Rays coddie nicks fish of the day
I really had a last minute wobble about this trip. A 9 hour charter, with as much fly fishing opportunity as possible. And it was the fly slant that made me wobble. The forecast had deteriorated late the evening prior, and I was tempted to message a cancel. When the boat is riding swells, fly fishing is most difficult. Especially the cast, as the lunging boat can totally destroy the energy built up in a cast prepared to be shot.
However, I remembered from the last time Del and Ray were out with me, that should the fly fishing not be viable, they were both perfectly at home on the lure rods. And they are certainly no stranger to bouncy seas, as veteran survivors of various storms, typhoons and hurricanes on their many foreign fishy jaunts. Indeed, I was probably more nervous of the quite big white topped seas that greeted us as we headed out to one of the coddie marks a little after 0700.
We had decided to split the charter in two, with a break for "piggies" Steak baguettes and coffee. And the first sailing was definitely the choppiest seas I had taken clients out into ever. However, that isnt to say that the seas were in anyway unsafe. It was just to highlight what a pussy skipper I have been so far. The winds were blowing 13-15 mph Southerly. And one of my benchmarks, the commercial rod and line bass fisherman with the little Warriors, were heading out. So, we did too.
The fishing was far from fast and furious. I had suggested we leave the fly alone until the forecast drop in wind (by the end of the day the forecast was for airless seas). Del and Ray were happy to go along with this. First stop, and I slogged it out into the choppy stuff to one of the cod spots. Nets were hampering the drift, as instead of West to East, with the tide, the stiff Southerly wind was pushing us straight across it. We struggled on for half an hour, but then pushed along to another rock mark. A few drifts here, for nothing, and I decided to head inshore to where the previous days bassing had been good.
Here, we did find bass. A nice one for Del. Schoolies for Ray and myself. Enough action to give it a few drifts. Then, onwards, convincing myself the wind really was dropping, despite noticing an increase in the white horses advancing from offshore towards us. We bounced across a few more, before getting to a much bigger rock system. I noticed one of the commericals working in close. I took a long slow line, very clear of him, and began our drift perhaps 500 meters or more away. A wrasse for Del quite quickly. And then the commercial came up and plopped in front of us. After a brief chat, we established that he owns all of the area (I hope he will show me his royal warrant when I see him next) so I apologised for my intrusion, and skipped into some real close ones. Nothing doing there either. Back to the reef where we did find fish. They had gone. Tough fishing. So, what do we do when the going gets tough?? Retire to Piggies for steak baguettes and coffee's of course..,
And while we were there, magic happened. When we pushed out, the seas were much calmer. The nagging wind much reduced. I decided on a whim to head East. A whim?? What was I thinking. Well, actually I was thinking of a shallow pinnacle, where the fly might well do well. THat I was completely wrong, had nothing to do with it. And what is a "whim" anyway?? Im never getting on another whim if I can help it...
So back west side, and a complete struggle. A couple of taps on the flies, but nothing doing. I was getting desperate. I even thought I had contacted "the shoal" (see July 2017 entries) but I think my desperation was making non lucid translations of the sonar. When both Del and Ray declared they were a bit tired of the fly casting, my shackles were removed. I could now head offshore and see what was happening out there. And what was happening out there was a very big shoal of bass exactly where they should be. Happy days.
We drifted through them a fair few times, and caught more bass. No huge ones, but some quality, and everyone scrapping for their lives. Which to be fair, were not in jeopardy as both Del and Ray had their single fish each already stored in the fish wells. Eventually, the sonar showed the flattening of the shoal, a fair sign that our repeated interfering with them had made them spooky. No more takes happened. So, we headed to a coddie spot, where cod completely evaded our lures for the next fourty minutes. And then,. we headed inshore where I had promised the lads a bass bonanza. Just one bass to Del, but a very nice coddie to Ray, to bring our Cod Accumulative Total up to 38 since the middle of August.
We headed in, bang on low tide. Big mistake. Ever since the mad push for more revenues from the marina led to the mouth of the marina being narrowed, by ground works for the "Tower" that seems to be defeating every civil engineer tasked with making it happen, the marina silting seems to have increased. Almost daily. The marina's solution, "Doris", a big floating vacuum cleaner, sucking up the silt and projectile vomiting it from the red square floating block just off the east arm, is actually fairly effective. Sadly though, VERY slow and not operating in the fairway I am berthed in currently. She also cannot operate when the seas are rough, as the pipe carrying the vomit gets beaten up on the seaward side. So, as the sonar stopped working (sub 1' under the hull) I guess the grounding was expected.
A chirpy voice came bouncing over the radio... "BIF1 BIF1 Brighton Marina Control". "Brighton Marina control, BIF1 receiving over" I responded. "The good news, BIF1, is that the tide is at the lowest point right now, and the flood tide is on its way"... How the feck is that good news exactly?? Which of course I wanted to say. So, I did. More politely. "Brighton Marina Control, BIF1. That is not at all good news. Good news would be that "Doris" was on her way to make sure that this doesnt happen again" Silence. Then, a male voice, calming. The lad who's voice it is, is actually a pretty cool dude. He is very aware of all the marina's failings, but its also very aware who pay's his wages. So, of course he has to tow the company line. But he sort of does it in a "well, of course your right, but" kind of way. I find it quite endearing, and entertaining. A swift exchange of opinions. Then, the far less chirpy this time voice of the other staff member, Phillipa. "Clear the airwaves, for marina traffic please". Hello lady... I kind of am marina traffic. I kind of am a customer of the company that employs you. Unlike yourself, who purely drains the resources of the company that employs you. My berthing fees, plus the four to five service lifts a year, pays half of your salary. Not to mention the very big financial benefits to various service industries within the marina that my being operational brings. Really not the thing to say to a customer, stranded in a boat with two of his customers, due to the terrible mis-management of so much of the marinas responsibilities to its customers. This I also wanted to say. But will save it for Mike Hatch, the premier marina manager, as I ask for a firm promise Phillipa will be sent on a course where she learns the importance of customers to a service industry.
The Newhaven marina development will be up and running at some point in the not too distant future. I would say Brighton Marina have that long to sharpen up their service provision and enforce their own rules and regulations, or risk a mass exodus that would see crippling cash flow problems and ultimately failure of the marina. Or is this perhaps what is preferred? A failed marina effectively would be a brownfield site. Prime for concrete and many many more flats and retail outlets. The fears of those whom opposed the whole development pre 1976 would be vindicated. And the lease owners would be very very very rich. But I am sure that greed and money have nothing to do with the situation. Right? ...