I’d been looking forward to the first Welsh boat trip since May and with the girls safely packed off to a spa-day, it was looking like a great boys’ fishing trip. The forecast was for light winds, fine weather, and a calm sea state.

We set off straight for the mid-channel rocks by St. Anne’s head. A few pollack came to the sabikis, but no mackerel as hoped. I tried some very small lures to try to snag some sandeels to use as bass bait. I didn’t catch any, and whilst I was trying out a Fiiish Black Minnow, I passed the small-lure-rod to the skipper. A sandeel then decided to go for the small lures, only to throw the hook at the surface.

The Castlemartin Range protection vessel came over to check our destination, and a chat about fishing. One of the crew mentioned a few specific places where mackerel had been taken recently. We set off for those marks, trolling past a few places on the way..

The first fish to take the lure was a smallish pollack…

A pollack with a Rapala Down Deep Husky Jerk in Glass Red Head
A pollack with a Rapala Down Deep Husky Jerk in Glass Red Head


…followed by a couple of identically sized small (33 cm) bass, one of which came to my rod. The spiky fish was quickly returned; it was a bit of a relief to catch one again. The first this year, and the first from this boat.

Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax 33cm
Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax 33cm


Arriving at the tipped mark, there was encouraging sea life activity: diving birds and harbour porpoises snorting around the boat.

Harbour Porpoise, Phocoena phocoena

We sent down the feathers. I enviously watched the first fish to come aboard – a red gurnard – which is a species I’ve not caught before. It wasn’t too long before the promised mackerel arrived. I’ve always thought that the first mackerel is the sign of summer. They came aboard in full strings, just like they did in memories of past summers.

Mackerel, Scomber Scombrus

We took enough mackerel to feed the family and friends for dinner, then headed off to the usual sandbank to look for flatfish. The ragworm looked like the last in the shop, and I didn’t have much confidence dragging the bottom for plaice and dab, with this sorry bait. The wind was picking up and and it was getting choppy over the bank, so we trolled (fruitlessly) over to a reef where we hadn’t invested much time before.Using the ragworm still on the flatfish rig, we drifted over the reef. Something large took the bait and smashed the tackle in a second. I re-baited, and using a mix of baited hokkais and flapper rigs caught a small cod and gorgeously golden-coloured ballan wrasse.

Cod, Gadus morhua
Ballan Wrasse, Labrus bergylta


The end of the day approached. I was disappointed in the lack of a keeper-sized bass. With this in mind, I took out my spinning rod and tied on the reliable Rapala Down Deep Husky Jerk in Silver. We trolled over a favourite spot. On the first pass, I hooked into a bass, just over the legal limit at 38.5cm, and weighing in at 1lb 4oz. A fitting end to a great day out.


Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax 38.5cm

 Total Catch:
  • 3 Pollack
  • 4 Mackerel
  • 2 Bass
  • 1 Cod
  • 1 Ballan Wrasse