Its been a tough year for me fishing-wise. Work, fledgling new businesses and other factors just haven’t worked in my favour. Even my bread and butter garden route estuaries are closed this year. For the first time in almost half a decade, I’ve missed the spring rush. There is however a fish that I will make me make the time.
Found in the most hostile environments around, the White Musselcracker is a notorious bastard on artificial tackle. In fact I only know of one or two (one confirmed by photograph) taken on artificials, and none on fly. They hunt in gullies for crustaceans, sea urchins and almost any other snack they find. A by product of the washing machine inshore habitat means that a lot of the feeding behaviour is scent triggered. At least I think so.
I always used to ask prospective anglers, marine biologists, and anyone else with white mussel cracker experience if they would be possible on the old feather. I never got a yes. But two years ago something happened. I found possibly the only stretch (and by stretch I mean 3 little holes) on this entire coastline where they be sight cast to in shallow water, and I began to arrogantly think that maybe Neptune had me in mind for the first fly catch. Fast forward two years and Ive had the honour of presenting almost every single fly pattern I can imagine to these guys, probably 2 or 3 hours in totality, which is a lifetime for this sight fishing Unicorn. Urchins, red crabs, worms, clousers, the works. In an intense session early on in the hunt I managed to drop a crab right on ones forehead while it sat in a gulley in front of me. Didn’t even flinch.
As ugly as they are out the water, they are beautiful in it. They sit far higher in the water column than you would imagine, and glow a neon blue on their shoulders and fins. I keep telling myself ill find that hungry fish that will make a mistake, so ill be out there soon, shaking and hoping in close quarters with my nemeses.