Living near the north coast of Cornwall can be pretty frustrating if you are into kayak fishing. Days with light winds are few and far between, and even then most of them are no good because the groundswell is too big. I have learnt the expensive lesson that a wave breaking over a fishing reel usually means a totally seized and stuffed mechanism next time you go out.
And this year’s weather is even worse than usual, so a handful of hot, sunny (and still) days recently are heaven sent.
Much as I prefer trolling a lure behind the kayak as it means at least you clock up the miles and see a bit of scenery if you don’t catch any fish, it is impossible to resist the temptation of paddling offshore on these calm days and do a bit of bottom fishing.
My first excursion was to Boscastle which seems to get more impressive every time. The quaintest of villages. Also one of the busiest….but not when you are half a mile out to sea! Paddle away from the harbour heaving with tourists, out past the craggy headlands and you might as well be on the surface of Mars.
I trolled the five miles down the coast to Tintagel, caught a load of mackerel for bait, then drifted all the way back to Boscastle on the incoming tide. I was joined by a school of Common Dolphins that kept sploshing about around my kayak for the best part of an hour. Fantastic.
I hooked up a mackerel flapper, dropped it close to the bottom, and waited. And waited. And had a cup of tea with my legs dangling over the side. Wallop. The rod jumped and line was stripped off the reel. Tea went all over the place as I grabbed the rod. More line went out and I tightened the drag. The kayak was being dragged sideways through the water with a lot of power and as I attempted to swing the rod over the front the line went slack. Bitten clean through. Idiot…why didn’t I use a metal trace?! Was it a Tope…..or was it a Porbeagle?
I consoled myself by having a chat with a couple of passing sunfish.
Next sunny destination was Combe Martin on the North Devon coast on an absolutely scorching day. Although I was aware of the lively tidal currents in the area I had armed myself with a knowledge of the tide times so was a bit surprised when we got caught in a strengthening west flowing current an hour BEFORE high tide.
Incidentally, this was the first jaunt out for my new Perception Gemini double kayak. The hull of my old Malibu 2, which was over ten years old, finally gave out while ‘surfing’ down a hill into Bude canal. Poor old ‘DAS BOOT’. She was a top boat and provided us with a lot of fun.Such as surviving one of the biggest swells ever tackled by a recreational sit-on-top…..
I bought an angling seat with two rod-holders in the back – no need for any in the hull of the kayak.
I actually broke new ground by buying a pack of frozen sandeels…..and within minutes Hezzer had hooked a new species. But not a fish as such.
Having battled back against the tide flow we hooked a load of dogfish in the slacker water.
And then another new species on the sandeels .The closest thing to a catfishI have come across in UK waters….a three-bearded rockling. Not that I have come across anything more like a catfish anywhere else.
As Hezzer and I bobbed about off the very attractive Exmoor coast , not catching any fish for an hour or two during slack water, we were kept entertained by little gangs of quiet and unobtrusive porpoises that were ‘piffing’ all around. They have a frustrating habit of swimming towards you surfacing closer and closer, and just when you expect them to appear right by the kayak, they have disappeared completely, often not to be seen again.
Then it was back to Boscastle again with another effort to hook a monster on a wire trace. Needless to say no joy in the shark department, but dogfish, a tub gurnard….
a biggish cuckoo wrasse….
and a horribly rattly spider crab. Rattly when it is scuttling around in the kayak footwell, anyway.
It is easy to become blase about Boscastle’s remarkable coastal features which compare well to anywhere in the south west. Long island in particular draws the eye to its amazing eroded edge.
And we saw more dolphins, this time a school of botllenose dolphins….much bigger than common dolphins. I hoped they would come and investigate us but they were not in playful mood and just cruised on down the coast. Crummy photo but on had a pale stripe on its dorsal fin.
Finally a day completing a bit more of unpaddled coast between Porlock weir and Foreland point. Not great on the fishing fronf..just a couple of bass, pollack, mackerel and dogfish. More porpoises and some rather more gentle rolling woody cliffs on the Bristol channel coast. Beaches only accessible by kayak.
And nice sheltered water for a visiting tall ship.