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  • Writer's pictureRobin Howard

Brighton Inshore Fishing - Catch report 2nd October 2023

First sailing I was joined by Mitch, Jon, and Stewart, all regulars, and Stewart had bought his life long friend Roger along to play. Roger last having been sea fishing in the days when Brighton was a renowned port for big ling and cod hauls off the wrecks. A very long time ago.

And yet, with a little instruction, Roger was easily working his Heddon one knocker spook up there with the best of them. And the fish appreciated it. For the first hour the bass were happy to rise. At the first spot the fish were a little small, but a short move and we were finding the table fish. The final tally was 17 bass landed, and I seem to remember a couple of gurnard, but it could be false memory syndrome. Max kill, with the biggest to Roger, which at 61cm was 2 cm too big to meet its end on BIF1, and was released.

2nd sailing, and all returnees. Paul, John, and back down from Essex, Gary and Adam. (Adam has only previously been shore guided by me, where he showed why Essex anglers rock. They have to fish well, with so few fish there. He gave a great display of focus, and I seem to remember him being top rod on that session).

Fishing was horribly slow in the first hour, as I poked ground I expected fish to be, but they simply were not. In the end, I gave up, apologised for the fifteen minute run to where I had caught fish in the morning (I hate putting too much travel time into a 3 hour session) but assured them it would be for the better outcome. They put their faith in me, and I gunned back to where, happily, fishes were still waiting.

As a result, the final tally was less, with twelve fish. But from that, we killed 7. Two bonus pollack also appeared. If you depress easily, skip to the next paragraph. When I first came to Brighton, these 8oz-2lb pollack were a real pain. If you fished float and strip for mackerel and gar, they would often beat the pelagic fishes to the bait. Float and prawn for bass? 30 pollack before you finally got through to your bass. And now, I write about just two of them. 20 years of overfished pollack, by both commercial and angling interests. Fast growing, it would only take a 2 year pause in taking, and they would really have the best chance of flourishing again.

3rd sailing was a squid trip. These get organised short notice via a whatsapp group I run (text your name and the word SQUID to 07970 112774 to join) because for the best squid fishing, conditions need to all be correct. And boy, was today looking good, other than a slightly pacey tide. And yet, even that would be dying away all through the session. Then factor in zero wind and cloud cover, and it was the session I had been looking forward to all day. Indeed, still feeling the effects of a heavy cold, I was also looking forward to not being too physically or mentally strained, as chasing bass properly can be heavy in both parts when trying to lay it on for clients.

That was the scenario when I called the trip on. And all was precise, except heading out on mirror seas was also accompanied by some filtered sunlight, which made it all feel even better. When the squid and cuttle came flying out from the first drop down, it was all even better. I could see a 100 + session in the making.

I guess that's why, after 30 minutes, Neptune sent a stiff easterly breeze. He likes to protect his stocks. The problem with a stiff easterly on an ebbing tide, is it shoots you faster than the actual tide. And then your presentation changes, and the squid and cuttle give you the middle tentacle. We suffered it for another 30 minutes, but the catch rate had really dwindled. With no sign of cessation, we all agreed to head back in. But in that first 30 minutes, 7 cuttle and 20 squid hit the deck. And squirted a shit load of sticky black gunk far too often. Do not wear your best gear if joining a cephalopod session. It is an expected occurrence, and part of the fun.

So, Neptune's double f*ck? As I was hosing down, which takes a little longer after cuttle especially have been aboard, I felt clammy suddenly. The humidity had returned. Weird. Except not weird. That's what happens when there is suddenly zero wind. I thought briefly about crying, but some looming, threatening cloud reminded me that we could just as easily have been bought back in by lightning. What would have been a 100 squid session, was cut short. Hey ho. It happens. A lot this year. All part of the job, and of the quirky requirements of light line lure fishing. The next cephalopod trip will be called at very short notice indeed. And it will be awesome...

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