Sample the superb surf fishing for bass on the glorious Gower Peninsula at Three Cliffs Bay
Words and photography by DAVE LEWIS
Tucked away at the eastern end of Oxwich Bay, Three Cliffs can be one of the most productive surf beaches on the Gower Peninsula, although, as with any surf beach, timing is everything. Usually the best fishing is either before or following a decent onshore blow.
Three Cliffs is usually fished during the last couple of hours of the ebb tide, followed by the first couple of hours of the making flood. The most productive tides for bass and flounders are mid-range and ideally on a rising sequence of tides, which on the local Swansea scale are tides ranging from 11-11.8 metres. At high tide, especially on spring tides, your retreat from the beach is cut off.
For most surf anglers, bass are the main target species and, given just the right conditions, Three Cliffs can be a very productive beach for bass, along with flounders, golden grey mullet and red mullet. Other species occasionally caught here include dogfish, an occasional plaice, turbot and, increasingly, smoothhounds.
The best time of year to fish is from early March through until November, with the late summer/early autumn period offering the very best chances of quality bass, especially if you fish into dark. Flounders can be caught here year round. Summer and autumn are the best times for golden grey mullet.
A light beachcaster or bass rod rated for casting two to four ounces, matched with a small multiplier or a fixed-spool reel, loaded with 12-18lb clear monofilament line is perfect. Terminal rigs should be kept simple, with either a single, twin or three-hook paternoster tied with reasonably long 12-inch hooklengths being ideal.
When fishing for bass and, depending on the size of bait, use a single hook rig tied with a size 1/0-4/0 fine-wire hook. For flounders and general scratching, switch to two or three-hook rigs with hook in sizes 4-1. Don’t carry too many lead weights; I can’t remember the last time I lost a lead when surf fishing here. A selection of two, three and four-ounce bombs, both rounded and flat-sided, will cover most situations.
A 4ft length of plastic pipe or a simple sand spike is all you need for a rod-rest, which should only be used for tackling up and re-baiting, as it is best to hold your rod when fishing a surf beach. Buy yourself one of those little plastic bait boxes that you wear on a waist belt, as they save a lot of time by allowing you to bait up while standing in the surf without having to continually walk back and forth to your tackle box.
The best baits for bass are freshly dug lugworms, razorfish and other shellfish. Sandeels account for many of the better fish that get caught on this and other beaches in the area. For more general fishing for bass and flounders, maddies (harbour ragworms), also called mudworms in Wales, are an excellent bait.
NEED TO KNOW
There are several access points from where you can walk down to Three Cliffs Bay. They are all are located off the main South Gower road, the A4118. Travel light because it’s a 20-minutes or so walk down to the beach. I park at Shepherd’s Store and Cafe in Parkmill, where there is a nominal parking fee. Follow the path up through the woods, then along the narrow valley past the old castle until you reach the beach.
Country Stores, 3a Church St, Gowerton, SA4 3EA, tel: 01792 875050. <taking advert>
Mainwarings, 44 Vivian Rd, Sketty, SA2 0UH, tel: 01792 202245.