Guided Shore Fishing on the Cardigan Bay Coast of Mid-Wales
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Guided Trips: what's on offer?

The local area - and beyond...

                  BayThe 20-mile long Aberystwyth-Tywyn stretch of the Cardigan Bay coast (outlined in map R) has a rich variety of fishing-grounds.

We have beautiful, almost snag-free sandy beaches where bass, rays and flatfish hunt among the surf-tables. Steeper shingle beaches give access to deeper water. Mixed an
d rough ground offers a challenge but the rewards can be spectacular, while the extensive shallow reefs that dry over low tide reward the angler prepared to travel light and stay mobile. 

Such a diversity of marine environments not only attracts a wide range of fish and other marine life to this part of Cardigan Bay but also offers plenty of opportunities for anglers keen to get away from the crowds and explore more remote sections of coastline.

I fish right around Cardigan Bay and have done so ever since taking up sea-angling, so I'm quite happy to guide anglers further afield from my main twenty mile section of coast, so long as customers understand that travel time outside of the main area counts as work time. It's another hour, for example, down to the Cardigan district or up to Pwllheli, which for the return journey equates to a surcharge of £20 on the total fee. Travel time for local marks is, in contrast, covered within the overall cost of the trip. The main difference in terms of fishing is that NW and SW Wales have good deep-water rock-marks where sizeable pollack may be caught. This sort of fishing involves travelling light and using lures from steep rocks, so I would only take those who are agile and can handle steep scrambles. Such venues are also far more weather-sensitive, needing not only light winds but dry weather and no appreciable sea-swell.

What's swimming around and when?

Hereabouts, the shore fishing season begins in earnest in the spring. From some point in April onwards (it varies from year to year depending on sea temperatures), we see the arrival of the bass, rays and turbot. In most seasons, weather and sea conditions permitting, mackerel (and garfish) are present in good numbers by mid-summer. They come close-in on evening tides during settled weather when they hammer the baitfish, making the water appear to boil in the process. Larger predators feed on them in turn.

July and August see the sand beaches busy with holidaymakers, but we can find peace and quiet along more remote shorelines. This is an ideal time for novices to learn the basics, for visitors to have an explore, for targeting various more obscure shore species and for species-hunts. Autumn sees the beaches quieter again and the fish come back into the surf. Night tides also start to produce whiting, dabs and codling. Some years see an intense, late run of mackerel especially if we get an Indian summer.

The whiting, dabs and codling are present through to the New Year and until early February except in very cold winters. Late February to late March is the quietest time of year and the ideal time to sort out and maintain the tackle. With all such factors in mind, I operate from the middle of April or early May through to late November (into December and beyond if conditions are bearable).

Accessing venues

Getting to the venues is straightforward, and I will meet you there at an arranged time. Anybody booking a trip will be emailed a map with precise directions and information about parking which is either free or a nominal expense at the majority of the locations. Minimising the number of cars by car-sharing is a seriously good plan as it will make parking more straightforward on busy days. Some venues require walking a fair way, over uneven ground, but some are very close to parking. Please let me know your preferences (bearing in mind the easier the access the busier the venue during the main summer holidays). For Llyn Peninsula rock-fishing,  the climbers' cafe under the crags at Tremadog is an ideal rendezvous for those unsure of the route down to the marks.

Some of the trips on offer

Shore fishing: a short course for complete beginners

Venues: White Lion Hotel, Machynlleth (indoor part); between Aberystwyth and Tywyn (outdoor part).
y/night: Daytime only. Indoor part: 11am-1pm. Beach: between 2pm and 8pm depending
on tides, daylight and weather.
Season: April/May to late November, December too if weather stays mild.

a fishing rigTo newcomers to shore fishing, it can seem that there's a daunting amount of things to learn, but it's not that bad really! Learning how to tie a few critically important knots, how to treat the marine environment responsibly, understanding the basics of the weather and tides and how they can affect the fishing, choosing appropriate rigs, bait selection and presentation, the basics of casting and you are ready to hit the beach. The good news is that if the weather's bad we can do a lot of that indoors.

