Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It is very windy today and is forecast to continue tonight, but tomorrow and Friday are supposed to be really nice days. The pier will probably be fairly crowded over the weekend with the weekend regulars (who have been catching pretty steadily) having to share the rails with the holiday campers. Casting snares from the beach may be a better way to catch your Dungeness crab. Also, keep an eye out for the California Gray Whale that has been feeding inside the bay for the last month or so. It passed by the pier around noon yesterday and can be spotted from the beach about every other day. By boat you are sure to see it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Dungeness crabbing from the pier is still pretty good for those in the know. A few of those "knowers" caught limits last week. For the rest of us it is spotty. The bay slowed down with a lot more red crab showing up where there were only Dungeness a few weeks before. The outer bay is still producing crabs but the quality and numbers have dropped off. If your expectations aren't too high you should leave satisfied.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cormorants And Sawbills - A Serious Threat To Salmonids

I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling a sense of utter despair when I arrive at a favoured fishing spot only to be met by a flock of Cormorants or Goosanders flapping across the top of the water trying to take off with their fish filled stomachs.

Not so long ago this was a scene that you would never have dreamt could happen on a tree lined small tributary but nevertheless it has now become quite a common sight on some of the waters I fish in the Welsh Marches.

I'm aware that these birds have been feeding on our inland waters for many many years, but the concern is that numbers have increased dramatically in the last couple decades to what is now an over-wintering population in the region of 25,000 birds in the UK

An all too familar sight above the rivers of the Welsh marches

The fact that these birds are now feeding in quite substantial numbers on our smaller tributaries will undoubtedly have a severe effect on the future wild fish stocks, these rivers & streams are the spawning grounds for Salmonids and the sanctuary and protection that these streams once offered has now diminished.

A survey by Swansea University found that most fisheries have a problem with Cormorants. Dr Dan Forman, who led the study, said that just eight birds could kill 100 fish in a single session. The birds will return to sites three or four times a day, until stocks are exhausted.

When you consider these facts then you begin to realise how the finely balanced eco-system of these rivers could well be on a road to ruin if left unchecked.

The remains in the stomach of a culled Cormorant

The purpose of this blog entry is to further highlight the problem...I don't confess to having any surefire solutions but I feel that this is potentially a far bigger problem than the likes of DEFRA, Natural England, RSPB and some of the other decision makers even realise.

The non lethal deterrents suggested to help fisheries protect their fish such as underwater refuges, noise generating scarers and automatic scarecrows are extremely difficult to implement on rivers and the existing limits that are licenced to be killed seem to make very little difference.

An amazing sequence of photos captured by amateur photographer Stewart Canham

 I would suggest that a big step forward might be for these organisations to consult more closely with angling clubs whose members are encountering first hand the numbers of birds on these rivers and the effect they are having.

 Very informative reading on the subject here

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

River Arrow - Herefordshire

Managed to fit in a mid-week excursion to the delightful River Arrow near to Leominster thanks to an invite from fellow blogger Peter Anderson.

The river here meanders through the Herefordshire countryside creating some very interesting water with many riffles and deep pools to search out.

Things started very slow for both of us but as so often happens when Grayling fishing at this time of year you find a pool with some feeding fish in and can take quite a few fish in no time at all.

We ended the day with some very nice Grayling between us and Peter managing to net a real beauty which we estimated at around the 2 1/2lb mark.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Not too much different to report. The Dungeness catch numbers have dipped a bit more but are still better than average. The outer bay has slowed down quite a bit and some of the guys are talking about heading back down to Ten Mile. The pier is pretty consistent, slow and relatively steady. The size of the crabs is a bit smaller than earlier in the season. For next year, there will be changes to the regulations regarding groundfish (rockfish and lingcod) but the new rules won't go into effect on January 1st. Fish and Game will let us know when they will apply. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Not too much to report except that yesterday a couple braved the rain to catch 16 Dungeness off the pier in a few hours time. Not too much competition on the pier now. Still lots of crab in the outer bay.

Friday, December 3, 2010

You would think that the bay would be out of Dungeness crabs by now. The crabbing is definitely slower but the Dungeness are still there, despite the hundreds of traps and nets that have been dropped on them in the last month. The crab that are left are a bit finicky. Fresh bait is important. The bait shop here will be open on the weekends in December and January from 8AM to 4PM for bait, tackle, snacks and boat launching. If the ocean lays down (tomorrow looks good) the outer bay still has a lot of crab, especially in 60 to 70 feet of water.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Inspired Project

I've been tying flies for almost 2 years now and have been using a rotary style vice bought off eBay for about £15. To be honest it has served me well and has helped produce many flies in that time, but there are one or two things that annoyed me with the design and the ergonomics of it.

