Roving Rods: Red Sands and Doniford

With the plans all set I decided that with the tides a local venue around Porlock would be a good place to go and try for some bass as I felt like I’ve had my fill of hounds and wanted something a little different to mix it up.

It was late in the month and time was running out for a fishing session for roving rods with a looming deadline to fish and write it up due to work commitments. I got ready the day before as Steve was open at west coast angling in Watchet now the shops were allowed with measures in place and two people at a time in the shop, although no live bait was in till the Thursday I picked up a few bags of squid and some other tackle pieces I wanted a good little catch up chat and I was set to go forgetting the bait elastic I took the opportunity to catch up with Helen and give her a little grief haha at the tackle shack on Minehead harbour as it was on the way home.

With everything ready and feeling good about the upcoming session I made my rigs up, cast a few more leads and I was all packed and ready and raring to go. It was here at last some time on the beach I got to Porlock weir and I walked up the road to the steps to drop down onto the beach and start a small 200 yard walk across pebbles and finer shingle, today I was going to fish on the sand to the left of the oyster beds where you have a boulder field either side of you and it has produced some good fish over the years especially on the bass and cod front.

Finally in position I set the shelter up as it was due to tip down half way through the day the pressure was a way low but didn’t have the luxury of picking another day. I set up both century WR300’s with large baits for a good bass and was then fishing normally with a tip tornado super match Graphex a simple up and over rig and 3/0 hook loaded with crab and squid.

I finally sat down with all the camera gear set up on tripod as I was filming for my site the snag and got a coffee poured out, all was well with cracking views out to sea and over towards Porlock weir.

The sea was like a mirror no movement at all ... Not that great for bass but still they do lurk around here and hoover up everything as the tide comes in with them patrolling just behind the tide line. A few hours on and renewing of bait on each rod with each of them coming back completely untouched not even crab activity which said this probably wasn’t going to end very well for me today in the catching department, still a day on the beach with minimal wind and the sun out was out, just chilled and watching the avocets and other wading birds flying low on the sea and then up and over onto the marshes along with a few coffees and a pasty at half time can’t be bad.

A few more hours passed by with no activity at all and with the sun going down the tide was almost at high tide and then it clouded over a lot really quickly and lightning with rumbling thunder put paid to the session so I packed down the lightning attractors packed up everything and started my slog back across the beach although the day was a blank it wasn’t a waste as the grounds had changed and gulleys had shifted a bit and I got to see and record how they are now for fishing next time with how the tide flows in, although we all suffer a blank from time to time I don’t think I have ever had one session when every single bait comes back completely untouched! Doniford quick session: With a few small changes to the schedule and my better half’s work pattern changed, I thought with the blank the other day that just wouldn’t do so managed to get out for a couple of hours at Doniford beach and try and get a hound.

I was going to fish further over on the reef but unfortunately one thing lead to another and ended up getting there a little late with my young lads and we couldn’t get there fish and get back out in time as it cuts you off and you can’t get back across the river.

Travelling light I took just the Tip tornado super match graphex and a Penn battle two running 50lb whiplash with a small 70lb mono leader for any abrasion on the reef system. We walked down to the area around the pipeline and fished the not so snaggy areas as you can also get bass here, I had only brought squid and we decided we would take it in turns to bring fish in obviously Danny my 3 year old required a little help on that front from dad. All set up and with an up and over rig with 3/0 Koike hooks, I got the squid out and with the head removed and the tail snipped a little it was soon whipped up small and on the hook walking out into the tide a little as its very shallow I loaded the rod and fired it out to around 120 yards, walking back to the rod stand we were all looking at the rod tip in anticipation the sea was churning up well and was as brown as “willy wonkers” chocolate river which Danny had mentioned a few times now ha ha.

A few nibbles registered and Ben struck and missed the bite so just tightening the line up again and it was my turn we waited about five minutes and then a nice big banging bite of which both the boys were excited and Danny decided this was actually his turn, so with that we struck together and little man started to reel in the line fish on! I could feel the weight bouncing along the bottom and prayed the fish would stay on but he’s a very independent young man and doesn’t want any help at all so I left it to him, eventually it comes into the shallow surf and hear the shouts of joy from him shark! It’s a shark! He reeled in a bit faster it’s there on the shore I hold the rod as he runs over to the fish amazed by it “ a brown spotted shark!” he exclaimed to us. To us lot that’s translated into ... a dogfish. He helped to unhook it as it was a nice easy one a quick photo and he was released. Pats on the back to him from Ben and myself and we walked back with him proud as punch. I quickly made up a new bait the same way and offered Ben to cast but he wanted it as far out as possible so asked myself to do it with that I fired it back out as far as the switching wind would allow to around 100 yards. With the rod back in the rest and the boys completely gassed at catching so quickly it was around ten minutes before the next inquiry.

