Three seasons in one day – a coronavirus update

As I write this, I still feel as though I’m in some kind of limbo. Dipping in and out of news feeds, it’s becoming ever clearer exactly how hard the coronavirus pandemic is hitting the entire world, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down soon.

I’ve formed, and abandoned, plans for a few fishing trips over the last couple of weeks, thinking that another opportunity would be just around the corner, but the Government’s lockdown means that I won’t be wetting a line for at least a few weeks, and that’s fine – much as I love it, there are far more important things in this life than fishing.

Tuesday was a particularly strange day, and in many respects it felt like three seasons in just one day.

We had the beautiful, spring-like weather to begin with, which was most welcome after all those endless weeks of bloody rain. Normally, my ray fishing radar would be bleeping like a good ‘un now, but that’s not going to happen.

There was also a definite feel of summer to the air too. I went into work as normal, but the Headteacher had drawn up a rota of who was to be in work on which day. With almost no kids in  school, and only a few staff, it felt like those days during the summer holidays when I come into school to get some preparatory work done for September. A very strange feeling in March.

After being sent home (my rota days for actually being in the school building being Tuesday and Wednesday) I had a couple of hours to kill while my daughter got on with some online learning and hogged the computer, and this is where things started to feel like late summer/early autumn. I scrubbed out the fishing box, washed and pegged out the rod bags and holdall (these last few damp months have left everything somewhat mouldy), painted and tidied the shed, and generally got my fishing gear in tip top shape ready for when the lockdown ends.

An enforced spring clean

I am working from home too, preparing for whenever life gets back to some semblance of normalty, but the lockdown also leaves me with more time to read and get some writing done. I’ve done essays to finish off and a new book to begin writing

Another saving grace fishing-wise is the proliferation, in recent years, of YouTube fishing channels. I remember when TA Fishing was pretty much the only fishing channel out there, but now we’re spoilt for choice. Some of my personal favourites, if you fancy a watch, are:

These are just a few that I check in on from time to time, but there are loads more I haven’t time to mention- more than enough to stave off the boredom!

On a personal note, my wife is a nurse and, only twenty minutes after coming home from her shift yesterday, she was moved to tears when we stepped out onto the doorstep and heard applause ringing up and down the streets. It may seem such a trivial thing, but little gestures like these make all the difference, not just to the frontline workers but also to their families who can see the high regard I which people hold them.

Take care in the days and weeks to come; I genuinely hope you and yours, whoever and wherever you may be, come through this safe and well.

Tight lines and best wishes, Si.

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The Ballad of the Lonesome Flounder

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Will the New Year run continue…?

Venue: Swansea Foreshore. Friday 17th January 2020.

Weather: winds 8 mph north-westerly, pressure 1021mb, temp app. 2 degrees.

Tide: High of 8.4m at 11.42 p.m. – lowest tide of the cycle.

Moon phase: Last quarter – 50% visible.

Fishing time: 8.00 p.m. – 1.00 a.m.

Method:Up and over rìg at longer range, two hook paternoster fished at 20-80 yards.

Baits: squid, sandeels, frozen razor clams, mackerel, frozen prawns, ragworms, lugworms.

We had two conflicting viewpoints when planning for this session. Flushed with the success of my last session, I really fancied a change from the norm, so started to look for a new venue, or somewhere I hadn’t fished in ages. Over the coming year, both Dai and I have agreed that we need to broaden our horizons a little, just to add a bit of new interest to our fishing. With this in mind, I started to get thinking.Dai on the other hand, has had a tough time of it recently. A run of blank sessions, coupled with an absolute kicking from the weather when fishing alone last week, meant that his mojo was sorely lacking. Where I saw the new and interesting, Dai saw the untested and speculative.So, where to go to balance the two? As it happens, I did have somewhere in mind.

