Bit of a big day today was, as it turned out. Certainly a long day. It began, as always with the 0730 sailing. I get a very diverse clientele on BIF1. Everything from, Guitar men, to classical performers, to Airplane pilots AND engineers and so many many careers in between. But, I'm fairly certain that Nathan, who was sailing with his crew consisting of Joel, Seth and dad Ian, is my only chimney sweep!!
I asked what they wanted. Which was a huge mistake as some were keen on cod, and others bass. So, I headed to a mark where we catch both. I personally targeted squid, and Nathan joined in for a while, catching his first ever. The bassing was fairly good. We landed twenty one (me very few.. yes, a squid jig does rather seem to put off the bass, but not the cod, when fishing the best bet rig)
No coddies though sadly. I topped up the squid tally to six, but, of those 21 bass just two were for the table, both around the 3lb mark. So so. Not amazing. But certainly not a terrible session, and plenty of laughs.. But all the time, my anxiety levels were rising. Not for any other reason, than I knew I would be running my first ever night charter and with this session coming to a close, there was just one regular sailing remaining between me and it.
Age is a funny thing. Not only does getting older mean stuff hurts more, hangovers extend far longer and that kind of stuff. It also means that things that were massive when I was a nipper are unheard of. Which is such a shame as next on board were Bill and Ben (born before 1980? Then you likely understand) and of course Paul. You would have read far more about this crew, but they have been especially good at choosing windy days. They are not the only ones, and not the most cursed either. Today though, they were here. And they were demanding some action, as they had also had a couple of bummer trips when they have been out.
Well we nailed that request. I decided to see if the fish were up the beach, and happily they were, with some good fish among them. We managed 20 before the tide run eased back, and the bass went off to wherever they go. I had a poke around looking for them, and at one spot, a squid grabbed the shad. Everyone then had a go on the squid, and we had half a bait well in just thirty minutes. Further bassing provided a further five fish, and then it was time to head in. Which meant.... Time for my maiden night passage.
Now, I currently do not have the correct skippers papers for night voyages, but happily a good friend of mine does. And not only is he qualified but he is also an instructor so if I repeat the experience, I will likely log the journey times towards a higher level of qualification, as the ability to night sail raises endless expansions to my product. One of which, is squid.
From twenty years of targeting them from the shore, I learned how important sunset and sunrise is to autumn, squid. Spring squid, are all about looking to reproduce, and as such, they are in shallow water all through the day. The autumn squid also can be caught in quite shallow water if it is gloomy, but if the sun is shining, depth is required. Which is why I needed to test the viability of a squid dedicated nocturnal sailing,
David, Paul and Tim were my guinea pigs. Due to paid crew, and my 4 + 1 max capacity under my coding, there was only room for 3 anglers, and as such the fee was £80. So, the pressure really was on. I had prepared five sets of what I felt would be trouble free squid setups, but left the shad on as I have never bounced a shad at night before But actually, what was apparent was how few finned fish were marked through the entire session. Zero bass, zero whiting. Pretty much zero fish. Except... The squid. They were marking everywhere.
It was very frantic fishing from the first drop, until it got truly properly dark. Then, we had to go on the hunt. Suspecting they all go up the edges, we came inshore pretty close. Nothing on the first spot I tried, but on the second we were catching again. Not at the same pace but picking up a few per drift. We also saw many on the surface, but perhaps their suspicion levels were too high, as those ones didnt grab the jig We also saw in the water a very small one indeed. Which somehow, seems weird as spawning was back in May. Perhaps another species that I am unaware of. A mini squid species.
When we came back onto the dock, we said thankyou and goodbye to my supervisor, and set about counting the catch. My three guys walked off with 64 squid split between them. Quite a catch, but I learned so much that I need to process, and I think I can refine both the rigs and the hunting grounds much further. I do believe a 200 squid session is not out of reach. But it is, as always, in the hands of fortune, as everything has to come together, and perhaps on a full moon. I love this amazing game of angling. Always more and more to learn, grab with both hands, and work out to my anglers advantage. Exciting times.