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Feast after famine

Following the inland sea / Cymyran river paddle in late March, the new job in west Wales and getting the house on the market had stopped all play for the last two months. Although I did manage to try a bit of spinning and plugging from the shore in west Wales during April/May it was more exploratory, hunting out some bassy looking areas in and around Aberaeron. On the plus side, my mid week temporary accommodation is only 4 miles from the sea, and my temporary office looks out on Aberaeron harbour, and the beach is about 50 yards in front of the office building! Bit frustrating when I didnt have my kayak down there, but at least I could see the state of the tide and take a note of where all of the fishing boats were heading for Cool

After the first few weeks down in west Wales I managed to get round to buying some roof bars for my new car, after the company volvo from my last job had gone back. So finally after two months of drought and famine I managed to get the kayak down to the storeroom attached to my rented cottage - and last week met up with Mike, RST100 from Aberystwyth for a first launch at Llanrhystud, only to find the wind had come up and it was raining by the time we met up on the beach, so we abandoned the first launch and I went walking instead.

Last weekend I finally got out on the Menai Straights again for a morning paddle and plug with Hughesey, after he kindly let me loan his 4.5 elite kayak whilst he paddled his scupper pro. My scupper pro was still down in west Wales as I didnt want to bring it back up for just the weekend. We met up at Hughesey's house and drove to Moel Y Don for the launch around 9am.

We paddled against the now ebbing tide up towards britannia bridge, and stopped off for an explore in the old quarry in search of mullet and bass:

I explored a second smaller quarry area too, then we had a nosy around in the boathouse at Plas Newydd stately home:

We then paddled up towards a river entrance, and had a look at the wildlife which included these swans complete with their babies - cute:

We then paddled up to the bridge, taking advantage of a back eddy until we pushed through underneath the bridge

We discovered that the current was too strong to get into the swellies, so after an about turn, and a bit of ducking and weaving in some whirlpools to avoid a back eddy trying to suck us there anyway (!) we managed to join the main conveyor belt south again and had a leisurely paddle back downstream on the mainland side before crossing over to land back at Moel y Don. We plugged / trolled for some of the time but the only fish we saw was a sea trout jumping near the river entrance. Neverthe less it was nice to be out on a kayak again after over eight weeks of famine!

Monday saw me back down in Aberaeron and I went straight back out with the kayak after finishing work at 7pm - met a couple of other kayak fishermen just outside the harbour in Aberaeron and gained some local knowledge about the mackeral and bass spots before having a couple of hours trolling plugs close inshore and out on the inshore reef. I blanked but it was a beautiful flat calm evening with a brilliant sunset over the water when I hit the beach again around 10pm.

Tuesday night saw me out again but a bit earlier, and this time with my fladen boat rod as well as the plugging rod. After trolling plugs and trying a few bass spots for a couple of hours I went back n the reef and went on the drift in about 20ft of water, slowly drifting towards an anchored boat. By around 9.30 I was thinking of heading back to shore with no fish, despite seeing several garfish jumping out of the water during the evening. The anchored boat up anchored and moved off the reef, and two drops of the feathers later my line went slack and I wound up into one, two then three mackeral Smile Job done! 3 mackeral landed and one small one shook off the hook to grow bigger and the other two were tapped and bagged for my first mackeral tea of the season.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I was travelling light and hadnt taken the waterproof camera out with me on the first two nights.

Wednesday night, after tucking into four fillets of fresh mackeral, I went back to Llanrhystud beach and met up with Mike from Aberystwyth. Although there was a bit more of a breeze it was offshore and there was no surf. We launched off the stony beach and paddled against the flooding tide to a bassy spot which I had noted whilst out for a long walk the previous week - I put a call in to the coastguard for a radio check and was pleased to be able to access both Holyhead and Milford haven coastguard with just the 5w on the handheld, and left them a paddle plan for the evneing - this time I had my camera with me to capture yet another lovely evening sunny paddle:

We trolled surface poppers and sub surface plugs for a mile or so against the tide, and then moved into the target area of weed and boulders - within a few minutes Mike has a big bass leap for his surface plug but there was no hookup. We plugged away for half an hour or so, with plenty of bass swirling around the shallows. We then moved on and headed for another spot which I had noted down, with slightly deeper water - we fished there for a while and then paddled back up with the last of the flood tide around 9pm. I had several bass move off in front of my kayak on the way back up, and we stopped off to talk with a local who had walked along the shoreline to plug and area a bit earlier - he confirmed the presence of bass by taking a lovely 3 lb+ one out of his bag which he had taken minutes earlier! We plugged away for another hour until the sun disapeared, and then paddled quickly against the now ebbing tide back to Llanrhystud beach:

We landed around 1030pm and put a final call in to the coastguard to confirm our return onshore. No fish, but another lovely evening paddle and confirmation that my bassy spots were indeed bassy!

To add to the feast I went out with my 11ft plugging rod from the shore on Thursday night and had another go for the bass, having learnt what the locals were using to tempt them Smile There was a big tide and hopes were high, with the locals also out on the plugs, but despite giving it 3 hours of effort the bass had not been playing by the time I headed back to the car at 1015pm.

So, a feasty week after 8 weeks of famine, and some very useful info on the local bass scene. My offer to help a local small craft owner whose boat had been swamped by a passing fishing boat on Monday night was rewarded with some local info about the bass spots around Aberaeron, and my chats with the locals further north confirmed that some large bream had started showing at a certain mark at the end of the week - so my game plan for this coming week is well laid out - bream and bass, game on!

How can you make tea with mackerel? I always thought you needed tea leaves and boiling water Question Question Question

Different food culture aside, I see that Wales may not be a bad place for a holiday. Wonderful pictures from some beautiful evenings. We are waiting for the mackerel to come north and west. I would love to have a nice fish meal!

I will swap you some mackeral in return for some of your large cod and coalies!

Sadly the large cod is almost extinct as far south as 60 degrees north. In the far north there are plenty still. We have too many tourist fishermen smuggling out large quantities of fillet in their trailers. They are allowed 15 kg a person, but cars have been caught with 400 kg of fillet in their freezers.

We also have a totally disruptive fishing for the salmon food factories. I had extensive postings on this problem on another thread some time ago. What used to be a wonderful area for sea fishing is now a beautiful but empty seascape. somtimes we return from an afternoon on the sea with just enough small catch for a fish soup.

What is a coalie?

Coalfish - another member of the cod famly like pollack.

Very small codling his far south and west, but we have very good sea bass fishing along the Welsh coast, and coalfish up to 2lb shoaling around here in the winter months. Same tactics for both mackeral and coalfish - small multi coloured shrimp trace with size 4 hooks, also good for pollack and black bream (when baited up with small strips of mackeral).
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