By sheer luck, last week, with no fishing planned, my good lady and I decided to take a stroll around Swansea marina in the sunshine and, whilst there, I popped into the marina shop to grab a few packs of sandeels for the bait drawer in the freezer. I got chatting to the guy behind the counter as I always do, and he mentioned that a few codling had been taken recently from the nearby pier. That sounded good to me.It’s been a good few years since I’ve fished Swansea foreshore, though I do look at it with appraising eyes every time we hit the marina and seafront for a stroll. After a quick coffee in one of the cafes it was time for a recce of the beach.Flat and sandy, like my local, Aberavon, this stretch of the beach has the added bonus of a patch of rougher ground to the right and a large lugworm bed to the left, leading up to the pier.

My eyes fell upon a lovely spot just to the left of the rougher ground, where it gave way to the worm bed. Surely, no fish could pass this spot by without having a mooch around?! I floated the idea with Dai who was more than happy to give it a whirl, and the session was set. Great stuff.

Everything was falling into place nicely, until, that is, the arrival of…

…Storm ‘Brendan’.I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand this new tendency to name these autumn and winter storms. That’s bad enough in its own right, but if the weather boffins must insist upon doing this, then surely they can come up with something that reflects the awe-inspiring natural power of a raging winter storm rather than naming it after a librarian, thus rendering it about as threatening and breathtaking as a half-eaten pack of Monster Munch.

Despite sounding like a damp squib though, Brendan did proceed to dump a boatload of rain on my patch, and all the weather and surf forecasts pointed to our session being rather rough – perfect for a codling!

I was prepared early, and my good lady did wonder at the amount of tackle and bits I was taking, asking whether I was going fishing or leaving her!

No wonder I ache the day after a session!

Dai picked me up at 6.30 and we were away, making the 25 minute journey to the car park that would lead us over the dunes across a small boardwalk and onto the beach. We were pleasantly surprised to find that neither the wind nor the surf were as strong as expected, leaving us with a very comfortable set of conditions to fish.Confidence was high as we arrived at the water’s edge. Well, for about three minutes, until we started to set up. When we got the gear out of the car Dai dropped his SKS black on the deck, an innocuous thing until he noticed that the butt ring now resembled a piece of spaghetti, the liner having been smashed and scattered. We took an executive decision to cut the ring off the rod, smoothing the busted high build as best we could with Dai’s filleting knife, allowing him to fish on.

As I was setting up, I hadn’t tightened the tripod’s extending back leg enough, causing it to drop off and plop my rods and reels into the sand. Bollocks. Having spent a few minutes de-sanding the gear as best I could, we were finally ready to go.

I was looking forward to this session for a number of reasons, not least because I would be able to partner my 14ft leeda icon with its new non-identical twin, the 15ft version, acquired recently for a song. I love the 14fter and was really looking forward to seeing what the longer version could do.

I wasn’t disappointed. Laying the baited rig out on the beach, I was absolutely spanking it out to sea, the whole process feeling beautifully effortless. I knew I was going to enjoy this. Our earlier optimism duly returned on the first casts when Dai missed a bite and I pulled in the first fish of the night – a whiting.

Dai wasn’t far behind with a whiting of his own

and the next few hours bumbled on like this,

with a double shot thrown in for good measure.

It ticked over and, although we weren’t reaching the heights of my previous session, I was still working hard, trying various bait combos and casting distances, as well as double-patting to keep things moving along. All but one of my fish came to the ‘short’ rod in the surf, and the long rod took just one whiting. The tide was a small one, with only occasional moments of really good tide flow further out, so it soon became clear that the cod probably wouldn’t be making an appearance. We did wait for these moments as the whiting action dropped away, but nothing came to fill the void until the tide dropped away again and the whiting reappeared.

Ah well, you can’t have it all ways.

I was hoping, at least, to manage double figures, but fell short at 8 fish, including a nice fat flounder later in the session. Dai managed 4 whiting.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable night and, as we were walking off the beach, we discussed the possibilities for the future – bigger tides, low water, different seasons etc, so we will definitely be back.

There will be many who read this who think that some of the sessions logged here are uninspiring and pointless, but there’s no such thing in fishing. All of these sessions are practice for bigger things to come – the bait combos we try out, the marks we suss across different tides, the rig variations and double-patting all work as prep so that we’re ready for bigger and better things to come when the codling do finally show (if at all) or the rays and hounds return. Above all else, I always enjoy fishing anyway, no matter what the venue or the species, so it’s a win-win!

