Friday, 5 March 2021


 Its been a long time since I last had a dangle partially due to the lockdown, starting a new job and quite frankly a 'can,t be arsed' attitude of late. Last weekend I finally thought 'bollix' I,m going to have a mornings fishing no matter what. The local reports have been dire really with very few fish showing in my local river let alone any fish of note, but sod it I thought I,m going regardless. I spent a couple hours saturday afternoon getting my sea gear ready and tying a few rigs ready for the off at first light the following day. I hadn't ordered any worms so bait was going to have to be any old fish I found in my freezer and fortunately I had a good supply sitting ready for me.

First light saw me in my van poodling along the country lanes to my chosen destination in thick fog, which wasn't expected. Ten minutes after setting off I had pulled into a lay-by and loaded myself up with  rucksack, rods and bait bucket and was setting off for the 1.75 mile walk along the sea wall to my chosen spot. Its handy living where I do as I have a multitude of saltwater I can fish as well as a good few freshwater venues too. A little while later and I was sitting on my bucket in my chosen spot huffing and puffing trying to get my breathe back before tackling up.

It didn't take long to have the rods sorted and cast out with different rigs and baits on each rod. I like to hedge my bets so will always fish with different baits to see if the fish favour one over the other. I also cast at different distances too, to try and locate the fish. The tide was a couple of hours up and I noticed that there was a wicked current running close in which was causing my leads to regular trip bottom. Heavier weights were added and that helped but now the current was bending my rods over at a silly curve. I checked the tide tables again and it was only meant to be a 5.4m here which shouldn't have caused any problems, but after a chat with a couple guys on bookface it turns out my tables hadn't taken into consideration the full moon the night before, and I hadn't really thought about either. This meant the tide could possibly hit 6m which is practically unfishable along the river. Oh well I,m here so I,ll persevere, thought I.

Well I,d like to say my perseverance paid off but unfortunately it didn't what so ever. I lasted 3 hours before packing up as the current was just getting stronger and stronger and was just making the fishing uncomfortable.  Also the wind had picked up and was causing more problems so I just gave it up as a bad job. It was still good to get out though and wet a line and hopefully I,ll be out again soon, just next time I,ll pay more attention to the tides.

Sunday, 8 November 2020


 So last Wednesday I finally got my wish and loaded the van and headed to the big water for a day chasing 'Old Esox'. Weather was forecast to be sunny, cold and very little wind, which is not my favourite conditions to be fishing in, but 'sod it' said I, I'm still going. Arriving at first light I could just see that the area of lake I had chosen was teeming with silverfish dimpling all over the place. Especially along a line about 50yds out from the banks, I believe this is probably where the marginal weed thins out, not that there is much around at this time of year. Barrow loaded and off I went to find the first swim along the bank that I had chosen, one which I have not fished before. I've fished the opposite bank a fair bit but haven't done so on this side, all I have done is have a little lead around, a couple of years ago, just to get a feel for the topography of the bottom, it doesn't vary much until you get further up the bank but more of that later.

First swim just after first light

In no time I was set up in my first swim with all 3 rods cast at various distances with various baits but all fished on the same basic running ledger set-up. I've used this rig for most of my predator fishing since I first started over 25 years ago, with the only real adaption, over that period of time, to be the inclusion of a large run ring attached to the lead, usually 3oz or above, running freely on the line. I like the run rings as there's less chance of the line creating resistance running through them when/if a fish should pick up your bait and move off with it.

Small pike but made my day

It wasn't too long before I noticed a couple of twitches on the tip of my middle rod, which I had cast to where the bulk of the silver fish were showing at first light. A few seconds later and the alarm sounded as the drop-off indicator unclipped from the line and clonked against the rod rest. Out of the chair and by the rod in a flash, ok maybe not that quick but it was quick for a knackered old git like me, I stood poised watching the limp reel line to see if the fish was going to move off which it did in no time so I picked the rod up, reeled down and set the hooks into some nice weight at the other end. This resistance on the end of my line took me quite by surprise really and have to admit my legs went a bit wobbly as I slowly played this hard fighting, and it did fight hard, pike to the bank. After a few minutes, and a few head thumping runs, the culprit was finally wrapped in the mesh of my landing net. Now I have to be honest and say that I was not expecting to actually get a bite let alone catch a pike today as I haven't pike fished properly for well over a year and thought I,d use this days fishing to just 'get my eye back in' as they say, so to actually catch one and this early in on my trip made me feel very happy. One of the trebles was located just in the entrance to his stomach which I popped out easily whilst the other was in the roof of his mouth which again released its hold easily which made for effortless unhooking, although I still got a bit of raker rash for my efforts. A quick weigh and a few pictures and the little beauty was slid back into the water no worse for wear. A fighting fit 8lb pike had made my day, in fact I was tempted to pack up, go back to the van and have a wander round another part of the lake a couple of hours later as no other action had materialised and I was just happy with that one fish, but instead decided to load the barrow and move further along the bank to a swim I quite liked the look.

