Sunday, August 28, 2011

By the sea...


This blog entry is my submission for the Red Tuna Shirt Club and Outdoor Blogger Network Writing Contest.

Bloody hell fire now’s here’s a predicament for sure. The OBN in their wisdom (?) have coming up with a little writing prompt/competition in cahoots with the Red Tuna shirt club. You may well guess the prize, that’s right T shirts. Now you all know what a skin flint this rotund Welsh hobbit is and being as my clothing selection at home is looking a tad thread bare to say the least I thinks to myself that this is a fine chance to be able to wear more than one T shirt a week and not be bare chested when the time comes to wash me shirt in the local drains down at the local water purification and sparkle adding plant. (Sewage works to you folks). I mean to say, I damn near catch me death of a cold in the winter you know come wash day! But here be the rub, regular readers (at the last count 4 me thinks) know that I cannot write for toffee and that my fishing ability is even worse, but in for a penny as they say (don’t ask me who) here is my punitive entry;-

            As most people who truly know me realise I am not a great fisherman, in fact I wouldn’t class myself as a fisherman in the true sense of the word as I only fish now a-days on rare and odd occasions. I know extremely few set ups or techniques relying upon float fishing for coarse fishing (that’ll be fresh water fishing for you folks over the pond), and either spinning or a bit of ledgering for the times that I get to venture onto the North Wales coastline. All the techniques that I use were learnt, in the loosest possible of terms, as a child and I’ve tended to stick with these to this day. But that’s not to say that I don’t catch fish when I have a mind too, either for pleasure or for the table. I may be simple and use simple means but you know sometime simple deeds are the very best things that can happen.

            The question put forth for this writing prompt was where would you fish given the chance, who would you tag along with and what would you fish for? I dare say that many of the entrants may look to exotic location, celebrity companions and amazing rod bending leviathans, but not me my friends, not me. For me there is no better place to fish than a hard to get to spot at the base of some cliffs just West of Moelfre, on the isle Anglesey just an hour and a half away from my doorstep. It’s hard to get to because there’s no discernable route down the cliffs and it’s a case of pick a handhold and put your trust into whoever you pray to (that’ll be the god of ‘don’t look down then’ for me). Once down upon the small area of level granite rock formation you realise that there is only room for two folk to fish here and then so carefully. So why the hard to get to place I hear you ask? For me it’s a question of solitude and of being somewhere that is seldom touched by mankind and the detritus he tends to leave in his wake. But it’s not just that, here you truly feel at one with nature and with the sea. From the raucous chatter of nesting gulls that your passage may have annoyed in the spring to the thunder of water underneath the rocks that you perch upon as it wages it’s timeless, wearing, war of erosion upon the hard Welsh coastline. Here it always seems that the sea spray is in your face and that the colour of the powerful swells before you could not be more beautiful. The best, and to be honest most unsafe apart from a winters storm, time to be here is very early autumn as the sun starts to kiss the horizon, melting in the sea and painting it with fiery wonder. The tide has turned and the fish are now following it towards you along with a sea that in a few hours will cover your small perch.

            I mention solitude, but sometimes solitude can be found with the very best of friends, two people who are comfortable enough with each other that there is no need to fill the silence between them with idle chatter. This may seem strange to some folk but the friend whom I think would be the perfect companion upon this ledge would not be somebody who I have met in the flesh. I have extremely few true friends and I think that if you are honest with yourselves you would admit to the same. I know many people who I call mate, friend, pal buddy and the like but true friends? I’ll offer here a piece of advice given to me once by my father, Old String-vest (don’t ask ‘cause that is a long story); “In this life you’ll count the number of true friends upon the fingers of one hand”. This is good news for me because I can only count to five! So back on point, the ‘friend’ that I would like to share a few hours fishing here would be Casey Harn, a fellow blogger from the other side of the world. I’ve ‘known’ Casey now for sometime through blogging and thru e-mails and I think that I’m right in saying that there is a deep yet hard to pin point connection between us. I cannot say why it’s just is that way, brothers in another life maybe, but to spend time in the ‘real world’ fishing with Casey would please me no end.

