Friday, 16 May 2008

Cardiganshire, Gwbert, Cliff Hotel.

From the town of Cardigan take the Gwbert Road, the A4548, along the north side of the Teifi Estuary, past The Patch Caravan Park, up the hill and along the flat towards the entrance of The Cliff Hotel.
On the left you will have great views of the Teifi Estuary and see why, with the incoming tide and banks and gullies, Poppit Sands can be a dangerous place to fish.
The road down to the hotel is private, the public road turns sharply to the right and you should be able to park on the left side of the road here. There is public access along the drive to the hotel, diagonally down across the car park and down alongside the fence to the golf course. Follow the path down to the cliff top.

Walk around the greens rather than straight across the playing surfaces if crossing the golf course. You will see, near the post on the point, a narrow path and steps down onto the rocks. There are places where you can safely stand to fish; you can either spin or float fish or cast out a bottom fished bait onto the sand beyond the rocks for a variety of different fish species.. There are gullies which hold wrasse , pollack and bass and mackerel are caught in numbers here in the summer.

Rock ledges under The Cliff Hotel.

This is not a mark for small children and can be dangerous for anyone when the sea is rough or when the rocks are wet after rain.

If bottom fishing in around the rocks you may lose tackle in the rocks or weed so take plenty of spare bits and pieces.Bait can be a problem in West Wales. Mackerel or raw king prawns can usually be bought from Tesco in Cardigan, and there is a tackle shop in Cardigan ,Castaway Tackle Shop in College Row (01239 621856 ) which sells frozen bait and live ragworm. As you go through the High Street on the one-way system you will notice a small square to the right, immediately turn left down the hill, this is College Row, there is a car park about 50 yards further on. It is advisable to phone to check that they have live bait before travelling far as supply and demand in this area is erratic.

Cardiganshire, Patch

Hoping for a flounder at 'Patch'.
From the town of Cardigan take the Gwbert Road, the A4548, along the north side of the Teifi Estuary, the road drops down to run alongside the beach at Coronation Road; at the end of the flat as the road swings up and to the right there is a boatyard on the left and a narrow lane running down to the beach. To the other side of the lane is The Patch Caravan Park. The beach is firm enough to drive on but you should be aware of how high the tide might come up and park accordingly.

The seaward side of 'Patch'.

This venue is a ridge of stone and sand formed by strong currents in the estuary, the beach to the seaward side is scoured by the tide and is fairly rough ground so some tackle loss can be expected, the upside to this is that crabs hide under the rocks and soft or peeler crabs can be collected. If you do look for crabs make sure you replace the rocks carefully as you found them. Leaving the rocks turned over with weed trapped underneath means the habitat for the crabs is ruined. Fishing a legered bait of crab or worm will perhaps tempt a bass, flounder or pollack.

The landward side of 'Patch'

On the other side of the bank conditions are quite different, the current swirls back around and deposits sand which forms a large sandbank which is exposed at low tide. Lugworm can be dug on the bank if you are feeling fit. the inlet can be waded across without too much trouble or you can walk around dry-shod. The inlet here is prime hunting ground for flounder and the mullet which can be seen cruising in large shoals, legering works for flounder and maybe a bass but float fishing is the way to go for the mullet. Mullet fishing is a black art and possibly to succeed you must sell your soul or spend years learning the techniques for this most frustrating of all fish. Just ponder, they don't get that big or occur in such numbers by being caught!
From the end of the spit you can fish into the main channel, there is a strong current for most of the tide cycle so techniques have to be modified to suit, grip leads will be needed but if there is a lot of weed even these will be ineffective; you could try float-fishing a bait with the depth set to drag the bottom or try a spinner or plug.
This is a good safe place for kids, in summer there are pontoons where the kids can hand line for crabs or paddle and explore the sandbank at low tide.

pontoons at Patch.

