It’s 6-45 a.m. on a Monday morning and I’m sat on a bench looking out over Whitby Harbour. Not many people are about, just a few anglers, all doing the same thing as I am, waiting in anticipation for Richard Cope skipper of “Mistress” to dock and collect us for our days wreck fishing off the Whitby coast.
Dead on time, Richard manoeuvred “Mistress” up against the floating pontoon and we all clambered aboard. A quick run through of the safety procedures for the day, then with a gentle push on the throttle and a turn of the wheel, we were going under the road bridge and heading out through the harbour.
Now let me put this trip into perspective. For me it was a trip into the unknown, my last trip out to sea, to fish, was over twenty years ago. I didn’t really know what I was doing then and I still don’t… Stevie Souter I’m not!
So what am I doing at this ungodly hour standing with nine very keen boat anglers heading 20 miles out into the North Sea? Not long ago Daiwa had decided to sponsor “Mistress” so it was suggested I might like to pop along and have a day out, as Richard’s guest, it would have been rude to refuse. In advance I agreed with Richard that as he had a full boat I’d not join in the actual fishing, just get a feel for a day at sea, watch and learn, and hopefully in doing so be ready for a bit of sea fishing myself later in the year. It was fascinating to watch the activity, as a variety of tackle set-ups were readied for action as the boat powered through the water accompanied by a host of ever hopeful screeching gulls. It was exhilarating just sat watching, feeling the boat power through the waves, the angler nearest to me commented that he’s been looking forward to the trip for weeks, and hadn’t managed to sleep the night before. I could understand where he was coming from!
The plan for the day was to try one or two local wrecks and then go further out. Richard had already explained his thinking to me. Basically the start of the year had been hit by the bad weather and the water was not as clear as he would have liked. The clearer water would be further off shore so he expected better sport further out, but fish can be unpredictable so a bit of time closer in was worth a try first. All in all, he reckoned he’d have to work hard to find the fish.
“Mistress” is a very well equipped boat and it was fascinating to keep glancing through the window into the wheelhouse to try to make sense of the high tech navigation equipment. I couldn’t, but Richard obviously could, as a change in throttle, some careful manoeuvring, and a shout of “Down you go lads” was immediately followed by a flurry of activity and the clicking of free spool leavers, as feathers, shads and hooks baited with squid made their way down to the wreck below. The first drift across produced one small codling, so it was “lines in” as Richard re positioned the boat for the second “line down” shout.
The first wreck was not productive so it was off to wreck two, and a repeat of the process, and the first decent fish, a nice codling. A few more close in marks were tried then it was time to head out, full throttle for an hour, to clear water. On the way we watched dolphins in the distance, and the ever hopeful seabirds following the boat.
As the boat slowed Richard suggest it would be worth trying for the mackerel first and he was right, as multiple hook-ups followed. I could not resist a “dabble” and managed to get hold of a rod for a while… great fun, but not what the hardened sea anglers were looking for.
“It’s time to put some of these mackerel to good effect”, said Richard as strips were prepared to bait fish over the wreck below. Another good decision as first drift over the wreck produced a couple of good ling, then a nice cod. This was what the anglers were out there for, and I heard the call of “Fish hard lads” from one of the anglers to my left.
The day was passing quickly, I was totally impressed with how hard Richard was working, to keep re-positioning the boat over the wrecks, as the catch boxes started to fill with fish. As Richard had suggested to me prior to the trip the fishing was not easy and catching was hard work, but that’s fishing and Richard could not have done any more, and this was endorsed by several of the comments made to me during the day.
On the way back, I stood with Richard and discussed the various options he offers. From full day trips, for totally experienced self-sufficient anglers to hiring gear for total beginners. The best thing I can suggest is have a look at Richard’s web-site ( www.mistress-whitby.co.uk ) then give him a call. That’s what I will be doing, I’d had a great trip and having seen what a day on “Mistress” is like, it won’t be another twenty years before I go to sea again!