Second swim

Now once I got to this swim I thought I,d run my bait boat out around the area as to my right I could see a shallow point run out from the bank and I wanted to find the end of that as I thought it might be a good place to chuck a bait to. I thought this point might stretch out into the lake maybe 30-50 yards or so but boy was I wrong. The point actually turned out to stretch well over 100 yards out into the lake running from the right side of the swim through to just past the left side, and not only that the water was shallow too, running only 6 ft deep for roughly 50 yards in front of the swim. Now if I hadn't made a conscious decision prior to this trip to actually make an effort to find out more about the depths and contours of the lake bed when I go pike fishing, I do it when I carp fish but don't really when I,m hunting pike, I probably would of just launched my baits at the usual 3 different distances and would of ended up fishing shallow on top of the point/plateau, not that this might not of worked but I wouldn't of known any difference and ideally I wanted to be in the deeper water around the base of the point. After an hour or so of running the boat around and watching the echo sounder I had found 3 nice spots either side of the plateau and had my baits dropped, arse in my chair and a latte in my hand, all was good in 'Bryans World'.

Jammy D dunked in a latte mmmmm

Nothing happened at all through the afternoon, other than me drinking more lattes, dunking more Jammy D,s and scoffing down 2 huge freshly cooked cheeseburgers but I was comfy and relaxed so just sat watching the wildlife in that 'part awake part asleep' state that us anglers can slip into during a days fishing. Suddenly out of the blue the drop off indicator released and smacked the rod rest as my alarm screamed out for urgent attention which in turn made me jump with surprise causing the latte I was holding to spill down my leg, bollix. As I got to the rod I could see line peeling from the reel so quickly shut the bail arm, tightened up and leant into whatever was attached to the end of my line. Instantly I felt a good weight before I got flat rodded as the fish stripped line from my reel, WTF. For the next 10 minutes I gained a little line then lost a little line as the unseen fish fought hard trying to stay away from the bank. After a few minutes I was pretty sure that a carp had picked up my small smelt deadbait as this fish was fighting too hard for a pike, and I still thought that, until 30 yards out it bow waved across the swim in roughly 4 ft of water and I could clearly see its dorsal fin cutting through the water like a sharks. Now seeing this made my legs go to jelly as if this wasn't a carp it was a good sized pike and the weight of it also made me think similar. A few more runs later and she was safely in my net and looked like a real beast of a fish. Not particularly long or fat but really thick across her back, maybe a twenty I thought but quickly put that idea out of my head as surely I couldn't catch such a fish on the first attempt this season, could I!!!!

20lb 2oz get in......

She was only lightly hooked in the scissors so a gentle twist and the hooks were out and safe. On the scales she weighed in at an impressive 20lb 2oz which is my first twenty pounder for more years than I care to remember and the biggest pike I,ve caught from this huge water. I was proper made up so took a few pictures and slipped her back. Now the sun was starting to go down and I did consider not to bother  putting, the rod back out but thought maybe, just maybe, I might get another bite at the cherry. So another smelt was impaled on the hooks and the boat was sent out to roughly the same area for another chance, but I wasn't really that bothered as I was already over the moon with my 2 captures already.

