Anticipation

Even though the end of the school year is near, it feels like I’m living only for the weekends at the moment. I swear, the thought of fishing is all that’s carried me through some weeks.

In that spirit, here’s a poem I wrote about that weekend feeling. Anyone who’s ever wet a line will know exactly what it’s about before even reading it.

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When Saturday Comes

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A Nightmare from Start to (very quick) Finish!

I almost feel like one of those policemen in the films, waving their hands and calling out “Move on – there’s nothing to see here!” Nevertheless, I shall retell my short tale of woe.When last Friday came around I was utterly knackered, and couldn’t have dug out, and carted around, the heavy beach gear even if I’d wanted to. Dai and I were both itching to get our lure accounts opened, so we decided to hit up the Neath River.The conditions were lovely when we arrived, with an hour to go until high water.

Of course, we were tackled up and in the water in no time, itching to get at the bass.

We couldn’t have been fishing for more than half an hour when, during casting, I heard a crunching noise. I couldn’t see anything, so carried on fishing. Well, I tried to.As I teed up the next cast, the rod flopped in my hand like a shot snake. A quick inspection revealed the fact that my Abu Diplomat spinning rod had suffered a catastrophic failure in the second section from the tip.

The rod didn’t just snap, it shattered, looking like a car had run over it. As I was walking, the trashed rod sounded like a packet of smashed crisps. Nightmare! What made it even worse was the fact that ut was less than a year old and had been used six times at most.That was that. I told Dai to carry on fishing, but he didn’t want to fish if I couldn’t.He messaged me later with a screenshot from the Amazon review page for this rod, which contained a few reports of smashed rods, prompting me to question the quality of the blank. I now await a response from Abu before deciding what to do next, but even if they do manage to come up with a spare section, I think I may have now lost all confidence in the rod, unsurprisingly! We shall see.

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The world through rose-tinted specs

Venue: Pink Bay, Porthcawl. Friday 28th June 2019.

Weather: winds 8 mph south-eesterly, pressure 1019mb, temp app. 21 degrees.

Tide: Low of 2.9m on a 7.9m tide at 9.50 p.m. Two days after lowest tide of the cycle.

Moon phase: waning crescent (19.2% visible)

Fishing time: 8.30 p.m. – 1.00 a.m.

Method: Clipped down up and over rig at longer range, two/three hook paternoster fished at 20-60 yards.

Baits: ragworms, mackerel, squid, sandeels, prawns, sprats, frozen peeler crabs.

Well, maybe not rose-tinted, but definitely pink. Pink Bay, that is. I really like this beach and, given the tide we were faced with, and the fact that Dai had never fished it with bait before, it was an absolute no-brainer. A quick scan of Magicseaweed also told me that it would be flatter than a witch’s tit, so I’d have a chance to dig out the Force 8 conti and the Icon mpr. A quick scan through my last few session reports told me that, unbelievably, we hadn’t managed to get out for a month. Crazy! Ah well, tempus fugit and all that.

Seeing as it had been a good while, we were both determined to make the most of the session, and so we absolutely loaded up on all sorts of baits to cover a few different bases. I was early, as always, my impatience getting the better of me, but it was a glorious evening and the short wait for Dai to arrive was a nice one.

It didn’t take long for him to get there from down the road, and the banter started to flow immediately. The 8lb plus ray he caught on Rest Bay finally appeared in the most recent Sea Angler, earning him a mission badge in the process.

Of course, this made him an angling celebrity and demoted me to the position of his “bitch”. I told him he could piss off, and that I’d stick a copy of his picture in the front window to deter burglars. I love the banter we have, and it makes our sessions all the more enjoyable. Seriously though, well done mate. In getting his mush in the mag he’s also ticked off one of our targets for the year, so we are flying at the moment. Next up is catching some bass on lures, along with, hopefully, a catch ‘n’ cook of some mackerel, but more of that later.

It was a lovely evening for the walk down to the beach

but Dai struggled a little, mainly due to the Breakaway conversion on his box. The rigid frame wasn’t helping, and we had to stop to untwist the straps too, giving me flashbacks of why I hate the things so much. I’m trying to convert him to a Shakespeare Sherpa, and I think he’s wavering!We were keen as mustard for this one, and were set up and in the water for 8.30. There was a gentle breeze coming from behind that allowed us to fairly whizz the casts out there, but the lack of tide for the last 90 minutes of the ebb, combined with the bright sunshine, meant that it was a quiet start.We chatted to fill the time and watched a glorious sunset over Sker Point

both knowing that if the fishing was going to turn on, it would start soon. We weren’t disappointed.This is where things become a little disorganised- whilst cleaning down the gear on Saturday morning I tore the notes from my notebook ready to write up this report, but have misplaced them somewhere, so I can’t offer exact timings on the session. I’ll do my best to get everything in there though.