Approximate tide Times for the next seven days

There are no facilities at all at this venue.

firm sand and shingle

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Poole Harbour, Bramble Bush Bay & Gravel Point

Sunset over Jerry's Point, from Bramble Bush bay.
If you head towards the ferry from the Studland direction then Bramble Bush Bay and Gravel Point are on your left. If coming over on the ferry park soon after passing the toll booth and mini roundabout. There is parking at the side of the road, just be sure to keep clear of the yellow line. Parking is not permitted overnight, if you are fishing a night session use the car park near the toll booth. Walk along one of the many paths through the heather and gorse and you will come onto a narrow beach, well you will if it is not high tide; at big high tides the water will force you back up onto the bank. Make sure you have a line of escape back through the undergrowth or you may have to wait for the tide to drop or get wet feet. Tides are as other Poole harbour, double tides and hard to get your head around; fish most of the tide during neap tides but the water will go a way out on spring tide low. This venue is quite safe for children.... although adders sometimes can be seen in the heather, leave them alone and they will go away, they are unlikely to be found on the beach.

Houseboats at Bramble Bush Bay, Gravel Point behind.

You can use light tackle here as fish are caught very close in, sometimes within five yards. If you cast as far as the houseboats at high tide that will be far enough. Flounder and school bass are caught here on worm baits and worms can be dug in the bay if you are fit enough, otherwise buy them at The Poole Sea Angling Centre near Poole Quay , The Wessex Angling Centre on Wimborne Road in Poole, or at The Swanage Angling Centre

Please observe the fire safety rules, the gorse and heather are often tinder dry and fires here do great damage to the heathland ecosystem.

If the name Bramble Bush Bay seems familiar, it is the name of the chain ferry that works between here and Sandbanks.

Tide Times for the next seven days

Parking warning ! The signs say 'no overnight parking'.... this means you may get a ticket for parking at any time during the 'night', even if you stay just a short time.
Check the signs, I believe it is between
11pm and 06.30 am.

Poole Harbour, Holes Bay

Evening sun over Holes Bay

Holes Bay forms the inland extent of one of the arms of Poole Harbour; the venue is alongside the dual carriageway from the A35 into the town of Poole, the A350. The area is shown in detail here.zoom out and click on Bird's eye View. You can park on the grass verge at the side of the carriageway opposite the car dealership or the pub but there is some talk of police taking action against those who do, so perhaps it would be best to park in one of the side roads behind the car dealership or The Holes Bay pub. There are no facilities at Holes Bay apart from the pub or Macdonalds off Broadstone Way, a road leading from the roundabout between the venue and the A35.
There is access at various points to the footpath that skirts the bay so that the venue is suitable for wheelchair users if they are accompanied by someone able to cross the rock armour on the bank to retrieve rigs and/or fish. One huge drawback of this place is the constant traffic noise.

The rock armour and footpath.
Fishing is onto a muddy bottom and long casting is not required although a long cast will get you into deeper water of the channel where the boats are moored. The target species here is the flounder and some very big ones are caught each year. Bass are often caught but they are usually small and should be carefully unhooked and returned, eels are also caught. Best bait here is ragworm, lugworm or peeler crab. Crabs can be hyper-active here so reel in to check the bait at frequent intervals and if they are too much of a nuisance use a popped up bait, that is the addition of some floating beads threaded on the trace near the hook. The locals tend to use a two hook rig with short (30cm) hook lengths and with coloured beads in addition to the floating beads. The venue is fishable all through a small neap tide but the water shallows on a spring tide low., as a guide use easytide, if the height of water on the graph is above about 1.3 metres you should be fine.

looking back towards Poole.

The path is used by cyclists, look out for them (some don't bother with lights at night), keep the path clear and look behind when casting. Children are fairly safe here as long as they don't stray onto the road. The nearest tackle shop for bait is the Poole Sea Angling Centre near Poole Quay or The Wessex Angling Centre on Wimborne Road.

with assistance
Warning. The traffic lights at the Poole end of Holes Bay Road are equipped with speed cameras, they are not big and yellow, they pretend to be the type that catches people jumping the lights.... the limit has been reduced to 30 to make sure of revenue.... a while ago 50 was deemed to be safe.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Lure fishing, spinning and feathering.

a selection of lures.

