Sunday, October 29, 2006

What a bloody mare. My mates fished Orford Ness last Wednesday while I was otherwise disposed. It's half term week and we’re having a new kitchen fitted so the current Mrs Aitch had grounded me during the day. I got texts throughout the day telling me what I was missing, which in all honesty made it difficult for me to look at Mrs Aitch without contemplating bovineicide (that's where you kill the cow). She did say that if I was extra good I could go locally in the evening, I didn't expect to catch as well as those lucky sods but I had to get out and away from the kitchen. Here’s how I did compared to those that fish aquariums..

“Had another around 3lb, we’ve all had nice sized fish now, wish you were here lol” and so the texts went, I even received pictures of prime north sea codling being held up by dopey looking feckwits. Now I don’t mind some leg pulling, but I must admit it was getting me down. Half of the leader lines and WSF forum members were there too it would've been nice to put names to faces. I’m very lucky that Mrs Aitch doesn’t usually complain, but I was cursing my luck that half term, kitchen and to top it all off, shoe shopping, was stopping me showing those numpties how to do it on Suffolk’s best beach.

I was in Norwich shopping for new school shoes for Aidan while they were bagging on Orford. Saddest thing is we only ever get chance to go once or twice a year and here I was missing the first trip and possibly the best trip, still I’d get my own back tonight. I’d planned to go locally to keep my sanity as much as anything else. Steve, a guy who has a holiday home round the corner from me, had asked for some information on one or two marks. Not one to miss an opportunity, I’d arranged to show him one and grab a few hours at the same time. I felt confident we’d catch but I wasn’t expecting to match the lads’ exploits on Orford.


If there's such a thing as reincarnation, this is what Kate Moss will look like if she comes back as a cod. Smudger with a 3lber that should've been 4, the gormless grin comes fitted as standard.

I picked Steve up around 6:30pm in horrible weather. It was pissing down and a gusting stiff Southeasterly would make it hard and uncomfortable, but you know how it is when you've got to go. So the 10 minute drive to Cart Gap would see us catch the last of the flood and as much of the ebb as bait would allow. It's weird round my way, not just because of the locals. Mundesley is a beach about 3 miles North of where I live, in my experience it fishes best on the flood, in fact bait is wasted fishing the ebb there. 3 miles or so South of me is Cart Gap which is totally the opposite, bait is wasted on the flood. The only difference between the two beaches is that Cart Gap has a pronounced gulley where Mundesley is generally flatter. The clever lot among you reading this are thinking things like "Ah it fishes on the ebb because the gulley fills with feed as the tide goes out" and other super theories. Personally I don't care. All I need to know is that it does what it does, the why's and wherefores I'll leave to the thinkers.

We get there and have a quick look. Not only is it wet and windy but there's a surf, a proper one at that. It was obviously coming from a long way off, we hadn't had the winds required to kick up such a froth. They'd had some terrible weather in the far North, they'd even lost a boat and crew out of Anstruther in Scotland, god bless them. It's bordeline unfishable, the wind is against the tide on the flood but will be make it awkward on the ebb. I really fancied it 'cos I didn't expect to see this lovely white 4' surf rolling in off the bank. There was no sign of it as we drove past Walcott, though in fairness we didn't have a proper look.

The decision was made to set up near the slipway because I reckoned we might get washed off the beach at high water. Large straight lug baits loaded onto 3/0 pennels and off we go. Distance isn't that important here, like I said there's a pronounced gulley only 60-80 yards offshore, its a good job too as the side wind was going to hamper any thoughts of real distance fishing. Both rods out and in the rest and heaven, I'm getting my fix. Hadn't finished the first cup of coffee before rod 1 dropped back with a classic slackliner and within a few seconds there's a school bass around the 1lb mark flapping about on the beach.


Apologies for the quality of the pictures, they were taken by retards wth a box brownie. Karl with another Orford 2lber and Smudgers gormless grin.

I love bass, I love most fish but bass are a bit special. If you ask a kid to draw a picture of a fish, they'll either draw a shark or a bass, even down to the spikey dorsal. They are proper fish, beautifully proportioned, lean, mean, eating machines. I like cod too but if you think about cod, they are all head and belly and haven't got those same perfect proportions like bass, maybe its because the bass grows so slowly, I don't know, I do know they're great fun as well as being gorgeous.

I told Steve any fish we got before it ebbed would be bonus fish, now within 2 casts I've had 2, both 1lbish and both pristine, scale perfect fish. "It's going to fish its nuts off when it ebbs Steve" I said, it didn't quite but I managed another 3 as the bait started to disappear and Steve managed 1. I would guess the biggest would've been around the 1.5lb mark, the rest like peas from the same 1lb pod. It was a cracking night, even the rain stopped and the wind eased at high water (as it often does) and it turned into a lovely mild night. Steve's good company too, despite being a Spurs fan and a cockerknee. As the tide and wind receded I manged to cast to the bank on the seaward side of the gulley. There was a nice surf on there and I picked up my last 2 fish on the last 2 casts. I'd only got 50 worms and I reckon I would've sneaked a few more off the bank if I'd had the bait.

