Cast into Spring! By Will Millard

With the winter rain finally set to leave Wales, now is the time to break the rods out and get on it!

Despite it being early May, I honestly couldn’t believe the forecast. There it was though, bang in the middle of my phone’s weather app, this mysterious bright yellow orb. I don’t feel like I’ve seen such a consistent period of sunshine in Wales since last Autumn, but then the weekend arrived and there it really was in glorious technicolour: The Sun! Searing its magnificent heat right across a bright blue sky and burning the damp out of the Welsh soil. Hallelujah! Rejoice! Spring is finally here!

Okay, maybe I’m going a little bit over the top, but not by much, right? It has been an interminably long winter for us all, hasn’t it? I’ve actually never known so much rain in all my time living in Wales, and it has been an exceptionally cold start to spring too – the occasional sunny spring-ish day and then right back to type: grey patchy rain, giving way to heavy rain, cold, and even more rain.  

But, my friends, I’m going to say it: spring really is here now. May has arrived, the sun has finally cut through all the gloom, we are getting much longer days, and I have even received my first proper fishing sunburn! Let’s make up for all that lost time then, and have a proper look at what’s swimming around in a springtime Wales.

In terms of coarse fishing, with the rivers closed to coarse anglers till June 16th, and the pike busy spawning, this is the time to look towards our lakes and canals for some different species. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve found the silverfish angling prolific. I joined Glamorgan Anglers Club for a brilliant ‘juniors’ day and our young anglers simply could not stop catching.

With simple whip and maggot tactics over a bed of groundbait, we bagged up on roach, hybrids, bream, and we almost snared a belting 3lb perch, which just slipped the hook at the net!

My kids and I had a great day on the silvers yesterday at Dyffryn Springs too, and the sun brought the carp up to the surface for Dad to land a few lumps on bread. Happy Days!

If you are bringing a youngster into our brilliant sport, then I’ve got a new book out My First Day Fishing – with a fully illustrated guide to simple fishing tactics, watercraft, and the fish species you can target with your family this year – but there’s loads of tips on the ‘Fishing in Wales’ website too, including this blog I wrote specifically about taking kids fishing. Just make sure you are across all the rod license rules* stay safe, and enjoy yourselves!

For so many of us, spring means targeting the nation’s favourite fish, tinca tinca, the tench. That early spring cold has kept them a little shy so far, but with the weather on the firm uptick, now’s a great time to target tench. Hybrid feeder tactics will guarantee a few more tench on the bank, but there are few more joyful ways to fish in spring, than watching a stream of bubbles erupt around a gently bobbing float with natural baits like maggots, worms, or casters, on the hook.

Perch are another great spring species too. Pick one of the three L’s (lures, livebaits (if allowed), or lobworms) and get amongst the stripers on our canals and commercials. The reports of Welsh specimens seem to grow season-on-season. It wasn’t that long ago when a 2lb perch was a real fish of the season, but, with so many perch growing on in commercial ponds, where they are often the soul fish-eating predator, 3lbers are becoming much more commonplace – a fella I was fishing near yesterday even landed a 4lbr on sweetcorn!

Out to sea, we are seeing a passing of the baton from the winter to the spring and early summer species. I caught my first, and likely last, codling of the year off my local Sully bay mark a few weeks ago – but the rays are really showing in numbers now and everyone is thinking about smooth hounds, with many local tackle shops offering some brilliant competitions throughout the spring and summer. Welsh lure anglers are also starting to target bass, wrasse, and pollock around West Wales and Gower, with some enormous fish already banked.

The trout fishing season is well underway – but with the more stable weather conditions coming, as well as all that extra warmth, May is one of the most exciting months to have a go on the fly. This is when you’ll see wild fly and invertebrate hatches in their millions, and a time when trout will gorge themselves senseless on the crunchy insect banquets on offer.

Excitingly, I was lucky enough to attend the launch of ‘Natur Am Byth’ this year, Wales’ flagship species recovery project, where I heard about Wales’ own critically endangered stone fly species, the Scarce Yellow Sally. So far, this unique endangered species has only ever been found in the River Dee catchment, but the scientists working up north would love all river anglers to familiarise themselves with this very special insect, just to see if it can be found elsewhere in our nation. Truly, an uplifting story, at what often feels like quite a bleak time for so many of our rivers.

Scarce Yellow Sally aside, one of the greatest things about spring-time fishing, is seeing all our animal and plantlife come roaring back to an active life too. It is definitely one of my favourite times of year for bankside wildlife watching: shoreline rockpools bursting with critters, dragonflies emerging from our ponds, birds of prey above the trees and fields, amphibians, slow worms, and even grass snakes – so much of what brings us out to fish is everything else we see around our angling.

The one big plus, that I can already feel after such a long and wet winter, is that everything just feels extra special this spring. The colours in the flowers, the life under logs and in the skies, but you’re not going to see any of it sat indoors waiting for summer – right now is the time to get your rods out of the shed and make a proper start to your fishing season!


* If the child in your care is under 13 you do not need one, but, if they are aged between 13 and 16, you will receive one for free on application. For anyone over 16, there is a charge to pay – head to the official NRW website for all the details.

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