05/08/2016 - Gars and silver bars

Happened to have a chat with John at Raven Trading about how his species hunting was going and got around to garfish. He mentioned that there were quite a few coming out at Saundersfoot so, having managed to procure a mackerel at the last minute for bait, James and I headed off down to the harbour for a evening high tide.

The outer wall was lined with grockles flinging mackerel feathers to the horizon, sideways or straight up in the air depending on their competency, but we spotted a gap where a couple of chaps and their kids were packing up. Had a quick chat with them, but it didn't sound too hopeful as they said nobody had caught anything all evening! However, undeterred, I set up the float rod for James with an adjustable two-hook rig baited with thin belly strips of the mackerel, which turned out to be less than fresh! To start with one of the size 6 hooks was set at about 18 inches below the float and the other at 3 feet. Cast it out about 20 yards to the edge of the ripple. It was then just a question of getting the boy to keep an eye on it as it drifted back towards the wall, hopefully to be intercepted by a garfish or a mackerel. 

In the meantime I set up one of the light rods with a scratching rig and dropped it down the side of the wall baited with bits of equally stale ragworm and prawn to see if there was anything about. Didn't have to wait long before I had the first of many rattles.

Basically there just seemed to be a couple of species present. Either the bait on the bottom was taken by a shanny, or a sand smelt grabbed the bait on the top hook - it was a race between the two! However, didn't mind as there were plenty of both and I still appeared to be the only person catching anything! The garfish rig had been re-cast a couple of times when James said the float had gone under. Told him to wind the slack in quick and he briefly felt a fish on before it came off. Cast out to the same spot and it wan't long before the float was off again. This time I wound down and struck for him and then handed him the rod. After some brief, surface acrobatics our target species was safely in the net.

Unfortunately, he turned out to be deep-hooked, so he was swiftly dispatched for the boy's tea. Re-baited and cast out again for the float to disappear almost immediately. James confirmed fish on and got it to the point of lifting it out of the water when it fell off. However, there were no problems with the next one. This was hooked nicely in the beak, so was released with a quick shake of the forceps. Not long afterwards I had an unexpected silver eel that made a complete mess of my end rig! It was getting a bit dark to see the float by now and the crabs seemed to have moved in under my feet. John happened to turn up at this point as well so, after thanking him for his tip off and gleaning yet more useful information off him, we gave the crabs the leftover, manky bait and headed home. 

A few days later, I had the opportunity of lure fishing a couple of early morning low tides down on the estuary at Lawrenny for the bass. 

First morning I was up at 5 am, making my way down to the estuary in the half light to catch the tide as it turned and started flooding back in. Kept faith with the "teaser rig" - a bass fly on a dropper about three feet up from the lure. It was nice and still when I arrived, so started with a surface lure, but after about half an hour I'd had no interest, so switched to my favourite Megabass X-120. However, whilst this obviously got down the where the fish were feeding, all of the subsequent takes were on the fly. Had a couple of mini-bass, then lost a decent fish as I was drawing it into the shallows to unhook. Working my way up the beach I had a better schoolie before the racing tide and bright sunshine called a halt to the session.

In complete contrast, whilst I got an extra hour in bed, the following morning was cold and windy. Got to the venue to find somebody already fishing from the point and, as I put my waders on, another van pulled up beside me. Had a quick chat with the driver who was also down for the bass. He said that there'd been some decent fish coming out on soft plastics. I'd not got any with me this trip, so that was filed away for future reference. He was obviously keen to get going, so left him to join his mate on the point, while I went down onto the beach.

Over the next couple of hours I methodically fished my way towards them, occasionally having a crafty look to see how they were doing. Saw van chappie catch at least two nice fish. All I'd had at that stage was a micro-schoolie that you would have struggled  to make a fish finger out of! However, that was to change with the weather. The wind dropped completely and a fine drizzle set in.

My companions on the point packed up, confirming as they walked past that they'd just had the couple, whilst I persevered a bit longer. Walked up to the point where the incoming tide was now creating a pronounced crease between the main channel and the beach. Cast down and across the crease and was rewarded by a thump on the rod tip from a plump schoolie. Next cast the tip thumped over again, resulting in a bigger, albeit skinnier, fish. Carried on for a bit, working back down the beach, but that was it. 

Stopped off on the way home to pick some samphire, which I made a very satisfying breakfast of with a poached egg on toast. Well...you can't have a bacon sarnie every day!

31/07/2016 - Gobies, gobies and more gobies!

A family celebration combined with a "staycation" meant two weeks down in Pembrokeshire this summer and hopefully plenty of opportunity to wet a line. Mini-species hunting was definitely on the cards again and I'd already made up some light rigs at home in anticipation.

Rather than fiddle about tying these up from scratch with my fat fingers and failing eyesight, I bought some Flashmer "mini sprat" rigs from Alderney Angling. With a couple of extra swivels, a few beads and some hooks hooks to nylon out of the tackle box I got three "two up, one down" rigs out of each packet, which for £1.30 each I thought was a bargain.

First opportunity to put them to use them was the morning of the family do. With things not kicking off until the afternoon, my son James, friend Simon and I were allowed a couple of hours down at Hobbs Point. Things didn't get off to a flying start when we called in at Raven Trading to find that their last two packs of ragworm were already spoken for. However, after a quick stop at Tesco we had some raw tiger prawns as back-up and headed down to the dock. We'd timed our arrival to co-incide with low tide, so we could fish in comfort off the end of the old car ramp.
Tackled up the rods and baited the mini-rigs with slivers of prawn. James was first in with the ubiquitous rock goby, the first of many!
                                                                                                   I was soon into the action with some rock gobies of my own, with the occasional black goby also making an appearance when they could get a look in! Could see a few fish darting in and out of the weed on the side of the ramp and a bait dangled in front of their faces soon confirmed these to be little pollock. Simon had been struggling up to this point with his heavier gear and bigger baits, so I swapped rods with him and it wasn't long before he was into the gobies as well!
Carried on being pestered by the hoards of "rockies" (the seabed must have been covered with them), with just the occasional pollock and small wrasse thrown in to break the goby monopoly. However, by the time our couple of hours were up, we'd all caught fish and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The next trip down I was by myself. The weather had also taken a turn for the worst, with a brisk wind blowing straight up the Haven, bringing squally rain showers and white horses with it. Figured the best place to be was down on the temporary mooring, tucked out of the wind. The downside was that it was like fishing off a boat with the swell pushing up the estuary rocking the mooring from side to side!

Fortunately the weather hadn't put the fish off and I actually managed a couple of other species apart from the ravenous packs of gobies. Dropping the rig off the end off the mooring platform into open water I had a couple of sand smelt in quick succession, almost translucent when held up to the light apart from a solid line of silver scales along their lateral line. Moving around the corner I tried something different, scraping the lead down the face of the wall until it found a ledge. The reaction was instant as a greedy little shanny, or common blenny, grabbed one of the baits. Tried the trick again only to feel a familiar "pluck, pluck, twang" and a dead weight as a crab seized the bait instead.

Had had a few of these bait robbers when a particularly vicious little shower came through and  effectively called a halt to proceedings. Called into Raven Trading for a pack of rag on the way home looking like a drowned rat! Had one more session down at Hobbs Point the following day. Fished the first hour with the heavier rod and bigger baits hoping for a bigger wrasse, pollock, but didn't get a sniff. Switched over to the light rod, but couldn't shake off the gobies, or add to the species tally. Time to follow up a hot tip..........?