Light the fuse

A visit to a fish-rich venue in South Wales.

Sea Angler (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Stand on the high cliffs flank­ing this stretch of coast­line when the tide is out and you’ll see an area of shal­low, un­du­lat­ing ledges, gul­lies and count­less rock pools, punc­tu­ated by pock­ets of clean sand that screams fish.

Lo­cated on the Vale of Glam­or­gan coast­line be­tween Witches Point and Monknash beach, Wick un­doubt­edly ranks as one of the best shore venues in South Wales.

The very best ledge at Wick is only avail­able for an all-too-brief pe­riod, con­sist­ing of a cou­ple of hours ei­ther side of low water on the big­gest tides. You can fish here on smaller tides and catch fish, but those who know the area well gen­er­ally fo­cus on the spring tides, agree­ing that the larger the tide, the bet­ter the fish­ing. This is one venue where the abil­ity to be able to punch a de­cent-sized bait out as far as pos­si­ble can be a dis­tinct ad­van­tage.

Few an­glers I have met over the years can launch a big bait fur­ther than my old pal Roy Tap­per, so he was the ob­vi­ous choice to ac­com­pany me on my lat­est visit to Wick. We were joined by ris­ing match star Daniel Crump and Bel­gian an­gler Peter Van Lierde, who reg­u­larly crosses the chan­nel to fish in the UK.

IN­CRED­I­BLE

Al­though meet­ing Dan for the first time, I had heard that he was an ex­cep­tional caster; in fact, he’s an out­stand­ing caster. What re­ally im­pressed me about Dan’s cast­ing was that he uses a hefty 7oz lead, which he ex­plained helps him to punch the baited rig into wind. Fair com­ment, I thought, but only if your cast­ing tech­nique is good enough to gen­er­ate the in­cred­i­ble amount of line speed re­quired to launch 7oz of lead.

Watch­ing in awe as Dan cast, Roy and I both es­ti­mated his rig fi­nally splashed down some­where in the re­gion of 180 yards out. I re­ally don’t think I have seen any­one wind up a poker-stiff beach rod and cast out a big bait as far as Dan, with one ex­cep­tion – Ray Christo­fo­rato, who hap­pens to be Dan’s boss at Holton Road Angling in Barry.

Dan, who is 27, left school and started a three-year ap­pren­tice­ship as a me­chanic, a ca­reer that he pur­sued for seven years. Then an op­por­tu­nity came up for him to work at Holton Road Angling, which he seized.

“It meant I wouldn’t be earn­ing as much as I could as a me­chanic, but, for me, this was my dream job,” he said. “I’ve been fish­ing for 18 years and al­ways wanted to be in­volved in the tackle busi­ness, and this would be the op­por­tu­nity I was look­ing for.”

Some of his per­sonal-best shore-caught fish in­clude tope to 48lb, a 22lb 3oz cod, smooth­hounds to 16lb, thorn­back rays to 10lb 8oz, bass to 8lb, a small-eyed ray of 11lb 14oz and an 18lb 9oz blonde ray.

A highly suc­cess­ful spec­i­men an­gler, re­cently Dan started to fish com­pet­i­tively, and al­ready he is a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to the prize ta­ble. This year he won the Chan­nel Angling Open held at Por­lock and Boss­ing­ton, and is a fron­trun­ner in the Sa­malite League fished on Ch­e­sil Beach. Clearly here is an an­gler we are all go­ing to hear a lot more about.

STUN­NING

Weather con­di­tions were per­fect for our ses­sion, with bright sun­shine and a lightto-mod­er­ate east­erly breeze. I am no fan of fish­ing when the wind is in the east, but Roy as­sured me that it was not a prob­lem at this venue. As al­ways, he was right, set­tling any doubts I might have had by beach­ing

a very nice smooth­hound on his first cast.

Due to the rel­a­tively short win­dow of op­por­tu­nity avail­able on the main low-water ledge at Wick, most an­glers ar­rive a cou­ple of hours ear­lier than nec­es­sary and fish the other ledges to ei­ther side, which are where you fish on smaller tides. On pre­vi­ous vis­its, I have ex­pe­ri­enced great smooth­hound fish­ing do­ing this, and this was ex­actly the case this day.

While wait­ing for the tide to drop back far enough to be able to wade across the gully on to the best ledge, we caught sev­eral hounds, but the fish of the ses­sion was a stun­ning 9lb 10oz bull huss caught by Roy. West of Swansea Bay, such fish and oth­ers much big­ger are reg­u­larly caught from the rocks, but fish of this size are rarely caught from the shore fur­ther east.

In re­cent years, big bull huss have fea­tured in­creas­ingly in catches off­shore, so pos­si­bly

“We caught sev­eral hounds, but the fish of the ses­sion was a stun­ning 9lb 10oz bull huss”

this is an en­cour­ag­ing sign of things to come.

Fi­nally, when we started fish­ing from the main low-water ledge, we were ex­pect­ing to catch both small-eyed and spot­ted rays that are usu­ally abun­dant here. Fish­ing two rods each with baits con­sist­ing of sandeel and squid cock­tails to tar­get the rays, and fresh peeler crabs for more smooth­hounds, soon enough the crabs had worked their magic at se­duc­ing yet an­other hound.

DEL­I­CATE

Fish baits soon pro­duced the first of what re­sulted in a con­stant suc­ces­sion of dog­fish, which are of­ten a prob­lem when fish­ing in this area, but this year ev­ery­one I have spo­ken to has con­firmed that never have they seen so many. Within min­utes of each cast a del­i­cate tap, tap, tap­ping on the rod tip con­firmed that, once again, a dog­fish had taken the bait.

Clearly, any ray was go­ing to have a tough job in get­ting to the bait first, and, on the day, we failed to catch one.

Most an­glers who fish at Wick use the Pen­nell pul­ley rig, which is per­fect for catch­ing large fish at long range over rel­a­tively shal­low rough ground. Ob­vi­ously, when fish­ing here, some tackle losses are in­evitable. These can be kept at a min­i­mum by us­ing some sort of rot­ten bot­tom to carry the lead weight, but many an­glers do not bother.

A 9lb 10oz bull huss for Roy Tap­per

Low tide re­veals the nu­mer­ous ledges and gul­lies

Words and pho­tog­ra­phy by Dave Lewis

Daniel Crump (left) and Roy with a smooth­hound

Lower hook fits on clip for cast­ing Two hooks rigged as a Pen­nell set-up Bead above swivel to the hook­length The rig body runs through the pul­ley bead PEN­NELL PUL­LEY

...clipped down and ready to cast Crab on a Pen­nell...

Sandeel and squid meant for rays

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