Guided Shore Fishing on the Cardigan Bay Coast of Mid-Wales
    
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2023 season: latest news - a late start (unforseen circumstances)

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September 5th 2023 update: mackerel, mackerel and more mackerel!


It's been a weird old summer, this one! Poor weather in July and August have now given way to warm settled conditions and there has been an invasion of mackerel. A week ago they were mostly joeys, but the average size has improved a bit this week.  I witnessed a very impressive sight involving them a couple of evenings ago. More on that below, but first a minor celebration with this fish:

smooth hound

Just a smooth hound but my first from the Cardigan Bay coast. This was from Aberarth, a beach I have spent a lot more time fishing since moving last year. But it's also my 50th Welsh shore species!

To be fair I could have caught one years ago by dint of driving down to the Bristol Channel coast, but it's nice to stay local and see what's one your patch. This was 65 cm long and took peeler crab on a 5/0 Tronix circle-hook. True to their reputation, it put up a spirited scrap.

Guiding has all been involving novices, many of them young and that's good to see. Catches have not been spectacular - mostly schoolie bass, a few flatties, dogs and huss. Aberystwyth's Tan-y-Bwlch beach is yielding up a few tub gurnards right now:

tub
                    gurnard

Always good to see. As the image shows they are taking popped up mackerel belly strip.

The mackerel have been around for a few weeks but were tiny to begin with. However there's now a smattering of 30 cm fish among them and most are 25 cm plus now. Good for beginners as they're a) obliging and b) tasty!

Now to that impressive sight. On Sunday September 3rd, I ran a trip on the intertidal reef at Borth for a father and son. The fishing was OK, the clients happy so that's great but the really interesting bit happened still later. The clients left at 7pm (darned school tomorrow for the lad) so I stayed on at the mark for a while as the tidal window was still open and the weather was lovely. A few casts saw enough mackerel for several meals so I set off towards the village. Just Borth-wards of where the reef gets really big is a sandy inlet and I sat on the rocks by it for a smoke.

All of a sudden, commotion broke out across the mouth of the inlet and the sea was boiling almost to the water's edge. I wandered over and waded out into it, in less than a foot of water. The sun was just about to set but the light was still good. I found myself amid carnage.

mackerel carnage

Whitebait in their thousands (above) had been corralled here and groups of mackerel, a few dozen here and a few dozen there were setting about them everywhere. Darting all around me as they gorged on the helpless baitfish, swerving around my wellies at tremendous speed – the speed was the most striking thing – well over 1 metre/second at times.

mackerel carnage

Here two mackerel have slammed into the baitfish - judging by the dead and injured floaters there are some others not visible here. I watched how they fed. Successful individual mackerel would zoom away from the shoal with a whitebait visibly held in their mouth, presumably to devour it in peace before getting stuck in again. Desperate to escape, whitebait were beached and gasping away life everywhere in the littoral bladder-rack, on rock and sand alike in their hundreds. Only once before have I been this close - inches - to a feeding frenzy like this, down at Ynyslas getting on for 16 years ago now and that was at night in the light of my head-torch. To see this in broad daylight was astonishing. In the image below the mackerel have regrouped presumably for another rounding-up of the prey that had scattered!

mackerel carnage

Some say sharks are the ultimate predators, but what I watched was organised and choreographed for maximum efficiency and it was going on within inches of me, both species utterly oblivious to the presence of a third.

More soon!


July 20th 2023 update: all clear!


My late Father's house clear for viewing? Check.

Algal bloom gone? Check.

Rigs ready for action? Check.

And we're off. The house clearance was a monster task but now the second phase is done and potential buyers can be shown around, I can get on with my life more normally for the time being. Just as we're coming into the best time of year for the local shore marks, too! Late summer into autumn is always good so long as the weather plays ball.

So off we go!

June 12th 2023 update: algal bloom


Hi again. While I was away on house clearance detail, a massive algal bloom developed in inshore Cardigan Bay. This has killed some fish, absolutely wiped out the fishing and made some swimmers unwell. Kayakers report the water to be coloured even half a mile offshore.

I was in Aberystwyth at the weekend and can confirm poor water-visibility and a nasty smell from the bloom. It should clear in due course - they always do - but it's the worst I have seen. It's not been helped by the fact that winds have been offshore for weeks, flattening the sea. Will monitor and report back once it has cleared, when local anglers will all give a big sigh of relief! But I won't be taking money off anyone to fish a dead sea.


May 10th 2023:

Hi all -
it's been a long and difficult time in my life. Dad was hospitaised last autumn and never came back home, dying at the end of February 2023. So last winter involved frequent to-and-fro to the Midlands, lots of time spent with him in hospital, followed by organising the funeral and the mountain of admin that always follows such events, all the time trying to balance that with work.

As a consequence I've not even been pleasure-fishing since last October but will be through the admin before too long and should be up and running with guided trips at some point into June - and hopefully too it'll have warmed up a bit by then! All the best - John



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