Friday 16th

So much for snooker! At lunchtime Friday I'm looking forward to a dust buster after work with Geno and John, a few frames of snooker and a chinese takeaway for supper with Adolfina. Then, as it so often does, the phone rings, "fish city at Hopton, there was a load yesterday, I know we are supposed to be snookering but..."

I went home for lunch, got changed, loaded my gear in the car and met Geno at Hopton for 16:30. The weather was pants, mild with a horrible, solid southerly along the beach. We'd get the last of the ebb, low water and as much of the flood as we wanted. Halfway through January and I've been three times, some of my mates reckoned I would hardly see the beach due to my new job, seeing more of it than most of them!

First rod out as far as I could in that southerly wind, which wasn't that far to be honest. A few minutes later and the tip is craning over. Either plenty of tide or plenty of weed. Geno wound in three foot of red weed and a 1-2lb codling, I didn't get my kit back with the weight of weed, one rod until it eased over low water then. I think I managed a couple of pin whiting while Geno had another of those 1-2lb fish, I'm sure his extra yardage in those difficult conditions made a big difference.

Sure enough as the tide eased so did the weed and we had a few hours comfortable fishing in spite of the wind. Geno took his tally up to 4 of those regulation 1-2lb chunky monkeys, he was duffing me up handsome style but he was hardly bagging. It was around then that Mick pitched up for a babble. Mick's one of Fritz's cousins, but that's where the family resemblance stops, Mick's a real affable sort of bloke! He was there with his grandson too, nice to see a tiddler out with their grandfather for a fish. I was chatting to Geno whilst keeping an eye on my rods when it happened. The closest rod nods forward, pings back straight and loops forward again. I ran (ok it was sort of a fast wobble) over to my rod, pick up, wind down forever until finally feeling that satisfying weight. Very shortly one that's more 2lb than 1lb is in the bucket.

As soon as the flood started to run a bit the weed returned and that was enough to send us to the Turnstone for a pint. I'm the first to admit that I'm no world champ, but I'm a bit dismayed by my form at the minute. My casting is off, I never feel that confident when I go, hardly surprising I keep getting done then is it. I'm going to have a week off this week, tidy my kit, service my reels and have a general tidy up, that is assuming I don't get talked into going again...


Friday 9th January

A hastily arranged trip, the plan was to turn up just before high water and fish as much of the ebb as we wanted. I traveled with Nobby and Smudge, another travel sickness sufferer, followed in his motor. We parked on Marine Drive and had a look over. Lamps as far as the eye could see, stretching from the wreck pretty much right to Corton! That was our plan stuffed, we wanted to walk up past the wreck and settle somewhere halfway between Gorleston and Hopton, we ended up town side of the wreck by a couple of groins knowing we were pegged out of it.

First chuck and motionless tips, I wound in to rebait after maybe 10-15minutes and there's a bit of weight, though it's dead weight. Sure enough first chuck and I've removed some heft and I'm a couple of leads better off. Smudge had a pin whiting around this time but despite being a spring we didn't actually get any tide until a good 3 hours into the ebb. When it did go we managed a few whiting and Nobby and Smudge both snared a chunky monkey codling, but it was hardly bagging. There was a bit of weed with the tide too, that stringy, clingy stuff that takes some plucking.

Tony "foot fetish" Friend was down there and could only have been a hundred yards away, but in the bitter cold I barely ventured out of my buddy. The lamps that we'd seen as we arrived dwindled as the evening wore on, by the time we packed up at midnight there was plenty of room on the beach. I'm sure we would've done better if we'd been able to fish where we wanted, though the reports i've seen haven't been great, oh and I lost two sets to wipe out the bonus of dragging two in first chuck. Not the best session I've ever had but nice to be on the beach with mates, and I wasn't working at least..

Awful Ness

Saturday 3rd January

We'd been undecided what we were going to do this last week. PK was up for a trip on the Friday, unfortunately the Saturday suited the rest of us. PK had a go at Hopton on the Friday and didn't do very well so we decided on an eleventh hour run to Orford, the boat would get us over just before low water and we'd have the flood before heading back again.