I saw a few very small nibbles and decided to leave it a bit longer, it carried on so I removed the rod from the rest and held it ready to quickly strike the next one with finger on the braid feeling for it as well.. Then it happened! Only small again but a quick small lifting of the tip done the job and we had another fish on. With both lads asking what it was as they could see the rod tip keep jigging away as I was pulling it in it was a small conger but decided to tell them it was a snot monster haha

It fought the entire way in but was an easy landing I passed the rod to Ben and I collected the conger with a rag it was a small strap eel of a few pounds at most the mood on the beach was upbeat with some older folk commenting how lovely it was to see them so happy. A quick unhooking and Ben was happy and Danny elated as he had never seen an Eel before so I released it into a deep rock pool which the tide was heading for in about 5 minutes and he watched it entranced.

Whilst I was baiting up I suddenly just caught a glimpse of him throwing a squid head in the rock pool with a “there you go” the kid cracks me up. Baited up again and offered to Ben to cast but refusing once again I fired the baited hook out as far as I could with the wind now up.

I noticed that the dreaded Weed had started to come across which is quite common here at mid tide as it comes over the reef systems, with the rod back in the rest we moved back another 30 yards as the sea here flies in at a rate of knots mainly being flat like a table. Bens turn again and 30 minutes goes by without a touch hoping that he will get one as well we leave it and I remind them that we have every chance of a smooth hound or ‘daddy shark’ by some standards here today coming past and taking our hook laden offering! With them all excited again and Ben saying “oh come on!” (he’s the non patient child) his wishes were granted with a good few rattling bends of the rod I knew it was a dogfish but let him find out as it builds with the anticipation, grabbing the rod he was lifting into it well and started reeling in he got about half way in and it snagged! I couldn’t believe it! I told him what to do and he moved to a different angle and walked along the beach a bit and it came free he carried on and we were both relived when he landed it.

It was another dogfish but he was chuffed none the less and unhooked it himself and had a quick photo before releasing it back into the weed filled tide line, we watched as it swam off strongly. Success all had caught and it had only been about an hour. We moved everything back some more and then same again squid wrap whipped it onto the hook securely and I launched it up and out going 100m plus again time passed and nothing was playing ball now, as we had another bait change...The bites we’re dying off so the boys started turning over slate panels looking for fossils which are a penny to a pound on this beach with ammonites and devils claws regularly found. With them just a few yards away I kept and ever hopeful eye on the rod tip.

The wind had picked up a bit and waves were churning the water well the boys were laughing and then suddenly the line went slack in a massive way I lifted the rod out the rest and started winding in like a possessed madman and then felt the dead weight at the end. Once it knew it was hooked it started to fight and it was a decent fish not a hound but a large eel the weight on the end was a lot and fighting away and the in between rolls of trying to shirk the hook there were the bounces of the weight on the seabed, the boys realised and came running over eyes wide with excitement! Mine probably the same as well.

The rod tip was bent right over now and was about 20 meters out I could just see it spinning away on the surface briefly with the white belly flashes and was probably around 20lb+ mark Danny was shrieking with joy at a “monster fish” whilst Ben was amazed and impressed in the bend on the rod and how far it could bend!

Playing it all by the numbers and using the surf to bring it in and keeping tension as I was using braid we were about 15 meters out and they were proper excited Danny was almost bouncing whilst Ben was Mr.Cool until it all pinged and went slack as it managed to bite through the hook length of 60lb... Absolutely gutted! All three of us put our head in our hands I cursed under my breath quietly. Ben came out with mine and chris’s classic joke when something goes wrong (like an overrun and birds nest on Chris’s multiplier reel) with a smirk “what happened there then?”

I couldn’t help but laugh a little and the little man said “its ok daddy that’s fishing” which I always say to him if he doesn’t catch or get a fish in sometimes. We casted out a couple more times but the weed was now horrendous and we had a washing line of weed twice and we all decided we would call it day, but it was a successful trip in our eyes a few hours family time and we all caught as well. Till next time may your trips be successful and don’t forget to support our local tackle shops they will need it if we want them kept around.

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