I started the session off after about 90 minutes with two quickfire strap congers in two casts on the short range flapper rig.

Although they twisted and snotted up the line a bit, these were a very welcome sight as they were another species for the list this year, and the blank was broken, continuing our good run. Dai got in on the act too, taking an eel of his own to break the deadlock.

A little while later, Dai shouted that his line had gone slack and that he was going to hit it. A healthy curve developed in his Sonik sks black as the fish fought back, and there was to be no mistaking this fish for anything else. I headed down to the water’s edge to snare the hound for him and was confronted with a little beauty.

Thick across the shoulders, I initially thought it may top 8 pounds, especially as its powerful writhing body made it difficult to gauge the size. While we were struggling to get the fish into Dai’s weigh sling, my distance rod slammed over. Dai was beside himself, telling me to go to the rod, but I wanted to get his first decent hound (another item on his personal tick list) weighed and back in the water. We eventually managed it, watching the scales hit 7lb 1oz and I finally went over to my rod to find that a dogfish had snagged whatever crab had been left by the hound that had smashed the bait initially. Dai was extremely apologetic, but I told him that there was no need – there’ll be other sessions with other hounds!

About half an hour or so later the flapper rod danced again to the tune of something decent, this time a spirited small-eyed of around 3lb or so that fought me all the way in.

After this there was a smattering of bits and pieces with me taking another late dogfish and Dai taking a schoolie on ragworms before we huffed and puffed our way through the muggy night, back to the car, all the while watching the bats picking off moths overhead.

All in all, it was a lovely night with a few fish and good company once again. Can’t go wrong with that. If I find my session notes I’ll amend this entry to provide a slightly more detailed catch report. If not, the final tallies were: me – 2 dogfish, 2 straps and a small-eyed; Dai – 1 strap, 1 hound and a schoolie.

FISH TOTALS FOR 2019

Number of fish – 38 ( 20 dogfish, 5 pouting, 4 turbot, 2 whiting, 1 flounder, 1 smoothhound, 3 small-eyed rays, 2 conger eels)

Number of species – 8

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Quiet Corners

Reeds and water

There are so many benefits to being outside. Outside, in the fresh air, for instance, or outside of time, where we can gather up slack moments to ponder. And of course, we all like to think we’re in with an outside chance. But English grammar is as slippery as an eel, and one little flick of intonation sees the meaning of outside start to become out of, as in out of luck, out of time, out of chances and out of the loop.

I struggled to understand on which side of this divide I fell as the thick branches of the close-clinging bushes scragged at my clothes and did their best to claw out my eyes.  The denseness of the leaves reflected the laboured sounds of my own breathing back to me along with the pungent fresh smell of crushed vegetation as I ripped leaf and branch out of my way and trod them underfoot.

Each step further became slightly more laboured than the last; due to thick plant growth around me the temperature in here was at least two degrees cooler than out in the naked sunshine, and yet I was still sweating profusely. I could feel it running down my back and even at the backs of my knees; I was half-blinded by it, could taste its saltiness as it beaded and ran on down over my top lip but I didn’t care.

I looked around at a place only half-shaped by whoever had been here long before. A low tree to my right had its branches strangely draped in the shredded plastic of old carrier bags so that it reminded me of something – Spanish moss perhaps – though it could only ever appear a mongrel version of the thing itself. Slightly farther on, a sheet of rusted bedsprings lay in the grass, sunk down and intertwined with the stems so that I couldn’t tell whether it was rusting down, trying to become part of the earth, or was rising from it like some archaeological artefact. This place was the physical embodiment of a preposition – it was a between place, a before and after place that could never be fully defined by any one person at any one time. I pressed on.

Expecting only plain grass to lead me to my destination, I was reminded again how outside of things we all are, how things become, then change, then disappear again to be replaced by something else, and often all without our even knowing it. In clusters here and there, either side of the path, and in large areas further along, the woodland forget-me-not, myosotis sylvatica, burned its blue-flame path, its proximity to the track suggesting that it had been trailed here in seed form and distributed by other walkers before me, though there was no other evidence that human feet had ever tramped through here aside from the carrier-bag tendrils wafting from those branches.

