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!). 


  1. Impressed with the salted rag results. Ive always found salted lug a very very poor substitite for fresh.
    Good find.

    1. Will definitely have some as standby in future.

  2. My fortnight in Pembrokeshire next year has new meaning, I shall be re-reading these threads near that time ;o)