Not bad in the end…

IMG_0754
 
Since getting back from Cornwall I’ve only had time to briefly wet a line but that was only for a couple of hours locally when conditions weren’t really right so it was nice to get a few hours under my belt yesterday down in Dorset. I was especially keen to get out as I’d managed to pick up my new rod from Richard at Dorset Fishing Rods on Saturday and was obviously desperate to try it out!
 
Things didn’t start well though! The plan was to fish from low up which would mean getting there late morning and then fishing the afternoon – with high water around 6 o’clock. I left home in plenty of time at around 9:30 in the morning but traffic was awful taking me two hours to get to a venue that usually only takes me just over the hour. No dramas though, I was still in plenty of time to fish the rising tide. I got all my kit together and began the trek to the first mark I had in mind and about half an hour later I was ready to fish. New rod, first cast – fish on! Only a small bass taken on the Feed Shallow so it went straight back – rod christened! Second cast – bang! Feed Shallow hit again and this time it was a slightly better fish which came in just over the 3lb mark. I thought at this point it would be a good photo opportunity for the fish and new rod……  trouble was where was the camera? I had it at the car and it was only then it dawned on me I had left it on the damn car roof while I was rigging up. The air went blue as I slid the bass back and hastily departed on the trudge back to the car park praying the camera was where I left it. Luckily, there it was – exactly where I suspected. So, camera safely in backpack, off I set again back to the mark still cursing myself for my stupidity but also somewhat relieved that it hadn’t been removed!
 
It was about an hour wasted by the time I got back to my original spot and to top it off the fish had moved on so I did the same moving on around the coast to marks that had previously been productive. Not today though – it was really slow despite trying shallow divers, deeper divers, surface plugs and soft plastics with just a solitary take on a Megabass Zonk from a small pollack that dropped off as I pulled it up onto the rock I was fishing on. I did get a couple of snaps of the ground I was fishing which for all intents and purposes looked ‘bassy’…
 
IMG_0740 IMG_0742
 
Late afternoon, a bit disconsolate I decided to head back and fish the top of the tide in a couple of bays I’d passed on the way out where there had been banks of weed washed up at low tide. It was a good decision because on turning the corner into the second of the bays there were gulls working the surface which I knew would be worth checking out. Anyone who reads in particular Mike Ladle’s fishing diary will know that these rotting weed banks often harbour maggots which get washed out as the incoming tide hits them and this was exactly what was happening here. There were mullet cruising around extremely close in lapping up the maggots being washed out of the weed and crucially there were bass there as well! The problem was deciding on a lure that I could use that could cope with the weed and maggot soup before me. Usually I would have gone with a Slug-Go or X-layer but I didn’t have the Tex-Poser hooks to use with them so a hard surface lure was all I had in my armoury that I thought might work.  I tried the GunFish and Z-Claw but they were still pulling in chunks of weed so I changed tactics slightly and put on a Kimono II and cast beyond the weed and retrieved with the rod held high so the lure was working by just skimming the surface and creating a wake behind it – it worked a treat! First bass was only a small one…
 
IMG_0750
 
The second was a bit better at 3.5lb…
 
IMG_0755
 
Another in the 3lb bracket followed before the best fish of the day, and indeed my best bass this year, came in at precisely 5lb 2oz…
 
IMG_0752
 
IMG_0753
 
It was a great last hour of the day making it  six bass taken in total for the day plus a couple of near misses where fish crashed into the lure but didn’t connect. Impressed with the Kimono II – it’s got a hell of a wiggle on it and worked really well for me with the rod held high over the weed soup!
 
It was a shame to leave but with time getting on I decided to depart on a high and walked back to the car having a chat with a couple of other lure anglers on the way. It had been a good day in the end after the traffic and camera incident earlier in proceedings and I drove home content with the afternoon’s work!
 
I haven’t said much on the new rod because I plan to put my thoughts on it in a separate post  but suffice to say, based on it’s first outing, it is everything I had hoped for and some – thanks Richard!  Will try and get round to that post in the near future.
 
Until next time….

This should really be kept a secret but….

DSC_0067

I did say in a post a few months back that I’d add the occasional camp site review… so here we are the end of the summer with my first one!