Dai dropped me off at around 2 in the morning, and I went to bed milling over a really positive start to the fishing year, thinking fishy thoughts and leaving the sleepy street to dreams of its own.

Roll on the next session!

Summary

8.05 – first cast

8.25 – whiting on top hook of flapper, ragworm.bait at 50 yards.

9.05 – whiting on top hook of flapper on sandeel bait.

9.40 – doubke shot if whiting on flapper – one on ragworm and one on sandeel.

11.15 – whiting on range rod, ragworm and lugworms combo.

11.40 – whiting taken on top hook if flapper on sandeel.

12.10 – flounder taken on top hook of flapper on lugworm.

12.30 – whiting taken on top hook if flapper on ragworm.

1.00 – session ended.

FISH TOTALS FOR 2020
Number of fish – 29 ( 27 whiting, 1 dab, 1 flounder)
Number of species – 3

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Festive Frolics

As you’ll see by the snugness of my smock in some of these photos, I was making rather merry over the festive period, so haven’t really had the time to keep the blog updated regarding any exploits, so I’ve lumped the two sessions I did manage into one post to bookend Christmas and New Year.

Venue: Porthcawl Wall. Friday 20th December 2019.

Weather: winds 11 mph south-easterly, pressure 982mb, temp app. 7 degrees.

Tide: High of 8.3m at 1.27 a.m. on a 7.2m tide – lowest tide of the cycle.

Moon phase: waning crescent – 35% visible.

Fishing time: 9.40 p.m. – 1.20 a.m.

Method: Pulley / Up and over rig at longer range, two hook clipped paternoster fished at 20-60 yards from the wall.

Baits: squid, sandeels, frozen razor clams, mackerel, frozen prawns, frozen peeler crabs.

I couldn’t help but breathe a huge sigh of relief as the last moments of the school year, indeed, the school decade, ticked down and the bell trilled into life. My health, my sanity and my credibility as a human being had been stretched to the limit over what felt like the longest term of my life.

Temporally, they don’t get much longer – an eight week half-term followed by a seven weeker – with an inspection thrown in for good measure. By the time December rolled around, the kids were already mentally switched off for the holidays and so were the staff. I was just looking forward to some fishing.

I’m a big kid at times, particularly Christmas, and I’m certainly one of these people that believes that festivities should begin in the run-up to December, meaning that the stock of wine we bought for Christmas had been cleared out and replaced, and the goodies had been cracked open long before Santa pulled on his sparkly pants for the big day. This meant that I felt as light as a bloody feather skipping down the corridor as the clock hit three and that bell shrieked out on the last day , even though my already considerable bulk had been enhanced by the extra timber packed on in the run-up to the hols.

I was ready for this one in advance. Tide and weather weren’t ideal so we were limited with our choice of venue, opting to plump for the easy spot of Porthcawl wall for our last session before Christmas. Because of these circumstances, and because Dai cooked last time, I went shopping in advance, bringing a disposable barbecue and enough food to kill a hippo with cholesterol.

It’s a bloody good job too, really, because, keen as I was, we met at around 7 when there wouldn’t be water in front of us for two and a half hours! Not a problem though, as it allowed us to get base camp set up before the rain arrived

and to get the cook-up on the go after we had tackled up and had a quick catch-up. We also exchanged Christmas presents as always at this time of year, and the next part of my devious plan to transform Dai from the utter fishing shambles that he is was implemented with one of his most recent gifts – a rod sling. Honestly, I love the bloke, but he’s an utter shambles on the beach; it looks like a skip has spewed up a load of tackle and luggage when he’s out fishing, which sets my OCD off horrendously. I remain hopeful but, as I commented to Dai, getting him organised is like trying to teach a whiting to ride a bike. I’ll wait until he’s not looking in a future session and will take a phot of his ‘set-up’. It’s unique to say the least!

Disaster nearly struck when the bloody barbecue went on strike. Luckily, Dai had his cook kit in the box, so we fired up his little gas stove, got ourselves fed on burgers and bacon rolls and waited for the tide. It was a bloody long wait, but it was punctuated by a slow but steady stream of Black Friday pissheads staggering from pub to pub nearby, approaching us in various states of drunkenness.

Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, we had baits in the water. Huzzah! After all that waiting, it seemed only fair that we should be rewarded with instant fish, but it wasn’t to be. My first fish didn’t arrive until an hour after the first cast – a small whiting.

Then it was over another hour until the next fish, another whiting. To be fair, this session was never going to be about huge numbers of fish (which is most definitely a good thing due to my all-round porky slowness and sluggish approach).

The one interesting thing happened when I hit a snag at the base of the wall, gave the rod a gentle pull and my five ounce impact lead sprung back up and smacked my between the eyes. It left a bump but nothing else, thankfully. Joking aside, that could have done real damage, so I mentally kicked my own arse and told myself not to be so fecking stupid in future.

The session continued like this until around one o’clock, when we’d both had enough. I don’t think Dai managed anything other than a huge calorie boost in this session, and it was pretty slim pickings for me too, with just three whiting and two dogfish for my efforts to finish the year on something of a whimper rather than a bang.

Summary
9.40 – first cast
10.40 – whiting on bottom hook of flapper, sandeel.
11.55 – whiting on bottom hook of flapper, sandeel and squid tip. 12.10 – as above, but a better whiting. 12.25 – small dogfish taken on razor clam on up and over rod. 12.45 – dogfish taken on flapper on sandeel and squid tip.

FISH TOTALS FOR 2019
Number of fish – 51 ( 26 dogfish, 5 pouting, 4 turbot, 5 whiting, 1 flounder, 1 smoothhound, 6 small-eyed rays, 2 conger eels, 1 bass)
Number of species – 9

Venue: Aberavon beach (near Naval club). Saturday 4th January 2020.

Weather: winds 10 mph south-westerly, pressure 1036mb, temp app. 6 degrees.

Tide: Low of 8.3m at 6.46 p.m. – jointlowest tide of the cycle.

Moon phase: waxing gibbous – 62% visible.

Fishing time: 4.10 p.m. – 9.15 a.m.

Method: Clipped down pulley rig at longer range, two hook paternoster fished at varying distances.

Baits: squid, sandeels, frozen razor clams, frozen prawns, mackerel, king ragworms.

Now I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions as I don’t think they work. In many cases, people set unrealistic targets that, ultimately, fail somewhere in mid-January, leaving the hapless and previously enthusiastic victim feeling a pathetic flop.

However, this year, I have looked at a few ‘tweaks and targets’ that I’m going to be looking at a little more closely, and one of those is to get my fishing-self back into shape. After the previous session, I took stock and realised that I’d become a very lazy angler. I always used to be full of energy, enthusiasm and ideas, but over time I’d slipped into something of a rut, losing any direction and approaching my sessions lackadaisically. For example, in years gone by, if I wasn’t catching I’d be in the rig wallet trying something new, mixing up baits etc. Over the last couple of years I’ve just sat on the beach, watched a motionless rod tip and let the session pass me by. No more! This had to bloody well stop!

In the period between Christmas and New Year, my good lady had a run of three shifts, so I started by spending a chunk of each of those three days in the man-cave, getting my shit well and truly together. First up was a reorganisation of the tackle shed itself, leaving me feeling organised and far more together.

Then came the tackle tinkering itself. I serviced the reels, spooled them with line and retied any rigs that needed replacing.

Finally, I finished modding my seat box, adding a few personal touches to make me more efficient and organised on the beach.

By the end of those three days I was raring to go. Dai couldn’t make this one due to his boy going back to uni the following day, so I would be quiet, focused and really going for it.

I arrived on the beach really early so I could get set up and fishing before last light.

I wasn’t messing around, and really intended to hit the beach hard. Over the last couple of years I’d been happy to winkle out a few fish each session and go home, but I was going to go into full “match” mode in this session, double-patting my rigs to maximise fishing time.

The up and over rig with 3/0 hooks would be fished at longer range to see if there was anything more decent lurking behind the breakers. On the other rod I would be fishing a two-hook clipped down paternoster, allowing me to go looking for the smaller stuff across varying distances until I found the bites.

