27/09/2021 - Ups and downs!

Have had some very rewarding days in September through the years, but it can also be very fickle with mellow, warm days in short sleeves suddenly giving way to rain, howling gales and the need for a decent set of waterproofs. The latter certainly seemed to be the case for later in the week according to the weather forecast, so it was now or never if I wanted to use up those maggots. 

A few short, sharp showers in the morning were followed by clear blue skies and a fresh breeze, so once again I headed off to the River Soar confident on two counts - that I could find somewhere to tuck in out of the wind and, given how low the river had been on my previous visit, that the earlier rain wouldn't have even touched the sides. Made my way through the wood, reminding myself to bring a bin bag and a thick pair of gloves next time to clear up an abandoned tent that was rapidly being covered by leaves - love nest, drug den or failed wild camping trip, who knows? Slid down the bank into the same swim as last time to find that the water level was indeed slightly higher, but that the clarity had been unaffected.

The bleak were all over it from the very first cast, snaffling the maggot on the drop and rocketing across the surface like tiny tarpon, so I was able to get the perch rod out and working at the downstream end of the swim from the off. Eventually the other usual suspects managed to get a look in and I started adding dace, chub, roach and perch to the tally. 

On the rare occasion the bait actually made it to the bottom a couple of skimmers and a handful of gonks also put in an appearance, further adding to the species count. Carried on in this vein for a couple of hours, my rythmn of casting, unhooking and rebaiting only interrupted by the occasional clump of the dreaded pennywort floating through the swim like a green iceberg. 
Had two chances on the perch rod during this time, both of which I managed to cock up. The first time I was a bit slow to the rod and the bait had already been ejected when I wound down - lack of scales and no puncture wounds suggesting a stripey was the culprit. Second time I was perhaps a bit too eager as I failed to find a hook hold and the rig came flying back minus bait completely. 

As the sun dipped a bit lower it started to feel a bit chilly despite my fleece so, having had a mixed bag of 70+ fish, I decided to treat the ravenous hordes to the remains of my bait apron and pack up. 

Was making the final trip back up the bank with the last of my kit when  my feet slid away from beneath me and I hit the deck, taking most of my body weight on my right shoulder. Had to take a few moments while the pain subsided before managing to finish packing up and heading back to the car. Shoulder was a bit painful during the night, but it was only in the morning that I looked in the mirror to see that it was very swollen with an obvious lump at the end of my collarbone. Fearing the worst, but not wanting to dash straight to A&E, I got the daughter to take me down the GP's for a quick examination. Thankfully he confirmed the collarbone was intact but that I had probably "disrupted" my acromioclavicular joint (ACJ for short!), prescribing anti-inflammatories, ice packs and rest. 

Something I can now afford to do as true to form it's absolutely pissing down outside!

21/09/2021 - Multi-tasking on the river

Arrived back in Nottingham from my Cornish idyll to be plunged into a family crisis. Mum's dementia carers had arrived at her home one day to find empty packets of pills and she had been rushed to hospital on suspicision of an accidental overdose. Thankfully this was not the case, but then safeguarding issues were raised and social services became involved. Mum then had to spend six days in hospital with no visitors whilst various assessments were carried out and paperwork completed - a very confusing and frightening experience for an 80 year old with her condition. The family has basically now been left to deal with the aftermath. For me this has already meant several 2hr+ round trips to Birmingham to visit her while she is temporary respite care. As a result, before this week had even started, I was feeling mentally and physically drained. My wife therefore suggested that I take a break and go fishing to clear my head. 

Whilst I actually felt more like nipping to bed for an afternoon snooze, I subsequently threw my tackle in the car and dragged myself into Long Eaton to get some maggots. Plan was to do some trotting with the pin, but have a sleeper rod out for the perch at the same time. With that in mind I headed to the River Soar near Kegworth. As I walked upstream to the weir the local farmer was busy baling up the last of his wheat straw, a reminder that autumn was definitely on it's way despite the warm, sunny conditions. Crossed the lock and followed the path throught the nettles, a bit more defined since my last visit but still hardly indicative of much angling pressure as this section of the river tends to be neglected by those wanting an easy walk and a nice level spot for their seatbox. 

