30/10/2015 - Species hunting in the Haven

We were down in Wales for the half-term, so took the opportunity to try and add to my sea species tally. Got some quality ragworm from John at Raven Trading in Pembroke Dock (Raven Trading) ready for the next day, but woke up to find it pouring with rain and blowing a gale. Didn't fancy sitting out in the elements, so the first trip was delayed until the following morning. However, in the interim I managed to persuade my teenage son, James, to accompany me - no mean feat given that it meant him leaving his pit at 0700 hrs! When we got down to Hobbs Point on the Haven, the car park was roped off - the reason becoming clear later. Set the lad up with a two hook flapper, while I fished a scaled down "one up, one down" rig. I was first out of the blocks with a male corkwing wrasse - a new species for me.

This was swiftly followed by a couple of small, but hard fighting pollock.

James was having trouble converting the sharp jabs and rattles he was getting into hook-ups, so we swapped rods while I re-baited for him. Seemed to do the trick as he was soon into the first of many fish of the morning - a fat rock goby.

The reason why the car park was roped off soon became apparent when a crane turned up to remove the floating, mooring pontoon for the winter. 

Didn't put the fish off as we continued to catch pollock and gobies (and crabs...) until the tide turned and the resulting current temporarily pushed us over to the quieter water on the other side of the boat ramp. I'd seen this area at low tide a couple of days ago and knew it to be shallower and mostly mud with a thin film of algae, which was absolutely covered in the marks left by grazing mullet. With that in mind I changed the ragworm hookbait to thin strips of squid. However, the gobies seemed to like this just as much until eventually James shouted he'd got something different. Turned out to be a sand smelt - again a new species (for him!).

About an hour into the ebb the current had died down sufficiently for us to move back to our original position, where we carried from where we had left, catching even more gobies, pollock and the occasional small coalfish.

Unfortunately the bass and ballan wrasse that I've caught previously at the venue never turned up. However, when it came to go home I had to admit that the lad had given me a good thrashing. Probably something to do with me unhooking fish (and crabs....) and re-baiting for him every five minutes! Despite this, the next morning he returned true to form and refused to leave his bed, so I was off down the Haven by myself. Whilst I was able to concentrate a lot better on the job in hand, it was more of the same, with the bigger fish being conspicuous by their absence. The crabs were a particular problem, something I've not experienced before, coming up two at a time sometimes and including some hand-sized velvet swimmers.

These are meant to be good eating - by the Spaniards anyway - so I might take a pot with me next time, even if it's just to thin the buggers out a bit! I did manage to add to the species tally with a couple of poor cod and catch a sand smelt of my own. However, the bass and wrasse eluded me.

The greedy crab population might have been one reason, but another revealed itself as I was thinking of packing up. I'd just seen a disturbance on the surface out of the corner of my eye and was scanning the area at the bottom of the boat ramp when a common seal popped up! He didn't hang around once he'd seen me, but I took that as signal to head for home. That's the sea-fishing tackle packed up for another year, but hopefully the zander gear will be getting a regular run out over the next few weeks as I try and catch a river double. 

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