Angling Times (UK)
“With the sea, you never know quite what you’re going to get”
AS SATISFYING as it can be to have a set plan in our fishing, there is a less often declared joy in being more haphazard.
Perhaps there’s a contradiction here within current angling. We say we want mystery, but our aim is often the complete opposite: predictability. Heaven forfend, in this fast-paced world, that we might not get the result we wanted.
A little chaos is so often a good thing. It’s quite liberating to plan less and embrace the unpredictable. Which is perhaps why I find myself drawn again and again to the open coast this summer, because for sheer mystery little beats the sea.
These trips can start with a loose idea about bass or mackerel, or a particular place or tide. But, just as often, it’s a stolen couple of hours and a bag of lures, attempting to catch whatever might be feeding.
What I love most of all about the sea is that you never know what you’re going to get. It’s such a vast place with so many variables. Sure, this means you can fall flat on your face, but there is also the sense that every session is a one-off, never to be repeated.
These days, I tend to arrive with just a rod and a box of small lures. There’s always something to tempt, whether or not it was the intended target.
In the space of just three recent trips, the differences have been vast. Faced with lumpy, dirty water last time out in the kayak, it felt like an achievement just landing a few fish. The key was to hit the areas where coloured and clear water met. Three small bass felt like a triumph – but where on earth were the expected pollack and mackerel?
The very next trip was the polar opposite. After an about-turn of winds, the sea was now much clearer. How ironic that after miles of fruitless searching by boat, I could now see hundreds of mackerel, just inches from dry land! It became tricky to catch anything else.
It’s these random difficulty levels and odd twists that keep the sea fascinating, however.
Another recent example came on a family picnic. I’d taken the most basic spinning gear. One revelation in the past couple of seasons has been the huge variety of fish you can get on a tiny spoon bumped along the bottom.
This time I thought I’d hooked a tiny bass – then I saw the telltale deadly, jet-black dorsal fin of a very different fish. Not for the first time I’d picked up a weever. Well, when I say ‘picked up‘, I mean ‘tentatively handled it with forceps and gritted teeth!’
As I carefully flipped Jackie Weever clear of the hook, I’m not sure what made me shudder more – the sinister speed at which the fish buried itself back into the sand, or the fact that pretty much everyone on the beach was barefoot.