So I didn't manage codling (surprisingly given the sea), dogfish and whiting like the Jolly Boys did on Orford, but I had some cracking little bass on a night where I didn't expect anything. Result.


I can recomend shoe shopping and the stress of fitting a new kitchen as a good form of contraception, here's how they do it in Northants, 100% effective apparently. I may suggest it to Mrs Aitch....


You can leave feedback via the comments box at the bottom of the posts, I'd appreciate it. I'm not just writing this to help with my Tourettes Syndrome, so give me some some idea as to how I can improve it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What a day. Up at 5:45, picking big Keith up at 6:15 then off to Pakefield to meet Karl and Johnny for a day feeding the crabs. An uneventful drive saw us get to the CEFAS car park at 7:15 to find Karl and Johnny sat in the car. The SE wind was right into our mush if we fished in front of the ministry or Jolly Sailors. none of us really fancied going round the bay to the caravans despite some good recent reports, its a snag pit, so we decided to go for a fry up and discuss our options.

We ended up at a little bakery / cafe called Whites (I think) in Lowestoft. Strange place, every table full of old men puffing on roll ups, I can still smell it now! How the hell they sell bread there I don't know, "Heres your bloomer Mrs Smith, just dust the ash off". Anyway we sent Karl first to find out how big the big breakfast was and how much then just told the old girl behind the counter "we'll have 3 more of what she just ordered".

Over breakie (which was excellent) we decided to fish at Tramps Alley. Its not my favourite venue, nothing to do with the fishing, its a very consistent stretch, but the nudist beach. You get allsorts down there, its like legalised dogging and the very worst bit only ever see blokes down there. Its wrong, fecking wrong. Thankfully the local perverts weren't out today to spoil our fun.

Tramps Alley, consistent venue despite the pervs



Keith set up first, then me 30 yards or so downtide of him, Karl in the next bay and Johnny in the bay after. We set up at HWish so little or no tide for the first 45mins then there's going to be a strong old flow from right to left as it ebbs. Now me and big Keith are good mates, we work together as well as fish together, but I have to say it, Keith fishes like Nobby Stiles played football. Here's me trying to fish like Glenn Hoddle played, all silky skills a full range of passing, one rod banged out the other inside, little mussel sausages to tip off with etc. you get the picture, pure finesse. Keith fishes like a two footed tackle with an elbow thrown in for good measure, total blood and thunder. Anyway I was two hours into the day before I managed a pin whiting, all 2 ounces of it. By this time Keith had quite a few whiting, some nice ones too and a codling around 1.5lb, he'd also got snarled up with my lines on numerous occasions, in fact one time I'd managed to cast both my lines under one of his !?


Like Nobby, Big Keith bites yer legs

Back to the fishing Karl in the next bay downtide of me was bagging. I hate it when that happens, thankfully its a rarity. He'd had a schoolie, plenty of whiting, mostly sizeable and a couple of codling around the early season 1.5lbs mark. Johnny was struggling with hefts so he decided to move uptide of Nobby Stiles and I finally managed to get into a few. Its always weird when things just switch on, I'd sat there for ages without so much of a tremble and then they're bouncing about all over the place. The middle of the ebb down was far and away the most productive part of the session. On consecutive casts I reeled in double shots of 12oz whiting on pennel rigs, we finished up with lots of sizeable fish and plenty of undersized too, so a good day was had by all. All the fish were returned and I really must remember to put my camera in my box, it was a lovely day once the cloud broke and I reckon I could've got some top shots, still theres always next time. We're hoping to get out next week for a bash, hopefully all the "Jolly Boys" will be fishing, you'll be the first to know.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Well after nearly a fortnight lay off I finally got out fishing. Five of us went to Kessingland to fish the last of the ebb and as much of the flood as weed would allow. An unseasonably warm SE wind greeted us on the beach and although there was some colour in the sea I never really fancied our chances.

It started out badly. I'd sent my reels away for a refurb and was promised them back at the weekend, there still not with me now, so I had to use an old 65 that's been mag converted for casting and I borrowed one of Karl's orange mag elites. Now we have an ongoing banter about the mag elites, I use the traditional green, Karl and Smudge use the "Florida" orange. I don't know what would make them spend a £5 more per reel just to have lurid orange side plates and handles with holes in them, maybe they're just daft? I actually know that's the case, mad as a box of frogs the pair of them.

