Editors note: I’ve been so impressed this last year by those prepared to launch new angling businesses, in the face of real adversity and no question the most challenging times in a generation. One of those is Joe Shaw, who launched ‘Catch and Cook’ in Pembrokeshire, Wales, combining his love of angling and cooking. I wanted to give him an opportunity to share his story here, so, over to Joe!
For those who don’t know me, nor my new angling based business venture, the following is a little about how, in the height of Covid, I took a thought from 5 years or more ago, ‘Catch and Cook’ , which fused two of my passions (sea fishing and eating) and made it both a reality and so far, a great personal success.
Following years of frustration in gaining a degree in Marine Environment Studies, though not finding any way to practically put it to use, plus 10 years experience of running a gourmet takeaway, called PanAroma, it seemed logical to put my mixed skill set to some use and have a crack at launching a business I am truly passionate about.
My enjoyment of fishing in the beautiful surroundings of the St David’s peninsular, married with an idea of teaching people to fish, and then cooking the catch out on the seashore, really got my juices flowing and I sat down with pen and paper trying to see how it could work.
People said I was nuts, including those close to me, and this probably drove me to pursue the idea even further. I knew there was an idea to work on, and so I entered the wormhole. In 2018 I undertook a sea angling coaching award scheme, completing levels 1 & 2.
Fast forward to 2021, and Catch and Cook is now an established kayak lure fishing business in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
Since April of this year, we have been running guided trips, mainly out of Britain’s smallest city, St David’s, and the nearby seaside village of Solva. The rugged coastline offers some amazing lure fishing, while the various launching points gives us a chance to fish in most conditions, with the shelter of steep cliffs and nearby headlands.
Pembrokeshire has always been touted as a lure fisherman’s paradise, with access to beaches, estuaries, harbours, inlets, tidal rapids, rocky outcrops, reefs, boulders, caves and crystal clear water to top it off. It isn’t impossible to catch all 5 species of the ‘inshore grand slam’ – being bass, mackerel, pollack, codling and ballan wrasse, amongst many other species, all in one day. There aren’t many places that will offer you this.
For the recreational angler, it is a paradise with an absolute wealth of marks to fish, one lifetime is quite simply not enough to explore it all.
The influx of baitfish each spring gives rise to an abundance of marine life, and attracts thousands of recreational anglers each year.
It is even possible to witness the phenomenon of feeding frenzies in front of your own eyes, with gannets plunging, the many porpoise feeding, and predator fish hitting big bait balls of sand eels and sprats.
Each trip is meticulously planned. Bookings are taken in advance, with each group receiving updates on weather reports in the days leading up to the excursion. Often, the trip may need to be re-located to accommodate changes in weather and wind, much to our frustration. Couple this with different groups abilities, tidal fluctuations, launching issues and latecomers…some trips prove particularly difficult to plan.
We have a fleet of 8 high-end fishing kayaks, half of which are motorised. It isn’t always convenient to have the motors on, so not all have been modified to house a motor and battery. It’s a case of horses for courses and it’s nice to have the choice and flexibility.
The stability of the kayaks are second to none with a zero capsize record. The focus lies on stability, which allows comfort and relaxation from the kayaks which can house a fair amount of gear, whilst staying particularly dry in the water proof trousers, wind jacket and buoyancy aid provided. It is possible to stand and fish although it isn’t always possible in non-favourable conditions. Confidence and being comfortable are key first steps to catching, so it was imperative we went for kayaks that gave this assurance.
Most clients bring their own rods and reels, however these can be provided at no extra cost, similarly gear and lures can also be provided. We have released our own series of lures, suitable for the type of fishing we are doing, and they have been working well all season, landing many fish into double figures.
We operate a light lure approach to 90% of our fishing, using rods rated to a maximum of 20-50g, coupled with small reels and light line or braid. This sort of approach makes fishing so much fun! There’s nothing worse than missing out on a good bit of sport because of over gunned tackle.
Not everyone wants to take advantage of the dining options which include either cooking on the beach, cooking ‘back at your place’, or the option of collaborating with local eateries.
Some people just want to fish, others want to catch and cook to take advantage of the local bounties of the sea. Each to their own.
Some folks want to take their own fish home and man-handle it themselves – which suits the home-chef and enables them to feast on fresh fish which they have just caught themselves.
Our approach to cooking on the beach is simplicity, charcoaled bbq with the aid of the odd pan if we need to pan-fry anything. The set up of an open beach fire plus charcoal gives adequate heat and lovely flavour, with no need to over complicate anything.
We’re really looking forward to showing you some of the exciting excursions we have planned in future issues of Hookpoint. Without letting on too much, we’ll be putting kayaks in places rarely, if ever fished by kayak before, whilst pursuing an ever growing number of species from the bounty offered to us in Pembrokeshire.
Whether you are new to kayak and lure fishing, or a seasoned regular seeking a new challenge, we can tailor a trip to give you the most back out of it.
If you’re interested in booking, you can reach us via the following Facebook page.