Back in action !

After 3 months away I’d been itching to get back onto the water. I’d missed the odd day where fishing would have been possible as I was looking for a window of 2-3 days to make travelling down to the Bristol Channel worthwhile and cost effective. Eventually the weather was looking good with 3-4 days of light south westerly winds forecast. I was up early, leaving the house not long after 4am with a drive of around 2 ½ hours ahead of me. I’d booked my fresh worm a few days earlier and it was left in a hidden location by the tackle shop owner the night before. That was duly collected and I was soon rigging up, hopes were high!

There was a light surf and once a few hundred metres out I paddled east and anchored up about a mile offshore. The tides were at the bottom of the neaps with around 9m of water movement at the most. Because of the lack of tide flow for this area I wasn’t expecting too much action to be honest.

That said I was into my first fish within a couple of minutes, a small codling of about 2lb. The Conger were present in large numbers and by the end of session I’d bagged up seventeen fish between 7-25lb, though the average weight was perhaps 10-12lb. A handful of Bullhuss, a small thornback ray and plenty of Dogfish were also caught.


Baits were a double squid topped off with fresh lugworm mounted onto a 6/0 pennel rig on one rod, the other rod being baited with a fillet of mackerel. I fished for around eight hours and despite the lack of Cod I’d still managed a good amount of fish throughout the session.

I’d taken the opportunity to try out my new Hero 2 headcam, whilst mounting my Hero HD onto my fish finder, a temporary measure until a YakAttack Panfish Portrait arrives.


The following day saw me launch around 9am and I decided to fish closer into the reef into the reef in the hope of some Cod. Fresh lugworm isn’t cheap to buy and I was wanting something in the freezer to show for my efforts.

The fishing was an awful lot slower than the day before though I was soon into my first codling of the winter, a nicely conditioned fish of around 5lb.


A few small conger and several dogfish were caught and as the tide slackened off the Whiting were relentlessly attacking the baits. I picked the odd one up by accident, though to target them I’d of had to reduce my hook size dramatically. I wasn’t after them so I persevered with my usual setup. As the session progressed I dropped a few fish though managed to catch a couple more Cod to bring the tally for the day to three.



The evening closed in and the sunset was quite wonderful, it really finishes the session off perfectly. I’d considered sleeping in the car, though I was that exhausted I drove the hour back to my weekday work accommodation to enjoy a hot shower and a good nights sleep.


I’d decided to empty to GoPro cam SD cards, so I popped them into the laptop and transferred the files from the first card onto the hard drive. The second card saw me select all the files and hit delete… gone. Not impressed in the slightest. My data recovery software didn’t detect anything on the SD cards so all was lost. I’ve since found another piece of software that does work well on SD cards so hopefully I wont have such problems in the future should I mess up. Lesson learned, don’t mess with stuff when you’re knackered and need sleep!


The third and final day saw me fish the same location and the weather conditions were poorer with a steady swell sweeping down the channel. Still, it was very fishable and I’d soon bought several Conger eel to the kayak. I’d not managed any Cod by high water and it was shortly into the ebb that I capsized which marked the end of that days session!

So despite the disappointing end to the three day session, the fishing had quite prolific and I had no real complaints. The water temperature is unseasonably high for this time of year which I personally believe is holding the main cod run back so I expect it’ll be a late Cod season this year. However, it’s keeping the Conger in the shallower water which provides some great sport.

I’ve ordered a new dry suit which will hopefully be hear in the next 48 hours. I’d been unable to re-enter the kayak due to a flooded dry suit, though I don’t wish to launch again knowing that my last self recovery was unsuccessful regardless of the circumstances. To that end I’ll have a morning testing out my new suit whilst doing some self rescues before I fish again, hopefully that will be this weekend!.

Below is video clip taken over the first two days. I’ve included a short piece of footage on setting the anchor as I was recently asked about that. I forgot to film recovering the anchor though I’ll be sure to do that during my next daylight trip.

A weekend on the water

A tale of woe !

I'd been out fishing at the Bristol Channel for about three hours, anchored up off a reef. The wind freshened up into a easterly with a steady swell rolling down the Channel, nothing of interest. I'd noticed a couple of rogue waves come down from the north, hitting the kayak side on and filling a foot well. Again, nothing of interest nor concern.

