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"When are we going to take up the lines?" “Just now, sir; we'll pull that way."
and the anchor hauled in, First came a small codling,
The buoy was shipped and then began the fun. then a dab, then another codling, then nothing for several fathoms, save "five-fingers" and starfish, the latter looking most excruciatingly uncomfortable with the hooks in their stomachs and their thirteen fingers curled up around them; then a ling, and then a succession of fine codlings. If they were slightly hooked, or were very large, the " pick" or gaff was used. They were shaken off the hook very unceremoniously, and the line was carefully coiled round as it was hauled in. Soon the bottom of the boat was covered with fish of all sizes. Sometimes a heavy strain on the line would tell of a big fish, and the excitement increased as fathom after fathom was hauled in, and two or three intermediate codlings were scarcely heeded until the big one was gaffed. It took a long time before both lines were on board and it was "up and away," and by that time I was rather tired of it. It was not such good fun as hand-line fishing. There was too much of the wholesale and mechanical about it. Of course, it is more business than sport.
Our take was about ten score of all sizes, and this is about an average one. If such a take could only be
had in the summer, the men would clear a pot of money by it, but just at this season the market is glutted, and the profits less.
In fine weather, this does not seem such a bad way of getting a living; but the rough has to be taken with the smooth, and very rough and hard it is at times.
Well, you are safe back," quoth my friend, as I jumped ashore.
Yes, and hungry enough to eat you up." So, having first bought a 9 lb. codling for a shilling, we made our way up the "gangway" to our lodgings.
I have had variable sport with hand-lines at Cromer. I recollect one occasion, when I spent part of a summer holiday there, going out with two friends to fish with hand-lines for anything that might turn up. Sport was rather slack, so we turned our attention to practical joking. C—, being rather afraid of seasickness, had brought a bottle of rum and milk with him. It was a most extraordinary compound to take to sea, and would, one would imagine, be sufficient to upset any stomach. Probably C—, being a lawyer, had a sterner stomach than other men. He was the most patient angler of the three, and scarcely took his eyes off the line which he held in his hand. Thus he gave an excellent opportunity to abstract the bottle from his pocket and taste the contents. T- did so,
He said nothing, and
and passed it to me, and I had a sip. So had the
"I've got such a whopper on!" by-and-by exclaimed T." See how he tugs. Bear a hand here, somebody."
The apron kept sheering to right and to left in the water, and T- got proportionably excited.
"Now, where's the gaff?-the line will break. It's a skate, I saw him. Here he is. Steady. Law!!!"
Amid our uproarious laughter T- sat looking, and probably feeling, more sold than he had ever done before.
If there is nothing else to do, the visitor can go out with the men to haul in the crab and lobster pots. It is a very pretty sight to see the crab-boats start out
together to the fishing grounds. You follow the large lug sails of the fleet with your eye, and all at once they suddenly disappear from view. This is caused by their lowering their sails when they arrive at the spot where the crab-pots are. You may then, on looking closely, just distinguish them as dark specks on the sea. They as suddenly reappear to the eye as the sails are hoisted, and they come sailing merrily home, the white foam flying from their bows.
I do not know whether any fishing is to be had from the pier, as at Yarmouth, or from the beach, as at Lowestoft, where the custom is to throw out lines armed with several hooks, and pegged into the sand at one end, while the other is leaded. They are thrown out by means of a stick with a notch in it. Dabs, small codlings, and bass are caught by them. I should say that both these methods might be tried with success at Cromer.
Cromer has no gas, and consequently it is a little difficult to find one's way about after dark. I recollect walking up and down the short street in which the Post-office is situate four or five times before I succeeded in finding the letter-box, and then I discovered it by feeling for it.
I have mentioned that the sun both rises from and sets in the sea, thus affording two beautiful sights each
day to the lover of nature. People take a very great deal of trouble to get to mountain tops in the dark to see the sun rise. They can see it under equally beautiful, and far more comfortable, circumstances at Cromer. Not long ago I was up at half-past three in the morning, and went down to the first breakwater for a bathe. Early as I was, there was a gentleman there before me. He said he had got up at that time to see the sun rise for three mornings, and "it had not risen satisfactorily yet."
What do you mean?" said I.
Why, it rises out of a bank of clouds, and not direct from the water."
He expressed his intention to be up as early the next morning. I hope the sun rose satisfactorily then. Cromer will be spoiled when the rail goes there.