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!