Venue: Aberavon beach, 3/4 of the way along the prom, in front of the old peoples’ home. Friday 17th May/Saturday 18th May 2019.
Weather: winds 6 mph northerly, pressure 1009mb, temp app. 11 degrees.
Tide: Low of 1.1m on a 9.7m tide at 12.23 a.m. Two days before highest tides of the cycle.
Moon phase: waxing gibbous (98% visible)
Fishing time: 9.25p.m. – 3.00 a.m.
Method: Clipped down pulley pennell rig at longer range, two hook wessex rig fished at 20-60 yards.
Baits: peeler crabs, frozen black lugworms, mackerel, razorfish, squid, sandeels, prawns.
Ask any fisherman, and 99 per cent of the time they’ll tell you that there is very little as alluring, fascinating, inspiring, exciting or welcome as the buzz from the angling grapevine, and the buzz from our neck of the woods was becoming very difficult to miss, especially as it had something of a sharky vibe about it.
A good fish these days is hard to find (like what I did there? You’ll need to be of a certain age to get that one!) Dai and I had originally planned to head east looking for the rays, but we had read reports, and seen pictures of my local, Aberavon, throwing up some nice hounds and a few rays right on my very doorstep. Of course, once a picture is seen, or a fish mentioned, the imagination takes over and, with a sprinkling of hope, and a dash of optimism, decisions are hastily made and unmade. Aberavon is such a nice, easy beach to fish too, so it really was a no-brainer.
I met Dai on the beach at around the 9 o’clock mark and conditions were absolutely beautiful – settled weather, a little overcast and comfortably warm, a flat calm sea with just a hint of surf.
“If we can’t catch in this we want shooting”, I remember saying to Dai.We didn’t hang about getting our baits in the water as the excitement was palpable. For my long range rod I brought the Force 8 again. After the last session on Pink Bay I didn’t really feel that it had had a chance to really show what it could do, but conditions tonight would be perfect for it. With a 125g sinker cast off the ground, I was smacking it out there, long and straight. It really is a beautiful rod to use, and I was keen to christen it with a fish.For the flapper rod I took along the Sonik sks blue, as I had really enjoyed using this little rod the last time Dai and I were on Rest Bay.
There was no hanging about in this session – 20 minutes in I took a dogfish at long range on crab tipped with squid tentacles, duly christening the Force 8. Job done!15 minutes later the flapper rod followed suit, this time snaring the fish on squid.
The session bumbled along like this for a good hour and a half – dog after dog, with a double shot thrown in for good measure! Others had obviously heard the call of the jungle drums too, as around 10 or so other anglers had filtered down onto the beach along from us.
I was knackered – chasing the tide down and double-patting the rigs, cutting bait in advance and so on, in case the hounds came screaming through, meaning that I was busier than a fly swatter at a sewage plant.
I decided to take the rods out of the water for ten minutes to have a coffee, bait all the rigs and get reset. As I was doing this, I heard a shout from Dai’s direction: “Hound!” I fairly flew over to him just in time to see him lift a lovely little smoothhound from the water’s edge.
I was chuffed for him as this was his first ever hound, so one of his summer targets was ticked off the list. Well done, mate!
It was a different story for me, unfortunately, as it was back to the doghouse until, nearly two hours later, I finally took a hound of my own to break the year’s duck.
Well, I say ‘Hound’, but it was definitely more of a pup. Still, they all count. I ploughed on through more dogs, with Dai taking another hound, similar to mine.
As we were fishing and watching the surf build slightly, we were commenting on how we were surprised not to see any bass or, in particular, rays, something that I was after, having not really got into them yet this year. Funnily enough, about half an hour later, my flapper cast with sandeel baits was rewarded with this little beauty
A small-eyed ray of around 5 pounds. That capped things off nicely for us.
Dai packed up shortly after this, his 5 o’clock start as a caretaker taking its toll. I waved him off and began to tackle down, noticing that all those other anglers who had arrived after us had gone home too, leaving me as the last man on the beach.
I took one more dog at last knockings and finally decided it was time to call it a night. Had I the energy, I would have stayed longer because the night was a beautiful one.
As I prepared to walk off the beach, I took one last look back at everything – the moon, the sky, the sea, all blended in some impressionist image that reminds me why I keep doing this week after week, year after year.
It never gets old.
Until next time,
9.25- first baits in the water.
9.45 – dogfish taken at range on crab tipped with squid tentacles.
10.00 – dogfish taken on bottom hook of flapper on squid bait.
10.30 – dogfish taken at range on sandeel and razorfish combo.
10.45 – dogfight taken on bottom hook of flapper rig on sandeel.
10.55 – dogfish taken at range on crab and squid combo.
11.00 – double shot of dogfish on flapper – one on mackerel and one on squid.
11.05 – Dai took a small hound on crab.
11.30 – dogfish taken on bottom hook of flapper on squid.
12.40 – dogfish taken at range on crab.
12.50 – Small hound taken on bottom hook of flapper on crab.
1.20 – dogfish taken at range on crab tipped with sandeels section.
1.30 – Dai took a small hound in crab.
2.15 – 5lb small-eyed ray taken on bottom hook of flapper on sandeels.
3.25 – dogfish taken at range on crab.
FISH TOTALS FOR 2019
Number of fish – 30 ( 18 dogfish, 5 pouting, 2 turbot, 2 whiting, 1 flounder, 1 smoothhound, 1 small-eyed ray)
Number of species – 7