Wednesday, 16 November 2011
There is an expectation when I borrow the island’s boat for a bit of fishing that I actually catch enough fish to feed the island’s population. Including guests this is never more than thirty and usually between ten to twenty. Today’s trip was a little more pressured due to a certain youngster who is celebrating his birthday tomorrow and has demanded his favourite meal, fish and chips. I suspect for the rest of Britain fish and chips for twelve is a large order in a fish and chip shop, here being a little over fifty miles from the nearest chippy it means catching the fish and using our own potatoes for the chips.
From the pier the wind looked to be blowing somewhere between five and six and the tide was a little further out than I would have liked but the swell seemed to have petered out despite the chop drummed up by the wind. Apart from feeding people the main reason for the trip was to test my jointed sand eel lures. Testing lures and catching volumes of fish don’t always go hand in hand so for insurance purposes I took a boat rod with some homemade feather rigs, equipment usually guaranteed to fill a quota.
The wind carried me to my first mark a reef centred on a rock that dries at low water. Not used to casting from a boat I lost confidence and began by bashing the sand eel lure into the water and then hooking up with the bow rope. Eventually after prating round for ten minutes I gave up and got the boat rod and feathers out. It wasn’t long before I lost the weight to patch of kelp and began to wonder, why fishing? Having drifted in the wind just into the sound I decide to motor back and have another go with the eel.
I took things a little slower this time and put the boat in reverse to hold my position against the wind. The casting improved as I relaxed and gradually I got some distance. There wasn’t much depth of water over the kelp beds around the rock and feathering vertically probably would have been a chore. Casting and retrieving the lure at a steady rate kept me out of the weed and it wasn’t long before I hit into to some coalfish. The bites came hard and fast one fish actually left the water but many others broke the surface in the chase. At one point I was taking a fish on every cast and even in the falling light I could see the water explode as I began the retrieve. Out of the twenty or so coalfish I landed I kept eight which looked to be easily larger than the minimum size, the rest I returned. Just before setting off back to the pier I remembered the camera and hoped my luck would hold out and I could get some video.
Does the lure work? Shit yes.