I had a strangely prescient conversation in the car trip down to Neyland Marina. Out of the blue, my father asked if squid are ever caught locally. I’d seen them caught from Brighton Marina at certain times of year, but none from Pembrokeshire for a long time. Although, when much younger, playing on the beach at Dale. I saw a squid amongst a box of cod caught out at the Smalls. I was fascinated by the still expanding and contracting chromatophores in the dead squid’s skin.

All aboard at Neyland, we motored downstream – narrowly missing an errant grey seal – to the mouth of the Haven. Yesterday’s sun had been replaced by drizzle and fog; the two days could not have been more different, which is so often the case in Wales.

I rigged up two rods with white mackerel feathers. I dropped the lead to mid-water, and passed the rod to my girlfriend whilst I busied myself with something else. I suggested she let the line out to the bottom, and jig from there. She complained that she couldn’t feel the bottom. I regained control of the rod and, sure enough, the line was slack. Then it pulled. I reeled in just in time to see a blue-green fish throw the hook at the surface. The mackerel are in at last!

The feathered-hooks went down once more and the fish instantly responded. I took a few singly, and then up came a string of four.

On a couple of occasions, both anglers on the boat felt a ‘heaviness’ to the line, but not the ‘pull’ of a bite. We dismissed it as the lead dragging through the kelp.

I felt a stronger pull, and wound in to see a red shape approach the surface. Ballan wrasse I thought. The ‘wrasse’ released a cloud into the water. A squid! It wasn’t done with its squirting. The next blast of ink hit me full in the chest. The next went clean over my head to the other side of the boat. I couldn’t believe the quantity of ink. The deck looked like some strange alien crime-scene. Amid the chaos, the Irish ferry loomed out of the fog.

Collision averted, the cephalopod was boated and put into the boat’s large green tub before it could do more damage. I only took out the camera once it was fully dead, so I missed its initial angry red coloration. Swabbing the decks took some time. I’m not sure all the ink has been removed yet.

European squid, Loligo vulgaris


A few more mackerel and pollack, and a single grey gurnard and we were done with this mark.

Grey Gurnard, Eutrigla gurnardus


On gutting the fish, I was surprised at the size of the bait-fish swallowed whole by even the smaller mackerel. Much bigger than any lure I’d consider for mackerel.


The sun was coming out, so for a last hour, we tucked the boat into a small bay and bottom-fished using the squid and mackerel as bait. Nothing more than weed found our hooks, so we repositioned at our favourite ray mark. No ray today (and not for a few trips, come to think of it), just a solitary lesser spotted dogfish as I wound in for the final time.

Home for a fresh mackerel dinner, and an internet search for squid jigs.


Total Catch:

  • 6 Mackerel
  • 3 Pollack
  • 1 Grey Gurnard
  • 1 Lesser Spotted Dogfish