Barney Wright returned to his old stomping grounds at Lowestoft on the east coast, where he was joined by two Facebook fans in a bid to catch some cod.
Every month I put a post on Total Sea Fishing’s Facebook page asking where fans would like to see me go fishing. This month it was Bob Lightfoot who asked me if I’d join him and his matchangling fanatic pal Simon Roberts at Tramps Alley, on the North Beach at Lowestoft. I jumped at the chance because this stretch of coast holds many happy memories for me. It’s been some time since I ventured back to Lowestoft, a place where I spent five years fishing pretty much non-stop. This meant I got to know a large section of the East Anglian coast very well and was once considered a bit of an expert there. Nowadays, things have changed and the skills I once had have faded, so I welcomed these two guides to steer me through a day’s fishing at my old haunts. Back Home…
It felt like I was home again as I met the chaps at the top of a slipway at Tramps Alley. Bob was on his trusty bike because he has never learnt to drive for one simple reason – he’s never ventured outside of Lowestoft so has never had the need to own a car! It’s logical I suppose with everything he wants on his doorstep.
Round One I thought we’d be heading 100 yards or so to the right where I’d caught countless cod in the past but I was soon informed that it was now a total snag pit, and retrieving gear was virtually impossible. Years ago the odd bit of tackle was lost but now it’s a veritable rig graveyard! Instead we headed for a stretch a few hundred yards to the left, which was clearer. The plan was to target cod for the last two hours of the flood and an hour of the ebb then, if this spot didn't produce, we would head to Lowestoft North Beach to fish the remainder of the ebb tide.
Loaded with quality freshly wrapped black lug and packets of ‘dirty squid’, we began our campaign. As we set up, it was easy to spot the match angler among us, as Simon’s gear was all neatly arranged around him with everything to hand, whereas Bob and I left our gear scattered all over the place. But would this make a difference in the end? Baits were cast to most ranges, though not maximum because the tide is so fast here that it’s very hard to hold bottom, especially when weed is showing – which it certainly was that day, and in large quantities!
We fished hard but only had a few whiting and one dab for our efforts – there was no sign of the codling we were after! Simon had caught the most, so maybe his neat and tidy approach was indeed the way to go, although I felt it was because he was fishing three-hook rigs with small hooks. Bob and I wanted cod, so used single-snood Pennel rigs with large baits – we didn't want whiting and dabs despite the odd one still homing in on our mega-offerings.
We moved a mile south to North Beach and set up at a spot known as ‘The Sparrows Nest’ – the same name as the nearby pub. We were about three groynes north of Bob’s workplace, the Birds Eye factory and almost under the shadow of the giant wind turbine known locally as Gulliver, which stands an impressive 126 metres high. Ness Point can also be found nearby, and is the most easterly location in the UK, where a large compass called the Euroscope is set in the ground. This massive disc shows the direction and distance to various cities in Europe – but would it point us towards some cod?
We reset our camps either side of a long groyne, which was actually the target range for our casts because the water was deep and the tide fast, so traces had to be kept on the inside or no more than 10 yards beyond the groyne. There was, however, a big obstacle in the guise of the old sea wall, which collapsed many years ago, with a new one then being built. The old one was simply abandoned and now mostly acts as a water break, but also makes it pretty tricky to land fish here.
Bob cast his bait well within the groyne, whereas Simon and I went to the edge of it to catch some more tide in the hope that cod would be feeding along the tideline. I had just finished doing a little video interview with Bob, which you can see on Facebook , where he announced that the fish would come any time soon. Right on cue Bob found himself latched into a cod that we estimated to be around 4lb, only to lose it as it approached the old sea wall. I videoed the action but, due to the amount of swearing that followed, the footage can only be seen on my private Facebook page!
His excuse was that the bottom hook of his Pennel came off. Whether this was due to weak or damaged line or a poorly tied knot we’ll never know – but it once again proves that terminal tackle should always be checked vigorously. Sadly this was the only bite we had and, as low water approached, Simon and I decided to call it a day because we felt certain that no more fish would show. Bob stayed a while longer but later texted to say that he’d also blanked. Despite the lack of codling, we’d all enjoyed ourselves very much. We’re now all friends, as I am with all the other folk I've fished with in this series. Facebook is modern technology and still a little beyond me – especially with the new ‘Time Line’ program it runs now – but I still muddle through and it has proved a fabulous way to meet new anglers and have plenty of fun! I shall continue this series because I thoroughly enjoy it, but where will I go next?