Friday, December 29, 2006

I had a bad day Thursday. I managed to pull something in my right shoulder the night before the Martyn Franklin benefit match at Dunwich. I'd arranged to pick Pete up at 7am, so I smothered fiery jack on my shoulder and got an early night. Up at 6am and I can still feel my shoulder, quick shower, gear loaded and I'm on my way. I had just about got to South Repps when I startled a Muntjak, the bloody thing ran right in front of me so I ran right over it, no damage to the car thankfully. Unfortunately I wouldn't have room for the deer and all our kit, so I left it in the hedgerow.


Poor old Bambi, fecking things are a nuisance round here.

Pete's gear was by the door, he has this knack of not being there when I pull up so I get to load it all! Seemed to do the trick with my shoulder though, maybe the weight of his box has killed all the nerves in my shoulder so I can't feel a bloody thing. The long trip always goes easier with a bit of a craic on the way. Pete was telling me about some guy on one of the fishing forums asking for advice. Apparently the guys wife had gone to bed, he thought he could hear her snoring, so he flicked through the telly channels until he found the playboy channel. He was getting "engrossed" in the playboy channel when his wife opened the room door, he managed to change channel on the TV but was still caught taking himself in hand so to speak. His wife thinks he now gets off while watching the Vicar of Dibley. Fecking priceless. He wanted advice as to what to tell his wife. I wouldn't tell her that he wishes she was more like Dawn French, I can't see that going down too well.


Maybe its her nice buns?

The car park at Dunwich was filling up as we got there. We'd be fishing the last of the ebb and the first of the flood between 09:30 and 14:30. The sea had roughed up a bit, reports from earlier in the week spoke of flat, gin clear seas so I was pleasantly surprised to see some colour and a bit of life in it. Duly booked in and relieved of my christmas coin, we decided to head off to the right under the cliffs, roughly where we'd fished in the ICCM. I didn't really fancy it even with life and colour, I've never had a real good day at Dunwich. I prefer venues with more tide, and with todays tide not being very big, there wasn't going to be a lot of flow. We were supposed to be at the end where we'd get most of any tide there was but even having the wind with tide for the last of the ebb I held out fine with just 5oz of lead.

As I was waiting for the all in, I texted Karl. He was fishing up the coast at Kessingland, he had a social aranged with Johnny and Lee Kerry, PK's eldest. Now Lee's a very good angler, coarse that is not sea, him and Karl fished together a lot on the local coarse match scene. Lee now fishes for the famous Barnsley Blacks and is sponsored by Browning. PK was on days today so while he was at work, Lee took PK's kit down to Kessingland with Karl and Johnny, it would be a nice social fish for Lee rather than an intense match type situation. Anyway long story cut short, he all but emptied PK's rig wallet, relieved him of quite a few leads and a full spool of braid! I bet the old man's beside himself, luckily for Lee he's way too big for a good hiding off his old man.

Karl, Lee and Johnny had only had micro cod as the match started. I'd baited up a 3/0 pennel with lug and wanged it out as far as I could given the stiff southerly wind. Ten minutes later and I've got a 29cm codling on the beach and I never even saw the bite. Good start given it was measure and convert everything over 20cm. Given earlier reports of clear seas, I'd tied up some three hook flappers with size 1's, I even used a sequin as a bait stop. With this small one and Karl telling me he's getting micro cod round the corner, I tried my flappers. One chuck and then I chucked them back in the box and back to my good old 3/0 pennels, I think its the sequins, all mincey they are.

Mick Phillips proving you can still catch codling at 114 years of age.

It was a struggle. News up and down the beach was there were only odd mostly undersize codling and whiting being caught, when I managed to sneak a slightly better codling at 36cm, just sizeable but returned anyway, at least I'd seen a bite this time. I had some good lads just down from me and they seemed to be struggling too, I'd only seen odds and sods. I was just watching Pete cast, when out of the corner of my eye I saw my rod tip drop back. I picked up and wound down for ages before feeling that satisfying thump of a small codling. They were getting bigger, this one was 44cm and I'm starting to think I could be doing ok here. That one didn't go back, a nice eating size at 2 and a bit pounds.

