Piscatorial Quagswagging

...the diary of a specialist angler in around the Warwickshire Avon and its tributaries.

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Saundersfoot - Dragon's Fires and Dromophobia

A rather large meal at Kookaba, an Australian themed restaurant based in the heart of Saundersfoot the evening before and then a decent home-cooked pub lunch in stupidly busy Tenby the Wife only wanted cheese and crackers. The rather large plate of pork ribs and cheesy garlic bread a meal to be honest both of us are not really used to.

Now my steak and prawns combo was quite nice as well to be fair with the steak a nice chargrilled flavour and cooked to how I liked it. I fancied some spice though and I stumbled upon a hot curry in the local supermarket and to be honest, it really was rather nice considering how cheap it was. I added fresh coriander to it and also some slices of chillies but I enjoyed it so much I might take a couple home for the freezer. 

The weather for this much needed work away looked very mixed indeed where we would be dodging the rain and avoiding the wind, but to be honest up till now (fingers crossed) luckily the weather predictors had got it largely wrong. 

Ok there had been rain but only the odd shower and the wind came in fits and bursts rather than been the norm. The tide times were favourable and  Sam and I have manged to get out quite a few times. 

The last morning session though only one decent bite where I'm sure after feeling the resistance the fish didn't come back for more. I decided to change the set-up and now using a simple running set-up, more what I'm used to because often after a long cast the ring would come back tangled. Inexperience, not doubt about it, so it was back a rig less likely to tangle.  

A builder working on a group of flats opposite the property we are staying as gave me an area to try for a dab. A deeper area basically near the harbour entrance but an hour there was sadly fruitless. When the sea is out I'll make sure I was fishing in the correct area, it did feel like it mind you as the lead took slightly longer to bump the sand.  

Even when the tide is as its peak it not that deep really but the fact you're fishing over clean sand means there isn't any risk of getting snagged. I fancied another doggy though so I'd fish myself later whilst Sam was in bed. 

Now Dogfish are common around the UK, especially around the south and west, and their willingness to feed on pretty much any bait presented on any rig sees them turn up regularly in anglers’ catches. 

This abundance, coupled with the small size of dogfish, means that anglers can at times see dogfish as a pest species when they repeatedly take baits meant for bigger and more highly regarded species. 

However, the dogfish is a member of the shark family and does provide a dependable catch on days when little else is biting, especially as dogfish feed just as well in bright sunlight as they do at night. 

The dogfish lives and feeds on the seabed in relatively shallow water around the UK, rarely venturing beyond fifty metres deep, and prefers sandy to mixed ground, although they can be found in numbers in some rockier marks.

Dogfish is not particularly nice to eat and has little commercial value, although it was once highly sought after for its rough skin which was used to polish wood and as a replacement for pumice. 

The fact that, unlike other fish species, dogfish have to be skinned before they can be filleted puts commercial fishermen off catching this species due to the extra work and processing time this takes. The status of the lesser spotted dogfish as a small shark is underlined by its modest UK shore caught record of 4lb 15oz, which has stood since 1988 apparently. 

Occasionally dogfish will be sold in fish and chip shops or fishmongers under the name of sweet William, rock or rock salmon (probably to hide the fact they are selling the unappealing dogfish). 

The population of dogfish appears to be staying stable and even increasing in certain seas around the country a rare thing indeed in these days of huge commercial pressure on fish stocks.

As we know most fish reproduce by releasing tens of thousands (in some species hundreds of thousands) of eggs into the sea. The vast majority of these will be eaten by predators, washed onto the shore or prevented from hatching in some other way. However, the sheer weight of numbers means that at least a few will make it through to maturity. 

Dogfish have a different method like sharks. They lay much fewer eggs which are protected in cases, known as mermaid’s purses. These cases are several centimetres long and attach themselves to rocks or vegetation and protect the fish as it develops inside. The dogfish grows inside these cases for around ten months. 

Once it is ready to hatch the baby dogfish is between four and five inches long and can fend for itself. This gives them a higher survival rate than many other species as the young dogfish are already fairly developed and are much more able to avoid predators. In areas where dogfish are common empty mermaid’s purses can be found washed up on the shore. Dogfish are believed to spawn all of the year round.

Anyway better get back to the fishing hadn't I. Well when I got to the harbour there were quite a few fisherman already there however still plenty of space to be able to fish. It's a lovely place to fish to be honest and very well lit in places so a chemical light for the rod top isn't really needed. 

I decided to give myself two hours and for the first hour and a half no bites whatsoever, the other anglers I could see were biteless too. Luckily for me though out the blue one really good chub'esk pull turned in to a decent bite and a fish was on. On the retrieve it felt larger than the first fish and sure enough when it surfaced it was. Ok not a massive set-up from the first dogfish but welcome all the same. 

I personally think they are cracking little fish I still want to catch one in the day though and get a decent picture of one rather than this rushed effort. No more bites till the end of the session and to be honest, 

I didn't see any other anglers catching anything either but then they could well stay much longer than I did. An enjoyable couple of hours though and I'm learning all the time and that's what its all about. 

I fancy another species to tick off the list though so I think we will persevere with the float set-up over the mussel beds on the slope and also try whitebait and also squid on the main rod. 


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