him in". On the way home, the hurriedly collapsed rod left the spoon dangled outside the boot and the wire was more than bent by the trip...and here it is. Three flounders and a plaice to the good.

the flounder spoonBattered but not beaten, the flounder spoon. the flounder spoonScruffy but effective...the spoon, not the user.

The sand dunes between the parking area and the beach was the back-stop for a long forgotten small-arms range and one could find a score of 0.45" bullets in little time and then, as boys do, sit on the beach with a catapult and try to hit seagulls on the wing. Once I even hit one, punching it out the sky into the grey-sea, then immediately felt something of a heel.

'Rhyd y Gari, CymyranJust to the right out of shot is the rock that the flounder didn't pull me off. This pool becomes a stream on the incoming tide, flowing away from the camera, and the little bay becomes a handy spot for flatties. And long lines. 'Rhyd y Gari, CymyranLooking in the direction of Caernarfon Bay. Cymyran is just visible on the right and the tide has just turned. 'Rhyd y Gari, CymyranRhyd y Gari sands. Looks nice. When the tide turns it races across there, let me tell you.

I can recall only the three trips in fact, although I once set up a long-line on the steppe, wading the bottom end of the 'other' Afon Crigyll with five hooks, a long piece of para-cord and a stake at one end and a stone with a hole in it on the other. I put blood-loops in the para-cord then loop-knotted the 12lb Perlon - my 'sea fishing' line. It took some weeks wait to get a time when the evening tide was low and the Saturday morning tide was low as well, I caught two, neither massive, both went in the pan and for the parent's part I had 'just been fishing off the beach'. Kind of true. The flounders tasted just fine.

A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box...(and back to the top of the page) A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box

The Sea in 1976 1976. The Weston Shore. I fished here with 'Old Bob', on-and-off from 1974 or so. The Weston Shore is on the east side of Southampton water and was reached by Morris Traveller via an invariable stop for bait on the way, down some backstreet. 'Old Bob' would dart off, then return with a newspaper-packet of rag-worms. The beach was shingle with some kind of a step, an old stage perhaps, and I had only the seven foot 'Mk.I', but it would cast a 2oz lead quite well - certainly as far as was required. 'OB'Old Bob', do keep up' had made a rod-rest from a five-foot galvanised steel fence-post, into the right angle of which about a foot down, he had pop-riveted a 15oz soup tin, sans soup. This, when driven well down into the shingle, worked quite well for my little rod, with himself's solid glass-fibre beach-caster leaning against a tripod. For bite detection you watched the rod-tip. That was it really. I fished here many times, sometimes with the bother along, and accompanied many other expeditions, growing to like the place, despite the fact I never had a bite, never mind a fish.

Before 1975, 'flatties' and silver eels were often caught and brought home for the pot, the eels spending the night in the bath before becoming fish-cakes. A metallic smell and baleful looks were a feature of 'calls of nature' and it might be fanciful, but I suspected them of being alive as they moved occasionally. The catches dropped off in the mid 1970's, the eels became infrequent, the 'flatties' grew smaller and were often oily tasting. Many when cooked were spat out, replaced with on-the-run fish-fingers. After a few of those, 'Old Bob' stopped bringing them home.

There was always a flask of hot milky coffee, sandwiches and the wind was keen, even if you hunched down, but that did not make it less enjoyable. Beach-combing for lost tackle was always worth a punt and I collected a variety of clip-on bells and any number of weights and brass wire fittings, the former two items donated to 'Old Bob', most of the latter were stored for re-use for myself. The brass wire, annealed on the stove, could be re-formed for, to quote one random example, repairing flounder-spoons that had got bent out of shape by being dragged behind a car for three miles.

I should mention the lead weights. I had probably wondered aloud about the requirement for ledger weights on a day when the weather made outdoor pursuits unfeasible. 'Old Bob' was a great improviser so he found some piece of off-cut hard-wood and carved a line of small coffin-lead shaped holes in it, in a row. He then laid a piece of string through the line of depressions and then melted lead and simply filled the holes. This, although blackening the wood and charring the string, worked quite well and we produded a small number of these little oddly-shaped coffin leads, running some kind of broach though the holes to clean them out. A quantity of 'drilled bullets' were made in the same way. This was fishing tackle for no money - it is hard to describe how pleasing it was to acquire such a quantity of items for free.