I took a walk up to Andy Lawes who was fishing the end peg, he was struggling and hadn't heard anything from down the beach. Pete and Trev down from me were still catching odd small fish, but here I was with an undersize and two sizeable codling. They should score good points/weight when their lengths are converted. I got a few texts from down the beach, they told of only a few fish. I was just preparing a text for Karl, when I saw the rod tip nod forward before dropping back. I wound down and felt the weight straight away, this had to be a better fish. I made my way gingerly down to the waters edge and a couple of minutes later a double shot of codling lay in the surf! The bigger fish on the pennel hook, one was 28cm and the other 39cm, measured and witnessed by Andy and they both go back. Game on now.

I got a text from John Abbot telling me Allsoapy had five as well though his were all undersize, also rumours of a few a little bigger than my biggest. I had two under and three over, I reckoned if I could sneak a few bits or another 1 or 2 codling I'd have a real chance. I was almost tempted to fish the flappers for the last hour but stuck it out with the big hooks. I saw Trev manage a 30 odd cm bass late on, he'd kept a steady trickle of bits and bobs coming and I thought it was going to be close. On the last cast I picked up and noticed a bit of weight, thinking this could be the winner, I took it real steady. My leader appeared, then my hooks and lead, and somebody elses leader hanging off them. On the last chuck I'd even managed to catch some lost kit, bloody marvellous.

Kit away and the trek back, it didn't seem such hard work today, the walk at the end of the ICCM had me thinking I was going to die. Trev and Pete reckoned I'd won it, but I wasn't so sure. Allsoapy had 6 by the end, and I knew Trev wouldn't be far away and the bass might have swung it. Also Dingit had a good fish around 46cms, I didn't know what else he had with it, time would tell.

Once the gear was in the car, we shot over to the Ship at Dunwich for the tally up. I was knackered but at least my shoulder seemed fixed, that's the first time casting has done me any good, it usually gives me hernias. Anyway the results were finally in, I'd managed to sneak the win with a little over 7lb, Trev was second and Dingit third. The top 10 are given below:

1st Ian Holmes Codling x5 239 7lbs 7.5oz
2nd Trevor Elliott Codling x8, Bass x1 172 5lbs 6oz
3rd Martin Waters Codling x3 134 4lbs 3oz
4th Mark Alsop Codling x6 111 3lbs 7.5oz
5th David Field Codling x2 108 3lbs 6oz
6th John Abbott Codling x2 90 2lbs 13oz
7th Pete Fairclough Codling x2, Bass x1 52 1lbs 10oz
8th Terry Arnold Codling x3 46 1lbs 7oz
9th Mick Phillips Codling x1 43 1lbs 5.5oz
= 11th Andrew Lawes Codling x1 22 11oz
= 11th Jake Smith Codling x1 22 11oz


Yours truly receiving my pot and wedge from the match organiser Paul Blyth.

Biggest result of the day is that we'd managed to raise over £300. Martyn Franklin's family had asked that any monies raised be paid to the Lowestoft Lifeboat fund, a worthy cause seeing as Martyn was a crew member there for a while. I met the guy one night on Lowestoft Sth Pier, he was fishing with Paul Carter and Haggis. God bless him. Anyway enough of me waffling on, Mrs Aitch is in bed and the Vicar of Dibley's on UKGold.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I was surprised to get a last minute pass out. Mrs Aitch said I could go Friday evening seeing as I'd be grounded again until the benefit match for Martyn Franklin on the 29th. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I arranged to meet Karl and Nobby Hall down at Cart Gap, unfortunately PK and Johnny couldn't join us due to work and social commitments.

The weather was rubbish. Cool, misty and windless but you've got to go when you get chance and I was confident we'd get a few bits if nothing else. Karl and Nobby got down there for around 1730 I joined them a little later at 1830, high water was about 2030 which would mean we'd be set up and settled in for the ebb. After recent freezing fog it made a pleasant change, the temperature never got below about 2° making it feel like autumn rather than winter.

As I turned up both Karl and Nobby were finding small whiting one a chuck, which isn't all bad, they were around 6" long which in my book makes them bait! I set up on the end, went to light my lamp only to find the mantel hanging off, no problem I always carry a spare. No problem that is until I tried to get the top off the lamp, a combination of heat and salt had all but welded the top nut on. Thankfully Nobby had a pair of stilsons in his tackle box, what the feck he carries a pair of stilsons in his box for is beyond me but I'm grateful he does. Anyway a quick mantel change, bait on and off we go.

