We sailed out of Penarth in the cold light of dawn the sun rising slowly to the east above the upper reaches of the Bristol Channel. White-water bounced across a lively sea created by a bitterly cold North West wind heading for a deep-water mark where we hoped to tempt conger and spurdog. I had been offered the chance of the trip by Ammo baits manager Ian Tyldesley. The opportunity to meet with top Charter skipper Andrew Alsop was to good to miss and it is always good to visit and sail from a fresh port.
In the warmth of the cabin we chatted enthusiastically about fish and fishing. Though I have to admit that by the time we reached the mid channel mark I was starting to feel just a little under the weather concerned that the rough conditions could trigger a bout of seasickness.
The boat surged up and down as the anchor was lowered and I baited up and sent down a good helping of mackerel. The cold wind soon cured any queasiness and full focus was given to detecting bites. Dogfish and small conger started to come aboard before Richard Dean hooked into something more substantial. A conger approaching 25lb was soon being held aloft for the camera.
Good sized helpings of black lug and squid were offered to the Welsh cod and after half an hour I was fortunate to hook a pleasingly plump cod of 8lb. This mark and the next gave a steady trickle of dogfish, small conger, spotted ray, thornback ray ,whiting and the glimpse of a large spurdog that severed a heavy trace.
By late afternoon Andrew decided it was time for our final move. We moved close inshore to a mark that has produced some fine cod. Throughout our day Andrew Alsop exuded a quiet aura of confidence that ensured constant expectation. A steady stream of hot tea and coffee welcome in the near zero temperatures.
As darkness descended as the suns descended below the hills of Devon and Somerset to the South-West Ian Tyldesley hooked the target fish a double figure cod.
We arrived back in Penarth at close to 8.00pm it had been a long day that will live in my memory not so much for the fishing for that was hard going. But for the opportunity to talk at length with one of the country’s top Charter boat skippers primarily about the shark fishing he has pioneered off the coast of West Wales during the summer months. Sixteen-hour days, hard graft a solid reputation well earned.