16/12/2023 - Still here, but it's been a bit of a struggle!

Can't remember a stranger few months - did more sea fishing than anything else during September and October and then work, the weather and illness have conspired against me ever since. 

Did manage a couple of after work sessions in early November on the River Trent, firstly to a free, urban section of the river after my interest had been piqued by a picture of a very large perch taken on a float-fished deadbait of all things. Had a couple of hours with the feeder rod, fishing down the side with lobworm on the hook and chopped dendras and dead maggot in the feeder and whilst I caught a few perch, they weren't of the size I was after. As the light disappeared I took off the mono hooklink and clipped on a trace baited with a small, headless roach deadbait hoping that the deep water close in would harbour a zed. However, half an hour without a twitch on the quiver tip saw me heading home, although I will certainly be making a return visit at some point. 

Second session was closer to home and was solely with zander in mind, a species that is fast becoming my nemesis. Thought I'd cracked it a few seasons ago with a run of fish to just under double figures, but have struggled ever since. Needless to say this session wasn't any different as, despite seemingly perfect conditions, I went home fishless yet again without even the eels bothering me. And then came the rain. What a totally shite period of weather we've had (and are still having)! Never mind giving these storms nice names. I know what I'd like to call them and it's not printable. Eventually the promise of a few, rain-free days resulted in just a glimmer at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately with the ground so saturated the main rivers seemed to be taking age to fall to a resonable level. 

However, higher up in the catchments it was thankfully a different story. Therefore booked a morning off work and headed west on the A50 into Staffordshire with my float rod and a pint of maggots hoping to catch my first grayling of the winter. Parts of the fields next to the river were still ankle deep in water, the ground sucking at my feet with every step, so by the time I got to the top of the section I was puffing like a steam train due to the lingering effects of a "hundred day cough". However, the river itself looked absolutely bang on and after I had regained my breath sufficiently to coax an out of season, but energetic, brown trout out of a small nearside slack on my first cast I thought that I was onto a winner. 

Unfortunately it turned out to be completely the opposite and a bit of a grueller instead. Whilst I stayed mobile and tried as many of my usually reliable spots as possible, I left many empty handed. Where I did manage to tempt a bite it was just from the odd, solitary fish. Didn't help that it stayed gloomy all morning to the extent that I was struggling to keep track of the stick float down the runs and had to change over to one with a larger, domed top instead (although I later realised that I was wearing an old pair of glasses that were at least one prescription out!). By lunchtime I'd just had that one brownie and a dozen grayling to show for my efforts. Called it a day when I failed to buy a bite in my "banker" swim where I'd had not only grayling, but perch chub and dace in the past. Just seemed to have dropped on a day when they weren't having it. Still, at least I hadn't blanked and it had been good to be out and not staring at a screen.

It had also been good to get re-acquainted with the river, which had again done a bit of re-modelling since my last visit resulting in the loss of some swims but the formation of others that will get a proper look at next time. Squelched back to the car, disturbing a buzzard looking for easy pickings in the form of drowned worms. Remind me to ask Santa for some nice clear, cold and settled weather in the New Year!

31/10/2023 - Wild, wild West

This half-term the wife and I were meant to be going to see the lad and his girlfriend in Lithuania where he is about to start a PhD on sea eagles.

However, due to the long-winded process required to obtain his residency permit and the risk that he would run out of Shengen days before he got it, he had to come home for a bit. This left us at a bit of a loose end so, whilst the weather forecast was not exactly ideal, we decided to head down to Pembrokeshire instead. On the journey down the effects of Storm Babet were still much in evidence with virtually every river still out of their banks and fields full of flood water. Despite a last minute diversion over the Brecon Beacons to avoid a crash on the M4 we eventually arrived safely, albeit in the middle of the first of many torrential downpours we were to experience over the next few days! 

