At long last, the Welsh Government removed the COVID-19 five-mile travel restrictions. I travelled to Wales for the first time this year. The trout season was a non-event, but I was hoping for some Welsh sea-fish to provide some positives to the year.

Our boat arrived at the reefs near the mouth of Milford Haven. Today was going to be “Red vs White”. I wanted to see which colour of mackerel feathers performed best on a sunny day. The red feathers were soon snagged and lost so I won’t be finding out today.

On board we keep a red Moleskine notebook, where we record the catches of each voyage. This trip I was losing more rigs than I was catching fish, so the rest of the crew cheekily decided that theses losses required a tally of their own. Until early afternoon, the ‘lost rigs’ column, was outscoring the ‘fish caught’ column.

Slowly, but steadily small pollack trickled aboard. Much smaller than we’d usually take at this mark. A sizeable number were foul hooked too, suggesting dense shoals of small fish not in the mood for feeding.

Pollack, Pollachius pollachius

The sea state prevented us from venturing out past St. Ann’s Head towards the Islands, and with no bait on board I persisted with the feathers. A single sandeel – Corbin’s I think due to the lack of dark spot on its snout – and a solitary mackerel were the only distractions from mini-pollack.

A few times I felt the line go ‘heavy’ with no obvious bite. This could simply be the lead weight dragging through the kelp, or could be squid attacking the feathers. Either way, switching to squid jigs couldn’t snag such a cephalopod.

For variety, I cut a strip from the mackerel and mounted it on a 3/0 hook on a Portland rig, hoping for a bass. (Although in all my years of fishing, I’ve only ever caught one bass on these reefs. Plenty further up the Haven; plenty further out. Just not in this spot. Too deep?)

No bass again today, but a beautifully marked Ballan Wrasse liked the fish bait.

Ballan Wrasse, Labrus bergylta

A bit of trolling on the way home, couldn’t tempt a bass. But not to worry, I’ll be here for a few weeks. Plenty more chances to catch those silver beauties.


Total Catch:

  • 6 Pollack
  • 1 Corbin’s Sandeel
  • 1 Mackerel 
  • 1 Ballan Wrasse