We went on to make sea-fishing weights using old tea-spoons and serving-spoons as moulds. The former made a 2oz on the nose and the latter something a little over 11oz. Eyes were made of twisted copper wire and laid in the spoon-bowl and the lead was simply poured into the bowl. We made some 'breakaway' leads, by leaving long tags of wire sticking out of the flat side - the wrong side of course if one thinks on it for a moment. One such held the end of my keep-net down for many years after. 'Old Bob' being mostly a plumber had plenty of lead about. No-one considered the toxicity of lead in the context of fishing then, however, it would have been negligable compared to the black oil-fouled silt the fish lived on.

About 4-5ozAbout 11-12oz or so...I weighed it. About 4-5ozAbout 11-12oz or so...I weighed it.

...and for years I thought it was the 'western shore'. Never clicked it was on the east of the water...it is right hereI have sat right here and blanked many many times.

should be old ledger weights...coffin...(and back to the top of the page) should be old ledger weights...barrel... should be old ledger weights...coffin... should be old ledger weights...barrel... should be old ledger weights...coffin... should be old ledger weights...barrel...

The Sea in 1977 1977. Southampton Water and Mr. Bert's Boat; one of 'Old Bob's pals, 'Mr. Bert', (there was a 'Mr. Charlie' as well), had a boat, not a large thing at all, although fine for a bit of inshore dangling and we took at least three trips out in it. On the first occasion, fishing with our short rods, somewhere on the Fawley side of Southampton we all fished ragworm on the deck - I discovered the little bu88ers nip, the laugh was on me - the water wasn't ever so deep, perhaps eight feet and there were no life jackets. It was small boat and the 'facilities' were known, sardonically, as the 'yellow bucket', which was luckily, yellow. One of my duty letters (August 1976) records the first trip, everyone else landing 'schoolie' bass, except myself, who blanked.

On the second occasion, in July 1977, towards the end of the trip I tried my baited spoon and bagged a very decent plaice 'north' of a 1lb or so, to the surprise of all, except, with the blind confidence of youth, the user. On the third trip, I took my nine foot rod, assembled it 'broken' across my knees and fished my big sliding porcupine quill on 6lb line in water that was only eight or nine feet deep. In this way, I ran the float away from the boat on the tide and caught several schoolie bass. Some surprise was expressed by the assembled - in those days sea gear was always thick line, big leads and whopping hooks, whether yer needed them or not; this was 'the way'.

On one of those trips, a squall blew up, so we hot-footed for the landing slip and while at the time it never occurred to me that we were in any danger, despite waves flicking over the sides, I can recall the pale faces and terse manner of 'Old Bob' (who couldn't swim) and 'Mr. Bert' as we docked and packed up. Hm. The following year 'Mr Bert' was no longer on the scene, 'Old Bob' not having heard from him. A nice chap though who put himself out for me and the other one.

The Sea in 1977 1977. The Fawley Break. 'Mr. Bert' took me and the brother shore fishing, somewhere near Hythe or Fawley, he had very decently agreed to take us fishing as 'Old Bob' was working. We had to address him as 'Mr. Bert', this was made quite clear. I could not find the spot on the map but the oil refinery was not a 100 miles away. The shore was edged with timber to give a good fishing platform and on this occasion we used our own short rods and beach casting rests, the sort that allows your rod tip to be well up in the air. It worked after a fashion, as long casting was essential. We had all had a few rattles, from small bass probably and the brother got what was less a bite and more of a steady tightening of the line, which necessitated a quick grab of the rod to keep it out of the water. Something very large swam leisurely up and down for a good bit. There was no control really at the shore end of the line, not for lack of trying. The short six foot rod was very very curved and while breaking the solid fibre-glass was unlikely, eventually the line gave up. It just went slack. We were both gutted.The slow speed and weight hinted at a very large fish.

Old Letter1977, Dear Mater, one is well...my handwriting has deteriorated since then. Old Letter1978, Darling Mother, Dearest Father, Here I am at, Camp Granada...
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The Sea in 1980 July 1980. Splatcove Point. What a great name. I fished from the rock seen in this picture below, an afternoon during a break day in a walking holiday. I caught a small wrasse early doors (a few ounces) and then as the afternoon wore on I dozed off. Inconsiderately, no fish woke me up, so ended the day with sun-burnt ankles. Not a big laugh when you have a fifteen mile walk the next day. Obviously it is for everyone else on holiday. Oh well. 'Live and Learn'. Nice spot though.

