April has been a busy month for me work wise, so this blog is a catch up on what’s been happening since late March, fishing wise.
My last blog detailing huss fishing ended with me suggesting I would target a shore plaice. Normally I’d look for these from about the end of February, but the bitterly cold east winds the whole of the UK endured, pretty much from the end of January, had postponed the hoped for early spring. Sea temperatures on my local Welsh coast were some 2C lower than average for the time of year and struggling to make 7C. This suggested the plaice might be best left for a while.
I waited until the third week of March. This was deliberate on two counts. I felt the first plaice would be showing by then even though it was still exceptionally cold, plus the small neap tides fell that week and the mark I had in mind fish’s best on the smallest tides possible when the lateral tide run evident there is lessened.
Arriving at the mark, a steady 20mph easterly wind was blowing with gusts to 30mph. Snow showers fed in intermittently and looking at the conditions the last thing you would expect would be plaice.
The bait situation has also been disrupted by the weather. By the time I’m normally plaice fishing, the first peeler crabs are shedding their shells and it is no surprise these are the best bait. But there were no crab peeling and none to pick. My back up bait was frozen black lug, but I did have a couple of frozen peeler crab left over from last year’s final pick and these would have to do.
The hour before low water and the first hour of the flood tide produced just small dabs. The tide had just started to really pick up power and I decided to switch to a 3-hook rig and fish the line between the rod tip and the weight slightly slack and bowed in the wind. This would ensure that all three baits were sat hard on the seabed. I baited with black lug baits, but on the lowest hook right by the lead weight I tipped this with a precious thawed crab claw. This was cast tight by the edge of some rough ground where I know early plaice like to hole up.
The bait had been out about 10-minutes when I noticed the line bow lift and drop back. After a few seconds the same thing happened and this time it just registered on the rod tip. When this occurred a third time I picked up the rod and lifted in to the fish.
There was a little weight there and I felt the fish try to turn and head for the bottom, but this was no leviathan. It was obvious from the rattles on the rod tip that I’d hooked a plaice, but it was still a relief when it broke surface and I saw the red spots dotting its flank. Lifting it from the water, I knew it would barely make a pound in weight, but that did not matter. It was the first plaice of the year and it heralds the arrival of spring. It swam off strongly after a photograph.
My next trip out the east wind was still howling and you could see your breath in the late afternoon air. You would assume the sea would be flat with the wind coming off the land, but a depression far out in the Atlantic put up a shallow two wave surf. It was just before low water and we’d fish for at least four hours. My target fish was a turbot, but looking at the conditions, again I was not confident.
Fishing two rods, I went with my favourite ABU 6500 TSR reels that would give me the casting distance, but as usual decided to fish one about 40-yards out, the other at absolute maximum range which, with the wind behind me, was probably close to 130-yards. My mate did much the same.
The tide turned and flooded for two hours with not a bite between us. I switched the close range rod over from a 3-hook rig to a 3-boom rig to reduce any potential for tangling, and dropped the baits just 15-yards out to the outside edge of the first turning wave in to water that was barely 12-inches deep. My thinking here was that this wave action was the only place where any food was likely to be as it got washed from the sand by the wave action.
First cast produced nothing, but the second cast saw the rod tip bounce slightly and rattle down. I left the fish to fully take the bait. It rattled again and I just pressured the weight to lift it free and slowly retrieved. I was surprised to feel some decent weight there, then the fish tugged on the rod tip and actually swam with the wave sideways to the left a few yards. Standing on the edge of the surf the fish came in, first as a bow wave, then colour, then as a sizeable shape. A flattie, but what was it? It turned out to be a biggish flounder that had taken a frozen mackerel strip. Again I didn’t bother to weigh it, but if fat from a summer’s feeding this fish would have easily topped 2lbs or more. It was the only bite we had.
Finally the east wind has backed westerly which is good, but seems to want to push back in to north now and then which is bad for fishing. I’m not sure what to fish for next at the moment. I might go back for a turbot, but the bass are an interesting prospect and that might be my next serious session.