During slack water I was a bit bored and started nosing around. I went to open the front hatch and to my horror noticed a 2" split along a seam on the inside thigh of my dry suit. On close inspection it was running along a line where there was a taped seam underneath. It was a straight tear, slightly frayed, so not a cut. It almost looked like a fatigue crack. I inspect my suit every other trip so it really took me by surprise. I actually took a photo which is further down this post..

So, I'd already been out three hours, the kayak was stable in the tide, lying with the swell, things couldn't have been better. I decided to fish another hour or so as planned then head back in. I was taking a few photos and leaned slight to the left with the camera down the side of the kayak. Whilst taking a few photos the whole kayak tipped up, I was already slightly to one side and the sudden change of angle was enough to put me off balance. Before I could react it continued to roll and I capsized... no doubt one of those rogue waves from the north. No biggie, it happens to us all eventually and we prepare for this. My first capsize in over 200 trips, I couldn't complain!.

The kayak had flipped but it was quickly turned right side up at the second attempt. Though with the kayak anchored and the tide beginning to ebb, and with a running sea, I was getting pushed down the kayak as I tried to re-enter. No big deal, I went around the kayak and disconnected the anchor and drifted. That changed everything and I went to re-enter. I was lying over the kayak and was just about to turn into the seat when a swell hit the kayak and I slid off. Oh well, so I went to get back on again though I failed to get quite as far. Each attempt saw me struggle that little bit more. Odd, I wasn't tired.... that's when I remembered the rip in my dry suit, my suit was full from the waist down.

I tried a few more times though I was just wasting energy and flipped the kayak a couple of times. There was a charter boat a mile west of me so I called him up on the radio, no response. I was about 500m offshore, I briefly considered kicking for the shore, but I'm also aware that the tide runs away from the shore on the ebb heading directly to a headland 2-3 miles away. By this time I'd been in the water around 15 minutes and was steadily drifting east. Water temp was 12 degrees centigrade.

Leaving the kayak would have been stupid , it's a huge life raft after all, so I decided to give the coastguard a shout. We chatted and I explained my position, gave him my GPS co-ords and waited. I watched a coastguard wagon come along the cliff top and he was struggling to see me, so I directed him verbally to my area, switching on the navigation light helped no end  ;D

The coastguard called up and told me it'd be 15 minutes until the lifeboat was on scene, no biggie, I was very warm. They turned up and at first suggested they'd help me back onto the kayak, though with a full dry suit it wasn't happening. With two guys helping, and me pulling, I was hauled aboard the lifeboat. Standing up was amusing, my legs were like the Michelin man with water gushing out of the tear. Slightly worrying was the presence of three small pinholes in the other leg with small jets of water squirting out. The later a put down to being pricked with hooks over the past 4 years (that turned out no to be the case - more later).

They were extremely impressed with the array of safety gear and that all precautions had been taken. I had been asked to let of smoke/flare if they'd asked. Though with a visual from the shore and my GPS position they came straight to me without any drama.

With a dry suit full of water making a successful re-entry would have been quite a feat for anybody, I certainly found it impossible once my suit had filled up. After 35 minutes in the water I was still wonderfully warm and could have stayed in there for rather a long time if required. I still had a mobile phone in a dry box which I could have used if a radio call had been unsuccessful.

As much as we prepare for the worst day, what with capsize drills and carrying an assortment of safety gear, we cannot prepare for every eventuality. Ultimately we carry a radio to make that call when all else fails. Despite my best preparations, I was forced into making that call today.

Yes, I could have deserted the kayak, made for shore and perhaps saved the call. Though I could also have got into difficulties and finding me would have been made much more difficult. Sure, it's a little embarrassing, though I'm happy that I was suitably prepared, on the day I was just plain unlucky. Spotting the rip in my dry suit was one nasty surprise, falling off on that very same trip (after 200+ dry trips) was another!

Many thanks to the RNLI and the Coastguard who have been suitably thanked and rewarded by myself. Oh, and what did a lose?. A bottle of coke (well 1/2 a bottle) and one glove.

Here's a follow up to this initial report:

As I'd mentioned earlier I noticed the tear in my dry suit well into the trip, I was that amazed I took a photo!


On closer inspection with the suit washed and dried this is what I saw. I've lifted the torn portion so it's more visible.


The suit material had weakened along the taped seam, probably by chafing whilst walking or general movement on the kayak. As it had flexed along the length of the seam it had weakened through fatigue, some areas saw signs of external wear.