Still I pressed on, the occasional bramble scratching my legs, but I ignored the scratchy sting and the slight trickle of blood I knew would be there, instead keeping my eyes ahead, straining, stretching, longing to see it until…ah, there! Finally!

I emerged into a small rough clearing of about ten feet in diameter, shaded by an overhanging alder, immediately grateful for its shade and the cool openness of the space around me. After catching my breath, I began to take stock. Fishing for rudd way over on the opposite corner of the lake a few hundred yards away, David and I had spied this corner the week before. Seen from that position, it appeared as a slight dip in the bankside grass, now knee high, due to weeks of growth and inaccessibility, but even then we could see that it warranted investigation, and so we resolved to find the spot the following week. A family meal had scuppered Dave’s tagging along on our chosen afternoon, leaving me the sole explorer to battle my way to our secret spot. And when I arrived, it was everything we had hoped it might be.

Trees crowded in a gentle curve around three sides leaving just the one opening that framed the water’s edge like a small portal. To the left, a huge area of reed mace stretched away toward the middle of the lake, giving everything a huddled-in quality. Even the air itself was heady – heavy with the spicy tang of still water and lake-rotted vegetation that impressed itself upon senses. Here was a space we could spread into, set up and inhabit while we got stuck into the fish. Everything was perfect.

I sat awhile, opening my can of dandelion and burdock, and munching a meat paste sandwich, flicking out bits and pieces of crust to see if there were any signs of life.  It didn’t take long.

After a few minutes there were numerous ripples on the surface just beyond the vegetation. Even from where I was sitting I could see that it was mostly small fish, but it didn’t matter. They were ours – our fish in our own secret…SPADOOOOSH! A huge splashing swirl right at the edge of the reeds erupted where a pike suddenly appeared; a huge pike, the king of pike, I had decided, for no ordinary pike could ever have made such a handsome splash.

That swirl, at that moment, was the dipping of a paintbrush into a jar of water – that sudden action, and the ripples that followed it, plumed out into that sultry afternoon like a sudden shock of colour, a red perhaps, that billowed outward and tinted everything from that point onward. All I could think about, all I could talk about, for the next couple of days, was that pike, desperate to drag Dave over to our secret spot.

We arrived together full of anticipation, bundled down with armfuls of tackle which half-killed us when dragging it through the vegetation, eager to reach that place again and see whether the pike, which had now been elevated to mythical proportions by my enthusiastic descriptions over the previous couple of days, was ready to put in another appearance.

All day we fished, both with baits and with lures, on the bottom and on the float, and we didn’t get so much as the faintest of nibbles, yet strangely, as we packed up, slightly dejected at the end of the day, the magic of the place was completely undiminished. True, there wasn’t that bright red burst of interest that had flared on my previous visit, but there was definitely still a fainter tinge of diluted pink that still hung over the place, retaining its mystery, even if we couldn’t quite put our fingers on why.

For days after, I thought about it, that place, and the reasons why it appealed so much, until one day when I finally understood: quiet. On both occasions I had visited, there had been no noise aside from my breathing and the occasional gust through the leaves. Anyone else fishing the lake was away on the far bank, as were the coots and mallards, mopping up crusts thrown for them by the other kids, all of which left me with a complete and glorious silence.

It is no coincidence that Dick Walker found himself “lost in a quiet world” or Ted Hughes “silently cast” into a “stilled legendary depth.” Even Izaak Walton was keen to follow the advice given in Thessalonians, that we “study to be quiet”, for at the root of all good angling is nothing. Stillness, quietness; absence; openness; all these things that keep the mind clear and in a prepositional state, ready to be filled with…well, that’s something that can’t be described until it actually happens, something we can’t possibly know until we meet it face-to-face, or ear-to-sound in some cases. The sudden flash of imaginary colour can only swirl in waters that are kept clear. Like the importance of blank white space to poets, quiet is the context to fishing that we don’t notice until we begin to encounter it more often. I often come across it, or versions of it, like soundless echoes of that first moment years ago, in the pre-dawn darkness of a breakwater or a secluded pebble beach at the end of a thirty minute yomp.

We never did go back to that secret spot, David and I, for soon after this we discovered sea angling, and numerous other secret spots to occupy us. As always, time is the great teacher, correcting the grammar of our lives as it goes, crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s so that before becomes after, in front becomes behind, and life takes over, making everything else one great besides.

