Leaving the mooring at Dale, we made for the mid-channel rocks at the mouth of Milford Haven, and had lines in the water for midday. One rod was rigged with red feathers, whilst I used the small-hooked white/silver feathers that had caught the sandeels last trip. The red feathers were seeing all the action today. I watched enviously as the other rod took sporadic pollack and mackerel. With the reefs in this location not providing the usual number or size of fish, we looked for another mark.

The forecast of very light winds – a rare occurrence this summer – meant that a trip out to the offshore Turbot Bank was possible. The red feathers were kept on one rod, and I baited up a 2/0 circle hook with a mackerel strip to replace the other lures. Both rods took grey gurnards and lesser weever fish, on two or three drifts over the bank.

Despite the name, I find that the grey gurnards caught on offshore sandbanks exhibit a strong red colouration.

Grey Gurnard, Eutrigla gurnardus
Grey Gurnard, Eutrigla gurnardus

The weever fish were bigger specimens than I’d caught previously. To avoid the toxic spines, they were unhooked with long-nosed pliers and thick leather gardening gloves. In a close up photo, they look quite the little sea-monster.

Lesser Weever, Echiichthys vipera

I alternated between bait-fishing and jigging the feathers. I was unlucky not to be holding the feathering rod when a couple of 15cm-ish horse mackerel were boated. This is a species I’ve not caught before, and have not seen caught in this area before. These small fish were recycled into bait for something bigger, but nothing was interested today.

In the past, we’ve caught nothing much other than weevers and gurnards on the misnamed Turbot Bank (22 gurnards each on one memorable occasion) and so it was to be for me this time too . We headed off in a search for bass.

On the way to the next mark, the fish-finder showed a rocky reef which looked worth an investigation. On the first drop of the feathers I was into fish. A pollack and a mackerel at the same time, which is a little unusual.

The dull skies darkened and the rain started. I set up my spinning rod for trolling and attached the ever-reliable Rapala Down Deep Husky Jerk in silver colour-scheme. This caught a few pollack, each of which had the fighting ability of a lump of seaweed as they allowed themselves to be meekly dragged across the water surface. One pollack had its revenge. As I was unhooking it, it jerked and drove the point of a treble through nail of my middle finger. Ouch. Luckily it didn’t go all the way through to the barb.

Shortly after, this lure was lost on a snag. I tied on another; this time in a red-head. This particular paint job had delivered the bass in this location before. A few minutes of trolling and I felt the unmistakable take of a good bass. A few strong pulls and the fish and lure parted company with the line. Gutted, is an understatement. I place the blame equally between an over-tightening of the drag and the new braid I was using which doesn’t knot well. A third Rapala was lost on another snag. This is getting expensive and the Down Deep Husky Jerk is hard to source. I’ll be looking again at my braid choice and knot-tying.

With the weather matching my mood, we headed back to Dale, catching a few smallish (up to 2lb) pollack on the way. I have unfinished business with the bass, and will return in September if the weather allows.

Total Catch:

  • 7 Grey Gurnard
  • 2 Lesser Weever
  • 9 Pollack
  • 1 Mackerel