When Chris Yates wrote 'Falling In Again', it sold a lot of copies, made a lot of anglers smile and received praise from all quarters. Well, I don't think Chris tries hard enough. I mean, anyone can fall in, but it takes a real idio.....man to dive in! When it comes to getting wet for your art, I've taken saltwater immersion to a new level!
Some of you will have already read my previous editorial about my recent dip into Brightlingsea Marina. Well, unbeknown to me at the time, it appears to have ignited some inner-desire for me to regard diving as part and parcel of the total sea fishing experience. This is what happened exactly one week later.....
I was fishing at Aldeburgh beach (beaches are safer, obviously!) and had arrived there just ahead of a few friends. By the time Wurzel, Dave and Steve had arrived, I'd missed one bite and had one cod on the beach. Not a bad start at all, especially as it was pretty much slack-water at the time and I hadn't expected any action. As it happened, I ended up with three 'keepers' and returned a couple of smaller fish. However, that's not really relevant to what else happened.
Wurzel and Dave had caught a similar number of fish, but Steve, who was fishing in between us, was struggling to get a sizeable cod. I had a certain sympathy with him, having fished a few weeks before and blanked whilst others caught (see Lucky Leedas). All of a sudden, a cry went up that he was into a fish. This is a family site, so I won't tell you what that cry was, but suffice to say that I didn't want to heed his words literally. Not in temperatures nearing zero and in public, anyway!
The fish had run along the beach a bit and (luckily, as it turned out) tangled one of my lines. Cursing, I picked up the rod and reeled in a bit of slack. As I was doing this, I walked along the beach towards Steve, so that I would be on hand to sort out any hassle caused by the tangle, if it looked like it would interfere with him getting the fish in.
“This has got some weight in it,” he told me. I still wasn't convinced, as there was a reasonable tide pushing through and the added weight of my line, which can often give a false impression. However, as the fish came into the breaking waves, I could see that it was most definitely a decent cod. The biggest I've seen off the beach for quite some time, in fact.
The beach at Aldeburgh is quite steep, so it was always going to be a bit of a struggle to get a decent fish up, and Steve started to walk backwards. I'm not sure if he'd actually even seen the fish at this point, but I had it in clear view.
AND I SAW THE HOOK COME OUT!
Instantly, and looking like Duncan Goodhew after a few too many kebabs, I dived down the beach. The last wave had receded and the fish was flapping about and rolling backwards. I had to think quickly, as I would only get one chance before it vanished back into the depths. Knowing this, I decided against grabbing it (and potentially letting it slip) and threw myself, on my knees, between the fish and the sea. Frantically, I then put my arms down on the sand and started shovelling the fish forward, out of the danger zone. The next wave came and hit me and I felt it creep up my trouser legs, but the fish remained my priority. I could see Steve rushing back, so just wanted to make sure it was there for him to grab.
I should point out at this stage that I wasn't in any danger, or in deep water. It was a relatively calm night and the most danger I was in was of getting wet. Which I did, expertly.
Anyway, Steve came down and there was some shouting by me, probably along the lines of, “Quick! Grab it!”. Steve grabbed the fish and started walking back up the beach. Just as he got to the top of the steep part, and the fish was safely 'caught', he turned to me and said, cool as you like, “Oh, had the hook come out?”
“No, I just dive in after everyone's ******* fish! What do you think?!!”
Turns out, he was blissfully unaware of what had gone on and probably stood there either admiring my enthusiasm in the team pursuit of cod, or thought that I'd completely lost the plot. In hindsight, I suppose it was a bit of both.
Compared to my last ducking, this was a mild one. No phone broken, just a couple of wet inner trouser legs. Mind you, I got back to my shelter sharpish, as it was late at night and I didn't want to get too cold. Just as I loosened my boots, Steve came over with his camera. “I don't suppose you'd mind doing the honours?” Talk about rubbing salt into the already salty wounds!
Of course, I didn't mind. I love seeing good fish being caught. Admittedly, it's even better when they're on the end of my rod, but it's also very satisfying to see things go right for a mate. And, as the photo you see here shows, things went right in the end that night.
I might be going fishing again tonight. It's been suggested that I should take arm bands with me. I don't know about that, but I can tell you that there is a spare set of dry clothing tucked away in my car!