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With our girls now young ladies, and responsible ones at that, last autumn my wife and I tried our first vacation on our own since we’ve had a family. Everything went well and so we started to look at somewhere to go this year. One of the big pluses is that, not tied to school term times, there is a massive saving to be had. And with a week in a caravan on offer at Hoseasons’ Kinmel Bay park in North Wales for just £114, we didn’t bother with a deposit. We simply paid it in full. With us being in the Rhyl area, it certainly brought back a lot of memories for me personally. As a kid, coming from a car-less Black Country family, we headed by train every single year to the Denbighshire seaside resort.
Therefore, I had to fish the harbour at Rhyl, where the River Clwyd enters the sea. Although now gone, right on the corner was a pub called The Schooner. While my parents had their social time, I was just over the road fishing. I remember other anglers drifting away as the day wore on, but I was there right to the very end. In the days before (for me) head torches and tip lights, I would position my rod and lie underneath it, with the overhead street lights aiding and abetting me as I fished on into dark. Hence memories came flooding back as I did a couple of very short sessions on the harbour.
The second photograph along was taken on one of the visits, as I targeted flounder. Sadly I didn’t catch anything, but that would have been a minimal bonus anyway, as it was great just to be there. Memories are made of this indeed! And with having lost my dad to cancer in recent years, it was especially a thoughtful time. And while the flounders of my pre-teenage years weren’t to be, that wasn’t an issue. We need to appreciate those around us while we can, because sooner or later we all have to depart this earth. And talking of appreciation, that’s my wife Debby, at Conwy Castle in the first photograph, which we visited while on vacation. She knows how much my angling means to me and she has never stood in the way.
I knew the fishing was going to be tough. The middle of march means that the winter species such as cod and whiting have pretty much gone while the summer ones like bass and plaice haven’t arrived yet. Therefore you are left with the resident fish and as I was going to try the local beach I knew a challenge faced me. But, as with my coarse angling, I’m up for anything that my beloved pastime throws at me. At high water there was a reasonable depth of water quite close in, and with our caravan being just two minutes from the beach it was perfect. Deb even brought me a cup of tea on occasions and sat with me on the shingle at high tide. As you can see from shot number four above, some caravans were even closer
I fished a two-hook rig, one on the bottom, the other just above. Although flatfish look like they are made to be permanently stuck to the sea floor, they do in fact feed off it. I did struggle, although my sessions were mostly less than two hours. But the size 2 Aberdeen long shank with a lugworm threaded along it did catch me small flounder as pictured above. As always, I got people coming along asking me if I had caught ‘my supper’. But apart from the fact I am a vegetarian anyway, I always return my sea fish. So anything I caught was lucky.
If you think that angling exaggerators are only to be found in coarse fishing, then think again. I had people tell me they had caught dogfish 13 feet long, sharks in Rhyl harbour as well as other numerous lies and fancy tales. As I posted on my social network sites: it’s a small world, I have met their relatives on my local canal. They catch 3lb roach every cast. People are funny sometimes!
I really enjoyed myself flounder fishing even if it was a struggle. I was going to fish at Deganwy, which is further along the coast as the River Conwy enters the sea. But our Sunday visit to Conwy Castle alerted us to the fact that the A55 was roadworks misery and so we avoided going west for the rest of the holiday. With the tides later in the week perfect for some high water into darkness, Debby got a good shot of me looking at the rod tip, as the sun set behind me. Looking at the photograph makes me want to get back on the beach fishing. I do like my sea angling, although with the cost of fuel these days, combined with the fact that I live smack bang in the centre of the country, I’m afraid it’s holiday time really where I can pursue sea species.
One thing that is common to all disciples is watercraft, and before I even fished the beach at Kinmel Bay, I made sure I was able to observe it at low water. Although it looked featureless, I noticed a couple of slight sandbanks with a ‘channel’ in between. Whilst the banks dried out very quickly to sand, the channel remained quite wet and was slightly muddy. It held lots of small sea creatures, and that’s why birds like curlews, redshanks and the like feed there, as opposed to the lifeless sandbanks. And of course as the tide comes in, that’s where the flounders will be feeding. Location is just as important as in any other branch of angling. Why chuck-it-and-chance-it when you can increase your chances of catching? And that’s why, although it was hard going and the other anglers I talked to really struggled, I managed to sneak ahead albeit by a head.
Although the winter fish had gone, the birds that visit us for the colder months were still around, with redshank, curlew, sanderling and turnstone amongst the ones that will soon be departing to their breeding grounds. Some elsewhere in the country, others like the tiny sanderling, will be flying vast distances to breed in the Arctic tundra. With ringed plover also on the beach it was a pleasure to walk along in the beautiful weather we had and take in the birds. My wife quite got into it as well, and although her small binoculars are quite cheap ones, they did the trick. I teased her that she’ll be after a pair of Swarovski like me now that she’s a birder, but she said she is happy just to watch on holiday and not take it too seriously. We’ll see.
What a great holiday we had though overall, and with my fishing being divided into two I decided to write a couple of articles. Following my flounder fishing this week, next week it’s dab I am chasing after. They are more anecdotal than usual, but I make no apologies for that. Although it’s my Angling Journal I like to write in a wider, rambling style that brings in a lot more of my life. Rather than a narrow ‘I went fishing and caught this’ approach, I like to weave my life in general into the thread. That’s why I am an avid social networker I guess, and if you’re on either facebook or twitter you can connect with me there. I have them linked, so I tweet and this then appears on my facebook. It’s there that I prefer to do my communicating with people, and so if you’re on the site then ‘like’ my page and away we go. (Article published April 2 2011)