The turning of the year drags thoughts backwards as well as forwards. It’s difficult not to reminisce when the wind is howling outside and the sound of the TV is drowned out by the rain hammering on the window. It’s at this point that I can’t help thinking back to great sessions with calm winds under blue skies – or in this particular case starry skies. This trip was memorable because Matt and I camped out on the beach under a moonlit sky, then with barely a glimmer of light to guide us we drifted over shallow rocks, as the sounds of baitfish scattering from marauding bass filled the still air.
The plan was to drive up to Wales and catch the mid afternoon low water. We love these tides. You launch into skinny low water with the birds waiting expectantly on the rocks and finish the session at pitch black high water. Hopefully there’s a bass or two waiting amongst the boulders that you catch early doors with soft plastics almost before you believe you’ve started. But today it wasn’t to be. The sun was still high in the sky, the water had just started to move and the wind just created enough of a ripple. Pretty much perfect weather for doing what we enjoy.
We let the faint breeze push the inflatable offshore and cast our lures as we went. I’ve forgotten exactly what we caught, but we did catch bass over the six hours or so into the dark. I don’t think we caught big fish, but we caught enough to keep us happy before the light began to fade and thoughts of the bottle of wine and the rations stashed under the seat bench drew us towards the shore.
But there’s always another fish to be caught and it’s invariably pretty dark before the rather large lady finally clears her throat and we beach and carry the boat up the shingle. The large bag of wood that had been cumbersome and heavy in the boat now proved its worth as the fire blazed away and lifted our spirits even higher. The food and wine flowed as the view of moonrise over the mountains behind us silenced us both into reflective awe.
Finally in the early hours, with dawn only a snooze away we lay in our bivvy bags on the beach and tried to get some sleep. I would say it was quiet, but the oystercatchers had other ideas and their piercing call woke me at regular intervals whilst the small waves crashing on the shingle sounded like tsunamis about to drag us to a watery death.
Before dawn the fire was rekindled and the Kelly Kettle provided morning tea tasting of the hope for a new day, and the salt water used to wash out the dregs of our late night cuppa. Faced with a moonset into an inky sea and a pale glow in the east it’s the best tea you’ll ever taste.
As we launched the boat and drifted once again over the same rocks we had done so 12 hours earlier, the bass obliged spectacularly. Bass busting in shallow water is about as exciting as it gets, yet they were preoccupied and picky and it took us a while to start catching them. Then almost as soon as we had cracked it and the light levels got high enough to actually see what was happening the fish moved on.
It was going to be a glorious day – and it was. Let’s hope 2014 brings more of the same.