Simon Smith ventures to Pink Bay, west of Porthcawl, for a late summer session hoping for a surfer-free beach, a bass and a mixed bag of flatties
I always find late summer a time of reflection. Being a teacher, late August and early September bring the end of the summer holidays, those long, lazy warm days start to slip into memory, and the year suddenly seems to have more months spent than are left in credit.
Around this time, I like to squeeze in one final fishing session before the new term begins, spending the last sunlit pennies of my summer leisure on one of my local beaches.
For this session, I decided on Pink Bay in Porthcawl as a destination, a beach so named due to the pinkish boulder and pebble bank that shelves steeply down onto the sand. Whereas other local beaches are often thronged with surfers, Pink Bay requires a walk of around 20 minutes at a brisk pace to reach the beach, something that can be off-putting to many surfers and anglers, particularly those carrying lots of gear.
It can also be reached by a 10 to 15-minute hike along a boardwalk directly running from nearby Rest Bay, but parking there is unreliable during the summer due to high numbers of dog walkers, surfers and beach-goers.
Opting for the more reliable, but longer option, I parked in a little lay-by near to Picton Court nursing home, shouldered my gear and was off through the gate and across the fields.
The weather was beautiful and the walk pleasant, especially as the blackberry bushes alongside were in full fruit, allowing me to act more like one of my younger pupils for a little while, grabbing and munching handfuls of berries as I plodded to the beach.
My arrival was greeted with a lovely, building surf, larger than I had expected. From my vantage point at the top of the pebble bank I could see back over to Rest Bay where the sea was already filled with surfers bobbing up and down with the swell, so was grateful for my choice of venue for this session.
SPECIES & TACTICS
Conditions looked very promising, particularly as I was hoping for a bit of variety. This beach had thrown up bass, flounder, sole and turbot for me in the past, and I had this very much in mind with the ragworm bait and my choice of rigs – a two-hook flapper kitted out with metal booms and a swan shot pinched above each hook to add a little weight, so as to cater for the lazy nature of the sole.
My flapper rod of choice for the session was a multi-tipped, long match rod that I hadn’t used in ages, and really fancied taking out. If the surf built too much though, this rod would be a little outgunned. Hopefully, if any larger fish put in an appearance, it would be on the heavier rod that I had taken along to fish at longer range with big fish and squid cocktails on an up and over rig. I crossed my fingers and muttered a prayer to the fishing gods.
Those prayers must have been heard because I didn’t have to wait long, the first bite coming to the flapper rod. Unfortunately, I missed it, but five minutes later I took the first fish of the session, a nice little small-eyed ray of about a pound on the longer-range rod, cast to around 90 yards.
This seemed to set a pattern somewhat as, over the next two hours, I landed another four rays, all small, though all of them fell to the lighter match rod and flapper rig rather than the range rod. So far, so good.
Easiest access for those who do not know the area well is to leave the M4 at Junction 37, taking the A4229 onto the Pyle Road, then onto the A4106, following the signs for Porthcawl. Follow the road straight through the final roundabout and along the Esplanade onto Mallard Way, eventually taking a sharp left turn just past Lock’s Common and following the signposted road to the Rest Bay car park.
From here, anglers can follow the boardwalk running from Rest Bay along the coast to Sker Point, stopping at Pink Bay. The beach is not as heavily frequented by surfers as Rest Bay, so should be fishable on most tides, though care should be taken if fishing the flood on the bigger tides, as conditions can become rough.
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