Having watched as I drove along the seafront, the immense swells and heaving energy of the sea on the afternoon of the 10th, it seemed almost impossible that by the following morning I might be sailing. I had left the one planned sailing down to a visual inspection of the sea state at first light, and then I would decide. So that is what I did. I got up and headed down. There was still a very big swell, but with zero wave, and big gaps between the swells. Actually, a real fun ride. Far more worrying was the visibility. Clearly the inshore would be shot. Maybe some viz on the outer reefs. I phoned the only clients of the day, Mark and Damon, and gave them the news, and gave them the options. a) Back to bed. b) Give it a go. With the forecast suggesting no sailing for the foreseeable future, they went for option B.
We headed out around 0730. It wasnt looking good. As predicted, the ride was really fun. I love these long swells, and BIF1 loves them more, hugging them at 25 knots without any dramatic drop offs that you get at that speed on shorter interval swells. It still freaks me out a bit, the whole sea effectively waddling with left over energy, but BIF1 ensures we are all perfectly safe. With zero wind, the mirrored swells actually have a very therapeutic effect if anything. But viizibity was pretty bad, even out on the first rock we drifted. "Not looking good guys" I offered, and watched their faces drop, even though they perhaps tried not to let that be obvious.
The thing with viz on our patch, is that it is more to do with rain than with wind. With three major estuaries in the vicinity, run offs push offshore for miles, and carry all the dust and dirt from a summer of drought inland. And with the storm, came some big dumps of what we apparently really need. Well, call me selfish, but I really dont need any of it at all... not when it messes with my fishing. I took a gamble, and headed well west. Away from the influence of the Adur on a flooding tide. And here, viz was a few feet better. We dropped down. I had Damo frolicking away (he's favourite thing, to Frolic when he is in Brighton) and Mark and I vertical jigged with big HTO Arctic eels (apparently now discontinued, and available on clearance sale at Glasgow Angling at £2 per pop. An absolute steal). I deliberately went for whacky colours and a big lure to attempt maximum advertising for any bass. And also, I have heard of cod being caught from the shore at Chesil. This is a sign that whatever cod we have left this year, are beginning to return inshore from the wrecks. And cod LOVE HTO Arctic eels.
There was success almost immediately. A small bass to myself, on a rhubard and custard lure. Mark then had two in quick succession, on a pink one, all in 40gm. Then some quiet. Frolic wasnt working so well, possibly because of reduced ligth 50' below with the poor viz, so I got Damo on the shads as well. Quiet on the next drift. Following drift, Damo shouts "Im in..." I look around to see the familiar sight of a rod bent double with a screaming drag. But zero headshakes. "Yaaay... Rock fish" I smile at Damo... As I fail to release it, and begin setting it up, Mark calls out. I look up, to a far less familiar sight. A solidly locked over rod, with big, lunging head shakes. None of the "heavy / slack" battling of a bass. This could only be one thing. Cod on...!! Sadly, perhaps just ten feet below the surface, out of visual confirmation, cod on, became cod off. Simply pulled off the hook for no good reason. But that it was a cod, I am pretty certain. They battle in a very specific way.
The rocks became quieter so I tried inshore, as viz was improving fast. Damo had his first ever pollack, which would have made a great livebait if we allowed such things on BIF1. We encountered an excellent shoal of smallish bass on one spot, and we all took fish from it. But bigger fish today were either absent, or feeding on something other than whitebait. The shoals are out there (whitebait) but quite broken by the swells. Perhaps they will reform, but sadly, the wind forecast looks just too much for any sailings in the next seven days. Hopefully that will change. Keep an eye on our Facebook page BRIGHTON INSHORE FISHING for latest sailing information.