It’s finally getting to that time of the year when fishing becomes a lot better, with more summer species coming into the shallower beaches. One such species that entices me is the golden grey mullet, a species I have been very fortunate enough to fish for abroad. However, trying to find successful and consistent spots for them in the UK is not always the easiest. So, one place that sprung into mind was a beautiful surf beach down on the south-west coast of Wales. This beach, that’s hidden amongst the hills and sand tunes, can produce big numbers of fish at the right time of the year. Species ranging from bass, flounders, turbot, sole, smooth-hounds and finally that stunning silver bar with a gold spot on the back of head. The beach in question is Llangennith.
Once the desired venue was chosen, trying to find out some local knowledge of how the beach had been fishing was the first step of my preparation before heading down. This can give a distinct advantage if you have never fished a certain beach before.
After speaking to a few local tackle shops in the Swansea area, finding out the fishing hadn’t been the easiest wasn’t one of the things I wanted to hear! However, one tackle shop that I’ve been to before (Country Angling Supplies) filled me with excitement, saying that there have been a few golden greys showing. A few was more than enough to give me enough hope to take the decision to head down to Llangennith.
With planning this session only a week in advance, making rigs and ordering bait was a very big priority, meaning I was straight back on the phone to Dave at Country Angling Supplies to order 5lb of maddies (harbour rag), which was going to be our main bait for the sessions. Added to this was a couple pound of blow lug, with the hope to pick out some of the slightly better bass.
The next step in preparation for this great quest ahead of me, was making sure I had the correct rigs! Having fished this beach before, I knew one of the go to rigs is just a simple 2up 1 down, or 1up 1 down for those who only use two hooks. With 2/3ft snoods of 0.30mm, which is normally around 10/12lb breaking strain. This is slightly heavier than the normal setup, however, knowing there had been a lot of wind forecast before arrival. I knew there would be big surf and a bit of weed, making the rig I had planned to use for the second session useless as it would just get tangled up all the time.
The rig I had made for the second day, when conditions should have calmed, was the same style of rig (1up 1down), however, it was slightly lighter snoods which were 0.20/.25 in diameter being around 5/8lb breaking strain. I also changed the length of the snoods to 3/4ft as I was aware there wouldn’t be anywhere near the same amount of surf compared to the first day. The patterns of hooks I used for these rigs were size 6 Owner pints and size 4 Kamasan matches (B940M). For the two sessions, I was only going to use between 3-5oz pyramid or bucket leads. There is no need for grip leads as the sand is very soft and could create more of a nuisance with the grip constantly getting stuck on a retrieve. After making around 30/40 rigs, I felt extremely prepared, and I was just counting the days down till we arrived.
When the day finally came, my mate, Arran, and I packed the car in a rush to try and get on the road as quickly as we could, as we couldn’t leave till around 4:30pm.
Knowing we had to be at the campsite (Hillend Camping site) by 9pm on a Saturday bank holiday had us a bit worried that we could be pushing it close, as we assumed there would be a lot of traffic.
3 and ½ hours flew by and somehow, we made it to the campsite with no traffic holding us back at all. My excitement was just becoming unbearable at this point as I just wanted to get fishing as soon as possible, especially upon hearing the surf crashing in the distance! With a couple of long days fishing ahead, it was more important to get some rest right now though.
The night went by quickly and the first session was only a few hours away. Whilst waiting for Arron to wake up, I couldn’t resist a quick walk down to the beach to see what the conditions were like and to see if anyone else was already fishing. After walking a few hundred metres, I came across a couple of anglers and at that moment in time, they only had a couple of small bass between them which didn’t fill me with much hope at all. Once my mate woke up, we raced to the tackle shop to go and collect the bait we had pre-ordered. After collecting the bait, we quickly grabbed some food to fuel us for the busy day we had ahead of us. We arrived back at the campsite and straight away I was getting prepared, by packing my tackle box as light as I could and only carrying my two rods, all put together already, and a rod rest, making my life much easier during the session as you are constantly on the move.
THE FIRST SESSION:
When I arrived on the beach, the tide was about 250/300meters out. Using this to my advantage I could see if there were any gullies or sandbars. Even ripples in the sand offer a better prospect than a flat bit of beach.
As I looked down to the left of the beach, I could see a big sandbar a mile or so down the beach and that was enough for me, knowing it meant I could fish a bit further out for longer and once the water filled in behind me, this would hold the fish at a later part of the tide. When I arrived at the spot I had located, I instantly set up both rods, which were Yuki 911s paired with Shimano Magnesium’s and the rigs I prepared for day one (1up 1down 0.30 2/3ft snoods). All were baited up with maddies. I’d cast out both rods and within 10 minutes of fishing, I was into my first fish of the session.
With the rod slamming over, I had already gathered what the culprit could be! Playing this fish took me a lot longer than anticipated, but using light gear meant landing this fish was so much more fun as it ran me around in the surf. After tiring the fish out, I happily watched the long silver bar slide up the beach and to no surprise, seconds later I was holding my first bass of the session at 53cm. A more than welcome catch.
After I released this fish, it was just a constant stream of bass throughout the session with quite a lot of them being around the 40-50cm mark. Knowing a golden grey wouldn’t be in the picture on the day as it was too rough, I shortened my hook lengths down to 2ft and increased the diameter up to 0.35 (15lb) to try and find myself a flounder or two on one rod, whilst keeping the other rod on my standard rig, that was still catching plenty of bass. The reason for the snood change is a shorter stiffer snood will pin the bait to the bottom for the flatfish
Eventually, I did find a flounder and, to my surprise, it was a lot bigger than I’d imagined it to be. After running around taking photos of this amazing fish, I quickly got the ruler back out to find out this fish was 43cm, which is a very good flounder for Llangennith, certainly the biggest one I have caught down here, though I’ve always known the beach can throw up great specimens. The session was coming to an end as the tide had nearly reached the top of the beach, with plenty of fish bagged, I’d guess I ended with around 30 to 40 bass, as I lost count, with a few flounders to the total as well. I think I ended the first day on a very successful session and was looking forward for the next day, just praying I could find that early GG.
