03/06/2022 - A cacophony of corkwings

My first few trips out in saltwater this year have been very poor, so I was after some redemption when I drove over to Milford bright and early to catch high tide. There was a bit of a breeze coming over the Haven when I arrived at the stone pier, but otherwise it looked as if it was going to be another glorious day. 

Had the place to myself, so initially headed up the left-hand side near the steps that had always been a good spot in the past. My confidence in artificial baits had been knocked a bit, so the intention was to fish bits of ragworm on a scaled-down, two hook flapper rig tied with Decoy SG-3 S hooks (roughly a UK size 12) and some micro-beads for a touch of bling. The rag that I'd got from J&M's Tackle in Pembroke Dock the day before was absolutely top quality, with most of them as thick as my little finger.

Keeping them in seawater in the fridge overnight as advised in the shop had also kept them nice and fresh and it was almost a shame to snip them up into little bits! 
Got baited up and lowered the rig to the bottom, feeling with the drop-shot lead for the clean areas between the patches of weed. Had expected bites instantly, so was a bit concerned when a few minutes later I'd not had any interest at all, despite occasionally hopping the rig along the bottom to attract the attention of anything in the area. 

Therefore worked my way along the side trying all around the bits of structure, but still had nothing. Eventually reached the end of the pier and first drop down was met with a very welcome rattle on the rod tip, resulting in a small corkwing wrasse. 

Next drop down I had a striking little, emerald green ballan wrasse, followed by a rock goby. From then on it was a bite a chuck. Seemed the fish were concentrated in a small area of slack water formed by a back eddy and the left-hand corner of the pier. Literally a few steps sideways and the bites tailed off. 

As on previous visits the corkwings were the dominant species, particularly the ravenous little males, coming up two at a time on occasion. Had a few larger and very fat and possibly spawn-bound females, which made me think whether the bigger, mature males were off building nests ready to receive the ladies. 

A pair of lads turned up at this point and set up on the other side of the pier, so took the opportunity for some intelligence gathering. Turned out they were here for the bass and were soon launching their squid and mackerel wraps out into the Haven. Carried on happily hauling up corkwings, interspersed with the odd ballan, goby and strikingly coloured pollack. Was eventually thinking of calling it a day when I hooked into something a bit different and a silver eel came writhing to the surface. Thankfully he was lip-hooked, but still coughed up his breakfast in my landing net and covered me in slime. Resisted the tempatation to carry on as time was pressing and it had been a case of diminishing returns as the corkwings had been getting smaller and smaller to the extent that my hooks were just getting stripped by their incessant pecking! 

Ended the morning with 45 corkwings, 3 ballans, 3 pollack, 2 rock gobies and that single eel. Had plenty of rag left as well to salt down for future sessions. Hopefully that's my poor run  broken now and I'll look forward to returning in the summer.