I do still think of it from time to time, that little hollow, our first quiet corner, now absent from our lives, so silent and empty yet at the same time remarkably filled to the brim, and consider that maybe this is no negative thing. There is always much to be said for the new, for the element of surprise and the excitement of unexpected arrivals. Whether it’s a shoal of mackerel or an unexpected bloom of flowers, this kind of thing will go on happening whether I, or anyone else for that matter, am there to experience it or not. Lingering is not always the answer; at best we are only ever passing through anyway.

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In search of bites at first light

Venue: Aberavon beach, in front of Remo’s cafe. Monday 27th May 2019.

Weather: winds 11 mph westerly, pressure 1013mb, temp app. 9 degrees.

Tide: Low of 3.4m on a 7.1m tide at 6.53 a.m. Lowest tide of the cycle.

Moon phase: waning crescent (49.3% visible)

Fishing time: 4.25a.m. – 9.00 a.m.

Method: Clipped down up and over rig at longer range, two hook paternoster fished at 20-60 yards.

Baits: frozen black lugworms, mackerel, squid, sandeels, prawns, sprats.

Following a blank on the lure gear a few days previously, I was rather keen to get back to catching ways. However, it was going to be difficult to get a session in, despite it being half-term. A combination of tides, Rachel’s shifts, her birthday on Saturday as well as the Champions League final, featuring my beloved Redmen, left only one prominent slot – a dawn session over low on the bank holiday Monday.

Dai was also off work, and really didn’t take much persuading, as per usual. Planning to go to bed at 8.30, get up at 3.30 and get a bait in the water by 5.00, we made our arrangements and I caught an early night. Great stuff.

Except that it was followed by an early morning. A very early morning. I woke up for a pee at 1.40ish, began thinking about fishing and that, as they say, was the end of that. I had that “kid at Christmas” tingle that I always get before fishing, something I wish I could bottle and sell, as it would make me an absolute fortune.

After some breakfast, and having made a flask of coffee, I headed on out, very early indeed. The streets were so quiet in their pre-dawn hush, and by the time I arrived at the beach and messaged Dai to let him know I was there, morning had barely begun to break.

I was really up for this session, so practically legged it down onto the beach. Now, before I start in on my story of the session, I must get a whinge off my chest, and I make no apology for it. As I walked down the steps onto the beach, past a bin, it became obvious that someone had fished up to high here only a few hours before – the evidence was left at the high tide line in the form of a squid box containing a couple of sandeel sections and chunks of squid.

Such behaviour is utterly ridiculous and completely unacceptable. The anti-angling factions out there need no invite to put the boot in and, to be fair, they’d have a valid point in this case. Imagine bringing your little ‘un onto the beach for a bit of half-term fun, only to discover some smelly fish scraps and rubbish left on the sand. Ridiculous!

I did my civic duty though, putting the rubbish in my bag. If everyone did this each time they went fishing, our beaches would be far cleaner places. I decided that I would put the scraps on my flapper rig, to see if I could manage some kind of poetic closing of the circle by catching on the leftover scraps.

I had the baits in the water by 4.25 while the town slumbered on, oblivious to my excitement and efforts. When he first messaged me before arrival, Dai said something about our possible insanity and anti-social timekeeping, but I assured him that we were the normal ones, and that it was the rest of the population who were the crazy ones. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

I guess that Dai, despite his doubts, had felt that tingle too, as I was surprised to see him ambling onto the beach not much later.

The waiting was over, and the pressure off, very quickly when, after just fifteen minutes I had a bite – on the flapper rod with the cast-off bait! Soon after, I did indeed close that poetic circle by catching my first fish that came flapping through the surf – a turbot of around 1.25lb. I would absolutely love to catch a big one of these beauties, but I seem to be doing well on the tiddlers at the moment, and it’s certainly something different to the norm!

Pressure off, I settled down to enjoy the session as it unfolded. It was a beautiful morning with little wind, a nice bit of surf and a cracking sunrise that blazed out a spectacular backdrop to our early efforts.

Looking at its glorious palette, I was reminded of the beautiful Gerry Rafferty song Moonlight and Gold, a personal favourite, with its lyrics:

Tides keep on turning,

Our hearts keep on yearning

To be where they know they belong.

Check it out at the link below:

https://youtu.be/bqDaXoyNJg8

Wonderful stuff.

Anyway, back to the fishing. Dai didn’t have to wait long either. Shortly after my good start he pulled in his first fish – a lovely little small-eyed ray.

