Start to the New Year

It had been a couple of months since I had managed to wet a line for various reasons. However, with everything largely out of the way it is back to focusing on fishing! The big news that I seemed to miss out on was that due to low numbers in the wild stocks, tackle shops had mostly run out of sandeel late last year. The other big news was that bass fishing would be catch and release only this year which was a big relief to hear, as it meant I can use the new plugging rod I acquired over winter for its main purpose!

Often in January the weather conspires to prevent access to some of the more favourable marks on the more productive tides. However the weekend just gone the storm had past and the wind swung easterly meaning it was time to get out after the rays. In the past I thought January was a bit early for them but the odd one shows up, and after a couple of false starts in the Menai Strait, I was itching for my first proper session of the year.

Its normally pot luck whether the mark I had chosen was already taken but I arrived with no other cars around. I’d arrived early enough to have a pick of the ledges, take my time getting down and setting up in daylight meant I could blow away some of the winter cobwebs. A couple of unnecessary tangles and minor birds nests later I was much more settled come the night shift, setting up three rods, 2 were going for rays, one left very close in after conger and huss. Daylight resulted in a single dab and a few whiting which would be used as bait later on.

There was a lull in activity just after darkness fell. I left a couple of whiting bites to develop, as often rays will take the whiting if you leave it long enough, and for a short while one retrieve felt a little heavy before the weight lifted. Sure enough it was a whiting that had a couple of wounds in the flank where something had tried to make it dinner. I took this as a sign that the bigger fish had switched on, and out went the precious sandeels that I had found in amongst my frozen baits.

I didn’t have to wait long and, with a decent pull down a fish was taking line against the ratchet. Being so long since catching rays from deep water I had forgotten what they felt like. Hugging the seabed I felt the strain might pop the line, but once the fish was moving the familiar feeling was back. Rays often stay deep right until the waters edge but soon the unmistakable diamond shape emerged from the depths. A nice fish around 4/5lb and it was mission accomplished.

Then for the next hour I was averaging a ray every 15 minutes, ending up with 5 in a flurry of action, the biggest being possibly 8/9lb. I did take photos of all of them but not many of the photos are great, bit tricky on your own! Activity slowed down after this which is sometimes to be expected here. I was waiting longer for bites and for a couple of casts it was just whiting. My last mistake of the night was to tighten down to a whiting bite and leave the reel in gear. Luckily I was stood by my rod and was able to grab the butt before it ended up in the sea! That was ray number six, and number seven followed on my very last cast, making it a great start to the year.

I had planned on fishing today but unappealing weather and tide times mean catching up with the guiding admin and knocking a few rigs together for future sessions. Till next time, I’m sure it wont be as long!

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