Poor old Smudge had a nightmare. First he couldn't pick the bait up he'd ordered as there was nobody in at the bait diggers, so he got there an hour after the rest of us after managing to find a local shop with some spare worms. First chuck he had a pin whiting, then the next chuck he nearly wiped me and Keith out with his cast. Apparently he'd got something on his thumbie and couldn't grip the spool. Then he wound in another little whiting that the wind managed to blow up around the line of his second rod, when he went to untangle it his main line parted on the other rod and he lost a set of gear and 100yards of line! By this time you have to be thinking about packing up and that's exactly what he did, off he went to complete his 2 hour round trip after only a half dozen casts!

The rest of us faired little better, we all had small whiting but I think we'd have been lucky to manage anything else, so the decision was made and off to the pub we went. The pub is the place were I've had some of my best catches in the past. Strange how after two Stella's you've never missed a bite, and the fish seem to gain a few extra ounces.

I was going to go locally tonight to use up the bait I had left over but Mrs Aitch wasn't too happy and to be honest I am tired out after a days work around the house. Karl and Johnny were going to come up and fish with me at Cart Gap but they've gone off down to Pakefield to use there bait up, I'll let you know how they get on.

I have to mention something that happened to me recently. I go pigeon and rabbit shooting too and recently asked a mate if he could get his hands on some old camouflage gear for me. I'm not a very good shot and need all the help I can get, so my thinking was that if I get camouflaged then I'll have a better chance of getting close enough to the rabbits and pigeons to shoot them. My mates in the armed forces so I have to be careful not to get him into trouble, lets call him Actionboy to protect the innocent. I asked Actionboy if he had an old cammo jacket and trousers, in his usual irrepressible way he said "leave it with me mate I'll sort it out for you". So that's just what I did, a few weeks passed with no word from Actionboy, then out of the blue a text telling me he'd got some stuff for me.

For one reason or another I couldn't get into the city so I asked Actionboy to drop it round at Karl's as Actionboy was off away training for a tour of duty. That way I could pick it up at my leisure, that time came last Friday when Mrs Aitch wanted to go into the city shopping, so I arranged with karl to pick it up. After a few slurps of tesco's finest coffee from chipped mugs, me and Mrs Aitch were ushered out of Karl's house so he could pick his daughter up from school. So I slung a green canvas kit bag into the boot of the car without a thought.

Once we'd got home and unpacked the shopping, I remembered Actionboys green kit bag, and thought I'd bring it in to look at, below is an inventory of what I found:

1 x Green canvas kit bag
2 x Camouflage jacket
1 x Camouflage trouser
1 x Camouflage beenie hat
1 x Army woolen hat
2 pairs of boots, worn but in good nick
1 x utility type belt with pouches
2 pairs of long johns (not sure if they've been worn or not, in the wash just in case)
1 Norwegian cold weather shirt
2 pairs of socks
1 pair of gloves
6 glow sticks (those break and shake things except these are big enough to marshall aircraft)
Steak and veg with potato ration
Burger and beans ration
Rice pud ration
2 compacts of camouflage face paints
1 x Paintball mask (I want to shoot pigeons not look like Jason from Friday 13th)

God bless his heart he means well, but what the effing hell am I to do with paintball masks and glow sticks ? I want to shoot pigeons not illuminate and shoot paint at the effing things ! I was going to post a photo but to be honest with all the gear on I look like a cross between Clarrisa Dickson Wright and Rambo, that and the fact if my 5 year old son saw me he'd have nightmares. The good news is that if AlQaeda attack via North Norfolk, I'm ready for the bastards....


Where's those pesky rabbits ?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I hate this time of the year, there's only so many rigs you can tie. Actually it can be pretty good off our beaches right now but this Indian summer isn't doing us any favours. We need some good Northerlies, sooner the better. There's a few small whiting showing darn sarf of the region and occasional codling and bass up here. I reckon if we get some decent conditions I'm sure we're in for another top winter season.

So with the lack of action I got to thinking about what we'd done this summer, and if I'm totally objective about it we didn't do that well. A few early season bass, a few nice sole then odd early codling, but no great catches of rays or hounds etc. it's been a slow summer. The Jolly Boys did get away for a few days fishing to the Isle of Wight this summer, that was ok but then again the conditions conspired against us and we never got the variety we'd hope for down there.

Jolly Boys July 2006

Five of us made the pilgrimage this year, Keith Hall, Karl Gibson, Johnny Everett, Paul Kerry and yours truly. When I say pilgrimage its more like a few days cutting loose with the boys, the fishing is important but it's not everything. The first day we got there it was full on sun around 80deg and no wind, not ideal usually but we still felt confident we'd get into a few smoothounds. We met up with Russ Catling who lives on the island; he's an old mate of Paul's from his casting days and an absolute godsend info. wise. Russ suggested that we'd be as well fishing Castle Point the first day as we were stopping in East Cowes and it would be an easy fish only 5 minutes from the digs.