Got to my chosen swim to find the river carrying a tinge of colour but very low. This had me wishing I'd brought the longer float rod as the main flow was pushing along the far bank. Thankfully I'd had the foresight to put on my chesties and I was able to wade out far enough to reach the crease with a gentle underarm flick. 

First trot down and the stresses of the week were temporarily forgotten as the float disappeared at the end of the run and my first fish, a bleak, came to hand. Was therefore able to get the perch rod out early doors, positioning the bleak on a paternoster at the downstream end of my swim just off the crease. Carried on trotting away and building up the swim with a few freebies each time, hopefully attracting some predators at the same time. 

There was obviously a lot of small stuff about as the maggots were invariably getting crushed each cast. However, thankfully the dace soon appeared, bullying the bleak out of the way, but allowing the occasional roach and chub to also get a look in. Out of the blue, a couple of bleeps on the micron indicated some interest on the other rod and I was on it before the line pulled out of the clip. Wound down to feel a solid weight and applied some pressure to see something long, lean and spotty loom out of the depths before it decided to wake up and spit the bait. 

Oh well, not what I was after anyway. Another bait was therefore quickly obtained and the paternoster re-positioned. Had started to pick up a few perch on the float rod by now, so was hopeful that a bigger one might be lurking on the fringes. 

As if on cue, I had another take on the paternoster and again wound down into a fish. However, this time I felt a welcome, tell-tale head thumping on the end of the line. A flash of red fins and black stripes as it went into the net confirmed it was what I had been after. Not a monster, but at a gnat's over two pounds, it was the biggest perch I'd had from the river for some time. Carried on for bit with the float rod and after two and a bit hours had amassed a mixed bag of sixty-odd fish, the vast majority being dace. Didn't manage to get any ruffe or gonks this time, but a decent stripey was ample compensation for that. Headed back to the car just as the sun was dipping below the horizon, glad that I'd made the effort and still with the best part of a pint of maggots - enough to treat myself to some more fishing therapy in the near future.

11/09/2021 - Rockpool beasts

Flushed with the success of the previous morning I once again zig-zagged my way down the cliff at first light. On this occasion the day dawned bright and sunny. Again, the cormorants and the seal were in attendance and at one stage I had a shoal of sandeels at my feet. However, despite going through my whole repertoire of lures, I eventually headed back up to the cottage frustrated, frazzled and fish-less!

On the plus side, the tide had also been a bit lower when I arrived this time, exposing some interesting looking rock pools in the gullies that had me thinking about a species that has been on my wish list for quite a while - the giant goby, Gobius cobbitisConfined to sheltered beaches on the south-west coast of England, this mini-monster spends its life in the rock pools at the highest extent of the inter-tidal zone and if these have a bit of freshwater running in to make them brackish even better. There it munches on gut weed and consumes anything unfortunate enough to be washed in with the tide. Living for up to ten years and reaching a maximum length of nearly 30 centimetres it is a target for any self-respecting LRF angler, but one I had not a chance to try for. 

A few hours later I was therefore back down again (absolutely no problem getting my 10,000 steps in today!). Tactics were simplicity itself - a 0.5 g bright pink, tungsten jighead baited with the tail section of a mini-isome worm, which would be "dabbled" in front of any likely-looking goby lair. Creeping up to the first rock pool I lowered the jig down the side of a large rock and wiggled the isome with the tip of my Rock Rover in what I hoped was a suitably provocative manner. It must have been a higly amusing sight for anybody looking down from the coast path to see a fully grown man basically fishing in a puddle. However, I thought I had nailed it first cast when a fish shot out, grabbed the bait and shot back under the rock.

Unceremoniously dragged him back out into the daylight kicking and screaming only to find that it was just a mere pretender to the rock pool crown - the perpetually glum-looking shanny, or common blenny. Popped him back under his rock then proceeded to try a few more spots, but it seemed that only shannies were in residence and my enthusiasm began to wane. I eventually came to the final pool, which was no bigger than a bath and only inches deep. Again, I made the isome do its little jiggy dance in front of a gap under the only rock big enough to house a potential "monster". Literally a split-second later something aggressively launched itself out from its hidey-hole and wolfed down the worm down with gusto. 

