Nuffin’ but Puffin

Boscastle Harbour
Boscastle Harbour

Flat calm at Boscastle. A rare event…no wind and hardly any swell. I managed to turf myself out of bed before six. It would have been earlier if it hadn’t been for that bottle of Doom Bar at the barbecue. It doesn’t take a lot nowadays to generate a thick head. Yeah OK, the tin of Carlsberg and those two glasses of wine didn’t help.

Anyway I was on the water before seven and pretty pleased with the scene that greeted me as I twisted out of the harbour through the rocky entrance.

Catch some mackerel quick, hook them up to the tope trace, drop them to the bottom and drift, and enjoy the scenery. That was my plan of action.

It was no problem catching mackerel and a few pollack too.P1070273

The big spring tide was starting to ebb and swept me past Short and Long Island. I could hear the raucous cackling of the Guillemot and Razorbill colonies from a mile away. It always amazes me how far sound carries over water on a still day. I could hear the splosh of diving gannets far out to sea even though the birds were nearly too far out to see.

I was supping a cup of coffee while sitting with my legs dangling over the edge when I leapt in surprise as a guillemot swam virtually between my feet underwater, flapping like a penguin. Coffee was spilt.

After an hour or so of no bites on the shark trace I reverted to feathers with a bit of mackerel strip for a bit more guaranteed action. I was a bit surprised to catch a little dab, my first for many a year.

Dab
Dab

I drifted for three miles down towards Tintagel then paddled for home, taking a closer run past the islands to see if I could spot the very few puffins that nest there. I was thrilled to get pretty close to a very confiding puffin and then watched a pair flying round in circles before landing on the cliff. As I was watching my fishing gear got terminally tangled on a snag in the depths and I had to cut the line. When will I ever learn? This happens so often. I get completely absorbed in something else and forget about the fishing stuff and lose another set of lures to the bottom.

Boscastle Puffin
Boscastle Puffin
Puffin cranking a right-hander
Puffin cranking a right-hander
Gang of Guillemots
Gang of Guillemots

As I arrived back into Boscstle the temperature was soaring and I was down to a t-shirt.(it was freezing point when I left home). It is a stunning place….you’d struggle to find a more photogenic spot in Cornwall. Or anywhere else for that matter.

Short Island, Boscastle
Short Island, Boscastle

So no big fish but it was nice to see the seabird colony thriving and it was great to see the handful of puffins still around , and they hadn’t fallen victim to that gloopy stuff which had killed so many of their compatriates around the southwest coast in the last couple of months.

Crackington Heaven

It’s been a long wait.P1060889

The last time I ventured forth in a kayak without woolly balaclava and gloves and drysuit zipped right up was seven months ago. And the last fish I caught was way before Christmas.

Even more remarkable is that it was Mayday Bank Holiday and the forecast promised sunshine, light winds and temperatures nudging the high teens.

So armed with two fishing rods and array of plugs, feathers and a few industrial sized hooks (just in case) I set off for my favourite local fishing paddle along the north Cornwall coast to Crackington Haven.

Having dibbled with kayak fishing along the entire coast of Devon and Cornwall, this patch is about as good as it gets, apart from Land’s End maybe. The coast is so hostile that the fish remain pretty untroubled.Access from the land is difficult and only a handful of small boats venture along this shore, no doubt many being deterred by the chilling local sea shanty:

‘From Hartland Point to Padstow Light, ’tis a watery grave by day or night’P1060879

This cheerfully highlights the lack of substantial harbours for the forty mile stretch of  Cornwall coast north of the Camel estuary, meaning there is nowhere to run if the wind and swell get up.

Confident of a favourable weather forecast I set off south trolling a bass plug behind, hugging the coast but wary of the occasional big wave produced by the long-wavelength swell. P1060870Although still early in the season I was hopeful of a bass of Dizzard point as this always produces fish during the summer and Autumn. Sure enough my line buzzed out and I spent five minutes playing a decent fish to the side of my kayak. First fish of the year….a 3lb bass.

Dizzard bass
Dizzard bass

My new plug was soon lost to the depths hooked on a piece of kelp so I switched to mackerel feathers and headed out for deeper water. The cliff buttresses around here are totally absorbing and as good as anywhere in Cornwall, providing a spectacular backdrop for a fishing trip. Pity there weren’t any fish. Until I got off the end of Cambeak, when I hooked a pollack which must have been the smallest in the sea.P1060874

On the other rod I dropped a big rubber shad to the bottom and was soon hauling up a rather more feisty fish, a pollack of about 6lbs.P1060884

Cambeak, the prominent headland off Crackington Haven, holds a load of pollack that lurk around its underwater reef that reaches a mile or so out to sea. Historically it also claims to be a top shark fishing location, attracted to the pollack no doubt. An idea for later in the year?

I started to drift back north on the incoming tide and the fish kept going for the feathers. A couple of ballan wrasse included.P1060892

And then my first mackerel of the season which I used to spice up the feathers and caught pollack at an even greater rate. About 25 in total up to about three pounds.

I was joined by a friendly fulmar who politely waited for me to throw it some fish. It was pretty pleased with a small pollack.It was joined by its mate and they had a guttural chit-chat which would have been more suited to a Pterodactyl. The only other sounds I heard all day were the boom of waves, the whinnying of a peregrine and the tittering of a passing whimbrel. Oh and a few stifled expletives when the bass spiked my hand.

P1060894P1060900

P1060897I stopped off at Dizzard again on the way back north and caught another larger pollack, and finished off with a final bottom-fish off Millook, where I hooked three small Grey Gurnard in quick succession. P1060915

P1060917All today’s fish were returned to fight another day apart from the two mackerel which I used as bait and the small pollack which was ambushed by the fulmar.

First fish session of the season which will be hard to beat!