My hard-and-fast approach paid off very quickly, with a whiting to the searcher rod about fifteen minutes after the first cast,

followed by a dab on the same rod fifteen minutes later.

The longer range rod claimed its first victim only five minutes after this, with a whiting managing to get the 3/0 pennell setup into its gob. I was really into the groove now, baiting up the spare rigs with all sorts of cocktails, casting, unhooking, and hitting the fish regularly on the searcher rod. It seemed that I had very quickly found where the fish were feeding (around 40-50 yards out), but I persevered with the longer rod too in case there were any codling or dogs around.

After about an hour I had an inexplicable crack-off on the searcher rod. Disaster! Had my luck started to turn? Would these be the beginning of a downturn? Nah. I just whipped on a spare spool, chucked out the double-patted rig and set up a new rig on the tripod. Told you I meant business. I think it was Gary Player who said something like “The harder I work, the luckier I seem to get”, and this was borne out a few minutes later when I reeled in a double shot of whiting on the searcher rod, followed by another whoting and… my lost rig! A year or two back that crack-off would have really soured my mood and put a dampener on the session, but I had just fished through it and was reaping the benefits.

The session ticked over nicely with a mix of single fish and double shots. Dai was messaging to see how I was getting on, but I could only reply in brief snatches as I ploughed on, even when the weather took a turn and I had to hunker down and fish through regular patches of mizzle that drifted through.

I had only taken that solitary dab, so decided to try to find them again. Idropped the two hook rig short, from 10 to 30 yards, but there were no bites. It seemed that the dab weren’t around in numbers. As soon as I got back into the “sweet spot” I started hitting the fish again, so stuck with it.

H

aving planned to fish until ten, I had to pack up early as my bait ran out, meaning that my first session of the new year had been a roaring success! Does this suddenly make me an angling guru? No – the whiting were out in force and they were on the feed, but I do think that I would have caught six or seven less fish had I not worked so hard.

When I finally stopped and had time to look up, I totted up the tally – one dab and twenty whiting, around 14 of which were sizeable so, had I fancied it, I could have had a good feed out of the session too.

Great stuff. Don’t get me wrong – I know that any half-decent matchman would have taken me to the cleaners, but I was happy with my efforts and felt, for the first time in ages, that I had got my mojo back. In one session, I caught nearly half as many fish as I did in the entirety of 2019. Long may it continue!

Summary
4.10 – first cast

4.25 – whiting on top hook of searcher, sandeel tipped with squid at 40 yards.

4.40 – dab taken on top hook of searcher on razor clam and squid combo

4.45 – whiting taken at range on sandeel and ragworm combo

5.10 – whiting on top hook of searcher, taken on mackerel

5.45 – whiting taken on bottom hook of searcher on ragworm and mackerel combo

5.55 – double shot of whiting on searcher rod, one on prawn and mackerel combo, one on squid and razor clam combo 6.15 – whiting on top hook of searcher on ragworm

6.35 – double shot of whiting on the searcher rod – one on straight mackerel and one on straight squid 6.55 – whiting on top hook of searcher on straight sandeel

7.05 – whiting taken at range on ragworm and squid combo

7.10 – whiting taken on top hook of searcher on razor clam

7.35 – whiting taken on top hook of searcher rig razor clam and mackerel combo

7.50 – whiting on top hook of searcher on straight mackerel

8.05 – whiting on top hook of searcher on ragworm

8.15 – whiting taken on range rod on double sandeel

8.25 – double shot of whiting on searcher rig – one on mackerel, the other on squid

8.55 – whiting on bottom hook of searcher on straight ragworm

9.05 – whiting taken on bottom hook of searcher on straight prawn

9.20 – session ended.

FISH TOTALS FOR 2020
Number of fish – 21 ( 20 whiting, 1 dab)
Number of species – 2

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When the Stars Align

Venue: Rest Bay, Porthcawl. Friday 8th November 2019.

Weather: winds 4 mph north-easterly, pressure 1013mb, temp app. 4 degrees.

Tide: Low of 2.5m at 9.58 p.m. following an 8.5m high tide. One day after lowest tide of the cycle.

