Some days it is just good to be out at sea. Out there, things do not matter too much. Its far more important, the speed of drift, than who became the president of the U.S.A. Brexit seems positively not interesting, when the screen lights up with harassed bait fish. Just the one thing that no matter what we do or are, comes to haunt us. This damned virus. I think I probably mirror many peoples inner thoughts, when I say, AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH...
First wave, wow. Such things that were happening. It was natural to suspect everybody other than yourself and your neighbours dog likely had it. The fear from that led to the compliance. Those dreadful figures we all got hooked on. And of course, as I have since learned, many either taken from us, or condemned to suffer the still mostly unknown "long covid". And then those numbers crashed down. It had worked, lockdown. Or, hiding, as it could have been described. I heard someone sum this up perfectly on the radio. "There was no lockdown. There were middle class people hiding while working class people brought them stuff".
So, we breathed easy. Felt it was a close one. Began slowly to get back to all the things we hadnt been allowed to do before. Like send the kids to school. Bang. Off it goes again. And here we are again. Somehow though, I am not feeling the fear. I know I am blessed to not have any known health issues, which I guess goes a long way. I was pretty damned scared first time though, even knowing that then. So why no fear now? In part, because I have faced it close hand. My sister had it, was quite ill, but is recovering now, although tires easily. And, during the recent wind, the first two weeks I was actually happy for, as I was in self isolation. A client on the weekend, had tested positive on the Tuesday, and informed me. I informed the other client, and we were then "hiding". A little loosely on my part, as I did drive and do some solo fishing. Well away from others. I had not been contacted by the test and trace team, so had broken no laws. I do run the app. And there is this thing they did so well in Sweden. Its called "common sense". We all know how the virus spreads. We all know how to stop that happening. And, happily, on BIF1 we run a Corona secure policy, which I can now say has been tested, with two unknowing guinea pigs both not becoming ill. And now, with 5 meter distancing and just a single angler, transmission is virtually impossible.
Why all this waffle? Well, before I get onto the fishing, while I was working today, my phone suddenly got hot with helpful folk advising me that it is not ok to run a charter boat anymore. WTF!!! ?? I took two deep breaths. Someone then told me it was the Angling Trusts directive. I should have taken two more deep breaths. I failed to do that. Instead I shot a fiery message at the one person who batted so strongly on our behalves the first time round, one of the main guys in the AT. He sent a hurt and bewildered reply. But did find the source. The Professional Boatman's Association. The problem with the P.B.A. (and some marine insurers) is that they make these big impressive statements, that actually are simply their interpretation of the same legislation that we are all privvy to on the government website. Its just, they clearly need reading glasses.
Boris said "Only go to work if you cant work from home". As much as my house smells a bit fishy from time to time, we are going to have a tough time getting reels screaming. I do however have a cat that has house invaded me, and finally we might have a use for him. But realistically, I dont think people will pay much for me to tie a cat on the end of a rod and reel.
Boris said "get outdoors and exercise. Outdoor recreation is encouraged in public spaces". So of course, all the negative people jump on "public spaces. Your boat isnt a public space". Well, although my legal training went about as far as my acting career, which was a little further advanced than my spaceman career, as I had once played King Charles I in a school play, I am pretty sure that any space the public can access, regardless of paying a fee, is considered a public space. If not, day ticket fisheries, need close, else offer free fishing. Ditto club waters, trout fisheries, etc etc etc. Everywhere a fee has passed hands. That free stretch on the Itchen is going to get busy in that scenario. If that is not an acceptable excuse, I will also highlight that both gates on the west are on the blink again, and anyone can walk in. A public place.
Boris said we can only meet with one other person outside our household. Well, we have been there before. Back in May, with four sailings a day, it held the business up. Now, with just two per day, its a lot tighter. And I also have to bear the guilt of banging the prices back up to where many cannot afford. This is a very sad consequence of all this. My regulars have gone from paying £45 a sailing, to £100. And without their support, it would have long since finished. Boris also says he cannot pay me any money. That crack politicians keep banging on about on the radio. It eats boats, unless they have commercial numbers on them, as those guys have their guardian angel DEFRA, to look after them.
Boris also said he was going to build a bridge when he was mayor of London mind. So, I guess it isnt what Boris says that is important, but the new legislation that came into effect at midnight last night. I have been through it. And I believe the onus is on preventing transmission, rather than tricking people into getting fined, or destroying businesses. So, with my COVID SECURE policy proven, my boat a very open space, Common sense, and all the time its ok for 2 people to fish on a 3 meter rib, BIF1 will remain open for business. And any other charter that can run with just skipper and a single client, in England, I feel would be justified, and in full accordance with the legal situation. If the only difference between two guys in a rib and a client and myself on BIF1 is the money changing hands, then the issue is no longer about transmission of disease. The P.B.A. needs to think a little wider than 10 meter plus before making such sweeping announcements.
Fishing? Someone mention fishing? ... Oh yeah. That's what I write this blog for. Catch reports. Clearly. What a day... Weather wise I was quite nervous we might wake up to thick fog and a no sail. Happily, the fog sat east and west of us, where it remained for much of the day. I think folk in the Adur valley were likely having a chilly time of it. Whilst regular Mark and I, were very warm, despite the less warm air temperature. Reason? Sun and very light breeze. It was a stunning day. Early flood. What to do. Viz was much the same as the previous day, so it reasoned to go check out where the fish the previous day had come from.
It was a good call. And more fish there. We very quickly had two nice table fish, and continued to catch. When we had three smalls on the trot, I called a move. Where we had some more better sized fish. Certainly no monsters but up to the 3lb mark. And action, which had so sorely been missing the previous day. We got to thirteen, when Mark reminded me he had not yet had a cod this season. Onto a cod mark.
Snag is, I got it, bringing our winter total to just 16 now, although we both went on to bounce off further fish. A nice plump codling, to an orange HTO Arctic Eel. That big paddle tail makes for a parachuted descent, which really turns the cod on. Although discontinued, I can say that finally something using some of the positives from the Arctic eel is likely to be shortly released...
Another bass bought the total for the session to 14, which, with the cod, and just two rods, was actually pretty damned good fishing for three hours afloat. The session over alarm sounded, and we retreated to the "LAUGHING DOG" cafe for a delicious Classic breakfast bagel. Once more though, I am considering suggesting they change the name. I havent seen poor Bandit, the laughing dog, laugh for ages. We were laughing a lot though, at his dying dog impression. Such a honey.
Back out there, and started on the Thornback ray mark. Up until Mark's rod hooped over, it had been called the cod mark. Indeed, all the time Mark's rod remained hooped over, and making little progress, it was about to be upgraded to "Big cod" spot. Eventually though, it became obvious it was a good ray. Not the expected undulate, who have always enjoyed munching on an Arctic eel, but the first Thornback we have had on a shad, previous ones coming on isomes. Weighed on board at 7lb. A new boat record and a very happy Mark. Which was just as well. As the rest of the session was terrible. We chased all over, revisited spots, but just a single schoolie played on the now ebbing tide. A day very much, of two halves.