Big old chompers
Thick across her back

Not long after I,d clipped on the drop off indicator and turned the alarm off the alarm sounded on my righthand rod and I turned just in time to see the tip pull round before the indicator fell and line started to peel out from the reel. No, this can't be true, not another fish, not now. Yes it was true, there was another good weight on the end of my line as I leaned into the moving fish which was now kiting to my right and moving into shallower water. I increased the pressure and the fish turned and started doggedly coming towards me as I gained a few yards of line. Again this fish fought well but I knew this was a pike straight away as it had the 'feel' of one as it pulled back. A few minutes passed, and other than a heart stopping moment when she swam towards a sunken branch to my right in only a couple of feet of water, before she was laying at the bottom of my net. Smaller than the last but I wasn,t complaining. On the scales she weighed in at 14lb 10oz and was in pristine condition except for a healing scar on one side. A quick few photos and away she went back into the lake.

Third pike 14lb 10oz

It got dark shortly after I returned the last fish and although I originally had planned to stay on a couple hours into darkness I just didn't feel the need to do so anymore. I had caught 3 beautiful, healthy pike topped off with a twenty pound beauty on a gorgeous sunny, but chilly, day and I just didn't need to fish on anymore, so I packed up and loaded the barrow and trudged off back to the van a very, very happy man.

Without this I wouldn't of caught the last 2 fish

Keep on dangling guys....................

Friday, 30 October 2020


 As the title suggests its been quite a while since I posted my last blog so thought it best that we have a little catch up and I explain why I have been so quiet of late. I think my last post was back in July when I had a night trip after smoothound, I didn't catch any but I made up for it by bagging up with bass including a couple of nice size keepers. I've had one overnight session fishing for carp on the big water, between now and then, which was fruitless, not even catching any bream which seem to have been taking anything fished before them. Other than that all I have been doing is thinking off, not actually going,  fishing.

I,m still finishing off the work that needs doing to my house, currently in throes of completing the upstairs bathroom after a complete rip out and re-design/re-build over the past few weeks. The house improvements have taken a lot longer than planned but we have been adding to the 'TO DO' list very heavily, but the end is in sight now. I have also had a completely new career change and have gone from spending all my working life, I,m now 48 years old, either landscaping or in the building trade to being an APPRENTICE BUTCHER. Quite a change I,m sure you'll agree and there is a shit ton I have to learn in field. So far I,m loving the challenge and its nice not getting covered in mud and shite day in day out.

Although I havn,t been fishing much due to the lack of free time I have, during the limited time that I do actually have to myself I have been building up a new BLOG and YOUTUBE channel along with the usual social media platforms. I've been really enjoying doing this and feel that I have been making a fairly good job of it, although there is still room for improvement. The new venture isn't about fishing but about anything i find of interest in and around the Countryside. From general walks in the wilderness to foraging for wild food and anything else linked. I,ll include links to all of these below for those of you who may be interested in such things, in fact if any off you would be so kind as to visit these sites and then report back with your feedback, good or bad, it would be greatly appreciated.









So whats going to be happening in the future. Well I plan to start posting more entries on this here fishing blog as soon as I start fishing again, which hopefully will be next week as the call of the mighty Esox is ringing loudly in my ears. I'm hoping to be attacking the big water for pike on a regular basis so I,ll be reporting back here as to how I get on. Also I'm considering recording some of these trips and starting a youtube channel to show them on so if that happens I,ll be sure to let you know.

Well that's about it I guess, have a look at my new blog please and let me know what you think and keep a look out for more content coming on here soon. 


Wednesday, 22 July 2020


Recently there has been reports of a lot of smoothound being caught from the Thames shores, especially locally to me at Southend on Sea and Canvey Island. This news gained my interest as i used to love catching smoothounds on the monthly boat fishing trips to Hayling Island that i used to take with the guys from a local boat fishing club i was a member of. The power and speed of this members of the shark family was awesome from the boat so catching one from the shore would be fantastic. After doing my homework i opted to fish the closer of the recommended venues, Southend on Sea. I used to fish of the platforms near the casino many years ago and enjoyed some good sport catching winter species and flatfish as Spring arrived, but i,ve not fished the opposite side of the pier before let alone during the summer. I decided to choose a night time time, 1.30am to be precise, as i didn't really fancy being surrounded by the daytrip brigade.

