Noted for its summer fishing for smoothhounds, this rough ground venue is also a top attraction in winter

Aberthaw is one of the most productive shore angling venues in South Wales. The huge power station is the dominant feature at Aberthaw but this has now been decommissioned.

Except for a few patches of sand and mud providing isolated patches of snag-free ground, this is an extremely rough ground venue.

A wide variety of species is available from this beach, especially the increasingly popular smoothhounds. Certainly Aberthaw is one of if not the most consistent marks to catch them from the shore anywhere in the UK.

Fishing at Aberthaw


The first hounds of the season appear in May, sometimes earlier and, depending on the weather, you can expect to catch them here in good numbers right through until September. Catches of four to six fish per angler per session are normal, with the average size being 8-12lb.

Other species commonly caught during the summer include several species of ray, conger eels, dogfish, wrasse, rockling and even an occasional triggerfish. Most years a stingray or two are also caught.

During the autumn and winter, cod and whiting appear with December through to the middle of February being prime time for big cod. The mullet fishing is good from June through to October when there are plenty of fish throughout the bay, including some really large specimens.


A peeler crab is the top bait for smoothhounds and many other species, including winter cod and, of course, bass. Fish baits, notably fresh pouting, produces congers.

Float fishing is the most productive technique for catching mullet when you should use plenty of groundbait consisting of mashed bread and minced fish, which should be introduced on a little and often basis. Bread, small scraps of fish or even garden worms are effective hook baits for mullet.

With rough ground and a strong to exceptionally strong lateral run of tide, it is hardly surprising that tackle losses can be extremely heavy, with rigs incorporating some form of rotten-bottom attachment for the lead weight being essential. On some days you can lose your lead weight on almost every cast, along with numerous terminal rigs.

Men holding Smoothhounds at Aberthaw

Best time to fish at Aberthaw is for about two-and-a-half to three hours either side of low water on mid-range down to neap tides. The run during bigger tides is simply too strong. The pulley rig, usually with Pennell hooks, is popular with many anglers. Others prefer a fixed paternoster to put them in more direct contact with the fish.

The waters of the channel hereabouts are usually tinged with colour, which means that even during bright sunlight the fishing can be very good, but most of the bigger hauls of hounds are invariably taken either late in the evening or at night.

Distance casting is not always necessary, but sometimes those anglers who can present a bait a long range will get the most bites. Usually anglers start by fishing the ebb tide from the rock ledges to the west of the old cooling water outlets. As soon as the tide starts to flood, which it does with immense force, a move to more favourable conditions at the pebble beach east of these outlets, known as East Aberthaw, is advisable. Often if the fish fail to show in numbers on the ebb, then they will on the flood.



From Junction 33 off the M4, follow the signs for Cardiff Airport. Drive past the airport heading west on the A4226 and then A4265 towards Llantwit Major. You will see the power station with Aberthaw signposted just past a petrol station if heading west. Park in the car park at the end of the lane.


Holton Road Angling Centre, 242 Holton Rd, Barry, CF63 4HS, tel: 01446 679284.

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