Anglesey-born actor Julian Lewis Jones is a keen angler. Alongside starring in productions such as Stella, Invictus and Justice League, he has presented the S4C programme Sgota (‘Fishing’) and has fished in locations all over the world. Here, he reveals his five favourite saltwater fishing destinations in Wales.
Isle of Anglesey
I was lucky enough to grow up on Anglesey (or Ynys Môn, as we call it in Welsh), so this is where I started my fishing journey. I started out fishing off the rocky shoreline of 'Y Swnt' in the picturesque fishing village of Moelfre on the east coast of the island, catching mackerel, pollack, conger eels and dogfish.
This spot gets very popular in summer, when the mackerel shoal very close to the shore, so my tip is to set your alarm early and beat the crowds. You will hopefully be rewarded with the finest Anglesey mackerel, ready for the barbecue!
If you’d like to venture further north on the island, another one of my favourite spots is Bull Bay, close to the lovely harbour of Cemaes Bay. Here you can target a variety of species – you’re bound to enjoy spinning for mackerel, pollack and scad, ledgering or float fishing for hard fighting wrasse, or putting a big fillet of mackerel down on a running ledger for specimen-sized conger eels.
For beginners and pros alike, Anglesey Angling are wonderful guides.
Penarth to Nash Point, Vale of Glamorgan
Not far from the Welsh capital, you can find some truly outstanding fishing in the Bristol Channel.
The Bristol Channel is home to the second highest tidal range in the world, which brings in a huge variety of fish. Due to these fierce currents, it means that commercial fishing is kept to a minimum resulting in a very healthy stock of fish. Both boat and shore fishing can yield exceptional results.
Some of my favourite shore marks are Aberthaw, which is home to some of the best smoothhound fishing in the UK, and Monknash/Nash Point, for a variety of rays including blonde, small eyed and spotted (as well as quality conger eels). Aside from shore fishing, there is a fleet of charter boats operating from Penarth Marina. These will offer you the chance to fish for a huge variety of species throughout the year, including smoothhounds, tope, spurdog, congers, bull huss, bass, and many species of ray.
While you're near Penarth, it’d be a crime not to visit James Sommerin’s restaurant on the promenade. It’s luxurious, Michelin-starred dining from one of Wales' best chefs.
Milford Haven/Neyland, Pembrokeshire
Who would have thought that Pembrokeshire would become the premiere location for catch and release shark fishing in Europe? It’s true; shark fishing in the Celtic Deeps off the coast of Pembrokeshire is now the very best to be had on the continent, with anglers travelling far and wide to sample some truly world class 'big game fishing'.
I have been fishing for sharks for nearly 15 years now with my friend and skipper Andrew Alsop. Andrew put Pembrokeshire on the map when it comes to shark fishing, and now there is a very successful fleet of charter boats operating from the harbours of Milford Haven, Neyland, Dale and St Davids, with all of them offering the chance of hooking up to some truly huge sharks.
Porbeagle sharks up to nearly 350lb have been caught recently, as well as record-breaking thresher sharks, and huge blue sharks up to 250lb. A few years ago, a near 200lb Mako Shark was caught by one very lucky angler - the first ever to be caught off the coast of Wales. The Celtic Deeps is a truly special place. While you are out fishing for your very own Jaws you will see outstanding wildlife, including dolphins, sunfish, and whales. You might even spot the occasional sea turtle!
The stretch of coastline between Aberdyfi and Tywyn is one of the best locations in Wales for bass fishing. This stretch is known as Trefeddian and is a prolific mark for bass, mackerel, grey mullet, flounder, black bream and specimen sized tope.
Further along at Tonfannau, where the River Dysynni flows out into Cardigan Bay, is an ancient causeway called Sarn Y Bwlch, where lure fishing for bass can be fast and furious. I have fished here with local angler and guide Mathew Rickard, who is an expert when it comes to this method of fishing. After watching a bass taking your surface lure you will truly be 'hooked' on this style of fishing.
Aberdyfi itself is a beautiful seaside village with many fine restaurants – head to Seabreeze for some of the best coastal dining around.
There is a superb charter boat based in Aberdyfi that can take you out to distant wrecks to fish for pollack, cod, ling and conger eels, or closer inshore for some outstanding fishing. Forty species have been caught here including record-sized tope!
Penrhyn Llŷn (The Llŷn Peninsula), Gwynedd
I first fished Pen Llŷn as a teenager, and found it to be a truly magical place. The peninsula is an area of North Wales steeped in history and myths, and at its furthest point at Uwchmynydd it looks out on to the beautiful Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island).
The great thing about the Llŷn Peninsula is that it is always ‘fishable’, meaning that if there is a strong northerly wind you can fish in the shelter of the south coast, and vice versa with a strong south westerly wind. Some of my favourite fishing spots include Morfa Nefyn on the north coast, where I caught my first tope off the shore, and Porth Colmon for specimen bull huss.
Regarding the south of the peninsula, Trwyn Cilan is a very popular spot for specimen huss, big ballan wrasse, pollack, garfish and mackerel. Next to Trwyn Cilan is Porth Neigwl (Hell's Mouth), a fantastic surf beach that is one of the premiere venues for bass fishing in North Wales. As well as the superb shore fishing available, there are many charter boats who fish both sides of the peninsula and offer deep sea fishing for bass, pollack, tope, bream, pollack and bull huss. If you have an interest in the local history, head to Porth y Swnt to learn more.
Header image courtesy of © Julian Lewis Jones