29/06/2013 - Cleddau Estuary

The next opportunity to try for some more bass came quicker than expected when the wife suggested I take the kids down to Wales for a long weekend. It was an opportunity not to be missed - Amy had just finished her GCSE's, James had a double inset day and I had loads of flexi-time to use up, so Friday saw us pootling down the motorway to Pembrokeshire. Got there to find that the tides had worked out nicely again, with low tide on the Saturday at about 5.30 AM. Actually got there on the day about an hour later to catch it as it turned and started pushing up the estuary, hopefully bringing the fish with it. Decided to stick with the Megabass-X130 that had worked well last time, casting off the beach into the main channel. Had been plugging away for half an hour before I had a take, a good solid "clonk" as I changed the direction of the lure towards the end of the retrieve, resulting in my first bass of the day.

Bar of silver
A few casts later I had a fish hit the lure virtually under the rod top, but unfortunately failed to connect. By now the water level had crept up to my crotch, so I backed up and moved along the beach a little thinking perhaps the fish were closer in. Seemed to work as very next cast in resulted in another bar of silver.
X-130 again!
Carried on for a bit longer, but the tide was really racing by now and a big group of canoeists had arrived in the carpark, so decided to end it there happy with my two fish. Was even happier when I spotted some samphire sticking up out of the mud. Went nicely with a poached egg on toast and chilli sauce when I got home!
Was in the same spot an hour later the following day. However, was faced with a stiff breeze blowing straight into the inlet, which made casting across the channel a bit difficult. Wave action on the shore had coloured the water up as well, so switched to an X-130 in chartreuse. Had a clonk early on and was just backing up into the shallows to land the fish when it conveniently decided to unhook itself! Carried on with the wind getting stronger and my confidence getting weaker. Had just about given up when I had a take close in. This one I managed to beach safely. Was bit cold by now and I could see the same group of canoeists arriving in the car park again so, after collecting another handful of samphire for breakfast, called it a day. As I walked back to the car I was treated to the sight of a Red Kite flying overhead. These are getting more and more common in Pembrokeshire, presumably as they move down from mid-Wales, but are still fantastic to see.

26/06/2013 - Leicestershire brook

"You know on wednesday, you're not doing anything are you?" her indoors innocently asked the other night. "I want to to a meeting in the evening". "No, dear" I lied as I watched a planned barbel trip to the Trent go flying out of the window. However, got my own back this morning as I woke her up at 4 am (with a cup of tea mind!) as I left for a go at some more LBT's (Leicestershire Brown Trout) before work instead. Arrived to find the brook even lower and clearer than last time. However, it was nice and overcast and I figured I'd be in with a chance if I kept quiet. Carried on where I left off last time, dropping a weighted nymph into likely looking spots, but had only the odd rattle on the rod tip to show for the first half hour, so swapped the black goldhead I was using for a GHRE with a more subdued copper head. Seemed to do the trick as I was in straight away in the next spot with solid take from a small LBT that buried itself in the marginal vegetation and had to be extricated by hand.

One nil to the GHRE

Next spot I was into something a bit better - a bigger, darker fish that again did it's best to shed the barbless hook in the overhanging grass and needed an undignified bum-slide down the bank to land it. This one took the nymph literally as it hit the surface, so guess they must be used to the odd terrestrial dropping in.


Two more followed, including one from a section of the brook right next to a road as oblivious, early morning commuters whizzed behind me. Carried on upstream a bit further than last time and came across a nice pool on the outside of a bend, complete with rising trout! Catapulted the nymph up to the head of the pool and had it taken on the drop. Popped that one back in downstream so as not to disturb the others and went back for another shot. Next drift back down the pool the tipped jagged over as the nymph was again taken on the drop. This one buried itself in some tree roots to my left, but I managed to pop it out into the net with a bit of persuasion.


Had a few more casts, but the disturbance from the last fish had probably spooked the others as I just had one half-hearted pull. Carried on a bit further upstream, but the sun and dog walkers had come out by now. The grass pollen, which had been coming up in yellow clouds all morning and coating my waders and my jacket, was also starting to get to my throat and eyes.

