Wet and windy described the West Wales weather so far this summer. The winds were dropping today, but the sea had enough chop on it to restrict the boat with the confines of the Haven. I tied on a string of seven bright red mackerel lures, fresh from the packet. Red or white coloured feathers work best for me. Mackerel were scarce this year according to local information. I was hoping for my first of the year.

Mackerel, Scomber scombrus

It wasn’t a too long wait before the sea supplied. A good sized mackerel came aboard. It came alone. The shoals of mackerel just don’t seem to be present this year. Some say that stormy weather breaks up the shoals. Or maybe it is simply the case that a low number of fish are in the area. It was my only mackerel of the day (although the other rod on the boat caught another, which at barely four inches, must be the smallest mackerel I’ve ever seen).

A few pollack were boated the same way. Drifting over the reefs wasn’t delivering. We anchored the boat in Mill Bay in the shadow of St. Ann’s head lighthouse, and continued with the feathers and some baits on the bottom. Nothing at all was happening here here. Stepping down several sizes to tiny size-14 hooks – more appropriate for trout really – still couldn’t interest a fish.

We headed back inside the Haven to our usually reliable ray mark. This location has delivered some good thornbacks, and a lot of dogfish. On one rod, I used a mackerel/squid combo on a 3/0 hook. On the other a mackerel head on a 5/0 hook, hoping for a big bass, bull huss, or conger. Time passed without either rod getting any attention from the chosen quarry. In desperation I rigged up my lure rod with a size-6 scratching rig, baited it with squid strips, and flicked it away from the boat. A good sized grey gurnard took the bait (and a dogfish spat the tiny hook at the surface)

Grey Gurnard, Eutrigla gurnardus

The boat swung around with the tide, but still no decent fish. Six o’clock came and I disappointedly went to reel in on the two motionless rods. The mackerel/squid bait was untouched. On the other rod, I felt a weight. Something was on the end of the line. Expecting a lump of seaweed or a particularly lazy dogfish, I was surprised to pump a decent sized Thornback to the surface. Bizarrely, there was no prior movement on the rod tip, the bait was missing and the 5/0 circle hook had gone right through the ray’s snout. A good catch to end the day.


Thornback Ray, Raja clavata


Total Catch:

  • 1 Mackerel
  • 3 Pollack
  • 1 Grey Gurnard
  • 1 Thornback Ray