January and February of last year, saw high winds and some pretty atrocious weather conditions blight most of the UK. We had our fair share in our small corner.
It wasn’t until March 01st, St Davids day that My Way set sail for the first time in 2014. Our original first sail was two weeks earlier, however with the weather remaining so bad I took the decision to leave My Way in the yard, safe and sound whilst winds up to 100mph pounded much of the UK.
Aboard My Way I was joined by 5 regulars, who have become good friends over the years and also 4 new guys to My Way, all of whom were experienced boat anglers, a nice mix of crew who undoubtedly could pull out a few fish when needed.
A reasonable forecast for the most of the day, picking up to a force 6 towards the end and together with a 32ft tide our fishing was restricted to within Holyhead Bay.
We tried some time on the drift, but the lumpy dirty water was helping th situation. So a change of tactics was required and I decided to moved off to the mussel beds to anchor up, a little early for a 32ft tide, but this was getting critical now!Banter and a few risky jokes wasn’t enough, we needed fish. Upon anchoring, we had a good flow of tide and we all eagerly waited the fish bite. A few false knocks and over exuberant ‘strikes’ it was 15minutes before the first fish came to the boat.
Wasn’t the most prolific of starts to our new year campaign, but the fishing picked up slightly with a few double and treble shots, adding small huss, ling and some other species to the count. Thankfully a few anglers got a few new species for the year to add to their personal species count. As normal the day passed quickly. A few fish, a few laughs with friends all together with food and drink made for an enjoyable return to being afloat. As March continued, we managed a good few days afloat with varying degrees of success. Thankfully the species were on the move offering on the whole some good variety for the anglers to choose from.
Our first trip to Holyhead Deep in 2014 was middle of March during a nice creak in the unsettled weather. Drifting was hard work, early for our waters to be fair but even a good few miles off, the very coloured water left us with nothing for our efforts. At anchor though our fortunes changed, to start with dogfish in plague proportions, great fun in 200ft … but then ray, huss and spurdogs
We managed a good few hours in the deeps and once the dogfish bites eased off the spurdogs came to the baits fairly often. Great sign for things to come that we had a successful trip this early in March.
Early April and the weather played havoc with our scheduled days afloat. This year we canceled the vast majority of trips during the first two weeks of April, with our first day afloat not coming until Friday 11th.
This day was planned for Holyhead Deep, following our last day in the Deep during the previous set of neap tides in March, hopes were high for a good number of double figure spurs.
We started off at anchor with everyone pulling in regular quantities of dogfish and small whiting or the odd codling. Once the tide had eased slightly we continued our day on the drift, looking to help a few of the guys to first pollack and coalfish species for their 2014 hunts. Thankfully the fish were obliging and we managed to bag a few around the boat; nothing big, with the vast majority all under 2lb in weight.
Each year during the Easter break we run Introduction trips, where children and adult novices alike get to sample boat fishing at a reduced cost. Our first day was met with swell left over from the weekend, along with the remnants of a strong NW breeze. Despite this the youngsters made the most of their introduction to angling trip. Restricted travel, but we still caught plenty of dogfish along with a few huss, codling and a nice ling. Great fun and some brilliant smiles through the day. You can read more on this trip and the following Introduction trips in the June 2014 issue of Boat Fishing Monthly.
One of the most memorable sights in all of April if not 2014 has to be the Lumpsucker
Following the early success in March with spurdogs in Holyhead Deep, our first couple tope of 2014 came aboard during April
Back inshore for the last few trips of the month, with a good number of pollack and coalfish once again on the drift with a reliable mixed bag at anchor.
Waters are showing signs of clearing up nicely and with both the air and sea temperatures on the rise, crabs are peeling and many more species are moving into our waters. Our focus will soon be turning to the long awaited return of the smoothhounds, a firm favourite with many of our crews.
April continued to deliver a wide variety of fish on a regular basis.
The end of April and beginning of May is always a great time of the year on the drift.
Inshore we have a good amount of pollack, coalfish and codling unto a good few lb in weight along with cuckoo and ballan wrasse putting bends in rods.
2014 was no different with a great selection of fish keeping us entertained.
Inshore marks were reliably coming up trumps with plenty of species though. Bags consisting of dogfish, bull huss, spotted and thornback rays along with codling, coalfish, whiting tub gurnard etc. giving anglers much to tackle and occasionally take home.
May is an important month in the My Way calendar, it focuses our att
entions to the influx of smoothhound … big smoothhound ! There is no doubting that Holyhead is a popular venue for for these hard fighting small sharks, with My Way being up there amongst the elite, having boated countless smoothhounds over the years. Such is the popularity, the fourth Fladen smoothhound challenge held the last week in May 2014 ran for 5 full days and 4 evening trips; fished by a succession of anglers, all keen to bag a 20lb monster aboard My Way.
Check out our Facebook page and some great smoothhound fishing from the 2014 Challenge.