This time I knew straight away that I had my intended quarry and after another one-sided tug of war I was looking at my first giant goby and he certainly was a splendid chap - fine scaled and deep brown in colour with a head like a bulldog.

Returned him to his pool, hopefully to terrorise his tiny domain for a few more years, then scampered back up the cliff despite knackered knees and with a stupid grin on my face - job done! 

10/09/2021 - Bars of Cornish silver

An annual holiday somewhere with the "lads" (youngest 54, oldest 65!) has now become an permanent fixture in the calender. Unfortunately our planned trip to Sardinia earlier this year was cancelled to the dreaded COVID. However, by way of recompense we ended up in a cottage on the scenic Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall for a week in September instead. 

The plan was do a bit of walking, surfing, paddle-boarding and just generally chill out and catch up. However, a quick look on Google beforehand revealed a nice-looking rocky cove within walking distance of our digs, so some bits of fishing tackle went in as well, with wrasse, bass and mini-species in mind. 

Managed to source some ragworm, albeit on the turn and barely usable on close inspection, from a local garden centre and popped down with the wrasse gear one evening at high tide. Found a nice looking gully and fished a simple twisted boom rig with a single size 4 hook and a rotten bottom down amongst the boulders and the kelp. Unfortunately my one chance came when I had my back turned ferreting in my bag for something and I turned round to see the rod bent double. That was enough for a suspected decent wrasse to well and truly snag me and after some alternate slack-lining and heaving the rig eventually came back minus lead and fish. 

On the plus side, another angler had arrived and was obviously lure fishing for bass. After a quick chat, which established that he was local and sounded like he knew what he was talking about, I at least made it back up the cliff with some idea of what to try next. A couple of mornings later I was therefore back at first light with the lure rod with the intention of fishing one hour either side of high tide. Made my way out to the end of the rocks and started casting a white, weedless Savage Gear sandeel out into the gentle swell. A couple of cormorants were actively working the bay and, whilst I didn't see them come to the surface with anything, I took this to be a good sign that prey fish were about and with them hopefully the predators that I was after. 

The rising sun briefly made an appearance between the horizon and the low cloud, but otherwise it stayed dull and overcast and I briefly had to put on my waterproof as a light shower came through on the light westerly breeze. Had been fishing away for about 15 minutes when I got the thump on the rod tip that I was hoping for. 

After a spirited fight and near cock-up with the landing net I was looking at a pristine schoolie bass in the safety of a nearby rock pool. Popped him back and very next cast had another! Things were looking good and got even better when I added a third a few casts later. Went a bit quiet after this, so I moved slightly to my right to cover some different ground and duly added a fourth little spikey. 

Moved a couple more times but, as quickly as they had appeared, the bass seemed to have passed through. Didn't help that a grey seal suddenly popped up in front of me and just sat there despite some arm waving and choice words! To be honest my stomach was rumbling by now so I left him to it and headed back for breakfast, my morning's work making the long climb back up the cliff seem a little easier - but not by much!

24/08/2021 - Pembrokeshire Part Six (A bass at last, but not for me!)

Failed dismally to catch a bass on lures last time we were in Pembrokeshire at what is usually a reliable venue, so I was keen to try and make amends. However, rather than artificials again I decided that I would try bait fishing this time, so duly made a trip to J & W Tackle in Pembroke Dock for some worm. 

Plan was to fish the last couple of hours of the flood on the estuary at Lawrenny, which meant a 0530 hrs start. Our lad James was with us this time and, whilst he normally wouldn't surface from his pit much before mid-day, to my amazement he agreed to accompany me. The beach at Lawrenny is steeply shelving at the top, but then levels out with a far gentler slope out to the main river channel. Breaking the beach up are a series of shallow gullies that certainly looked to me as if they would act as both food traps and natural funnels for any fish coming up the estuary on the flood. On my last lure-fishing trip at low tide I'd lined each of the gullies up with landmarks on the near and far shore, so I could be sure of landing a bait in one of them if we arrived nearer high water. 