Managed to get a walk in down on the beach at Amroth on the Saturday during a brief break in the weather, before heading back to watch the rugby. In contrast Sunday looked like it was going to be a complete write off. However, rather than go mad watching the rain batter against the windows, we braved the water-logged lanes and went for a warming bowl of cawl (lamb stew to the non-Welsh) at our favourite cafe at Lawrenny Quay, overlooking a very wind-blown and grim-looking estuary. Persuaded the wife to pop into Pembroke Dock on the way back and got some ragworm from Roddy at JBM Marine. His overall summary of the local fishing prospects was a resounding "crap", the main issue being the amount of fresh, but dirty water being dumped into the sea by the river. 

Had a quick look at Hobbs Point, which only seemed to confirm his assessment as the estuary was the colour of mud, with water pouring in from the storm drains! The following morning I therefore headed up to Fishguard on the north coast instead hoping that the rain would have had less of an influence and that there would at least be some whiting about to pull the string. Walking out to the end of the breakwater at first light I was relieved to see that the water was relatively clear, so got set up on the top of the rock apron well out of the way of the swell. Had a selection of baits with me and started off with ragworm on a two hook flapper on one rod and a mackerel/squid cocktail on a pulley pennel rig on the other. 

Started getting rattles and pulls on both rods and was feeling pretty confident, but after two and a half hours I'd only had one small pouting to show for my efforts. With the wind picking up and the sky darkening yet again I therefore returned home with my tail between my legs! The next day I decided to gamble and headed towards Milford Haven with the light gear. It had actually been clear and calm overnight and the temperature was down to 5 degrees, the grass verges covered in heavy condensation, although it had warmed up a bit by the time I arrived. Whilst the water in the docks was the colour of my Costa coffee, parking up at Hakin Point I was again glad to see that clarity in the estuary itself was pretty good.

This was despite the debris on the high tide line indicating that the pier had only recently been under water due to the combination of big spring tides and floodwater.  Set up my usual two hook mini flapper made up with size 10 Tronixpro Sabpolo Wormers, baited the bottom hook with a scrap of ragworm but put a sliver of squid on the top hook just for a change. Slowly worked my way along the wall, dropping my rig down  every couple of metres or so, until I found the fish literally stacked up in one spot. As soon as the bait rig hit the bottom the ragworm was snaffled by a corkwing wrasse, although they weren't having it all their own way as the squid proved to be as popular with the pollack, who were snatching it on the drop. 

Whiled away the next hour and a half catching both species in equal numbers and adding a few, perpetually glum-looking shannies and the odd, uniquely coloured ballan. Had to tear myself away in the end as unfortunately we had to head back up the motorway for an appointment with the carpet fitter later in the afternoon, otherwise I would have happily carried on all morning. However, having caught one short of fifty fish in total I'd had a pretty busy session. On reflection it's been a strange couple of months as I've done very little coarse fishing recently. Will have to see what impact the storm Ciaran has in the next few days, but hopefully I will be able to get some short, "smash n grab" sessions in after work for the chub, perch and zander. That's the plan but I guess we'll have to see!

07/10/2023 - Topwater bass action

Had been in touch with Joel Squires, North Devon bass guide, again before we came down about the possibility of another lure session somewhere. He replied that the tides weren't brilliant, being small neaps, but that he'd have a think about it. 

As it happened I ran into him on the beach at Saunton on Saturday when I got back from Ilfracombe and after a quick chat I arranged to meet him on the estuary at Crow Point later that afternoon. Walking up from the car park towards the mouth of the estuary we discussed tactics. It had been a cracking, warm sunny day up until then and Joel thought conditions would be spot on for a bass off the top as the evening progressed. However, as previously, I started off by bumping soft plastics along in the current, but the small outgoing tide meant that there was not a lot of flow and I kept snagging up in the weed on the bottom. Joel meanwhile had headed a little futher away to see if the bass were interested in a big Pachinko.

Therefore, as soon as I saw him catch a small schoolie I clipped on one myself and started banging it out towards the horizon. Walking the lure back towards me along the surface I could see swirls behind it and the occasional garfish leaping after it, so was full of anticipation. However, the first proper take resulted in a bass that wasn't much bigger than the lure itself! A few minutes later I managed a better one around 2lb, before snagging another tiddler. Joel had also had another couple of small fish, but after a bit of deliberation he decided that a change of location to some shallower, rough ground was required if we wanted a better fish, so we walked back up the estuary where weed-covered fingers of rock exposed by the tide jutted out into the main channel - an inspired move as it turned out. 

