At the seaside

For the first half of August I was on holiday in Cornwall, catching up with family and going fishing most days.

My first job was to head up the nearby estuary to dig worms for bait. Lugworms live in fairly soft mud and sand; you dig where you see their casts. Ragworm seem to prefer coarse sand and shell grit. They don’t make casts so you choose an area and turn it over.

(If you try bait digging, make sure to backfill your holes – people sometimes leave craters and piles of sand all over the place. This is unsightly and also damages the worms’ habitat. The result is that future digging becomes less productive and there are fewer worms available for the estuary birds. Do it properly and there is no problem.)

Next morning my brother Ned and I were out at daybreak, using carp rods with 2oz leads to present the worms on the sand:

Cornwall rock fishing

Nothing happened for the first couple of hours. Just as I was saying it was about time we had a bite, something picked up my ragworm. Winding down slowly it was fish on, and a bit of a head banging fight ensued. It was a gilthead bream, a species I had always expected to catch here but which had always eluded me:

Gilthead bream

Soon after that, we had a tub gurnard each:

Tub gurnard

A couple of days later I was back in the same place. First cast produced a better sized gilthead:

Head of gilthead bream

After that it was quiet except for a couple of small bass and another gurnard. Packing up, I threw my unused mackerel and squid bait into the water and soon after a shoal of mullet came swarming round. I set up a makeshift float rig to present a bit of squid to them on a small hook. I then had a frustrating time as the mullet were apparently taking the bait but I kept missing them on the strike. Eventually I got one:

Mullet

Next day I was back with proper mullet tackle (coarse fishing rod, 6lb line and waggler float), plus mackerel and bread for bait. Initially I couldn’t get a bite, despite odd fish showing in front of me. I guessed I was too visible sitting high up on the rocks, so I got lower and kept well back. More mullet now appeared, seemingly attracted by my mackerel and bread groundbait. I caught three of these hard-fighting fish, all at very close range (that’s my rod on the rocks with the float just visible a few feet out):

Mullet fishing
Mullet on waggler float

My niece Tess came with me for another dawn session. She caught this ballan wrasse on a lure fished deep close to the rocks:

Tess fishing
Tess's wrasse

She followed it up with a mackerel and the largest launce (greater sandeel) I have ever seen, which weighed in at 4oz. Launce feed on small fish, including sandeels, and she caught it on a metal sandeel imitation:

Mackerel and launce

As we were packing up, we saw a large, silvery fish jump three times way out to sea. To be visible at that range it must have been at least several pounds in weight. Quite possibly a bluefin tuna, but we will never know.