With a storm beach, some rough ground and a stone jetty, there is plenty of fishing on offer
Words and photography by Mike Thrussell
Criccieth is dominated by the impressive castle, built from 1230 onwards. It is a tourist town, packed in summer, but offering more solitary fishing throughout the winter. The beach on the east side of the castle offers a mix of fishing throughout the year with some varied ground to choose from.
Bigger bass appear in early April and through to December. Long casts can find a few tub gurnards. From March to late June and again from late September to November, you can catch the occasional thornback ray at range from the shingle-backed storm beach about 400 yards east of the promenade. Flounders are available all year.
Over high water during bigger spring tides from late July to September, try fishing with feathers for mackerel at the small stone breakwater close to the castle. Warm calm nights with a flat sea are best.
The whiting show up in September, peak in early December, and gradually thin out through to February. The cleaner ground offers some decent fishing for dabs after a rough sea settles down, and there’s always school bass and possibly a bigger one either side of Christmas.
The biggest flounders show from November to February. Expect large numbers of dogfish immediately after an autumn gale, but they are caught all year.
Directly in front of Dylan’s Restaurant and for a few hundred yards to the left the ground is rough stone and reef, eventually giving on to mixed cleaner ground at range. This is a good spot to wade out and work plugs over targeting good bass. Leger fishing will also take the bass when fishing at night. Flood tides are best here.
An 8ft to 9ft plugging rod and 4000 sized reel with 20lb braid are ideal to cover a lot of productive ground. Fish from low water up, but the best fishing is often the middle hours. Alternatively, use a bass rod and a 5000 sized fixed spool with 30lb braid for the bottom fishing.
The storm beach further east should be fished with standard beachcasters, 525/6500 sized reels, 20lb line and a 60lb shockleader. There is a slight lateral tide run but lead weights of five or six ounces will hold in most normal sea conditions. Low water is a good time to fish close in for the flatties, but two hours up is the time for the rays.
Casting from the breakwater is mostly to clean sand, sometimes with a mix of stone, at range, but produces a wide variety of bottom species and also the occasional ray. Fishing the three hours before high water and one back is best during bigger spring tides.
Mackerel is the top ray bait, but a frozen sandeel can work here, especially when tipped with mackerel. Fish soft or peeler crab over the rougher ground for bass. Worm baits pick up all the flatties, though razorfish can be good for bigger winter flounders just after a rough sea. Fish strips take the bigger whiting and the summer gurnards.
When fishing close for general species, stick to a three-hook flapper with size 2 to 4 hooks. To search ground at distance over sand, a two-hook loop rig is the choice for winter species and for summer gurnards. If you fish bait over the rough, then a simple sliding paternoster with a short 12 to 15-inch hooklength of 20lb fluorocarbon and a size 3/0 hook works well for bass, but use a weak link to the lead and keep the lead weight small, say no more than two ounces. Use pulley rigs and size 3/0 hooks for rays.
NEED TO KNOW
Head for Porthmadog and take the A497 west with Criccieth then clearly signposted. As you go down the hill into Criccieth, look for a left turn signposted Traeth (beach) and go over the railway line and down to the promenade. There is pay-and-display parking.
Criccieth Tackle Box, 45 High Street, Criccieth, LL52 0EY, tel: 01766 523633