A weather window in winter is too good to miss so I negotiated a pass from my business partner and took the day off. It was a bright, cloudless day with near perfect visibility, although the low sun was very awkward at times. It started almost flat calm so I used the opportunity to re-calibrate my Azimuth compass, which didn’t take long. I did it over a bass-holding bank so I had something to watch for while the calibration was happening. The large shoal has gone but there are still shoals of bait fish. Sprats already?
After a late start and then the calibration thing I didn’t have as much time as usual so I decided to try a new mark, not too far out. Having arrived there, there were no features to be seen so I pottered about for a bit and suddenly saw a congregation of fish on the bottom. I circled back and they were still there so it looked like a fish holding area rather than a passing shoal. I wasn’t exactly confident I had found a mark but I anchored up anyway, and from then on it was all action. I had three rods out and sometimes all three rod tips were nodding. Most were pout and whiting but they were of a reasonable size, with a couple of dogfish thrown in.
These were interspersed with four massive bites including one where my rod holder was twisted 90 degrees. Three of them were conger who did a fair impression of a nodding cod which was very annoying, particularly as they all came on the cuttlefish bait. The final big bite turned out to be an undulate ray of about 12lb but what was more remarkable was that the bait had been taken by a not-so-small pout, and the ray had grabbed the pout. I am not sure whether the ray was trying to steal the bait (cuttle again) or chomp the pout. I suspect the latter. The wind increased in the afternoon, a lot more than forecast but what’s new.
Although I used a variety of baits – frozen mackerel, squid, lug and cuttle, the best bait by a country mile was the cuttle. I stopped by the tackle shop on the way home to stock up with more cuttle but they had almost sold out, only bits and bobs left. Apparently cuttlefish are in short supply as well as squid.
A final thought – have you ever contemplated the eye of a whiting? The proportions are huge. A true sight-hunter.