Looking at the same area on the opposite leg exactly the same problem was present. It's not something you'd notice because as the suit has aged the taped seams have become more visible. Hence an area of wear along a line is in fact very difficult to spot.


The other leg had already holed in the same area, the hole was less than 1mm, though the fabric was weakened along the line close to it. I've macro'd in close, unless your inches from the damage you'd never notice it.

I went over the suit with a VERY close eye and more areas of damage became apparent. A very small hole was present along an area of slight wear, the wear line was an inch at most.


Again on the inside of the leg, a fussy join exists and the material is slightly rucked my the stitching. The whole length of this is around 1cm. A small hole around 1mm had formed where the material was raised by some stitching and had worn through.


The same area on the opposite leg was showing similar wear though had not worn through.


One final hole was found in the crotch area, again a very small length of wear, under an inch, though a tiny hole had formed.


So there were four pinholes in my suit due to wear. They were all in areas you'd never notice and probably not really think to look. The worst area of wear had of course ripped. I'd not noticed it the previous 2 days, and with is close proximity to the centre hatch it was something that was easily spotted, so it's fair to assume the suit ripped on the day I noticed it.

So, there I was sitting comfy in a steady rolling swell getting soaked in the rain. The camera is low here though the swell was at most 3'


Looking at the camera memory card I'd taken several photos in the minute before I was tipped over. I was holding the camera when I capsized and apparently hit the shutter release a split second before I actually went under!. The kayak is at a 90 degree angle here, the rod holder is almost horizontal.


Never let a bad situation stop you taking an interesting photo  Winking smile

I capsized at 1428, the time was recorded on the photo. According the GPS I unclipped the anchor at 1430 and began to drift at an average on 1.1mph, bearing 285 degrees.

The RNLI picked me out at 1458 after a drift of just over 0.5 miles, they then headed for the Blue Anchor slipway. I'd been in the water 30 minutes, not the 35 minutes I'd thought. The black is my track out, the blue my drift post capsize and the yellow is the RNLI track to the slipway.


I was warm throughout, surprisingly warm and could have stayed in the water for a long time. Despite the damage to my suit my multiple layers of thermal clothing served me well. They did waterlog heavily and weighed a LOT once removed. However, the plan is not to get them wet in the first place !

The suit was 4 years old and had covered 200+ trips on the water. On inspection the suit was good condition and well maintained with new seals (talc'd after each trip), lube'd zippers, etc. However, if you looked VERY closely in areas that don't jump out, i.e high up on the inner thighs, crotch, etc, damaged had occurred, sufficient enough the cause the fabric to rip with little effort. You could lay that suit on the floor and check out the front, flip it, and check out the back, no damage whatsoever is visible. Yet it is worn and damaged, though it takes a VERY close and purposeful look to spot it.

So the lesson is don't just give your suit a cursory glance over post every trip, get up close and personal and give your suit a VERY close check-up, you may get a nasty shock!

Here's a link the the RNLI report, not totally correct, though close enough.
RNLI Report

GoPro HD Hero 2

Well I’ve just had a mad moment and purchased a GoPro Hero 2 video camera. After checking out the specifications and reading lots of reviews and watching lots of footage, I decided to take the plunge. It’s over twice the resolution of the standard HD at 11 mega pixels. Its optics are superior to the HD and should also prove far more effective in lower light levels. I’ll review it in due course, though more importantly I’m eager to put together some new video clips!


Winter clothing

I was asked the other day what clothing keep me warm whilst fishing during the winter months. I’ll cover what I’ve found works best for me, though everyone will have their opinions on this. My winter fishing sessions often see me fishing though the night in temperatures below freezing. My biggest areas of concern are my feet and hands, once these are suitably frozen that’s my trip over. It’s not just the end of the trip neither, I know at some point they’ll warm up again and that at times can be a rather painful experience. Ultimately, it’s something to be avoided, so being suitably clothed is in my opinion extremely important. It’s not just exposure to the elements whilst fishing, there’s always the risk of a capsize and I want to remain functional for long enough to make a successful re-entry should the worst happen.

