Although I was on holiday for just one week in North Wales I targeted two species. Last week I wrote about my sessions after whiting; this time round it’s the turn of my favourite sea species, the dab to take the spotlight. Why is it my number one? Well like its coarse counterpart, the perch, I find it hard to give a definitive answer.
Because I don’t get carried along on the weight-obsessive spirit that is prevalent in modern angling I can fully appreciate small species. And indeed I would be just as happy with a 1lb dab as I would be with an 8lb bass! I do enjoy catching flatfish anyway and I guess dabs have just risen to the top of that pile.
Since my wife and I started taking family-free holidays a couple of years ago (our girls are now adults themselves) this is our fourth visit to this particular caravan park. And with the beach less than a two minute stroll from our front door it’s easy to see the attraction.
I guess it depends where you live and how often you get to see the coast but for south Staffordshire landlubbers like us, going on vacation means close proximity to the beach is a non-negotiable must-have. Number one on our tick-list is being able to walk to the sea.
With our regular visits to the coast I invested earlier this year in a bait pump. And it is an investment, one that in just three holidays has actually paid for itself and more. I’m no expert but I am getting better, it just involves a bit more effort on my part, compared to the locals who seem so efficient, that’s all.
The tides were excellent during our stay in the Rhyl area and I’d go for an afternoon walk on the beach with my wife armed with my pump and a bucket. Apart from a little overnight rain during our first night we had a totally dry and bright week. Not bad for this time of the year and we got some great sunset photos.
If you read my Angling Journal regularly you will know I always head to Talacre for my dab fishing. But when I heard from a local that one or two had come out from the beaches in the area, that was that. I sensed a challenge coming on and even more so when I was told my particular beach was no good but to head elsewhere.
Let me say at this point that I wasn’t being pig-headed or stubborn regarding what I had heard. After all I didn’t tell the person my intentions. It wasn’t as if I was setting out to prove him wrong, just simply that I felt I had a reasonable chance of a fish and as we know, when a plan does come together against the odds it’s a great feeling.
With a late morning high tide I set my stall out for a short couple of sessions of two hours on the incoming water and then an hour beyond. As it was a very high tide it meant I was fishing from the steps as opposed to the beach where I have been in recent years.
I set up a couple of beachcaster rods and although I was using my multiplier reels I wasn’t casting that far. A reasonable cast put me in the gully between sandbanks. Just like coarse fishing, don’t just chuck and chance but do your homework. Walking and observing the beach at low water enables you to locate the features.
With the gully retaining water even when the tide was way out this ensured an area of ‘life’ as opposed to the sandbanks which dry out very quickly and are barren in comparison. Think like a hungry fish, where is it likely to be as the tide comes in?
And my homework was rewarded when I had movement on the rod tip that I knew was a flatfish mouthing the bait. And the result was the first dab of the session. I managed to get it on video, along with the other one I caught. I would have had the capture as well but my wife had just popped back to the caravan to make me a cup of tea!
I caught my second fish almost an hour after the tide had turned and I was getting ready to pack away. And again my wife had gone back to the caravan so I wasn’t able to film the ‘fight’. Maybe that’s the new mysterious way of getting a fish. Beats pouring hot tea from a flask with the cup between your legs!
After my brace of flatties I was back for a return visit a day later on what would be my final outing of the vacation. Within the first hour I had a few taps but nothing developed. I was certainly encouraged but unfortunately I wasn’t able to translate that into any fish.
My favourite bird is the sanderling and I saw a few of those while away, including a flock in flight of 100 plus. They are such tiny birds yet the distance they travel to reach our shores, where they overwinter, is amazing. You have to admire them. And watching their very distinctive running action as they dodge the waves on the shoreline is fascinating.
On the other hand my wife’s favourite bird is far more well-known and recognised – the herring gull. Like any favourites it’s all very personal so when I asked her why, it was a number of factors that came together: character, looks, size, call. In fact Debby took so many photographs of herring gulls I put them on their own video.
But my favourite video of the whole vacation has to be the dancing gull! It’s a fairly common sight to see herring gulls doing their moves. However they aren’t actually dancing of course, they’re imitating rainfall which in turn prompts worms to surface. And you can see that in the video as well. Fascinating stuff!
And back to my wife’s photos she also took a number of beach ones and again I put them on a video. Although it’s my angling website the reality is that fishing is not just an end in itself but it also opens a door to the great natural world out there. In fact I want to incorporate more and more of that in my weekly updates. And I make no apologies either!
Next week it’s back to coarse fishing and in particular perch. Whether I’m chucking a big lead out into the ocean or flicking a delicate float into the canal I’m in my element. Put me by some water, give me a rod and that’s me sorted. On that front I’m easily pleased. (Published December 1 2012)