When fishing with a lure the intention is to fool a predatory fish that your lure is a small fish, and therefore edible. Most lures have a bright reflective surface to flash in the water imitating the flash of light on a fishes scales, the lure is shaped to move about in the water on retrieve the motion giving vibrations that the predator will mistake for the movement of a prey fish.
Lure fishing is done with a lighter rod than that used for 'beachcasting' unless you count 'mackerel bashing' with feathers as fishing. Feathering refers to casting out a string (or set) of 'feathers'. Once they were white chicken feathers whipped onto a hook, now they are likely to be made up with metallic tinsel, beads or plastic mini-fish rather than feathers. The feathers are attached to the mainline, a suitable casting weight added to the end and the whole lot cast out toward the horizon. The feathers are then allowed to sink for a predetermined time and then retrieved using a 'sink and draw' action. Assuming you are facing the sea and your feathers are fluttering down though the sea, pull the rod around to the side causing the feathers to 'dash' towards you, let the feathers flutter down again as you move the rod back to point to the sea whilst winding in the slack caused by the pull you have just done........repeat until the feathers are back with you. Very often the fish will hit the feathers as they sink, not on the pull. repeat the exercise until bored, tired out or you have enough mackerel for your needs. There is a knack to the technique, sometimes the shoal is working near the surface and a quick retrieve is used to keep the feathers up near the surface, not allowing them to sink too far; at other times the fish may be deep hence the need to count down the initial drop time allowed so that you can replicate the cast if you hit the shoal and catch fish. The cunning angler will laze about until others start catching nearby, then leap into action having noted the distance and drop time used by his more energetic neighbour. If you catch mackerel keep them cool ! People catch dozens, scores, even hundreds, put them in a plastic bag in the sun and carry home mushy fish that have already started to decompose. Take a cool box or bag with freezer blocks or frozen plastic bottles of squash or fruit juice, (delicious and refreshing as they thaw out ). Take only as many as you realistically need. Please don't catch them just for fun, if you handle the mackerel to unhook it and throw it back it will probably die due to the damage your hand or cloth has done to its scales and skin.
Use a shock leader when feathering to prevent a snap-off and to avoid maiming those near you. A shock leader is a length of heavier line about 7 to 10 times the numbers of ounces of the weight you use in pounds breaking strain. For example 4oz weight, 30 to 40 lb line; the line should be long enough to give you say 8' hanging from the end of the rod and half a dozen turns around your reel.

If you need some fresh bait quickly then feathering has a place, it is not sporting. To enjoy catching mackerel, catch them one at a time; use a lighter rod an ounce or two of lead depending on the casting weight of your rod and a spinner, artificial eel or a wedge, (see illustration above.) The spinners and wedges come in various casting weights and sizes although you can use a light spinner on a three foot long trace and put a drilled bullet weight on your mainline to give you the required casting weight and therefore the range you need. The sink and draw technique can be used or a steady reel in, although when reeling changing the retrieve speed gives the impression of a wounded fish and can increase your success rate; keep working the lure right to the waters edge, the fish will chase the lure right to the beach and I have seen mackerel take a lure as it starts up the shingle, right out of the water.
Fish other than mackerel of course will take a lure, pollack, gar, scad, and bass are regularly taken by this technique, use small feathers and you may catch herring be aware that the line these are tied with is not suitable for hard casting, you will need to cut back on you casting weight..
Loosing spinners and wedges can be expensive, a cheap and effective method is to just use a strip of mackerel or gar, the shiny belly bits are best, hook it once through one end (or as shown here) and use it with a ball weight as described earlier. Sandeels can be fished this way although I find that whipping them on with bait elastic is worthwhile.

Feathering is quite rightly banned on most piers for safety reasons, spinning should only be done if you have sufficient space around you to safely cast. Many piers and structures are too high above the water to spin effectively as the angle of retrieve brings the lure to the surface too quickly.
In rocky weedy areas a spinner or wedge is an expensive way of finding the rocks or weeds, in these circumstances use a shallow acting popper lure and the help of someone with you to show you the technique as it can't really be learned from reading about it.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Cornwall, Porthkerris.

Spinning for mackerel or pollack, Porthallow in the distance

Porthkerris is a disused quarry site on the Lizard between Porthoustock and Porthallow, take the B3083 from Helston past RNAS Culdrose then onto the B3293, past the dishes of Goonhilly Down and then onto the B3294 down into the village of St Keverne, turn sharp left after the red telephone box, and head for Porthallow... look out for a sign for Porthkerris, it has a picture of a shark and a big black arrow on it. From here the road narrows, yes narrows even more!, proceed with extreme caution, there are few passing places and driving off the road is not an option. You have to pay to park and to fish here, currently £2 parking and £1 per person fishing.

