Wreck fishing off West Wales can produce a good selection of quality fish; Pollack, Bass, Cod, Ling, Conger, and Coalfish being the usual target species, but other quality fish are regularly caught from around the wreck and not just over it, such as Gurnard, Tope and Bullhuss not being uncommon. Late May through until early November are the most productive of times of the year for offshore wrecking. In the winter months the reefs and inshore wrecks will provide Pollack, Whiting and Spurdogs.
As White Water 5 is a fast and seaworthy boat it can go as far South as Devon, West to Ireland and North to the St Georges Channel, so there is a vast selection of wrecks of all shapes and sizes and at a wide variety of depths that are within reach. Fishing from Milford we can fish up to three countries Wales, Ireland, and North Devon, all within 50 miles reach of Milford Haven.
Milford Haven Port itself with its close proximity to the major shipping lanes was a regular hunting ground for U-Boats during the war, so there is a good selection of wrecks to choose from.
What is Wreck Fishing?
Wreck fishing (wrecking) is when you fish over sunken wrecks. The wrecks can be anything from boats to submarines that lay at depths from 60 to 300 feet on the seas bottom. Their size varies from 50 feet to over 350 feet long. The wrecks can be from the first / second world war or general ‘lost at sea’ vessels. In just one year, thirty ships sunk along the Pembrokeshire coast, this was the year of one of the greatest storms the country has ever had, the Great Storm of 1703.
The idea of wreck fishing is to go after the larger fish that hold up on the wrecks. Fish are drawn to wrecks because they offer an environment similar to a reef or a rocky out crop. This means that fish hold up in the wrecks as they provide shelter from the tides and a source of food. For fish, a wreck on sandy ground is like an oasis in a desert, and in rocky areas it provides more food and better protection from the tides.
Where are the Fish at the Wreck?
Wrecks provide the perfect habitat for a wide variety of fish species, fish on most wrecks can be divided into two main categories; those feeding at or near the bottom, such as Cod, Ling and Conger, and those feeding at a higher level such as Pollack and Coalfish. The higher level feeders hunt prey fish above the wreck in the pressure wave created by the water forced up over the wreck by the tide.
A good day’s wreck fishing can be achieved on all tides ranging from big to small.
Wreck Fishing Tips
1. On the drop down keep you finger on you spool so that you control the speed of the decent, if you do not you will only end up with a birds nest (tangle)
2. When you are working your lures count how many turns up you get your fish, this will save time if they are being taken say 35 turns up as you can quickly go to that depth
3. Vary the speed that you retrieve your lures, and remember that the speed of the tide also effects the action of the lure
4. Also have a good supply of rigs made up, as if you loose your rig on a wreck it can be quickly replaced ready for the next drift
Wreck Fishing Tackle
When fishing wrecks rods should be of 12/20lb or 20/30 class.
The reels size Shimano TLD 10/15 or Shimano Torium 16, Abu 7000, Penn 975, Dawia sloshes, that hold braided line 20lb class.
Fishing with french booms long traces to a 4/6/0 hooks.
Lures can be storm shads or eels, jelly worms will do the trick.
Canon Ball weights are great for wreck fishing as they do not spin and seem less likely to become snagged in the wreck in 350 feet of water. 8 oz to 12oz are preferable.
If required, tackle can be provided read more about wreck fishing tackle.
Latest Wreck Fishing Techniques
Experimenting with offshore Jigging techniques on the wrecks has been a revelation to many anglers, vertical jigging covers far more water, the average lift being from around 10 to 30 metres of water. The special jigs are unbalanced and will move sideward. It's similar to the surface lure technique known as "walking the dog" only you're fishing in a vertical water coloumn rather than horizontally, absolutely great for pollacking.
Read more about Jigging
Fishing on the Drift
Fishing on the drift over wrecks is far easier on both the skipper and anglers compared to fishing at anchor over a wreck. The skipper will do a a few test drifts using the sonar to detect ther wreck and then use the GPS equipment to mark the starting position. After each drift over the wreck, the boat is taken back up tide for another pass. As the boat drifts over the wreck, the skipper will communicate to the anglers the information provided by the sonar fish finder, providing indications of the number of fish and their level in the water.
Fishing at Anchor
Fishing at anchor over a wreck is more difficult for the skipper and the anglers. The skipper has to continually keep the stern of the boat just uptide of the wreck, good sea conditions are required. At best anglers will enjoy up to 2 hours of anchored fishing at neap tides, before the new tide starts to swing the boat out of position, at which time you switch to fishing on the drift. The difficulty for the anglers is their baits missing the target all together.
How does the skipper know where these wrecks are?
There are numerous sources of information such as the Admiralty about the location and details of the wrecks. Skippers will spend many years checking the vast numbers of wrecks in their waters to find those that provide a haven for the fish, providing shelter from the tides and a source of food. Skippers will generally not overfish his best wreck marks; instead he will seek other good marks and visit each less often.
Wreck Fishing Trips and Weather Conditions
Weather is always an important factor when operating at these distances, so a fast sea worthy boat is essential to work within the weather windows available. If weather conditions do not allow offshore wrecking, then inshore wrecking and/or general fishing may be offered instead, with the cost of the day's charter altered accordingly.
Reef Fishing or Reefing, the tactics are very similar to Wreck Fishing, the only difference is that the water is shallower and the steaming (distance) is a little less. Late June through to October is the most productive of times of the year for Reefing from West Wales.