A day fishing out of Plymouth aboard Aaron Lidstone’s boat, Happy Days, is one I will always look forward to and never turn the opportunity down. As skippers go, he is top drawer; he will work tirelessly and professionally to ensure he gives you the best day he can, whatever the elements or other obstacles throw at him, but trust me, it is not just the fishing you go out fishing with Aaron for, it is the day ! The man (and usually his crew!!) are complete “nutters”. Their sense of humour is brilliant and totally infectious. If you ain’t catching fish, you are crying with laughter with the never ending stream of jokes and pranks and if you are catching, which more often than not you are, don’t think it slows down, oh no !! Have you ever tried reeling in a 80lb conger with serious attitude, giving it large and all he can pulling back harder than you can pull forward … with your trousers around your ankles !!! Lesson one – always wear a tight belt.
So, when Paul Couzens said the day was on, but pick up time was 03.30 in the morning (and I honestly can’t remember the last time I left the day before I was fishing !!), I was well up for it.
All set and ready to go, we headed off to Sutton Harbour, Plymouth, to meet Aaron and crew for 5am.
All aboard, with Tony and Martin both crewing and fishing with me and Paul for the day, cup of tea in hand, we start the 65 mile, 3 hour steam, (most of which, I must confess, I was in the land of nod!) out to some marks on The Neeps that Aaron has been given the heads up on but hasn’t fished before.
Q “So what we fishing for today then, Aaron?”
Once we arrive at the first mark we eagerly drop down our lines in over 300 foot of water. Three of us are fishing sidewinders, whilst Paul starts with his usual slow jigging and Aaron puts down a string of baited hok-eyes.
The first drift yields a couple of pollack, not big, around 5lb a piece. And whilst it takes a while to get to the bottom, it seems to take an age and a lot of arm aching reeling to get the fish back up ! And we’ve only just started.
The next couple of drifts only produce a few more pollack of around the same size, so Aaron decides it’s time move off to the next wreck …. And to get this party started. Put on some tunes and crank up the volume. Jacko kicks things of with Man in the Mirror … and the boat is rocking!
The next wreck produces a few bigger pollack, up to 8lb this time but still not what Aaron was hoping for, so we move off again. Fire up the outboards, disco resumed, music back on max, only this time Adele kicks us off – some would argue worse than the fishing ?
Once on the 3rd wreck of the day, fishing in around 160 foot of water, we drop down again, all still fishing the same tactics as previous, albeit alternating between different sizes, weights and colours.
It’s OBW Time!
First drift and Tony’s rod is soon bent double and he is in to a nice fish. It’s the first bit of proper action so far, which means it also requires the first and obligatory “on board wedgie” of the day !!!! With his voice an octave or two higher and wearing his version of the “Plymouth Mankiny”, Tony soon boats a nice cod approaching 20lb.
Keeping on the Move
The pollack follow with every drift and then I am in to another nice fish. My first thought is that it might be a nice cod, given Tony had just had one, (my second thought quickly follows; best cross my legs to keep my trousers where they are supposed to be!!) With the lack of “nodding” it soon becomes clear this wasn’t a cod, more likely a decent ling, which proved to be just the case 5 minutes later when it was boated. And at around 20 odd pound, it’s not to be sniffed at. And as a bonus, I’m still wearing full attire in the appropriate places ! Have they got a cunning plan ?
As the tide was increasing, Aaron decided to move off again to some shallower water and this time we have the voice of Tom Jones out of the speakers. A truly eclectic range of tunes Aaron !!
The Action Picks Up
Arriving at the next wreck, we dropped down and were soon in to the pollack once again, with every drift producing 3 or 4 fish around the 4-6lb mark. Suddenly, the bend in my rod signals something a bit bigger. After a few lunging dives, the biggest pollack of the day so far is on the boat. Paul Cozens perseverance with the slow jigging begins to pay off when he boats a nice ling at around the 20lb mark, which was quickly follows up with another nice pollack of around 10lb. Martin then hooked in to another nice pollack of around the same size. This took considerably longer to boat, due to the fact that his back, sack and crack hair was being systematically pulled out, a few strands at a time !!
With the sun high, the temperature at around 25 degrees and a long way home, Aaron suggested a couple of more drifts before we head off. The usual pollack and small ling were coming steadily aboard steadily, when my rod tip gave the usual tap and bend as I reeled down, I thought another small pollack, but something didn’t feel quite right? When it came to the surface I could see why, my first ever John Dory. Not a monster by any means, but a very welcome tick in the species box.
Not long after that it was time for the long steam home. Crack open a couple of cold ones, Tom Jones and The Green, Green Grass of Home sets us on our way at around 50 decibels and it’s 30 knots for the next few hours.
The jokes are endless, they just keep coming. God knows how Aaron remembers them all … and it’s new material every time! When he’s not fishing, I can only assume he must watch Comedy Central non-stop !!
Another fantastic day aboard Happy Days, as always. Probably not the number of fish in the box as Aaron would have hoped for, but like I said earlier, fishing with Aaron is an experience, it’s like fishing at The London Palladium. But we we were kept interested, we caught fish steadily all day, we were entertained all day and the banter between us all all was second to none. A very, very enjoyable day. Thank you !