Ok, so starting with my hands. I suffered quite a bit in the early days, though I’ve pretty much got this problem area sussed. For general fishing in dry weather I’ll always wear a pair of thermal fingerless gloves. Mine are made by Sundridge and do a decent job at keeping my hands warm. However, once wet they are pretty useless to be honest. To that end I always remove them whilst re-baiting or handling fish (tucked into the top of my PFD), drying my hands before donning them once again. It may seem like a bit of hassle, but dry gloves are far more pleasant than the wet variety!

So what about neoprene?. Well I’ve used 3mm divers ‘gauntlet gloves’ in the past and they were ok. I found them quite restrictive for general duties so I only used them for paddling. The trouble was they would of course get wet, no problem, well until I put them back on at the end of the session. They’d be freezing until they warmed through, they didn’t always, not pleasant. For me at least, they didn’t work. What I ended up buying was a pair of waterproof skiing gloves. Now these really are a top piece of kit. I wear them for paddling where they are comfortable and very warm. Being waterproof means they can get soaked yet remain dry and warm internally, perfect!. When it rains whilst fishing I’ll remove my fingerless gloves and wear my ski gloves instead. Again, removing them to bait up and handle fish, drying my hands once more before wearing them again.


It might sound rather fiddly, but keeping my hands and gloves dry whenever possible makes a HUGE difference and I can fish for many hours in cold and wet weather.

As for headwear, well I’ve tried woolly ‘beanie’ hats, etc. I only wear one hat these days, and that’s the SealSkinz Hat I purchased over three years ago. It’s fully waterproof and windproof, though despite its light construction it’s extremely warm. It’s crushes into a small size and lives in my dry box where it’s accessible in seconds.

hat2  hat3

Next I’ll cover is my basic clothing. Basically it’s all about layers, trapping heat and wicking sweat away from the body. For legwear I wear a fairly thin pair of Sundridge thermal leggings underneath with a pair of snowboarding pants on top. The latter are heavily padded/insulated and are comfortable to wear and easy to put on. The thermal leggings breathe well and any sweat is absorbed by the snowboarding pants. These sometimes feel a little damp inside after a long trip, though the thermal legging and my legs themselves are always dry. It’s a very warm combination and it works well.

P1150074         P1150071

For my upper body I generally wear three layers. The first to go on is extreme cold weather military shirt (bottom of the pile in the photo). It’s of cotton/fleece construction with a looped inner surface. It’s extremely effective at wicking sweat away from the body and is a warm top in its own right. Second layer to go on is a Sundridge thermal top, nothing too special, it’s not very thick, though it provides an extra layer for trapping the heat. Lastly is an artic fleece jacket, it’s fairly thick and elasticated around the base (if required). I wear the same tops all year round, in the summer I’ll just wear the first layer, perhaps adding the second layer for night fishing. Though for winter fishing all three layers go on, no questions asked!


Feet, now that has always been by far my biggest problem area. I originally started off with a pair of wetsuit boots that I wore over my dry suit socks, socks being worn within my dry suit. It was fine for summer fishing, though once the temperature plummeted I quickly began to suffer. As they were ankle height they’d fill up with water during a launch. They had no real thermal properties to begin with and being sat there with water drawing heat from your feet throughout a fishing session was always going to be bad news. I was often limited to 3-4 hours fishing during freezing weather, not really ideal.

A year ago I purchased the latest version of the Chota Mukluks kayaking boots. They’re made from 3mm neoprene, fleece lined with a rigid soles. The thermal properties of the boot are pretty good and with it being a tall boot it does a good job of the water outside the boot, this is aided by the presence of a splash proof seal positioned at the top of the boot. Within my dry suit I wear two pair of military issue artic socks which are very effective at fending off the cold.


Keeping your legs and feet stationary during cold weather causes your feet to chill off quite quickly. I often move around, or just wiggle my toes and feet. The tall boots allow me to sit side saddle with my legs in the water without water entering the boot itself. Continued movement, allied with dry boots, seems to make a huge difference and I can now happily fish for 6-7 hours before freezing weather will force me ashore.

Lastly is of course a dry suit, something I never go to sea without, even during the summer months. Should I capsize I want to give myself the best possible chance to make a successful re-entry onto the kayak. With winter water temperatures often down to five degrees or less, preventing my body succumbing to the cold within minutes is top of the list.


Lastly is my PFD, it does provide an extra layer of sorts and does a decent job of keeping the wind at bay. What my particular model provides is a pair of fleece lined hand warmer pockets. These really are fantastic are as long as they are kept dry they are very effective. In extreme cold I have been known to put a solid fuel hand warmer in each pocket, luxury indeed!