Fly tying is a hobby that is destined to be a part of my life for the foreseeable future so I'd planned to use my visit to this years BFFI to have a close look at a couple of the vices I'd chosen to be potential candidates for replacing the old model.

To be honest I was impressed with what I saw and found it hard to walk away without a purchase but I think that looking at the vices gave me the realisation that for someone that has spent his whole working life involved in engineering then I should really try and come up with my own creation.

Its a thought I had considered before but the awareness of the amount of time that such a project would take had led me to the route of considering a purchase rather than making my own.

Anyway...after plenty of thought and scribbled sketches and a few weeks of working 'after hours' on the vice I came up with a prototype which was later tweaked to produce the finished product. I have given it some quite extensive testing over the last week and I am finding it a joy to use.

Regardless of how happy I am with the vice I have to report that the quality of my flies has unfortunately remained at the same standard, but I'm sure to enjoy the practising that little bit more.

                 A few of the recent flies tied on the new vice

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Dungeness crabbing slowed a little more but there were still quite a few caught, mostly by boaters. The pier is still kicking out about a limit of Dungeness a day, but most of the catching is done by a select few. The outer bay and Ten Mile are still the most consistent producers when the weather is good enough.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Even after all the effort of the last 12 days there are still a bunch of nice Dungeness crab in the bay. You've got to hit the right spot to get them, and there are a lot more wrong spots than there were, but you'll know the right spot when you check your gear. Two people in a boat this morning caught two limits of jumbos and threw back almost another two limits using four traps in about two hours. There are still some nice Dungeness coming from the pier as well.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

There was a lot of effort for Dungeness this weekend. Some places on the bay had more crab pots than water. You could almost walk on the buoys near channel marker 5. Not everyone caught, but quite a few did, mostly by marker 5 and in the channels around Hog Island. Only a few boats were able to sneak across the bar but they were rewarded with limits of crab. The pier was full, with easily over a hundred nets and pots tied to it, and still a few experienced crabbers were able to catch limits. Most of the rest just watched it happen. With luck and some good weather, more Dungeness will come in the bay this week.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The crab numbers have dropped a bit but are still pretty good. The pier has been crowded but the guys that know how to work it are still doing well. For the rest it can be difficult. In the bay there are a few hot spots; you can find them by looking for all the crab pot floats. There are quite a few Dungeness around Hog Island in particular. In the ocean, the outer bay is still really good and Ten Mile has been excellent but, so far, kind of unnecessary to run so far. Commercial season starts on Monday so the numbers of jumbo crabs will likely start to drop. Too bad, since the average size this year has been pretty big. At least with the commercial season open, if you don't catch, there's always the market.

Monday, November 8, 2010

It was a bit wet yesterday but there were still quite a few crabbers. It was tough on the pier but one family still ended up with 14 Dungeness. The outer bay and Ten Mile kicked out limits for most of the boats that tried outside. For the guys who didn't catch good numbers of crab: check your gear more often and don't be afraid to move if you aren't catching. You can't catch what isn't there.
There was a halibut caught in the bay on Saturday, so it's no too late. So far today on the pier one group has caught 12 Dungeness and Kerry in the store has caught 4 in one pot after a one hour soak.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

There were a few folks who did well on the pier and a lot more that didn't. Unfortunately, you're not just trying to attract a few crabs, you're also competing with everyone else's bait. One fisherman toward the end of the pier had 8 Dungeness that nearly filled his 5-gallon bucket by noon, but the people next to him had nothing. The folks with boats did much better with quite a few reporting limits, even in the bay. The trick to the bay is to tend your gear, try different spots until you find the crab, and watch that the current doesn't drag your gear away. The outer bay was better and Ten Mile had lots of crab, mostly shallow in 40 to 60 feet.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tomorrow's the day for dungeness. Yesterday a crabber on the pier caught 8 red crabs and a legal-sized dungeness after a 25 minute soak during slack tide. 45 minutes later, after the tide was running a bit faster, a second pull of the pot had 11 legal-sized dungeness crabs and no reds. Two of the dungeness were 7.5" wide. The first pull tomorrow should be good. After that...? Word is that there's a lot of crab in the outer bay as well. The forecast still calls for some swell tomorrow but it should still be passable over the bar. No guarantees, though. If you are planning on heading out to sea tomorrow please use caution.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The forecast looks pretty good for the dungeness opener. Northwest wind 5 to 15 knots and 6 to 8 foot swell. The bay should be fine and the bar probably passable with caution. Outside, the crabs may be in deeper water than usual due to today's 16'+ swell. The water is warm enough for halibut to be a possible option while you are waiting for the crabs to fill your pots.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The BFFI & Autumn On The Clun


The annual British Fly Fair International 2010 was again held at Trentham Gardens in Stoke over the weekend and put on a fine display of all things fly-tying.

