Oh how we love shiny things! When you go to the door and there’ a big box and it’s filled with fishing gear it’s Christmas again and your ten years old. Well, with cod season having kicked off I decided I wanted to hit the next few months with new and shiny kit. I wanted to change my rods for starters. I’d tried the Fladen Maxximus Solid Carbon 10-20lb but despite being the right strength it was way too whippy for me; It felt that I had no backbone to strike against half a pound of lead and three knots of gushing water but it felt really nice with a fish on…perhaps the 20-40lb would be better. I ordered a brace.
I wanted to replace my Maxximus LD15 lever drag reels too, or rather add a couple and keep my existing ones on other rods but these were out of stock at the moment; being light rods I instead decided to stick a couple of Maxximus LP Magnet Baitcasters on instead. Now, I love these and have three that have been abused trolling and casting for bass and pike over the last three years without skipping a beat for me. I never tried them as bottom fishers as I figured it’d be overloading their capabilities. But why not? I screwed them onto the Solid Carbons and loaded up with 40lb Maxximus Braid.
The final thing is the most initially important. Now, I always tie my own bait rigs but having sent some self-tied patterns to Fladen I had now received a bunch of production versions. One criticism of sponsored anybodies who often take payment to have their name associated with a brand is that they don’t actually use what they promote. Well I do. All of my fishing gear is Fladen and has been for years with a couple of exceptions – Tronix LRF rods (until the Fladen ones came through) and an Uptider I won last winter (I’d bust mine). Now, with Fladen Kayak Rigs being made and sold to my patterns and covered with pictures of me It’d be dishonest not to use them. Would they work though?
I’ve not been able to fish since it all arrived, but it was all ready to go so I left off work after a night shift, grabbed squid, blacks and lead from home and headed for North Beach to catch the ebb down to my mark off Corton. The other day I’d needed an MOT urgently on my sandy, salty, rattling old Astra Estate, failing on an insecure wing mirror that had been Yak-Whacked. Sorted, retested, passed.
Then went to the chippy and was surprised…
And with rain and high wind the day before it’d been a solid workout at the gym before my (daily) swim and thence off to try my one of my new LRF setups.
Fladen Rockbuddy 0.5-7g UL LRF rod with the Maxximus 11300 reels I’ve had a couple of years and one of the Rockbuddy 5g jigs. Lake Lothing wasn’t likely to respond but I tried for ten minutes, then the same in Oulton Broad before having a nose at Mutford Lock…one hit by a bass around 4lb and then half an hour or more being mugged off by what appeared to be a sea trout of a similar size; never seen one here before.
Quite a nice shore dump to watch and wait for the gap…3ft, 3ft, 3ft, 4ft, 1ft…go. Straight out with my Greenland paddle happily pushing me forwards. I just headed for the horizon and let the drift send me along, dropping anchor about 600 yards offshore and sending down an 8/0 whole squid stuffed with blacks and a 2/0 with squid only. I sat back.
For ten minutes and brought in a fine codling, my first catch on one of my rigs, on the 8/0. I followed with a whiting on the other rod. Down went the baits again.
More whiting and some large dogfish followed before I hooked into my second codling, after Ben had arrived. I liked the rods, still wanted a bit more backbone for striking with but the fish felt great on there! The baitcasters aren’t the right feel for this sort of fishing though so they’re a temporary measure. But the traces were working well.
21.3lb flourocarbon as specified, a long hook-length with worm hooks and a running leger zip slider. Strong enough for hard-fighting codling to 4lb and a really annoyed smoothound slightly bigger – I grabbed the tail root to land it and it went absolutely mental before boring straight down when it thrashed free. Straight down, half the rod under water and line peeling off the reel! The hooks held, the knots held…
I saw High Flyer heading along, called them in as we were catching. Then Brian called up, he was out on the three mile and had heard me talking. Ben had a thornback ray, a small smoothound and a cod but was being plagued by whiting, just fifty feet away at most while I ended up christening things with five cod to 4lb, the hound and some decent whiting. Everything worked; with the fish bled and strung then gutted when dead we up-anchored, paddled home, landed and I went home to clean up and go to bed before the next shift. After mending my once again yak-whacked mirror. Not a day to waste.
That little lot made a huge load of kaapse kerrrievis – which is fantastic and can clear a whole supermarket aisle for around five minutes – and two fish pies for six. And whatever I do with the hound…
Well, a couple of days later there was no wind and no work so I figured that I’d go out again after my post-shift kip. The moring had been still and crystal as I looked out at the sea from the office. And lunch. Etc. I was a bit late launching really! I kind of twigged the time half an hour after I should have been launching and shot out. I called Marty up too, he’d phoned earlier to invite me out on his Warrior but I was too late. He had three cod onboard by the time we finished the chat…I pulled up at Links and spotted Ian’s car then parked next to George who I often chat to. George swims one or two there-and-backs between the groynes every day. He’s in his eighties.
Out I went, calling Ian up as I paddled north. The sea was flat with a slight swell, it was very bright and the boats were out in number. A bit of a shore dump but nothing much and it was obvious a front was going to come in over the following days. Ian was way inshore of where I wanted to be so I left him to it and anchored up, ploughing straight into the whiting. The first of which deep-throated a circle hook, stupid thing. A circle hook? What? Okay, those rigs I mentioned above, I took off one of the pennels and put on a ‘Cod Rig’. This is a tad different and very, very simple. It’s pretty much what the northeast chaps use for shadding – a clip at one end of a length of line and a swivel at the other, the clip taking the lead and the swivel tying to the mainline…then a length of line off from that swivel terminating in a hook. I had to try it and it worked just as well in terms of number of fish though a single hook rigs is not as good for presenting a whole squid so I had to alter my bait to suit.
Well, I’d not landed in the right place and the cod weren’t playing ball for me. The flow was gentle by now so I hauled anchor and went and sat next to Ian to chatter away. We got rather nostalgic, reminiscing about the old days when we were all starting out and discovering tactics, venues and skills, exploring kayaks and just generally finding out what kayak fishing had to offer. Finally, on slack, one codling jumped aboard and soon after we turned and headed in. Of course Ian, always wanting to try something different, required a go in my Tempo…he’s tried most boats and this was another on the list. Off he went and…he’s going to be ordering one by the look of it! His 4.3 cried tears of shame…