Gods and Cods

It feels like the fishing Gods are conspiring against me! When I’m working away the wind turns to the west, increases to a good force 6 and builds up a big, steady surf that just screams cod. When I’m at home, which is rare enough these days, the wind drops, the skies clear and the seas fall flat with any self respecting cod staying well offshore.

But recently the Gods must have been otherwise engaged and forgot to glance my way. I’d seen a low pressure system tracking in from the Atlantic that coincided with big tides and just knew there would be the chance of a cod.

I watched the weather system move in and sure enough it tracked across towards Wales exactly as anticipated. Low water was at 4am, so I’d fish either side of low water.

The mark I had in mind is clean sand in close, but changes to rough seed mussel and rock at range, which is where the cod are. I had a prototype ABU 7000 that I’m field testing for possible inclusion in the ABU reel range sometime in the future, and this would be its first ever outing. I loaded it with 20lb line and added a 60lb shock leader.

Down on the beach the wind had eased slightly, but the surf was big, creaming white out in the dark, and making a thumping sound as it rolled over on to the sand before chasing up the beach. There was the odd bit of weed on the shore, but nothing serious.

My first few casts, even when wading as far as possible, couldn’t quite reach the distant reef, but an hour before low as I lifted the rod to retrieve I felt the lead weight bump over hard ground. My confidence renewed I sent a big black lug bait out as far as I could, then settled in to watch the rod tip for bites.

The wind, slightly warm on my face, had almost completely died, but a faint, intermittent drizzle came in from the west. Occasionally a star would peep through the cloud only to fade out as the racing clouds scudded across the sky.

That was a bite! Winding down in to the fish I felt weight, but knew straight away this was no cod and reeled in a dejected looking dogfish. The next two casts produced two more. But then bites eased as it neared low water.

Dead on the turn of the tide, the rod tip shuddered as if to say “wait for it”, then pulled over in three good jolts. I hit the fish and felt some weight. The fish did nothing for the first 30-yards then woke up, trying to bolt back out. Pumping the rod gained plenty of line but I gauged the fish was still outside the furthest breaker. It thumped the rod tip, held in the tide, then relinquished and I gained more line.

The weight on the rod tip was somewhere near now, out there in the gloom and creaming white water. It ran parallel, first to the right then doubled back on its self. It then hung in the backwash and my headlight picked out a tail breaking surface momentarily as it got its head down and bored for the bottom.

I waited with the fish under light pressure, just out in slightly deeper water, looking for a big roller to wash the fish ashore. I saw the roller I wanted building and as the weight eased on the fish walked back retrieving as I went to see the codling nose ashore. I steered it to safety by the hook length. Not a big fish, maybe 3lbs, but my first shore cod of the winter, a good way to christen a prototype reel, and a satisfying result all for the first time of trying.

Two casts later I hit what felt like a similar fish, that thumped away out in the tide, but after 30 seconds the hook hold gave and the codling slunk away to grow bigger.

Walking back off the beach I swung a glance back at the surf. The wind was freshening with the new tide, the surf was building, the drizzle was heavier, but it felt good to have cheated the Gods and stolen a prize from right under their nose!

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