I had decided to go fishing early hours of Thursday 6th January, so the night before I went to bed for 10pm and for some strange reason I kept waking up every half hour. Did my sub-conscious know something?

The alarm went off at 3am.  I loaded my van 15 minutes later having carefully prepared my tackle, bait, clothing and dog, the night before.  It was -2degrees Celsius when I put my black Labrador, Cassie, into the back of the van and set off on the 30 miles to the Holderness coast north of Withernsea in East Yorkshire.

The ground was frozen as I made my way on the cold, dark beach to my favourite mark.  No wind, freezing, a clear sky and a calm sea made for almost perfect fishing conditions.  First cast was about 4.15am with the meteorite shower quite active.  The bait was fresh lug worm tipped with squid on pennal pulley rigs with size one and two hooks.  It was difficult to see how far my cast went but I can usually top 100 yards with my 16 feet Penn Affinity and Emcast.

Twenty minutes passed and then I noticed the tension release on the rod tip.  My head light showed the rod gradually straighten as something must have moved the 6oz breakaway lead from the seabed.  I wound down to check whether the lead was still gripping and then I felt a thump, thump.  ‘Fish On’ I thought, and realised that it was something big that would not be bullied.  By myself (apart from Cassie), in the dark and working only by my headlight and beach tilley lamp it was difficult to play a very strong fish.

Would the rig hold out, would the shock leader knot hold, would the fish get snagged? – hundreds of things flash around the mind but as the adrenaline kicks in, the buzz that anglers dream of is there to be enjoyed.  The hunting instinct was there and it was down to experience, the gentle touch and co-ordination of man and tackle to land the fish.  It was a text book ten minutes of not being too rough and getting it through the swell to the last wave.  I saw it surface in the surf and fought to get it up the beach.  As the wave receded I saw this North Sea monster in the sand.  I tried to grab its tail but missed and slid off in the dark.  It took a well placed size 13 wellington boot to help it up the beach.

When I got the headlight on it for the first time I saw it was a huge cod in the 16 lb region.  I stood in awe, took some deep breaths, a couple of whoops and dispatched the monster to its maker with a piece of drift wood.

I thought, ‘I’ve got to tell someone.’  I rang my fishing friend, Stewart, at 4.50am, apologised for the early morning call and told him my news.  He muttered something about ‘golden balls’ and was soon wide awake revelling in my catch.  He thanked me for waking him up as he would now be able to listen to the Ashes Test Match live.

The next problem was getting the fish back to the van.  It was too big for my box and I didn’t have a big enough carrier bag.  Somehow I got it back to my local fishing tackle shop where it was weighed at 16lbs 8oz and photographed. 

After more photos at home the post mortem revealed the only thing in its stomach was a 5 inch flat fish.  Each filet weighed 4lbs and when cut into generous portions there was enough for over 12 meals.

What a session as I had caught another cod of 2lbs and a decent bite which didn’t connect.  It was a day I’ll never forget and a PB that I doubt I’ll never better.  This was an excellent reward for persevering during these recent extreme conditions with many blank outings. Keep at it friends, and enjoy your fishing.

Kevin Darley