How I got hooked on fishing

Cerys Matthews never expected a one-off boat-trip to become a passion for fishing that only grows deeper over time. Nowadays the singer and presenter finds that fishing in Wales provides utter escapism on a family day out.

Porthgain seafront

Cerys Matthews with Blue Shark off Pembrokeshire coast

Cerys Matthews with Blue Shark, Pembrokeshire coast by Rhys Llewellyn

My brothers and grandfather had always fished in coves in and around Swansea and Pembrokeshire but I was always the one in the kitchen, ready to gut and cook the haul as mum couldn't stand the smell of fish.

And apart from useless attempts at crab-lining and terrorising anemones and guppies in rockpools in Aberfelin and Traeth Llyfn, and once dragging a dead dogfish along the Mumbles mile (eugh!), I didn’t really get hooked.

Then I became pregnant with my first child. At eight months in, post a Glastonbury Festival show and a tour to promote my Cookahoop album in 2003, I’d hung up my guitar and was waiting for the due date.

Those last weeks of pregnancy are tantamount to being at the back of the slowest moving and longest queue you have ever been in. And although the bounty at the end is a good ’un, it’s still a daily torture.

So I hung about at the seafront in Porthgain and that’s when I had an idea.

Let me come on your boat, skipper this nine-month pregnant lady yelled.

Most skippers felt a cursory nod to the metal ladder fixed into the crumbling red-brick walls – the 100-year-old vertical metal ladder I would have to descend to reach the boats – would put me off.

But pregnant women cannot be moved once they have set their minds on things.

I climbed down the ladder and got into the fishing boat. My first fishing trip was for the humble mackerel just off the West Wales coast. Yes, mackerel.

That’s not real fishing, I can hear all you fishermen say. Well, it was real fishing for me.

Fishy, fishy, jump on my line! I sang. And they did, in spectacular iridescent wriggling dress. And I got hooked.

Since then I’ve been fishing in rivers for shark off Milford Haven and cast for grayling and brown trout in the River Wye. And I've taken my daughter pole and line fishing in Ian Heaps’ school of angling at Llawhaden near Narberth. 

More fishing operators in West Wales

Family fishing days out 


That first child, Glenys, then three years old, was more interested in tickling the golden carp once they were landed, but in her own way she loved the day’s events just as much as I did.

Now my second child is seven and is planning to come on the next fishing trip, going after sea bass off Milford Haven in the Irish Sea.

Fishing in Wales is such a good day out; an audience with nature that always puts a spring in our step as a family. It’s so far removed from gadgets and city life.

And if I’m still the only one left in the kitchen to gut and cook? I’m happy.

Tight lines, all.