Oh we do like to be beside the sea-side!

It’s odd that following on from a light dose of Covid I really couldn’t be @rsed with walking in at Beadnell but the South Gare? Ooooooooh I do like to dive the sea-side of the Gare!

As always nuts and bolts, we were diving on the open sea side of the south gare breakwater rather than the ‘river side’ and whilst we have been on spring tides so lots of water moving about but despite that I was happy, it was a milky 5 or maybe 6 meters and although I brought along my torch I can honestly say that this is the first dive where I could have largely got away without it.

So it was kit on and off for a walk and mistake number one, I didn’t bother putting a lift bag into my pocket, a mistake that came back to bite me later on in the dive! Anyway, the end of the breakwater was very busy with anglers jostling about and hurling out strings of mackerel feathers in the hope of snaring tea. It seemed odd that the families fishing for tea seemed to be mainly Eastern Europeans whilst the local born anglers were all fishing light tackle for wrasse plus other smaller species for sport, returning their catch. Maybe in the UK we are more divorced from our food than other areas of the world, when In was younger we ate at least two meals a week from ‘things’ caught from sea, lake or river be that trout, sea-trout, lobster, crab, scallops or whatever else we caught that was a foodstuff. Who knows just a perception based on my limited outlook on who I see doing and taking what when I am diving.

Not surprisingly we didn’t venture to the end, rather stopped off and got in at a ramp maybe two thirds of the way along the pier with a view to mooch and then head slowly back to climb out at the shore rather than head back to the ramp, it’s the route I have taken before and its all traditional navigation insofar as head west and you get to the shore and head north and you will eventually bang into the breakwater, none of this take a bearing of 260 degrees type of exact navigation for me, keep it simpler as I get older!

My dive buddy is well known to the anglers, possibly to authorities too, so he was asked to check out a snag in a particular area which meant that the first twenty minutes or so he was off checking whilst I was bimbling, shifting from the area close to the breakwater where there are car size boulders to an area where there are areas of rocks, some with kelp, poking though a very thin layer of fine sand and silt.

Heading there it was obvious that it was going to be a bloody shambles as the bottom was criss-crossed with lost fishing line, I spent a couple of minutes freeing up some wiggie lobsters, but being blunt after dusk when they are out and about there will be more of the poor buggers all hung up. I did spend a considerable amount of time picking up lost leads and lures as you can see from the photo below but I think that it really needs a proper go at it with shears just chopping the line into shorter lengths, maybe a few yards longs then sacking it or leaving to be rolled up and cast ashore in storms. But with the amount of people fishing it really needs to be done right so if I can get the RIB in the water I will motor round and have an afternoon at it one day, diving 15l tanks to get a couple of ninety minute plus dives. If nothing else that recovered lead will more than pay for the fuel!

There was a large area where wafting away the very thin layer of sand exposed ‘lots’ of lots fishing weights, I had to and did stick my head out for a ‘look-see’ and having got my bearings for the area I can assure you that I will return correctly armed!

On the fish front there were the usual target species, that’s to say coalfish, pollack plus ballan wrasse but there were also some bloody oddballs! I don’t mean scorpionfish as they are common as hell even though they are small, no today there was what looked like a large tadpole fish in the rocky stuff from the ramp, initially I thought it was a scorpionfish but no having scratched my head and referenced some books it wasn’t, I was very uncertain at the time as the body tapered away from the grossly oversized head very quickly and I knew it certainly wasn’t an anglerfish as it didn’t have the cavernous mouth or indeed the flatter profile, so an odd-ball and looking back the only time I have spotted one previously was a shore dive from the back of St Abbs harbour. The other odd-ball will probably elicit a ‘doh’ from my southern readers but we also spotted quite a large tompot blenny late in the dive in ‘shallower water’, it didn’t really want to play ball and was lying in a long hollow formed by a couple of rocks but even though it was sitting a couple of foot inside you could clearly see the body-shape and outrageous ‘hair-style’. And finally dabs, it’s a long time since I have seen any dab but today there were lots of hand-size fish on the sand and whilst most sported the usual colour scheme of light brown on top and white underneath the one that first caught my attention had the front half of the fish in a white colouration, the white colour would really play hell with the ability of the fish to effectively camouflage so it was a bit of a surprise to spot and effectively mature fish in this state. I must admit my first reaction on seeing it was that it was a ‘dead un’ thrown back by anglers that was decomposing so to see it zip away was a little bit of a shock.

It was probably just after the tompot blenny that my beginners mistake of not bringing along a lift bag came back to bite me, or at least send rivers of wet down my back as ‘pop’ my neck seal inverted letting the air, which had been giving lift, out of my suit and allowing copious amounts of the North Sea into my suit, nasty. Sure it wasn’t the worst one I have had with the water being quite warm and only having another five or so minutes in the water but it wasn’t nice and it was all so avoidable, oh well chalk my laziness down to experience dry everything out and start again!

As I wrote I will come back to get more of this bloody line chopped up and leads lifted, the problem with lost line and tackle is that it just becomes a self-perpetuating problem with the lost kit adding to the size and ‘snaggability’ of the original snag meaning more tackle lost and well you get the picture. I have no qualms about taking creatures for the pot but I do get rather upset when these creatures get all snagged up and die for no good reason. It will solve very little of the problem of lost line and I’ll be damned if I go off the gare end where it will be really gnarly with lost kit and ‘thick’ line or braid but the area frequented by divers, well yup I should be able to tidy a bit but give it a month and it’ll be business as usual.

Coming towards the end of the dip it was obvious it wasn’t just end tackle that the fishermen lost as Simon picked up am inexpensive fixed spool reel that to be honest looked like it had seen very little service before being lost from the side of the breakwater, oh I bet that there were soime choice words, anyway a quick turn showed that it wasn’t seized up so its currently sitting in a bucket of fresh water in my shed awaiting my attention with WD40 and grease. Interestingly it was set up for a left handed angler, I reckon that it wouldn’t be too hard to track down the chap who originally lost it, but…….

So there you have it, an interesting little dip, a thoroughly wet set of dry-kit, a fishing reel to fettle, a stone and a bit of lead and lures I only missed out on the food and being honest I am a bit wary of eating food at the moment taken from the estuary area of the River Tees with all the nasties being raked up in the ongoing dredging activities.

Dive safe


Weight this dive – 9.0 kg

Weight this year – 824.2 kg

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