Last June was another fantastic month aboard My Way, with only 3 days canceled we sailed all others, including a great amount of evening trips in search of only one thing … smoothhounds.
With the time frame for the hounds visiting Holyhead in any great number being fairly small, we tend to hunt these hard fighting small sharks for the vast majority of the month.
Only changing tact when weather or specific trips dictates.
We had only smoothhounds on light tackle in mind. So basically bait up, chuck out and wait, while discussing world current affairs and how we’d make this planet a better place for everyone.
Similar to the regular deep and meaningful conversations many of you will have engaged in aboard My Way.
For a number of years our boat record has stood at 28 smoothhounds landed. We managed to sneak past this record on our 2nd day afloat by landing 29 between 5 of us.
The following 3 days I was joined once again by some good friends, this time from across a couple borders. Davy, Linda, Billy and Peter all making the pilgrimage from Scotland for our annual smoothhound hunt.
We caught plenty, laughed alot and ate ….. far too much.
On the last day of the Scottish invasion we were joined aboard by another old friend, David Proudfoot, head honcho at Planet Sea Fishing, I never told the others David was joining us, seeing their faces as they heard the dulcet tone of my new Tea Boy was great to see.
One day the following week, My Way and Holyhead smoothhounds were to be challenged by a few local rods normally to be found stalking bass along the Anglesey shoreline. Dennis, Dewi and Terry all mad keen bass lure anglers, fancied a change and wanted to challenge the great hounds on their £400 lure rods.
Yup, you read that correctly, four hundred pound lure rods, tackling what could potential be a 20lb plus smoothhound! Sadly we never saw any of the high teens on the lure rods, but they did see plenty of action, as we pushed the new boat record for smoothhounds landed to 33 in a day.
Frustratingly, we could have or maybe should have caught a load more. The bites being so delicate, with some hounds dropping baits and returning to them a staggering 4 or 5 times. I can only pout this down to the vast majority this year being small at 6 to 8 lb in weight. The bigger ones always appearing to take the bait whole with an immediate hook up.
June continued with some pretty fantastic fishing, with quality smoothhounds and rays aboard My Way
After the great time we had through June hopes were strong for continuing the great run of form into July. Weather gods thought differently and we lost the first few days of July so some strong weather fronts.
Towards the end of the first week in July everything started to settle down, for the first couple trips we were restricted to inshore fishing.
Despite wanting desperately to make our way out to Holyhead Deep, the sea state prevented such travels, undeterred anglers still had a great time afloat with a number of different species and what seemed to be an ever present number of smoothhound.
Normally numbers start to dwindle with the hounds by the start of July, but this year the smaller sized hounds were around all the way through the month and beyond!
Our first trip to the deeps in July came at the end of the first week, a mixed bag of individuals in search of some tope and spurdog along with a good few huss.
We weren’t disappointed with most on board hooking into a good number of double figure sharks during our few hours offshore. Not often do calm seas coincide with neap tides, a perfect recipe for travel beyond North & South Stack tidal races for some action in Holyhead Deep.
Depending on the crew, quite often our trips on the neap tides between July and October (weather permitting) involve as long as we can at anchor in Holyhead Deep and the remainder of the day on the drift.
Occasionally around a few inshore wrecks or quite often tucked in close next to many of the rock ledges around our island. Our patch, the north west tip of Anglesey, has a vast amount of rock ledges and reef marks that become home to many species.
Returns include pollack, coalies, codling and an array of mini species.
In north Wales there are 5 main species – Ballan and Cuckoo the bigger family members, with the smaller corkwings, rock cook and goldsinny holding their own within species hunting circles. With the latter 2 being classed as a hard find, but species we seem to do fairly well with.
Sadly though things came to an abrupt stop during the third week, when on the way back to the marina after a great day species hunting around Holyhead and Trearddur bay I started to sense something wrong.
Not being the fastest boat on the sea, plus being my precious, you notice little things, small changes. And My Way wasn’t performing correctly. Long story short, heat exchanger / exhaust manifold was leaking! Decisions! Patch job or new? Well we went for new.
The unit had been on My Way since she had become part of our company, so the correct course of action really. A grand old cost aside, the worst of it all was that I had to cancel 2 trips. Two trips to Holyhead Deep when the weather was flat, calm and sunny.
In 10 years I’ve never had to do this and it felt bad! Fortunately the vast majority of the crews that board My Way are great, many of whom have become friends, every one I spoke to appreciated the situation and the need for me to do a ‘proper’ job! After all our safety at sea is paramount!
Well, everyone except for one person, he had been looking forward to the trip for a whole year and I had ruined everything for him! Not intentional … cheers for the understanding pal …
August was a mixed bag thanks to the weather, some great days afloat both in and offshore, other days tied up watching the weather blow through! The first few days of August we spent inshore species hunting, both the weather and tides not the best for offshore adventures. Thankfully many species played ball both at anchor and whilst on the drift. After a few days we had neap tides and some suitable weather.
