I had been keeping an eye on the sea conditions at Boscastle for a month. I wanted to coincide a day off with little or no wind, and ideally not a lot of swell, to make the experience more relaxing and enjoyable.
And the tides had to be just right to allow me to catch the ebb down to Tintagel Head,catch a few mackerel on the way, and then just sit tight and drift four miles back up the coast as the flow came back in again, with juicy lures of fresh whole mackerel or mackerel fillet legered down to the bottom and leaving an oily smelly mackerelly trail in their wake which any self-respecting fishy predator would find hard to resist.
I had tried this technique in exactly these conditions last year and had lost two BIG fish beacause I was not using wire traces and they had bitten/rubbed through the line.
The stage was set again. Sea pretty calm. Tides perfect. Overcast sky should help, sea fishing never seems so productive in bright sun, although the experience of bobbing about on the sea is more enjoyable.
And Boscastle always lures me back. Is it the fishing, is it the guillemot colony and puffins, is it the chance of an encounter with dolphins, sunfish, seals or basking sharks, or is it the Museum of Witchcraft?
All went smoothly and I was sitting off Tintagel head at the turn of the tide. But I hadn’t caught any mackerel, just one snivvling pollack that I put back.
The tide hadn’t kicked in and there were no bites on the feathers. Looks like it would be another day of watching the auks and shearwaters zip past and listening to kittiwakes screaming ‘kit-ee-wake’.
Phew….I hauled up two mackerel and they were soon filleted, hooked up to my ‘Tronixpro’ wire Tope traces and dropped to the bottom. And I waited. And the tide got going and ruffled things up a bit. And after an hour I was convinced I was not going to catch. But I resisted the temptation to change back to feathers to liven up the action (for the first time ever). I was going to keep fresh mackerel on both lines to maximise the scent trail, and sit out the boredom. Mind you, if there’s one place you are not going to get bored, it is Boscastle. Great scenery.
Even so, I had eaten my lunch and afternoon snack and drunk the contents of both thermoses by 2.30pm, so it must have been verging on tedious.
Then my the tip of my rod dipped a couple of times, and the reel ticked, just a bit. I grabbed it just as it bent over and line poured out of the reel. I was hurled from total torpor to max-out adrenaline rush in about 0.3 seconds.
The line slackened I reeled in the great dead weight a bit, then it tore off again with more line. Surely a Tope. I peered over the edge into the depths as I was sure I was eventually winning the fight and would soon see my opponent, when the line went completely slack. Groan. Inspection of the broken end showed it had been ‘rubbed’ through…serves me right for having only 35lb line, even though it was connected to a metre of wire trace.
Back to the waiting game as I drifted past Bossiney. Another couple of twitches on my short rod and it exploded into action with line being ripped out.I couldn’t help putting my thumb on the reel to slow it down as I was worried about running out of line, but it slowed down and I tightened up the drag, swung the rod over the front of the kayak and allowed the fish to pull me along. It did so at quite an impressive speed before stopping an proving very reluctant to pull up from the depths. I was in no hurry and took it steady. I knew this was a big fish (no…really…durr).
Then something really weird happened. A commotion on the surface about twenty yards away caught my eye and I saw a great narrow angular fin break the surface for a split second. Oh blimey, I hope I havn’t caught that beast because I’m pretty sure that was a Thresher Shark. But no, my line was still angled straight down not along the surface. (would have been a bit of sport though).
After about twenty minutes and another couple of blistering runs I saw my fish emerge from the depths….the pale shape of a pretty hefty tope, foul-hooked behind the gills. I eased it into the kayak and got the hook out with no problem, took a couple of pics, and let it go.
As my pulse rate dropped back down below that of a shrew on a bike, I realised that it really was a big tope, about six foot long and so at least 50lbs. And what about that other shark? Perhaps the commotion of the hooked tope kicked off a sort of frenzy. Lucky they didn’t all develop an appetite for a sixteen foot long slab of rotomoulded plastic, plus contents (albeit a bit sinewy and bald).
Back to the waiting game and I was soon running out of mackerel as another big bite followed by big fight ended when my (factory-made) TronixPro hook pulled out from the crimp which attached it to the wire. Gnash, chomp,annoyance,expletive.
I ran into a short run of dogfish and then another mighty tussle ended with me pulling up only half a mackerel…..if only I had threaded the hook a bit further down the body……..
Time to go home.
Four big bites in four hours of drifting on the incoming tide.Happy with that, although would have been happier if I had landed all the fish. Was one the Thresher????
Maybe next time.