Hayfever time!

Reluctantly headed back to the car and joined the rat race again.

15/06/2013 - Leicestershire brook

Had a couple of lure sessions on the canal after coming back from Wales, but struggled with just a few small perch on the Kopytos.

Better than nowt!
Therefore decided to do something completely different and headed off to a small brook in Leicestershire with the fly rod. Had gleaned some information from work that suggested there was a reasonable head of brown trout present, even though it ran very close to housing on the outskirts of a town. Got there nice and early to avoid the dog walkers to find the brook low and clear despite the overnight rain. However, as I stuck my head over the bridge there was a big puff of silt in the margins as something shot off, which certainly raised my hopes.
Small, but full of promise!
Walked upstream looking for likely spots, before staring to fish back downstream. The brook was generally less than a foot deep with a couple of deeper holes, but with lots of bankside cover. Not a lot of casting was involved, more flicking or dropping a gold head GHRE into the margins and letting trundle past the overhanging vegetation where I hoped the fish were lying up - more trotting than fly fishing! Had tried a couple of spots before I got a good thump on the rod tip and found myself connected to a fish that charged straight into the side. Slid bum first into the water and scooped it into the net. Back on the bank  I was able to have a good look at my first wild Leicestershire brown trout, all spots and buttery yellow belly.
Then missed three chances (doh!) in a little pool, before latching onto a slightly bigger "LBT" just upstream of a shallow ford, again fin-perfect and beautifully marked.
Little beauty
Missed another chance a bit further down then added another of a similar size. By now the dog walkers had started to appear and a blustery wind started getting up, which was making presentation difficult, so headed back to the car avoiding the dog mines. Didn't think that was bad for a quick recce and was fully deserving of the bacon sandwich I had when I got home.

31/05/2013 - Cleddau Estuary, Pembrokeshire

A surfing trip to North Devon earlier in the month gave me another opportunity to meet up with Joel Squires (aka www.joelsoul.co.uk) and a chance to break my bass duck. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas. The cold, wet conditions and howling onshore wind had virtually knocked the surfing on the head and the fishing didn't fare much better despite Joel's usual optimism. Gave it an hour or so with soft plastics before the weather worsened and we were forced off the rocks by the incoming swell. Another time, mate!

Next opportunity was a few days down in Pembrokeshire. Weather had improved significantly, but a brisk, northerly wind saw me looking for some shelter down on the South coast. Had spotted a nice, rocky headland near Manorbier whilst out on the coast path earlier in the year that looked promising. Spent a couple of hours flicking soft plastics into likely looking holes and gullies for wrasse with no response, so moved 'round to the adjacent rocky bay and changed over to surface lures for the bass. However, that failed to attract anything either. Was beginning to think it wasn't ever going to happen!

Looks good, but where were the fish?

Next day the wind had dropped significantly, so it was down to the estuary at Lawrenny. Had timed it just right - the boats were just swinging around on their moorings to face the incoming tide and the water level was starting to creep up the shore, lifting the empty mussel shells and sending them floating off upstream like miniature coracles.
Down on the estuary
Started off with a popper, but then spotted some small bait fish and spooked something bigger in the shallows. Had a look in the box and found a Megabass X-130 in sardine that seemed to fit the bill. Fourth or fifth cast out into the channel I had a satisfying clonk on the rod tip and after a short, spirited fight I was looking at my first bass in the shallows - only about 1lb, but all spines, flared gills and attitude. Popped him back and a couple of casts later was looking at his twin brother. Had two more, biggest about 2lb.

By now the tide was really pushing in and the jellyfish were flying past my knees. That seemed to herald the end of the action, but went home happy and a bit relieved! Next day saw me down in the same spot, albeit an hour later to catch the same state of the tide. Stuck with the X-130 and it did the business again. Had three bass up to about 2lb  again before the flow picked up and the fish were gone, presumably off upstream.
X-130 strikes again
Stopped off briefly on the way home to watch some impressive-looking mullet bow-waving and feeding in a few inches of water, right on the margins of the incoming tide. Maybe next time?!