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Cornwall LivingIssue #66

A morning’s catch

We spend a morning aboard Anglo Dawn, one of Falmouth’s premier charters.

Arriving at Premier Marina in Falmouth around eight in the morning, it’s clear we’ve been a tad eager to turn up in time for the arranged eight-thirty meet. However, as we lean on the rail and peer down into the grey waters of the harbour, we glimpse a school of around 15 mullet poking their heads out from beneath the pontoon. “Let’s hope that’s a sign of things to come!”

As you’ll know from reading issue 63, I’ve always been a keen angler, as has my brother and my dad before us. Unsurprisingly then, heading out to sea with the promise of a fish or two is more than enough to tempt my dad and I out of bed this particular Saturday morning.

“Nothing beats catching your own supper!”

As we clamber aboard, we’re immediately struck by how well equipped the vessel is. Multiple sonar screens in the cabin and one outside reveal the seabed in the depths below, and in the middle of the deck, a rack supports a legion of rods, bristling in the gentle breeze and ready for the morning’s pursuit. Everything is pre-tied, so there’s nothing for us to do about except await Andy, our captain’s unmistakable call to arms: “Off you go then everybody!”

Andy has been scouring Falmouth’s local waters since he was a teenager and, having served as a chef in the Royal Navy, he knows a thing or two about good food. He also has enviably sturdy sea legs, something I can’t help but admire as we roll atop the steady chop of the sea. He tells me how Anglo Dawn also runs wildlife safaris, which are great for groups who want to see first hands the magnificent creatures such as dolphins and basking sharks that reside in our waters.

Our first stop, he tells, is over a muddy seabed. I ask him what we’re hoping to catch. “That’s a surprise, but we couldn’t catch one yesterday so I’m determined to get one this morning!”

He tells us to drop our sinkers to the bottom and then tap the seabed. Donk. Donk. Donk. Fishing with braid on the reels, we can feel every thing, whether it’s the soft thud of lead mud, the scraping of rocky ground or a jolt – almost electric – as a fish strikes. And it’s not long before we find what Andy’s after – a red band fish. A resident of the muddy flats beneath us, it’s something none of us have seen before. Fortunately, Andy knows his local species, and begins explaining how the specimen sits with just its mouth protruding from the mud, waiting for its prey to swim by. When disturbed, it lurches from its burrow, striking its next meal with quick and lethal force, streamlined thanks to its slender, eel-like anatomy.

We soon move on, in search of whiting, with the prospect of an octopus or two. That’s right! Personally, I wasn’t aware we had octopus in Cornish waters, a realisation I come to rather sharply as more tentacles than I can count begin snatching greedily at our lures. Once again, Andy explains something fascinating about these incredible creatures. He tells us how octopus are able to squeeze their way through any hole or crevice, so long as it’s bigger than their mouth, which itself is less than a centimetre in diameter.

What really strikes me is Andy’s ability to motivate us, especially after a lull in the action. “Come on boys, why’s nobody catching anything? Too much talking, that’s what it is!” We all laugh, and set to concentrating on our rods and it’s not long before we see one final flurry of activity – a handful of red gurnard, a couple of mackerel and one last octopus, before it’s time to turn back.

Although we’ve only been out for the morning, we’ve found ourselves chatting among like-minded individuals from all over the UK, each bound to the next by his obsession for angling. But it’s more than that; for everyone, it seems, the best part is simply being out there, with the sea air flushing through our lungs, and stunning the coastline that stretches from Falmouth all the way to Porthoustock on the Lizard slowly ebbing by.

These trips are also fantastic for foodie fanatics like us here at Cornwall Living, offering the rare opportunity to experience first hand where Cornwall’s seafood comes from. You can even charter the boat for the day, perfect for treating a loved one on their birthday and even better if you’re planning a barbecue in the evening – nothing beats catching your own supper!

For me, it’s great to get out with my dad and do something we both grew up loving and for dad, given that he was only yesterday celebrating his birthday, a revitalising morning at sea couldn’t have come at a better time.

"Nothing beats catching your own supper!"