I arrived just as it was getting dark and walked across the road to the top of sea defence and found i was way too early, the tide was barely across the mud 50 yards out. Oh well thought i, just means i have plenty of time to set up my rods and get myself comfortable before making my first cast. Around half hour later with all rods tackled and ready to go, the water had covered the mud and was slowly creeping up the shingle.
 First rod baited, single large ragworm, and whizzed the rig into the darkness as far as i could cast. Followed shortly after by my 2nd distance rod baited the same and then finally my last short range rod baited with squid and ragworm fishing a 2 hook flapper. i like fishing a 3rd rod close in as its surprising what you can pick up doing this. I,d just placed the 3rd rod in the rest when i had a good pull down on the first cast rod. Picking up the rod i felt a little rattle by something on the other end before a nice big thump registered on the rod tip. A quick strike followed by taking up the slack line and whatever was on the other end was gone, oh well at least it showed there was life out there.

Shortly after i had a good rattle on my right hand rod and upon striking i made contact with whatever was chomping on my bait. it turned out to be a little basslet which although small was more than welcomed. The little fella was carefully unhooked and returned to the sea where it strongly swam off to grow bigger.  It followed from that point onwards, as the tide grew, that every cast resulted in a bite of one sort or another. Unfortunately as the flood grew stronger the weed started to build up and catch my lines which initially didn't really cause me any problems but by the end of the night was an absolute nightmare causing so much build up on my lines that more than once my rods were nearly being pulled out of the rest, especially if there was a hungry little bass hanging on the end of the line. More small bass paid a visit to the shore throughout the flood but nothing of any size, and definitely none of the  smoothounds that i was hoping for.
I carried on using whole ragworm on my distant rods, huge great snake things they were too, whilst alternating between ragworm, squid strip and mackerel strip on the close in rod. All rods were getting bites but the rods fishing at distance were getting the most, and most positive, bites. Most casts had a rattle on the rod tips with every other cast resulting in a small school bass hitting the shingle shoreline. This action carried on to high water but i reckon i missed a lot of the action as the floating weed was starting to cause problems with the rods staying in place. I try to use as small a lead as i can get away with as i find it more comfortable to cast, but the downside is that if you get any weight of weed on the mainline it can trip the lighter leads out of their grip hold.

Just as the tide started to run again i had an almighty thump on my left hand rod and this time the tip pulled down and stayed there as a heavier fish hung on the to the end of my line. Quick wind down and sweep back and it was obvious i was into a better fish. Reeling in i could feel some good thumps from my adversary and thoughts of a nice smoothound were in my mind.m In the surf the fish started to thrash around and then up popped a nice size bass of maybe 3.5lb. I have to admit to being a little disappointed that it wasn't a smoothie but was still chuffed that it was a nice size bass that the missus would enjoy for her dinner. Rebait and recast i was just putting that rod back in the rest when my right hand rod thumped down and the rod butt actually lifted of the ground resulting in the rod balancing almost horizontal in the rod rest. Now this had to be a smoothound i thought as i leant into another heavy weight. Same as before there was some good head shakes and thumps being transmitted through the rod and again in the surf it fought well, even making me loosen the clutch so it could run a little. Thinking a small shark was about to pop its head out of the foaming water any time soon i was a bit surprised when an even bigger bass, the the previous one, beached itself upside of me a little. This one was a really nice size of maybe 5lb in weight and again i was a little disappointed it wasn't a smoothound but happy at the size of this bar of silver.

Shortly after this fish the weed got so bad that i decided to call it a night and head of home, it was after all 2.20am and i was beginning to feel a bit tired and my legs were knackered from walking upland down the shingle. Even when i reeled the rods in there was a little bass hanging on the end of two of them. So in the end i must of caught 15 or more bass in 4 hours of fishing including two good size ones of 3.5lb and 5lb, i didn't weigh them, unfortunately i didn't manage to land my actual target fish but i thoroughly enjoyed trying to catch one.
Next time maybe....

The 2 largest bass i caught
sitting on the chopping board ready to be prepared. De-scaled, heads off, tails off, fins snipped off and obviously gutted.

A few cuts were made in the body then i made a marinade of rapeseed oil, 1 whole lemon juiced, a little salt and black pepper and a good pinch of thyme freshly picked from my garden, and then spread this all over the fish making sure it got into the cuts nicely. The used lemon was then just chopped up and placed around the fish as well as a couple bits in the cavity. Popped it in tan oven covered for 10 mins then uncovered it and cooked for a further 30 mins.

