Summer time fishing and marine wildlife spotting on Anglesey by boat is a must. It puts a whole new perspective on the Island. I’ve always said that you haven’t seen Anglesey until you have seen it by boat. You always see so much more wildlife and catch way more fish and get access to little coves you simply can’t get to by foot, whilst out on the water with a boat. Our mini adventure this time around was out in the bay of Rhosneigr and Rhoscolyn, off the west coast of Anglesey. A shallow tidal bay that’s a well known venue for nature spotting and fishing when the season is right. Our days mission was to set lobster pots, spot some seals and wildlife and catch some dinner. Oh and have a chilled beer and catch up with mates.. what else are summers for on the island?
Every now and again the water gets flat calm in Rhosneigr and the conditions are perfect. I usually get a call from my good friend Ben Todd to head out int the bay, drop his lobster pots out and have a fish on the coast around bay. I used to get out on the water a lot more, but working off shore less these days and not owning a working boat right now, I rely on others kindness and generosity to take me out as and when they go.
The fishing call came last Friday morning and was timed beautifully with a period of settled weather and neap tides on the island of Anglesey. Ben’s boat is based in Rhosneigr and luckily he has access to the foreshore to launch with his 4×4 at the beach and can drop it off on most states of the tide. Ben Todd is no stranger to the watery world, a bit of a local guru in the water sports department, Ben cut his teeth in windsurfing and sailing before making it into kite surfing arena. A seriously good sailor in the Dingy class laser sailing, winning two golds at the island games. He is tip top when it comes to the oceanic life style and we always a great chat on all things marine. Cracking guy all round and shop runner at Funsport in Rhosneigr, pop by and see him of your around.
We grabbed a couple of coffee’S and met up at Ben’s place with one of our mutual friends John Paul. We hadn’t seen JP in a while as he had been in hospital for quite some time after a make or break pedestrian knock down in Austria – which left him almost dead on the road side. Im not one for dark news but this guy took a big hit (Broken neck, Tibia, Fibia, Femur, Pelvis, Two ribs, punctured lungs and kidneys) You get the idea. We where so pleased to see him up on his feet- and more than that, he was so positive, mobile and healed I couldn’t quite fathom what he had gone through and how strong his body must have been to cope. Scars on him where epic. Screwed back together again.
Anyhow JP and Ben go way back in the board sports scene, JP builds snow ramps and is well known for it, Ben hosts Parkjam a kitesurfing event on the world tour based out of Rhosneigr and is well known for that. They are quite a pair. No board sports today though just a spot of wild life spotting and a bit of fishing and lobster potting. JP is also and epic photographer video grapher and his website is here – the shapers blog
We headed out in Ben’s Aluminium 16ft thingy we headed out for jolly into Rhosneigr bay towards Starvation Island (a now RSPB ) reserve. We had JP perched on double cushions to soften the rocking of the boat on this broken pelvis!
First stop over to the far side of starvation island to drop some lobster pots, You are allowed 5 pots per person and are allowed to keep 2 lobster per day per person in Welsh waters (you still need a permit though). Fresh bait on the menu today was salted pollack apparently a firm favourite among the local anglesey lobster fraternity.
Starvation island was an old wrecking spot where smugglers used to lure vessels onto the outcropped peninsular with beacons only to steal their cargo. Its a prominent reef that just outs separating Rhosneigr bay from the Cymuran bay to its west. It stretches out a good 500-1000m and can be quite a navigational hazard. at High water a small boat like Ben’s can bisect the island through its centre (if you have a shallow draft 1< m)
Lobster pots baited up and dropped in one by one, we moved to out past starvation island out over to Rhoscolyn point. Heading a mile out from the landward peninsular of Rhoscolyn is the Rhoscolyn beacon which is a large light house structure to warn off oncoming vessels of the dangers of this large rock reef. In winters, low lying mists and fogs cloud this part of the bay and can make navigation very tricky. Tides move incredibly fast here and pushed over a shallowing reef end up creating overfalls large enough to cause mayhem for many mariners. it also makes for a good bit of exploring !
