Dean Booker guests on our first blog post of 2020. His year has certainly got off to a flying start!
Back in August myself and Gareth Israel grabbed only the feather rods with a handful of leads and packs of feathers in search of possible new tope/spurdog venues for the winter. After some time spent on Google and Navionics 3 venues were chosen that we weren’t aware of anglers fishing before. Not to say they hadn’t been, but if they had then we had yet to see any mention on Facebook etc.
That day after miles of walking and checking out potential marks with dozens of casts, we found out that one of the venues was a real tackle grave yard, one was lightly mixed and one was really clean- no matter where you dragged the feathers along the bottom they weren’t getting stuck and with good depth and good tide plus reasonable access to the water if need be, we were confident we had found some good locations to fish from.
The more popular venues are rapidly filling up with lost tackle making them unfishable and we were excited to have found somewhere new to try when time allowed.
You will never know unless you try these new things, so off we set one morning at 1am with a view to having our baits out by 3am. We both prayed that the early start would be worth it, not to mention all of the leg work we had previously applied. The mark was empty with no signs of other anglers having fished there. It was coming up to low water
when I managed to get both rods out before Gareth even had a reel on his rod, he was about to cast his first bait when my line suddenly dropped to the floor, shortly resulting in a spur of around 10lb. I was well happy with this fish as first cast on a whole new venue for us. Next, Gareth was in on the action but as a large huss broke the surface it decided to open its most and spit the hooks. We were both annoyed but at least we knew that the new mark also held huss. A steady stream of dogfish and bull huss followed before it went a bit quieter, but then out of nowhere Gareth’s ratchet screamed away and shortly afterwards I was netting a fat spur dog for him that weighed in at 14lb 14oz. He was made up and we were both chuffed that this new place seemed to have a lot offer.
The next hour resulted in plenty of dogfish and as the light started to appear in the western sky, we wondered if we had seen the best of the action. I prefer darkness for Spurdogs and bullhuss, though we have caught plenty of tope in daylight. We missed a few bites and made a few short hook ups, but our baits were dropped by the fish soon after picking them up. I made my baits a little smaller and after another finicky bite made a positive connection with what felt like a reasonable fish. At first I thought it was a small tope but from the rocks below, Gareth shouted up to me- “It’s a big spur!” He scooped it up in the net and clambered back up the rocks to our platform. It definitely did look big.
We placed the fish in the weigh sling and after deducting the the sling, we settled on a weight of 15lb 11oz. Not only was this fish a PB, but also a potential Welsh shore record!
We were both totally made up with our catch, but as it turned out, we weren’t done just yet…Gareth went on to land another spur of exactly 10lb in weight and as I cradled her up the rocks, I caught a glimpse of my T1000 doubled over in the tripod, line racing off of the spool. There was no mistaking the powerful runs of a tope and shortly after she came in to view, Gareth did the business with the net.
She went 32lb 6oz and to me, this really was the icing on the cake.
As I broke my rods down, Gareth called over and he was in to yet another good fish. This turned out to be a PB but huss of 13lb 6oz, beating his previous best by over a pound in weight. We left the mark feeling pretty excited about our short but very productive session, knowing that it held some quality fishing. More importantly, we left it spotless in exactly the same way that we found it. All of our fish were taken on 4/0 Varivas catfish Hooks baited with either herring or mackerel at various casting distances. It’s great when a plan comes together!