19/05/2024 - A plague of tompots

Headed down to Exmouth last weekend to see friends and not to waste a potential opportunity the LRF gear went in the car as well. As usual we had a lot of catching up to do over food and drinks on the Friday evening, so I wasn't really prepared for an early start the following day. 

Had a pleasant morning instead walking along the front, drinking coffee and people watching in the sun. Weather turned a bit grim in the afternoon, so we jumped in the van and had a run down the coast towards Teignmouth and back. Took it a bit steadier in the evening and so upon retiring to bed I set my alarm for an early start. After checking the news to find that, after all the hype and shenanigans, the little bloke had beaten the big bloke I was up and out of the house by 0630 hrs. In contrast to the previous morning it was pretty chilly, with a dense fog cloaking the estuary. The tide was on its way out and through the gloom I could make out the solitary figure of a bass angler, patiently casting his lure out into the flow.

Carried on down to the docks to find another angler already there. He came over to chat as I set up, dropping his two-hook flapper right in the spot I'd intended to fish, promptly pulling out a double shot of  wrasse! After I jokingly said he'd nicked my spot he moved along a bit and we carried on chatting and fishing. First drop down I had a quick rattle on the rod tip, which was converted into my first fish of the morning - a little tompot blenny. 

This was quickly followed by a small ballan wrasse and then another tompot before I got properly smashed by a very powerful fish, probably a much bigger wrasse, that made short work of my 4lb hooklink. I was using my usual mini-flapper baited with salted ragworm, which sparked the interest of my fellow angler and prompted a conversation about the general dearth of places where you can buy fresh bait, hence why I always now have some preserved bait in the bag. 

After catching himself another small ballan he said that he had to shoot off, but not before he kindly offered me the the best part of a quarter of left over rag. Gratefully accepted his gift and immediately set about using it. However, the tide was now well into the ebb and was making it increasingly difficult to hold bottom and after losing a couple of hooks and dropshot leads to snags (the old dodgems from the former Exmouth Pier according to my new friend!) I decided to move to a more sheltered spot around the corner. Also decided to get rid of one of the hooks to try and reduce the snag rate. First cast out onto the sand beyond the rock armour at the base of the dock wall the tip jagged round resulting in yet another tompot. 

After that it was a fish a cast, mostly tompot blennies of all sizes and in a range of colours from sandy to almost black. By the time that my friend Simon turned up on his Brompton I'd had 25 tompots, 10 ballans, 3 sand smelt and a solitary rock goby and was fast going through the bait. Handed over the rod to him and he carried on where I had left off, catching another 13 tompots, 2 ballans and a single, female corkwing. The sun had burned through the fog by now and it was turning into a fabtatsic morning. In addition the Pride of Exmouth had pulled up and the dock suddenly became busy with folks waiting to board. After entertaining a curious audience of small kidsfor a short while and with the fresh rag finally running out we therefore packed up. 

It was bang on low tide now anyway and you could easily see the bottom where we were fishing - sand with a smattering of weed covered boulders. Headed back to the house via a now sunny and bustling seafront to join the wives for a slap up full English. Had been a decent session in terms of numbers if not variety, the absence of any pollack being particularly noticeable. Off to Wales for a few days in half-term, so I'll have to see if I can fit something in before then.

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