Tying on mackerel feathers has become a ritual. Regardless of time of year, when I fish from a boat, the first hooks in the water are always in a string of six. A few weeks too early for mackerel of course, but this waterway has yielded over a dozen species to this simple technique. It is an almost foolproof method of catching that vital first fish; confidence rises and more speculative or unorthodox methods can then be tried, secure in the knowledge that ‘something’ has already been caught.

Fresh easterly winds prevented the boat from leaving the safety of Milford Haven, yet that still left a hugely varied area to fish. The first drifts of the day were over the rocky reefs in the channel at the mouth of the haven. I sent down the heavy weights to the sea bottom. I could feel the trace dragging through the kelp, then a slight plucking bite. I reeled in to find a twelve-inch greater sandeel had taken a hook. Live sandeels make great bait (and gave me the only bass of the year in 2015), so the wriggling fish was dropped into the bait-bucket for later use .

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Greater Sandeel, Hyperoplus lanceolatus

Up tight to the cliffs, further drifts resulted in small pollack. The wind didn’t relent. We tucked into West Angle bay for lunch.

Later on, marks with shelter from the easterly wind were sought out. I set up the sandeel under a float to tempt a bass (Spoiler Alert: It didn’t). Additionally, the boat’s other rods fished with a mixture of ragworm and squid. Inevitably, the Haven’s most common resident – the lesser spotted dogfish – put in an appearance.

Close-up of lesser spotted dogfish skin

To round off the afternoon’s fishing, we anchored on our favourite ray mark. No rays for me today, although the skipper took one.

Total Catch:

  • 1 Greater Sandeel
  • 4 Pollack
  • 4 Lesser Spotted Dogfish