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If you are a regular reader of my Angling Journal, then you will know that last week I wrote a piece on flounder fishing at Kinmel Bay and Rhyl harbour. Although I was only on holiday for a week, I decided to make two articles out of it, as I also targeted dab at Talacre at the head of the Dee estuary (photograph 2). My wife and I had our first children-free vacation last autumn at Talacre, and although this time we stayed ten miles further down the coast, I was determined to head back east and fish the venue again. It definitely ranks right up there as one of my best salt-water angling venues, and with dab also there or thereabouts as one of my favourite species, the combination of the two is hard to resist.
Last time there I not only caught dab, but also lots and lots of whiting. But now, as the winter species have started to head back out from the shores of Wales, it was down to the resident flatfish to provide some action. Dab are very much like dace in terms of weight, and although they do go to 2lb as opposed to the former’s 1lb, they do rank very much as the flyweights of the sea angling world. But they’re great fish, and I love to catch them. Like any species that you actually set out to tempt, when you do, it certainly brings a sense of real satisfaction.
Talacre is very much a low water mark, in fact right down to the channel (photograph 4)the beach is quite shallow and not really worth fishing. But once you can get to the point where you can cast a bait into the deep water of the Dee then it’s a different ball game altogether. With the sea being calm all week I fished a 5oz bomb lead. The only time it didn’t hold bottom was at the point of the tide where it ripped along, and no weight would have contained that. My rig was a two-snood affair, one up and one down. In other words, one was flat on the deck and the other wafting enticingly in the current just off the bottom. As I wrote last week, although flatfish look like they should be rooted to the sea bed, they do in fact feed off it.
My snood was fairly short, about 12″ and I used Aberdeen size 6 hooks. I use bigger than that in coarse fishing on a regular basis, but dabs are such delicate creatures and so that hook is my preferred size when targeting them. I used coloured tubing on the snood and attached it to the line by a swivel held between two coloured beads. With red mainline, it’s obvious that one big difference between sea and coarse fishing is that while one seeks to employ a camouflage approach as much as possible, the other is more than happy to be loud, bright and gaudy. The business end of it all was lugworm. I bought my bait from Geoff’s Tackle and Bait in Rhyl and a worm in half was just right for each hook. So a one-worm, one-cast session it was.
Although I was expectant, my first two visits to Talacre were blanks. Apart from crabs, that is; but they don’t count. It really was a struggle. But not to be deterred, I drove to the venue for the final session of my holiday on the Friday afternoon. I had already been there on the morning at high water, birding on the salt marsh that lies beyond the beach. With an expensive pair of Swarovski binoculars and a Kowa scope, I wasn’t going to leave them in the car while I fished, so I did two separate journeys. Plus, for ever the one to drain life of all its goodness, I actually had an hour in the indoor heated pool on site with my wife in between. And the birding was decent as well. Hundreds of shelduck and curlew as well as ringed plover, teal, redshank and a solitary male pintail.
Although there is a sense that sometimes things do work out just right, I don’t actually believe in what we call luck, not in the context of being regular and ongoing anyway. To highlight what I mean, a comment was made on my facebook page recently that ‘I wished I was as lucky as you’ (or words to that effect). My reply was that the more experienced I have become, and the more I think and plan my angling, the luckier I get! But back to the article, with two blanks followed by a number of fish on session three, I had to incorporate that into the title. And you can see some of the fish above. Probably despised by some anglers due to the fact that they don’t grow to monster proportions, nevertheless just like perch, my coarse favourites, for me it’s not about weight in itself but rather the species in regards to what they actually grow to. So on that line of thinking, a 10oz dab is ‘better’ than a 15lb carp!
I really enjoyed myself in North Wales. Of course it was a holiday with my wife first and foremost and that’s why I was there. But Mrs B is great, she knows how much my angling means to me and has no problem when I go off pursuing fish. I am able to combine everything in a nicely balanced life and that’s what counts. We’re making plans to go back to the coast in the autumn, although I’m keen on doing a summer vacation to Anglesey when wrasse will be my target fish. And as Debby has also caught plenty of decent ballan and corkwing on her crab line set up, who knows. I may just yet sow enough seeds in her mind for a harvest of June or July rock sessions. Ha!
But on a serious note I do keep promising myself a couple of days on Anglesey in the summer, fishing and sleeping in the car. Apart from the petrol, which is a major cost these days, it’s a cheap way of taking in some quality fishing. So who knows, this year I may just do that. But in the meantime I’ve got canals and pits to fish. That’s the basic gist of my angling until June 16. And as always, watch this space. And if you’re ever in the Talacre area on holiday and you fancy a go for the dab, then get in touch with me via my facebook page, and if you need any help I’ll do my best. But be prepared for a hike and a half across the sands. By the time you get there it’s like being on a desert island. Apart from the odd Atlantic grey seal that will probably pop up in the sea (I saw two), you will probably have the place to yourself. Or at least plenty of space to the next angler. No worries about shoulder-to-shoulder fishing there. (Article published April 9 2011)