SI Vault
Clive Gammon
June 01, 1981
The best U.S. and British surfcasting beaches are jammed, but experts over there beat crowds by casting as far as 600 feet
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June 01, 1981

Guzzlers And Ditters

The best U.S. and British surfcasting beaches are jammed, but experts over there beat crowds by casting as far as 600 feet

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Examine that sinker, by the way. It bears no relation to the lead pyramids sold to American anglers for surf work. Carroll's is as streamlined as a bullet, and in its fishing version, it has four wire prongs that hold it firm in the sand on the bottom, but that collapse to free it when the rod is jerked before the retrieve.

Then Carroll is into the Yarmouth cast, a kind of reverse pendulum, "The difficult one," he says, "in which you start and finish with your back to the sea." He throws 550 feet with the Yarmouth. And finally the South African, which begins with the sinker lying on the ground and which isn't a practical fishing cast unless one is on a flat, hard, preferably deserted sand beach. Carroll casts 575 feet using the South African method.

At this point, he stops. "Look," he says, pointing out to sea, "the long-lining boats are heading out. Got to be cod out there. Look at that smooth run of tide with the shimmer on the top. Perfect."

Carroll, it is warming to see, still has the compulsions of a fisherman, not an athlete. The demonstration is broken off, and he is sliding, skidding down the shingle ridge, scrounging bait from the other anglers and then sending it screaming out, who knows how far, well over the barren stones and into a submarine sand gully that's maybe 90 feet deep.

To reach the gully one must make a 350-foot-plus cast, but in less than 15 minutes the effort proves worthwhile for Carroll. The tip of Barebones, pulled hard over in the tide by the sinker anchored in the sand, suddenly springs upright and the line momentarily goes slack. Deep down, a cod has the bait and is carrying the sinker with it. Grunting and slithering, Carroll at first has to give ground to the fish, but he eventually has it ashore—plump, gray, yellow-speckled, maybe 12 pounds.

In the next half hour, two more casts follow, and Carroll looks up to see another angler advancing on him along the beach.

"Been here all night," the man says suspiciously. "Got nothing. What you using?"

"My head," Carroll says. The ditter is not amused.

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