First sailing was looking rather promising. Joining me for the early flood of a fairly big tide, one of the first since the whiting returned (yes, we have them this year, already affecting shore sole efforts) were Martin, Rob and Neil. And the mission? Food.
Initially the wind pushed us quite hard across the tide, and just a couple of schoolies fell. But as the pace of the tide increased, and the wind decreased, so the fishing picked up. Plus, for the first time perhaps since back in May, actual shoals of bass to be seen foraging on the tech, rather than the very loose shoals, perhaps individual fish, that have been a feature on the shallow marks this season.
And that is why we hit a very respectable thirty eight bass. Max kill. No beasts, the two biggest perhaps approaching the 5lb mark. But lots of action on super light tackle. It felt very good to be a charter skipper again. Just one snag. What do you do with a boat load of foodies, once you have taken your bass limit. Because after a Zio's breakfast, the guys were back out with me again.
Well, you hunt different foods. We took a run at the cod, and even had one, but it was deemed too small, if exceptionally well marked. We had a run on the squid, and we caught squid. I pushed it and we had a crack at the plaice (some big plaice showing to the bait charter fleet today - 2.5lb specimens x 4 on "Grey Viking") but we did not find any, just a solitary small gurnard where I tried. We returned to the squid, with a bag of fifteen, plus a mackerel. But actually, wild bass, line caught squid fresher than is possible to buy, and super fresh mackerel. What foodie could be upset with that?
And then to the third session. A four hour session, into dark, aboard Kestrel Warrior, a starfish 8 working from Brighton marina, with full qualified night skipper Tony at the wheel. Regular readers might recall we worked together much earlier in the year, when my vessel was unavailable, with Kestrel Warrior VI, which was an Offshore 25. However, when "Our Joy" became available over in Littlehampton, Tony couldnt help himself. They are cracking vessels for small groups. Perfect for evening squid and sole forays.
Much anticipation, especially as the last attempt was abandoned on heading out due to excessive swell. Joao, Mark, Simon, Stephen, David and Eric joining Tony and I on the squid hunt. And it started so well, with Simon nailing a quite large Vulgaris first drop.
Four hours later, too many questions. We ended up with seven squid, and it seemed to me each one came from a different venue. Plus two cuttlefish both of which were extremely small and not very old at all. The biggest question, is why, when we caught one, we didnt go on to catch another thirty swimming with it, which is how it went last year. Timing seems to be one issue. I suspect half an hour before sunset needs to be moved to two hours before sunset, as the diminishing light is definitely a trigger. Once the light had gone, the squid seem to spread very thinly, and quite possibly head into very shallow water. So, it could actually be, the best squidding afloat, could be daylight. All things to delve into, as and when winds allow. Some good news on that front, which might see Thursday 1600 as the next squid trip.