09/04/2023 - Wild Welsh spotties

Couldn't come down to Wales without seeing how the resident brownies in "my" urban trout stream were getting on and I'd brought a tub of dendras with me for exactly that purpose, rather than have to scrat about in the father-in-law's compost heap. 

The level of the stream had been up when we first arrived but, due to its flashy nature, it was back to normal after a couple of days and whilst it was quite windy I knew that I would be sheltered once down below the level of its steep, tree-lined banks. Therefore headed off to Haverforwest at first light, but found that the layby that I usually use as my sneaky access point down to the water was blocked off due to roadworks. However, a bit further on I found a parking spot next to an electricty sub-station that afforded an equally quick and hopefully un-noticed scramble down the bank. 

Not that my secrecy is to avoid getting caught, but more about not revealing this little jewel to anybody else! Tackle was as before, my ultra-light lure rod, 6lb braid on a size 1000 reel, 4lb flourocarbon leader and a size 12, pink jig head. A worm was hooked through the saddle "wacky style", pitched up to the head of the first run and allowed to drift down with the current - all the time waiting for that rattle on the rod tip. 

That first spot yielded two, fin-perfect little Welsh spotties in consecutive casts before the jig head got snagged up in one of the various pieces of urban junk littering the stream bed and I had to wade in to free it, killing the swim in the process. Carried on in the same vein for the next couple of hours, snagging up and losing a handful of jigheads, but catching several more acrobatic little brownies whenever I managed to get the bait to successfully run through a swim unhindered. 

Also shared the stream with a pair of industrious dippers that regularly flew up and down, often within a couple of feet of me. Presumably they had more important things to worry about than some weird looking bloke stood knee deep in the water, like feeding a brood of hungry mouths. 

Found that several of the large trash dams from the summer had now gone, whether removed by design or just pushed on by the floods I don't know. In addition the redundant weir part way down the section had also gone. I would like to think that this had been done purposely to improve passage for any migratory fish coming up from the estuary (I've had a little sea trout and even a flounder in the past), but again suspect that that the old and un-maintained structure just gave up in a flood. All of this had created new spots that I would have to investigate properly at a later date, as I was on a strict timescale to get back for an Easter brunch. 

By the time I had worked my way back to the car I'd had nine fish and missed half as many again while the cars and lorries flew past on the bypass above my head. The only downside was that I'd got a wet left foot after stumbling and puncturing my old waders (worn exactly for this reason!) on some wire or rebar. Not that I was complaining - give me an urban stream full of wild spotties over a managed fishery full of stockies any day! 

08/04/2023 - Pins and doggies at Fishguard

Was out early again to take advantage of the tides and the weather, but headed up north to Fishguard with the bait rods this time with the plan to fish the two hours up to high water. 

Stopped off at the local Spar and raided their bait freezer for some mackerel and squid then made the long walk to the end of the inner breakwater, spotting an early summer visitor in the form of a male wheatear in the process. The sun was just starting to come over the headland, but it was still quite gloomy as I got comfortable on the concrete apron to the right of the beacon. Set up my bass rod with a one up, one down rig with size 2 hooks baited with mackerel strip and tipped with a bit of squid and lobbed it out into the bay. 

Started getting fast, jabbing rattles as soon as the lead hit bottom and before I'd even put the rod in the rest! I knew that trying to strike would be futile, so sat on my hands and waited for the culprits to eventually hang themselves. It soon looked as if the pin whiting were still about in numbers as I had half a dozen in quick succession. 

Spent the first half an hour constantly re-baiting in order to keep up with the voracious little buggers before I eventually got round to setting up the other rod. This one was lobbed out with a couple of mackerel fillets whipped onto a dongle on a size 4/0 circle hook on a pulley rig in the hope of something bigger. As the sun came up and it got brighter it seemed to put the whiting off and things calmed down a bit. 

Wound in the big bait after 20 minutes to find that it had been completely stripped, so re-baited and sent it out to soak again. In the meantime I'd been getting slow pull downs on the other rod. 

Wound down to momentarily feel a dead weight before the rig apparently pulled free, coming back with bare hooks. Happened again a few minutes later but this time the weight stayed on. Turned out ot be a spider crab hooked through a leg joint - no wonder my baits weren't lasting, what with the attention from the whiting and the crabs. Was therefore pleased when I eventually had a couple of doggies (or cat sharks to use the correct nomenclature) - like peas in a pod and both on the flapper rig rather than the big bait. High water came and passed and with it went the bites. To be honest I'd had enough of standing out in the freshening south-easterly breeze and the breakwater was getting busy with jogger and dog walkers, their various mutts intent on snaffling the bait off my cutting board. 

Packed up just as the Stena Line ferry nosed into the bay and headed back home over the Prescelli Hills - no doubt I'll be back in the summer for the wrasse!

07/04/2023 - Some welcome "minis" at Milford

Had the wind taken out of my sails by yet another disappointing end to the river season and as the unsettled weather continued through March I found that I had zero inclination to get out despite some having some vague plans for stillwater perch and canal zeds. Nearest I got to anything fishing-related was to make a hanging ceiling rack for my rods in the garage!

However, a few days down in Pembrokeshire at the in-laws gave me a chance to rediscover my mojo. With most of my sea fishing gear already down there I just had to throw a few extra bits in the car to cover all eventualities. The weather and the tides looked good for some early season species hunting, so Thursday morning saw me heading off to the Haven bright and early for high water. The sun had just started to paint the horizon in orange, reds and pinks and whilst I had to scrape a layer of ice off the car windows it looked as if it was going to be a glorious day. 

However, descending into the valley I was enveloped by thick fog that persisted all the way to Milford. Set up on the jetty in the gloom, the far side of the Haven obscured and the fog horn sounding off at regular intervals. Went with the usual scaled down two hook flapper with size 16 Drennan widegapes baited with last summer's salted rag. Started near the steps and slowly worked my way along the jetty, dropping my rig straight down the wall. Got to the end without a sniff, but then chanced upon some mini-species manna from heaven in the form of half a dozen large ragworm. 

Probably only discarded the previous evening otherwise the crows and gulls would have had them and barely alive but perfectly usable. The fish aren't fussy in these parts! Snipped them into small pieces, re-baited my rig and then dropped it down the far side of the jetty. 

Had a couple of rattles before the tip bent over properly and an indignant shanny dragged up to the surface. Seemed to have found the "honey hole" as several more followed, along with a few pollack, corkwings and ballan wrasse. 

A chap turned up with his two kids at this point. Discovered that he was a regular visiting angler from Kent, so we were able to share some intelligence about the various marks we fished over the years. On this occasion he was just after a couple of doggies to keep the kids happy, so left him to set up. By now the fog had been cleared away by the combination of the sun and a freshening breeze. Carried on until my supply of second-hand rag was exhausted, missing far more bites than were converted into fish but still ending up a a decent mixed bag. 

Packed up and then popped into Costa for a coffee that I drank overlooking the Haven, now bathed in bright sunshine. The number of buzzards and red kites spotted making use of the subsequent thermals was well into double figures by the time I got home. A quick bacon sarnie and all was well with the world!