Plan was I'd meet Geno and Fritz at Geno's and we'd all go together in Fritz's jeep. Digger wanted to come but couldn't get a day off, he reckons his new boss is a tyrant. So I made my way round to Geno's at stupid o'clock, getting there for 6am. Fritz pitched up a few minutes later, the gear was loaded and just before we went I had a look at the new edition to the Geno household, a lovely little ball of fluff called Oscar. I think they named him after Geno's hero, Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Wilde

Hello sailor.

On our way in style in Fritz's jeep cherokee thing, leather everywhere, air con and heated seats. I love it first thing in the morning, the sun's weak rays just starting to penetrate the skeleton like trees, birds and animals about before having to hide from the rest of humanity, and probably the best of all, the dawn cry of Geno yakking by the side of the road. Apparently the poor love suffers from travel sickness, had nothing to do with the beer and curry with his workmates the night before, no it was definitely the heated seats and soft suspension of the jeep. The stopping to yak I can live with but whoever feeds that boy onions wants hanging, drawing and quartering. I swear to god I could taste onion bhajis by the time we pulled up at the quay.

Pete had already taken a boat load over with most going to the narrows, our trip was full too and I think there was a small match and they were heading for the narrows. We decided to fish the crouch and after a relatively easy walk found ourselves in front of the bunkers. There were a few guys in front of the wrecked earth mover, we were the narrows side of them by the last bunker, me first, Fritz and Geno on the end peg. Bearing in mind the last time I'd been on this forsaken spit of land, me and Geno had been battered by Digger. No shame in that in itself, he's a top angler, but I did notice he wasn't fishing with regular paternosters like we were. He fished a rig which really nailed the bait hard down, I thought at the time it looked perfect for deep marks with plenty of tide. I asked him for the pattern and he left me a couple on the doorstep bless him, he wouldn't be in as the pirate had him digging again. I copied the design using my own rig bits and fished these all day, they cast well and I'm sure they'd fish well, of course to prove they fish well you need a few fish to catch.

I missed a slackliner fairly early on, I re baited, pinged it out and saw Geno and Fritz unhooking whiting or pouts, bits anyway. I settled in and saw nothing in the rod tips until the first flush of the flood eased around 12:30, the rod I was fishing out eased back straight and I wound in a pristine little codling about 1lb in weight. Fritz managed one exactly the same and Geno had another pout. Another couple of hours of motionless tips then I get a whiting and on the very last cast at the top of the tide, another 1lb chunky monkey. Fritz had managed a couple of whiting to go with his codlet and Geno a couple of whiting and a pout. All that way to a cod fishing mecca for four bites and three barely sizeable fish, all the fish were returned obviously. On the way back it was pretty obvious nobody else had faired much better, a guy did have one around 7lb but again he'd only had 3 or 4 bites that day.

We did have a scare on the way back, we turned up at the pick up point at the allotted time to see Pete heading back for the quay without stopping, we quickly realised he was taking the match lads back first before coming back for us. It reminded us of two mates who got forgotten by the old ferryman, apparently the ferryman got pissed in the afternoon and forgot to go and pick PK and Lucky up! I can imagine the pair of them now, the ferryman sent somebody else to go and pick them up, wise move I reckon, every chance he'd have got a thick lip.

I dare say the beach would be different again at night, there wasn't a lot of colour in it, but even so I thought we'd have had a few bits at least. Judging by the latest reports it seems it's pretty much the same everywhere with the exception of Hopton which seems to hold a few whatever the weather and sprats do. We discussed it on the way back, whether they were fixated on sprats or spawning or the current high pressure was putting them off, we didn't know but we've all seen it before. The run back to Geno's seemed to go quickly even though we had to stop for Geno to yak again, this time aptly named Poringland was the place of his outpouring. I suppose that pretty much confirmed it wasn't the beer and curry, as Geno had stressed at the time, but was in fact travel sickness. Me and Fritz didn't care, we sat there giggling like couple of kids, I haven't laughed so much in ages, our sniggering punctuated by the occasional "mooaaaaaa" every time he gipped, priceless.

Some local rods fished last night too, they never had so much as a bite, so it wasn't just Suffolk beaches that were pants but the Norfolk ones too. PK calls this time of the year the doldrums, about right I reckon.