A very calm weather window presented itself. This is quite uncommon in Cornwall during January as we are usually subject to persistant swell and strong winds brought by one atlantic storm after the next. In fact i have never been kayak fishing in January before because of this!
It was looking calm enough for an open sea fishing session with 5mph winds forecast and 1ft of swell. A session was planned and sunday morning i met Andrew and Gary at the launch in very mild conditions. Overnight the forecast had doubled with 9-13mph winds now predicted - not a probelm to fish in but may limit how far we would be paddling out. On arrival at the launch there wasn't a breath of wind! It was so mild we would have been comfortable in dry trousers/bib and a top baselayer! It was mid-winter though and given the colder water temerature we all decided to dress for the water and put on the drysuits and thermals.
Given how calm it was we decided to paddle a little way offshore to deeper water to see what we could find. Some good sized Whiting and a few Haddock had been caught in the area so we were hoping to find a few fish.
Gary would be on his RTM Tempo, Andrew on the Ocean Kayak 2017 Trident 13 and myself on the RTM Rytmo.
I had treated myself to a couple of new reels the day before and one would be put to work today - an Avet SX5.3 - an American made marine-grade anodised aluminium bodied lever-drag multiplier with super smooth carbon washer drag system. Expensive but quality is often not cheap. It seemed to balance perfectly with my Ugly Stik 12-20lb Braid Rod and will be my reel of choice for general bottom fishing from the kayak this year. An Avet MXJ5.8 will be used for heavier work on a 20-30lb set up too. The Avets replace some of my deteriotaing Abu 6500 Rockets that i have been using since taking up kayak fishing - they were originally my shore fishing reels and would eventually succumb to the harsh saltwater abuse that kayak fishing entails. An Abu 6500 Chrome rocket of around 8 years old is still going strong though with little sign of saltwater corrosion issues. I'm hoping the Avets show similar robustness.
The paddle out was very enjoyable, and the kayaks paddled easily across the glassy surface. A mile or so out and we put baits down to see if anything was about. There was.... dogfish, and more dogfish and occasionally a small whiting. The trouble was that it was so calm and still that we were all but motionless and not covering any ground. At least the dogfish put a bend in the rods!
After an hour or so we got bored and decided to head further out. We could see a big weather system and thick low cloud sitting a few miles further offshore though - this was probably what the latest forecast was showing. We edged out another mile and wouldnt go further incase we had to sprint back to shore!
I was paddling a couple of hundred yards in front of Gary and Andrew when i heard them shout something. I turned around to see a dolphin rise in front of their kayaks, and then 4 more to the side of them heading towards me. We re-grouped and it was soon apparent the dolphins wanted to join us whilst paddling! We quite often see dolphins and porpoises but this is the first time they have wanted to play!
Wow! They were swimming right beneath the kayaks and then riding the bows, occasionally breaking the surface. They seemed more than happy to show off to us and i had one swimming belly against the underside of my kayak! This continued for around 15 minutes or so as we paddled around. They were Common Dolphins and there was around 5 or 6 in total. It was difficult to know where to point the camera but i managed to snap a few photos of them.
This one came and sat stationary alongside my kayak for a few moments and appear to look straight at me to see what i was doing!
At times they were close enought to have reached out and touched. I managed one half-decent underwater photo of them beside the kayak, which provide quite difficult to get whilst on the move paddling.
I managed to get the money shot with one Dolphin breaking the surface alongside Gary and Andrew....
They kept playing until we stopped paddling. Once we did they circled us before all 6 or so broke surface at the same time before heading off, as if they were saying goodbye! It was quite an experience - the dolphins were more than happy to be with us of their own accord - they know we were of no threat to them and they were happy to give us a little bit of their time.
We carried on fishing and periodically throughout the day they came back near us to pay a visit.
The fishing really didn't matter anymore. Nothing was really going to top the Dolphins. We had a few more dogfish before heading in closer to find some rough ground in the hope of something different. More dogfish found the baits but Andrew managed quite a few Cuckoo Wrasse, Gary had some Whiting and i managed a plump Pouting.
The fishing wasn't anything special but just being able to launch in exceptionally mild conditions in January was a bonus. The Dolphins really did make the session special.
You don't always have to catch big fish or lots of fish, or infact any fish, to have a good day on the water. That's the beauty of kayak fishing! Often it is the fish that makes the session worthwile but sometimes it can be the scenary and occasionally it's the marine wildlife. Sometimes, just sometimes all 3 come together to make a session really special. That's why i love kayak fishing!
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