Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Shore fishing success - fresh plaice and chips

A visit to Chesil beach resulted in a good catch for the table last weekend.
Setting my sights high, I made plaice my target species and made the very long walk to a mark where these tasty flatfish move inshore to feed-up on mussel beds after spawning.

Baiting with squid-tipped ragworm, and fishing at long range, I was faced with the usual Chesil beach problem: dogfish. These ravenous scavengers often devour baits before target species get a look-in, and that was certainly proving to be the case. I ended up with eight doggies - not that I'm complaining because I think they're very good to eat once removed from their sandpaper skin - but it would have been nice to get a chance to present a bait to the flatties.

Eventually, my patience paid off, and I managed to pluck a plaice from the waves. Admiring these beautiful fish and their bright orange spots in the spring sunlight, it's easy to see why anglers devote so much time and effort in their pursuit. And they make fantastic eating, too.

That plaice turned out to be the only one of the session but it certainly made the journey worthwhile. Now I'm looking forward to going back for more.

Plaice doesn't need fancy recipes to taste good. In fact, you'll drown out the sweet, delicate flavours of their flaky white flesh if you add too many ingredients.
After gutting my plaice, all I did was melt a knob of butter in a large griddle pan and then gently fry each side for about five minutes until it began to turn crisp and brown.
Served with chips and salad on the same day as it was caught, it was absolutely delicious.

Next time, I'll explain how I turned those nuisance dogfish into a tasty meal...

Saturday, 5 March 2011

A proper day in the woods

I've just made the most of the rare opportunity to spend a full day in the woods.
Instead of the usual hurried couple of hours at a promising roost, I actually had time to really soak up the atmosphere, and to have a really good look around some of the parts of the woods that I don't usually visit. It is amazing what a difference it makes to the overall experience when you have plenty of time to take it all in.

The session started with a chance encounter with the keeper, who pointed me in the direction of one or two spots where the squirrels are causing real problems.
Later on, as I was wandering through the woods - following the course of a river that sweeps through the woodland - I spotted several squirrel's dreys, which will get some closer attention at a later date. You can see one of them below (it's the brown leafy bundle in the centre of the pic...)

As this session was a less hurried affair than usual, I took a proper packed lunch with me. While I was sat down tucking into my sandwiches, I was fortunate enough to see four roe deer walk past, no more than 20 metres from where I was sitting. Although the deer seemed to be aware that there was something out of the ordinary present, they didn't scent me and didn't bolt away. I even managed to grab my camera in time for a hasty snap as the last one passed by. Not the greatest wildlife shot you'll ever see...

All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable session, and I even managed to bag a crow and a woodpigeon before it got dark. In terms of the ratio of hours to quarry, it wasn't the most productive day's shooting I've ever had but it was one of the most satisfying that I've had in a long time - and I managed to find several promising spots to try in the future. I'll write up a more comprehensive account for a future edition of Airgun Shooter.