The reef rock out crop is fairy large in size and consists of a good few isolated reefs which are separated by a some deep rock clefts which run the entire length of the island. Its home to dozens of cormorants, seals, oyster catchers and other wild foul and waders and is a great all-round spot for bird watching.
After exploring one of the rock clefts and after some seal photography we realised that the tide was too low and we couldn’t make any more headway through to the other side, even by paddle and with the engine lifted, so we turned around and didn’t a circum navigation of the island to find a better viewing spot.
Ben took us into a cove around the rerouted of the island where there where a large family of seals all where sunbathing.. we turned the engine off and drifted closer to them quite as we could as not to disturb them. A big male seal noticed our presence and began demonstrating his authority to which we backed off a little, having not seen the young he was safeguarding initially. We watched as they began to get inquisitive and look us with those puppy dog eyes they have, their curiosity never ceases to amaze me!
We took some video and photos and then backed off allowing them their space and privacy..its their home after all. One seal though had fallen asleep while in the water, on a full belly of fish most likely, it was bobbing up and down fast asleep and as we rowed past, it mad jus all laugh!
Leaving Rhoscolyn head we went into the a section of strong flowing tide that was remaining on the ebb and rigged the fishing tackle up to see what was about. There is a deep hole that Ben found through trial and error that seem to hold fish on the tide.
We where using Hookai lures (size 10) and had rigged up one boat road and one spinning rod. We began with 4 oz weights which I then had to change to 6oz with he tide run there. Ben began proceedings off with a brace of Mackerel and was a amazed at the good hook lures where, which he had yet to come across on his travels, all I can say is that they are deadly!
We had a few small pollack (6 inches) yes that small! On the reef their colourings are dark red like the kelp that they live and feed in. More mackerel came as the tide pushed its final surge through and then some baby codling, poor cod and pouting. All the other species where really small, but it was amazing to see an abundance of baby fish, that always exciting for an angler to see.
With a good few Mackerel between Ben and I (Ben having the lions share) in the bucket, more than enough for a days feed and with a couple of beers drank with a evening sky to die for we diced to all it a day and boat in. Boat journeys back ashore remind me of the good few years I spent turning the European coast doing inshore survey work as a Marine geologist. We loved the boat rides in, we considered it our commute home to shore.. happy times.
With the wind in our hair and seagulls following us back hoping for a free meal we motored on home with JP being the most patient guy ever with a broken pelvis, goodness knows he must have been stiff being sat in the boat but he never uttered a word. What a guy.
Great to spend an afternoon on the water with your good mates..
On arriving ashore at Rhosneigr, we got the boat hoisted onto the trailer and the I headed in the direction of the chippy. Two large packets of chips later we headed over to ben where the mackerel where already on the BBQ. Ten minutes later they where on the plate. How blessed are we to catch our own food and then have the most great sunset to eat them over?. Served with lime and chips, it went down incredibly well indeed.
With the nights lowly drawing in, and the summer species here about to head off to warmer waters of the south its important to savour our late summer days.
More importantly its important to only take from the ocean that what you need. We took 8 Mackerel home and and host of good memories. We returned another 8 Mackerel as they where too small. Its important to give back with the other hand after you take.
Big thanks to Ben for his seamanship skills as always and for use of his fine vessel and a big up to John Paul who has gone through some seriously tough times in the past twelve months- we all wish him a speedy recovery and want to see him back here on Anglesey some more ..
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Bit about the blogger : My names Nick Fraser and I’m a local Marine Geologist and Oceanographer. I have moved back to the island of Anglesey for the past four years having grown up here and moved away. I am a passionate outdoor lover with a penchant for all things natural. When I’m not blogging in ofter found climbing or out in the wild in and around north Wales.