Surprises of casting out in the spring

Stewart Calligan holds aloft a whiting with squid bait in its mouth
Stewart Calligan holds aloft a whiting with squid bait in its mouth
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THESE ARE unusual times in the fishing world, a place where uncertainty is so often par for the course.

Only 20 salmon had gone through the Pitlochry fish counter in Scotland when it should have been in the hundreds and in Yorkshire, there have been more cod in the waters than there were politicians fighting for seats in the general election.

The spring fishing season is well underway here and contrary to the pattern of previous years both the beach and small boat fishing are producing some nice catches.

I have just renewed my involvement in the business of casting a line and have been devoting my attention to preparing my small boat ready for launching.

I asked Shaun at the Bridlington boat yard to reserve a place for my boat and have duly received an invoice for the yearly fee. It was nice to see no increase in cost for using the launching facilities and the berth charge, which came to just over £300.

All the problem areas on the boat and trailer have been examined but I still needed an engine service and some attention on the trailer. There are 32 rubber rollers on the boat trailer which allows the boat easy exit and entrance. Four of the rollers had slipped down their shafts and would impede the progress of the boat. The rollers are held in place by large washers and split pins. If the split pins corrode then the rollers break free and can’t do their job.

I ask you to imagine my enthusiasm as I tried to jack up the 1.5 ton boat from the trailer to release the rubbers. Very cautiously I removed the offending shafts avoiding the boat tumbling from the trailer onto the house driveway. Another motivation booster was having to drill out the badly rusted pins. I replaced said pins and washers with stainless steel, reassembled the rollers and lavished copious amounts of marine waterproof grease on all the shafts.

Finally I was ready for sea with my trusty crew, but the weather was against us. Recent winds had whipped up the sea to such a degree that the small boat and I find such conditions rather disagreeable.

I decided to give it another week or so until the weather calmed down. Still with the urge to fish I found a nice window of opportunity and settled for a spot of beach fishing. I headed off to the muddy glacial cliffs just south of Hornsea. These cliffs had taken a battering last winter and the eroded glacial till or boulder clay lay in big lumps along the beach. I like to fish near this boulder clay as I catch more fish but must remain vigilant so as not to become snagged on the football-sized clay spheres.

On a sunny and showery day I set up my tackle and fished. The cod were not coming out to play but I caught several whiting, two flounders and a small ‘schoolie’ bass.

I had no live worms and caught everything on squid and frozen worms. I picked up my customary two bags of plastic litter from the beach destined for the blue bin. As I was about 30 yards away from my bait and tackle I was powerless to stop a gull helping itself to my bait.

I thought ‘one good turn deserves another’, wasn’t quite the case today.

Still pondering dogs marking their territory, cats eating birds and rabbits attacking my brassicas I drove home via Beverley.

On a sudden impulse I called in for fish and chips and a pint of bitter. A bonus was finding an old commercial fisherman in the pub, reminiscing on the ones that got away and putting the world to rights for the politicians, of course. A farmer overheard our rant and threw in the horse meat scandal, price wars, badger culls, GM crops and the hunting ban. Now that’s living. With the rich social side of our pubs, what better way to end the day?