KAYAK FISHING MOUSEHOLE-PORTHGWARRA 2010

 FEATURING NINE DIFFERENT SPECIES OF FISH (yes that’s a PB) AND THE BEST PERFORMANCE AT THE MINACK THEATRE YOU ARE EVER LIKELY TO WITNESS……er….well…. not in it exactly but not far away. Here’s a clue…….

Top performer getting ready for show right in front of the Minack theatre

 More of that later.

Parking in Mousehole is far from straightforward so I had to squeak my way through the narrow streets with my kayak on its trolley. I  stopped to watch a little squabbling gang of Turnstones fighting for best position on the gunwhale of a moored boat as I paddled out of the harbour. I like them….they are portly and endearing in a Captain Mainwaring sort of way.

Mousehole Turnstone

 And so out into the open sea- I was pretty excited as I felt I was in for a top day and conditions were calm. Off Lamorna Cove I hooked a couple of mackerel and used a sliver of belly to spice up a string of Hokkais and stopped to do a bit of bottom fishing. Pretty quickly I dragged a hard tugging Ballan Wrasse from the depths.

2lb Ballan Wrasse

 And hardly had my weight thumped the bottom than a female cuckoo wrasse put in an appearance. I get the impression that wrasse aren’t actually trying to eat the lures, they are attempting to ‘see them off’ their patch of bottom. But I’m probably wrong.

Mrs. Cuckoo wrasse

 Off Tater Du lighthouse the outgoing tide pushed me further offshore in amongst the passing stream of gannets and shearwaters.I know I’ve said this before but if you want some down time from a stressy job I would seriously recommend bobbing about half a mile out to sea on a calm day with your legs dangling over the side of your sit-on-top kayak, hooking a load of fish and with dozens of oceanic seabirds zipping past your lugholes. It’s difficult to beat. Very few boats around but look out for the Scillonian. Yikes that was close!

Even half a mile offshore I could still hear a young peregrine ‘whinnying’ its demand for breakfast to its parents which could not possibly have been beyond earshot. I don’t like the bit of coast between Tater Du and Boscawen point. The cliffs are black and sheer, good only for peregrines, and they reflect even the slightest swell to always make the sea bouncy. And it’s the site of the Penlee lifeboat disaster, so I moved on.

At my next stop I dropped the line to the sea bed and soon pulled up my biggest whiting ever. Not big , but bigger than the pifflers I usually catch.

Whopping Whiting

 And the species kept on coming as I drifted on towards Logan rock…..first a small but ferociously clicking red gurnard , hotly pursued by a marginally bigger grey gurnard which I havn’t caught for many a year. But I have often been tempted to use ‘The Grey Gurn-nerd’ as my blogger’s pen-name.

 

I was a bit peckish so poured the milk over my five Weetabix ( my usual kayaking breakfast- quick and easy to eat and  does the job) but it went all horrible and soggy because I just kept on hooking fish and had no time to down it. Quite a decent cod:

big mouth cod

I should point out at this stage that I put virtually all the fish I catch back- I only keep a couple of mackerel for bait and enticing seabirds a little closer.

So eight different fishy types before breakfast! I was feeling quite smug but thought it was wise to head inshore because the NW wind was starting to strengthen and I was being slurped towards the Gwennap Head tide race which was fairly roaring.

I coast-hugged back against the current to the shelter of the always stunning Porthcurno bay. That’s when I saw a couple of fast moving fins across the far side of the bay against Logan rock and my heart briefly did stuff which would probably fuse an ECG machine.

Bottlenose pair

I carefully paddled over for a look but didn’t need to get too close because a pair of dolphins soon came over for a snoop and swam right beneath my kayak. This was a total thrill as bottlenose dolphins are no lightweights- they can be over 12 ft long and weigh half a ton.

Over the next 45 minutes the pod of about a dozen dolphins put on the most perfect display to the vociferous approvement of everyone on the beach and a considerable crowd gathered in the Minack theatre. I hope there wasn’t a performance on because the dolphins would be hard to upstage.

They started off with a couple of slow circuits around the bay with a splinter group going close inshore to entertain the swimmers. Every so often several stopped and wallowed and sploshed around and did a few small jumps.

I’m sure they could sense all eyes focused on them as they started to wind up for an astonishing finale. They started to jump more and hurl themselves about generally. Every leap was cheered wildly by the crowd. So difficult to photograph as they are back in the water before I could press the shutter….just missed this one by the shortest of noses:

I was enthusing with a fellow sit-on-topper and thought the show was over but we were both absolutely flawed by the grand finale which took place right in front of our noses. What must have been the biggest dolphin came powering along at a good 30mph and leapt 8-10 foot out of the water in a huge horizontal jump and must have cleared 20ft in the air without losing any speed. Lovely clean entry, it disappeared for a brief second and then leapt again and then , incredibly a third jump which left it virtually on the sand at Porthcurno. I have never in my life heard such a spontaneous and explosive roar of approvement from the onlookers. I was temporarily rendered senseless- everybody knows dolphins can jump but the size of the beast and the speed and height and distance it jumped were quite unbelievable.

That was it , and the dolphins returned to more sedentary progress and disappeared off round the headland to the west, but not before the inquisitive pair had one more sniff at my kayak:

Phew. I was getting a sore butt because I had been in the seat all day but wanted to find a little private beach. Oops there weren’t any as there was an ultra low tide and the rocks were covered in barnacles and would make a mess of my boat. Only place was a kelp-covered ledge.

not a bad lunchy place

Time for a spot more bottom fishing off Penberth cove and up came my first scad of the year:

The paddle back to Mousehole was uneventful apart from pollack and mackerel trying to eat my trolled plug. Getting access to Mousehole harbour wasn’t easy because of tombstoners.

Not as slick as a dolphin,mate.

Mousehole inner harbour was fairly buzzing and it wasn’t straightforward squeezing my sixteen foot boat up the slipway and through the narrow streets back to the carpark.

Mousehole: right up there in the Quaintness Champions League

Over ten hours in the seat for a crumby 22 miles covered. Who cares? But TOTALLY TOP ENTERTAINMENT