Wading out from the shore I did wonder whether Joel was going to stop before we got to Appledore on the opposite side of the estuary, but we eventually got to our new positions with me on one side of the furthest gully and Joel on the other. The light was disappearing rapidly now and the water in front of us was like glass - absolutely perfect! As advised I changed down to a slightly smaller Savage Gear panic prey and again started covering the water in front of me. The move certainly appeared to have been justified as second cast Joel had another schoolie and moments later I happened to look over as yet another fish slashed at the surface at his lure. This was obviously a much better fish and, after getting weeded up a couple of times, he held up a cracking bass of about 5 lb.

There certainly seemed to be plenty of fish in front of us as, frustratingly, I had three aborted takes myself before Joel advised me to slow down my retrieve and I eventually hooked into another bass of around 2lb that also did its best to weed me up on the way in. The light was really fading now and we were into the last ten minutes of the session when my lure was sucked into a vortex, the line tightened and the rod hooped over. Learning from the last fish I bullied it straight into the deeper water of the gully where it woke up and gave a good account of itself at close quarters. Joel by now had waded over to me and as the fish tired on the surface he secured it first time with the boga grip. 

Not as big as his, but a superbly conditioned, dark fish of about 4 lb, so I was well pleased with that. Got a quick snap, unhooked him and sent him back on his way. Whilst we had a couple more casts each that fish nicely brought the session to an end and we waded back to the shore, giving the legs a good workout in the process. Was fully dark by the time we got back to the car park and after promising that we'd hook up together soon we went our separate ways  - me to a freshly cooked cod, chips and curry sauce that the others had kindly brought me from Braunton. Fantastic end to a fantastic day! 

07/10/2023 - Return to Ilfracombe

Hot on the heels of our visit to Cornwall it was time for the second of our bi-annual trips to Saunton Sands in North Devon - good job we have understanding wives and partners, although I suspect that they are glad to get rid of us for a bit to be honest! 

As usual I'd been keeping an eye on the weather and tides and had packed some fishing tackle accordingly. Early Saturday morning I therefore headed up to Ilfracombe hoping to catch a few mini-species. The sun hadn't yet risen over the headland when I pulled up in the car park under the imposing gaze of Verity. However, I could see that there was already another angler set up on the end of the lower landing of the pier, so I made my way down and set up at the bottom of the steps to the upper deck. Tackled up the Rock Rover with my usual mini-two hook flapper consisting of size 10 wormer hooks baited up with sections of leftover ragworm that I'd salted down in Wales. 

Dropped this down down the side of one of the wooden pilings and didn't have to wait long before I started getting some aggressive taps on the rod tip. After a couple of minutes I hooked into my first fish of the morning - a female corkwing wrasse. 

The bites continued to come thick and fast and over the next hour I added several more species to the list, including pollack, poor cod, rock goby, common blenny and ballan wrasse.

By now the occasional larger wave had started to wash over the end of the lower deck, so my fishing companion had wordlessly moved his gear to the steps above me. However, he became a bit more chatty after he dropped his bait elastic in the drink and I rescued it with my long-handled landing net. 

He'd been fishing since 3 o'clock and showed me some pictures of some decent pollack that he'd had along with some strap conger and a single mackerel on feathers. The latter had been cut into strips that were now bobbing around under a couple of floats in the hope of a garfish. Moved up onto the upper deck myself in order to avoid wet feet and first drop down between two of the pilings I had an aggressive bite almost as soon as the lead hit the bottom. 

This resulted in another species - a lovely coloured pouting. Quickly had a three more, followed by species number eight - a tompot blenny. Unfortunately, having just discovered this little honey hole I was approached by a crew member from the Lundy Island ferry and politely asked to move so they could adjust the mooring ropes. 

When they susbequently fired up the bow thrusters and turned the water below into a boiling vortex I decided to call it a day. I'd rattled through all of my rag by now anyway and was using a bit of squid that I'd cadged off my new friend, who had also added to his tally with two small garfish. 