I found it the same as the boys, whiting one a chuck, sometimes two on a pennel and odd small codling. Nobby had had enough by 2300 and left me and Karl to finish off the ebb and the form continued, more small fish including dabs and a school bass. No great shakes fish wise but a nice social seeing as I won't see the lads until next year. I'm fishing a benefit match with Pete next Friday at Dunwich, I think Karl and Johnny are going for a social fish with PK's eldest boy Lee, PK's at work with Nobby and smudge is hibernating I think! Lee is a chip off the old block, he fishes for the famous Barnsley Blacks coarse match team and is sponsored by Browning I think, he's got a great future in front of him, he's already represented England at u19 level. I know his old man's proud of him and his brother.

Sorry I digress, the fishing was uneventful but its never a waste of time, and the company is always good. I know me and my mates aren't the sharpest tools in the shed, and the mickey taking can be merciless at times, but what doughnut sends me the photo of icing snowmen below? Who would've thought a 6'4" lump of Northern gristle could produce such sweet little things, makes you want to puke!


Isn't he a little darling! I daren't show mrs Aitch she'll expect the same from me.

A quick christmas quiz. What have the two subjects in the picture below got in common? For those that can't make them out, the bloke holding the fish is Karl, the 6'4" lump of Norf, the smaller picture is an Ostrich. Yes thats right, they're both big birds!


I wonder if she does embroidery too?

Monday, December 18, 2006

I had to have a go. Weather forecast was crap, next to no wind and pressure up around 1050mb. To say it wasn't inspiring is an understatement. Thing was if I didn't go it would be the 29th before I got another chance, and the thought of my folks, mother inlaw and brother inlaw over for xmas and I had no choice. I had to go.

I ordered 50 worms and thought I'd just have a splodge locally. I did consider fishing with some mates up on the shingle at Weybourne, people that know me know I'm not a big fan of the shingle, but the company would be good. A couple of my mates fish a regular set of knock up matches up there on a Monday night, to be honest I'd be pools fodder, there's some very good local matchmen fish them but at least I'd learn something. I'll try and fish one or two if/when they come down my way a bit on the sand.

All my regular companions were working or apethetic, so I'd be on my own. Well at least that's what I thought until Actionboy sent me a text asking me where he should go the following day. I told him I was going to have a go locally tonight and he met me down at Cart Gap for an evening session fishing the ebb. High water was around 1745, I got there around 1630 and was joined by Actionboy an hour or so later.

The first hour was slow. There was a bit of tide with the last of the flood and some loose weed too, more of a pain than a showstopper. As Actionboy turned up I had an 8" codling, there's been a few reported further south, and at least I hadn't blanked. As it ebbed so the weed dropped off, it usually happens that way here, and we both managed to pick up a few undersize codling, whiting and some sizeable dabs.

It was a beautiful evening, cold and clear I lost count of the shooting stars and as usual with Actionboy, the chat was non stop. He's the only bloke I know that could out talk Mrs Aitch, I swear to god he must breathe through his ears. Anyway the night was going nicely with odds and sods when one of my rods lurched forward and sprang back with a classic slackliner. I picked up, wound down to the fish and everything was going to plan before dropping it off in the surf! A few curses and me thinking "prat you've just blown the only chance you'll get of a proper one tonight" when the other rod does exactly the same as I'm rebaiting. This time I never even felt the weight of the fish. Two classic cod bites and I've missed them both, thank god the usual suspects weren't with me, they'd be ripping it out of me mercilessly. Anyone for golf?

The first rod was blasted out a full 50 yards, I rebaited the second rod and as I went to cast, the rod I'd just put in the rest banged down and dropped back slack again. Actionboy was all animated and excited, to be honest I'd had it mentally. If it was on it was on, sod it. I just carried on walking down to the waters edge, cast the other rod 40/60 yards, put it down before picking up the other rod. By this time Actionboy was apoplectic, the line was laid right up the beach picking up weed in the surf. I wound down for ages then felt the fish. He'd gone racing down to the waters edge and a few minutes later a nice codling was on the beach. I reckoned it was a good 4lb, and I could feel a couple of nice roes in her which was a bonus.


