A change is as good as a rest, or so they say. Hence with a family holiday looming in Pembrokeshire, it was a case of dusting down (literally) the sea fishing gear. Living right in the middle of England, any salt water angling that I do is opportunistic. This usually entails taking advantage of annual vacations at the coast.
As a family we usually head for Pembrokeshire, as we love the county. On this occasion though our destination was a new one – the village of Broad Haven, which is found on St Brides Bay. Previously we have stayed on the south coast around the popular resorts of Saundersfoot and Tenby. We didn’t arrive till late on the Saturday, literally driving there straight after a Wolves game! It was just a case of going straight to bed, ready to start the holiday proper the next morning.
A walk on the beach revealed a sandy expanse with cliffs at either end. It was towards the latter that I intended to fish, not just as a place where the fish would be found, but more of a practical reason – with reasonable waves hitting the shore, the place was full of surfers. So with a trip to Haverfordwest to purchase ragworms, it was with a sense of excitement that I made the short journey from Broad Haven Caravan Park to the beach itself. I do enjoy sea fishing; in fact I don’t think there is any type of angling that I don’t like if I am honest!
I tend to have short sessions, particularly when on holiday, and will work them around the tides if possible. The week we were there was ideal really, with high water being 4.30 p.m. on the Sunday, which meant that I could fish throughout the week at a good stage of the tide and still be back in the caravan at a reasonable time. My favourite sea fish are ‘flatties’. Don’t ask me why, I don’t really know, but I do enjoy catching dabs, plaice and flounder etc.
And it was the latter that was my first fish of the week. Well actually, I had two at the same time! Fishing a double hook rig I had a flounder on both the bottom and top hook, both caught at exactly high water. The smaller of the fish was about 3oz or so, but the other was a nice one that weighed in at 1-12-8. It was a new personal best flounder for me – nothing to get too excited about for the regular sea angler of course, but for the once-a-year guy like myself, then definitely cause for celebration.
No more fish for me that night, and as the wind started to pick up I was glad to get back and sit by the fire! But the next afternoon I was out again, this time just the one flatfish caught an hour before the tide turned. Again, it was a new personal best – a plaice of exactly 1lb. I also had a bass bite that resulted in a straightened hook. Not that I think the fish was particularly big; I was fishing with relatively small Aberdeen hooks, as I was targeting ‘flatties’.
The third session I did connect with a bass though, not a massive fish by any stretch of the imagination, but like the plaice and flounder before it, a new personal best. At 1-3-0 it is the first bass I have had over the 1lb mark. Someone passing by wanted the fish for his supper, particularly when he realised I was putting it back to fight another day! But all the fish I caught during the week were returned. (Not that I didn’t kill them for particularly moral reasons, after all I have no qualms in putting small coarse fish in my freezer for pike dead-bait.) I also added another bass (approximately 10oz) and a small flounder and plaice to my tally.
By the middle of the week, severe storms hit the coast, although the wind direction and the sheltered nature of Broad Haven meant that it wasn’t as bad as some places. I did have to take a break from fishing for a day or so though, after all the sea must be given total respect. And with my reputation for falling in when fishing, I certainly couldn’t take any chances!
My final session saw a rough sea and so I got quite a soaking from the waves that pounded the promenade. It was good fishing weather though, as I caught a couple of flounders, a bass and a plaice to round the week off. They were all under 1lb, but still very enjoyable fish to catch and a nice to way to say ‘tout a l’heure’ rather than ‘au revoir’, as I will definitely be back next year!
On a final note, my bird watching came on in leaps and bounds – what a difference a change of habitat makes! I added 19 new species to my tick list for the year, taking the grand total to 105. The new birds spotted were: rock pipit, chough, meadow pipit, tree pipit, little egret, redshank, shelduck, stonechat, whimbrel, little gull, jack snipe, black redstart, white wagtail, pintail, shoveller, wigeon, rock dove, shag and ringed plover. So all in all, with the birds spotted and the new three pb’s, a good week!
(Orignally published November 2004)