|I climbed a very steep slope and walked through some long grass and spiky leaved trees which grew what looked to be pineapples. I was greeted suddenly at the
top by an elevated view across a large section of the rock platform below. From so high up, the waves looked far smaller and I noticed a sort of island of rock,
which jutted out into a section of deep looking blue water. Several submerged rocks and an associated sandbar, screened some of the fury of the surf and most of
the high parts of the rock were obviously quite dry, meaning the waves were not going anywhere near wetting it. The tide charts had informed me that high tide was
due in about an hour, so it wouldn’t rise a whole lot more. I studied the channel between the rocky island and the mainland, noting within a few minutes that there
was a smaller rock in between, which was easy to get to from this side. The other channel looked a bit more awkward however. I quickly resolved to go and have a
closer look, the deep colour of the waters beyond looked ever so promising.
On arriving, I found it easy to get onto the rock between, but then the gap on to the island and was a bit more difficult to negotiate. I could jump across at the waves
lowest ebb, but it would be difficult getting back. Most times this would have been enough to dissuade me in crossing, but as I knew the tide would come in for an
hour and then retreat, I decided to chance it. I jumped across, barely wetting my waterproof shoes at all.
All thought about crossing back was dismissed, for once I climbed up the three metre slope to the high point of the rock, the waters beyond became visible and
looked equally as promising as they had from the heights I’d viewed them from earlier. I spent a few minutes watching where the waves were reaching and where
the biggest splashes fell. I’d have to fish from a point about four metres back from the rocks edge, to be sure of safety. There was a higher piece of rock to my right
as I watched the waves breaking. It might be a usable spot too.
I baited up and cast, but within a few minutes had to retrieve my line, as it was quickly being fouled by drifting weed and muck from the waves pounding on the
rocks. It was awkward to clean off and took a couple of minutes between each cast. On the third cast I thought I felt a bite, it was hard to tell due to the drag and pull
of the waves. On the fourth cast, about twenty minutes after I’d arrived I hooked a fish. It was hard to get it in but proved to be a keeper, a bream about eleven
inches long. Just about frypan size.
I moved over to the higher up rock, as the quick drift of the waters was making fishing difficult. The wind was stronger and steadier as I cast from my new position.
A few times sprays of water splashed me, but they were pleasant, cool and welcomed. On the second cast, what I had been awaiting finally happened, a good
strong bite was followed by a good strong hookup. Initially, I thought the fish might be too heavy for the line, but after a few seconds I arrested the fishes outward
lunge and felt it sweep to the right.
'Moving fast,’ I thought. ‘Could be a tailor?’
I felt I could handle this fish, given time.
Suddenly it was gone.
I reeled in and found the hook had been bitten off, there were bite marks along the line. I had been correct in suspecting the fish had been a tailor, I think they’re
called bluefish in the States, and they have very sharp teeth indeed.
I loaded a new hook and put on a wire trace. As I did so I looked over the back of the rock to see that the small rock I’d used as a stepping stone was well covered
by the tide. It wasn’t a worry, as I knew the tide had been still rising, although it had come in further than I had thought in the 40 minutes I’d been fishing. I looked up
at the trees on the top of the slope above and could see them bent steadily in the remorseless wind. The wind was strengthening alright. I looked at the crossing
point again and knew that to go now would mean a bit of a swim and even an element of danger as waves swept through the channel with some ferocity, from both
left and right. I’d best wait on the tide.
I walked back to my high rock and commenced to fish further. Perhaps it was the wire trace, or perhaps there had been only one big fish which had since swum off,
because I received no further bites. The muck in the water, combined with the increasing size of the incoming waves was making it too difficult to continue. The
swells were reaching higher too, and whilst I wasn’t in danger of being swept away, I would have gotten soaked had I remained where I was. I returned to my gear
and cleaned the fish I had already caught and then watched the channel I would have to cross for a while. My central stepping stone was barely visible for moments
every few minutes and was several feet below the waves for the majority of the time.
I sat for about ten or fifteen minutes, realising that it would be at best an hour two before I could get back to the mainland. I put a big lure on my larger rod and
commenced to troll between my island and the shore, hoping something large was lurking in the waters. There was no sign of any fish however, it was apparently
too rough for them to risk being so close to shore. By that stage, the winds were getting even stronger and the sea much whiter, with the foam of breaking waves
even appearing further out. I was suddenly at a place where I should not have been, the lure of success had fostered a lack of foresight, or at least a willingness to
take a risk I deemed safe at the time. The tide information I had was a few hours wrong, I’d not checked the weather forecast, which in most situations wouldn’t
have mattered, but in this one definitely did. The day, which had been hot and stifling was far, far cooler and turning positively cold.
