Whenever me and my fishing buddies are planning the next trip the group chat comes alive, messages are pinged about left right and centre with ideas about where to head next. This session was no different, there were a few places being posted, some involving road trips but I was sticking to my guns as I wanted to head to somewhere I had not fished for a while but had a gut feeling it would produce. I managed to convince the others to join me even though I think deep down they were not expecting much to happen, how wrong they were!
The venue we were heading too was the dirty wall in Aldeburgh, this 10 mile shingle spit is Suffolks answer to Chesil and over the years some amazing fish have been caught from here. Unfortunately the fishing is not as good as it used to be but I feel that is the same for many of these old school locations. This place just feels right though and when you are fishing it there is an air of anticipation as you know that your next cast could throw out a good fish. We rolled into Aldeburgh at 6pm, we would be arriving at high tide which was perfect as this venue always fishes better on an ebb tide.
Parking up in-front of the National Trust gate we unloaded the van and started our walk up the shingle spit. With me tonight was Scotty and his partner Jo, joining us later would be Matty and his son Theo. Now the thing with the Dirty Wall is that you can walk all the way up to Orford Ness from where we were, it’s a long hike that I’ve done numerous times but tonight we were not going that far. We opted to fish about 600 yards past where the rocks end and the open shingle beach starts, this is a great little spot and I have had some excellent sessions here in the past. We had all packed light so were at the mark in no time at all and as we were setting up Matty and his boy appeared over the top of the shingle ridge, it looked spot on for a summer species or 2, the sea was flat calm with only the slightest of ripples disturbing the surface, I had soon lobbed out a pulley rig loaded with a whole squid and sat back on the shingle awaiting that first bite of the night.
Within minutes the rod tip shook and then slammed back bolt upright, now here is where my tale of woe for the night starts, in my infinite wisdom I had swapped my braid spool over to my mono spool and left my braid spool on the kitchen worktop. Now unknown to me something had happened to the mono and it had completely perished! I leaned into the first fish and was soon frantically adjusting my drag to deal with the initial screaming run, then nothing, cue me hitting into 5 good sized Smooth hounds and me losing each one. The line was a mess and I could feel myself losing confidence with every minute that passed, it’s a horrible feeling knowing that my own error had caused me to lose these fish and I knew that they were a very good size too by the power they were exerting. This was all until Matty came to the rescue with a spare reel, what a legend, although I know how Matty casts and with the words “ don’t worry mate its safe” ringing in my ears I knew I had to be careful as safe to Matty is mags fully off, lubed up so no friction is there and the reel runs for a couple minutes! Whilst all this had been going on the others had been smashing the hounds out, we had lost count of the amount of fish that had been beached but the pack had moved off now so it was a case of wait out for them to return.
In the slow period we had managed a couple of rays and a few dogs when Jo’s scratching rod all of a sudden shot off the rest and carried on down the beach, they were back again and chaos ensued! Whilst we now all had hounds whacking our rods over and it was hound carnage they were feeding from right under our rod tips to out at distance. Like a swarm of locusts they were devouring the sea bed in front of us eating anything that was in-front of them, squid, ragworm and lugworm were all catching fish, who says you need stupidly overpriced peeler crabs to bag up on hounds! These fish were hungry and that gave us the perfect opportunity to reap the benefits, one after another the rods were being bent double by these toothless gummy sharks and we were loving every second of it.
Matty’s son Theo was using a super light beach ledger rod scratching close in for a sole when the tip whacked round and kept going, now despite being only 5 years old Theo grabbed the rod and had a right old tussle with this big grey dog that had snaffled his bait. In no time at all the hound was laying on the shingle in-front of him and after a couple of pictures he slid it back and said his goodbyes as the hound disappeared into the darkness. Low tide came and the hound action slowed up again, over slack I had wandered over to Scotty and could see as I glanced at my tip it had straightened up a touch. Upon walking over and taking a closer look I could see the line had travelled down tide and was still moving. Straight away as I met the weight I could feel a fish and the voice in my brain was screaming ray, which Scotty soon confirmed as a very oddly patterned thornback slid up the shingle. Once photographed this fish was slid back into the water and yet another squid was lobbed out, the tide was building pace now and with it the weed started to show which was proving a pain to be honest.
With the clock now hitting 3am we decided to call it a night and wander back to the car, we all agreed that this was the best session we had seen on the local beaches for quite a while. Talk then turned to the coming winter and we wandered back chatting about those elusive codling that seem to be fewer in numbers every year. Plans are already being drawn up for certain tides to see if we can find some proper Suffolk cod this winter, we could travel but its always nice to get these fish on your home turf. So all in all what a mad night, this was complete hound carnage and with others getting stuck into them the next day as well it was good to see the local beaches fishing this way for a change, long may it continue.