Wednesday, 1 April 2009

On The Beach At Hastings

Lately i've changed the signature i use on web forums to 
Tolerable Craftsman, Terrible Fisherman and Wannabe hunter
It's a raised a smile, and a couple of chaps have 'fessed up 'I'm a terrible fisherman too'  but in all honesty however bad you think you are, I'm worse, I suck at fishing. really I do. 
On the other hand - Buying fishing equipment I excel at. Really, I'm gods gift to anyone who owns a fishing store. There's no recession if I'm in your shop. It is my heartfelt belief that under no circumstances should i ever knowingly pass a fishing shop without popping in and dropping a tenner. Minimum.

In order to convince myself that I'm more than a collector of fishing equipment and to appease the fishing gods this weekend I went back to my roots. Fishing in hastings, with crap gear. The best catch i ever had was off the boat landing beach in Hastings with a rod, reel and line set up that cost £30. Since then i've spent 100's and caught the sum total of not-a-lot. Maybe the gods don't take offerings made over the internet via fishing shops in Japan and I'd actually have to get my butt down to the water, in time for the tide, and throw some bait out there.
As usual Johna is my fishing buddy of choice, and his pal Steve was roped in for the trip.

Johna "There's a beach it's been cut off by a landslide but I know we can get down there'
SBW " Real adventure fishing! Bring it on!"

We took the unprecedented step of leaving in plenty of time, and turned that into a double whammy by going to the bait shop while the bait was fresh - I know most unlike us - but as the man said
 'doing what you've always done an expecting different results is THE definition of madness'

£11 lighter and with the most promising bag of bait i've seen in years we made our way up on to the cliffs in the country park and set about the scrabble down to the water. Expectation pays a large part in perception and of course perception is the local reality. We walked in a downward direction untill a fork in the road. 
SBW ' looks like its this way'
Johna ' no it's this way'
SBW 'well OK. errr if you say so'

To say the going was rough an muddy would be an understatement, like a recreation of the Somme on a 60 degree slope.
Man Down - Johna takes a tumble

Watching Johna struggle to his feet whilst trying to get the camera out nearly had me on my arse too. Fortunately he quickly fell again so i was able to add a photographic record. By the time we made it to the waters edge we we all covered in mud. But the sun shone, I lit a driftwood fire, and and all was right with the world. 
I set up with a Paternoster rig. Usually i think of the paternoster as a pier fishing rig, they don't cast so far but seeing as we had a decent stash of likely looking bait I was hoping two hooks would equal two chances.

Today's lesson:
I'm an advocate of circle hooks wherever possible as the research suggests that they are much less likely to be 'deep swallowed' resulting in a positive hooking through the fishes lip giving you a choice of 'catch and release' or 'catch and eat'. As i mentioned at the start it's been a while since i've landed anything at all and as a result my fishing confidence had been at an all time low. I'd started fishing with 1/O (the smallest size of sea fishing hook) having convinced myself that I was getting nibbles but not bites due to too larger hook sizes. 
The whole point of circle hooks is that the little fella's can't bite down on them and live to grow to a better size.  This was made true for me with the only catch of the day. I landed a Huss which would have gone straight back if he hadn't swallowed the hook so deeply that it made release impossible. Point taken 3/O and 5/O from now on.
 Mr Huss received his invitation to lunch by way of a rock to the back of the head.

I wrapped him up in the fronds of a fern (any bushcrafters out there care to let me know which one it is?)

I popped him on a flat rock i'd pre heated in the fire, stuck another rock on top.....................
And scared the daylights out of my self when rock one exploded launching rock two into the air!

A quick rebuild of the fire later and Mr Huss cooked gently while we amused ourselves casting rigs costing £3.50 a time out to the rocky bottom of the english channel. Where they stayed, fishless.
Mr Huss turned out to be a most agreeable luncheon companion. 
If mother nature had not provided a bounty, she had at least laid on an appetizer. 

Despite the agreeable nature of the morning, I would hesitate to recommend the beach as a fishing venue for two reasons.
Firstly it has been described to us as a nudist beach - yet it was devoid of hot swedish naturalists and seemed instead to be a meeting point for gentlemen of certain 'interests'. Also when the tide was fully out it became apparent that the beach fails miserably to provide any reason for fish to be there. We saw one, yes ONE, limpet on the whole beach. 
No food = No fish. 
It was too nicer day to be rushing back and we stayed to the bottom of the tide. A most unusual thing happened as the tide went out - we got nearly all our broken off and snagged rigs back! 

The journey back wasn't without its moments of high comedy. Of  all the 'other users' of the beach who'd passed by during the day not one of them was covered in mud, and there was a reason for that. Expectation = perception and perception is the local reality. Where we had gone looking for a landslide that lead to the beach they had looked for a flight of steps that led to the beach.
As we struggled, puffing and wheezing, up the steps, we passed the very point where Johna had insisted that we go by the road less traveled. As we stood catching our breath with Johna lamenting his poor choice Steve's voice drifted up from the lower slope
"Is this not where the bushwacker said to go, Johna?"

So my faith, having been sincerely tested, was renewed by the days events. I did catch and eat a fish. After all this time!

Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Brought Me back In

Your pal
The Bushwacker.