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The small neap tides of the last trip had also been replaced by some big spring tides that I hoped would push the fish further up the estuary.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!