sea fishing boat trips wales

Summer Boat Fishing Trips

Angling Journalist Dave Lewis reports on summer boat fishing trips in Wales, which offer great fun and good fishing, whether with friends, or the family.

For many families a boat trip is as much a part of a seaside holiday as an ice cream, or a visit to a seafront fish and chip shop. All sorts of charter boat trips can be booked from the various harbour towns and villages around the Welsh coastline, trips that typically focus upon general sightseeing or observing the amazing wildlife found off the coast.

Fishing trips are another hugely popular option. These can be booked as either a full 8 hour or longer offshore charter, or a much shorter duration trip consisting of just a couple of hours. Aside from serving as an ideal ‘taster session’ for non-anglers, especially children, these trips are also the perfect way to explore our beautiful coastline, while at the same time viewing the rich and varied fauna.

The sea off the coast of Wales offers some of the most productive angling you’ll find anywhere, which is why anglers from all over the UK and Europe spend so much time fishing here. In addition to the large numbers of fish that often can be caught, the variety of species available to catch in Wales is staggering.

Study a list of  saltwater species that can be caught around the British Isles and you’ll not find too many which cannot be caught off the Welsh coast. And best of all, unlike at so many other sea angling destinations, many, if not most, of the best fishing grounds are located within close proximity to land. Not only does this equate to minimal travel times from the harbour, but more often than not you will be fishing calm and settled water protected from any wind and swell, within the lee of the adjacent shoreline. This is a huge bonus whenever introducing anyone to boat angling!

Boat trips can be booked online in advance of your holiday, and if you want to confirm a specific day or two during your trip, this is the best option. A popular alternative available at many harbours are booking kiosks, from where trips can be booked at short notice, even including trips that same day. There are several advantages to this, not least of which is being able to ensure that the weather for your fishing trip is favourable.

These types of trips are often sold as ‘mackerel trips,’ but when fishing for mackerel a wide variety of other species can also be caught. These include gurnards, garfish, scad, pollack, coalfish and at some locations, even bass and cod.

Usually the mackerel fishing is done ‘on the drift.’ The skipper positions the boat to drift through or over the specific feature that has attracted or is holding the fish, which might be a tide rip passing a headland or island, or a reef, for example. Catching mackerel is tremendous fun, it’s a sure way of grabbing the attention and firing the enthusiasm of any newcomer! At times dozens of fish can be caught during even the shortest trips.

As an added bonus and provided that conditions are suitable, some skippers might even cook some of your catch for you. Either way you can be fairly certain of returning back to harbour with a few tasty, memorable additions for a family barbecue!

Fishing a few hours at anchor is another option. Fishing at anchor can be more comfortable and easier to get to grips with than fishing on the drift, for anyone on their first trip. In many places you can still catch mackerel along with the other species previously mentioned at anchor, but a bait fished hard on the bottom will hugely increase the variety of species you might catch. These include bream, tope, smoothounds, huss, various species of ray and flatfish, and many others.

At some harbours you can book trips of varying duration aboard very small boats. For example, for several years Jimmy Lemon has operated a small boat out of the idyllic hamlet of Dale, located near St Anne’s Head at the mouth of Milford Haven. Jimmy specialises in light tackle sport fishing using lures for bass, wrasse, pollack and cod, along with several other species.

Fishing within casting range of some of the most stunningly spectacular scenery in Europe, trips such as these are the perfect option for either an individual, or a pair of anglers looking to experience some of the very best light tackle fishing Wales has to offer. Once again these trips are available for just a few hours or a full day charter. To contact Jimmy at ‘Awesome Fishing Wales’ and book a trip aboard his new boat ‘Grey Ghost’. This section of the Fishing In Wales website also provides contacts for other guides, offering a similar experience.

Tackle is invariably provided for the types of trips I have discussed, along with any bait if required. Occasionally there might be an additional charge for bait, so always it is best to confirm exactly what you do or do not get included within the quoted charter fee. The size of boats varies but an as an average fishing boats will take up to a maximum of 12 anglers, less on the smaller boats.

As I have mentioned the Welsh coastline is rich in wildlife. The birdlife in particular is amazing and you can expect to see a wide variety off coastal birds including puffins, gannets, razorbills, shearwaters and many others, and even peregrine falcons hunting the cliffs.

It’s rare to spend a few hours offshore in these waters and not see a few seals, and even dolphin and porpoise are commonly sighted surprisingly close to shore. Often these can be observed all but alongside your boat, which will undoubtedly add another exciting and certainly memorable dimension to your day fishing.

You’ll find plenty of information on which trips are available at the various ports online. Often the harbour website will detail options for boating activities available locally, along with the necessary contacts. As always local fishing tackle shops are the best place to source reliable up to the minute information on what can be caught locally, and also pick up any last minute items of tackle and bait.

Words & Images: Dave Lewis

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