Rock ledges, Porthkerris.

At the bottom of the hill there are toilets and, in season, a snack bar. You will need to pay here, or if you are an early riser, someone will find you as you fish and collect payment from you. There is a small beach here which is used for other pursuits such as diving and swimming, fishing is done from the rock ledges which are reached by driving out to the left. Fish from any of the accessible ledges but take care when the rocks are wet. this is not a venue for small children but should be suitable for sensible older children. The rocks give access to deep water close in. Mackerel are the main sport here, and the litter left by those 'anglers', whose experience is limited to the slaughter of these fish, spoils a picturesque spot.
The 'disabled' spot.

At the far end of the car park there is a disabled wheelchair sign painted onto a block. Disabled wheelchair users will however be disappointed, access down the slope and across the rocks to a small rough concrete flat area (located behind the concrete pump house*) is not suitable for even a rough terrain chair. It is possible for persons walking with the aid of sticks and or crutches to negotiate the distance by care and patience. This spot is about the only flat spot to stand on, most of the rocks are sloping giving rise to sore ankles by the end of the day. If you are on this spot and able-bodied please give it up to someone who needs it.
Float fished fish strip or sandeel will catch mackerel, gar, pollack, wrasse and maybe a bass; bottom fishing over the rough will get thousands of wrasse, blennies and other small species with a chance of dogfish or gurnard. Congers are sometimes caught on big fish baits at night.

*The pump house supplies sea water to the new building within the car park area which processes the water to get sea-salt for the food-faddist; all salt comes from the sea, the supposed inferior salt from Cheshire mines being from the sea millions of years before man polluted it.
For your bait, the nearest place is a large angling shop in Helston, Atlantic Fishing Tackle in Wendron Street (just by a car park), that sells bait including ragworm and lugworm. Tel 01326 561640.

from 'disabled spot', but not for wheelchair users

Cornwall, Coverack Harbour

Coverack Harbour

Coverack Harbour, early morning.
Coverack is a typical picturesque fishing village on the Lizard, take the B3083 from Helston past RNAS Culdrose then onto the B3293, past the dishes of Goonhilly Down and then onto the B3294 down into the village. There is parking on the right as you enter the village and a small car park just past the harbour entrance. There are small shops selling snacks and drinks nearby, and a few caf├ęs within easy walking distance.... The disused Lifeboat House now serves as a restaurant that has a take-away fish and chips bar. There is a beach where bass can be targeted after an easterly blow, a tiny harbour with a convenient wall to sit or lean on and a small headland where you can fish from the rocks.
The disused lifeboat launch ramp.
The water is not very deep around the harbour, float fishing will get mackerel, gar and pollack, or if you fish a bit deeper, wrasse. Use mackerel strip for most species, after dark it may attract a conger or dogfish. Worm baits will pick up wrasse, and sole and red mullet are a possibility if you fish onto the sandier patches; this is a good location for a species hunt. Some of the ballan wrasse are big, don't leave the rod unattended they are powerful enough to flip it over the wall.... I talk from experience having to grab my flattie rod as it headed seawards.

The small headland viewed from the car park. ( spot the bear!)
Like all of the rocky parts of Cornwall the sea is brim full of wrasse, you will lose some tackle but you are almost certain to catch if you use worm baits. If you cannot catch four different species of wrasse in Cornwall you haven't really tried. ( they are corkwing, ballan, goldsinny and rock cook.)

The access to the harbour is steep but wheelchair access is possible, some help will be required landing fish over the wall.
There are toilets alongside the road above the harbour, the first photograph was taken across the road from them.

There are safe ways onto the rocks by the car park, best at low tide and be careful if the rocks are wet and slippery

For bait,

Angling shops nearby, 
Last Stop Tackle Shop, Haelarcher Farmyard, Lizard Head Ln, The Lizard 
TR12 7NN Tel  07896 290869
Bait available from Lizard Rigs who are on the A3083 at Trevelyan Holiday Homes 
TR12 7AS (look for BAIT sign on rhs when heading south.)
                    Newtown Angling Centre Newtown, Penzance TR20 9AE 01736 763721

from harbour