The flesh was delicate and flakey with the skin being a little crispy. The herbs and lemon added a nice subtle flavour to the fish without overpowering it. Served up with broccoli, french beans and minty new potatoes. It went down a treat with missus and she's told me to go catch some more.

Sunday, 28 June 2020


Since the lockdown was lifted and we have been able to get back out on the bank i have been to the big water 3 times. First time was for a recce and to purchase my yearly ticket and get a key for the various gates situated around the water. I,m glad i took the time for a short walk around as i,ve settled on an area that i will be fishing for a while, which i know, and has also been been confirmed by a regular angler, holds carp, or at least they past through the area regularly. Situated well of the beaten track in a very difficult to access spot, and i,m pretty sure, judging by the lack of trails, that no one fishes this particular area.
 It has been fished in the past though as there was a few, very overgrown, swims cut into the bankside undergrowth. I had actually found this area last year and thought it looked good for a session or two and did clear one swim to fish for a day session. I didn't catch anything then but i did log the place in the 'Old Memory Banks' for exploring at a later date.

                                                           Anyways the following weekend saw me pulling into the carpark at first light and loading my barrow with enough gear to last a week let alone the 2 nights i had planned to stay. Pushing the barrow along the track was no problems at all but it was soon to become apparent that as soon as i wheeled of the solid pathway i was to experience issues. Now i knew it wasn't going to be easy carting all my gear to the actual swim through all the undergrowth but i didn,t realise just how difficult it was really going to be. within 10 yards the barrow got stuck in soft mud causing me to unload everything and carry it all to slightly higher and drier ground before the barrow could then be moved. Then due to there being no track i had to carry the rest of my gear to the swim area, through the tangled undergrowth, roughly quarter of a mile away. This took four trips to do and after half an hour i collapsed on the ground, next to a mountain of kit, a big huffing, puffing, sweaty mess.

Lesson 1   Take less kit.....

After a life saving latte and a stomach filling sammidge was consummed it was time to get stuck into the task at hand, clearing somewhere to actually fish. Tucked in my bag i had a pair of pruners and a fold up garden saw and using these it didn,t take too long for me to clear a nice swim to fish and a nice area to pitch the basecamp. Next job was to clear a pathway through to another swim, and clear the swim itself, just a short distance away. This was so i could keep my options open as to where i was going to place my rods. An hour later and this was also done. Next i turned my attention to making the trip to and from this area easier to access, so i set about creating/clearing a pathway through the undergrowth from the swims to the access track. Not quite upto the track though as i didn,t want it too easily seen, i want to keep this area a bit 'Secret Squirrel'. All of this work had taken me into the early part of the afternoon and now it was time for another latte and a bite of lunch before getting the marker rod out and finding out what was in front of me.


On with waders, which i,ve now found out leak, and out i splashed to edge of the trees either side of the swim. Water here was just below wader top depth but it gave me a good view around the trees, and it was a good spot to chuck the marker float out from. A little point to note here is that if you are planning on wading around in the margins of any lake or river it is worth doing so with a wading staff so that you can probe the lakebed checking the depth in front of you, and also to find out how soft the bottom is, as you ease forward. A staff is also handy to help you keep your balance if you stumble or get stuck in silt. My staff is actually a shooting stick i found a few years ago whilst walking the dogs locally. It was left leaning against a bush near a a small layby that was used to park in to access the fields beyond. I left it there for a couple of weeks before returning and seeing as no had returned and claimed it i took home. So waste deep in the lake i spent next the hour or so markering around the area to find a grand total off nothing of interest. The bed was pretty uniform and clean except for a big band of weed that reached out from the margins for roughly 4.5 wraps until it hit about 8ft in depth. So the decision was made and two spots at 5 wraps were liberally baited with spombed particles, groundbait and chopped boilies. I then moved along to the next swim and found roughly the same, except for a slightly rougher patch situated 7.5 wraps out in roughly 10ft of water. Out went more mix with the spomb before i baited up and chucked out my rigs in the 3 chosen spots. It was now late evening, i,d taken my time with all this preperation as i didn,t want to rush around, and i was knackered and hungry so out came the stove and on went a big fat ribeye steak for my dinner. Dinner quickly consumed it wasn,t long before i was away with the fairies..