The tactics for this session had been very simple. Using two rods allowed me to be able to fish with the same rig but cover multiple distances, meaning I could find the correct distance the fish were feeding at and giving me a greater chance of catching more. One thing you must take into consideration when fishing surf beaches, is even though you might be catching fish at 30yards for a part of the tide, that could easily change depending on whether you are fishing into a slightly deeper hole or gulley, or even if your bait is on top of a sandbar in shallower water.
When targeting species like bass and mullet, you tend to find more of them on the shallower sandbars, either chasing after their pray or finding those free offerings of food being thrown around. However, if you are after a flounder, I would recommend searching out those slightly deeper spots, where the food source tends to get washed into and holds. Looking for these spots is a lot easier than you think. When walking along the beach, you will see gaps where the water is much flatter or there is less surf being created. This tends to mean there is a deeper hole there, or a gulley, especially if this runs along the stretch of the beach. This could potentially be a great spot to fish.
After a very successful first day, day two was ahead of us. After some great and much needed sleep in the beautiful hillsides, it was time to fuel up with a lovely breakfast from the campsite, which was truly deserved after our efforts for the first day. After stuffing our faces with some quality food, Arran and I headed back to our tents to prepare for our final session.
With the conditions being perfect, we had to make sure everything in our own control was done to perfection. After changing to my day 2 rig box, which contained the 1up 1down (3/4ft 0.25 Snoods), I also changed all my spools to ensure they had brand new line and leaders on. A day of crashing about in rough surf can do untold damage to low diameter lines. Once I knew all my tackle was up to standard, the final step was to make sure the bait was in good condition. It is very important to look after your bait and the best way of doing this is using a cool bag with ice packs.
The time flew by during our preparation and we were now ready to set off. At this point, I was so excited, I was basically running to the spot. To those of you who know me, that would be a massive surprise! We got there slightly earlier than normal; it was about an hour before low. This allowed us to get ready and bait up a few spare rigs, knowing that we should hopefully have a fish filled session.
The conditions were remaining perfect, as expected, so as planned the day 2 rigs were used. Without any hesitation, once I was ready I cast both rods out at different distances again to locate the fish. I set myself a 10-minute timer and patiently waited for one of the tips to slam over. Only a couple of those 10 minutes had passed by, and I was already playing my first fish which to no surprise was a bass, this one being 49cm. I took a few photos and quickly released it, so I could get my rod back out.
I was just hoping and praying that at least one of us could catch a golden grey. Time ticked by with a lot of bass still being caught around the 30-50cm mark again. However, for my mate, fishing was quite slow for him unfortunately, but he kept pushing on until he had a notably different bite from what we had been getting and, with the fish fighting differently in the surf compared to the bass and flounders, I quickly rushed into the water to help him land it!
Thankfully, our time and efforts were rewarded, as he landed his first ever golden grey mullet. I was so happy for him, as he is new to fishing and over the past few months, I have never seen anyone so determined to do well. He deserved this fish, so after taking some photos he quickly released the fish and started jumping around in excitement!
Sadly, the fishing did slow down. Well, I thought it did! Knowing my time for a golden grey was slowly fading away from me. I swapped one of my rods to a different rig to try and find a few flounders. The rig I started using was a 1up 1down 0.30, 2ft snoods with a size 4 kamasan match hook. I loaded this with a big bunch of maddies and cast out around 20/30yards and within 5 minutes I had a double shot of flounders.
I stuck to this method throughout the rest of the session and it really paid off, as it was basically double shots a cast! Even though the session would be classed very successful to many anglers I was just praying to the fish gods for that one mullet.
Suddenly, I had a very different bite to the standard bass or flounder. I didn’t really know what I had on, as it was fighting differently to all the other fish I had caught today. I took my time to land this fish, just hoping that I had finally found that elusive mullet. Eventually the fish came into the shallows and it was time to find out if I had just been played around by a spirited bass but, as the fish slid up the beach, it came to me that it was sadly not a GG, nor a bass, however, to my surprise it was one of the biggest flounders I have ever seen caught on this beach!
Even though it wasn’t the golden grey I wanted, I was so pleased with this fish. Before taking a few photos, I measured this fish at 47cm and upon weighing it fell just a few ounces short of 3lb.
Unfortunately, my mate left earlier on this session as he wasn’t feeling very well and wanted to get some sleep for the late journey back. So, I had to rely on my selfie shots for this absolute chunk of a flounder. Once I was pleased with the photos I had taken, I released this beautiful fish back to where it rightly belongs.
It eventually hit that time of the day where you know you must pack up but don’t really want to, I had no choice as the water was nearly all the way up and I didn’t really fancy getting trapped a mile or so down the beach. So, I packed up and slowly headed my way back whilst watching the sun disappear in the distance, thinking about how successful my session really was.
I knew I had done well, as I finished on about 30 bass and at least 30/40 flounders but, just knowing there was definitely a few mullet there, it was unfortunate I wasn’t able to catch one.
This is by far one of my favourite beaches to fish and I will 100% be back, seeking to try and find one of these majestic fish. I would like to thank everyone that has read this, and I hope you will all eventually fish this beach in your life if you haven’t already. I also hope that you have learnt something from this write up as well, as I want to help as many people as I can to gain great results from all your fishing sessions. Thanks again everyone.