May is the time that the bass and the LRF gear gets a dust off as the sea starts to warm up and more opportunities to visit the coast arise. It is also the time that we get the dreaded "May bloom" or "May water", that can knock the fishing back for a few weeks. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so it's a question of getting out there and hoping for the best. First opportunity was the lads' annual weekend trip down to Saunton.
Unfortunately, we rather overdid it with the drinking on the Friday night, so a trip out on Saturday morning didn't happen! However, Sunday morning saw me heading out bright and early to Ilfracombe for low tide. Fished around the pilings of the lower deck of the pier for a couple of hours, but really struggled to attract anything and I was beginning to wonder if there was anything about. It was also very cold due to brisk breeze coming off the sea and I had to go back to the car for another coat and a beanie!
After a bit more scratching about I finally ended up with a couple of nice long-spined sea scorpions (always happy to catch a scorpion!) before bidding Verity goodbye.
First weekend of the May half-term we headed down to Pembrokeshire to see the wife's parents before they headed off to France for a month (lucky them!). I was hoping for my first lure-caught bass of the year, but when I headed off to the estuary for low tide at first light on the Sunday morning the conditions were frankly awful. It was difficult to see where the sky stopped and the water started due to the persistent rain and there was quite a chop on due to a strong breeze blowing straight up the channel, which in turn was churning up the margins and turning them the colour of tea. I probably lasted about half an hour before I realised the futility of my actions and headed home wet and cold!
Next day it was still windy, but dry and sunny, so I made the trip down to Hobbs Point with the LRF gear. Made my way down to the bottom of the car ramp and dropped my isome-baited rig down the side of the wall. Didn't have to wait long before I started getting those familiar knocks on the rod tip before hooking into one of the culprits. Yep, my old friend the rock goby!
Once again it appeared that the bottom was carpeted in them and after about two dozen of the flippin' things I was ready to go home. I was just about to return my last fish when I realised that it was actually a different species, albeit a black goby. The only other excitement was when a Chinese family fishing off the top of the ramp managed to catch a dogfish, which was efficiently dispatched and consigned to a carrier bag, no doubt for consumption later.
For the actual May Bank Holiday we travelled down to Exmouth again to pick the boy up from University (where did his first year go?). I was keen to try and improve on my recent results, so planned a "double header" on the Saturday, aiming to hit high tide at the marina first thing in the morning and again in the evening. Starting at the "compass" the idea was to stop off at a number of different spots as the tide dropped. However, despite catching a couple of ballans out of the "wrasse hole" my friend Simon and I discovered last trip down, I again struggled to catch. The main issue was the amount of suspended weed, which made fishing metals and plastics for the pollack off the boat ramp almost impossible as it was constantly fouling the line.
In the end I kept myself amused by catching a seemingly endless stream of shannies out of some ridiculously small gaps in the sea defences! Later that day I headed straight for the wrasse hole. In contrast to the morning, the fish were definitely switched on. I made the most of the small window before the tide started to rip by again catching several sizeable ballans, but getting smashed twice in the process by something far too big for my LRF gear to cope with.
I also added a tompot, a pollack and Mr & Mrs Corkwing, the male probably being the biggest and most intensely coloured example I've caught to date. As the rip built up it made my little spot unfishable with my light gear, so I headed back to the house, pausing briefly to watch some huge barrel jellyfish whizzing past on the tide.
In the end marvellous Exmouth produced the goods yet again, so it was with great reluctance that we headed back up the M5 the following day. Oh well, not long now until the rivers are open again!