Winter on Anglesey is a very grey and wet affair and not for some folks entirely, however if you can see past the westerly gales and cold water temperatures, there is a little bit of heaven on the Island still. We are in January now as I write this, and in the depths of the winter months, the first snows have fallen in the Snowdonia region and we have be lashed by many storms already. Log fires are burning each night and the warm cooked foods like stews and soups keep us fed and happy. The big boots, hats and winter jackets are out also.
Day light hours are limited, so we have to be quick on our toes and get tasks completed early during the day, some days are better than others with breaks in the weather occurring not as frequent as in the summer months! That said this winter has been quite fair i’ll say, well at least thus far. There have not been many howling prolonged easterly winds and temperatures have been very mild- today for instance its 7-8c.
I thought I would write a random set of winter blogs for you all to keep you up to speed on what we are getting up to, and what its like here over the winter months overall. I will write a series of five winter time blogs covering some of the things we get up to whilst the darker months invade our hemisphere, I hope it serves to give you a feel for whats it like to be on the island this time of year.
I’ve been away and comeback to north wales where I had a vacation in the Czech Republic to have some snow time over Christmas. Snow fell hard, we did some hiking and ate really well. It was really good to get some hill fitness in also to spike the slumber state and stoke the engine. I don’t know about you but over the past few winters my body has wanted to go into more of a hibernation, so to keep that at bay exercise and a few other tricks have been my best friend. Anyhow more of that later.
So we are deep into the months of January and the sunshine has not quite been so prominent! That’s ok though, I don’t let that slow me down, I quite like the dynamic rolling seas of the winter months it brings with it a different set of energy all together. The land is a different set of green and nature is evolving through its winter months, different birds are out and the new winter fish have arrived on our shores last month and everything is in flux.
The typical fish we get on the island this time of year are Cod, Whiting, Coalfish, and other species such as dog fish and some bass are around also. I love fishing this time of year because, its more special I find. The prizes are greater, as in big Cod and Whiting which are delicious winter feasts. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a bit fishing fan and have enjoyed living back on the island for its fishing options. Fishing on Anglesey is amazing you literally can fish in any weather on any beach in any win direction. Targeting what ever species you want, that are around at least. See some of my fishing blogs here
The past few days we have had big spring tides here on Anglesey, which means (for those of you who live inland ) We have a high rise and fall each day of the tides, what does that mean exactly, well the low tide goes out further and the high tide comes in further up the foreshore.
This is a particular of interest to many anglers and hunters in fact. We use the full phase of the lunar cycles to plan our fishing trips to gather valuable bait on the foreshore, when the tide recedes to levels that are abnormally low, we use these times in the month to go out and collect razor fish, worm and other baits to then use for our winter catch.
Also fish themselves are more active on spring tidal cycles, they use the extra current to move and hunt. The water gets more stirred up consequently and more fish then use this as a means of hunting their prey. So there is a lot more going in in and around nature that sits beyond the naked eye in the winter months on Anglesey.
This past Thursday I went to Llandona beach on the north east part of Anglesey at low water, around 8am for a bait gathering mission. The days goal, was to pump some fresh black lugworm which is a renowned excellent bait for cod fishing on Anglesey in the winter months. To accomplish this you first need to have very large tides (0.5m and lower) and a bit of a northerly wind helps to get the worms up to cast. You can walk all day there looking for them, however sometimes you hit it right and can get more than enough for your winter bait freezer.
You can only get these types of bait on northerly facing beaches, so bare that in mind for your forays and expeditions! I might add that these little adventures that I go on for bait are also coupled up with small foraging sessions. I look our for razor fish which I use as bait and eat up, they make a delicious started with lime, chili and parsley, a bit like squid when fried off.
The particular day was mild and I actually over layerd thinking it was going to be super cold, turns out winters in January this year mean 8c+.. very peculiar indeed. Anyhow, I walked miles on the beach looking for a particular spot, I had been given a tip off about. These particular session are a bit hit and miss, as they are in essence expository and that means you spend the vast majority of your time looking for the location. However, its nice to hit the beach early and enjoy the sun rise in solitude..
I arrived a little late on this day and I could se the tide was already turning, so instead of rushing I juts took it all in and used the morning as a recci to see what the beach was like, what boat had been washed up and what the sand bars are looking like. The reason I’m doing this is I’m always assessing the best sport to fish on the beach based on where the main food stores lie and the sea baed shape. They are the biggest clues you will get form nature.
Anyhow I had come for razor fish and worm but left the beach back to the car with nothing on this occasion. Other times I have had so much I have not needed to go back for the next two seasons. This is a sustainable approach I take only hat I need and if that can get frozen down or an entire year or more, I won’t return again.
This is an important point I must as an Islander to put across, and that is, don’t be greedy. Nature will serve us, however we must not fall Prey of taking more than our fair share. Many people may wonder why fishermen won’t give their spots away these days, and that is due to the grey that plagues this world.
So winters a full of fore shore walks and evening fishing sessions and foraging. The beaches are empty on my last morning out at Llandona I counted a total of five people there!
It wasn’t the most successful of missions, the worms didn’t cast due to the wrong barometric pressure (it was too warm and the winds where W-N-W not N) but that said it was very interesting to see what was coming up from the beach and around the foreshore. Plenty of juvenile razor fish where washed up and also many big adult razor fish. Also lots of clams, molluscs and big shells (I don’t know the Latin or technical terms for them- even us oceanographers have our limits !) See the pictures below.
So recognisance mission over I retired to the car and opened a hot flask of tea and watched the water roll in. Llanddona is so lovely and secluded, I fall in love with the place, it is often one of my favourite wild camp spots in the summer months. Oh well no bait but an enjoyable morning. Head over ratio Llanddona and you will see how amazing it looks as you drive down the mountain side cliff face to the foreshore.
Also this time of year is prime for winter driftwood collecting all along the beaches and coast of Anglesey. See our previous blogs on it here.
With the winter storms lashing the beaches, the float some gets all washed up along the foreshores. Couple that then with not to many people around, you have a good recipie for driftwood gathering. Great beaches for this are Rhosneigr, Broad beach near Rhosneigr and stretches of beach from Trearddur Bay on Holy Island to Porth Daffarch.
Right its time to get the wood burner on its 2pm, rain is lashing down outside and the storm is rolling in, just another day on Anglesey in the winter months, but I wouldn’t change it for the world (well not for now anyway!)
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Front cover image by : Me !
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.