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Sea Fishing off Norfolk

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On the Norfolk coast sea-fishing is not appreciated or practised to the extent it ought to be. Although a few natives amuse themselves by fishing from beach, pier, or boat, when circumstances are favourable, and occasionally a few visitors join them, it is not generally known what enjoyable sport is easily obtainable. In the early part of the season (September and October), when the weather is fairly warm, you may with comfort fish from pier or boat; but the fishing I myself prefer is what is known as " casting " from the beach. For this I find a frosty morning best, and I use three or four lines to keep myself warm by attending to them. For casting you require a fairly thin but strong line from eighty to a hundred yards in length, and about a dozen hooks, with a lead weighing about three-quarters of a pound. The hooks used vary considerably in shape and size; but I prefer black Limericks of medium size, which keep their point longer than white ones when they come in contact with the shingle. The hooks should be placed on the line about three feet apart, and attached to a snood (The snood is the piece of line (which may either be manilla, cotton, or gut), by which the hook is attached to the line proper. - e.a.c.) about a foot in length. The lines complete with lead, hooks, and reel, can be bought at most of the seaside towns; the price should be two-and-ninepence or three shillings, according to the quality of the line. A pole six feet in length, with a groove cut in top, is required for casting the line, and can be bought for about a shilling. The baits are sandworms, mussels, clams, whelks, herrings, and mackerel. The mussel is a very taking bait for whiting, but it must always be bound on the hooks for casting, although it can be used in the ordinary way for pier or boat-fishing with rod or small hand-line, and two or three hooks. Sandworms I find the best bait for codling, which will take this when other baits have failed. Sandworms, or " lug bait," as they are called, can be bought for a shilling per hundred, and in some places a pint may be purchased at the same price. Of course beach-fishing can only be indulged in where the water is fairly deep. Where the beach is flat it is best to hire a boat and row into deep water. For boat-fishing a moderately stout rod is required. An ordinary pike rod is as good as anything, with a medium-sized wooden winch, which must work very freely. The tackle I have been most successful with is a sliding lead weighing about four ounces, on gimp, with two hooks below and one above the lead. If the tide is running rather strong a larger lead can be used. For whiting and dabs a calm day with a westerly wind is best, but for codling-fishing from the beach an easterly breeze, with a slightly choppy sea, is most favourable to sport. In casting, a beginner should be careful not to lay any hooks behind him before throwing out, as there may be a possibility of his ear being carried out to sea with the line. When laying the line on the beach lay it from left to right, commencing with the lead, toggle, and the hooks a yard or two from the water's edge. The line should be neatly laid further up the beach, with care not to get any part of the line, or even the reel, to the left of the lead. When the hooks have been properly baited, fix the button at the end of toggle into the groove at the end of the pole, give two or three gentle swings, and cast the line into the sea. It is best for a beginner to throw gently at first, or the button may slip from the pole before intended, and the pole go seawards instead of the line. When baiting with sandworms thread them on the hooks. If the worms are of medium size, say two or three inches, a whole one can be used; but occasionally you get a large one of six or seven inches, which, when partly threaded on one hook, can be nipped off and used for baiting the next. If the worms are alive and in good condition they will remain on the hooks fairly well (provided the line is not jerked too much in casting). When dead and soft they require binding on, for which a piece of manilla cord, cut into lengths of about a foot and untwisted, is useful. When hauling in the line lay it on the beach as before. If small or medium-sized fish are hooked, pull in at a moderate pace; but a large cod, of say ten or twelve pounds, requires a little humouring. If the fish swims in quickly, pull in the slack line as sharply as possible. If, on the other hand, it stops and seems a dead weight, do not attempt to strain the line too much, but with a few gentle pulls get the fish to swim shorewards. In all cases it is advisable to keep the line as taut as possible.

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