First up, and another just happy to be out type soul, Nick, was very ready to go. So, we went, We nearly didn't mind. Such was the forecast the previous evening, I had to call Nick, aware that he had an hour and a half journey to the boat, and tease him out with the promise of some river mullet on the fly should the trip be called off. In the event. instead of the stiff SE wind we were informed we would have, we had just very localised patches of breeze, interspersed with large areas of calm. This pattern remaining for the whole day.
Bass were the target. Bream also were the target, and Nick had complied with my instructions to bring bait prepared to the boat. Except the last bit, as we left the marina and were well into the fishing when Nick realised it was still in his car. It didnt matter so much though. Far from fast and furious, but enough action to keep it fun, and keep the focus. Maybe 10 or 12 bass fell in the session, including a brace of 3lb fish for Nick to take up the road. Some return at least, for the increased fees.
Next session ever keen Mark was aboard. Repeat request really, Bass and Bream. Bass were harder to find as the rot thickened up with the new flood. Bream were there, although distinctly, each day there are less and less still on the nesting grounds. We fished for perhaps 45 minutes on them. We returned to the bass fishing. Typically, the best shoal I found just as the bugler on my telephone trumpeted end of session. We took two fish out of the shoal. A smaller one for Mark. And a nice fish circa 6lb for myself. Typical. I will always fish, as the learning never ends, but I am always happiest when the fish ignore me in favour of the client.
Next session and it was another regular come back to see me. Lee. He had six hours booked back to back which is something I am very happy to do more of in these Covid 19 times. Lee is a pretty serious species hunter, and due to the 6 weeks lock down, was playing catch up. So of course, Neptune again had some fun. Happily Lee did get three species off his list ticked. Bass, black bream and plaice. But just 10' from him, I pulled out bass, bream, ballan wrasse, pouting, Grey gurnard, and even a very occasional visitor inshore these days sadly, a reef pollack.
Between drifts, two pieces of drama. First action, was well offshore. A group of 3 scuba divers in a rib. Im drifting a very tight spot, maybe 10 meters square, 3 miles off. When the rib pitches up and made ready to drop an anchor. I asked them not to. In a distinct Albanian accent, I was told "Its ok". With my slightly less polite Essex accent, I suggested it wasnt. They did anyhow. There are two types of Albanians in this country. Respectful ones, and I am very proud to have some among my friends, and those with complete disregard for anything and everything except what is in it for them. And 3 of those regularly spearfish the "Billy Boy" on scuba gear. Itself considered unethical by those that spear for sport, rather than likely easy cash. These guys were hardcore, as I already had noticed them diving the marina blocks at the end of the east a few hours prior. Seems more like sales than leisure, with sea temps still under fourteen degrees.
Second drama, closer inshore. Transiting between marks at speed (the only way with just 3 hours to showcase what I do) I noticed, almost out of the corner of my eye, a movement. A paddle, halfheartedly raised. On closer inspection, a kayak, looking far lower in the water, than a
kayak should, considering it is basically a plastic bubble. I came off the rev's, and sidled over. A shivering young lad was attempting to swim his water filled yak half a mile to the beach. It wasnt going well for him, and with the new tide just beginning to really get going, with the cold waters and no wet suit, I found myself in a new dilemma. Do I bring him aboard, and break social distancing and put my client Lee in potential danger of contracting Corona virus? Or do we simply report it to the RNLI, and hope he doesn't die of exposure while they scramble... So, we left him.
I am of course joking. We got him on board, towed the yak inshore, and then sent him on the last ten yards to the shingle. Turns out, Kayaks have a screw in plug. And they work much better when it is screwed in...
The bassing was reasonable. We landed ten fish or so. But, this time, the quality fish stayed hidden. The rot is still a bit of an issue, although as I type, the first stiff SW wind for quite a few weeks is blowing. Hopefully this will pack it all together , tumble it up and see it sucked out to mid channel where it wont be my concern any more. Fingers crossed. However, as with pretty much everybody I take to sea at the moment, the catch for Lee was secondary.
I think what people are actually paying me for at the moment, is the provision of a large slice of normality. When we are fishing, way out to sea, it is actually the case, that it feels all a bit pre-pandemic. That constant anxiety that has been inserted into all of us, stops tapping on your brain, just for a few short hours. Pure escapism in these interesting times. Sad times. I really do get that. But I never thought I would be in a war, that affects our nation, our homes. Yet, here we are. And if my part of the war effort is to help with mini holidays from it all, let it be. Very happy to help. Just a shame it cant be issued on a prescription.