30/05/2024 - "One last cast"!

With the in-laws in France the wife and I headed down to Pembrokeshire to check their house over and have a few days chilling over half-term. Resisted the temptation to pack all the LRF tackle in as I knew I would just get distracted chasing "minis". 

Instead the lure gear went in, the plan being to try a get a bass or two. It was also a chance to try out my new Penn Spinfisher after yet another Daiwa Ninja had bitten the dust - great budget reels but the unsealed bearings are not too fond of the salt. The tides were looking good for it, mid-range and with low water early in the morning. The only possible fly in the ointment was going to be the wind as a brisk northerly was forecast all weekend. However, Saturday morning I was up at 0530 hrs, out the door and down on the estuary for 0615 hrs. 

At first glance conditions looked pretty good, but as I rounded the corner I could see that the wind was blowing straight up the arm. Got togged up and made my way down to the water to find that the clarity wasn't brilliant and the water had a brown hue. Closer examination revealed the presence of the dreaded "May weed" with loads of snot-like clumps of algae suspended in the water column. Not a great sign as its appearance often results in the fishing temporarily dropping off, possibly because it affects the oxygen levels in the water or even irritates fish gills. Wading out mid-thigh I could just about see beyond my knees, so started off with a Savage Gear slender scoop shad in sandeel mounted on a 4/0 worm hook with a 3g cheb weight but soon changed that to one in lemon back. 

Worked my way down to the pontoon and back without any hint of a fish, so made my way up to the point and put on a usually reliable Savage Gear weedless sandeel in white. The wind was now strongly gusting from right to left and making casting a nightmare. The tide was also pushing in strongly now and the combination of wind plus tide was making it difficult to keep the lure out in the channel. Had been fishing away for a few minutes when I noticed a lot of bird activity away to my left. A flock of seagulls were repeatedly diving down onto to the water and as they got closer I could see the occasional splash of a fish on the surface. Rummaging in my bag I found a silver, 19 gramme Westin Salty so clipped it on and whacked it out in the general direction of the commotion. 

Over the next few minutes I had four hookups - first one came off halfway in, the second came off when I wound it into clump of weed and the two I did manage to "land" were micro-bass barely big enough to cover my hand! 

As the gulls drifted off the bites stopped but I carried on with the Salty - for a small lure it flew like a bullet and I was able to punch it out for some distance into the wind. 

However, despite working hard for the next half an hour, I'd had no further interest and was on the brink of giving up but for whatever reason I decided to have one last cast from the point. Whacked the lure out into the flow once more and let it swing in the current before starting to retrieve. After a couple of turns of the handle the rod tip thumped round and I found myself connected to a heavy fish that came up to the surface very quickly. Thought I'd possibly foul-hooked a large mullet, but then caught sight of a spiky dorsal fin belonging to a decent bass. After a couple of runs I caught sight of it again and it was certainly bigger than anything I'd caught before, which had me praying for it not to come off!
Gave me some hairy moments as it made a few more determined runs out into the flow, but I eventually managed to steer it into the slack water of the bay to my left. The Salty looked tiny in its mouth and when I unhooked it I saw that it was only secured by one point of the treble and that this had been bent part-way out in the fight. Measuring 66 centimetres and weighing about 7lb this was a new PB bass for me. Had seen a couple of people heading for the cafe and contemplated going to get somebody to take a trophy shot, but in the interest of fish safety I took a couple of snaps on the phone and watched it swim away strongly instead. Was a very happy angler when I got back to the house, but it could have been so different if I'd not had that one last cast!