Keith Arthur: He who dares!

Talk about contrasting fortunes! My last two films for Tight Lines show just how difficult and unpredictable angling can be.

The first mission was to catch a zander from Old Bury Hill Lake on a circle hook. I know this is the way forward for predator fishing, virtually eliminating deep-hooked fish making life better ¬ and longer ¬ for the fish and far easier for the angler whose prey swallows a treble-hook rig too deeply to be unhooked.

The day dawned wet and very windy, conditions that Bury Hill shop manager Russ Evans described as ‘perfect’. It wasn’t that good for me or the crew but, hey, we’re there to catch fish not to keep dry...

Cutting a long story short, I had two indications all day, both in the last hour of light. Bite No1 was courtesy of a crayfish which dropped off as I lifted the bait from the water. Bite No2 came from a little zander that didn’t even have the courtesy to hang on as long as the crayfish. Result: blank!

My next job was to try for an English Channel cod aboard Mike Williams ‘Fire Fox’ out of Dover. The forecast for our chosen day seemed to indicate a window in the weather.

When my alarm sounded at 5.15am, first job was check the weather station: -0.3ºC was the temperature and a glance through the curtains showed a big moon in a clear sky and still tree branches...come on!

Nigel Botherway joined me for the day and the drive down was fine until, 16 miles from Dover, I had a call (via my hands-free) from Capt Mike telling me it was: “...blowing a hoolie, force 6/7 from the north- west and scheduled to go south-west later.” I told him we were coming anyway and we’d make the decision at the Fourth Musketeer ¬ the superb cafe most charter boat customers use in Dover.

Once past the Channel Tunnel, the wind became evident, pummelling the car as we dropped down into the port itself.

I was still confident of our ‘window’ so we went and by noon we were riding a significant swell, but with a smooth sea. The fishing was stupendous. Nigel seemed to have picked ‘Cod Corner’ (tell me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the stern starboard corner always best?) and had six cod to 9lb before I’d managed one ¬ I was on the dogfish side. Nigel caught his cod on whole cuttlefish baits, while my squid was ignored.

As the tide slackened a bit, my turn came round and we finished with 17 cod to 15lb 14oz, caught by Nigel as you can see in the picture, of which I managed six, with the biggest at 9lb 12oz.

Paul, the producer on the day, had the best on Nigel’s rod, after we’d finished filming, at 15lb 14oz and skipper Mike had a superb 8lb 12oz bass.

Some days it goes for you ¬ on others, it doesn’t!