Nothing happened overnight, just a few bleeps on the alarms, in fact nothing happened for the rest of that day. I spent the day clearing more of the undergrowth to make the area more comfortable to fish and relax in, trimming down branches that were in the way and stacking some of the windfall timber that litters the place. Evening arrived and i re-baited and  recast the rods to the same spots as well as giving them some more spombs of groundbait over the top. Nothing else happened that night or the following morning which was a bit dissappointing as expectations were high initially, but i,m not too bothered really as it was only my 1st return trip and it was also a newish area to me. hopefully better luck next time. Mid morning it was time for the gruelling walk of shame back to the van with all my kit, fortunately a little lighter with less water and bait to carry. Rather than just drive straight home i popped over to another area and had a little explore there to see if it might be worth a trip there, it is.........


I did take my bait boat along but only used it early on the last morning as i didn,t really want to give away where i was located. I ran her around the swims and right out to the middle of the lake searching the bottom but, as i,d already found with the marker, there really wasn,t anything of interest out there. Not to worry, this means that i don,t have to bring her again, to this area anyway, now. It was good fun to play with her though and i love the echo sounder feature i had fit on it.

The following week i was back in the same swim but this time just for an overnighter. With my kit trimmed down it was a lot easier to transport everything to the swim, but still bloody knackering. The previous week i had noted down in my phone where the spots were that i had found, so it was a quick and easy process to wang the rods out and bait over the top of them. In all i reckon i was fishing within 2 hours of turning up in the carpark. I,d arrived late afternoon this time,  as i had been to a river on the way up, so after setting up and downing another nice ribeye steak it was time for some shut eye. Around midnight i had a bream like indication on one rod but seeing as nothing else happened i left it alone and went back to sleep. I was, shortly after first light, sipping on a lette watching the water but other than small stuff rising nothing of note was seen. I had a little clear around the track and inspected another swim further down before reeling in and packing up at 10am. Interestingly the rod that had the bream rattle had the hooklink bitten through, i reckon a pike had taken a silver and picked up my rig by accident before its teeth cut it clean through. The walk of shame again before i set off to explore another area to fish in the future, there is so much water to go at here.

So to sum up ive fished 3 nights so far for the total of zero fish, of any shape or size. I,ve learnt more about the water each visit though, so i,m not disappointed, and i,m now formulating  a plan of attack for future visits.


Friday, 26 June 2020


On my way to do an overnighter on my syndicate this week i made a pitstop at a small river located  en-route. My aim was to have a wee chuck around with the micro lures for a perch or maybe a chub if  my luck was in. Well i didn't catch anything, my excuse is that it was too hot and too sunny,  but enjoyed a couple of hours stalking along the banks of the crystal clear water and spying on anything resembling a fish. I did have a few follows from micro chub and small perch but no actual takers. I wasn't,t bothered though as i had a great time just watching the fish hold in the flow, before darting for cover as i peered closer.
 A large part of the river seemed totally devoid of fish where as other parts were teaming with roach and chublets. I did find a couple of nice size chub, around the 3lb mark i reckon, but didn't manage to get a picture of them. I also watched what i thought was a near double figure carp slowly drifting in and out of some streamer weed until it came closer and i realised it was a huge bream. The only one i saw, a right old 'Billy No Mates'.

The stretch i was walking runs alongside a golf course and considering the amount of golfers walking around the amount of wildlife going about its business was astounding. There was a couple of Buzzards constantly circling a small copse of trees as well as 2, i,m pretty sure they were different birds, kestrels hunting over the bushes and scrub on the opposite bank. A kingfisher was regularly heard, and seen, flashing up and down the river and there was a couple families of canada geese drifting along with the flow. I spend so much time marvelling at these sights that i forget to try and take pictures of what i,m looking at.

Later in the afternoon i arrived at my syndicate and couldn' believe how many roach/bream fry there was hiding around the marginal weeds. The picture doesn't do justice as to how many there actually was, thousands of the wee things i reckon. Hopefully a good percentage will survive  to bolster the, already increasing, fish stocks.
I love being an angler, you get to see sights that the 'average Joe' doesn't get  to witness....

