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Normally I would never think of launching in the fog but once in a while, when everything else seems perfect I’ll go for it and often when you take these chances it pays off.

The last few weeks have seen me fishing Clacton on the east coast of the UK. Initially the target has been cod, but on the last trip it was Thornback Rays. This bottom feeding fish arrives in numbers on the coastline in April and if you hit it right you can have great sport with them. After watching the forecast last Sunday was the chosen day and myself, Martin and Alan were on the sea front bright and early to be greeted with…….. thick fog.

Visability was no more than 30 meters and normally this would mean an abandoned launch. However there were other factors.

The sea was flat, and forecast to stay like that all day. We knew the area very well, there was no need to paddle any more than 500 meters out to hit the ray grounds and there was almost no chance of there being any boat traffic so close in. We were all carrying Navionics loaded onto fishfinders, as well as on out phones as well as VHF radio’s, PLB’S, whistles etc. Basicically apart from the fog everything else felt right and after some discussion the decision was made to launch.

On the beach we all made waypoints of the launch position so were confident of finding our way back. After around ten paddle strokes the land disappeared behind us and we were dependant on technology to find our way.

Paddling in the fog can be an eerie experience. Because the air and sea are so still every sound is amplified, as are you senses. That coupled with the general disorientation can be very troubling. Without the aid of Navionics we would have been lost in minutes.

However soon enough we arrived on the mark. Anchors were dropped so that we were all sitting within sight of each other and baits were dropped. Unusually bites were instant and before I’d even got my bait in the water Martin was into a ray. I soon followed suit and for five hours fish after fish came to the yaks.

By 2pm we were out of bait. The fishing had been phenomenal. Martin led the way with 34 rays, but myself and Alan weren’t far behind with well over twenty each. The group total was over eighty thornbacks between the three of us along with numerous dogfish, whiting and codling.

Once we all had the anchors up we regrouped and headed for shore. The fog was still thick with visability of less than 50 meters, but using the waypoints we programmed that morning we arrived back on the beach at exactly the same spot as we launched, much to the surprise of the local dog walkers.

If in doubt don’t launch.

I’d never advise anyone to launch in the fog if you aren’t 100% happy with the situation. If ever in doubt then don’t launch. I’ve had occasions where I have sat on a beach in seemingly perfect conditions but something just hasn’t felt right. I’ve never been able to pinpoint what but something in my gut was saying don’t launch. On each of these occasions I have packed up and gone home. The sea can be a dangerous place and I can always launch another day. On this occasion I was in experienced company, we all had the right equipment and everything was feeling right, in the end we were rewarded with the best ray fishing I have experienced.