Carrying the Mk.IIThe nearly-seven foot-blue solid fibre-glass rod rod tied to the side frame of the rucksack was easy enough. Re-stitching the straps that tied the rucksack to its frame after the 'clash of ties' ripped one out, not so easy. Later, up the coast, one of our number who'd got under K--'s and my skin, led the others 'the girls' across a cliff-top field next to a pub in Strete, convincing himself and others there was a path down to the beach. The map disagreed, we agreed with the map. We leaned on the five-bar field-gate, watched the positive procession stride though thigh-high grass and thistles. "What do you reckon?" I said.

"Mine's a pint." said K--.

Later on the same stroll about, I fished up the Dart, some jetty at the bottom of the hill the Youth hostel was on. Blanked, 'being there' the primary goal, very much a trip of improvisation. Fish? 'Meh'.

The interestingly named Stink Cove and Splatcove point near SalcombeThe interestingly named Stink Cove and Splatcove point near Salcombe

The interestingly named Stink Cove and Splatcove point near Salcombe bar.
© Copyright David Stowell and licensed for reuse.The interestingly named Stink Cove and Splatcove point near Salcombe bar.

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The Sea in 1982 July 1982. Porth Nanven, near St Just-in-Penwith - this is 'round the corner' a bit from Lands End - at the end of a small valley, leading away from the Youth Hostel. It's another one of those places that is more interesting than you first supposePorth Nanven has sometimes been referred to as 'Dinosaur Egg Beach' ....

At the end of the valley is a rocky spur, jutting out into the sea (at high tide anyway, see the piccy at the bottom). The plan for me and one of my walking friends was much to do with having a quiet day after some stiff walking. We'd shopped and fortified with bread, ham, cheese, plus some mead wine, so set off. I was fishing in an incidental way, which is to say, as well as eating and sleeping off the wine. I amused myself by catching a very large goby out of a big rock pool.

As the tide was coming in, we ate, imbibed and settled further up the rocks. I set up a simple paternoster running rig on a 1½oz 'spoon' lead (made by using a tea-spoon as a mould, cheap and very good at staying where put). I levered limpets off as bait, cast out 50-odd yards, sat in a comfortable spot, back on the rocks and held the 7' rod up with a finger over the line...and some time passed. N--, 'fatigued' by mead wine, sunshine and being the least athletic of the three of us, fell asleep. I waited. The tide had come in quite some way and the small beach and pools below were drowned under three or four feet of water. How do I know this?

Two girls appeared walking round the beach from the right. On reaching the bit below where I was fishing, they resolved to wade rather than climb round and being oblivious of me and the napper, stripped to the waist [which was how I knew how deep it was] and waded on around their clothes held over their heads, with much giggling. I kept quiet - I could have woken my friend, but more fun to tell him later. And I didn't want to embarrass anyone, obviously. There's was also the nagging suspicion that with a warm wind and a high tide, they were Kelpies in disguise. One cannot be too careful.

Some time after that, I'd almost dozed off myself, the rod started to bend steadily seawards. Aha. It became clear this was not the wind or current, when, after hitting about the test curve, line started to click steadily of the '40. I forbore the strike (seemed unnecessary somehow) and started to 'play' a very heavy fish which appeared to be swimming parallel to the shore, fifty yards out. It took some time to winch Leviathan shoreward and when the battle was half won, I remembered I was still eight feet above the water so keeping the line tight, made my way down to a shelf on the water line, more or less where the beach met the rocks where the tide had come in.

That's the rock...That's the rock...

N-- surfaced himself and inevitably asked me if it was a fish, prompting a tirade of sarcastic suggestions vis-a-vis submarines, mermaids and associated mythological creatures. I still hadn't ruled out the Kelpie. I kept up the pull-reel-pull until the fish broke water near my feet, revealing itself to be a very large wrasse. I grabbed it by the gill cover and lifted it clear of the water and for a while we both marvelled at the size and colouring. Non-fishermen are often surprised how big a 6lb+ fish actually is, which makes sense if you normally only see fish fingers and battered cod.

