Sea Fishing in Wales – 12 Months at Sea
Regardless of whether you choose to fish from the shore or afloat, truly Wales is a country that offers outstanding opportunities for the visiting sea angler 12 months of the year. Dave Lewis reports.
Despite its relatively short coastline our rich diversity of marine habitats ensures a wide variety of different species can be caught off the Welsh coastline. Wales has something to offer sea anglers each and every month of the year. Here I am going to give a brief month by month overview of what visiting anglers can expect to catch and where.
January; Traditionally a prime month for catching big cod throughout South Wales. Increasingly, however, anglers are keen to target other species, especially spurdogs, which can be caught in huge numbers fishing the deeper marks off the Glamorgan and Gower coastline. Further west rock anglers target double figure bullhuss, whiting, conger and even, if the weather remains mild, an occasional bass from the surf. The tip of the Lleyn Peninsula is another noted bullhuss mark, while the Menai Straights offers sheltered fishing for whiting and codling.
February; Arguably the toughest month for sea anglers. Spurdogs remain in abundance, and it is worth remembering that many of the very biggest cod caught off the Welsh coastline have been taken this month. Large numbers of flounder start to arrive on our surf beaches, while targeting more broken ground offers the chance of an early ray plus the inevitable dogfish.
March; Things start to happen in March! Rays form the focus of many anglers attention, both afloat and from the shore. Few anglers fish our surf beaches in March, which is a shame, as this is the month when some of the biggest surf caught specimens are taken; sandeel is a top bait. Offshore; rays, dogfish, huss, conger, dabs, whiting, cod and more can be caught at a wide range of venues. In recent years March has yielded some of the biggest smoothounds of the year, including specimens of over 20 lbs. However, these are heavily pregnant females so please treat them with care, and release as quickly as possible.
April; All around the Welsh coastline anglers will be catching rays, flounder, dogfish, conger, huss and increasing numbers of bass. The latter can be caught from both our many classic surf beaches and rock marks, especially at the latter when the crabs begin their spring moult. Cardigan Bay sees the first run of tope, again big females heavily in pup. Black bream will start to arrive by the end of the month. North Wales will be expecting the first tope, along with smoothounds, spurdogs and plaice.
May; A prime month for the bass angler. The classic time of year to ledger a juicy lump of peeler crab in a kelp filled gully. Rock fishing all around the principality steps up a gear with pollack, wrasse, coalfish and many bottom feeding species available. Smoothounds arrive; try between St David’s Head and Barry, and Anglesey. An excellent month for the boat angler targeting tope.
June; Bait fishing from rocks or surf will produce fish, and as the water starts to clear, so will lure fishing. For the very best fishing you should look to target fish at dawn and dusk, or better still fish at night. Offshore; June is a magical month. Fresh mackerel for bait will be widely available and with fresh bait catch rates will soar for Tope, bream, bass, rays, smoothounds. Offshore wrecks will be at their peak.
July; Wales has become ‘the place to target sharks with July marking the beginning of our shark season. Blue sharks move inshore averaging 70-100lb, though much bigger fish are commonly taken. Last year one boat fishing out from Milford Haven released 57 blue shark in one day! Golden grey mullet will be found in large numbers at many southern and western surf beaches.
August; Name your species! Monthly highlights include exceptional shark fishing, outstanding rock fishing, and a prime month for the lure enthusiast. This month also offers the possibility to catch some of our more unusual species such as triggerfish, John Dory, wreckfish, red mullet, stingray or gilthead bream.
September; The most productive month of the year. September is the month bass anglers’ dream of. The shark fishing will be at its absolute peak, the mullet fishing will be excellent, and general fishing from rock, beach and offshore the length and breadth of the country will deliver tremendous sport.
October; A transitional month that sees the summer species go on a final feeding binge before moving offshore, along with the welcome arrival of the winter species. My favourite month for bass, especially if we experience an Indian Summer when the fishing can be outstanding. If the weather remains settled this is the month many of the largest sharks are caught offshore, too. Estuary fishing for flounder gets underway. The first codling and whiting move inshore. Absolute peak time for catching the various species of ray, notably the increasing number of blonde ray off the Glamorgan coast.
November; Many anglers will be focussed on cod and whiting, though plenty of bass remain in the surf along with a large variety of other species at rock marks. Offshore many anglers fish almost exclusively for cod, but can expect rays, huss, conger and others. Provided not too much fresh water is running, this is prime time for estuary flounder.
December; Peak of the codling run. Spurdogs appear in deeper water. Winter dabs are an abundant and popular species with many anglers, while fishing high tide at night from the rocks or at a steep shingle beach for whiting is often a productive way to end the sea angling year in Wales.
Words & Images: Dave Lewis
Looking for places to go sea fishing in Wales?
Visit our find sea fishing page where you will find an interactive map with hundreds of Welsh sea fishing marks described in detail. Or if you are looking for a charter boat skipper visit our Charter boat page here.
This feature was originally published in the ‘Wild Fishing Wales E-Zine’. Reproduced with permission of NRW.