Shore Fishing on the Cardigan Bay Coast of Mid-Wales
11th June update: just look at this jet-stream pattern!
To say the weather has been unsettled of late is something of an understatement. The chart below hints at why:
Normally, the narrow band of very strong high-altitude winds, at about 30,000 feet up, flows quickly west-to-east in a series of waves, but at the moment the picture looks more like the sluggish meanders of a lowland river. Troughs bring Arctic air southwards while ridges push warmer tropical/midlatitude air northwards. Due to this pattern, that has ground to a halt over us, low pressure systems are arriving from unusual directions (mainly from the south), eastern areas are getting the kind of rains that we're more accustomed to here in Wales and it's often been windy, too. Such conditions of course affect the fishing: extra fresh water moving through the estuaries drives some species out onto the open coast, while the rougher spells liberate a lot of seaweed off the reefs at low tide when the sea-bed is within range of wave-base turbulence.
On bigger tides, work-arounds are possible if open beaches are awash with "salad", which can accumulate on lines in soul-destroying quantities. The other weekend it was a bit choppy but not enough to deter me from taking a look at the shallow rocky reefs south of Borth. With some fresh peeler and soft crab in my bait-bucket, I headed out across the rocks to a favorite mark. On marks nearer Borth, people were mostly spinning and even feathering in hope, but I could see the weed being dragged-in. Undeterred, I got to the mark and set up. Long range would not be possible, but these marks fish well close-in at times, so I baited up and flicked the crab baits no more than 10-15 metres out, so the angle of the line from rod-tip to water surface was reasonably steep, thereby minimising annoyance as the weed came along in the tide.
It was bites from the off, but with 5/0 circle hooks intended for bigger bass, and a piranha-like shoal of school-bass right in front of me, the ratio of bites to landed fish would be poor. I persevered though, in case they thinned out giving any bigger fish a chance. Smaller hooks and baits just resulted in six-inch dabs - the sea bed must have been paved with them. All too soon, the rising flood-tide shepherded me off the mark and homeward bound.
A shame not to have contacted any better fish, but it's very encouraging to see such a good population of smaller fish. After all, these are the three to five-pounders of the coming years. And it goes to show that it is still possible to catch when weed is a problem. Right now the tides are at the bottom of the neap part of the cycle, so the reefs don't uncover for long enough to give the angler more than and hour or two at best, but tides will be getting bigger later this week and it looks as if these winds may well ease off. Despite the weather making people curse right now, it's still better than this time last year when we had that prolonged intense heatwave - fish don't mind the current weather but endless heat and calm conditions are less favoured by them.
Looking ahead, it is starting to seem that conditions may finally start to settle down into next week, expanding the range of available options for anglers. Both leading forecast models are hinting at this change, so let's hope they are right.In the meantime, here's a recent sunset pic from Ynyslas, taken in early May and reminding one that there's more to it than just catching fish!
26th May update: a few fish around
With the weather warming up, prawns are abundant in the rock-pools and along the beaches we are seeing bass, rays, flounders and turbot, with not too many dogfish! Tywyn is fishing especially well, although floating weed is currently something that has to be dodged! Being prepared to move about a bit normally allows fishing time to be had. Winds will be onshore this week but there are then signs of high pressure arriving in early June and more settled conditions with it. I'm hoping to get up to the Llyn rock-marks for some mackerel then, in order to top up the new bait-freezer - the old one died a few weeks ago, but I was able to borrow some space in another one and a friend donated me one that was in his way, so everything worked out OK in the end! Prices for 2019 trips remain the same, so if you fancy a session, whether a beginner or more experiened, do holler!
March 30th update: a new season awaits....
A happy new year to you all!
I've not been hibernating this winter but very busy on my geological research, since the winter months are far easier for fieldwork in areas where there's loads of bracken in the warmer part of the year. It's not been a cod season this winter, with just a few fish reported among the normal whiting, dabs, flounders and dogs. Big news is that at some marks south of Aberystwyth, spurdogs were landed. These interesting fish used to be a fairly frequent sight before excessive commercial fishing wiped them out in the 1990s, so it looks as if stocks may finally be recovering. I recall catching one off the big breakwater at Fishguard back when you were allowed to drive onto it – that was a long while back now! I'll certainly be out hunting one later this year.
Good news regarding bass in that anglers can keep one specimen a day in 2019, from April 1 through to October 31, as long as it's in-size (more than 42cm). I tend to eat fish in the 3-4lb range as they have bred at least once by the time they are that big and they are well tasty. Bigger, older females are our prime spawning stock and should be put back to continue doing their job – bigger bass are not such good eating in any case.
So to the future and I will be offering all the usual trips from early April onwards. It's not been an especially cold winter, so the winter species are still with us and I expect, barring a disaster, that the summer species should be roughly on time too. Today's sea temperature at Aberystwyth is 8.9C which is at the high end for March - last year it was a lot colder than that, so I am optimistic. Targets next month will therefore be bass, rays and turbot that could well put in an appearance whenever winds are onshore but not too strong, giving some nice surf. I've already had some enquiries and I suspect more folk will takeup fishing just to escape from the ongoing grind that is politics in the UK, 2019 style!
The image below is interesting as it shows the Dyfi mouth on a very low spring tide, with the long sand-bars heading out to sea either side. These are rarely accessible and not for enough time to put in a proper session, but to the south there are other sandbars and gullies within casting range - they shift about with storms of course, but patterns in the surf give away their positions. All good spots to check out once the sand-eels are in the shallows and their predators come a-looking.... more soon!