The small neap tides of the last trip had also been replaced by some big spring tides that I hoped would push the fish further up the estuary. However, it also meant that the water level was already well up the beach by the time we arrived and the gullies were submerged, so I got to put my plan into action. Set up a one up, one down rig with each hook baited with a couple of the bigger worms and cast it out as far as the crease formed by the incoming tide. 

Felt the lead hit the bottom with a satisfying clonk that meant that it was lying in the gully and not in the weed and then settled down to wait. Passed the time chatting with the lad, spotting mullet and watching a couple of cormorants work the shoreline further down the beach. 

Saw several little egrets flying upstream, along with the usual oyster catchers, curlews and other waders. All in all a very pleasant morning, particularly as we were now in glorious sunshine and there wasn't another soul about. The lad also got to try out his plant ID app on his phone, finding the rather unimaginitively named "seaside sand plant" then discovering that not only was it edible but that it had an aftertaste reminiscent of capers! Two hours therefore passed very quickly with just a few rattles on the rod tip from small stuff, an occasional check on the bait and a couple of moves up the beach ahead of the advancing water level. By this time there was only a couple of metres of beach left in front of the sea wall behind us and we were now contemplating packing up. Bent down to start clearing up to suddenly hear James shout "Dad!" and then see him grab the rod, which had been in the process of flying off the tripod and out into the estuary had he not intervened!

He confirmed there was a fish on, so I let him carry on playing it into the beach. A couple of minutes later we were looking at a small, but very welcome bass. Popped him back and then carried on with renewed enthusiasm that lasted approximately another ten minutes, an earlier promise of eggy bread and bacon being too hard to resist. Two bare hooks also suggested that the local crabs had switched on, so confirmed it was time to go.

Went back to the venue the next day, not to fish but just to have a look what it looked like on the corresponding spring low tide. Rather than the exposed bed being full of the additional features we had hoped for, I was shocked to see how barren it appeared. However, on closer inspection the bed of the river channel was covered in shellfish - mussels, winkles, dog whelks and even some small native oysters that we threw further out into the channel away from any less responsible members of the public.

Made me think of the elusive gilt head bream that are meant to be present in the estuary and whether this would be a feeding area for them, but that could be a path to madness! 

Talking of which, a trip out on the SUP on the last morning of our trip explained to a certain degree where all the mullet go. Often when I've been lure fishing for bass at low water large shoals of mullet would swim past me, lazily heading upstream on the incoming tide to who knows where. Taking advantage of the last hour of the flood I therefore launched at Lawrenny and had a quiet paddle around the little creeks and bays upstream where I spotted loads of mullet over and amongst the beds of seagrass. Another area they seemed to like were the old barge channels dug to serve the limestone quarries at West Williamson. Unfortunately this piece of information doesn't make them more catchable, quite the contrary. 

Anyway, I've got a hot bass tip to follow up next time we're down!

22/08/2021 - Pembrokeshire Part Five (Salted rag and wrasse)

The weather at the end of our last stay down in Pembrokeshire turned unsettled and windy, so rather then get blown inside out on the Haven I went for some decent walks out with the wife instead. However, it did leave me with a problem because I still had quite a lot of ragworm left. 

In the past I have just kept them in the newspaper I bought them in, but too many times I have unwrapped them to find a putrid, stinking mess! This time, on advice from the tackle shop, I'd kept them in a tray of seawater in the fridge. With regular changes of water they'd stayed fresh and lively for several days. At a fiver a pop I therefore didn't fancy just feeding them to the birds. Luckily I recalled seeing a YouTube video by Greg Green, aka "East Devon Fishing"on salting left-over rag (see end of Greg's video on drop shotting for wrasse here), so I went and raided the local Spar for a couple of bags of Happy Shopper's finest. 
On day one I layered up the rag in a plastic container between generous coverings of salt, then left them overnight.

The next morning the salt as very wet having drawn out the vast majority of the moisture from the worms, so I knocked/brushed it off them and then layered them up again in fresh salt. This process was repeated a couple of times until the worms were flat and leathery, at which point they were put in a plastic bag and popped in the fridge. The wet salt didn't go to waste as this was dried on a tray in the oven to be used again (NB: it takes on the smell of the worms, so don't use it on your chips!).

