Not being quite sure of whether my priorities were fishing or wildlife encounters today, my kayak was armed to the teeth with two rods,all manner of lethal lures,a couple of cameras and a hefty Cranberry and Orange cake courtesy of Waitrose ( just a normal fruitcake would have been fine if you had bothered to stock it, or is that a bit too Morrison’s for you?). But no suncream…..bad news.
You have to squeeze through a bit of a tunnel to get at the sea at Porthgwarra:
Before I had even planted my butt on my kayak seat the excitement level of the day was set when a pair of choughs appeared on the cliff above, chattering excitedly over what one of them had found beneath a bit of sheep dung.
I paddled east as I wanted to avoid the hefty swell on the exposed west facing coast. Wind was very light easterly so no problem. Porthcurno Bay never fails to impress: a spectacular amphitheatre of granite cliffs with a couple of gems of golden beaches opens up before you as you round the headland with the ridiculous name of Pedn-men-an-mere. The sandy bottom produces surely the most turquoise water in Cornwall. And all the time there is a constant stream of gannets just a bit further out which every so often group together and pile into the water with a hell of a splash. There’s plenny of fish out there.
However I only landed a couple of the compulsory piffling pollack until I switched to a big Rapala lure beyond Penberth cove. As I was fiddling about a decent pollack took my rubber sand eel with quite a rush.
And then barely had my jointed Rapala started doing its wibbly wobbly stuff as I rounded Merthen Point when the line really buzzed out. I knew I had my first bass of the season on the line because the resistance more or less went till I had the fish in sight right beside the kayak. This is typical of larger bass. They go with the flow until they see you glaring down at them and then crash dive. Understandable, I suppose. Another reasonable fish:
At Boscawen point I thought it was time for a bit of bottom fishing so I pointed directly offshore and paddled out for a mile. Lovely calm conditions. My mackerel feathers had just about got to them bottom when the line went heavy with a couple of slow tugs. To my great surprise up came a couple of one-and-a-half pound cod…..I’ve only ever caught two tiddlers in the previous ten years.
and a marginally greater struggle produced one of my favourites-the absurdly unbritish and brightly coloured Red Gurnard. These boldly grunt their disapproval of being hauled up from the depths so I put it back (along with all the others,today) .
Alien told us that in space no-one can hear you scream and the same principle applies when you are a mile offshore in a kayak by yourself. This is a bad thing if you are befallen by some disaster (or indeed being consumed by an alien), but quite handy if you don’t want anyone to hear or see you because you are making a complete berk of yourself. Robert Green take note.
And boy was I about to have a max cringeworthy moment. My rod bent double and proceeded to steadily creak up and down as if the biggest fish to have ventured into Atlantic recently was hanging of the end of my 99p mackerel feathers. My kayak seemed to be moving quite fast through the water and I held on tight for over 15 minutes until my forearms got cramp and sweat beaded on my top lip. Doubts began to creep in…funny how the great beast only tugged the tip of my rod down as the kayak rode over a swell…..what a gink!-snagged on the bottom….again!
On the way back I took another swoop round Porthcurno Bay. There was a performance on at the Minack theatre and I caught the occasional shriek of one of the cast giving it his or her Shakespearian all, but they sounded more like a pack of dogs. The Hound of the Baskervilles, maybe?
My lack of suncream was beginning to tell as I felt my scalp beginning to crisp up like Danepack on the barbeque. The forecast had said cloudy with thundery outbursts. These were clear to see half a mile inland but over the sea it was clear blue sky and being early June the fry factor was off the scale. So I had to take my thermal t-shirt off and wrap it rounded my balding pate.
Back at Porthgwarra the tide race was beginning to zip and I tried a bit more bottom fishing but without success. Well it hadn’t been a bad day. Six different species….those mentioned plus a few mackerel.
Yikes, the vast dark shape of a basking shark suddenly appeared about a yard to my right, cruising along happy as Larry with fins out of water. TOP excitement. MUCH longer than my kayak-getting on for twenty foot. It was lazily pursued by another but my one -to -one encounter with one of natures extreme beasts was messed up by some snorkellers shark watching from a RIB…..cheating!
So I went off and found another couple of sharks that were unnoticed and undisturbed and as I sat quietly watching them as they duly obliged by circling around right past and underneath me time and time again. And of course I had to capture that monumental gape by dunking my camera just beneath the surface:
There were loads of little blue jellyfish around today and one of them had the incredible misfortune of finding itself right in the gapepath of the shark where its future wellbeing REALLY did not want it to be.
Another action-packed day. I clocked up a feeble fifteen miles which is pretty pathetic but the reason I paddle such a long way during winter and spring trips is because I get so cold when I stop for any length of time. That’s why sitting about bottom fishing is often out of the question especially during this particularly parky spring. And that’s why I was wearing a thermal t-shirt despite roasting temperatures today-didn’t dare risk it.
Land’s end. It’s the best.