It's often said that a good angler will learn something from every fishing trip. Well, us mediocre ones often glean a bit of knowledge from them, too. Even the bad trips!
I went beach fishing the other night at Aldeburgh in Suffolk. It was on a big tide, after a couple of days of a good blow at a venue where I've had some decent fishing before. The omens were all good. In fact, so good that four others were fishing with me. We were all confident of some serious cod action.
Fishing alongside me were the following:
Nic – a neighbour and regular freshwater angling buddy, who's determined to catch his first sizeable sea fish.
Dave – surname Barham, editor of Boat Fishing Monthly and previously editor and staff for various other angling magazines. Dave was here to test some prototype rods that he has been helping develop for Leeda.
Jim – I call him Dave's Siamese twin. The two of them fish together a lot and travel all over the country, and beyond, in pursuit of decent fish and decent content for fishing articles.
Mike – I'd never met Mike before, but he's married to a lady who works for Leeda and acted as the courier for the three prototype Leeda beachcasters. Turns out he can chuck a lead about, too, and had already put one 225 yards with one of the prototypes on the field! Nice bloke. Absolute mad-keen fisherman. He had a three hour journey home after this trip. I couldn't do that!
Anyway, we all set up at a leisurely pace, had a good chat and waited for the tide to push through. First blood came to Mike. As did second blood. Then Dave caught a fish. Then Mike. Then Dave.
You get the picture.
Mike was fishing with two Leeda prototypes, Dave with one. We soon labelled these rods the 'Lucky Leedas'!
Obviously, it wasn't just the rods catching the fish. I'm not the world's worst caster, but I'm a million miles away from being classed as 'good'. My technique, if that's what you can call it, is more about brute force than style. Nic and Jim are much the same. Okay, we didn't have quite the gear that the other two had, but they still could have put a bait out further than any of us with our own gear.
I remember explaining to Nic about how the fish must have been holding back off the shore a bit and that we weren't hitting the mark (he was probably impressed, but I was only repeating what Dave had just told me!). There wasn't much tide running, strangely, and the wind had dropped totally, creating a millpond in front of us that I'd have gladly fished from a rowing boat. “But I've watched Dave and he doesn't seem to be giving it much 'oomph',” came the reply. “No, but watch his rod bend and how long his reel spins,” I said (it was dark, by the way, so watching the lead hit the water was a tad difficult!).
Mike with a 6.5lb cod that fell to one of the 'Lucky Leedas'
So, my lesson for the day was that it wasn't a case of 'Lucky Leedas'. More a case of 'Lousy Lobbers'. I need to get my backside up and out onto a field, with someone who knows what they are doing, to get my technique right. It's no good me going on my own. Okay, I might put on a few yards, but I think that if I really want to add distance to my casting, I need to either sweet talk a competent caster into helping me, or line his palm with silver. That night taught me that it would be worth the money.
Casting isn't the be-all and end-all of sea fishing and, to be honest, I do quite well most of the time, anyway. However, having that weapon in your armoury is definitely handy if you ever need to call upon it. You can always 'drop one short' if you're a caster, but it's impossible to 'drop one long' if you're not!
I did learn one other thing, I think. These Leeda beachcasters are going to go down a storm when they hit the market. Once a few people can get their heads around the fact that Leeda have produced a beachcaster that is up there with the £350+ plus rods, but at a fraction of the price, these things will fly out of the tackle shops. Honestly, Dave and Mike fished them alongside very expensive rods and the Leeda rods were matching them in every department that night. I think they're being released in the Autumn and will definitely put something on this website about them when they are available to buy.
Oh, and for the record, I did catch one fish. It's something that happens in beach fishing, but you usually hear about it happening to someone else. About two hours before, I'd had a crack off. I think the line had whipped round the tip and parted as soon as I went to cast. It hasn't happened to me for as long as I can remember, and being a tight so-and-so, I wasn't happy at losing a lead. Anyway, you guessed it, I ended up somehow catching that trace, complete with a codling attached! It was well over the legal limit, but too small for my liking, so it went back. Besides, I think the poor sod deserved a break after the night he'd had!