Back in Wales for another few days I was keen to find out whether the effort had been worth it, so headed out to a venue where I knew I would get plenty of bites - the stone pier on the Hakin side of Milford Docks. Got there an hour before high tide at 0700 hrs to find two anglers already set up, both fishing baits rods out into the Haven. Got chatting to the first to find that he was from just down the road in Nottingham! He'd just had a doggy and the other chap was after bass, so I wasn't going to bother them fishing for tiddlers down the side of the pier. The clear sky overnight meant that it had been only six degrees when I left the house earlier and I had dropped down into thick mist in the river valley, but that soon burned off and it was looking to be a very nice, sunny day. Set up a mini two hook flapper with size ten Sabpolo Wormers and baited each with a small section of the salted rag. 

Found that the thicker pieces from the head end of the worm were easier to hook and it only took a couple of minutes in the water for them to start re-hydrating. However, I was more interested in what the fish thought and whether I'd be resorting to using "Gulp" instead! Dropped the rig down and got a rattle as soon as it hit bottom. Couple of seconds later the tip pulled over properly and the first of many corkwings came to hand. They seemed to love it as it was every throw a coconut! The only trouble was keeping bait on the hook long enough as they were adept at stripping it off and had me constantly re-baiting. In between the "corkies" I had a few pollack and shannies. 

Had to move from the "hot spot" to the end of the pier when a fishing boat came in to makesome repairs, but it meant that I had an informative chat with the other chap fishing there. He'd retired to Milford Haven from London via Selsey and was a mine of information about the local marks. He was fishing a massive lump of peeler spider crab on a simple running leger cast just a few feet off the end of the pier. A little while later I saw the tip of his rod jag round out of the corner of my eye. Next minute it was bent double as he fought a fish that made every use of the flow of the ebbing spring tide. However, a few minutes later he landed a cracking bass of about 5 lb that was swiftly dispatched and consigned to a carrier bag for his tea! 

I filed all of this away whilst continuing to catch - mostly corkwings, sometimes two at a time - until I ran out of bait. Ended up with 35 corkies, 9 pollack, 5 shannies and a solitary rock goby, so on that basis I considered the salted rag to be a success! 
Did go back a couple of days later with some live rag as a "control". However, apart from catching a couple of ballan wrasse that were strangely absent during the previous session, there wasn't much difference in terms of species and numbers. I will therefore definitely be salting down any leftovers in future, if only to have as a standby bait. My bass-catching friend was also there again, so we continued our chat during which I gleaned more local information and he caught another bass of about 2 lb, again on a locally collected peeler crab. Having never run into another angler at this venue before I was certainly grateful for these encounters and the advice so readily provided. 

Particularly given that, despite my best endeavours, I am technically still yet to break my bass blank this year (but more of that later!). 

04/08/2021 - Pembrokeshire Part Four (More of the same at Hobbs and wrasse-tastic St Brides)

Looking at the weather forecast it was going to be Wednesday or bust if I wanted to head up to the North coast for a wrasse session, which meant sourcing some bait pronto. Therefore drove over to the tackle shop in Pembroke Dock again on Tuesday morning. Seemed rude not to pop down to Hobbs Point on the way, so factored in a couple of hours either side of low tide. 

Unfortunately with it still being a neap tide the water level wasn't low enough to expose the end of the car ramp. This would have given me access to an area of muddier ground and the chance of a couple of different species. Therefore fished "Gulp" sandworm and angleworm on a dropshot rig down the side of the ramp as before. Had a small ballan wrasse almost straight away, but then the rock gobies moved in! Could see some small pollack darting out of the kelp to scatter the shoals of even smaller sandeels.

It was inevitable that I started to pick up few of these as well, either on the drop or on the retrieve. Ended up with 32 gobies, 9 pollack and that single ballan before heading to the tackle shop for another quarter of rag (along with some very helpful tips on how to keep them alive for longer).

The following morning we loaded up the car, wrasse gear included, for a day up at St Bride's Haven. Had found a low water rock mark near there this time last year by doing some Googling and after getting the family settled on the beach I headed out along the coast path. Overshot the access down to the mark as nobody appeared to have been down there recently and I had to push through chest-high bracken and brambles just to reach the top of the cliff. Once down on the rocks I started off by fishing the deep, narrow gully to the right of my position. Water was absolutely gin clear and I could easily see the bottom for some distance. Had made up a twisted boom rig with a single size 4 carp hook and a rotten bottom to the lead. 

