Saltwater Fly Fishing Trip – 15th September – There’s So Much More To It Than Just Fishing!
The early morning drive across north Norfolk is always an absolute pleasure: the mist in the hollows and the light as dawn breaks over the sea on the horizon is a sight that never fails to fill you with awe and wonder.
As you motor through the villages, where the day has yet to start for most of the inhabitants, down the narrow roads leading to the coast, the wildlife simply abounds:
the rabbits on the verges pay little attention to you and the pheasants and partridges barely bat an eyelid as your noisy car roars by. It’s not uncommon either to spot an impressive Marsh Harrier gliding over the fields in search of some suitable morsel to feed her hungry young.
So what has all this got to do with saltwater fly fishing you may well ask? Well actually a great deal! You see fishing is not all about catching fish; that’s just part of it. Indeed, the memories of the day are far more than that.
It’s all about the journey we take from traveling to the chosen spot in the early morning right through to the glass of ale in the pub with your fellow anglers at the end of a great day’s fishing on the open sea, don’t you agree?
The Right Fishing Gear For The Job
I was on my way to Morston quay to meet my students for a long awaited saltwater fishing experience. The conditions for fishing sea bass, our main quarry for the day, were excellent. The wind that had been blowing onto the shore for almost a week but had dropped overnight and the weather forecast was talking of a bright day with just light onshore breezes. Great! Just what we wanted.
I always like to get there early and set up the rods ready for the party. Most fisherman bring their own saltwater fly rods, but for those who hadn’t I put up the Hardy Zane and the Greys Platinum XD 9 weight rods complete with cold saltwater intermediate lines and Zane reels.
Yes you can use cheaper fishing gear but in my experience you need gear you can rely on. When a large sea bass is hooked it tends to want to sprint off to Holland! In fact, I have lost both sea bass and sea trout on lighter equipment, so I now tend to play safe with the top end fishing gear.
I made a quick call to our boat skipper, James, to make sure all was well and we arranged to leave the quay at 8.30 AM to catch the tide.
The Fishermen Arrive
At 8 AM Nick and Ben arrived and started putting on their chest waders and getting their rods and gear out ready for the fray. They were closely followed by Vic and Laurence.
The usual flurries of questions followed: “Which line shall I use?” “Which flies are best?” “Shall we take our spinning rod as well?”
“How many will we catch today,” came the final question. “None,” I replied, “But the prospects look very good!” Well it was better not to raise their hopes too much, just in case; sea bass can be quite fickle when it comes to taking the fly!
Once all the questions had been settled we made for the boat to catch the tide. “Hang on a minute! Dave and his companion haven’t arrived,” I thought to myself. However, as tide and time waits for no man I got the guys on the boat with James so that he could take them out to Blakney Point to start fishing.
Meanwhile Dave rang to say they were on their way. When we finally met up we had a brisk 25 minute walk along the coastal path to Stiffkey; all good exercise!
We then crossed the Stiffkey river and walked out across the marsh to meet (skipper) James, who had come to pick us up. He had left the others on the point fishing from a sandbank.
The First Catch Of The Day
As we approached the point, we could see there was great excitement from the shore as Nick was clearly playing a fish. Indeed, he’d already hooked himself a fine 3lb sea bass.
The tide was now going out fast, so we started fishing from the exposed sandbanks, which are always great spots to fish from. The channels between these sandbanks are just the right place to find bass as they feed on sand eels and small crabs.
We spread out along the channels covering all the likely places to catch something. The flow is quite fast there and this is when an intermediate line is at its most deadly; but it is important you get the lure right down to the fish.
“I have got one!” cried Nick, AGAIN, “It’s heading for Holland!” he shouted. Sure enough, this fish was hauling the line out to sea, but Nick managed to hang on to the slippery little fighter and eventually the fish was landed; a whopping 6lb sea bass! After the photos had been taken, it was returned to the sea to fight another day.
Moving On - More Fishing At Cley Next The Sea
By now, the tide was falling very quickly so we moved further out to the Blakney Point following the fish. There, several fish followed the fly but sadly failed to connect, so it was time to make for the shore.
We intended to beach the boat at the mouth of the Stiffkey river but we had run out of time and had to leave the boat further out to be picked up later. We took a long walk back across the Marsh to the coastal path at Stiffkey and then back to the car park at Morston.
After a sojourn at the Anchor pub in the village for some light refreshment, all the gear was piled in the cars and we moved on down the coast to Cley Next The Sea to fish the incoming tide.
Cley beach is a great spot for sea bass at this time of year. The bass were all about there and well within casting distance. Moreover, the Terns (diving birds) were taking the baitfish about 25yds out, which is always a good sign.
At this particular part of the beach you must follow the tide and work your way towards Blakney Point, casting at 30/45 degrees to the shore and working the lines in until they are level with you.
A Perfect End To A Great Day’s Saltwater Fly Fishing
We fished here for another couple of hours before retiring to the George at Cley for a well earned supper and a glass or two of local ale or was it something stronger?
A truly memorable day was had by all, but the honors of the day really must go to Nick for his fantastic catch - it really was a perfect day.
Also, I welcome your comments below; feel free to tell me about your saltwater fishing experiences either in the UK or elsewhere in the world.
Update Feb 25, 2014 : 2014 Salt Water Fly Fishing Trips Now Confirmed – Check availability and book your place here!!