Sunday, June 02, 2013

Welsh road trip.

Having passed my driving test recently and with an extended trip to Cornwall planned in early July I was keen to do a long drive before making the very long journey down there. What better way to do this than with a short two day trip to Wales to visit my friend and fellow angler Lee Goddard. So on Monday after work I set off down the motorway and after a six hour drive I arrived in Harlech where Lee and his family lives. The last hour of the drive, along twisty country roads and no doubt through some stunning scenery that I couldn't see due to it being pitch black, was the hardest part so when I arrived it was good to be met by a friendly face and enjoy a cup of tea. Before we went to bed Lee showed me some of his latest lure purchases, finished sorting out his gear and he quickly checked the weather forecast which being calm and sunny looked great for our planned turbot session in the morning and wrassing in the afternoon.

Well when we got up in the morning the forecast had not quite been correct. There were quite a few clouds in the sky and there was a slight onshore wind blowing but we didn't think it would be too much of a problem so off we went to a nice long sandy beach not to far from Lee's house that he fishes regularly.

Lee's local beach.

After a short walk down the cliffs our ultra light jighead mounted Gulp! Sandworm and Isome were soon bouncing around on the bottom and before long Lee had spotted a turbot shooting off from near his feet into the surf. Shortly afterwards we both saw a couple of sea trout jumping out of the water a bit further out but continued trying for the resident turbot. After quite a while with no bites though I switched to a drop shot rig but this unfortunately didn't have the desired effect and despite me also spotting a small turbot swimming away from me as I waded we decided to head to the north coast of the Llyn Peninsula. On the way there it started raining but by the time we arrived at the chosen spot it has cleared up and the sun was shining although the onshore wind had picked up a bit creating a slight swell. With wrasse in mind we decided to fish a nice sheltered bay area.

Kelp and boulders equal wrasse holding ground.

I went with a Texas rigged Nories Ladyfish lure and added one of Lee's small bells and smeared the lure with some of Lee's "special sauce", a mixture of Vaseline, glitter and aniseed. This seemed to do the trick as having only started exploring the kelp and boulders beneath our elevated rocky perch I soon felt the distinctive rattle of a wrasse biting and the culprit was soon hooked. Because the water was fairly shallow I had my drag locked up on my reel so the fish was quickly brought to the surface before it could charge into one of the many snags.

I love wrasse. Not all of them can be brightly coloured unfortunately but they're all cool.

No sooner had the fish been returned than the wind started to pick up and the sun disappeared. We has a few more bites but these soon dried up and with the tide receding we decided to hop onto the small rocky outcrop that formed the outer edge of the bay we had been fishing. 

Lee carefully climbs up from the small ledge we had been fishing on.

This change of fishing position sadly didn't provide any further wrasse but a switch to ultra light gear soon saw Lee catch ten small pollock in quick succession, a feat I failed to replicate despite trying various different small lures and retrieves.

Lee wound me up a bit but I didn't mind, it was his turn to "hatboy" somebody at pollock catching.

Before leaving Lee showed me some nice big rockpools that he had caught leopard spotted gobies from and after rigging up a tiny #26 hook I soon had a pair of them swim out from under an overhang to investigate my offering. After a bit of patience one of them gobbled up the tiny piece of pink Isome and was rather quickly hoisted up into my hand before being popped into a small rockpool.

I like to let leopard spotted gobies chill out a bit before photographing them as they normally darken up quite a bit and can appear almost entirely brown sometimes when caught.
A minute or two usually sees them return to their pinkish hue and then their spots become more prominent again.

Quite happy with adding two new species to my 2013 tally we climbed back up to the top of the cliffs and walked along to check out another spot but it didn't look great so we opted to head to the south side of the peninsula in the hope that the wind would be blowing the sea flat on that side and we could find a sheltered spot. Stopping off for a bite to eat before heading out again by this point the conditions had deteriorated a lot and we had a go for lesser weever briefly from a beach and flounders in an estuary before admitting defeat and heading home to warm up.

The next day Lee had to head off to travel south for a wedding so after breakfast I said goodbye and headed off. It was nice fishing with him again and it was a shame the weather had thrown a spanner in the works on our only day together. Before heading up the road I planned to head to Llyn Y Gors coarse fishery near Bangor for a days waggler fishing to see if I could pick up a new species or two. After a nice drive through the Snowdonia National Park and crossing the Menai Straights I was soon at the venue. It was just before midday and after paying for my day ticket, a can of sweetcorn and a pint of maggots I headed over to a very busy Pleasure Lake to try for common and ghost carp. Most other anglers were fishing poles or method feeders but I only had my float gear with me so on went my trusted "puddle chucker" waggler float and I began fishing the bottom fairly close in to my left just out from an overhanging tree. I like the peace and quiet of fishing on my own but I soon had company of the feathered variety.

Much like the robins at Eliburn over the winter this chaffinch quickly befriended me (and my maggots).

It wasn't too long before I started getting bites and landed a few small roach. A few soon turned into a lot though and I was glad when I caught a couple of small perch to break the endless run of roach.

One of the bigger roach I caught.
A nice change from the endless stream of roach.

Constantly trickling in the maggots and a few pieces of sweetcorn into the swim and after catching over thirty roach I decided to try sweetcorn on the hook for the final hour or so of my session. This paid off when my float quickly shot under and after striking into the fish line was quickly stripped from my spool in two short sharp bursts. With a nice bend in my rod I tightened up the drag slightly and played the fish gently only applying pressure to turn the fish back towards me when it got close to neighbouring anglers' swims. At one point it also headed towards a floating water feature so I poked my rod tip under water to prevent my line snagging on that. After five minutes or so though the fish came into view and was in the net shortly afterwards although I have to say it was in very poor condition. So much so that I felt rather sorry for the poor thing.

My first ghost carp. A fish that has certainly seen better days for sure.

I carried on fishing for about an hour longer but apart from a few more roach I didn't manage anything else. I packed up and loaded the gear into the car before making the five and a half hour journey back up the road. Driving down was good experience and it was great to catch up with Lee who is a top bloke and angler. I dare say I may head down to fish with Lee again before the summer is over and Jake has said he'd like to fish Llyn Y Gors with me for the tench and crucian carp in the Reed Lake so I may be back down there soon.

Tight lines, Scott.

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