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Even if you are a casual visitor to my Angling Journal you will know that I always target a designated species. I find I fish better when I’m focused, and of course you get greater satisfaction when you land something you were after as opposed to a ‘chuck it out and I’ll take whatever comes along’ approach.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that way of fishing of course, each to their own as they say. Just that personally I prefer to be logged on to a specific species every time I go fishing.
And that focus is not just embedded in my coarse angling but also whenever I go sea fishing as well. Hence, with a week’s holiday on the island of Anglesey I decided to have a session after lesser spotted dogfish, or LSD in their abbreviated form, hence the title!
Now to many sea fisherman, the doggie, as it is commonly known, is not targeted and indeed is often seen as a bit of a nuisance. So why was I setting my stall out specifically to catch them? Well, there were a number of reasons.
I genuinely love all species of fish and feel a certain sympathy for those that are maligned or neglected. As I often write, there’s no such thing as a nuisance fish! So the dogfish has a head start in my thinking on that front.
Plus I haven’t caught one for a long time and when in the tackle shop the owner mentioned dogfish as being regular on the beach where I was staying, and the fact it was just seconds away, I was already thinking of giving them a go. Then when I saw a poster that someone had put up nearby urging anglers to return all dogfish, I thought to myself, that’s it, I’m going to set my stall out and pursue them!
They are quite abundant around the shores of Britain and not too difficult to catch once you encounter them. And on the subject of them being plentiful, if you are not an angler you may be surprised to discover that there are a lot more sharks swimming around our coast than you realise.
While the sighting of a 12 footer off Cornwall makes national headlines, quietly in the background vast numbers of them are going around their everyday business with the general public totally oblivious and unaware.
Yes, the lesser spotted dogfish is a shark! But don’t worry, they don’t attack people! And due to their small size, even if they did it would be like getting mauled by a chihuahua! Plus they’re pretty much nocturnal feeders as well, which is why, with the beach so close and an incoming tide through the evening, it was convenient for me to have a short session shark fishing!
With it still being light until after 10.00pm (photo 1) I didn’t have to set out until well after 9.00. Fishing a couple of rods, I baited up with ragworm and blow lug.
I didn’t have any taps at all prior to actual darkness, but once the blue tip lights were activated, the action started. First off was a single dogfish (photo 2) which reminded me how difficult it is to pose with one for a photo. They’re like eels in the sense that they don’t cooperate at all, doing their wriggly best to mess up your trophy shot.
The difference between the two though is that while the eel is slippery, the dogfish has skin like sandpaper. As they twist and turn wrapping themselves around your hand you get to appreciate how an antique table must feel!
I ended up with several fish (photo 3) over the short 2 hour session and all were returned (photo 4). I also caught a pouting (photo 5) as well which was also released. Although all mine of all species during the week went back, I would never attack other anglers for taking fish.
Certainly if you eat them or use them for baits then there’s a purpose behind it. But killing them to be discarded is pointless really isn’t it? With pressure on our oceans like never before we shouldn’t take fish stocks for granted. Although not on an evangelistic crusade about it, catch and release is the way to go! Release dogfish!
While on Anglesey as well as fish I also thrived on the wildlife. Every time my wife and I went for a walk, along came the binoculars. In addition Debby took her camera as she enjoys taking photographs, so I thought I would conclude this article with a few references and images of things that we saw. I’m a lover of British wildlife and even though I’ve seen the African big five in their natural habitat, give me our native creatures any day of the week!
Top mammal sighting was definitely a red squirrel (photo 6) that we saw in Newborough Forest. Pushed out by the alien grey it is now only found in enclaves in England and Wales, so if you do see one, count yourself fortunate indeed. Sadly it’s not a brilliant photo because the creature was hidden by branches but you can make it out.
Spectacle of the week was without doubt the sea bird colony at South Stack where thousands of predominantly guillemots and razorbills hugged the rocks (photo 7) close to the lighthouse. A spectacle not only in sight but sound. If you’ve never been to a sea bird colony put it on your ‘things to do before I die’ list. You won’t be disappointed!
Pushing South Stack all the way though was the tern colony (photo 8) at Cemlyn, with arctic, common and sandwich making up the numbers. It’s one of my favourite birding sites and I also saw red breasted mergansers, dunlins and shelduck there. In addition, on the way I spotted a red kite being mobbed by a herring gull.
And to complete the sightings I saw black guillemot in Holyhead harbour, ringed plovers, wheatear, stonechats (photo 9) everywhere as well as linnets (photo 10). If you’re into your nature then make sure you follow me on twitter as I post my nature sightings on a daily basis. They may not always be as glamorous as what I encountered on Anglesey but still as exciting as far as I’m concerned.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the two articles so far based on my North Wales adventures. Next week I’ll complete the trilogy when I fish for wrasse off the rocks. And don’t forget to check out the June video, which was filmed on Anglesey. See you soon. Tight lines! You can view my angling website here. With a weekly entry going back to 2004, there’s a lot of stuff on there! (article published June 16 2012)