For no good reason at all I decided that I would resurrect my long established but never used, Facebook account. I went on, clicked a few buttons and before I knew what I'd done I'd invited half the world to be a friend of mine. Now I've more friends than I know what to do with - many of them are people I haven't a clue about them being friends of the friends of others, but who I'm now feeling liable for!
What I'd forgotten about was my photo albums, one of which contained a few rare pictures of my mid nineties bass fishing exploits on the Essex coast - pictures that I thought I'd lost forever.
That's myself fishing 'The Anchor', a mark that offers what is certainly the best bass fishing on the east coast and probably some of the best along the entire British coastline. The great thing is, the only person who knows this truth is me, as I found it under my own steam and have never told a soul its exact location to this day, and, would only disclose its whereabouts under torture or in my last will and testament, as it's just as good right now, as it ever was, believe me.
The fishing was incredible, but the filthiest imaginable. The mark is a low tide one, way up a creek and very shallow indeed with the fish caught in anything form six inches to three feet of water maximum. I used to float fish king ragworm (dug at the very same venue, same session) trotting the bait down the creek as it sought the sea. It was much like trotting for roach only the environment was somewhat different and the tackle somewhat stronger.
An average fish
Hooks were a mustad circle pattern tied directly to 12lb Sylcast, a line that had incredible abrasion resistance but unfortunately the company is defunct nowadays, a polystyrene pike float above and a drilled bullet below stopped six inches from the hook was the complete rig. The rod was a carp rod and the reel, one of a pair of old Okuma's that I abused very badly indeed but that are still in service. I doubt if I washed this tackle for six years or more, and only cut off the top few yards of line when the pigtail shredding caused by the line running over the sharp edge of mussels and oysters under tension was out of control.
And it was muddy. Everything would become smothered in the gloopy slurry that precipitated out of the water on every tide, mud that covered over everything but beneath the surface of this apparently benign substance everything was razor sharp - A trillion fragments of unabraided sea shells would slice unprotected flesh to shreds. I used to walk out in a pair of old trainers and but other wise barefoot, wellies and the like being just too much of a liability in such an environment, and every few hundred yards of my trudge out to the mark and back home laden with fresh caught bass, empty them of accumulated crap.
I used to administer the priest (an old milk bottle that was 'stored' permanently at the mark) and then store them under a pile of bladderwrack to keep them fresh as fresh fish goes off very quickly in bright sunlight even when the air feels cool. I used to catch what we could eat that day or freeze for later in the month, and, as we had only a very small freezer at the caravan I could only retain three or four fish at a time. When I had enough, I'd cease fishing.
I had other marks of course. One of my top rankers was a rocky breakwater where bass would gather on the flood tide to fill up on crabs, the food item that all the bass caught up the creek or off the rocks were invariably full of - crabs large and small, peeler and hardback.
The sea is a harsh place, as the following picture illustrates perfectly well ~
You may not believe this but I was out at the edge of the world and actually shivering in the constant sea breeze whilst the sun roasted my flesh like a joint of meat in a fan oven...
Given my preoccupation nowadays with snapping away at every possible dimension of my fishing it seems incredible that these picture are all I have for almost an entire decade fishing the briny.