Moon phase: waxing gibbous – 83.8% visible.

Fishing time: 8.00 p.m. – 12.45 p.m.

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

Baits: squid, sandeels, frozen razor clams, frozen peeler crabs, frozen prawns.

It’s been bloody hard going recently. I’ve really been under the cosh with work and don’t seem to have even a second to breathe at the moment. Rarely gave I needed a fishing session so much.

To be fair, I usually love my job, but recently I’ve had the words of the great American essayist Edward Abbey firmly entrenched I’m my thoughts:

One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out…get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.

Wise words indeed. And so I knocked off at 3.30 on Friday afternoon, leaving the desk behind and heading for my tackle shed with my head full of Abbey’s words and fishy thoughts.

Great stuff, except that those “desk-bound” hours had left me in a pickle, and the stars were aligning…against me, or so it seemed.

To begin with, one of our cats had gone AWOL for a few days, missed her monthly flea treatment then come hone with a dermatological reaction to a flea bite. Splendid. Of course, the only appointment was at 4.30 on the afternoon I’d earmarked for fishing. Joking aside though, I am an animal lover and really didn’t begrudge our Orinny hervtime withn the vet…much. Half an hour and 50 quid later, I was skipping out into the evening ready to crack on.

Right, worms. My good lady and I jumped in the car and headed for Dragon Baits worm farm (via Morrisons for a few bits and pieces for tea) only to find it shut. Nightmare! Frozen baits it was, then. Thus was compounded bybthecfactvtgat, by the time we got back home, there wasnt time for me to cook tea anyway, so I had to settle for a ham sandwich while putting new shockleaders on thd reels and packing the car in a rush. I thought thus fishing kark was supposed to be relaxing!

Finally, I was off. Dai was running a bit katerdue to not finishing work until 6, but as he was only bringing the lure gear, things would be a bit more straightforward for him.

As I was setting up, I realised that I must have list a plastic screw from the bracing arm on my tripod. Oh joy of feckin’ joys. Nit a disaster, but another thing that would need sorting.

Twenty minutes later it was a caed if tackle finally sorted, baits in the water and I was finally fishing. Allelujia!

Dai arrived shortly after, and it seems that my affliction was catching as Dai cracked off on his first cast, losing his soft plastic (oo er Matron) straight away. He soon rectified the problem though, and was away, tramping up and down the beach, flicking a lurd into the surf while I waited it out for a response to the baits.

The session was surprisingly slow, but I was merely enjoying being out and getting some fresh air a la Abbey, and talking sport with Dai when he passed by on his ranging.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I had a response to the big triple sandeel bait I’d whacked out on the range rod, resulting in the first fish of the night, a very small, but very welcome, small-eyed ray.

The silence descended again, almost as quickly as the air temperature, and I settled back into the peace of the night, enjoying the session.

Dai had all but given up on the lures at this point, and came to chat with me. Shortly after, thecrange rod clonked over again to the tune if a bigger fish. At first I thought it might have been a bass as it really had a gi, butitvturned out to be another small-eyed, a nice chunky little 3lber.

Again, the silence returned, broken only by the sound of the surf, and again it was a ray that put in an appearance, thus one slightly smaller at 2lb.

Dai and I struggled to get the hook out, resulting in a snapped hook but a safely-returned ray. They seemed to be coming in the feed, but as Dai was by now merely spectating and our feet despite numerous pairs of socks, had turned to blocks of ice in the northerly winds, it was time to call it a night.

With the heating n the car blowing full blast, it only took me half the journey home to finally defrost, just in time to sneak in a cheeky beer before a bath and bedtime.

It appears that the stars did align in my favour after all. Well, enough, at least, to leave me feeling human again before Monday morning comes and it’s time to get back to the desk once more.

Summary

9.45 – 1lb snall-eyed ray on triple sandeel at range.

10.15 – 3lb small-eyed ray on sandeel/squid wrap at range.

11.35 – 2lb small-eyed ray on sandeel/squid wrap at range.