With that in mind, the tuition will be divided into two parts. Once you (and your friends) have booked, we start by arranging to meet for a couple of hours in Machynlleth, at the spacious White Lion Hotel, for a coffee morning with a difference: a full briefing on the basics of shore fishing. The briefing will include learning the knots and making your own rigs (such as the one illustrated R). Once I have checked each rig to make sure it has been tied correctly, you hang onto them because the next step will be to use them.

The second part, either on the same day or a later date to be arranged, will be a four-hour session at the beach. We fish venues that can produce a variety of species in daylight, over mostly clean ground
with few snags and where long casting skills are not necessary. Here, you will learn how to bait-up your rig, basic casting and how to respond to bites, and more about the marine environment. With a maximum of four participants for each course, one-to-one tuition will be possible throughout and by the end you should feel confident about giving it a go on your own.

New to Night-fishing? An Introduction

tywyn night tideVenues: Tywyn to Aberdyfi, Borth and Ynyslas, Aberystwyth.
Day/night: Evenings into darkness 3pm-10pm depending on tides, weather and time of dusk.
Season: September, October, November,
December and January too if the weather stays mild.

If you have done a bit of fishing, know your knots, are happy with your casting but have never fished at night this is for you. Night tides, especially in the autumn and early winter months, are often very productive. Venues have been chosen that produce a range of species in darkness and at various stages of the tide. Expect to catch from the following list: whiting, codling, flounders, dabs and dogfish plus odd bonus species. Don't forget your headtorch, though. We set up before darkness to make things easy - it's worth it for the sunsets! 

Above: last light at Tywyn, waiting for the whiting to appear. They did!

Targeting individual species, improving your fishing and exploring the area

Venues: Throughout the area
Day/night: Any time between 2pm and 8pm
depending on tides and weather.
Season: April/May to late November as tides permit

These bespoke trips are for anglers who are new to the area and would like to be shown around, those who are fishing but would like to improve or develop their skills or for those seeking to add a certain species to their list.

This part of the Welsh coast is rightly well-known for species such as small-eyed rays, bass and turbot but there's a lot more to it than that. The Species page shows just what's possible around here:
I even have a greater weever mark, believe it or not!

By shore standards the turbot run to a good size. The Welsh record of 10lbs came from the Tywyn area and I've had several in better years in the 4-6lbs range. Smaller specimens in the 1-2lb bracket are reported most years. Both small-eyed and the less frequently seen thornback rays run to double figures, although smaller specimens are most frequently encountered. Good-sized bass are caught every year, with spring, early summer and autumn providing the best surf-fishing.

For the small-eyed rays and turbot, both day and night tides produce though you will be relieved to know that I've done just as well in broad daylight as I have by sacrificing an entire night's sleep. Sea-conditions and tactics are far more important.

During settled conditions (remember them??) in July and August, the more popular beaches can get very busy. But that's not a problem:
there are literally miles of more remote reefs and mixed ground extending from the north of Tywyn to the south of Aberystwyth, so that there is plenty to explore even at the busiest time of year.

Mixed ground beaches are well worth fishing: in June 2012 an experimental trip for tope at one such venue, with two of us fishing whole mackerel fillets, yielded a double-figure bass to me. Reefs
offer interesting and varied ground with deeper water within casting range. Closer in, when sea-conditions permit, there is the chance to indulge in the traditional local technique of float-fishing for bass with crab and/or prawn baits, a pleasant method that involves travelling light and keeping on the move. You do the fishing while I concentrate on bait supply with my prawn-net!

Species-huntsFishing the Stone Jetty

Venues: Aberystwyth Stone or Wooden Jetties.
Day/night: Any time between 2pm and 8pm depending on tides, weather and daylight.
Season: May to late November as tides permit.

Fun sessions to see who can catch the most species in a few hours! These venues abound in mini-species with predators like pollack and bass also present. It's rough ground in places but that's where many of the fish are lurking: keeping rigs simple will minimise tackle-losses. If you're into LRF these venues are the places to bring your gear! Daylight tends to be the most productive when species-hunting.

Above: Aberystwyth's Stone Jetty - all sorts of species possible.