04/06/2023 - A couple of "mini" sessions

Opted for a trip over to Milford Haven on Saturday morning after some "minis". The tide necessitated another early start and the sun was only just climbing above the town as I arrived  just before high water. 

Whilst it promised to be another cracking day, it felt distinctly chilly out on the end of the pier due to the brisk north-easterly wind that was blowing down the estuary. The water again was gin clear and I could see balls of tiny, pin-head fry carrying out synchronised manoeuvres beneath my feet. Set up the usual scaled-down two hook flapper made up with size 16 Drennan widegapes and baited it up with chopped-up sections of prime, farmed ragworm purchased from J & M Tackle in Pembroke Dock the day before. Dropping it down the side of the wall I started getting rattles on the rod tip almost immediately. Took a while before I eventually started connecting with the culprits - hordes of tiny corkwings, with the occasional and equally tiny, emerald green ballan wrasse. 

Moving to a different part of the pier didn't help as they were everywhere, although I did have a single shanny, followed by a rock goby, dropping down the side of the steps. Was distracted momentarily by an eruption of the surface as a cormorant emerged in the middle of big shoal of smelt. Watched them as they fled back out into the main channel, moving far too quickly to be interested in my bait, hastily jigged through their midst. Carried on snagging little corkies in the hope that something bigger would turn up, but nothing did. The only further highlight was when I heard the call of a bird of prey and looked up to see a peregrine flying past the end of the pier with what looked to be an unfortunate pigeon clasped in its talons, possibly breakfast for a nest of chicks. 

Decided to go and get some sustenance myself at that point as I was pretty cold after a couple of hours stood out in the wind, despite being kept busy and catching nearly fifty fish up to that point. Stopped briefly at the head of the marina to see if there were any mullet cruising and then headed to Costa for the now customary coffee and bacon roll. Consumed them sat on a bench overlooking the haven with the sun on my back before heading back to see what the wife had planned for the rest of the day.

Was in two minds the following morning. Had thought about popping over to Fishguard and putting a rod down the side of the breakwater for the wrasse. However, ended up hedging my bets and headed for Hobbs Point instead. 

I knew that my time would be limited to fishing over slack water, but as we were heading back to Nottingham later I was only up for a short session anyway. Cleared up the remnants of somebody's takeaway from the previous night (apparently getting out of their car and walking a few feet to the bin was too difficult - knobs!) before making my way down the old car ferry ramp. Was just coming to the end of the flood, but in contrast to the clear conditions at Milford the day before the water was full of what looked like suspended snot. Dropped a two hook flapper baited with whole rag down the side to fish by itself, while I messed about trying to catch a few more minis. However, bites were slow in coming and it was while before I got some initial interest from, you guessed it, a small corkwing. 

This was followed by a few rock gobies, but it was a bit of a struggle with the bigger baits being completely ignored. When the tide started ebbing about 45 minutes later and ripping along the wall I moved onto the pontoon around the corner where the flow was a bit gentler.


First drop down I was surprised to get an instant take from a better male corkwing, which was followed almost immediately by an extremely fat female. The flamboyant males build ball-shaped nests of seaweed in crevices between rocks in the spring and then entice a female in to lay her eggs, so I had possibly rudely disturbed Mr & Mrs Corkwing during their nuptials!  Lost another one that snagged me in the weed and then had a couple more males. These were followed by a couple of small ballans, before my little hotspot dried up and I decided to call it a day. Overall the  lack of variety over the two sessions had been a bit disappointing, but I suppose it's been a bit of a funny year so far weather-wise and things have yet to properly warm up. 

Certainly seemed that way when we got back to Nottingham in the evening to find the temperature about ten degrees cooler! Oh well, not long before I can get the trotting rod out again.

02/06/2023 - a bar of Welsh silver

Flashed down to Pembrokeshire with the wife for a few days at the end of half-term. Proved to be a good decision as we left a cold, grey Nottingham on Thursday morning to be greeted by blue skies and bright sunshine a few hours later. 

As usual I'd packed enough tackle to cover a range of eventualities, including a new bass lure rod - a 9', 7 - 35g HTO Nebula - that I was keen to put a bend in (well, new to me anyway - second-hand, but in mint condition and a bargain off eBay at £80). Therefore headed down to my usual estuary mark at Lawrenny just after dawn on Friday morning. Whilst I would normally fish the first couple of hours of the flood, tide times dictated that I would be fishing the ebb instead, so it was a bit of an exploratory trip for that reason.

The water was gin clear and the shallow, flooded margins were as smooth as a millpond, so I started off by working a surface lure - a Fishus Espetit - over the top of the clumps of bladder wrack hoping that a bass was waiting in ambush. However, by the time I had worked my way along the length of the beach I'd not moved or even seen a fish. Standing on the old quay wall I tried a couple of casts out into the main estuary. However, the first flush of the ebbing tide was bringing loads of floating weed downstream, fouling the line and forcing a change over to sub-surface lures. Over the next hour or so I worked through a range of patterns - both hard lures and soft plastics - with absolutely no interest from anything until finally arriving at the old faithful Savage Gear weedless sandeel. 

The estuary had really started to empty out now and there was fair old rip whizzing past. Casting the sandeel upstream I let it hit bottom before bumping it back with the flow. Had done this a few times when I felt the satisfying thump of an aggressive take through the braid. Let it dog around in the clear water testing the rod before drawing it into the shallows. Wasn't huge, but it was nice and plump and in mint condition. Quickly unhooked him and sent him on his way and then carried on with re-newed enthusiasm for a bit longer. However, that proved to be my lot, but at least I'd avoided the blank and christened the new rod. Took the long way home, popping into J & M Tackle in Pembroke Dock for some ragworm before stopping off at Hobbs Point for a bottle of seawater to keep them fresh. Tide was well out by now, but there was a chap fishing off the pontoon so went down for a chat. 

Turns out he was after the mullet, legering breadflake with a string of freebies pinched on above the lead, "washing line" style. He seemed to be getting plenty of interest judging by the rattles on his rod top, but the crafty beggars appeared to be good at avoiding the hookbait. Left him to it, but not before obtaining a few more tips and adding another potential quarry to the list!