Baited this up with a ragworm and carefully lowered it down the side of the vertical rock face into the kelp, feeling for the bottom with the lead. Could feel small fish, probably pollack, pecking at the bait almost straight away. However, after a few minutes I'd failed to get a positive indication, so I switched to the more open water on the other side of the mark. The venue is also very popular with snorkellers, divers and spear fishermen and I had a few swim past me completely oblivious to the fact I was there, so when a couple decided to surface in front of me it was with obvious shock to see me stood on a rock about ten feet away! I did wonder whether all this disturbance was going to affect the fishing, but as the tide started pushing back in over the rocks  began to get some proper knocks and rattles on the rod tip. Striking into the first positive pull-down I had a short, spirited fight from a pretty, kelp-hued ballan wrasse. 

After that it all happened in a flurry as I had another ballan, followed by three, stunning male corkwings. 

Unfortunately, I was now on borrowed time and had to  get back to the beach or risk the wrath of wife and daughter, so hastily packed everything away and scrambled back up the cliff.

Had some snap and much needed drink (it had been hot on the rocks!) with the family, but then on the pretence of going out on the SUP I paddled back around the headland to where I'd been fishing in order to get the perspective from water level. The clarity was amazing and the transition from shallow to deep water was marked by a change in colour from clear to turquoise to almost blue-black. Made a note of several promising looking drop-offs, as well as spotting one wrasse that would have dwarfed the ones I had caught!

But as they say, that'll have to wait 'til next time. With days running out now the weather is going to dictate what I do next as unfortunately it looks like it's going to be wet and windy for the remainder of our stay. 

02/08/2021 - Pembrokeshire Part Three (Bass blanks!)

Lost the first of the days that I'd planned to go bass fishing to Storm Evert. Had gone to bed the night before with the rain hammering on the canvas roof of the camper and woke up in the the morning at stupid o'clock with the rain still lashing down and the wind blowing a hoolie, so stuck my head back under the duvet. 

On Saturday morning the conditions were a lot better, although it was still grey, overcast and breezy. Drove down to my estuary mark near Lawrenny just after first light not knowing what to expect and it wasn't until I was down at the low water mark that I was able to judge the impact of all that rain. Wading into the shallows my boots disappeared from view in the murky water before I was up to my knees, so visibility wasn't exactly brilliant. Coupled with the wind and the chop the conditions weren't brilliant for lure fishing full stop, but I thought it would at least be an opportunity to try out the new Savage Gear weedless sandeels, so started off with the 22 g version in white pearl silver. Had a few wind-up casts to wet the braid then started punching it out into the wind that was blowing straight in my face. Certainly cast like a bullet and on a straight retrieve it had a nice, tight wriggling action......much like a sandeel not surprisingly! 

Worked my way methodically down the beach towards the point, casting every couple of steps. As I did so the tide started pushing back in and the water clarity started to get a bit better, so I swapped to a sandeel in a more natural green and silver. However, it was to no avail as I ended the session fish-less. I was still impressed with the sandeels, my only gripe being that after just a couple of hours bouncing them off the rocks and mussel beds the paint on the jig head was already very chipped.

Was back again on Sunday morning to find that conditions were far better for fishing hard lures and possibly even for nicking a bass off the top. It was still overcast, but with just a gentle breeze that was now coming from over my shoulder and that was barely causing a ripple. Water clarity was also much better, so started off with my favourite combo - an IMA Skimmer with a sandeel fly teaser tied onto a short dropper a couple of feet up the fluorocarbon leader, together giving the impression of a predator chasing a small fish.

Proceeded to "walk the dog" up to the sailing club pontoon and back, casting short initially in case anything was mooching about in the shallows. However, by the time the flood had started I hadn't raised anything on the surface lure, so swapped it for a Megabass X-130 and carried on working my way down to the point. Travelling in the opposite direction now was a procession of mullet, lazily finning along with the current with their backs exposed, some real lunkers amongst them (I've yet to discover where they are actually going!). I was therefore hopeful that a bass might be amongst them. Had a couple of definite "fishy" rattles and at one stage saw a micro-schoolie shoot off the bottom and make a grab for the teaser, but I still reached the point fish-less. I therefore snipped off the fly and replaced the X-130 with a soft lure, alternating between a Snowbee stinger shad and the Savage Gear sandeel. 