Going by the size of carp I'd caught ('two'? 'three'?), this was a fish of not less than 6lb and was likely a good bit bigger. I knew wrasse are not usually eaten and with the Youth Hostel lacking such facilities anyway, the fish was returned to the sea after only a few minutes. Calling it quits, we made our way back to the beach where I was accosted by a man who wanted to know (with some aggression), why the fish had been returned. I explained it was inedible and got a reply suggesting it should have been killed anyway. Atypically I walked away. Still a great fish, not a bad afternoon. Mine improved somewhat when I explained to the sleeper how two mermaids had passed him by.

The next day, we walked on to St. Ives, did not meet a man with seven wives, overtaken after a few miles by a short, spry German girl who appeared to be carrying a sideboard in her rucksack. I'd spent an hour explaining the differences between cricket and baseball to her the previous evening, while playing chess with a the son of another resident of the hostel, while in the background an Australian girl played 'Stairway to Heaven' on the common-room piano. Funny what you remember. I spent the evening fishing in St. Ives harbour, eschewing the first few rounds of beer, blanked of course. Still...

The Sea in 1982 July 1982. Pednennis Point, Falmouth. Mermaids? What mermaids? I took an evening on the rocks behind the Youth Hostel, again levered limpets, then found a deep drop to give me a chance with the seven-foot Mk.II rod. So dreaming of large wrasse, threw the 1½oz dessert-spoon lead into the green-and-grey mysterious, dropped the eyelids and listened to the wind and waves...then I was being watched and opened my eyes onto a grey seal ten yards off, motionless in the waves, dark eyes gravely studying. We watched each other for a short eternity, then it was gone. I offered a silent plea for no seal-and-tackle incidents and when, half-an-hour on, the rod tweaked a bit I leaned back hopefully and found myself immovably snagged, so broke the line and went to the pub...

...which had a jukebox and we amused ourselves playing our own choices, K--, N-- and me, and I probably played "Pearl's a Singer" more than was proper, but I had never heard it before and liked it rather.

La Morinais carpa very subtil fish...(and back to the top of the page) La Morinais carpWatch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. La Morinais carpif you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience La Morinais carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it. La Morinais carpif you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience La Morinais carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it. La Morinais carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it. La Morinais carpa very subtil fish La Morinais carpWatch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. La Morinais carpif you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience

The Sea in 1984 1984. Hove and the Milward 'Black Spider'.

I visited a cousin in Hove ActuallyHA"So, you live in Brighton?" "No! Hove actually..." and rambled on the next day, found a tackle shop where I got a spool of Milward 'Black Spider' braided terylene in 11lb b/s. This was thinner than the 8lb I was using, so was much chuffed. It seemed bang-on the same diameter as 8lb 'Perlon' and so was perfect for a varnished four-turn water knot. I bought a mackerel, parked up the coast and fished lightly in the gentle surf, sitting on the pebbles between two groynes and enjoying the sun. After a drifting hour, I noted subtle swirls on the edge of the waves and once or twice a fin poked through...I tried for some time to keep a bait on the edge of the water but never got so much as a nibble. Hey ho.

The 'Black Spider' went on the carp fishing for the next three years, and you can see it in the blurry picture and I still have the spool...

Rockin' All Over the '80sThe right hand orange circle is the 'Black Spider'. The two left hand ones are thread, carp rod for the building of, and some bottle of fish-oil for pike fishing. I'm faintly embarrassed by some of the rest of the room's contents. I was young.
hookJust another fish-hook...(and back to the top of the page) hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook It's a space. Accept it and move on. hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook hookJust another fish-hook

The Sea in 1991 August 1991. Parrog. We went camping, the budget conscious option, borrowing a big frame tent. After three howling-gale-and-rain days and two mornings in the local Little Chef with 'everyone else', drying out and getting outside a hot meal, we were incentivised into Carmarthen to make our first joint purchase, to wit, a two man, or more correctly 'one man and one woman' tent. This facilitated the survival of a gale at the square-on-to-the-elements Nine Wells campsite, which overlooked a small rocky cove, reached by a winding path that bordered two peaty sinister pools.

We decamped for Parrog, a fine sunny spot, where we waded across the River Nevern at low tide, a fine experience. I snatched a few hours trotting the river/sea as the tide came in, to no avail, then the next day we climbed Mynydd Carningli, wading a sea of purples and yellows, on the next walked over the Feidr Pen-Y-Bont bridge and watched a torrent of silver fish pour upstream on the incoming tide. The holiday's highlight was sitting on the sea-wall with a pizza, swigging from a bottle of rich red, while a huge fireworks display painted the sky over the bay.

