Easter Monday Fishing from the River Crouch
…… What an early one! My Dad’s fishing boat isn’t one of those fast catamarans or light Fibre glass boats. It’s a former fishing vessel with a powerful but slow engine. For this reason and because of the incredibly fast tides we had to set off with the last of the ebb tide. This meant getting up at 3:45am to be on the boat in Burnham for 5am, a little harsh but I was up and ready and this time there on time!
Following on from our previous weeks fishing expectation was high and by the time we reached our first mark we had already filled the boat with imaginary fish.
Target species as per the week before where Thornback Ray (Also called Roker or Skate), Cod (Codling) or even few straggler Whiting.
We had fish squid and I had some Lugworm for bait too and were mainly fishing fixed single hook rigs 4/0 or 5/0's and of course my trusty three hook paternoster was there in case any smaller species wanted to show!
We got to the first mark about an hour into the Flood tide. The previous week we had started to catch fish two hours into the flood. An hour passed and no fish on the second hour (by now on the previous trip we had Cod, Skate and Whiting on board) our first bit came. This time there were four of us on the boat fishing 3 rods each. The first bite was a Whiting – a good sized Whiting!! Strangely the Whiting were a lot bigger this time around. Although the odd Whiting was coming on board, the mark (it was the exact same mark according to the echo sounder), the fish were not present.
Two hours fishing and our first Roker was on board, good fish, female about 8 or 9lbs. Another Thornback came on board this time I got it, again about 8 or 9lbs and again Female. The boat started to liven up, but not go crazy. It was getting to the end of the flood now and the weather was improving. From the cloudy dark skies of earlier, now occasional and bright sunlight. The flood tide was coming to an end, and we were nearly ready to move when I caught my first (and the first of the summer season) Smoothhound! Entirely unexpected and tiny (3/4lb to 1lb max) but an early indication of the next seasons fish.. And another species to add to the New Years Resolution! Another fish that came on board was a Dogfish, again a summer species this was a fully grown adult and if I had got to my Dad first would have been destined for the pot (I still wonder what this tenacious little fish tastes like!).
We moved marks expecting to improve the days fishing but this time to a nearby wreck.
The tide changed and half the rods were back in the water fishing a wreck mark on the first of the Ebb – even with only four people on board fish all of your rods and it will only end up in tangles. The rods where dancing but only because the tide and wind were combining and the tidal slop was building up! We continued to fish the mark and embarrassingly again it was me who was on the fish. Another good sized Skate, up to 3 fish! The mark became too difficult to fish and after an hour or two we were back on the move and back to a place pretty close to were we where previously fishing.
Dad always finds features, this time we decided to fish the edge of the Foulness sands on the drop off thinking that the Thornies would be heading back onto the sand hunting crab and small fish as the tide rose. The mark wasn’t great, and none of us were successful before the wind and tide built up to too much and it wasn’t comfortable enough for any of us. We weren’t catching so we decided to head back. Although by the time we re-entered the River Crouch the water was calm and it seemed like a lovely day, outside the River was very different and we were glad to be back.
The total catch from all four of us by the end of the day was 6 Thornbacks (to 9lb), 6 Whiting (all around 3/4lb each), a Smoothhound (3/4lb), a Pouting (1/2lb) and a Dogfish at 2 1/2lb. Not a great catch but I was happy (I had three of the Skate the Smoothhound, a couple of Whiting a Pouting and a Codling that was smaller than the Whiting we had caught!).
Two more species have been removed from the New Years resolution (Dogfish and Smoothound) although I will be catching these fish - next time - big enough to eat!!
……. Oh, forgot to mention this. Unfortunately for my Dad (Former professional fisherman, that is why he gets the job anyway!! ;-) ), I had heard that Skate Cheeks were very tasty. I say unfortunately as skinning and gutting the Thornback needs a skilled hand and the very hard, horrible, awkward job of removing the cheeks was also his!). He took the Cheeks from all of the Skate and along with 5 Skate Wings (and few White fish) I also had a bag full fish ready for the table. (The cheeks were still attached to the mouths of the Skate, apparently they used to give them away free to the old boys who used to frequent the docks threaded on a string), these were prepared when I got home before getting a cup of tea and diving into the bath.
One more thing, as we got back in the daylight this time I managed to pick some Sea Spinach leaves too!! I will post recipes on these - my favourite foraged green - as well.
I will continue to report on Fishing from the River Crouch, my New Years Fishing resolution, Wild Food Recipes and Skate Cheek recipes so become a fan of the Wild Food blog or join me on my Facebook page to stay in touch.