Big man Shane has been back from Canada this week and rather than blank on a shallow arm of an undisclosed Midlands stillwater (and face handfuls of Tiskie empties being crammed in my holdall) we charged the Loafer (aka Essex Scribbler) with putting us on some decent roker action.
He had just the place in mind, having recently shared a 72 fish haul of the spiny backed bottom huggers so Friday saw me heading down to Devil Dog Land to the mouths of the Colne and Blackwater estuaries.
Stopped off for victuals on the A140 and was cheered by this cleverly named port-a-bog by the side of the burger van. Simple burger with onions (natch) and suprisingly for me tommy sauce. In a floury bap. You getting this A47 Angie of the supposedly big baps? A big, floury bap.
As usual the bastard wind was up and with a big tide expected to turn at 2.30pm we set off down the wall then across the saltings and one of two precarious plank crossings we would have to make in the session.
First job for our ghillie the Loafer was to erect the essential shelter (with lots of cussing ) to get out of that bastard wind then setting about prepping the bait. Which for roker means fish, in ths case good old (actual) Essex herring, sectioned and wrapped in bait elasitc
and cuningly depolyed in ths contraption, that delivers two baited hooks, at range with no poxy clips or flapping baits. We weren't allowed to cast btw.
So here is the Loafer blasting out the said contraption onto the feeding grounds he assured us would be paved with ray.
Not paved with crabs anyway which the Loafer said was a good sign. I'd made and we'd drunk the first cup of tea before big man Shane was the first called into action and a decent roker was soon in tke edge.
Not a bad one declared the Loafer and indeed over 8lb on the scales. Yes, I know, no unhooking mat, or weigh sling. Tsk.
Shane is a big chap isnt he? Note the casual footwear. More of which later.
And the roker, a face only another roker could love surely.
Shane was amongst them whilst I seemed destined to be tea boy, adding another two to his tally
I had been called to the rods, thee times, with one very small whiting, even for a whiting then this one a notch up in size. I did say for a whiting and then a roker which inexplicably shed the circle hook.
Lunch called and soon 6 fat sausages were sizzling in the pan served with HP sauce as demanded by the Loafer. After he had cracked off a contraption sending it into near space orbit,being tracked by the nearby Bradwell Nuclear Power Station radar defences and the big guns at Fingringhoe and Shoeburyness ranges being readied.
Pan cleaned and away and the gripwires of my contraption wire out of the sea bed and I was winding down into something substantially bigger than a whiting.
A lot bigger in fact and landed way down tide from the shelter as you can see.
Another 8lb plus cracker.
Shane's turn next and again no whiting as the tide began to think abut turning and the wind dropped off.
A double hook up indeed, but not a roker double. Yes you might have guessed, the sea angler's nemesis, a doggie. And that's a male roker with its claspers. Not one for the skater boys. speaking of which, not a Beach Gentleman in sight. Too cold for that perhaps.
Not long after I was into another male roker which did take a bit of getting in.
Last chance fell to Shane, a greedy buggeress that had taken both baits so we got her back quickly
A cracking spot.
Though the tide was in ebb the saltings behind were full, and definitely not a place for jeans and street boots so the slippery plank bridge exit was a non-starter. And under water too. And course thick and deep estuarine mud.
All the water from acres of saltIngs was exiting through one breach of the low shingle bank, held back despite the dropping tide and impassable given the depth and flow. We were marooned.
The scouting party found a hefty lump of timber and we managed to ford that gap with myself and rhe Loafer in our tusty wellies and Shane gingerly picking his way across in bare feet and rolled up jeans It's a long way up to his ear canals and he does tend to get vertigo, once memorably during an horrific 90 minute drive to the Stour in a big white van that should have taken 40 as his internal "roll bars" were misfunctioning big style.
A cracking social allround. Though being faced with that in the dark would have been a different matter. Never take the sea for granted.