As another weekend comes and goes and another match is set on the beautiful South Wales coast. This time, it is the Llantwit Major Sea Angling Charity Open run by former Welsh Team Manager Mark Cowell. The match stretches across the Vale of Glamorgan coast and serves as a fundraiser for three local charities. Wheelchair for Harvey Doak, The Bradley Lowery Foundation and Portfield School in Haverfordwest were the recipients this year.
Match fishing plays a big part in my fishing, being competitive and always pushing for improvements. I’ve spent the past three years fishing opens along the South Wales coast and sometimes further afield. It has improved my knowledge, confidence, and ability tenfold.
The limit of the Llantwit Major stretched from Summer House Point to the east to the flat sands of Monknash. My choice of venue was a rough ground mark near Nash Lighthouse. I aimed to try and isolate myself from other anglers in the hope that I didn’t have to compete for fish.
Conditions were tricky. A long, hot, settled spell for the week building up to the match and fishing in 30-degree heat with only a light south-easterly wind of up six mph providing little respite from the conditions.
My tactics for the match were, first and foremost, to enjoy the days fishing, and if I were lucky enough to winkle out a few smoothhounds, that would be a bonus!
Rig choice would be easy. A pulley with a hook length of around 18 inches finished off with a Tronixpro Circle Hook in 5/0 fitted with a dongle. I have maximum confidence in this rig when fishing for smoothhounds, with dropped or missed fish a rarity. For the hardware, I went for my trusted Tronixpro Competition Match GT2. The tip of the GT2 sits nicely in the tide helping the 8oz lead to stay anchored. The no-nonsense backbone is something I like when fishing for hounds. It allows me to get them through the rough ground and ashore as quickly as possible.
Locally sourced crab would be my bait, a mixture of softies and peelers with some beautiful frozen Devon crab as a backup. I also had a bit of squid to hand if I needed to bulk up the baits.
The match began, and the first casts were sent out into the ebbing tide, the tip pulled around nicely, locking the lead in place. Fishing down to low water was extremely slow. As I looked around for the first two hours, I was yet to see a fish caught. Around 20 minutes before low water, a tentative bite and a small amount of slack line made me jump for my rod.
Picking the rod up and taking up the slack to feel for the fish, it suddenly moved away from me, and I was hooked up. A spirited fight charging up and down the beach, making dives for the snags and trying its best to throw the hook. After a few minutes, my first fish was landed. Not a monster, but a fish on the card and hopefully a kickstart to the session.
As low water came and went, and with the flooding tide, huge rafts of weed and trees passed, causing real issues keeping the weak link complete and the lead anchored. The silence was broken with the occasional click of the ratchet as the passing weed built on the line. Then, a short sharp run of line was taken from the spool. Unsure if this was yet more weed or a fish, I wound in a small amount of slack line that had formed only to feel it slacken again. Winding quickly and running backwards to set the hook, I was into my second fish. As always, smoothhounds are great sporting fish, yet another great fight resulted in a slightly larger fish gracing the shoreline.
My second fish was landed, and full of optimism, I was feeling lucky for the remaining hour and 45 minutes. This venue fishes well on the flood, and fish feed ferociously, often resulting in non-stop action. Unfortunately, today was not one of those days. A single, possible slackline bite was missed; however, this could just as easily be the weak link parting way.
The match ended, and on the long walk back to the car, it seemed I was lucky to find a few fish, with many an angler I chatted to on the way back having failed to record a fish. My total of two fish was nowhere near enough to be amongst the prizes, with an impressive total of 13 hounds for a weight of 46kg from Marcross taking the top spot on the day.
With the match over, it was time to reflect on an amazing day in the sun, all in the name of a fantastic cause. All told, over £1,500 had been raised and split evenly between all three charities. The angling community coming together remarkably for some great causes.