Arctic conditions for angling on Yorkshire’s coast

Stewart Calligan on the beach at Mappleton before a welcome trip to the fish and chip shop.
Stewart Calligan on the beach at Mappleton before a welcome trip to the fish and chip shop.
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Snow, north easterly winds and cold icy conditions has made beach fishing like a trip north of the Arctic Circle, so for my latest excursion out came the knee length socks, the long Johns and many layers of fleece, topped off with my yachting jacket and trusty trilby.

I took the easy walk to the beach at Mappleton, south of Hornsea and set up my tackle just south of the rocky man-made outcrop of rocks.

My offering for my scaly friend’s lunch was frozen peeler crab, lugg worms and squid. This cocktail was wrapped around two hooks about as big as my thumb nail.

The use of two hooks and large baits increases your chances of a catch when the bites are timid and crabs and weed are present. Small crabs can nibble away at the bait and weed can cover a smaller bait in minutes. Just like a good eau de parfum, the aroma of a larger bait will stay around longer.

I was joined by two lovely anglers who I estimated had seen more than 60 winters, all the way from Sheffield. They were a husband and wife team with a very handsome West Highland terrier, called Barnaby.

We swapped pleasantries about us both playing at the Sheffield Tigers Rugby Union ground and the rousing rugby songs we sang whilst getting the after-game bath in a converted railway carriage.

Then, I saw my rod tip begin to dance and after running back 30 yards to my rods I struck late but could feel a fish clinging on. Having to take my hands out of my pockets, where two hand warmers lurked, I was suddenly aware of just how cold it was.

I reeled in a nice cod, unhooked it gently from just the bottom hook and returned it to the icy sea, washing the sand and slime off my hands in this Arctic water.

Over the next two hours my Sheffield friends had a few whiting and I had a few bites, but no more on the beach. Barnaby seemed to like the sea and his built-in fur coat seemed to keep him warm. I said my goodbyes and headed for the nearest fish and chip shop, which I am convinced is the only reason I come out on these nithering days.

The so-called ‘Super Moon’ was visible as I drove home and was one of those marvellous sights that arouse those primeval instincts that early man would have seen all those years ago.

According to astronomical experts, the full moon will appear some 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter in early December, offering a visual treat to people across the country and the world. The sight is enjoyed due to the moon being five percent closer to the Earth than on average.

The sight of its magnificence in the winter sky, got me pondering just what our ancestors thought about such wonders.