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North Wales Mission Conger 2023/24 – Part 4, back for a second go.

Andy 1965

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With the Christmas break is all over and done with, it was time this week for me to get back to the serious business of conger hunting. With small tides and low at about 11pm, it would have been rude not to head back to the mark where I lost a decent conger in December. With the tide being smaller than on my last visit, I decided to turn up earlier than I had the last time, and thankfully, even though the flow was running at quite a pace, it was still perfectly fishable.

First rig out was an 8/0 pulley rig, baited with a large whole squid, and this was followed by a 3-hook flapper armed with size 4s and baited with small sections of sandeel, in order to gather some fresh bait. I then sat back to wait for the action to start.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long for the first interest of 2024 and after a couple of minutes the tip of the scratcher rod was soon bouncing away. I began to reel in and could immediately feel a weight on the line, so it looked like my fresh bait supply was off to a good start, but I was very surprised when my main target species of the night broke the surface, a small strap conger! 😮 Though it was the correct species, sadly it wasn’t anywhere near big enough, and rather than being 20lbs, it probably wasn’t even 20 inches 😂.
Conger - 1 Jan 4th 2024.jpg

On the very next cast I did actually manage to get some fresh bait, when a particularly skinny whiting took a shine to my sandeel.
Whiting Jan 4th 2024.jpg

It was time now to check the other rod, and though the squid had been badly chewed, there was no sign of the culprit. This rig was now baited with a mackerel head, the bait which accounted for the conger I lost on my last visit to the mark, and cast out into the flow once more.

While I waited for something to find the mackerel, I spotted another bite on the scratcher and this soon resulted in species number 3 of the night in as many casts, a small pouting (y).
Pouting Jan 4th 2024.jpg

Soon after this and I saw the sign I had been waiting for, as the conger rod finally started to nod, as something started to munch on my mackerel bait. I gave it plenty of time to get a proper hold of the bait and when I finally lifted into it the rod took on a satisfying curve, could this finally be a decent conger I wondered :unsure:. I took my time and after a couple of strong dives the beast finally broke the surface but it wasn’t the conger I had hoped for. I wasn’t too disappointed though as o the surface below me lay a half decent huss of around the 8 – 9lb mark :giggle:.

With the fish beaten, I fed the rod out behind me until I was able to grab the leader, but I had only just grabbed it when the huss spat the hook! 😳 I was of course gutted but I told myself that it would have been worse if it had been a conger rather than a huss 🤷‍♂️.

The rig was soon re-baited, with half a whiting this time, and cast back out into the depths, but the flow had eased right off now and as a result sport was very quiet for the next 90 minutes 😢.

I persevered though, and managed to catch 2 more whiting and a second strap conger on the scratcher, slightly bigger this time at around maybe a pound and a half in weight, but otherwise things were very quiet.
Conger - 2 Jan 4th 2024.jpg

The current did eventually start to pick up again and in effort to make the most of it, I switched to bigger baits on both rods. This eventually paid off, and after missing one bite, I managed to hook something decent. After an exciting scrap in the flow, I had another huss beaten below me and this time the hook hold was secure, allowing me to safely land a huss of 8lb 14oz 🤩.
Huss 8lb 14oz Jan 4th 2024.jpg

The next 90 minutes produced a steady stream of bites, but for some reason I just couldn’t connect with any of them. I kept a steady stream of baits going out, but despite some serious pulls on the rod tip, they somehow missed the hook every time 🤦‍♂️.

Eventually, the current increased to the point where it became difficult to hold bottom, so rather than throwing gear away with no realistic hope of reward, I decided to have an early night and I packed up just after 11:30.

So my first outing of the year had produced my target species, though sadly nowhere near the size I wanted, but with a more settled spell of weather forecast for this coming week, I’ll be back out there again next Thursday to continue my quest 😉.
 
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