This is certainly not an exhaustive guide to winter clothing, it’s purely what works well for me. One thing is for sure, it’s vitally important to keep warm whilst fishing afloat during the winter months, ultimately your life could depend on it !

Bristol Channel – Porlock Bay

Below is a short video clip taken during the summer (The original report was posted in July) whilst fishing Porlock Bay in the Bristol Channel. The tides are strong during peak flow and it’s not a venue I’d recommend for the faint hearted. The fishing was pretty much non stop with smoothound, dogfish, bass, conger eel and thornback ray making up the days catch. I hadn’t planned on uploading the video as I’d missed a few of the better opportunities, it’s viewable full screen at 720 resolution by clicking on the image and going into YouTube.

Mixed bag of fish

YakAttack Pro Staff

I consider myself very fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to become a member of the recently formed YakAttack Pro Staff program. I’ll be able to benefit the kayak community by providing in depth product reviews and rigging suggestions for the YakAttack product range. I’m very excited about getting started, watch this space!

The YakAttack Pro Staff team will run a blog at in order to demonstrate the various products and rigging options. It’s currently in its early stages, though it will become populated in due course.

Overdue repairs

For the previous couple of dozen fishing trips I’ve endured a minor electrical problem. The marine two pin plug and socket that connect the battery to my main electrical loom had seen better days. I first installed this setup around 4 years ago, basically my battery is sealed in a ‘food container’. The container itself has been dropped once or twice and sported a couple of hairline cracks as a result, nothing a little glue didn’t cure. However, the brass pins started to turn green with verdigris between trips, though it’s easily been removed with a nylon scouring pad.

I regularly applied small amounts of dielectric grease to the connections, though I have to admit I’ve slacked somewhat with this over the last year or two. No doubt when cleaning the pins microscopic amounts of metal are removed each time. After many cleaning sessions they’ve lost sufficient metal to become a slightly loose fit in the socket. This has been my problem, nice clean pins and sockets, though I’ve really had to wiggle the connection to make the circuit. My biggest concern was the connection failing whilst night fishing.

Anyway, I’ve just returned from three months abroad and as much as I’m itching to hit the water within the next few days, I’m taking some time to tidy up some minor niggles. The battery connection was top of the list!

Below are some pictures of the plug and socket connectors. They’ve been sat for three months in the garage, so look rather worse than they normally would in between weekly fishing trips.

P1140001 P1150008

P1140003 P1150010

A new marine plug and socket was sent via mail order for around £12. I popped into the local store and picked up a new ‘battery container’ for around £3, nothing particularly specialised.

The old socket was simple snipped off, wire stripped back and connected to the new item. A few smears of sealant ensuring no water can track up into the connector. The new container was drilled to suit the shiny new socket, again with the aid of some sealant it was back together in minutes.

P1150004 P1150022


I’m sure I could have struggled on for a few more weeks, though with the temperature plummeting the the nights become longer it just wasn’t worth the hassle nor the associated risks. The previous setup lasted approximately four years and over two hundred saltwater fishing trips, so I can hardly complain. I’ll try and be a little more vigilant with regards to keeping the pins greased up, hopefully it will last another four years or more!

Back at last !

After almost 3 months in Afghanistan I’m finally back in the UK. As much as the first few days are seeing me catch up with my family, I’m quietly gathering together a few bits and pieces as I ready myself for the winter season.

I’d been having issues with the main battery connector for weeks prior to me deploying, though it was nothing more than fair wear and tear. The two main pins in the plug turn green over time (brass pins) and they’re cleaned prior to every trip. Miniscule amounts of metal are removed each time, though after a couple of hundred trips that amounts to quite a bit and the pins are no longer a snug fit in the socket. I often find myself wiggling the plug trying to make the circuit, not ideal. Anyway, a replacement was delivered last week and it’ll be getting fitted tomorrow.

I also had some rig making bits delivered whilst I was away. My good wife was emailing regularly enquiring as to what the latest delivery contained !

All my heavy nylon (60lb+) and wire traces are crimped, so a delivery of crimps and wire will soon be transformed into a wallet packed with traces to see me through the winter. Weather permitting I’ll be back on the water within the week, I truly cannot wait!


As can be seen, all my crimps and wire are sourced from Leadertec, the service is always good and the prices very reasonable.