04/06/2017 - LRF round up

The last few weeks have seen a number of opportunities to head out to the coast for some species hunting - well that was the idea! First opportunity was the lads' surf trip down to North Devon. An early morning low tide saw me heading off to Ilfracombe to fish off the pier under the gaze of Verity once again. Water was really clear, with no sign of the dreaded "May bloom". However, by the time the rest of the lads turned up I'd only had a couple of small ballan wrasse, albeit a new species to add to the species hunt for the year.

Didn't bother setting another rod up as the bites were so few and far between and just shared the rod with Rob while the others went off exploring. The only notable excitement occurred when I dropped the rig into a small gap next to a wooden pile. The rod top hooped over almost immediately and I felt a decent fish thumping away. However, as soon as I shouted "get the net" it came off!

The following weekend we were off down to Pembrokeshire for the opening of the brother and sister-in-laws' new venture, the Secret Owl Garden, a falconry centre dedicated to over 25 species of owls set in the grounds of Picton Castle. Obviously the LRF gear went in the car as well and at the first opportunity my lad, James, and I headed to our favourite spot at Pembroke Dock. We arrived at low water during one of the big Spring tides, so were able to fish right off the end of the old car ferry ramp. Again, despite conditions looking spot on, we struggled for bites. Apart from a few, ubiquitous rock gobies, the only highlight was a big, fat tompot blenny - my first from the venue and another new species for the year. Having put up with a load of local kids "tombstoning" off the top of the dock wall, we were eventually forced to abandon proceedings when a big patch of diesel drifted around the corner. 

A couple of days later we headed over to Milford Haven for a change. My intention was to fish the lock pit as there had been reports of Goldsinney wrasse being caught there. However, when we arrived the lock gates were open and a chap from the Port Authority told us we wouldn't be able to fish there because of boats going in and out. Instead we went and fished the area between the "mackerel landing" stage and the sea wall. Yet again, it was very slow and it looked like a few shannies and rock gobies would be our lot. That all changed when I spotted a large, fifteen spined stickleback cruising around just under the surface. Shouting to James to keep an eye on it, I quickly set up a split-shot rig with a size 20 hook baited with a tiny scrap of raw prawn. James had lost sight of it in the interim, but scanning along the bottom of the dock wall I spotted it again and went off in pursuit. It took the bit of prawn dangled in front of it on the first attempt. However, in my excitement I pulled it straight out of its mouth again. Luckily it gave me a second chance and this time I made no mistake.

Unfortunately, we could only add a solitary sand smelt to the species count after that, so we called it a day. From Pembrokeshire we headed to Exmouth to stay with friends. Upon arrival plans were made for a lads & dads fishing trip and the following morning saw us all heading down to the docks, with a quick diversion to get a few ragworms from the local tackle shop. It was a blazing hot day and the water at the first spot we tried was gin clear. However, the boys were soon into a steady procession of fish, including tompots, shannies and small wrasse .

As the tide started going out and water level dropped the bites dried up, so we moved around to the slipway area, fishing down the side of the ramp itself and amongst the boulders at the bottom of the sea wall. Again, there were plenty of tompots, shannies and small wrasse about to keep us busy, together with a bonus long-spined sea scorpion.

The next day we were back again but, in contrast, the weather was cold and wet. As the tide had already started to go out by the time we got there, we headed straight for the slipway. 

Met a chap there who had intended to lure fish for bass, but had been thwarted by the amount of floating weed out in the main channel, so had reverted to scratching for bits close in like us. Again, shannies, ballan wrasse and tompots were the mainstay of the catch, with a single scorpion again falling to my rod. Moving around to fish amongst the boulders we saw a large shoal of sandeels and a couple of decent mullet. Tried the splitshot rig and a size 20 hook again for the eels and some scraps of rag for the mullet, but they weren't having any of it. We were all pretty wet by now due to the constant drizzle, so I started to pack away, handing my rod over to James in the process. Literally a minute later the rod top hooped over and, after a brief fight, James landed the best wrasse of the session.

Had hoped to catch a couple more species, but after the poor fishing in Wales it was good to catch a few fish of any description. My friend's lad enjoyed it so much that they spent £150 on their own LRF gear after we left! Back to reality for me now, certainly until August when we've got a week in Wales and then two weeks in Tuscany....and yes, the LRF gear is going!