16/04/2017 - Not quite warm enough yet!

Easter saw us down in Wales again and whilst we had travelled down from Nottingham on a lovely, sunny afternoon dressed in shorts and t-shirts, the following morning was a bit of a shock. 

The first high tide of the week coincided with sunrise, so I was up bright and early for the trip down to Pembroke. Unfortunately the temperature, well into the twenties the previous day, was a paltry 6 degrees, with brisk Northerly wind making it feel even colder! Undeterred, I got out the scratching gear and some frozen, raw prawns and went to see what was lurking down the wall. A few, small pollack were soon obliging, snatching the bait almost as soon as it hit bottom. 

After a few half-hearted knocks I had a more determined rattle on the rod tip that resulted in a surprise sand smelt and an addition to the 2017 species list. A couple more small pollack followed before I managed to hook one of the "nibblers" - a typically greedy rock goby. Carried on a bit longer, but the short period of slack water between the spring flood and ebb tides was over all too quickly and I was back home drinking coffee before the others had even begun to stir from their beds.

The next morning it was even colder. As I left the house the temperature dipped briefly to minus two degrees, although it had managed to creep up to low single figures by the time I reached Pembroke. In contrast to the previous day, the pollack appeared to be absent. However, I had three schoolie bass in quick succession instead - species number six for the year. 

That looked as if it would be the sum total of the morning as about 30 minutes later the tide started to turn once more, shifting the light lead, without further addition to the scorecard. However, one last drop down the wall resulted in a positive bite and some decent resistance in the form of a PB long-spined sea scorpion, a real mini-monster of the deep!

Making the most of these early morning windows of opportunity, I was back again the following day, but this time with the boy in tow. The tide was still pushing in when we arrived, so we stood on the top of the wall watching the comings and goings in the Haven for a bit. Had only been there a couple of minutes when a seal popped up in front of us and right in the spot we were going to fish - not a good sign! Thankfully he didn't hang around long once he'd seen us and there were still enough pollack, sand smelt, gobies and schoolie bass about to keep the boy happy. Bizarrely, despite the temperature, the crabs decided to appear from nowhere this morning and by the end of the session we'd winched three different species of the bait-robbing beggars up from the depths - shore crabs, velvet swimmer crabs and an edible crab. As the tide turned we found a small spot of slack water between the floating pontoon and the wall. However, this only yielded a couple of gobies and a solitary shanny, so we went and warmed our cold fingers up with a hot pasty for breakfast.

The next day I went and had a chat with John at Raven Trading. As well as scrounging his last six ragworm and admiring some of his previous captures (including a leopard-spotted goby and a fifteen-spined stickleback) temporarily housed in the shop's aquarium, I left with a bit more local knowledge in the bank. Following his advice, I headed over to Milford Haven docks for the last session of the week. 

A quick scout around revealed a number of promising spots, but it was the lock pit that I tried first of all after John's report of corkwing and goldsinney wrasse. As it was high tide, the lock gates were open and there were a few outgoing vessels leaving the docks, including two Royal Navy patrol boats. These didn't really disturb me, although neither did the fish! Just had one half-hearted rattle and then snagged a female velvet swimmer crab full of roe before I decided to try one of the other spots I'd seen. 

Although the tide had started to go out by now, there was a big piece of slack water between the sea wall and a concrete jetty known as the "mackerel landing". Worked my way along the wall picking up a few rock gobies, shannies and the odd pollack. Didn't have the place to myself either - I was winding in a goby when a cormorant popped up right next to me. Shooed him off only then to have a seal appear, his head bobbing up out of the water like a shiny, bobby's helmet! Was starting to get busy by now with a big party of divers getting ready to head out and I was getting cold, so I called it a day, pausing to watch the fire fighting vessel practising out in the Haven. Was disappointed not to get a couple more species, such as coalfish, but I'll be back to try again at the end of May when hopefully it'll be a bit warmer!