On the return leg, we camped on the Gower; we walked half the length of Rhossili Beach, then on the last evening sat on the rocks at the south end of Port-Eynon Bay and talked about the stuff couples talk about, while I touched legered for bites that never came.

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The Sea in 1993 June 1993. Branscombe. There was a time...we stayed in a chalet at Branscombe and one day I yomped a mile up the beach to a rocky outcrop and touch-legering in the sun, caught one wrasse and missed another bite. By the time I'd yomped back again, I probably had heatstroke and had to spend the rest of the day lying down in the shade, so as a result missed a mackerel fishing boat-trip. Idiot.

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The Sea in 1998 October 1998. Old Harbour, Paignton.

A second stay in the oddest B&B I've ever encountered, right off the seafront and overrun with scented geraniums. The landlord reminded me of the housekeeper in 'Sir Henry at Rawlinson End', and appeared to burst out of cupboards to ask if everything was OK. It was late in the summer, just past 'the season' but the lights were still up. I took the old carp rod, the Cardinal 40, a piece of supermarket mackerel and so spent several wind-swept hours float-fishing off the end of the old harbour wall, by the light of the sodium lamps. It was calm, cool, smelt of old nets, long-gone catches and was as refreshing a good pint of beer after a day's walking. Just because I could. Nothing took the bait...so back to the geraniums. The creeping oddity overtook me by morning and eschewing breakfast, I paid and bolted. I never went back.

The Old Harbour, PaigntonThe picture of the Paington lights I took on the evening. Lights on, no-one about, late season then. The Old Harbour, PaigntonThe Old Harbour, Paignton, in February 2015. Where, oddly, Mrs AA and I stayed a stone's throw from the old Nortel buildings, a place I must have been a score-and-ten times back in the day.

At a Santa Clara sales-beano in 2010, I sat with Trevor who also stayed there the first time I did. He still swore the guy hid in cupboards and leapt out to 'check everything was OK' and we laughed about it skIn a "Wouldn't it be funny if he was a serial killer ha-ha?", "Yes, ha-ha", kind of way. , but it wasn't really funny. Bloody geraniums.

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The Sea in 2004 September 2004. On Chesil Beach. A night trip with two work colleagues. We drove out of Weymouth for a few miles and the 'guide' selected one of the may places along the beach where it is posssible to park. It was hugely enjoyable, I took the Old Carp rod and a selection of 1 - 1½oz Arsely Bombs and caught a plethora of small pollack, getting quite used to holding the line, feeling for the rattling bites. The pollack, although plentiful, were barely large enough for the pot so were released back into the wild, but that did not matter. Nice night.

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The Sea in 2005 22nd August 2005. Rosscarbery, Cork. JAA's first mullet.

Could have fished more...one evening I utterly failed to catch from the small beach up the strand from Kenmare (access to which came with our cottage), float-fishing large sand-fleas while standing in the waves. A man flogging a fly into the onshore breeze did no better. I could have fished a nice (if acidic looking) lake on a country walk of sorts in the hills along from Kenmare. After descending found the farmer wouldn't have minded if I had. There was tea, scones and jam though, which was grand. Another evening I aimed to fish for the bass nosing in seaweed on another small rocky beach, but while threading the line through a telescopic rod, the top six inches of the tip section snapped off clean. I fished a small pollack out of the harbour at Glandour, eschewing the mullet that fed ravenously on pieces of soda bread. By the time we got to Rosscarberry I really wanted to do the job properly.

A mountain tarn near KenmareA mountain tarn near Kenmare A mountain tarn near KenmareA mountain tarn near Kenmare

At Rosscarbery there is a large estuary, which has more mullet in that I have ever seen in one place at one time in my life. Certainly at the west corner by the hotel there are fish of 10 lbs and more, as well as bass of similar size. The problem with fishing for them there could be the swans, which are equally numerous.

Notwithstanding that I decided to do some mullet fishing. Earlier in our holiday, I'd sat on the harbour wall at Glandore and crumbled wholemeal pita bread into bits and dropped them into four feet of (at the time) clear water, only to see the circling mullet stir up the bottom into cloud of silt to get it. Having arrived at the conclusion that bread was a viable bait, this suspicion was later confirmed in a tackle shop, somewhat skeptically by the man behind the counter.