Both of us thought we were in for an absolute cracker of a session, but the small tide and building wind made things more than a little difficult, particularly toward the end. I think the size of the tide also played a role in the fact that the big hounds didn’t come out to play. They were about, as we both had cracking smash-and-grab knocks that came to nothing, but they were like ghosts, suddenly there then fading back into nowhere after that first sporadic contact.

There was to be a hound, although it was tiny, for Dai

as well as another small ray for me

and another small turbot on the last cast.

The photograph doesn’t begin to suggest how difficult the conditions became, but it didn’t matter; we had squeezed in a session and succeeded in catching fish, so all is well in my world once again. Well, at least until the next time I get that tingle!

Tight lines,

Si.

Summary

4.25- first baits in the water.

4.40 – 1.25lb turbot taken on sandeel/squid wrap on top hook of flapper.

5.00 – Dao caught a 1lb small-eyed ray at short range on sandeels.

6.03 – big, single slamming bite – missed.

6.45 – baby small-eyed ray taken on flapper on sandeels tipped with squid.

7.45 – Dai took a small smoothhound on squid.

8.25 – 3/4lb turbot taken at range on double sandeel and squid.

FISH TOTALS FOR 2019

Number of fish – 33 ( 18 dogfish, 5 pouting, 4 turbot, 2 whiting, 1 flounder, 1 smoothhound, 2 small-eyed rays)

Number of species – 7

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Smash and…nowt

Venue: Sker point rocks. Friday 24th May 2019.

Weather: winds 10 mph westerly, pressure 1020mb, temp app. 14 degrees.

Tide: High of 8.4m at 11.00 p.m. Three days before lowest high tides of the cycle.

Moon phase: waning gibbous (68.4% visible)

Fishing time: 8.30p.m. – 10.40 p.m.

Method: lure fishing.

Half term is here! As Friday approached and I started to get fish-twitchy again, I was presented with something of a dilemma.

The last time Dai and I managed to wet a line, I was shown a very great deal of accommodating leniency by my good lady – crawling into bed like a groggy water buffalo at 4 in the morning when she is up for work at 5.45 is enough to test anyone’s tolerance, to be fair!

So, with high tide at 11.00 and strict instructions to be back home by 12.30 at the very latest, I was never going to manage the kind of low water bait fishing session I wanted, so a couple of hours on the lures it would have to be.

Dai, being into all things feather, plastic (and probably even leather and rubber if he’s honest- I have my doubts about these fluff-chucking types!) was well up for it. We are really looking to get into this side of angling this year, and so grab the opportunities when they arise. The problem at this time of year is that, between the rays, hounds and bass, there’s so much good stuff happening on the beaches, meaning that we’re spoilt for choice at times.

The forecast was for a bit of swell and a breeze, but nothing awful, so I sorted through the lures with a fair bit of anticipation.

Dai and I arranged to meet near Picton Court at 8 but, being an overgrown child, I couldn’t wait that long, and so turned up 20 minutes early.

He arrived not long after, and so we were off down the trail and to the beach.

We hadn’t even arrived at the beach when it became clear that Sker was completely out of the question – we could see the spray even from the path before we arrived at the beach. With safety in mind, we mooched around the rock ledges of Pink Bay.

Conditions were difficult from the off as we fought against the building swell

But it was a lovely evening, and one not to be squandered.

Dai was given a belated birthday treat when he got the chance to watch me getting soaked.

That hand gesture is how we wish someone a happy birthday here in South Wales. He pissed himself laughing that much that I thought he’d end up wetter than me!

With nothing to show for our efforts we decided to mooch a little further along the coast,

flicking our lures out into likely patches of water, all to no avail.

And so, as darkness (and hypothermia!) started to close in, we admitted defeat and strolled on back to the cars. It was still a lovely couple of hours though, and although we tasted defeat, we left determined to really give lure fishing a serious go as summer progresses.

As a bonus, I also stayed in the good books of my good lady by sliding into bed a full 45 minutes before I was due home.

The next day, I had to meet a guy in Swansea, as he wanted to buy a few surplus fishing bits and pieces from me.

Whilst there, I took the opportunity to nip into the marina to pick up some sandeels, and to grab some daddy/daughter time by treating Elle to an ice cream.

It was a lovely hour or so, and gave me the chance to suss out a few potential quiet corners for us to kick-start our venturing into lrf. Watch this space!

We polished the evening off with a couple of cheeky bottles of prosecco for us grown-ups and some pop for Elle, along with some marshmallows toasted over the chimenea.

All-in-all, not a bad start to the half-term hols!

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It’s all gone a bit Feargal!

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,

Tight lines.

Summary

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

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