Armed with that knowledge I returned at  first light the following morning with some small metal lures in the hope of snagging one, or  even a late mackerel, for myself. In contrast to the previous day the morning temperature was barely into double figures, requiring me to pull on my quilted jacket. Despite this there were again a couple of anglers already set up at the end of the lower deck. However, this still gave me plenty of water to cover with the lures. Decided to hedge my bets and tied on a trace with two micro-sabikis and clipped a 7g Major Craft jigpara slim on the end. Started off by casting parallel to the pier, letting the lure hit bottom and the retrieving it close to the structure. 

Had a few pollack this way early on, but when the sun rose over the headland they seemed to disappear, so I started casting out into the bay and retrieving the lure close to the surface. Had done this a few times when I felt knocking and banging on rod tip and as I drew the lure closer I could see a garfish snaking behind it in the clear water before it veered off. A couple of casts later I felt a few knocks again before the line tightened and I was into a gar, albeit a lot smaller than the one I'd seen tailing the lure earlier. Carried on a bit longer, but as quickly as they had appeared the garfish seemed to have moved on, so packed up and headed back to join the others for breakfast leaving the pier now bathed in full sunshine. Was happy with nine species as there have been times when I've caught bugger all! However, the oddities that Ilfracombe throws up, such as leopard spotted gobies and clingfish, still elude me. 

Hopefully I'll be able to keep going for as long as Verity continues to oversee things, which will be for next nine years at least!

22/09/2023 - Wrasse bashing at Porthoustock

The Helford estuary is one of the few remaining private tidal fisheries in the country and is now owned by Prince William as part of his portfolio as Duke of Cornwall. Whilst recreational angling is allowed subject to local and national byelaws, the main restriction appears to be access, particularly on the south side of the river where we were staying. 

It was very much second home territory and the road signs left you in no doubt that there was either no public access or no parking was available. All of the "locals" we came across were very well spoken and although we did our best to mind our Ps and Qs, we did run into a couple of individuals who were quite rude and dismissive of our attempts at engaging in conversation. I was therefore lucky that our cottage had it's own access down to the estuary. However, I was also keen to go and explore further afield so, following a shopping trip to Helston one day, we braved the single track lanes and 25% gradients of the coast road and had a recce of a few places on the way back to the house, including Coverack, Porthoustock, Polkerris and Porthallow. 

Of these Porthoustock looked the most promising (not least because it had lots of free parking!), although it isn't the prettiest spot in Cornwall with a steeply shelving pebble beach bounded on one side by an active quarry where "gabbro", a type of volcanic rock, is extracted and loaded directly onto ships from its adjacent wharf. What interested me was the imposing, dis-used concrete loading silo on the other side of the beach. This had a convenient ledge around its base that would give access to some deep water at high tide. 

A few days later I therefore returned with the LRF gear and the remains of the ragworm we'd dug from the creek. Had a quick chat with a couple who were feathering for mackerel, but they'd only had one foul-hooked garfish between them. Made my way along the beach past the rotting dolphin carcass that was maturing nicely in the sun and around the base of the silo. The water had a milky blue appearance, but I could see clumps of "sea spaghetti" looming up vertically from the depths. Baited up my usual mini-two hook flapper with bits of ragworm and dropped it down into a gap in the weed. Just had time to feel the dropshot lead hit the bottom when the tip banged over, resulting in a double shot of Mr & Mrs Corkwing! 

Must have been snided out with them down there as subsequent drops were met with an equally instant response and I quickly added several more to the tally. Some of the males were stunning, more like a tropical fish than something that would inhabit our relatively cold waters. Out of the blue I hooked a much bigger and more powerful fish that shot straight into the weed. Gave it a couple of minutes then felt it swim free, so pressured it up onto the surface and swept the net under an equally impressive ballan.

