8 June 2014. Having spent an enjoyable day working at the club and watching the sea drop off, Alan Taylor returned home to enjoy his Sunday roast. Within 15 minutes of putting his knife and fork down he and Andy Taylor were back in the Club compound.
Ominous clouds gathered all around as they slipped `Lil’ Hooker’ into a lively edge, but once clear of that, the sea flattened off into a long rolling swell. First stop the Glitter Ball to drift for mackerel in about 27 feet of water, with a single frozen mackerel trundling behind the boat for tope. Fifteen energetic minutes later nothing, so it was off further north to anchor up in forty feet.
With the mackerel tope bait back over, the pair feathered away in gin clear water and true to previous years form, the mackerel did not want to know. On the upside, Andy did pick up a couple of whiting so with half a dozen frozen mackerel it was time to set up a second tope rod. With four baits in the water, frozen mackerel, whole whiting, crab and a set of feathers bouncing the bottom the pair settled in, then the edge of the black cloud that was soaking the Ribble and South Shore just clipped them and it poured with rain!
With a little over an hour to high water smooth-hound found the crab and it was Alan who boated the first a fish of around the 6lb mark. From that point forward each crab bait offered resulted in a quick bite, but though the smuts were certainly there they were not running and hook ups on the 5/0 circles proved unusually difficult. Then a dab accomplished what the smuts seemingly could not and Alan replaced his frozen mackerel bait.
The sky was again blue, the sun was warm, the smut rod was nodding away and all was well as Andy’s tope rod set off. Following a good run, the fish was on, only to come unstuck so Andy let the bait fall to the bottom and within seconds, the fish had followed and picked it up again before steaming off. Andy waited what seemed like an age before sliding the lever forward and lifting into it. No mistaking it was a Tope as the rod arched over and the `jagging’ fight commenced, then all went light before Andy caught up as it ran towards the boat.
The fish, which had made two considerable runs before feeling the hook, turned again as Andy made sure the hook was home and it smoked the braid from his reel running way down tide and swinging first right then left around `Hooker’s’ stern. Good fish and no mistaking, but the game was not yet over as this fish was only just getting into its stride. At a distance of likely more than 65 yards, the tope fought very high in the water, on three further occasions streaming line from the reel and sounding each time it came near the boat. As the zip slider broke surface the fish was a magnificent sight in the crystal clear water just some six feet below, but as Alan grasped the leader it was off again on run number four. Back alongside Alan took a hold of the leader, its pectoral, turned it and lifted it carefully aboard. Not the expected `big female’, but a very sizable and particularly sporting male fish, hooked neatly by the 9/0 circle and returned safely.
In the remaining minutes of what had been just a snatched single hours fishing before high water, several more Smooth-hound fell to crab and a double figure Bull-Huss to Alan’s dab.