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Oxwich Bay on the Gower Peninsular offers some of the best fishing in the UK. The number of species that can be caught here is phenomenal and I always look forward to my visits to the area.
Two of my favourite targets are the hard fighting smooth hounds and the thornback ray and both are present in the bay so my expectations of a good day were high.

I was joined by Martin and Steve, both having driven over five hours to get here and on the beach we were all armed with a dozen peeler crabs each as bait for the hounds. We hoped to catch some fresh mackerel as bait for the ray. It was a glorious paddle out to the marks and we were soon anchored in 35ft of water over a sandy bottom.

On a simple single hook running ledger rig I bound a soft crab to a 1/0 hook and cast it out. Within ten minutes the rod started to nod and then just lurched over. My first hound was on. These are hard fighting fish and don’t give up even when brought onto the yak so are one of the most fun fish to catch. Only a pup at around four pound but great sport all the same. This continued for most of the morning with the fish finding the crab as soon as it hit bottom. Martin had the best fish of around twelve pounds whilst I had one rogue dogfish who decided to curl up around my paddle and go to sleep. He remained there for ten minutes before unravelling and diving back into the ocean.

Once all my crab was used it was time to try for ray.

I managed to feather up just one mackerel and a fillet was bound onto the hook with a sandeel. Again it didn’t take long for the fish to find the bait. The rod nodded gently in a tell-tale ray bite as the fish moved over the bait. The key here is to sit on your hands and wait. It may be a minute or it may be ten but eventually the rod just bends over and doesn’t stop as the fish moves into the tide. For the first few minutes it felt like I wasn’t going to get the fish off the bottom but eventually I begin to gain line and after a couple of dives it was on the surface, then into the yak. I managed two of these, neither particularly large but still a joy to catch, before running out of bait and deciding it was time to return to shore.

It is always a pleasure to visit this part of the UK coastline and when the fish play ball it is certainly true that the hounds and ray do make for a great day.