There is a good deal of sea fishing done at Carnarvon and Beaumaris, and fair pollack fishing can be had round the headlands near Holyhead. I had a very good account given me of the fishing at the mouth of the Teify, particularly for bass. At Fishguard, where the French invaded us (in proof of which did I not see the sword of a Frenchman, taken by the grandfather of the good woman with whom I was stopping at a little fishing village on the Welsh coast ?), the local men carry on a good deal of lobster and crab fishing, and the summer mackerel fishing is often first-rate. But I have no information on the strength of which I could advise any amateur fisherman to go to the place.
Rounding St. David's Head and coming into the Bristol Channel, we reach one of the finest mackerel grounds on the English coast between Milford and Bristol. I should say that the best station for the amateur fisherman is Tenby. Close to the harbour of this fishing town and watering-place the angling for sand dabs and plaice is excellent. The position of these fish seems to vary ; sometimes they are off Waterwinch, and sometimes again a little distance off St. Katherine's. Another good fishing ground is on the east side of Caldy Island. In fact, there is no lack of flat fish anywhere between Caldy and Saundersfoot. The summer mackerel fishing is first-rate ; the fish are not large, but are most delicate eating ; and fast, weatherly, lugger-rigged sailing boats, and clever fishermen who know their business, can be engaged. In some years a few very fine bass are caught from the rocks close to the harbour, usually in the twilight of early morning. In the maelstrom, or race, off Giltar Point, late in August or early in September, there is often excellent fishing for school bass which run from about two to five pounds. Unfortunately this can only be carried on conveniently from a sailing boat when the wind suits. The blue phantom is a favourite artificial bait at this place, doubtless because it imitates a very small run of mackerel which appear in early autumn, called locally 'joeys'.
For years together the bass desert Tenby, as they do other places, so that I would warn the intending bass fisherman to be prepared for a possible disappointment. But looking at the excellence of the angling for flat fish, mackerel and conger, Tenby, taken as a whole, is a good place for the sea fisherman.
If the bass are not in the bay it is evidently desirable not to waste time seeking after them. Even if all else fails, there is most exciting conger fishing to be had at night close along the coast towards Waterwinch, or near Giltar Point. The best congers, however, are taken over a ledge of rocks marked by a beacon about a mile from the town. This is also a capital place for bream.
About a hundred yards off the point of St. Katherine's is a group of rocks. Between these and the point a good deal of fishing is carried on, the position of the boat being changed according to the set of the tide. Very large grey mullet come swimming round these rocks and towards the harbour, but it is rare indeed that any of these are hooked. A few codling are caught at this spot, but, so far as I know, are not plentiful, nor are large cod nor whiting at all abundant. One of the amusements of the place is searching for crabs, congers, and lobsters at low water during the lowest spring tides among the rocks on St. Margaret's Island and along the shore towards Water-winch ; there is also a good deal of prawning done.
The sport here would be infinitely better if trawling were prohibited in the shallow water of the little bays on either side of St. Katherine's. I once counted about two hundred Brixham trawlers in the harbour, and in bad weather a great many of these fish in the shallow bays ; but the local men are the greatest sinners in this respect.
Close to Tenby is Saundersfoot village and bay ; a very charming little place, much pleasanter to stop at than the larger town, but having the disadvantage of not being so near the fishing grounds about Caldy Island. It has a small harbour which is dry at low water. Boats are much cheaper here than at Tenby. A friend writes to me that there are plenty of good bream, whiting, etc, off Saundersfoot, especially if the water is thick. I did not come across these fish myself. The season may have been unfavourable, or my men may not have known the best fishing grounds.
I doubt if there is any other fishing station of importance on the north side of the Bristol Channel; nor on the south side until we come to Ilfracombe, where there is indifferent fishing from the pier, except in winter, when a few large cod are usually caught. But there is very fair fishing from boats, whiting in particular being abundant. A few fish are taken at times from the rocks. The principal fishing grounds of the trawlers in this district lie between Lundy Island and Caermarthen Bay.
Off most of the picturesque villages of the northern shores of Cornwall and Devonshire is very fair fishing. The likeliest period for the amateur fisherman to visit the Cornish coast is between midsummer and Michaelmas. The best of the whiting fishing may come a little later, if not interfered with, as it probably will be, by wild wintry weather. St. Ives (or Hayle) is an important station for boats. Large cod, gurnet, whiting, turbot, etc, are in the bay during the autumn, and boat hire is moderate. Coming down to Land's End, we reach a noted place for large pollack and bass. A great deal of amateur fishing is practised both here — from Sennen and St. Just—and off the Lizard. Not only is the whiffing good for the more sport-giving fish, but all the more common bottom-feeding fish, such as bream, conger, hake, gurnet, and flat fish, are very-plentiful. It was near here, off the Seven Stones, that Lord St. Levan caught a record pollack, 3 ft. long and weighing 24 1/2 lbs. The fish was presented to Mr. T. Cornish, town clerk of Penzance, who fortunately had it set up. From Marazion and Porthleven in this district there is much fishing.