FISH TOTALS FOR 2019

Number of fish – 46 ( 24 dogfish, 5 pouting, 4 turbot, 2 whiting, 1 flounder, 1 smoothhound, 6 small-eyed rays, 2 conger eels, 1 bass)

Number of species – 9

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Autumn Dreaming

Venue: Pink Bay, Porthcawl. Monday 28th October 2019.

Weather: winds 8 mph north-easterly, pressure 1026mb, temp app. 5 degrees.

Tide: High of 10.5m at 6.03 a.m. one tide before highest tide of the cycle.

Moon phase: new moon.

Fishing time: 2.30 a.m. – 7.30 a.m.

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

Baits: ragworms, frozen black kugworms, squid, sandeels, frozen razor clams, frozen peeler crabs.

It seems like an absolute lifetime since I’ve fished, let alone written anything on here. Come to think of it, it seems like a lifetime since I’ve done anything other than work.

The school in which I work recently underwent its inspection, meaning that for weeks leading up to the event it was all hands to the pumps. Being a middle leader, I knew that I’d be busy, but I had no comprehension of exactly how many demands the inspection would actually make of me – the sheer amount of time and energy I’ve expended has been crazy. During the five days of the inspection week itself I literally managed 14 hours of sleep…in total!

That’s all behind us now though and, although the effects are still hanging around like a case of jet lag, I’m starting to feel more human, starting to feel more myself and starting to feel, as always, that pull toward the shoreline that can never be denied.

Over the last few years I’d always seemed just off the pace, looking up to find that it’s already spring and the best of the autumn/winter fishing has already passed me by. I was determined for this not to be the case this year, particularly as I’ve streamlined the tackle and have new rods and reels to bed in.

The weather has been dire of late, with lashings of rain and gusty weather drowning any realistic thoughts of fishing, but a forecast window in the weather meant that I woke up on Saturday to a clear day, the first frost of the season on the rooftops

and that clean, crisp air inviting me one again to get out of doors, shake off the office fug and get the lines wet.

There was, of course, the small matter of a rugby World Cup semi final, with dreams of a first Welsh final appearance, to get out of the way first! Alas, it wasn’t to be this time so, immediately on Sunday’s final whistle, it was out into the garden for me to potch with the gear. This is an aspect of angling which I actually love. Half of the excitement is caught up in the prep – tying rigs, loading reels, organising boxes and so on, and this is really well captured by a guy called Mark Williams in a video on his new Youtube channel. If you have time, check it out here https://youtu.be/i9a9qJ893o8 as it’s well worth a watch. If you end up reading this Mark, well done to you mate. I really enjoy watching guys like him as many of them produce these videos (a not insignificant amount of work in itself) out of sheer enjoyment, which really comes across well.

Anyway, back to the session in hand. I finished potching, banished memories of the South Africa defeat and packed the car ready for a very early start where my autumn dreams would switch from rugby to that end-of-year staple in the British sea angler’s daydreams- the cod. A few have been caught already near the bridges to the east, so I was hoping that they’d started a push westward in search of rich feeding grounds.

After a 7.30 bedtime, a 12.30 alarm, the usual WhatsApp banter and a shortish drive I was meeting Dai at 1.30 ready for the walk down to Pink Bay. I still have this lingering feeling that this beach owes me a good winter session, so I’m planning to hit it a few times this year. Let’s hope I’m right!

We got down there sharpish and set up as quickly as we could, not an easy feat given that the tide was already tonking in and we were having to walk back with it every couple of minutes. Nevertheless, the first baits were in the water by about 2.30.

Things looked good at first as Dai had the first bite within about ten minutes. Nothing came of it, but at least there were some signs of encouragement. I had brought the kitchen sink in terms of bait, so was hopeful of a decent session.

These early signs weren’t actually borne out for me until 3.45 when a lovely bass of around 2lb absolutely nailed my sandeel and squid bait at short range, and gave a spirited tussle all the way in.

It was a beautiful, fin-perfect little fish that brought a genuine smile to my face and warmed up the rapidly cooling morning.

It would be lovely to say that the session really kicked in from there, and that we got our cod, but that would also have to remain a dream, for the time being at least. The rest of the session passed by in a staccato rhythm of dog fish, sometimes even double shots!

