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:
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. Although 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.
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.
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?
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.
I 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.
First fish session of the season which will be hard to beat!