Saturday, 16 May 2020


So due to the Covid virus lockdown, and prior to that  being too busy, i actually haven't bee fishing for over 4 months, and i,ve been gagging to get back out and wet a line. Fortunately this week good old Boris started a 5 stage lockdown lift and this week was stage 1 and allowed us back out fishing as well as other hobbies which can be carrie out whilst applying the social distancing rules. This meant that i could dust down the fishing gear and get myself out there fishing. I just had to decide what i wanted to fish for as i have a quite a few options locally. In the end i opted to go to the local saltwater river and try for a thornback ray before they moved out of the river for the rest of the year. Luckily enough i had prepped all the necessary gear, and stocked up on frozen bait,  before the lockdown was brought into force. So yesterday armed with 3 rods and a rucksack i walked the half mile to my chosen spot which was a marshy platform which jutted out into the river and is a popular mark for the thornies. Half  hour later i had 2 rods set up and fishing for the rays and an old carp rod set up as a scratching rod in hope of luring anything that might swim by.


Baits were whole squid, herring chunk or a cocktail of the both fished on pulley pennell rigs for the rays and just a basic 2 hook flapper baited with frozen black lugworm and strips of squid, herring and mackeral fished on the scratching rod hopefully a school bass or maybe even a flatfish. I,d only just got all the rods out when my rod fished to the righthand side registered a pull down followed by a slack line, text book ray bite, which i duly grabbed and wound in the slack line until i felt some resistance followed by a small knock, signalling there was life on the other end, which i then pulled into. A heavy weight was felt followed by a couple of knocks and something pulling back, fish on. Heart thumping i carefully played the fished to the  marsh edge, fortunately there was no dramas getting the fish to the shore, before being able to hand line it up the final couple of feet of marsh 'cliff' and place my prize at my feet. Result!!! I had caught what i had came for, a beautiful little male thornback ray of maybe 4lb. Neatly hooked in the side of the mouth the hook was easily removed before i took a few pictures and slipped him back to his watery home.

A quick rebait and out went that rod again in anticipation of further action to come. I,d love to say from that point on it was constant bite a chuck but unfortunately that wasn't to be. Every 15 minutes or so i,d reel each rod in to check if there was any bait left but most of the time the hooks were bare, stripped by the crabs. Its only to be expected on this river as the river bed is alive with crabs of all sizes not to mention all the micro fish species that must be living in its depths. I,d arrived shortly after high tide, and it was only a small tide too, so really didn't expect to be able to fish the marsh spot for more than a couple hours as there is a big shallow area in front of the marsh drop off which does dry out at low water. So just as i was thinking of packing up as the mud was showing in from i noticed a little judder on my lefthand rod followed by the tip pulling steadily downwards. Initially i thought some weed might of snagged my line as there was quite a lot of it floating with tide but i then noticed a couple of knocks on the tip and quickly picked the rod up ready to feel if there definitely was a fish attached to my line. After a few seconds i felt another 'knock' on the rod tip followed by a steady pull so i reeled tight and pulled into another fish. A similar fight to the previous fish, heavy weight felt with a few knocks, and after a couple of minutes i had another small male thornback beached on the mud to the left of the marsh area. Happy happy boy was i.....


 After that fish i decided to pack up the kit and make my way back to the van as the water now pretty low and the sun was getting pretty hot. I,d enjoyed my few hours fishing and managed to catch 2 of my target species which is always a bonus when you set single species fishing. The one thing i did find strange was that i didn't even have a little knock on my scratching rod and that technique pretty much gets some action every time i use it in the river. Oh well i,m not going to complain though, two skate and a morning fishing in the sun in beautiful surroundings was plenty good enough for me.

The tides are getting later into the evening next week so I'm hatching a plan to fish one evening into the dark at a location on the river i found a couple of years ago. I fished it last year and had some good bass fishing on a bright and breezy day but i reckon that fishing there into the hours of darkness could result in a bigger bass or two being present.  Its a cracking spot with an outflow from a small lagoon which spills over some rocks into the river on one side and a lovely big slack water, on the dropping tide, area on the other as well as access to deeper water close in. It screams big bass to me so i,m planning on giving it a good try this year. The only downside to this mark is that its a 2 mile yomp to reach it, which isn't too bad if i don't have any kit with me but when laden down with all my fishing gear makes it a bit of a grueller.