I sat and dozed for an hour or so, as best I could, given the discomfort of uneven rock and the increasing amount of wind-borne spray in the air. When next I
checked the sea it was far rougher and though I could see from the distant beach that the tide was indeed beginning to ebb, I noted that my route to shore was a
maelstrom of swirling waves and eddies, crashing into each other and making a crossing there seem not something I would like to attempt at all.
Two more hours dragged past, time can go so slow when you’re where you don’t want to be and can’t escape. Despite the fact that the tide was dropping, the
waves continued to build and seemed to mass closer to each other, lessening the ebb in the channel I was watching. To make matters quite a lot worse, the sunset
was colouring a rather leaden looking sky.
For the next half hour I stood near my crossing point, letting the waves wash up over my knees, trying to see the rocks beneath. The frothy waters combined with the
layer of detritus and the darkness frustrated my attempts. The rock half way across the channel was being exposed now and then, but it was also being covered at
times by up to three or four feet of violently moving water.
As darkness began to settle, I realised it was go within the next few minutes or do it at low tide in three hours. But then if the seas rose further, I could be in for a wet
and cold night. I never thought that waves would cross the rock, but then if the winds continued and the tide rose in the early hours of the morning, this could
become a possibility, I would certainly be soaked through. With that unpleasant thought, I donned my backpack, put on my forehead mounted light and grasped my
two rods in my right hand. I walked to the water’s edge and several times moved forward as the waters receded, but could get nowhere near a point which would
enable me to gain the large central rock. It got darker so quickly. My torch beam was bright in front of me when I decided.
‘Got to go now, even if I have to swim.’ I thought, following the steeply sloping rock down as the wave’s ebb reached its lowest point, expecting to feel a levelling off
with my feet. I didn’t. It was way too deep. I pushed out through the water, swam one left handed stroke forward, and grasped the rock hauling myself out of the
ocean as quickly as I could and clambering the slick rock surface about a foot by six inches in area.
I stood up and braced myself, looking to my right as a swell came in and covered me up to the waist. It pushed against me but I deemed myself lucky thus far, it
wasn’t as violent a wave as I had seen rush through. I would have to wait to see the rocks below the surface ahead of the me before proceeding. I looked to the left
and there was a medium sized swell rushing in that way, but I should have time. The waters retreated, I was on a rock once more.
Then, in the torch beam, I saw the rock beneath the surface before me and moved onto it, one step. Another quick step to a second rock a foot below the surface. I
almost over balanced.
'Be careful,' I thought as I teetered. I heard a swell crash behind me, to my right. Water surged around my legs and rose up as far as my waist as I climbed the
steep slope opposite. A smack of water across my back farewelled me as I strode clear of the sea.
Climbing the steep hill slopes afterward I was puffing loudly, exertion and no small amount of adrenaline had left me feeling drained and on the point of shaking. I
had had the required strength when I’d needed it. I forced myself to walk faster up the steep slopes, using my torch beam to navigate.
At the top I looked out o’er the darkening seascape, a mass of crashing waves, subdued by my height above them, but none the less foreboding due to my recent
memories. It doesn’t do to loose sight of the fact that the sea has tremendous potential for power beneath it’s sometimes placid surface. It deserves and demands
What a way to start a holiday, mind you if that’s the worst that gets thrown at me I’ll be happy enough and will survive.
|What a way to start the Holidays - Gar Song
|Here’s a holiday story. It happened just a few days after college broke up. I’d spent the cooler, earlier hours of the day, working on
the building of my new studio, packing insulation into gaps and nailing on bearers to eventually take the ceiling. It was hot and
sweaty and the insulation was irritating to nose, eyes and skin. Around mid-day I’d had enough altogether.
I left to go fishing, had a bit of frozen mullet for bait and with my new rod and reel all set up, I was looking forward to success and
some cool relief at the coast, thirty kilometres eastward. It took me just under an hour’s drive to get to grassy head, which as it’s
name suggests, was a headland which jutted forth between two long strands of sandy beach. The weather was remarkably
different at the seashore, a steady breeze blew in off the sea and as I walked down across the sand, and angled toward the rocks,
I had an ominous feeling that my day had been spoiled by the weather. I regrouped mentally and watched the heavy surf, telling
myself that the fish would be feeding happily in the stirred up waters and if I could find a location where I could get at them it should
mean instant success.