Here’s a little taster of a recent session and some of the problems associated with fishing deep-water marks that get festooned in snags due to angling pressure
It had taken what seems like ages for the four us to plan a trip, as the Asprou lads are always busy either crafting wood or giving Barry’s finest curly perms and basin hair cuts! Seriously, though, Harry is a fine men’s barber who runs the family business on Holton Road, and Mario is an apprentice carpenter, who, incidentally, makes some seriously great rod carriers, both wall-mounted and free-standing.
Mike Groves joined us as he seldom gets to fish nowadays, although today he was on fine form, finding every available snag yet smiling the whole while. Fishing this venue, which screams big fish, can be frustrating at times because with so much fishing pressure it has created a serious amount of line snags. On a flooding tide these, as you can appreciate, really test all levels of angling skill.
High tide was scheduled for 1pm, mid-range on the scale with a freshening south to southwesterly with scattered showers also trying to dampen our enthusiasm. But not to be put off we arranged for an 8am start to fish four hours of the flood and a couple back, giving us half a chance with the line snags. These can get really nasty the more the tide increases, as we found again today.
Generally a good storm and big tides can break them up, but lately they seem to run the last 50 metres of this structure from 50 to 100 yards or so out; incredibly frustrating, but that’s the price you have to pay on occasions to land something special.
Fishing Green Light is a two-man job minimum – it’s difficult to scramble down and land fish on your own. Here Mario lands Harry’s ray.
We had the place to ourselves so I opted for the very end, which has a large set of tall steel railings obviously acting as crime deterrents and today gave me some shelter from the breeze and threatening showers. This is a bonus, and although the area out front can be horrendous for snags, the big blondes and other species it can offer far outweigh the negatives. Over the past decade I have witnessed fish over 20lb and have had congers nudging 20lb and cod in mid-teens off here, which does make the venue somewhat special.
I opted for a pair of Prima full tournaments coupled to a pair of salt-encrusted SL20s on Rovex 24lb main line and minimum 90lb shockleader with pulley rigs. Both the rig body and snood are in the region of 90lb, and I must admit I am a big fan of the Owashima lines, which are quite abrasion resistant and supple, with a pair of 5/0 Pennel rigged Mako Big Dog hooks, which are super strong and sharp!
Bait choice has to be suited to your target species; today these would be squid, sandeel, mackerel and crab, which means rays, conger and smooth hound are the quarry.
In all fairness my money is always on Mario and Harry when it comes to snaring something big and slippery. Today the thornbacks would be our preferred choice of species, and as usual the lads pulled out a nice brace of both male and female fish and a good smattering of dogfish, which none of us could avoid. Luckily their numbers have thinned out, as they were in plague proportions not so long back, smashing every conceivable bait imaginable.
Mario Asprou tempted this Green Light ray with extreme long-range tactics.
The first hour we decided to vary the baits in both distance and hook mounting methods. Harry had been out a week previous collecting some serious crab, consisting of the common shore and the aggressive velvet swimmer, which today seemed to be accounting for most of the fish to both Harry and Mario’s rods.
Soft-shelled velvet swimming crabs are a really top bait.
Harry has a unique method of presenting crab, wrapping thin supple wire to his hook (2/0 to 3/0, which he uses singularly). The crab flesh is pushed on to the two barbs created by the twist of wire running the hook shank, which in turn stops the bait riding up the snood. It is an effective method that Harry has used for years.
The local yacht club is generally busy on a Sunday morning with the sailors doing countless circles in the bay, and occasionally if the swell will allow making a quick sprint out of the mouth of the harbour into Jackson’s Bay. This is a shallow bowl of mud that is home to a great many species of fish, and which can be fished from the coastal path or breakwater that protects the harbour.
The annual Red Arrows flyby was scheduled for today, but with low cloud and not very pleasant blustery winds they decided to cancel. This was a shame as several of the local charter and pleasure boats decided to head around the point to sit in the bay ready for the action, which sadly didn’t happen, although the guys on Unity certainly seemed happy regardless, as Peter and his family (all fishing folk) raised a smile and a wave as they cruised into the berth.
Watching the Asprous fishing is quite an honour as they are both talented and constantly adapting to the environment, working off one another. Mario continually tweaks rigs to aid presentation while monitoring the rod tips to ensure bites don’t get missed. Always an opportunist he will swap tactics, going super-light to ensure he never blanks and then utilising the smaller, fresh hooked fish such as rockling, whiting, pout and suchlike as tasty morsels for the bigger predators, such as the congers close in or the humble thornbacks that live just off the rock base and are always ready to pounce on fresh fish offerings. In fact, the majority of Mario’s eels fall to this method.
Mike Groves falls foul of one of the many snags at this notorious but productive mark.
By the end of the day both Mike and I had managed a dozen or so dogfish. I was bitten off and lost three rigs one after the other as the tide started to ebb, and that’s generally the signal to head home for a brew!
The Asprous in typical fashion wiped the floor with us, taking a couple of thornies apiece as well as numerous dogs.
Harry has run the family barber shop since his dad retired several years ago – the shop’s origins go back to 1964! This means Harry has trod the boards for more than 30 years. Fishermen call to the shop daily to find out what has been caught locally and sample one of his coffees and a fab hair cut.
Harry has fished since the age of 12, having been lucky enough to visit some awe-inspiring countries such as Iceland, Norway, Sierra Leone, Cyprus and many more. He says: “I have tried most styles of angling, with salmon on the river range in Iceland and barbel in the Severn as some of my favourites, although hand on heart my true passion has to be the sea. We live within touching distance and with my youngest son Mario being totally addicted it’s hard to say no.
“My childhood hero has to be Ray Christopherato, who now runs the Holton Road fishing tackle shop, less than 50 metres away from my shop. (This has its uses, as you can appreciate, if I run short on sugar, which is a daily occurrence…) He taught me sea angling knowledge such as how to tie rigs, tackle choice and so on, and without him I wouldn’t be half the angler I am today.”
Harry’s Top Tips
Pulley rigs have to be the most versatile choice from South Wales; I prefer a short fixed rig when tackling hounds off the rough as it enables the fish to hook itself nine times out of 10.
Always use a rotten bottom over the rough as you cannot risk tethering fish to the sea bed; what a horrible way to go.
Local tackle shops
Holton Road Angling
242 Holton Road, Barry CF63 4HS
172 Penarth Road, Cardiff CF11 6NL
029 2022 0723
105-109 Whitchurch Road, Cardiff CF14 3JQ
029 2061 9828
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