A bit butchered I know, I forgot to take my camera with me. She weighed 3lb 13oz gutted, the roes are for mine and Aidan's breakfast.

Actionboy finally calmed down in time to see my other rod repeat the form. The rod tip crashes forward before the line lays up in the surf. Again I miss it. I'm sure its a combination of a lack of tide flow and my ineptitude, I need to think about my rigs for fishing these situations. I'd be really interested to hear from anybody reading this that's had the same problem. I did think of longer hook lengths and all sorts of things, but not sure what to do really. The rigs I had been using were fixed paternosters with a hook length around 14" and a 3/0 and 2/0 pennel.

Four classic cod bites, one lovely plump codling and I'm still considering taking up golf. It's not easy and takes a lot of skill and dexterity to miss 75% of your bites! The fish I had caught had a couple of its 6" brethren in its belly, cannibal codling, and it was noticeable that the bits and bobs we'd been getting had dissapeared.

And that was that, well nearly. I managed a couple more mini codling and dabs, when Actionboy's rod just about got dragged off the rest. Despite him doing his best to lose it by letting the line go slack and striking like his life depended on it, the hooks held until I lifted a 2.5lber out of the surf. The fish dropped off at the tideline, but with my cat like reactions I was down on it before it got chance to swim off.


A nice brace on the sand. Actionboy kindly took this photo on his mobile phone.

So a good night rounded off nicely. I enjoyed Actionboys company, he can certainly spin a yarn and I found if I just nodded and grunted like I do for Mrs Aitch it kept him happy too. We both managed to catch a feed, though I can't help thinking about the chances I'd missed. If they'd been between 2.5 and 4.5lb I could've had 13 or 14lb of fish, which would've turned a good night into a great night, though given the conditions I can't complain, it'll do until the 29th.

I think tonights session is typical of how it can be when the weather's like this, there seem to be isolated pockets of fish and if your luck's in then your luck's in. Actionboy is down there again this morning and has only a slug to show for his efforts, still thats fishing innit!

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to everybody that reads this drivel, I hope you all get what you want and not what you deserve!


There's a charity match being held in benefit of Martyn Franklin the Lowestoft angler lost at sea off Kessingland. The match will be at Dunwich fishing from 0930 to 1430 on the 29th December, I hope to see some of you there. You can find a sign up page here:

  • Friday, December 08, 2006

    I'd planned to go last night but the wind was howling, it was cold and Mrs Aitch was at her moaning best. So I stayed in and surfed t'internet, I'm looking for one or two new bits so I had some retail therapy without Hitler with tits realising! I had a problem though, what to do with the bait I had left.

    My mate PK has a little trick which I'm sure loads of you already do, but with the rising costs of bait its a good idea. Not only does it save unused bait but it does make pretty good bait. In my experience the bait is especially good for flatties though it will work for any fish that likes a worm. The trick is to freeze them onto hooks, it has the added advantage that when you come to use them they are frozen solid so you can cast them as hard as you like too. For anybody that doesn't know or hasn't done it, here's what I did:



    First job is to get some hook lengths ready.

    I tied up a load of size 2 Kamasan B940's on short, 25lb amnesia hook lengths. I'll use these in the summer for sole fishing. It couldn't be simpler as I'll only need to hitch with a double overhand or tie the hook lengths to a french boom.


    The finished hook lengths, mine are only around 12" long with a stop knot and a plain bead. Some people swear by sequins but to me they're a bit Dale Winton meets Liberace, keep it simple I say.

    Once you've got all your hook lengths tied, sort out your worms. There's not much point in putting dead or blown worms on if you have the choice, though they will and do work. I sorted out all the nice firm worms ready for the slaughter to begin.


    Mrs Aitch has no idea what I'm doing on the kitchen table, I'm safe until Richard and Judy finishes.

    Its then a simple task of baiting up. I tear a 3" strip of newspaper about 2 sheets thick and wrap them like you would with black lug or yellow tails. This gives you a nice easy and convenient bait and any that you don't use can be popped back in the freezer.


    Simple innit and for the sake of an hour or so buggering about you end up with good convenient baits.

    Once you've baited up, pop the wraps in a bag, write the hook size and pattern on the bag(s) and bang em in the freezer, JFDI job fecking done innit!


    Thats a sole fishing session in the summer sorted.