This is a great event for catching up on what new materials are available and stocking up on a few supplies...I normally end up leaving with far more than I planned! I managed to resist the temptation of walking away with a new vice but I'm sure its only a matter of time.

This event also gives you the opportunity to watch some of the elite fly-tyers and quiz them on some of their techniques. For me 'tyers row' is what makes the show special with Dave Wiltshire & Andy Baird demonstrating some extremely eye-catching flies, its was also nice to put a face to a few people I met from the Flyforums.

Andy Baird - Master at the art of micro flies.

Seasoned favourite at the show - Oliver Edwards

Next year's event sees a change of venue to the County Showground Stafford and will now be earlier in the year in June.


I couldn't resist rounding the weekend off with a little Grayling fishing on the superb River Clun. Warm temperatures, little wind and the most stunning Autumn colours paved the way to a very productive few hours.

The warmer temperatures had spurred on some flies to hatch which led to a few fish coming to the surface, although a change to dry fly with a small nymph below proved that the majority of these fish were out of season trout so it was back on with the tungsten bugs to get down to where the Grayling were feeding.

Out of season but fighting fit and in beautiful condition

With the clocks going back one hour it all seemed to end too early but the drive back home gave me time to try and think of a possible new Grayling fly to tie up using my new stock of materials!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The ocean laid down yesterday long enough to run out and get a couple limits of rockfish. Steve Towne of Dillon Beach caught these three Tiger Rockfish in 160' of water off of Tomales Point. I've only ever seen 6 of these fish before, so three on one drift was pretty surprising. Last chance for rockfish this weekend. For those of you thinking about trying for some dungeness, this is your last chance to get some hanging bait. The weather looks fishable with a raincoat.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our friend, Larry Stevens, passed on last week. Here's a picture of Larry with his 301# yellowfin tuna, the biggest fish on a boat full of big fish. He will be missed.
On the home front the rockfish are biting. I took three 8-to-11 year-old boys out fishing for three hours yesterday and they caught their limits. Nathan Porter did better than that with his trip down to Ten Mile Beach. He caught his three halibut and returned four others in about three hours of trolling between Abbott's Lagoon and the north parking lot in 40'of water. The halibut were full of pinhead anchovies. Perhaps there will be something to fish for during the crab opener after all. This weekend the forecast calls for rain and big swell.

Monday, October 18, 2010

No fish to report this past weekend, at least no fish that I heard about. Three weeks to the dungeness opener and things are looking pretty good for this season. Fishermen and divers on the bar are reporting lots of big crabs there which should translate into good numbers in and out of the bay. Two weeks left for rockfish season.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Three boats fished the bar yesterday for a halibut each, one on a jig, two on live bait. One halibut speared there as well. A few rockfish from outside but a slow bite. There is still a pretty large swell so be careful on the bar or fishing shallow outside.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rough today, but the one boat that went out caught two halibut just inside the bar, where it was safe. Going outside the bay was not doable today.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Two halibut speared on the bar, two halibut caught on the bar, and one taken near Hog Island. Possibly two halibut from off of Dillon Beach. Rockfishing was slow.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Today's totals: Two halibut from McLure's, two halibut from Ten Mile, and halibut bites but none hooked on the bar. No rockfishermen today.
Rockfishing was a bit slow yesterday, especially in the shallower water, but at least one boat limited out. Two halibut were caught, one on live bait off of Dillon Beach and one on a dead herring on the bar.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The rockfish are biting again, and good thing because the season closes after Halloween. I caught these 7-pound vermillion on a 7" glow-in-the-dark rubber shad in 150 feet of water off the towers. The ocean was beautiful yesterday and is supposed to stay that way through Saturday.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The big swell stirred up the water and cut the visibility to 2-3 feet but Steve Werlin was able to spear this 32# halibut as it swam by. He didn't see any others, but then again, he hardly needed to. The bite slowed yesterday with more boats catching less fish. Numbers ran about 0-4 fish. Jigging has been pretty effective, accounting for at least 9 halibut in the last two days.

