In dab heaven at Talacre (dab article and video, entry 435)


Click images above to enlarge

Due to my geographic location I don’t do as much sea fishing as I would like, but given half a chance I take it. Therefore with a vacation booked for my wife and I at Kinmel Bay / Towyn in North Wales, in with the usual holiday stuff went my sea gear. However it wasn’t the beach adjacent to the caravan that was to be the centre of my focus, rather a few miles down the coast at Talacre is where I headed for a couple of times during the week.

I like Talacre, it’s certainly my favourite beach spot for sea angling. And just like my coarse fishing, whenever I go saltwater I always target a species as well, in this case dabs. I love flatfish in general and I definitely have a soft spot for the smaller of the family. And with Talacre being a stronghold for them, it draws me like a magnet whenever I’m in the area.

In fact I can remember many years ago driving there to have sessions and then heading back home straight afterwards. But with a 200 mile plus round trip involved, the days of doing stuff like that have long gone. With my wallet being battered to the tune of £75 every time I fill my car, I simply cannot justify a trip of that nature nowadays.

But with Towyn not that far away, Talacre was definitely on the radar. The local tackle shop only had frozen lugworm when I checked in on arrival, and although I preferred fresh, it was better than nothing. If I lived by the coast I would dig my own bait, but with time not on my side I don’t want to spend lots of holiday hours in an estuary or a low water mark on a beach with a fork or pump after ragworm or lug. Any spare time I have I want to be fishing not gathering.

So, on a very windy and occasionally very wet afternoon due to the showers, I parked the car in the village and began the long walk to the place where I would be fishing. And when I say long, I mean long. It’s a great venue but not for the angler, for whatever reason, that usually occupies the first available spot.

Talacre is a low water mark, and one of those places where you need to know exact times of tides. You can’t just turn up and fish. As the receding tide quickly runs off from the beach, eventually you are left with the deep water of the Dee estuary at the point it enters the Irish Sea. Photo 4 above shows the ridge formed as the sandbank of the beach gave way to the channel of the river. The couple of hours or so either side of low tide is when you are casting into deep, dab-filled water.

I show my rig on the video, and as I say, I made it myself. I use a couple of beads to hold each hook length in place, with the beads themselves having the mainline threaded through them twice to hold them in place. The hook length itself is amnesia, which I like as the slight stiffness compared to mono helps avoid tangles on the cast but doesn’t hinder bait presentation.

I slip a section of rubber tubing over the amnesia and swivel as it joins the main line, and as you can see from the colours, no need to play it down as in coarse fishing. Finally my hook was a long shank Aberdeen pattern size 2. These are my favourites for flatties, as I can thread the worm right up the hook and then, as I leave a decent tag on the knot, it helps to hold it in place so it doesn’t slip down every time I cast out.

So with a 5oz lead attached via an oval split ring I made my first cast into the murky waters of the estuary. I didn’t have long to wait for a tap on the rod that wasn’t wind-related. The result was the tiny whiting that you can see in the video. Winter visitors to our shores, once you get into a shoal of them then it’s action all the way. And although there’s no such thing as a nuisance fish, it was the dabs that I was after.

I didn’t have long to wait though till my target species put in an appearance. In fact they were regular during my short session of a couple of hours. I landed nine of them, and combined with the whiting, I estimated I had a fish every four minutes. The photos 1 and 2 above are a selection of some of the dabs, with one or two of the fish I caught later on being of a decent size. In the end, with the fish still feeding, I ran out of bait. But that was no problem. As I was on holiday my intention was for a quick visit anyway.

On the video you can see a little egret in flight (I counted 3 on the salt marsh), an oystercatcher and my favourites, 3 sanderlings on the shoreline quite close to where I was fishing. In fact, focused on the rod, I heard them first. I also saw, and heard, several curlew. Plus there were lots of starfish washed up on the beach and I managed to get one of those on film as well. I love the nature scene of the British Isles. And that’s a sanderling in photo 3.

My second visit to Talacre was more of the same as far as the weather was concerned. I managed to combat the wind by spreading the tripod wider than normal so that it lay closer to the ground thus ensuring that the rod was at a more favourable angle. Even though it was pretty hard going, tightening to the 5oz lead mean that in spite of the bow in the line, I was able to keep direct contact with the baited hooks.

I didn’t get a fish first cast, but on the second chuck I had a nice little rattle. The strike eventually lead to the white underside of a dab breaking the surface. First fish, my target species. Brilliant! Although I didn’t have the same intensity of fish that I had first time round, I still had one every 8 minutes so that’s not bad, particularly when I landed 9 dab and 8 whiting.

I had several double headers of whiting (once), dab (twice) and one of each (once) and that’s one of the dab doubles in photo 5. If seeing one fish hit the surface is exciting, watching two make their way to the shore is positively exhilarating! And at this point let me add that all fish caught were returned to the water from where they came. If I enjoy catching them I also get pleasure from seeing them swim away again.

I thoroughly enjoyed both sessions across the county border in Flintshire – Towyn is in Denbighshire. I am a fan of the old historic county shires and that’s why I still live in Staffordshire not the West Midlands, which is only an administrative county anyway and not intended to replace what was in place before its 1974 emergence. And I like the way that Wales has returned to its counties as well. Clwyd is a river and should stay as that!

Anyway less of the history lesson and my own ramblings. But of course my Angling Journal contains a few diversions from time to time. And as long as everything is in perspective I think these actually brighten up the entries, whether the article or the video. When you allow your life, interests and thoughts to come through it allows your personality and character to fill the page and screen and hopefully make it more interesting.

Finally, I have just invested some time in copying all my archived articles from my web site to WordPress. Some recent work by the people that host the site nearly lost a lot of the back catalogue. As it was, just a few photos turned up in the wrong places; so if you read an article and you think it has some odd images, that’s why! But the text is all intact, even if presentation isn’t excellent on some of the transfer. But at the end of the day, it’s free. It’s not like I charge is it!


This week’s video that accompanies the article:

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