The day began very well. And cuttle free. Although that could be more down to the fact that everybody was fishing surface lures for the full three hours. The few fish that were around, were big, and pretty much only looking up. Actually, when I say "few fish" there were quite a few missed takes, and a couple that dropped off. Poor Clint lost one due to a fly line picking up his main line on the back cast. We are trying to see if we can avoid forcing fly anglers to charter the whole craft, but the jury is currently out. There are pro's and cons, Actually, the lure anglers do not interfere with the fly anglers, but with boat rotation, varying wind effects on the back cast, and the generally less precise nature of casting a heavy fly line from a boat, means that the lure anglers perhaps suffer at the hands of the fly anglers. One to discuss with Captain Bruce at the next "progress" meeting. Back to the fishing...
Another cloudless sky, I was expecting the fishing to go quiet after the first hour, but instead, David, Jon, Matt and Clint kept having action, not fast and furious but some action every drift. By the time we went in, we had managed twelve fish to the boat. Happily two 6lb fish were released (we have a msx 5lb kill) but 2 4lb fish were less fortunate. More lucky were a couple of 3lb fish. Pretty good stats for sub 30' fishing on a bank holiday Monday, and rather confirms the better stamp of fish around at the moment.
We returned to port for coffee and a crew turn around. David very reluctantly left us (He had booked for just three hours, but with the fishing quite good, he would very much have liked to have done all day. For the very first time ever, BIF1 was fully booked for the rest of the day). And we swapped him for one of my Essex crew (a veteran of several Fishyrob adventures) Chris. We took a longish break as I wanted the new tide to get going. A little after 10:30 we headed back out.
The next session was, quite predictably, a lot harder. There was zero bait where it should have been on the early flood tide, Simliar to the previous day, and I feel as a direct result of a hundred boats an hour spilling out of the marina, turning hard right to "showboat" by the pier and flooring it. Sometimes when this happens, some of the more isolated spots of rough ground become refuge, and the bait can be very stacked together on these spots. But I had a good look around the ones I know, and nothing was there. I had little option but to return to where we had the fish in the first session. Some were still there, including another 3lb fish. However, it was less than furious action. With all fly rods now retired in favour of lures, I got the guys "braced for speed" and flew out to one of the offshore reefs. I say flew. This was the first time BIF1 had enjoyed five big adults on board. And what a difference in getting her up on the plane... It is a lot more of a fuel hungry experience. Once she is up though, she is wonderful. I REALLY love that boat.
Out on the reefs, we found absolute plagues of cuttle fish. But in amongst them, another three bass, including a cracker for Chris of 6.25lb. A nice wrasse added some colour. And then, it was time to head back in for a much longer break of a couple of hours.
Back out, having said farewell to John (we do enjoy some interesting banter when John is on board. I cant go into it as a charter skipper lives by the rules of a lawyer. Client confidentiality is everything, and what goes on board, stays on board. All I will say John, is "well fluffed" ... I was looking forward to this final trip very much. I had billed it as a big bass and cod hunt. I had a good solid plan, and felt weirdly full of confidence, despite the cod still being perhaps a week away when looking through historical records from "Scooby". We did two bass drifts on the way to the cod mark. Another two bass landed. One about 1.5lb. One nearer 3lb. Then onto the cod mark. Clint had got a tangle in his line, so I spent some time un-tangling it. The cuttles continued to be a pain, but that meant the guys were smiling, as these interesting little creatures kept hitching a ride to the surface on the lures, and then releasing on the surface. They would then hang around in mid water, almost as if they knew another lure would be descending soon. As soon as one did, they would grab it and repeat the process. One even felt it could leave the sea to get its meal, as the video shows.
This meant the boat ran well off the heavy ground. So despite expecting cod on the mark, I was very suprised when Chris announced "Fish on" and I looked up from the tangle to see the very obvious nod nod of a cod on the end of the line. Sure enough, a codling, perhaps only 2lb came up from the depths. Small, very thin as the vanguard cod often are, I couldnt have been more happy. Despite seeing some great bass on board during the day, this was the first ever cod on lures on BIF1. Another landmark occasion, and now I can hand on heart say, the inshore cod fishing season is open. Numbers will build, peak in October, and be likely all over by the end of November.
Other than a few mackerel, that was the only action out on the rocks. The tide slackened, and I knew it was time to do the last hour, and its attendant glorious sunset, back in the edges. A couple of swirls to the one knockers from very wary fish, but no more hookups. A very happy skipper came into the dock, despite having an extra thirty minutes work to clean up Cuttle ink (we did manage to land about six or seven). Two firsts. A fully booked boat, which we are delighted with, and the first cod on board, which we are excited with...