Sea fishing: Culture and a catch

Stewart Calliagn with a Lesser Spotted Dogfish, caught on a grey day near Spurn.
Stewart Calliagn with a Lesser Spotted Dogfish, caught on a grey day near Spurn.
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The Hull city of culture year now sees its fourth month. Opera North has been inspired by the sounds of the Humber Bridge. They have incorporated rustling reeds and wind in a new City of Culture orchestral rendition called The Height of the Reeds.

Flood features a North Sea fisherman raising a girl in his net. Is she a migrant now being washed up on our beaches or has she been sent for a higher purpose? This is a four-part epic being told online, live and on BBC TV. See hull2017.co.uk/flood.

Thousands of handmade ceramic poppies can be seen at the ‘weeping window’ the Old Dock Offices, now the maritime museum. Hull art now includes ‘Washed up Car-go’ at The Deep, the depiction of a gentleman’s urinal as art to say nothing of a Rembrandt, The Shipbuilder and his Wife, plus many other old masters at the Ferens Art Gallery. Go to www.hull2017.co.uk or if you do not have internet access go to your library or customer information centres for more information.

Snowing in Hornsea was an April Fool’s ruse, but three inches of snow near Hexham, Northumberland was a fact as I reconnoitred the South Tyne River, last month, for future salmon fishing. Twenty pound salmon have been caught in the South Tyne spring run and the River Tummel, Pitlochry, Scotland has just produced three around the 20lb mark, which is where I hope to fish next month. I’m very positive that this year I will catch my first salmon.

Back home the tides were low with very little wind. Ray and the Lesser Spotted Dogfish (LSD) like these conditions as they hunt for crab. The southern beaches near Spurn have the strongest attraction for me when after such species and I arrived early morning as the sun should have been rising. On a quiet dark, dank day, the placid waves barely had the strength to cover the disturbed sand.

After a sticky descent to the beach through clinging mud and boulder clay I set up my stall under battleship grey skies. I cast in two rods baited with squid and black dried lugg worms.

Bites were about every 10 minutes but as I struck nothing was hooked. This could have been crab activity via ‘peeler’ crabs trading in their old, outgrown shells for new, larger soft ones. Eventually, I landed a 2lb LSD. Then two whiting came along under even heavier grey skies, thankfully still devoid of rain.

The LSD skin is as rough as sandpaper and anyone who has eaten dog fish, ‘huss fish’ or ‘rock salmon’ will agree that the skin tastes like sandpaper if it hasn’t been removed after cooking.

The egg sack of the dogfish is called a ‘mermaid’s purse’ as it looks like a small purse but contains one baby fish which emerges about 10cm long. They can still be found on the beach after rough weather.