The week previous to my fishing jaunt down to Cornwall  the weather was more favourable and Rebs, Billy, the dogs and myself had a few days camping in Pembrokeshire. There wasn’t any fishing involved this time but for those of you who enjoy your camping this no frills site we stayed at is well worth writing about… though I do say so reluctantly as it’s really one of those sites you’d rather keep to yourself. If you are looking for a camp site with home comforts and all the mod cons then read no further. If on the other hand you want to be on a peaceful, chilled out  site that has only a handful of secluded pitches, stuck in the middle of nowhere,  where you can have camp fires, walk to the coast through rolling  fields, and, if you’re lucky, watch the sun go down over the sea then this is the place for you. It’s also very reasonably priced, at £8 per night per adult and £4 per night for children (4-14 years old), under 4’s are free. There are no additional charges for cars, dogs, etc. Norman, the owner of the site , is incredibly laid back and seems like he doesn’t have a care in the world… and why would he when he lives in such chilled out beautiful surroundings?

Location

The campsite is called Arymwny (click here to visit their website) and from Southampton it was around a 4.5 hour drive to get there. It is located on the Pembrokeshire coast somewhere between the villages of Trefin and Abercastle which themselves are between the small cathedral city of St David’s and the port of Fishguard. It’s approximately a 25 minute drive to both St David’s and Fishguard from the site if you really need to go! The campsite is not signposted so unless you have done your research before leaving home you may struggle to locate it as it is well off the beaten track. A decent OS map or a look on Google Maps should do the trick though. My best attempt at directions would be to say come off the A487 at the sign which says ‘Trefin 1’ and which also has a brown sign for the ‘Weaving Centre’. Follow this road for about a mile and then you should see a road that shoots off on your right with a tiny sign for Abercastle nestled in the undergrowth, follow the road around the corner and then just as it bends the other way you should see a farm track directly ahead of you – take this track for about three quarters of a mile and it will get you to Arymwny! Here’s the site located on Google Maps from the A487 with point ‘A’ being where you exit the main road and on to the farm track to Arymwny which is circled (click on the image to enlarge it)…

Armwyny

The Pitches

There are around 15 good sized and fairly secluded pitches in total on the site spread between two areas. The lower area is below the main house and has a gentle slope to it but nothing severe enough to affect your tent pitching and probably has the slightly better views. The upper area I would say is flatter but if anything has bigger pitches. All are separated by natural flora and fauna banks which give a definite air of privacy from your camping neighbours. There are no allocated pitches – you just rock up and choose your spot.

The two big plus points about each pitch though are the stone fire pit and the stand pipe with cold running drinking water plus bucket – really useful and as I say found on every pitch. There is good quality seasoned firewood aplenty that Norman has available to campers at £9 for a huge trug of logs or £6 for a smaller one. As a guide we took a large trug off his hands and it lasted three days which included evening and  breakfast time fires.

Here are a few pictures from our pitch:

View of the healthy sized pitch pre-pitching…

DSC_0059

The useful tap and bucket found on each pitch!

DSC_0058

Our fire pit…

DSC_0057

The bell tent and camp setup on the pitch…

DSC_0074

On-site facilities

As I’ve said earlier on if you’re expecting modern camping comforts then this is probably  not the site for you but that said it doesn’t mean you are completely roughing it – in fact one of the showering options is verging on the luxurious in camping terms! There are two showers, one a port-a-loo type offering which was always spotlessly clean with hot water and then there is a downstairs bathroom in the main house that Norman makes available to campers – this even has a bath in it and has plenty of room for manoeuvre! That’s the luxurious bit! There are also two other port-a-loo toilets on site which were quite possibly the cleanest port-a-loo’s I have ever come across!

There is a fridge/freezer available for ice packs, etc. and Norman will even charge phones and any other electronic gadgets you can’t bear to be without! There are recycling facilities for your rubbish which you are encouraged to use and a trampoline for the kids but that’s it. All the basics covered without making you feel you’re on a designated camping site… actually, it’s like you’re camping in someone’s garden in a strange sort of way but without feeling awkward about doing so!!

Things to do

One of the lovely things about this campsite is you don’t really need to do anything as it’s so relaxing just looking out to sea and watching the landscape in the peace and quiet. However, if you want to stretch your legs you can walk from the campsite, across a couple of fields and you’re on the stunning coastal path at Abercastle or you could maybe walk to the Ship Inn in Trefin for a pint – strangely we didn’t do this! The coastal path is highly recommended with towering cliffs and accessible sandy coves all local to the campsite. We did walks west to Abereiddy and roughly east to Abermawr along some of the finest coast line in the UK in my opinion spotting seals and their pups along the way. In the evenings we did little more than sit around the campfire with our BBQ dinner and a glass in hand though! The night skies were so clear it meant there was  some amazing star gazing on offer… with no light pollution to speak of the stars were mesmerising – awesome.

