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

About simon smith

Teacher, husband, father, angler and author based in South Wales.
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