When I say skeptically, I refer to the apparent chance of a mere mortal like myself catching a mullet. Undaunted (and possibly even a bit incited), one evening I set out to fish in a small area towards Warren Strand, which is enclosed by roads on two sides and has an inlet into it from the main estuary at the seaward end. A lagoon if you like.

With the tide out, I arrived in time to watch the flow start and almost immediately the appearance of a school of 'smallish' fish in the scooped out area in the sand behind the inlet pipe. I watch the fish for some time and settled down to tackle up a small crystal waggler - at this point, 8lb main line and an 8lb braided hook-length, with a size '10' hook. The flow was strong and while tackling up I flicked a steady stream of pellets of rolled up white bread into the depression the fish circled in. It didn't help the concentration to note that more and more fish were entering and occasionally breaking away from the rolling ball of mullet, over the lip of the inlet pool and streaming off into the the main body of water. Like a stream of tea leaving a swirled cup. The water was shallow over the lip of the pool (at first) and the streams of mullet broke the water with their backs make a continuous rippling noise.

But after getting the tackle up (four-piece avon), I dropped in the waggler with it's three foot depth, at the head of the inlet - it traveled the 20 feet to the far side of the pool in a few seconds, but on the third trot through I got a bite and was quite surprised as something streaked across the pool and then circled it at some speed, while I hung on and waited. Eventually, I netted a (thick lipped) mullet of 2lbs or so. Amazing. The fight was quite something and the out of the water the last thing you would call them is "grey".

Whether this was beginners luck or not, I fished and baited until no more fish entered the pool and almost all of them had exited under my feet or over the lip at the far side, without another bite. My original plan had been to station myself towards the landward side of this inlet and float-fish bread for the cruising mullet, so having exhausted this possibility, I returned to 'Plan A' and set up 100 yards down the road, in a gap in the grass. I changed the float for a loaded crystal waggler, as the current was slight, but the wind over my left shoulder was very strong, giving quite a chop on the water, which on balance was a good thing (harder for the fish to see me), but I needed an overcast to sink the line on retrieve to keep the float on station. I set up, cast in and with my left hand produced a steady stream of bread pellets which I flicked at the float some 30 feet away. I had the sun low behind me also, which gave me an extra incentive to keep still, but made visibility very good.

Fifty minutes later at 6:20 I had a positive bite which I missed. Ten minutes later I had another which I did not. Now, if you've never caught a mullet before, you may have been told they are impossible to catch (well they are with 'normal' sea tackle) and fight 'quite hard'. I thought the first fish had tried hard, but discovered it was merely limited by the pool it was in. This one took off with like a wild carp on nitrous oxide. The fish made long runs, 30-40 yards and fought very hard. I would say it took 10-15 minutes to bank and as the fish hurtled about I gained a small audience of holiday makers. As I eventually steered a grudging mullet to the net, I luckily remembered to slacken the clutch - which is a good plan for any fish, as the sight of the net can provoke some furious last minute struggles. The mullet was no exception to this and took off again...

When re-steered to the net, the fish was landed (to a small round of applause). As previously a shade over two lbs, but I'll not quibble with the result. Excellent.

Rosscarbery, Cork.The first mullet Rosscarbery, Cork.Very very silver. Rosscarbery, Cork.The last mullet Rosscarbery, Cork.The funny little tidal pool

Of course my family turned up 10 minutes later, so had to be content with a picture, the fish being returned. Most of our two weeks here were spent by the sea in one spot or another. The Atlantic waters were wonderfully clear wherever we went, with stunning mullet and bass in every spot you care to look. For the on-shore fishermen there can hardly be a finer place to take a rod.

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The Sea in 2007 24th August 2007. Kimmeridge Bay. This is real fishing - on a picnic to Kimmeridge, one of the advantages of living locally is that you can pop down for a warm quite evening, when most everyone else has gone home. The picnic having been dispatched (food tastes even better by the sea, that by a lake or river) the crab fishing had commenced in earnest and wasn't going well. All three young anglers were baited up with pickled cockles in a bag and not a crab was in sight. You can catch crabs on pepperami, but it's not great and mackerel, which crabs fight to the death over, doesn't travel well. Pickled cockles on the other hand are tough (as old boots) and do not require special storage until you open the jar...