Amongst the wrasse were a few brassy pollack that either snatched the bait on the drop or as I raised the rig off the sea bed. Carried on catching until my friends eventually turned up and while Rob went to explore the quarry Stuart joined me on the ledge. Passed him the rod and, whilst the bites had started to slow down after a hectic first half an hour, he quickly did the treble as well. At one point we had a surprise when a grey seal bull with the head the size of a cow's popped up right in front of us, snorted his disapproval and then lazily porpoised off out to sea again. The tide was dropping away quite quickly now and the stands of weed had started to lie flat on the surface making it difficult to find a clear spot. The rag was down to the last few scraps by this stage anyway, so we made our way back along the ledge to the beach.

Ended up with 20 corkwings, 8 pollack and 5 ballans in a little over an hour, so a nice little session on what was our last full day in Cornwall. Shame it's a 6 hour drive from home otherwise I'd be down a lot more!

21/09/2023 - Can I dig it?

One of the things I did glean from Google about the local area was that in the early 1990's Gillan Creek, situated immediately below our cottage, became notorious for large-scale commercial bait digging. 

At the end of the season the creek was said to "resemble a battlefield", with the trenches, basins and mounds of spoil left behind by the bait diggers persisting for months. In addition, the narrow local roads alongside the creek were obstructed by cars parked up in the passing places. This lead to widespread local resentment that commercial diggers were exploiting the resource without paying any regard to either wildlife or the local community. Consequently, commercial digging is now actively discouraged. However, collection of a few worms for personal use is tolerated subject to a Code of Conduct and sat up on the decking overlooking the creek we had seen at least one person a day heading out across the mud at low tide so, armed with a bucket, spade and weeding fork, we decided to go and have a look ourselves. 

The seaward part of the creek consisted of sand, grit and small stones and was covered in a wide variety of seaweed, along with masses of empty shells. Whilst we didn't really know what we were doing, raking around the edges of any standing pools of water yielded loads of clams and some stonking, fat cockles that we later cooked in lager with some garlic, chili and parsley and ate with brown bread slathered with Cornish butter. 

Further up the creek the sand and grit transitioned into mud and digging at the boundary line we soon found a few worms and after half an hour or so had a decent haul of white rag, king rag, maddies and a few lug - certainly enough to keep me going for a couple of bait sessions. As it happened high tide that evening was just before 8 PM, so about an hour before that I headed down onto the rocks where I caught the two bass a couple of days previously. Again, whilst I'd found no specific reference to gilt head bream in my web searching I knew that they were present in the nearby Fal estuary, so my first rig consisted of a running paternoster with a lugworm mounted on a Paul "Bassman" Gordon stinger rig (see his Youtube channel here). 

On the other rod I had a simple one up, one down flapper rig, which I baited with the rag. Lobbed both of them out to hopefully rest on the sand beyond the weeded fringe of the rocks and sat down to wait. There had been a couple of other anglers out in a boat when I arrived fishing lures on the drift (Gillan Creek isn't part of the Helford bass nursery area where boat fishing for bass is prohibited from May to December). Given that they had the whole of the rest of the bay to work with I therefore couldn't believe it when they gunned the engine, turned towards me and motored straight over my baits! I could only raise my arms in incredulity, eventually getting a muted apology from the chap on the outboard. They steered well clear after that and eventually headed off fishless as far as I could tell. Wound in both rods just before it got dark to find the baits had been completely stripped, so I baited up again and cast out again into the gathering gloom. 

Five minutes later I had a knock and then a pull down on the lugworm and picked up the rod to feel a fish on the end. As it came closer the gold bar that I had hoped for turned to silver as a small schoolie bass appeared on the surface. Popped him back and re-baited with the last couple of lug. Gave it another half an hour into full darkness, but wasn't troubled again, so packed up and made my way carefully over the rocks and back to the house.

18/09/23 - Back after the bass

Around this time each year I have a week away with the "lads" (now aged 56 to 66!) and, whilst we have previously travelled to places like the Canary Islands and Madeira for our autumn break, the post-COVID years have seen us venture down to Cornwall instead. This year we found ourselves on the south side of the Helford River near Flushing. 