            There is only one way to fish this place and essential equipment includes a portable barbeque, some lemon and dill, tin foil a very lightly set up spinning rod and a bloody heavy set up ledger rod with a decent wire trace on the business end. There are two fish that are the targets here, the first is on the light spinning rods and these are the mackerel that’ll be pushing the whitebait to their doom against the wall of the rocks. At times when the mackerel are driving their prey the surface of the sea literally boils with tiny bait fish leaping for their lives. Into this caldron the single spinners are cast on 2 to 3lb line. The object is to catch but not just haul the fish out once the lure has been snapped up, oh no my friends far better is the thrill of having to play these 3 to 4lb banded torpedoes upon the lightest of tackle. The first couple are not dispatched when finally landed. No they are placed alive in the solitary rock pool that shares our spec. If we’re fortunate there are more caught and these are dispatched and cut into what I term flappers, that’s to say that they are cut so that the head remains attached to two flanks of flesh and when presented on the hook the movement this induces is a great temptation for the bigger predators that follow the mackerel shoals in.

            So now tis time for the heavy rods, casting the fresh flappers out as far as we can, we now get to play the waiting game, but not for to long as the light is fading and the water is ever rising. With rods safely upon tripods we now dispatch the earlier caught fish, gut them filling the cavity with the lemon and dill (and black pepper if I ever remember to take some), wrapped in the foil they’re placed on the fires embers and a couple of ring pulls can be heard releasing the cider’s pressure from within the can. Drinking whilst in such a perilous place? Only the one can each, just to keep the deepening chill at bay for a while and help wash down that last bit of fish oil from those fish that were good enough to give their bodies up to feed us. As we feast, eyes watching the glow lights on the rod tips for sign of something big we share the odd word of our different yet so similar lives, dreams and expectations.

Maybe the quite will be shattered by a line being pulled taught as a cobalt blue monster makes his bid for freedom or maybe not as the baits fail in their task. Whatever the case as the morning sun finally lets enough light to illuminate the rock shelf, chasing the ebbing tide away, not a sign is to be seen of the two kindred spirits. A gull flashes down as a  sparkle catches his ever roving eye, disgusted he turns away before landing as the crabs have already picked clean the head of the conger eel that now floats in the pool once more abandoned by the sea.

In a caravan a few miles away, two contented souls still dream of the ones that got away, yet to awaken and face the hangover that the whiskey supped in the nearby pub will unavoidably have left them with……. Simple indeed.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed a glimpse into one of my hopes, not enough for a new shirt I fear, but I’d rather that one day I’d get to fish with Casey than win the shirt. After all it’s still two weeks before I have to peel this one off and take a trip to the sewerage works….

Take care all of you, your friend,

John

14 comments:

Gorges Smythe said...

Good piece of writing. For the sake of your wife, maybe I should send you a couple of my better "experienced" T-shirts!

Murphyfish said...

Thank you Mr. Smythe, well you know what I say "ought for nought is always welcome".

Casey said...

Damn, John! I don't know what to say other than when I do arrive upon the Welsh shores (I have to hit Ireland first - sorry, my friend) that this fishing trip becomes reality. It is a goal of mine to make it over there as I can be a big dreamer.

Hopefully my liver will keep up with yours! Sounds like a damn good way to spend a few days there.

Take care, my man. And thank you.

Damn The Broccoli said...

Shit man I wish I couldn't write as badly as you.

Wolfy said...

Nice piece of writing (as always), John.

I keep saying I'm going to get out and fish, and things keep getting in the way. Recently, those things included an earthquake and a hurricane (out of power for 38 hours). But, SOON I will be back to fishing. I swear I will.

Joe

Murphyfish said...

I'll be waiting Casey, rod in one hand - cider in t'other ;o)

Cheers Damn, appreciated my chess playing buddy

Hey Joe, you'll use any excuse as to why you haven't fished - now pull your finger out ;o)

John Gray said...

john
change that photo of you to one smiling!!!!

Outdoor Blogger Network said...

You DO need a new t-shirt!
This was a great piece of writing and I'm thinking Casey needs to get his ticket to the other side of the pond as soon as possible. You two would have a fantastic time.
Well done to you, I'm still smiling =)
Rebecca

Murphyfish said...

That is me smiling John ya bugger!

Thanks Rebecca, coming from you high praise indeed. The sooner Casey shakes a leg and gets his backside over here the better me thinks...

John Gray said...

i HAVE SEEN U SMILE
CHANGE IT!!!!

Murphyfish said...

What, and ruin folks perceptions of me? ;o)

Trout Magee said...

A damn fine tale for sure. A fishing tale without a whiskey hangover just wouldn't be the same :) Good luck and hope you win those T Shirts. Tight Lines.

Murphyfish said...

Thank you Trout, although I did prefer your story.......

Kitchen Benchtops said...

I am happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that's at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this