There are other places to visit along the coast such as Porthgain or Whitesands and if you fancy it a trip to Ramsey Island which can be booked in St David’s. The cathedral in St David’s itself is impressive and well worth a visit.

Norman has a selection of leaflets and flyers of other things to do in the local area should you need them.

My summary

This part of Pembrokeshire definitely has the feel of a much less commercialised Cornwall and, dare I say it, as if you are stepping back in time… not in a backward way but just in a much slower pace of life way! If you make the effort to travel there you will not be disappointed – it really is a terrific camping spot which ticks all the boxes of what you might want for a simple, chilled out camping trip whether for just a few days or for a longer stay. The location is idyllic, Norman is extremely helpful without intruding on your stay and it really makes you feel like you are getting away from it all. Admittedly, we were lucky with the weather but if you can pick the time right I am confident you will have a cracking time and not be disappointed. Will I be back? You bet… and next time with kayak and fishing rods!!

A few more photos

One of the sandy and rocky coves on the way to Abereiddy

DSC_0012

The ‘blue’ lagoon at Abereiddy

DSC_0031

Our dogs running on the beach near Abereiddy…

DSC_0025

Ramsey Island in the distance from the lifeboat station at St Justinian’s

DSC_0040

Sun setting at Arymwmy

DSC_0066

Base camp

DSC_0072

Rebs and Billy on the coastal path to Abermawr

DSC_0113

Lucky kayakers…the black dot on the water to the right is a grey seal

DSC_0116

Seals and pups on way to Abermawr

DSC_0129

Hope you enjoyed the review?!

Until next time…

Cornwall Trip – days 3, 4 & 5

IMG_0725

Day 3

Sunday morning we woke up to relatively clear skies though the wind was still strong and there were clouds on the horizon threatening the coast. We had a quick fry up then decided we’d take a look at a couple of spots on the Lizard peninsula which we had an inkling might be good for bass. We checked out the first spot near Porthleven and it looked ‘bassy’ but we’d need the westerly wind to drop off to give us a chance of fishing it. We then headed around the peninsula to the shelter of the eastern side looking at Porthoustock and Porthallow but neither looked like the type of ground that would throw up bass. We had a chat with a couple of local kayakers who’d just come in at Porthallow and they had had little success on the water that morning.

It was all a bit frustrating really – the areas we wanted to fish were blown out and the one’s that looked to have a bit of shelter did not look like there would be fish there. We were fast running out of options and after a quick scout around the top of St Ive’s we concluded the only spot realistically we knew would give us a bit of protection from the wind and swell, and which might get us amongst the fish, was near Gurnards Head again….. and so that’s where we headed but this time with waders and cags on to try and keep ourselves dry. When we arrived if anything the swell was bigger than the previous day  with some big waves crashing against the rocks – the pictures don’t do it justice really. The good thing though was that the fish turned up again though not in the same numbers or size.

Nobby was first in with a bass on his faithful Zonk and had a couple more to his name before I managed to break my duck for the day with a small bass on the Xlayer…

IMG_0719

The emergence of a large seal close in to where we were fishing soon meant the fish dried up though so we decided to have a look further round the bay as the tide was still pretty low. It really is a beautiful spot…

IMG_0722

IMG_0723

We threw a line in the surf and from some of the prominent rocks here but nothing was taking a lure so we checked the roving seal was nowhere in sight and headed back round to the spot we’d caught at earlier… and sure enough the bass were back if only small ones with most falling to the Xlayer though I also took a couple on the IMA Sasuke…

IMG_0729

That was pretty much it for the day aside from a very small pollack and a launce sand eel caught on a set of feathers at the end of the session.

We headed back to the North Inn and over a couple of pints contemplated what we were going to do on Monday but we both agreed we should move on from the North Inn and head either down to the Lizard area or further up the north coast depending on the weather … the forecast was not great.

Day 4

This was the windiest night to date with the occasional squally shower to boot which rattled the sides of the tents making for a restless night’s sleep at best. Luckily though the strength of the wind meant the canvass was pretty dry come morning and could be packed up easily enough.