A Google search for fishing information was a bit sparce, with lack of public access and parking cited as the main issues. This was soon confirmed as, after a fairly uneventful drive down the M5 and the A30, it took an hour to cover the 30 miles from Truro. The last few miles took me down twisty, narrow lanes that had me doubting whether the sat nav actually knew what it was doing. However, I eventually arrived at the Air BnB, which was perched on the side of a river valley with a fantastic view across Gillan Creek and over to St Anthony in Meneage. 

Checked in with the others, then went for a quick recce before it got dark. The path from the property went down to a private jetty at a point where the creek narrowed, forming a natural pinch point that looked ideal for ambushing any fish travelling up or down with the tide. Spot sorted for the morning I went back to the house and sat out on the decking with the others with a glass of red wine watching the little egrets fly upstream to their roost. Was up bright and early to find it grey and overcast with a stiff breeze blowing straight in from the mouth of the Helford. There was another chap lure fishing on the opposite bank, but he left shortly after I arrived. Spent the next couple of hours fishing the area either side of the the pinch point with soft plastics as the tide pushed through the channel, firstly on the remains of the flood and then on the start of the ebb. However, when it came time to climb back up to back up to house for breakfast, I'd not had a sniff of a fish.  

The next morning I was back again, only this time it was in bright sunshine.The wind had also changed direction and was now blowing down the creek and out to sea. Again I started with soft plastics, bumping them along the bottom in the flow. After an hour of this stood out in the wind and still fishless I decided to try and find somewhere a bit more sheltered, so walked a short way along the coast path towards Flushing. Found a gap in a hedge that took me down onto the rocks on the left hand side of the bay. Water was gin clear, so went with a Savage Gear V2 weedless sandeel in a natural green and silver colour. I had covered the water in front of me for about half an hour when I eventually felt a thump on the rod tip as a fish whacked the lure after only a coupe of turns of the reel handle. After a  short scrap I steered my first bass of the holiday into a rock pool and a few minutes later I had a second. 

Had cast out and was letting the lure sink to the bottom on a tight line when it taken on the drop by another, slightly smaller bass. Carried on in the hope that there were more about, but that was to be my lot when the breakfast gong sounded again. When I walked past later in the day at low water I saw that I had been casting out onto sand and then bringing the lure back over a band of weed where the sand met the rocks, so suspect that the bass had been patrolling along this. 

Confident that I'd "cracked it" I returned the following two mornings but blanked both times, albeit in horrendous wet and windy conditions when any sensible person would have probably stayed in bed. Oh well, if it was too easy it would be boring!

07/09/2023 - Troternostering in the heat

Summer temporarily abandoned us over the Bank Holiday with some decidely mixed weather in Wales, but it was back with a bang this week with daily temperature records tumbling once again and the BBQ getting a late run out as a result. 

I had therefore been in two minds whether to brave the heat and go fishing, but I had the best part of a pint of maggots in the fridge to use up, so headed over to the Soar for a few hours. Although it was late afternoon the car dashboard readout was showing that it was still over 30 degrees when I pulled up on the bridge in Kegworth. I therefore quickly decided that it was going to be far too hot for the chest waders and that I'd just put on my wading boots and "wet wade" in my shorts. Was a great idea in principle. 

However,  I hadn't reckoned how overgrown the path over the island had become and when I got to my swim my knees and shins were smarting with numerous nettle stings!  

It was therefore nice to eventually drop into the relative cool of the river and get some respite. The level was probably the lowest I'd seen all summer and I could clearly see the bottom with the polaroids. Thought things might prove a bit difficult. However, first trot down along the edge of faster water the float disappeared resulting in a small roach.

I'd brought the perch paternoster rod with me this time, so he went into the bucket for bit later. Added a few more roach, a chub and bleak before deciding to put the paternoster out at the tail of the swim. Swung it out onto the edge of the crease and had only just got the line in the clip when the tip banged down as the bait was quickly taken. Turned out to be a little jack that must have thought that he was a salmon judging by his subsequent airborne acrobatics. As I drew him over the net I saw that there was a larger pike shadowing him. 