Stood on the point casting them across the current and letting them swing round, bumping bottom before retrieving them against the tide. However, despite ringing the changes and covering loads of water I again ended up with a blank. Walked back to the car a bit dejected as I've never failed to catch at this venue before and wondering whether the large input of freshwater into the upper reaches of the estuary due to Storm Evert a couple of days ago had been a factor. All of this left me in two minds whether to return on Monday, but with it being the smallest tide of the week and with this possibly being another influence, the duvet won again! However, still ended up down on the estuary a bit later for a walk culminating in a very nice crab sandwich and a less-than-local pint (depressing given the number of craft breweries there are in Pembrokeshire). I feel a wrasse session coming on now so better sort out some bait!

27/07/2021 - Pembrokeshire Part Two (corkwing chaos at Milford)

Got up bright and early again on Monday despite not having a particularly restful night's sleep. Had woken up freezing cold in the camper in the early hours of the morning and had to scrounge a share of the wife's duvet, so wasn't really surprised to see that the temperature had dropped by ten degrees overnight. 

However, the sun was already making it's presence felt, so it didn't look as if it was going to remain cool for long. Had a quick cup of tea and then headed off to Milford Haven to a spot I'd discovered this time last year, the plan being to fish an hour either side of high tide. Threaded my way through the docks past the abandoned seal hospital to the stone jetty at Hakin, parking up next to the pub recently frequented by the moody Luke Evans in "The Pembrokeshire Murders", but now undergoing renovation. There was a fishing boat moored up on the right hand side of the jetty, so I set up on the left near the steps. Changed my drop shot rig for a scaled down two hook flapper tied up with size 10 sabpolo wormers. 

Baited it up with sections of ragworm and dropped it down the side of the wall, feeling with the lead for the clean areas between the patches of weed. Had to wait a couple of minutes before I started getting the tell-tale taps on the rod tip and on the first positive pull down I struck into the first corkwing wrasse of the mornning. If Hobbs Point is the domain of the rock goby, then Hakin stone pier is the kingdom of the corkwing as one after another soon followed - both brightly coloured males and drabber females. 

Was into double figures before I added to the species count in the form of a pretty ballan wrasse. 

Another flurry of "corkies" followed before pattern was broken again by a couple of small pollack and a shanny. Carried on in the same vein whilst getting through my precious ragworm at an alarming rate as I was having to re-bait every cast. By 1030 I'd had 41 corkwings, 14 pollack, 12 ballans and three shannies. Sun was extremely bright and hot by now, so I revived the remnants of my bait with some fresh seawater and called it a day. After my disturbed night and early start I was in need of some reviving myself, so headed home for a strong coffee and a bacon bap!

After a much better (and warmer) night's sleep I headed off to Milford Haven again this morning to use up the remaining ragworm. I had intended to fish from the "bull nose" near the marina this time, but I arrived to find some building works going on and my access blocked by site fencing. 
Therefore made the quick trip over to the jetty at Hakin again. Unwrapped my bait to find it was already a bit worse for wear. 

However, wasn't concerned as the fish don't seem to mind it when its a bit stale and falling to bits - keeping it on the hooks is the problem! Baited up and swung out the rig and basically carried on where I'd left off yesterday. Whilst initially there were a few more little pollack about it didn't take long for the corkwings to catch the scent of manky ragworm and move in. Again I also had a few shannies and ballans, their subtle green hues matching the colour of the dominant weed growth. Carried on until I'd used all of the bait up, at which point I'd had another 35 corkies, 13 pollack, 10 ballans and 4 shannies. Did briefly see a shoal of sand smelt flashing on the surface, but they were moving at speed and disappeared as quickly as they arrived.
With the tides neither here nor there for the next couple of days I'll be putting away the LRF rod for a bit, but hopefully it'll soon be bass time!