Here in mid Wales, over the years, I’ve come to realise that the end of March is the true change over from winter to spring. We can get snow as late as May on the mountains, but generally by the end of March spring is well and truly on the land.
This year, even though we’ve endured one of the coldest winters for three decades, its no different and by the end of March the buds on the trees started to push, the grass began to grow and the daffodils bloomed, even though the latter were a good month late locally.
So what’s all this got to do with sea fishing? Well the land based seasons are a good indicator of where the season at sea is in relation to being early, on time, or late.
Currently I foresee peeler crabs, which as a food source are so vitally important to bringing in the spring bass and other species inshore when they peel in numbers, being a good two to three weeks late. This is because of the still very cold sea temperatures and the amount of rain we’ve had in many parts of the country. Plus the air temperature needs to settle for about two weeks and maintain a constant 11C to put some daytime warmth in to the low tide mud where the bulk of the early peeling crabs will be found.
Once the crabs start to peel in numbers it takes the bass a full set of tides, two weeks, to realise that food is available inshore, and only then will catches truly pick up. Hopefully this first week after Easter we should see prospects much improved and peeler numbers increase from here on in.
There are signs at sea too, that spring is making her mark.
I was working with Rob Wyatt, Penn Category Manager at Pure Fishing recently putting together some DVD footage we needed of me casting and describing some new product for some meetings scheduled soon. We used one of my local beaches and after work elected to further field test some new reels scheduled for the Penn and ABU ranges and chose to fish the last two hours of a flood tide in to darkness.
I was hoping for a few flounder as the beach is typically shallow. These would be thin spawned out fish at this time, but if there indicators that the spring was with us as these fish are the vanguard of the spring species returning after spawning.
Rob was off to a flyer catching a small turbot, then I bagged a flounder, a bit thin but back inshore after spawning and my first “skinny” of the year. We ended the session with more turbot and flounder, the latter all skinny fish but proof spring has arrived.
I’ve also had my first plaice of the year recently and this is another one of the earlier arrivals to the spring party. The plaice have also appeared on time off the Hampshire coast, from Slapton Sands in Devon and from the Cumbrian coast, so it’s a general trend
The boats have started to pick up the odd plaice over the banks off Weymouth and I’m expecting the boats in the Thames Estuary and those working inside Cardigan Bay in Wales to bag their first tope of the year within the next week or so, which really gets the season in to full swing.
The indicators are there then that spring has finally arrived and a new season of sea fishing is in front of us. I think it’ll be a great year and mid April is the start of it!