Now while I mention the digs, we've had some pretty ropey digs in the past but this place was mint! We had a four bedroom apartment with sea views, outdoor heated pool and onsite bar, bloody marvellous, the only down side was I had to share with Keith who snores like a herd of wildebeast, I'd be ok as long as I was anaeshetised. The place was Waverley Park and I'd highly recommend it. We also managed to time our arrival with the last night of the Isle of Wight rock festival; we listened to Cold play whilst supping cold beers that night after fishing, bloody marvellous.

Back to the fishing, its pretty simple stuff really. 3/0 pennel rigs, no need for clips as its all within 70/80 yards of the shore and peeler crab the must have bait. I'd borrowed a state of the art video camera and the plan was we'd do some fishing and put a dvd together of our trip. The plan never quite worked as I realised I couldn't fish and film at the same time, so I'm afraid the filming never really happened! I did manage a few minutes of film, including Karl's and Keith's first ever smuts. I also made a complete twot of myself, yes yes I know it won't be the last time.

I had the camera set up on a tripod and set it recording (or so I thought) whilst I gave some spiel about who was fishing where and what has happening. As I did my rod bucked forward and I'm into a nice smoothound all in front of the camera in real time! Not being one to miss an opportunity like this, I talked the fish all the way in, even pointing my rod tip at the camera and coming out with crap like "this is why we're here" and "even small fish around 6 or 7lb pull your string" etc. you get the picture. That night back at the digs I thought I'd charge the camera battery and preview what we had filmed, when I get to the point where I should've been in full on "John Wilson" mode, there was nothing, not so much as a flicker on the screen. Id left the effing thing on standby! The boys found it very amusing, needless to say the camera never made an appearance after that.

Castle Point that first day was superb. We all had smuts to about 7lb and bass to around 4lb, perfect after the drive down there and we're all set for an early night after a couple of pints. That's all except for Johnny, he wasn't feeling too good so I packed up and took him home early, was handy for me as it meant I got in the shower first before the rabble got back. I think Johnny had mild heatstroke; it was a tremendously hot day on top of a long journey with PK driving. I just have to giggle to myself, whenever I think about PK driving. I remember him picking Karl up and meeting us down at Salthouse for a social fish. Karl got out of the car shaking and said "That was effing surreal, he drives that Skoda like he's Alain Prost while he listens to Boney M!" still cracks me up now. Anyway we averaged around 5 or 6 fish each so a successful start to the break.


Small but perfectly formed, Johnny's spotted ray

Johnny recovered after an early night and the rest of us were all sprightly despite a night on the pop. The next day saw Russ fish with us down at a place called Hamstead. We didn't have so many fish here but they were generally a bit bigger. Karl had a nice one of 9lb 4oz and Johnny had a nice little spotted ray. If anything that's what disappointed me a little bit. The smut fishing was ok but I do like to try for other species. I'd hoped to go back to Blackgang Chine to try for some of the rays the areas famous for but conditions worked against us me and PK have had them there in the past, some good ones too. In those situations you have to rely on your local contacts and trust their knowledge, if they say it's not worth fishing don't waste your bait, fish were they say you've a chance of one or two.


Karl's Smut a beauty at 9lb 4oz

The break was rounded off with a trip to Gurnard Ledge. It's a decent walk but easier than Hamstead and one of my favourite marks, unfortunately my companions don't rate it as highly as me. The flood runs from left to right and to the left is an arm of rocks that run out across the tide (Gurnard Ledge). The rocks create the effect of two tides. The tide floods as normal and the water rises, then when it ebbs the tide runs right to left and against the rocks, the rocks push the water back giving like another mini flood. It can be weedy here as the rocks trap debris as well as food etc. but I've generally done ok here. This trip wasn't so successful with only odd small smuts caught and a few schoolies, the area seemed to hold more spider crabs than anywhere else we fished at that time of the year. As we walked back to the cars, Russ asked me if I was losing my bait elastic, I said no, mine was safely stowed in my box and reckoned it was old stuff that had been left in the bushes. Turned out it was Keith's, he'd bought a new bobbin of elastic from Scotties that morning and dropped it in his bucket rather than his box. Upshot is he had a lovely clean cardboard reel minus elastic when we got to the car, doughnut.

All in all a decent trip, great company and a laugh a minute; roll on next year. This winter we hope to get away for a night or two up my old neck of the woods. We'd planned to fish the Humber bank last year but the cod fishing was too good round here and it wasn't worth the trip, maybe this year. Here's an idea of how good it was, these three numpties sent me this knowing I was stuck at work, its from Kessingland in February this year. Its a surprising picture as the subjects are managing to hold the fish AND smile, they're not renowned for their ability to multitask, I've even heard Karl reminding himself "breathe in, breathe out, breathe in.......


PK, Johnny and Karl, doing what they do best.