Whilst his smaller companion shot off like a scalded cat when I popped him back, he just sat on the surface eyeing me up and holding station with lazy movements of his fins. Expect if I had put on another bait and dropped it on his nose he would have taken it as well but I was after different prey, so waited until he'd drifted away before putting out the rod again. Carried on trotting, getting a bite a cast and adding several gudgeon and perch to the species count. Was interrupted by the bite alarm a few minutes later, picked up the rod and briefly felt the weight of a fish before it spat the bait.This came a bit beaten up and missing a few scales but alive, so was put straight back out again. The perch on the float rod were now up to hand-sized, so suspected that one of these had been responsible. However, the next time the float disappeared I hit a much better fish that made a couple of breaks for the far bank and then dogged around a couple of rod lengths out. 

Eventually caught sight of it in the clear water and saw it was a decent stripey. Looked nice and fat when I got it in the net,  but it didn't have the length, although at 1lb 9oz it was nice fish nonetheless. Whilst I had no further action on the paternoster the last half an hour with the float rod was dominated by dace that appeared out of nowhere after being absent for most of the session and when I reluctantly packed up to get home for dinner with the wife the river was alive with topping fish. Unfortunately I had the return trip through the nettles to contend with and despite striding manfully back to the car as quickly as possible I was still feeling their effects the following morning. Lesson learned - it will be waders next time, hot or not!

29/08/2023 - Last chance saloon

Was pleased when the lad expressed an interest in coming out fishing with me on the last morning of the holiday. He's off to Lithuania shortly after we get back home to start a PhD in eagle ecology at a research centre in Vilnius, so thought it would be good to get some "lad and dad" time in given that our plans to go surfing and paddleboarding earlier in the week had been kiboshed by the weather. 

He didn't even flinch when I said that we'd be leaving at 6 am to catch high tide up on the north coast, it being an hour later than  down on the south. Was a bit gloomy when we set off, but it had only just gone sunrise. However, as we climbed up towards Maenclochog we could see that the Prescelli Hills were shrouded in grey cloud and we were soon enveloped in drizzle. Said that I was sure it would clear when we dropped down the other side.....but it didn't and when we arrived at Fishguard and looked out over the bay we were in two minds whether to even get out the car! 

However, nothing ventured, nothing gained and we had some prime rag to use up, so we got our waterproofs on and made our way out to the end of the inner breakwater. Whilst we'd arrived just after high the small tide meant that the water level was well down the rock apron but, to be on the safe side, we stayed up on top of the breakwater rather than risk venturing down the steep, slippy sides. Set the lad up with a lightweight outfit consisting of my lure rod with a simple two hook flapper. Baited up the size 4 Aberdeens with sections of ragworm and swung it out so it came to rest as close to the base of the rocks as possible. The lead had literally been on the bottom for all of two seconds before the rod tip started banging away. 

However, the hasty strike didn't meet with anything and the rig came back with the rag on the bottom hook already a mangled mess. Got him to sit on his hands for the next one and wait for the rod tip to properly bend over. Again the response was almost instantaneous, but this time his strike resulted in the first of many pouting splashing to the surface. Actually quite a pretty fish with its shades of purple and bronze, but not the intended species, although there were obviously lots about as I struggled to get the other rod set up in between unhooking and re-baiting (laddo not wanting to get slime and "ragworm juice" on his hands!). Eventually there was enough of a lull to make up a pulley pennel and bait it with a mackerel and squid cocktail. 

This was lobbed out into the bay and left to fish by itself in the hope of at least a doggy. After a few more pouting on the rod down the side we eventually got what we were after in the shape of a nice male corkwing and a small ballan. 

I'd had wrasse in good numbers on previous trips and felt sure that there would be some decent ones about. However, it was back to the stripey bait shredders after that. About two hours later the relentless drizzle finally got the better of us, soaking into our clothes and the fishing gear and giving us wrinkly fingers. The bites had dried up anyway as the tide had dropped, so wound in the other rod to find that the bait had been completely stripped. We'd probably been fishing with bare hooks the majority of the time! Headed back to the ranch for a well deserved breakfast of bacon, egg, laverbread and lots of coffee. In summary, not the greatest few days sea fishing I've ever had in Pembs, but I'm down in Cornwall for a week in September, so fingers crossed for then.