Highlight of the session was definitely when Dai dug out the gas stove and knocked up some lovely bacon and egg rolls.

Honestly, if it weren’t for the stubby legs, hulking shoulders and birdsnest beard, he’d make someone a lovely wife!

By the time the end of the session swung around at 7.30, the morning was shaping up to be a gorgeous one

but we were utterly knackered and keen to get the trudge back to the cars out of the way.

Still, it was great to get out again. As always, the company was tip-top (cheers again mate for the grub and the banter!) The weather was fine and we’re definitely now making the transition into the time of year when I really start to come to life. The inspection hangover is definitely vanished now, and I’m really looking forward to the next one already!

Tight lines,

Si

Summary

2.30 – first baits in the water.

3.45 – 2lb school bass taken on sandeel topped with squid on botyom hook of flapper at 60 yards.

3.55 – Dai caught a dog fish further out on bluey/sandeel combo on up and over rig.

4.05 – Double shot of dogfish on flapper at 60 yards. One on ragworms and one on sandeel tipped with squid.

4.50 – Dogfish for Dai. Tap on my range rod on sandeel/squid/frozen blacks.

5.00 – Dogfish for Dai. Tap on my range rod on ragworms.

5.40 – Dai had dogfish

6.35 – Dogfish at range on ragworms.

6.40 – Dogfish on bottom hook of flapper on sandeel tipped with squid.

FISH TOTALS FOR 2019

Number of fish – 43 ( 24 dogfish, 5 pouting, 4 turbot, 2 whiting, 1 flounder, 1 smoothhound, 3 small-eyed rays, 2 conger eels, 1 bass)

Number of species – 9

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

It’s been quite some time wince I’ve posted for a number of reasons. First up is the end of the summer holidays which, of course, means that the workload has come tumbling in like an avalanche once more.

The year keeps trundling on and we have once again reached meteorological autumn

a time when many begin to tut, turn up their collars and look pensively the skies for rain, winds, sleet and, dare I say it, snow, over the weeks and months ahead. Not me though.

Although the blog has been quiet, I haven’t been completely idle, in fact, I’ve been ringing the changes.

I did get out to Rest Bay a few weeks back hoping for a big bass, and managing only a dogfish and a schoolie for my troubles.

It wasn’t the fish that were the main point about this session though. Although I only had a short walk from the car to the beach, my back was in half for days afterward. Over the next few days I did quite a bit of soul searching. I’m only 38 now, but I’m not going to get younger, and so I decided to accelerate a process that had started some months before.

Dai and I have slowly but surely developed an interest in lure fishing. For Dai, this grew on the back of his river exploits, but for me it’s something that has always simmered away on the back burner, mostly getting an airing in the summer months.

I’ve kept a sparse lure setup on the go, and we’ve been varying our sessions between beach fishing and lure fishing. I haven’t had any success yet, but Dai has had a couple of fish to be fair to him, and we’re both really enjoying the learning curve.

We haven’t given up on beach fishing yet (there will always be a place for beach fishing in my life) and we’re very much looking forward to the winter season to come, but lure fishing now has a large foothold in my life. So, I’ve spent the last few weeks thinning out my beach tackle and investing in the lure set up.

As can be seen from the pictures it’s early days, and I’m building up the collection of lures. I haven’t caught anythig on the lures yet, but am enjoying every session that comes our way.

The most recent was one of those beautiful end-of-summer days that meant a nice walk in lovely weather to the mark

scoffing handfuls of ripe blackberries on the way.

It was refreshing not to get soaked for a change, with Dai getting the early shower instead!

This wasn’t enough to put a dampener on watching a beautiful harvest moon rise over the shingle bank behind us

and enjoying a cold (non-alcoholic, of course) beer

that Dai had thoughtfully brought along for us.

That moon, though, is a very bright reminder that we are entering my favourite time of year – whiting, cod, dabs and, cross the fingers and toes, a lure caugh bass?! Let’s hope so.

The leaves are falling,

the garden spiders are going into overdrive,

the winds are building and the anticipation is rising.

Tight lines.

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