After a quick bacon butty we were on the road away from the North Inn and back down to the first spot we’d looked at yesterday on the Lizard near Porthleven. We hoped that the spot would be fishable but when we got there it was clear it was a non-starter. The seas were monstrous with heavy waves dumping on the beach.  A fellow angler turned up to have a go with a heavy lure rod and plug – we watched him have about three casts but each time it nearly blew back in his face so he soon left… as did we. There really was no option today but to get ourselves some shelter on the east coast of the Lizard peninsula.

We had a scout around and eventually found a spot at the end of the River Helford north of a small hamlet  called St Anthony’s where we found some rocky marks with gullies into fairly deep water. It was relatively sheltered but even here the wind was howling down the Helford valley.

 IMG_0730

I managed a solitary small pollack and had an unsuccessful take from a bass close in on a grass minnow soft plastic. There were thousands of fry hanging around and some huge mullet cruising around but it was slow fishing and as the squalls became more frequent and heavier we headed back to the car as we needed to sort out where we were going to camp down that night.

As it happened a quick check of the weather forecast again proved wise as the worst of the weather was due to hit that night with gale force winds and driving rain expected – not ideal for camping out! Luckily enough Nobby had good friends Paul and Carol who lived in Newquay who were extremely accommodating when the despairing phone call was made to see if we might have a night with them and a few home comforts! They were legends and we had a great night out and a couple of glasses of plonk as well to see us right… they also have probably have the most comfortable sofa in the world – anyone could fall asleep there you  know!! It was about 3:30 in the morning when I awoke on said sofa and dragged myself to my pit… the wind and rain hammering against the windows… not a night to be in the tents!

Day 5

After the stormy night the outlook for Tuesday morning did not look any better – whilst the rain was more intermittent the wind was still about a force 7 so we needed a sheltered spot again if we were going to have any chance of fishing. Paul pointed us in the right direction and after breakfast we packed up the car and made our thanks to our hosts for their kind hospitality. The car which was packed to the gunnels anyway was now beginning to smell badly from the various bits of wet kit, footwear and not least from us! It looked like a grenade had gone off and positively reeked as we left Newquay…

IMG00369-20110906-0945

We headed up the north coast towards Trevose Head where there was a chance we might be able to get out of the worst of the weather. As we drove up the coast we passed the coast close enough in to see some huge swells coming in…

IMG_0733

Even this picture does not do justice to the size of these waves and which were regularly around the 12-15 foot mark. Anywhere along this part of the coast was going to be a complete no-go fishing wise.

Thankfully, we found a mark behind in the area Paul had recommended around the Trevose headland. This gave us a chance to wet a line but even here there was some big seas hitting the shore. Here’s Nobby casting beyond the breakers before scarpering back up the beach to avoid a proper soaking…

IMG_0737

IMG_0736

It was hard going not only with the weather but also with the three resident seals which were happy to chase the lures in at times! Eventually though I managed a take from a small bass on an OSP Rudra plug which was our only success here…

IMG_0738

IMG_0739

And that was pretty much it for the fishing today and for the trip. The weather wasn’t really improving and it was near on impossible fishing the marks we wanted to with no let up in the conditions on the horizon. Reluctantly, we decided it was time to cut our losses and head home a day or so earlier than planned. We did stop off in St Merryn at the Art of Fishing shop run by Ben Field  to have a chat with him and salivate over the lures and kit he has in stock. If you’re down that way it’s worth popping in, Ben is a nice chap and in addition to being an experienced lure fisherman he clearly knows the area well… be warned though it may be advisable to leave debit and credit cards well out of reach if you’re inclined to go in the shop!

A quick mid afternoon pub lunch followed and then we were back in the, by now rancid smelling, car for the trip home arriving in Southampton around 7 o’clock in the evening.

So, that was it, trip over. The weather could haven been a lot, lot kinder to us and I’m sure we would have got a lot more fishing in with just slightly better conditions but that said it was a top, top few days with plenty of laughs to compliment the fishing and as always in excellent company. Cheers to Nobby for a cracking few days and thanks again to Paul and Carol for their hospitality when most needed. It’s certainly an area I want to fish again but, as I say, hopefully in better conditions!

