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I don't get much choice over when I can or cannot fish - working in London all week dictates the amount of time and energy I have left for wetting a line. I'm sure I am not alone in that. Most of my sessions are at the weekend and have to fit fishing in around essential household tasks, shopping, cooking, fetching and carrying kids, time with my wife and so on.

So, when I get the chance to fish, I want it to be productive. Waiting a week or two to spending four or five hours on the beach, with nothing but empty bait wraps to show for my time, is not rewarding. I want a fish - any fish - as reward for my perseverance and patience. If I'm honest, that means even a rockling has a place in my fishing exploits. If all else fails and I'm down to my last worm and last cast, then I'm not going to be proud - a rockling will do, if that is all there is.

But this is supposed to be a catch report, so I'll stop wittering and get to the point, eventually.

The only time I could fish this weekend was Sunday morning. High tide was at 10.50 and a decent height at 7.2 metres. However, conditions for fishing did not look good with bright sunshine and no wind to speak of. I would be casting into clearing waters with no discernible wave movement to stir the shore and excite the fish. I was not expecting an easy session and certainly not a 'whiting-fest' of the sort some of you have enjoyed lately...

The coldest night of the Autumn so far broke earlier than it should on a Sunday and I chased the first rays of sunshine towards the beach. I walked a mile or so with my gear - an old camera bag makes a very good tackle bag (but you cannot sit on it); three rods and a rod rest in a Shakespeare rod holder; a large empty plastic paint tub serves as my bucket. It was nippy; on went the woolly hat and flotation coat, thick socks and neoprene wellies. Decked out like a Nordic fisherman and carrying all that gear gives me a good workout.

I decided on Portsmouth rigs with two size 1 hooks and tried to cast the lug worm to an area of low, submerged rock lurking about 100 metres from the shoreline. The bottom trace would fish on the sea bed and the top rig would move more freely in the water, thereby giving me a chance of bottom-feeding fish and also their more mobile cousins higher up the water column. A pretty good plan I thought.

About an hour and a half later I was having my doubts. I was casting erratically but getting near to where I wanted to be. I was also getting lots of rattles and pulls on the line but no hook-ups. Just as I decided that I would go to size four hooks, hlssteve turned up, bringing with him his fishing luck it seemed. As he walked down the shingle, my left-hand rod immediately started jumping in the rest and I held off saying hello to Steve to reel in a double-shot of good-sized whiting. Both were dispatched and gutted in short order, ready to be added to the fish pie I would cook later.

Whilst this was encouraging, I decided that I would mix the rigs up a bit to keep my options open. I kept one of the Portsmouth rigs in circulation, but added two more that I would rotate between the two rods. That way, each area of the groyne would be fished with either the Portsmouth with size 1s, a sliding wishbone with size 4s or a two-hook flapper, also with size 4 hooks. I made the latter rig with 24 inch snoods and a five foot rig length for days like this when there are few if any waves. The wishbone also makes a neat rig when clipped down as it casts well. With the lead wires broken-out, I hoped the bait would be moved by the tide to an area holding a flat fish or two.

There is little as satisfying as targeting a fish, working out a plan and having the right gear to carry it out. For once, everything came together and the wishbone rewarded me with a double-shot of a whiting and a plaice, both too small to keep and so returned to the water. I'd scored a 'double-double shot' and it felt great. Could I score a hat-trick of doubles?

Well, no. Steve and I chatted for about an hour, in which time I also caught a smashing 'micro-bass' of 19cms. I put it in my bucket for a few minutes and watched it furiously whizz around looking for a way out. It took several attempts to scoop him out and get him back in the sea. He was so revved up! Steve wandered home and took some of his fishing luck with him, leaving me just enough to land three more whiting, all of an eating size.

That made five for the pot and eight fish overall. The last hour produced nothing. If it is more than two hours after high tide, the fishing can quickly drop off in this spot. At least I hadn’t needed to catch a rockling to save the session.

As an aside, some lads had been playing on the sea wall behind me for some time. They were not bothering me but they had clearly annoyed an old lady in her beach hut who told them to clear off. I think one of them said something. This old 'dear' then punched him on the arm, knocking him down. They tried giving her a bit more lip, without swearing (I think I might have done if I were them), and then I intervened to get them out of that situation. It seems to me that some old people have it in for youngsters, even if they are a bit loud. I'm not sure she would have hit bigger lads, so really she was bullying them. A weird end to the session, but it did not detract from a good spell on the beach in good company and with plenty of fish worth eating to show for my efforts.
 

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Great report Neil and well done on catching a few - as you say anything is worth catching in less than ideal conditions. I was going to fish Normans Bay over low but the calm sea put me off - I may have an evening session over low tide on Tuesday or Wednesday as there's meant to be a bit of a blow coming. I did however go shrimping at Whitehorses (up by the harbour arm) and got about a pint and a half of decent sized prawns - believe it or not I was wearing shorts - I really must get some chest waders!!
 
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