It was a grey overcast day when we arrived at Minehead Harbour prior to a day on Steve Webbers Charter Boat “Osprey”. A gaggle of eager anglers were congregated around Westcoast Tackle collecting bait and last minute items of tackle for the day ahead.
The boat was due to leave the harbour at 09:30 and did so a few minutes before time thanks to the unusually prompt attendance of all CMSAC members the civilized hour undoubtedly contributing t this fact.
Big cod were our target and as we steamed out to the mark a couple of miles away tackle was prepared with 7/0 and 8/0 Sakuma hooks and heavy mono hook lengths indicating that all were thinking big. Squid, mackerel, black lug, cuttle fish and herring were amongst the baits on the menu.
A few big cod had been landed recently so optimism was quite high despite Steve’s words of caution. Steve told us that a few good blondes were showing over low water so if the cod do not show at least the rods would bend!
The anchor down, baits out and it was time to settle back and enjoy a hot drink. Dark clouds drifted overhead bringing intermittent spells of rain. At least the sea was calm with the high cliffs protecting us from the prevailing Southerly wind.
As the morning passed and midday passed confidence was beginning to ebb away with the tide. With just two dogfish to show by dinnertime I felt for our Skipper who was undoubtedly willing the fish to oblige. A move further out had so far failed to improve things and it was obvious that Steve was confident he had put us in the right area.
At Low water the boat began to drift around on the anchor rope and a down-tide rod seemed a better option. Then Dan Spearman is into a fish, a well bent rod signals a change in fortune. A double figure blonde is soon safely within the waiting net. Within a few minutes I feel a sharp tug on my own line and after ensuring the bait has been taken I set the hook and start the task of persuading the fish to the boat.
A blonde ray of just over 13lb is safely netted followed by a similar sized fish on the very next drop. The next half an hour sees hectic action as another six ray; a codling and two congers are brought to the boat.
The action is accompanied by a deluge of rain that is persistent until just after four PM when the brightest rainbow I have ever witnessed signals the arrival of better weather. As the tide starts to flood it again goes quiet as the fish once again lose their appetites.
A move closer inshore brings hope that a big cod will show. There is brief hope when a conger of close to double figures engulfs my offering. Ross Stanway then hooks a big fish that battles gamely in the strong tide before coming adrift just yards from the stern of the boat; cod or conger? We will never know!
Matt Jeffery holds aloft a fine whiting of just over 2lb as the light fades away. At 5.30pm it’s almost dark as we set off for the Harbour a bedraggled bunch of happy anglers. In an 8-hour session the fish fed for an all too brief a period of an hour.