A fairly steady offshore wind on the North Cornish coast made me change my plans from a loafing about bottom fishing sort of a day, into a touring close in to the shore doing a bit of sightseeing as well as fishing sort of a day.
I’m going through a phase of stripping everything back to the basics to keep things as simple as possible. Even more so than usual. So I took only one fishing rod with a rubber sandeel on the end of the line. That was it.
Trolling a sandeel is a great way to catch bass. Plugs are also good but they do tend to get snagged on weeds and rocks. A trolled sandeel runs along only an inch or so below the surface as you paddle along, enabling you to get really close in amongst the rocks , which of course is where the bass are hunting as the tide comes in.
I paddled south from Treyarnon Bay.Lovely spot, but I won’t be going there again. The car park meter doesn’t start issuing tickets till eight o’clock. I arrived at seven thirty and had to wait around for half-an-hour. Pretty annoying.
I’ve only paddled this stretch once before. It’s very absorbing, with loads of rocky islets to dodge between and the great treasure of Bedruthan steps waiting to be investigated round Park Head.
I caught my first bass just before Bedruthan. A two pounder.Put back. Then another similar size in Watergate Bay. Watergate Bay was already buzzing with surfers. And also the buzzing noise of a pair of Choughs.
I paddled on down to Newquay and was pleasantly surprised that most of the town is not visible from close in to the shore as it is largely on top of a cliff. In fact it was looking at it’s best on such a warm and sunny September day so I thought I would join in with the holiday atmosphere and went to hunt for an ice cream at Town Beach. Toffee fudge flavour. Yum.
And so the ten mile paddle back to Treyarnon. The tide was high so I would be able to paddle around the rocky islands at Bedruthan steps and hopefully catch a bigger bass. Bingo. My line sung out as I was going round the back of the first island. A big slow tugging fish on the end…my biggest bass for several years.
I was careful not to lose it and was expecting its final dash for freedom which always occurs when you lock eyeballs with it as it approaches the kayak. I think if I was being dragged up from the depths and saw me peering over the edge of a kayak I too would make a desperate escape plunge.
It was on my lap, a fish of about four pounds. I sprinted ashore to a sandy beach for a photo and then suddenly decided not to take it home for tea and to let it go. I held it in the water and it swam off happily. Very happily, I would guess.
Only one more fish after that, a garfish. I never cease to be amazed by their unusual design.
I have done a couple of other non-fishing kayak trips recently, but both with five-star wildlife encounters.
The first was going for an early morning blast up the Torridge estuary to ‘clear out the cobwebs’. I approached a roe deer grazing near the shore. It had two escape options: either slink off into the dense oakwood about three feet to its left, where it could instantly get lost and not be found for a hundred years, or it could hurl itself into the tidal estuary and swim fifty yards through the brackish water to the other side ,only a few feet in front of my kayak.
Inexplicably it chose the second option.
The second encounter was on the south coast in Gerrans Bay near Dodman point. I deliberately swung offshore a bit in the hope of seeing an offshore-type creature. A flurry of fins in front of me heralded the approach of half a dozen common dolphins.
As usual they weren’t particular nosy or sociable. But they did keep stopping to hunt and I got pretty close. My first common dolphins of the year.Fantastic.