Wales is somewhere I’d always wanted to visit and fish, with its spectacular scenery and rivers that meander through its landscape full of silver sewin. It’s rugged coast line and seas full of so many species of fish that make your imagination run wild.
So when I got the call and was asked to host and possibly fish the Pembrokeshire Lure Fishing festival there was only ever going to be one answer – yes or as everybody thinks we say up north – wey aye!
With an itinerary for the weekend like a medieval scroll and me being too excited to read it as always, the car was packed to the brim with enough fishing gear to open a shop with & I was off on my 350 mile journey to uncharted waters (well for me).
7 hours and numerous food stops later I arrived at my good friend from last year’s BBC’s ‘The Big Fish’ adventure Dan Rodgers’ house, who kindly put me up for a few days. No sooner had I walked through the door and he was taking me down to his local river the Teifi, where he would totally change my mind and thoughts on net fisherman. Dan is a coracle fisherman through and through and its a huge part of his life, although I think he may be starting to turn from what us fisherman call ‘the dark side’, but behold what I saw was totally different to what I expected! The nets, coracle and method was amazing to watch as they drifted silently and delicately with the current, not even taking up a quarter of the river and their very sporting net only a meter or so deep with nothing but an old branch to show at the end of it. I now realise these guys aren’t just netsmen, they are so similar to us but use different equipment. I did get the offer to try it out but had to decline due to my new white Nike Air Max (the only excuse I could think of!).
Anyway back to the fishing (well the proper fishing!), the next day we woke to weather condition like something from the Perfect Storm which we knew would effect the day badly, but we proceeded to travel to Fishguard to take part in the first day’s lure fishing challenge after popping into the local fishing shop for a few extra supplies. After meeting Jimmy the organiser and a few of the other guys it was decided that it was too dangerous to fish the open side of the wall, so we would have to make do with the inner section where Drop Shot and light spinning rods would be the choice of weapon for the day. It turned out to be one of those days where everything but the kitchen sink was thrown at the fish, from big yo zuri lures, rapalas, mepps and jig heads to tiny pin fry and plastic imitations on size 18 hooks. For me and Dan and most others it was a total blank but one of the other guys managed a small 10 inch pollock and small goby to win the day. It may have been a fish-less day but I learned more that day about drop shotting than I had done all my life.
After a late night sampling the local delicacies we headed towards Dale where we would be targeting Bass and Pollock from Jimmy Lemon’s Boat ‘Bang Tidy’- today would be fishing for fun and not part of the competition but as always the competitive streak was there. The fishing started on the slow side with Dan picking up a pollock around 2lb from a deep pinnacle using a jig head on light spinning gear just off the rocky shore line. He kindly rubbed it in as always (he wouldn’t be Dan if he didn’t!), but I wasn’t far behind him with a small codling. A change of plan was needed, we changed to rapalas and diving lures fishing in around 25ft of clear water, casting towards the cliffs and rocks. The action was to be relentless with some insane sport catching 30 plus pollock which on 15-20g light gear was fantastic, in amongst the pollock onslaught I managed to land my first ever Bass which I maybe over reacted to catching but hey it was a first and in the excitement I totally forgot about how spiny the little critters are and I quickly learnt my lesson! Jimmy was to have the last laugh as literally his last cast he hooked something which sent his reel screaming,we all looked at each other and thought Bass but it turned out to be another pollock but a cracker of around 8/9lb which was safely returned along with all the other fish caught that day. I personally could have stayed out all day but tides being tides we had to head in.
The last day was a total change and a chance for us to meet all the other hard core anglers who may I say were skilled beyond belief and an absolute great bunch of lads and lasses, and it was also nice to see the juniors getting involved. I was honoured to present the winners of the different categories their prizes and trophies and to reveal a total of 23 species were caught that weekend between all competitors, all on lures which is a huge achievement and something I hope to be involved with in the coming years. It was also great to see the RNLI guys turn up with there boat to collect the money raised through the raffle, these guys do an amazing job and dont get anywhere near enough credit for the work they do and lives they save.
The worst thing about any adventure is always the end but for me in a way this time it’s just the start with my new found knowledge and I can’t wait to get back there soon.