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Doing the Conger

It’s not often that I find myself in a boat, tossed about like a pancake but that was the image I had as we drove down to Brighton at 5am in the morning for a spot of sea fishing. Barely conscious, Ralf, Mario, Darren and myself sped along in the fog and darkness amid all kinds of fishing tackle and bait. Upon arrival, a McDonald’s breakfast, washed down with a coffee that can strip the lining off your stomach wall and topped off with a motion sickness tablet was all the prepping I needed. There we stood on the Marina awaiting to board the ‘Lady of the Sea’. Seeing that it was mid December, we could not have asked for a better day. Hardly a breeze. John, our skipper, quickly got us on our way after a quick brief on health and safety issues.

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The sea is something one gets used to quite quickly. The continuous swaying of the boat. The vast expanse of water in front and the diminishing shoreline behind. The smell of salt in ones nostrils. The seagulls following in anticipation. I’m enjoying it already, there’s a rhythm to it (difficult at first, especially with a cup of tea in one’s hand!). I’m going fishing, not exactly sure for what, as all I know is that there are masses of different fish in the sea, of all shapes and sizes. It’s a bit of a lottery this type of fishing, nothing is guaranteed and any catching, no matter how well equipped or knowledgeable one is, is down to lady luck. That is why I’m enjoying it. Knowing full well that whatever happens today, the spoils, if there are to be any, will be evenly split among us, no pressure, just fun. Inside though I’m praying for just one fish, one god damn ugly fish if need be, but at least make me a man in front of the missus upon my return home.

We finally arrive somewhere, don’t ask me where, as it all looks the same to me…endless water, and cast out our baits (squid and cuttlefish). There are 7 of us and at least 9 rods. I have been lent one and it seems to be the shortest… Is that an omen…?

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 We start fishing and within minutes we are into pollack, pouting and doggies (lesser spotted dog fish), that is everybody except me. Two of the others also catch cod.

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Time passes. I sit there philosophising and begin to believe in the ‘all good things come to those that wait’. There is a breeze blowing and we all have our backs turned to it, warm clothing is a must if you want to enjoy yourself. Still sitting, I think to myself… now, if there is a god out there… and hey presto my line begins to tap. I catch my first doggy and pollack. I then decide to leave the bait, ignoring the nibbling by small fish to see if anything bigger would latch on, a ploy that works as I first catch a conger, estimated between 25 and 30lbs, and which is unexpected as they tend to ‘hibernate’ at this time of year and then catch a reasonably good cod of around 6lbs.

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Sea fishing is a dirty business. But hey, that is part of it, in as much as one and the boat get covered in slime, crap, bait parts, fish etc. Not to mention the fact that salt water fish smell stronger than fresh water ones! I catch a few more fish and before I know it the skipper is calling time. We head back to shore and the distant lights and beyond them the greater lights of London.

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Unlike most of the fishing I do, Sea fishing is a social event and something I definitely want to experience again. We will be trying to fix up 2 or 3 outings next year, so keep an eye out on the forum!

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