Kimmeridge Bay, perfect eveningKimmeridge Bay, perfect evening Kimmeridge Bay, perfect eveningKimmeridge Bay, perfect evening Kimmeridge Bay, perfect eveningKimmeridge Bay, perfect evening

Blennies by the dozen surrounded the bags in star formation, so rigging a size '14' with a cockle and a small pike pilot float, I whipped out a good few to pop into buckets. There's a fine line between a blenny hanging onto your hook until it's over the bucket and it letting go before then...bye-the-bye, while blennies do not have sharp teeth, they are solid and they have a bite befitting a fish that make a living eating things with calcified shells. I had one with the hook firmly gripped crosswise in its teeth and couldn't get it out, until it let go.

Kimmeridge Bay, perfect eveningKimmeridge Bay, perfect evening Kimmeridge Bay, perfect eveningKimmeridge Bay, perfect evening Kimmeridge Bay, perfect eveningKimmeridge Bay, perfect evening

were swelled by the careless fish that had made their way into the crab-fishing-friendly nets. Great fun, great evening.

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The Sea in 2008 14th September 2008. Poole Quay, Dorset. Crabs, more crabs, a careless blenny, a pipefish, hot chocolates and a large 'americano'. Great fun had by all.

The Sea in 2008 21st September 2008. Kimmeridge Bay. Dorset. The custom in the 'Anotherangler' household is to have an evening picnic or two at Kimmeridge at the book-ends of the holiday season. By the evening the grockles have packed and left and you have the place almost to yourself. These are informal affairs involving, in no particular order, egg mayonnaise, bread rolls, 'Mrs AA', tuna mayo, grilled sausages, 'littleanglers', crab lines, various drinks, picnic rugs, fishing umbrellas, 'Cadge the dog', shrimp-nets and the occasional fishing rod.

On a cool Friday evening in September, sitting on the dark shale that is still radiating the soft heat of the west bound sun, we break out the better-for-being-outside finger food. Dining over, crabs are turfed out from under stones, gobies are coaxed into nets and the dog tries to steal any stray sausages as usual. Arming myself with cockles and an Avon (mea culpa, malice aforethought, I'd packed them), I wade thigh deep in the warm water and float-fish the gentle waves for Corkwing and Ballan Wrasse, the 'sergeants' of the sea. I'd have stayed until the water was up to my armpits, but after I snatch five, an "indignity of wrasse" perhaps, the air turns sharply cold, so we all head home.

Poole QuayCorkwing and Ballan Wrasse, the 'sergeants' of the sea

The Sea in 2008 27th September 2008. Poole Quay, Dorset. One of our Sunday morning 'things' is crab fishing on Poole Quay. This morning I brought a pen rod (I'm a sucker for that kind of thing) and while the 'littleanglers' caught crabs, I used the mini rod and a quill to extract a dozen assorted gudgeon-like gobies and blennies plus one small ballan wrasse (I assume, bright green it was) to go in a bucket next to the crabs.

Poole Quaya dozen assorted gudgeon-like gobies and blennies plus one small ballan wrasse Poole Quay...and the crabs

The Quay crabs have wised up in the last year and learning to drop off the bait when out of the water - without a landing net to catch them, pickings can be meagre. Still at least my landing net gets used this way...then off for hot chocolates and black coffee all round. Brilliant fun.

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A summary of sorts. The newly revamped all-singing-and-dancing 'anotherangler.net' can now be used to extract handy information from the various diary entries. The species of any fish caught are recorded and so is the number of said fish, if it was noted. When I did not keep count for any reason, the entry simply notes (for example) 'some fish'. Or, quite often, 'no fish at all'. In the case of the latter I cannot help feeling my own website is being judgemental. Still.

I fished the sea quite a bit, from 1972 to the last visit on September 27th 2008. At least 19 visits are recorded here and several of those entries are a concatenation of multiple fishing trips, so think in terms of about 49 times, more or less. Plus several dozen rock-fishing hops in Cyprus. I definitely caught at least five Mediterranean Moray eels (a.k.a. the Roman eel, Muraena helena), three big leopard spotted ones and two smaller darkish ones. You would think catching the first one would have taught me a lesson...

...you would think.

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JAA