After a few days we had neap tides and some suitable weather. Not the best weather, the sea was lumpy most days from windy evenings, but fortunate for us all the sea often abated enough to allow safe passage out to Holyhead Deep and back. Fishing was great, size wise, most of the sharks tope, spurs and huss were low teens, but on the plus side fairly plentiful for most people on the boat. With many anglers traveling from afar, they much prefer a few days together to enjoy the great fishing on offer aboard My Way, therefore we regularly bunch a group of days together all individual anglers or small groups of anglers, this was the case early August, were everyone was treated to some great fishing under the rocks and out in Holyhead Deep.
Sadly we lost a dozen trips in 2014 due to bad weather, I guess a couple of the days we could have snuck out and tucked behind the breakwater or threw ourselves around in the bay. But that’s not for everyone, a bigger picture is always at play. Hence why most adults prefer a good professional call.
Drifting in and around the rock ledges, South Stack Lighthouse or Holyhead Breakwater can have some pretty good results, pollack especially run from a few ounces to just short of double figures regularly on these marks.
The pollack below all came off the breakwater during September …
Bolivar buoy, another great mark to drift for a number of different species
We had a very memorable day in Holyhead Deep early September – our first Porbeagle Shark albeit more a sighting … lol
It started pretty slow in all fairness with only a couple tope and a handful of huss for our efforts. During the first hour we had been snapped off a couple times by what we thought could be large tope, or maybe a bigger shark. As the conversation turned to possible Porbeagle, a shout came for the port side “big tope” & “shark” and as everyone looked over the side a porgie, estimated at 100lb, maybe more swam elegantly on the surface, snatching at the dogfish Rich was retrieving from the bottom of the Irish Sea.
Maybe sensing something was amiss the shark turned and started to swim away until quick thinking Kris threw his mackerel bait into the water. The porgie turned and delicately took the bait before our eyes … then simply swam off … screaming reels indeed.
With only tope gear on a 12lb Northwestern blank, it was always going to be a battle, a battle that eventually the shark won! A tremendous sight, a first for myself & My Way and also all aboard … but maybe … not the last?
Another memorable catch during September was Toms mullet. With a delay to some of the crew and still tied up in the marina Tom was trying for a smelt to add to his species hunt, whilst I hoped for a mullet.
I watched patiently as a mullet kept buzzing my small offering of bread, but not taking. Wanting a piece of this action, Tom reeled in his sabiki rig to the surface and the mullet turned around and bit straight away!! Fish on!
As I ran for the net the others arrived to the commotion of a beautiful mullet of around 5lb in weight.
October, November, December
We lost a good few dates during these months thanks to the British weather. Some horrendous winds saw us failing to sail on many occasions.
With some settled weather over a couple days, we managed to sneak out into Holyhead bay on occasions. Fishing fairly consistent for the time of year with a plentiful supply of dogs, whiting and huss at anchor with the odd ray, codling and other species to bump up the numbers. On the drift we had some good action with pollack, codling, wrasse and coalfish again, ranging between 1 and 3lb in weight together with a a good number of small herring too.
We did have some great days in and around the weather fronts, with again, some good laughs and fishing
Following some pretty torrential rain and strong winds one Saturday we were kept inshore for whiting and dogs it was nice to set sail on Sunday in November and try a little further. Still plenty of dogs and whiting at anchor, but also a good number of huss ranging from a couple lb to just short of double figures. On the drift we managed to land a good number of pollack and coalies between 2 and 3lb! Sadly Tony lost a cracking inshore coalie of around 5 to 6lb right on the surface … Oops
One weekend in November we found ourselves helping out Trearddur Bay RNLI with a training exercise. Our role was to provide a ‘casualty’ with spinal injuries aboard a working vessel. Fishing aboard My Way this day amongst other regulars was Gareth Hughes, local lad Gareth unbeknown to the Trearddur Bay crew is an active member of Moelfre RNLI, not only was he up for the task, but agreed, below deck on the cramp floor presented the most problems for the crew in training.
Was a pleasure to assist and hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to once again. The RNLI are volunteer crews and have our utmost respect and admiration.
2014 is now behind us and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their valued support and friendship, without which we wouldn’t enjoy our work so much.
We have had some pretty awesome days afloat filled with fun, laughter and some pretty memorable catches. Our species count for 2014 was a fairly respectable 42. Fish from barely a few ounces on weight to double figure sharks all helping put smiles on faces. Had a laugh today recalling one post to this page earlier in the year complaining that he only saw photos of food on our time line, lol, there are hundreds of fish photos only a click away in our Photo Albums ! We must not forget the food, we eat & drink extremely well whilst afloat. Thanks to everyone that joins in by contributing to the days eating.
Here’s wishing you all the very best for tonights New Years Eve celebrations and a year ahead full of happiness and success.