They say the best trips are the unplanned ones!
That Tuesday I had the day off work to sort out some personal things and was done in a couple of hours. As always I rang my mate Wayne Leason for a chat and it turned out the he was at a loose end so we hatched a plan to get ready as fast as we could and head over to Wales in time for the tide. Now I’d love to tell you where we went but I can’t pronounce the names over there, never mind spell them! Anyway, I picked Wayne up and after a quick fuel stop we were on our way - to be honest I wasn’t feeling as enthused as I usually do but as Wayne was keen as mustard, I went with his better judgment. We made a food stop and finished the rest of the journey, arriving within a mile of the mark so couldn’t be sure if we’d be alone as we set out across the field. Reaching the cliff-top we looked down to see our worst nightmare - someone was already fishing “our spot” Gutted but un-deterred, we walked to a spot that we had scoped before, though not as comfortable as the first mark it offered did offer very similar access. We got down and set up our gear with frozen Mackerel and planned to fish for fresh once we were settled - this never happen as they seemed thin on the ground. I had brought 30 with me so plenty to bait up and use 20 chopped up as rubby dubby in the Chum Bag with the remains of a bottle of Fish Dynamix Mackerel Potion thinking “every little helps” as I added the lot!
We fished two rods each one each to the right, one each to the left and by this time the bait bag was in full swing with the oil slick approaching about 500 meters ahead of us. We continued to spin for fresh bait and as if by magic they started to come in so we brought a rod in each to bait us with fresh Mackerel. At this point Wayne and I went separate ways with our bait strategy: I opted for smaller baits (one fillet) and looked for distance whereas Wayne went with half-mackerel and put it out as far as he could. On reflection, that was about 20 - 25 yards on his cast but there was a massive difference between how juicy and full of goodness his bait was over mine but either way I stuck with smaller presentation.
By this point we were entering the best time in the tide, a couple of hours before high-tide and 3 hours down spirits were high with plenty of bait coming in and Wayne landing a cracking bright orange Rockling tipping the scales to 2.5lb, I've never seen one so big! A couple of minutes later I had a good hit on the spinner, it didn't feel like a Pollock and then I saw the bright orange Wrasse, not my biggest but by far the best looker.
We re-baited and Wayne started on his reservations about the drag on my reel – her reckoned that it wasn't slack enough. After the ticking off I went back to bait collecting when Wayne shouts: PIP!! I turned and dropped the spinning rod (sorry Wayne) and just caught my rod and reel as it was about to head into the sea taking Wayne's with it! Fish on and the fight began immediately, as it stripped line from my reel Wayne stung into action and cleared the way for me to play the fish; two runs later and it was up on the surface and Wayne was off down the rocks ready to land it. Off it went again in a last ditch attempt to go into the rocks before Wayne grabbed it's tail and had it in the safety of a rock pool “Grab the scales, sling, pliers and camera” he shouts; I dropped my rod and ran around like a blue-arsed fly trying to get everything and get down to the fish ASAP. Wayne set up the scales and we got her into the sling as he starts to weigh it 34, 36 I told Wayne it's not off the ground yet!! He took a deep breath and went for it, stabilising himself the scales stopped at 40lb 12oz - I couldn't believe it, my first ever Tope and it was over 40lb. I was shaking with excitement back in the pool to wet it's skin and ready for the pictures I decided to lay it across my legs to support it's body and hold it's tail up it definitely felt all of that 40lb when I had to hold it. We said our good byes and she slid away into the depths.
I was buzzing, bouncing around the rocks full of confidence. A quick rig change, bait up and with the rod back out it was game on!!
An hour passed and as we were thinking of calling it a day again Wayne shouts Pip! The other rod was off on a much faster run, reel screaming and stripping line at a very fast rate then it stopped . . . seconds pass and I could feel something, I took up the slack and hit it. A few turns then it was solid it must have dropped the bait straight into some snags, I gave it some slack in case it was still on, but decided to go for the snap to get another bait out as quick as possible. But it was approaching 19.30 and with no headlights we decided it would be best to pack up and get back to the car safely.
We used Pulley Pennell Rigs made with 100lb mono rig body and 100lb nylon-coated wire with a Cox & Rawle 6/0 Specimen Extra and a Cox & Rawle 5/0 Mutsu Circle Extra both hooks were in its mouth and weren’t coming out - I'll be using that combination again for sure!
All in all an absolute brilliant day and I couldn't be happier with my first Tope and the help I received from Wayne - here's to our next outing.