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:

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,



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.


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

Number of species – 7

About simon smith

Teacher, husband, father, angler and author based in South Wales.
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1 Response to In search of bites at first light

  1. Baitdigger says:

    That end of the beach seems more popular than the Naval club end at the moment simon, love the sunrise picture



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