Memories all round at Rhyl (flounder article and video, entry 455)

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If you are a regular reader of my Angling Journal then you will no doubt be aware of my nostalgic love affair with the Denbighshire town of Rhyl. And if you aren’t, and you want to know why, then check out my previous flounder entry, via the species index on my WordPress site where all will be revealed. Suffice it to say that all these years later Rhyl still has a powerful impact on me, and especially with so many fishing-related memories, the Clwyd estuary was top of my list when my wife and I holidayed at nearby Kinmel Bay.

On the first evening though I fished the beach (photo 1) at the end of the caravan park we stayed at. I have been there before and had a tough time, catching just one flounder, although in fairness it wasn’t the ideal time to target a beach like that. And neither was it now but I wanted to try out my new multiplier set-up. Although I have had a pair of rods I fished with just the one as I wanted to get the feel of it. I had previously ventured onto my local playing field, but there’s nothing like the real thing is there.

Hence my first proper session with both rods was the following evening below the blue bridge at Rhyl. In the meantime I had been out at low water with my wife for a walk, armed with my bait pump collecting lugworm (photo 2). Although the tide wasn’t out far enough to expose the bulk of the worm beds I did manage to pump a few worms (photo 3) ready for the incoming tide later on. I had also bought some ragworm so was well equipped. The session was timed quite well as I got to set up at dusk and then to fish the rising river as the power of the tide backed up the flow.

It was a very windy night and although I had my camcorder ready to film the accompanying video, I didn’t capture the first two fish (photos 4, 5) which although I called them three bearded rockling in the video, I amend that to one of them being a shore rockling. Although I stand to be corrected. It’s been years since I caught a rockling; I can remember catching large numbers at Aberystwyth and also one or two off Holyhead Breakwater, but the memory came to me of my eldest daughter on one of our holidays when she was just a young girl, saying ‘rockerling’ after I caught one. But I can’t remember where that was.

And talking of memories, as I fished the estuary (photo 6) I saw a double-decker bus cross the blue bridge and that reminded me of the clip in Holiday on the buses where they do exactly that. Rhyl has changed so much since the days of that film, which was made back in the time I visited there as a kid on holiday. But I can still picture everything as it was, right down to The Schooner on the corner. While my parents would be there I’d be over the road in the estuary fishing. And times were different then, it wasn’t like they were irresponsible and I was just yards away anyway.

When everyone (lots of holiday makers crowded into the river mouth ) had long since gone I would still be there. In the days before I knew anything about tip lights, I would be lying on my back watching my rod top against the street light or holding the line to feel a take, long before I had even heard of touch legering. I used to catch flounders but none as big as the beauty I caught this time round (photo 7). Along with the rockling it was caught on lugworm, with the other rod which was fished with rag, drawing a blank. All fish gave really good takes and I was really pleased with my first outing on the estuary.

My next session was only with one rod as it was a case of Mr Clumsy strikes again! I mention this on the video so you can find out why by watching that, if you haven’t already. My one rod blanked this time. However, the next morning I visited the tackle shop in town, Geoff’s Tackle and Bait with the intention of seeing whether they had a top rod ring and without any prompting at all, Darren took the section off me and within 5 minutes it was as good as new. Since we’ve been holidaying in Rhyl I’ve been using the shop and have found them to be excellent, hence the plug. Credit where credit’s due!

So back to the estuary with two rods next time and I’m raring to go! However, not a tap. Or the next visit either, with both outings over an incoming tide an hour or so from high water (photo 8). In my defence though they were just short sessions and I don’t think the venue is exactly the most prolific in the area. I fish it really because of the memories it holds for me. But when I do catch something from there, and certainly when it’s a nice flounder, then I’m not complaining. So at least I got my man, albeit just one of them.

This holiday saw me collecting my own lugworm for the first time as well. Now that our girls have grown up, my wife and I have been able to book some really cheap holidays out of season. In fact we can take three weeks a year for less than the price that we would have one during school holidays! Hence with more sea fishing on the agenda I decided to go down the road of getting my own bait. With two rods, two-hook rigs and lots of outings, the cost of shop-bought bait will soon mount up.

I ventured out on the beach where we stayed at low tide and although I managed a few worms during the week, I knew I wasn’t getting the hit rate I should have. I didn’t mind the hard work (it is strenuous), I just wanted a few more worms to show for it. I was hoping I would see see another angler collecting bait so I could watch him and his technique. But I had the beach to myself right until the Thursday that is, when I spotted another bait collector along the low tide mark. So I approached him and asked if he minded me watching him.

He was very helpful and also experienced. He knew what he was doing. Within a minute or so I had the theory sorted, but of course I takes a little longer to get it into practice. However within a short time I was pumping worms like I had been doing it all my life! (photo 9). And in half an hour I collected more bait than I had all week! I wished I had met Steve earlier in the week, but at least I’m sorted for the future now. Angling is such a broad church that none of us know everything. So if you’re unsure of something then just check out someone who can help you, like I did. And funnily enough, while my wife was photographing gulls she actually captured me as I walked towards Steve on the beach (photo 10). So sometimes it is ok to approach strangers!

And finally, Steve’s surname is Andrews and he skippers the boat Supreme, which is based in Rhyl for the summer and Liverpool during the winter. He was so helpful, I told him I would give him a mention! Check out the website here and if you’re thinking of booking a boat, he’s your man. In fact I wouldn’t mind doing it myself, I’m sure I could get enough interest from among the people that read my Angling Journal. Although mostly coarse fishermen, I know that a lot of you also sea fish, either like me do a bit of dabbling, or else you’re pretty keen. Either way, watch this space! (article published March 31 2012)

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