Friday, October 1, 2010

First off, the bar is breaking and potentially fatal to anyone trying to cross it. The forecast is for a smaller swell tomorrow, so perhaps less break. That said, the halibut were on the bite today just inside the deadly part of the bar. Only a few boats fished it but numbers ran from 4 to 7 fish. They were biting dead bait as well as live. Anyone thinking of trying it tomorrow should plan it around the incoming tide when the current will move you away from the breakers.

Monday, September 27, 2010

There were a couple of halibut and some rockfish landed this past weekend but for the most part the big ocean swells kept the best fishing holes safe from fishermen. More big swells forecast through at least Wednesday.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grayling On The Rise

After some recent heavy rain it was going to be a close call as to whether the planned fishing on the River Wye & River Irfon was going to be a bit of a struggle. Myself and fellow club member Nick had arranged to visit both these rivers on Saturday and after walking along both rivers on Friday evening I was hoping that some of the colour would drop out overnight.

When we met in the morning the Irfon was looking almost perfect but the Wye was still carrying quite a bit of colour but the level was was OK to enable some relatively safe wading on the gravel areas.

The plan was to fish the Irfon first then head to the Wye in the afternoon giving it a chance to improve a little...those plans went out the window when we spotted rising fish in one of the pools we were observing on the Wye, too much temptation to resist so we carefully waded in and began to pick off the rising fish one by one. It turned out to be quite a large pod of Grayling and on a big river like the Wye this could be in excess of a couple of hundred fish.

We later headed on to the River Irfon where the Grayling were also eager to feed of the surface and dry fly tactics were again taking many of the Grayling...Grffiths Gnat & Caddis patterns doing most of the damage.

Sunday afternoon I returned to the River Irfon but this time a fair bit further upstream and found the river in perfect autumn condition after a heavy frost overnight, Grayling were again willing to take flies off the top so I started with a size #18 Griffiths Gnat which had been very successful the day before but the Grayling were reluctant to take it so I switched to a caddis pattern tied by Nick and given to me the day before.

It seemed to make the difference with many decent sized Grayling finding it irresistible. It floated extremely well in the faster turbulent water and Grayling were taking it with some aggression.

A very successful weekend on rivers that a day before would have been almost impossible to fish.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Some nice halibut off of Dillon Beach yesterday, and a few others from McLure's Beach. Some good fishermen got shut out on Ten Mile. The rockfish were demonstrating the effects of the full moon by not biting well at all. One boat had three; another had 15 fish for two fishermen for five hours of fishing. A great white shark was spotted by a few of the fishermen off of Dillon Beach. It was cruising around with its dorsal fin out for an hour or so. Maybe it isn't the best weekend for spearfishing the bar.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

There was a good bite on the bar until the wind dropped the water temp from 60 to 53 degrees. Fish up to 34 pounds were caught on Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday the wind worked its magic. The forecast calls for warm weather so they could be biting again by this weekend. Another seabass hooked and lost off of Ten Mile beach on Monday.

Monday, September 20, 2010

One of the better halibut bites of this year on the bar right now. I hope it lasts past this bit of wind they have predicted for the next couple of days. The divers and the fishermen with live smelt are doing as well as you legally can. Sardines on Ten Mile beach as well.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Memorable End To The Season

I was itching to get back to some small stream fishing after a few weeks of flooded rivers and other commitments that keep me otherwise occupied. I had to visit Fishtec in Brecon early on Saturday morning and decided to fill the rest of the day indulging in my favourite passion.

I choose to target a small Usk tributary that I'd never fished before although I had previously walked along parts of it and spotted fish rising fish so anticipation was high. Conditions were absolutely perfect with plenty of water still in the river after the recent floods.

This river had everything I liked in small stream riffles, deep pools, plenty of cover and as I soon found out a good concentration of wild brown trout.

Nearly all of the likely looking places yielded some pristine wild brownies with some fish measuring up to 15". Moving up stream was slow due to the sheer amount of 'fishable' water and the willingness of the trout to take what I offered.

The trout were some of the prettiest I've had the pleasure to catch with many red spots and also bright red markings on the tip of the Adipose fin and the lower side of the Caudal fin.

After working my way through a few different fly combinations I settled on a duo method comprising of a #18 klinkhamer with a #16 tungsten bead head pheasant tail nymph below fished at depths between 12"-36" depending on the depth of water.

All this as well as a spot of Grayling fishing on the River Irfon and a short spell Salmon fishing on the River Wye (no hook ups unfortunately) made for a very memorable weekend.