    Whilst I've been buggering about with these baited hooks, I've just had a text from a couple of "mates". They're fishing today, I can't because of work tonight. One of them has had 4 codling so far, the other 3, the thing is the one thats had 3 has got one thats 7lb! Bloody marvellous.

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    Bloody wind. The Jolly Boys were all up for a boat trip with David Wright out of Southwold but these southerlies scuppered that. So instead of tussling with plenty of codling from the comfort of a boat, we were stuck with finding a beach venue that we could fit round the weather and give us the chance of a few fish.


    I wish. Southwold in calmer times, with 30mph+ winds forecast, there was no chance of us getting out.

    The possibilities for some shore fishing seemed a poor second to me, I was really looking forward to the boat trip, just my luck I guess. Its not often all the boys can get out together and with shift work it takes a lot of organising. Now we were left with trying to organise a shore trip at short notice while dodging the forecast for Thursday. I'd spoken to Karl and Paul and none of us fancied the weather, we were stuck with a shed load of bait, no enthusiasm and hardly a clue as to what to do and where to go. I mentioned a trip up here, maybe Trimingham, on the Wednesday night, it would give us the wind off our backs but not a very helpfull sea. One word (I can print) for the response I got from the boys - disdain. Karl suggested Aldeburgh. It would give us the wind off our shoulders and the chance of a fish or two according to recent reports. I'll be honest I didn't fancy the drive, bloody long haul from Bacton, still I'm daft enough to do it. I wouldn't be able to get away until 1700 earliest but we'd still get most of the flood.

    A wise man once said "a bad plan is better than no plan at all", so we had a plan but it wouldn't suit us all. Smudge and Keith couldn't fish the Wednesday night. Keith was at work until 7pm and Smudge was under orders from the Fisheies Permissions Officer. So the plan was set; me, Karl, PK and Johnny would fish the flood at Aldeburgh. Due to my commitments at home I couldn't get away before 1700, that would get me to Karl's house for around 1745 then we'd have the city traffic to contend with on our way over to Aldeburgh. PK picked Johnny up, I was actually surprised PK was coming, he's not into fishing at night but its amazing what efect your mates enthusiasm can have on you. Basically we're all as daft as each other, I hope when I'm a 50's something (sorry mate) I still have the go he has.


    The beach at Aldeburgh, we fished a little further back from where the picture was taken.

    Me and Karl got to Aldeburgh just after PK and Johnny. We set up just past the houses and the Brudenell Hotel, we'd normally go up towards the Martello Tower but we could already see lights up there and it can be snaggy and we figured that we'd be fishing for the same fish as them. Johnny was closest to the town, then PK and me and Karl shared a brolly. Once the brolly was up and you were out of the wind it was quite comfortable. Not very cold and a lovely starlit night though the full moon was almost as bright as the sun. There wasn't as much sea on as I'd hoped, there was a bit of a roll probably due to the low pressure as much as the wind which by now had backed quite a bit and seemed to be easing as the tide flooded.

    So with everything set up all we needed was the fish to play ball. From the off there wasn't much tide, we had a bit mid flood but it wasn't as strong as I'd hoped. Rod tips were rattling from the first chuck, tell tale whiting tugs and rattles. We had numerous double shots on pennel rigs and some nice ones too. Johnny had one that looked as big as a 2lb codling he'd managed to sneak out and all of us had plenty of fish from 12oz to 1lb, but we weren't there for whiting. PK had a codling around 1.5lb and Johnny managed another of a similar size to Paul's, they'd both missed good slackliners too. Me and Karl couldn't get through the whiting, we both managed a mini codling each but the whiting were voracious. I had one around 12oz that coughed up a bloody great squid, just shows you never know whats swimming in our sea at any given time. Squid in winter? I'd had them in push nets during the summer but would've thought they would've been off by December, you live and learn.

    I think throughout the night, we fished from about 1930 to just after midnight, I only reeled in two or three times without the obligatory whiting. I shouldn't complain because we often go and struggle for a bite but they really were a pain in the arse. All of us had bites on the drop which in my experience is bad news, if theres so many of them that they're intercepting the bait on the way down, nothing else gets the chance at your bait. Another wise man said "a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work", true enough and with that in mind I'm going to try and get tonight to use my bait up, I wonder if I'll catch any whiting?