Until next time…

Cornwall Trip – days 1 & 2…

IMG_0720

In the pipeline for a while had been a fishing trip down to Cornwall with my pal Nobby to explore some of the Cornish coast and hopefully bag a few Cornish bass and maybe pollack. We had contemplated taking the kayaks but the amount of kit required coupled with a less than favourable weather forecast told us it would probably be a wise decision to leave them at home… and so it proved as you’ll see further down in this article.

Here’s the day-by-day account of our expedition…

Day 1

We set off from Southampton around 11 a.m. on Friday with good weather but not so good traffic… took us nearly 2 hours just to get to Dorchester where we stopped off for a coffee and a quick chin wag with Richard Cake of Dorset Fishing Rods. Soon enough though we were on the road again and in fairness once we hit Exeter the trip down to Pendeen where we had decided to camp was pretty good. We had chosen our camping venue carefully and arrived at The North Inn in Pendeen by around 4 o’clock in the afternoon giving us plenty of time to pitch our tents and to head out and explore some of the local coast we had already earmarked as possible fishing locations.

IMG_0695

We took a look around the Cape Cornwall area and decided to wet a line for an hour as the sun went down near Porth Nanven. We bumped into a local who was rather glum on the state of the local fishing saying there were no bass around and hardly any mackerel which was a bit of a worry. We didn’t catch either but the sunset was pretty good…

IMG00367-20110902-1931

We were back at The North Inn camping ground by 8 o’clock and in the pub for our tea and a sampler of the local ales which were all rather pleasant I might add!

Day 2

We woke up Saturday morning to grey skies and a freshening westerly wind as the forecasters had predicted… whilst also realising the one or two samplers we had drunk the night before had done a ‘Proper Job’ on us! Nevertheless, we set off to recce the tip of Cornwall from Sennen Cove round to Lamorna where we eventually decided to stop off and try for a pollack in the deep water marks there using soft plastics. We fished here for a couple of hours but the weather was really deterioating now with heavy rain to join the ever freshening wind. We blanked again but here’s Nobby giving it a good go though…

IMG_0697

After the fruitless morning we headed back to the car, had a quick brew at the local cafe and not for the first time on the trip got the OS map out to try and find a place to fish which gave us a little bit of protection from the elements. We came to the conclusion that the best bet might be on the north of the tip of Cornwall and headed to the Zennor area where we found Gurnard Point. It’s a pretty spectacular bit of coast line here…

IMG_0702

IMG_0708

The rain had stopped, but the wind was still blowing hard and it was good to find some terrain tucked in behind the headland which looked promising so we headed down to it. We had company though as there were several seals there sheltering from the conditions as much as we were. Nevertheless, we found ourselves suitable marks and began fishing. I was still opting to fish soft plastics with a 5g Iwashi jig head attached to a white paddle tail and as luck would have it within a few minutes I had our first fish of the trip and a bass as well which was pleasing…

IMG_0704

IMG_0706

It was the only fish at this spot and as the tide started to turn we decided to move round the bay to a prominent rocky outcrop where it looked like we might be able to fish into some decent water. After a 15 minute stroll round to the mark we were pleased we had moved – the water looked very ‘bassy’ and as it was low water we were able to take advantage of some decent rocks to fish some of the gullies and as the tide turned so the bass turned up. I had just changed my lure to a Megabass Xlayer as well – this time on 7g Iwashi jig head and first cast … bang! Fish on!

IMG_0709

Next cast… bang! Fish On!

IMG_0710

… and to complete the hat-trick third cast with the Xlayer I was in again! Three casts, three fish! Soon enough Nobby was in as well using his Megabass Zonk plug…

IMG_0712

This was pretty much the pattern for the next 30 – 45 minutes with both of us nailing bass to 3lb – me on the Xlayer and Nobby on the Zonk plug. We even managed a double hook up…

IMG_0714

By the time we called it a day and walked back up the cliff in the now pelting rain we had bagged 17 bass in total between us plus Nobby took a solitary mackerel…

IMG_0716

So much for the local we’d spoke to the previous evening saying there weren’t any bass or mackerel around! We’d just had a great little session and although the bass were nothing spectacular they all put up good fights in a strong current.

We drove back to the North Inn in fading light and, with the heavy rain, in fading visibility just praying the tents hadn’t washed away! They hadn’t and thankfully despite the day’s deluge the camp was in a pretty good state. A quick clean up and we were nicely settled in the ‘Inn’ for supper and a couple of pints before heading back to the tents… finally it had stopped raining…

Days 3, 4 and 5 to follow…

Until next time…