The sea was mirror calm, the tide not particularly big and dropping at that; not ideal fishing conditions but a delight to be there nonetheless. Again I had ventured out with James and his mate Richard’ nothing too serious just an evening fishing. I had brought along a few lures in the hope of bass and intended to put out a flounder fillet on darkness in the hope of a tope.
Richard had a few king ragworm and asked if I thought there were worth using. I told him he should get plenty of bites with these and a variety of species were likely. James tried a bit of float fishing in addition to putting out a whole squid on the bottom.
After a few minutes Richards rod tip rattled and a small wrasse was swung ashore. A small Pollock on the float for James completed the daytime action. I had a bass follow the lure but it lost interest along the way.
A lone Kayaker called by for a chat and looked well equipped to explore the many bays that indent the cliff-flanked shoreline. It turns out later that I have him as a Facebook friend.
Shortly after the light fades Richard shouts out that he has hooked something big. The rod bends, pulsing as the fish surges for freedom; it is obvious that something substantial has taken the bait. Its all very exciting as I grab the net and scramble down to the waters edge as James help Richard to negotiate the rods and lines still in the water. I glimpse a twisting shape in the clear water, for a moment I think it could be huge bass but as it draws close I realize it’s a decent sized conger.
A size 1/0 hook does not give me great deal of confidence in the outcome but luck holds and Richard guides the fish to the net. Tail first into the net and up she comes a writhing beast that has Richard and James babbling with excitement.
The scales give a reading of 15lb 10oz not a big eel by specimen standards but a huge fish to a young angler whose previous best fish is a 2lb dogfish. After a quick photo the eel is slipped back into the clear water where it glides serenely away into the night.
Sharing in the excitement of this capture I have to question the way we value the fish we catch. As our experience widens and we catch more and bigger fish then our appreciation of the average fish diminishes. The fish that gave us a great sense of excitement eventually becomes run of the mill.
A few days later I fish down through a beat on the Middle Torridge. A salmon leaps a few feet into the air the image with its silver flanks are captured forever in the minds eye with a thousand other images captured through the years. The air is still; a melancholic atmosphere seems to hang across the valley. Shafts of evening sunlight play upon the water, leaves drift downstream resting upon stones left dry by receding waters. The river is at a good height and colour now but we will soon need rain if there is to be busy end to the season. It is hard to believe that the season is nearing its end where have those months since the yellow daffodils decorated the banks gone.
In a couple of months salmon will be completing their life cycle that both ends and begins in the dark cold waters of a winter river.