Deep water shore fishing – How I got hooked. By Phill Hambrook
A whole Bluey bait and 8oz lead left a big splash and the usual Bluey oil slick about 80 yards out in front of me. I held the rod straight out and played out line from the large fixed spool trying not to let it bow too much in the cross wind. The bait finally settled on the bottom after what seemed like an age had gone by. It actually took four and a half minutes. My guide, Phill Dale, had told me exactly what bite to expect and what I should do when it happened… I waited. Phill gave me the nod of approval and wandered off to find his flask and check on the other guests. I waited. It was cold, dam cold; I pushed my hands deeper into my chest pockets on my thermal suit and snuggled down into the fleecy neck lining of my jacket. I waited. The anticipation of what was surely going to happen was starting to make the hairs on my neck stand up. I waited… Nothing. I looked round to see where Phill was, he was chatting with one of the other guests about 20 yards away. He turned round to me, calmly pointed to my rod tip and said “There you go Badge”.
My cold hands got stuck in my pockets as I tried to yank them out finally pulling all the lining out with them. I jolted forward grabbing at the rod catching the line in the tripod trying to lift it quick… “Badge..” Phill’s voice cut through my panic, “put it down and calm down”. He was right. Of course he was, he’d been doing it for long enough! I placed the rod back in the tripod. I looked back at Phill who had begun chatting with the other guests again. I couldn’t believe it, I had been emailing and texting Phill for weeks, months even about taking me deep water fishing to try and catch a Lumb or Ling from the shore after reading his reports,, He knew how important it was to me,, but he just calmly carried on chatting. The rod stopped nodding… I waited…. Nothing.
Well that’s it then, that’s my chance lost I was muttering to myself, I shuffled snow with my feet and waited. Nothing. About this time Phill meanders over and asked how’s it going, “It’s gone” I’m a bit snappy… “He smiles a rye smile “Naaa, give it time to get bait down its neck lad,,”
We both watch the rod tip,, then, a nod, a slow deliberate nod followed by one solitary ‘click’ from the Shimano Baitrunner. My heart literally stops, we waited, another nod ‘click,,,,click’ then a bigger nod, ‘click click click click’ as the baitrunner gently let the spool turn. Then, off she went, the spool span and the Baitrunner rattled away. I reached for the rod but once again..”Leave it Badge” came Phill’s voice. Seriously! I did as I was told and left it. The clicking stopped, the rod went still. Nothing. Phill looked me square in the eyes, “Good, now next time it does that, f***ing hit it!” He then turned and wandered back to bait up another rig.
OK, I was completely gobsmacked. The fish had gone. Hands in my pockets I shuffled and kicked snow about, I’d missed the opportunity. It was gone…..
A word of advice at this stage, listen to the guide who does this for a living…..
The rod suddenly bent straight over and the baitrunner screamed into life, line pouring off the already low spool at an alarming rate. “HIT IT BADGE!!” Phill’s words will stay with me forever… I picked the rod up calmly, clicked the bait runner off and struck into the fish with a good hard lift of the rod,,, here comes another mistake.. The bait runner and drag are two different things,, Phill had shown me this and set the reel up correctly, I, knowing best, had obviously tightened the drag quite extensively… The consequences of this saw me frantically being pulled nearer and nearer to the sharp rock drop off and the water’s edge. CRAP CRAP CRAP,, I was not doing well. Phill, to the rescue once again, reached over and calmly loosened the drag and I fell back into position,, dam, I was really cocking this up. Then the long hard slog started, this was a big fish, a very big fish. It was well over 150 meters down and swimming in the other direction. It took line, I made a little back, it took it back again. It wasn’t fast, just slow and strong. It wasn’t tiring, I was. It was like trying to pull a piano up to a tenth story window using bungie straps. I was using a Century E1000 rod and at times it had it bent right over and I was just hanging on, the drag now being tightened and tightened. This was awesome! I was sweating buckets and almost on my knees with burning pains in both arms. The fish was half way up and swimming back down. Phill was chuckling away like a school boy and very happy, he knew it was a big fish.
I don’t know how long I played the fish for, but I was tired, dead tired. Line slowly built back up on the reel and all of a sudden the leader knot broke the surface!! Straight back down again.. Slowly back up she came. The leader was extra-long for abrasion reasons but the knot starting to click through the rings soon enough.
Alas, I had one more mistake up my sleeve and it was a big one. As the leader knot clattered through the rod rings I felt the fish or rig catch a rock ledge. I pulled hard and fast to get it out,, winding as hard as I could…. And that was it. The fish stuck fast. Game over. I had ignored the advice given and didn’t put a rotten bottom link before my lead and now had it suck fast between to rocks just out of sight and reach.
I waited. Nothing. Devastated. Sinking to my knees I cooled my hands off in the snow. Phill cut my line and tied the leader to an old fence post just in case the fish freed the lead or its swim bladder blew.
Phill had remained calm and knowledgeable throughout the ordeal. He knew what was going to happen even before it did, he corrected my mistakes and had instructed me on getting fish past and out of snaggy ledges. In the heat of the moment, I got it wrong.
We sat down, smoked cigarettes and drank coffee. We both felt bad.
That experience was a good few years ago but it will stick with me forever. Dispite the outcome it thrilled and excited me and left me wanting more. I returned to the same mark the following year with a good fishing buddy Lee Hover and together we began to set the record straight landing Lumb, Ling, Cod and fast running Spur Dogs well into double figures. Happy days indeed !
That first insight into Deep Water fishing from the shore sowed the seeds that have grown into a large part of what Guided Fishing Norway does now. In Part 2 I will try and explain a bit of what that is, with some happier outcomes!