Charlie’s First Fish

       There were two weeks in July 2021 when the weather was extremely hot with blue skies and sunshine every day. My oldest son Peter brought his partner Anna and their son Charlie to Wales for a week’s camping.  We have our own private campsite in woodland of The Anchorage.  Because they live in Scotland they are used to ‘wild camping’ as they call it – that is in the wild and not in a campsite. This is permitted in Scotland.

     Peter brought his short-shaft Seagull outboard and I brought my Mirror dinghy. She was built by me out in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in 1977 and I used to sail her in the Red Sea until it was forbidden and permits were required even for lagoon sailing.  So I shipped her back to Wales and kept her in a dry garage where she does not deteriorate. Peter wanted his son to catch his first fish.  So one sunny day we towed the dinghy to Dale and launched her from the slipway there.  There were four of us in the boat so we could not move about but Peter had plenty of fishing gear.

     Charlie was eight years old and had much to see as we motored out through the many small boats moored in Dale Bay.  Then it was past Dale fort and on past Watwick Bay where there were many boats anchored in such fine weather.  We passed the East Blockhouse and went on to St Ann’s Head and then started fishing in the bay below the lighthouse. We hoped the mackerel had arrived.  This was soon proved correct when Anna caught two mackerel together. The next successful fisherman was Charlie who caught the biggest mackerel of the day.  He was much excited and I took it off the hook for him.  The wind was getting up and we were blowing out into the shipping channel where some oil tankers were making their way out of the haven. We motored back to the cliffs twice.  Peter caught our fourth and last fish off St Ann’s Head which was a pollack.

    By later afternoon we were all getting a bit too much sunburn and the tide had turned and was going out.  The wind changed to blow out through the entrance of the haven with the outgoing tide.  Our motor back to the slipway at Dale was bumpy and we had showers of spray coming in over the blunt bow of the dinghy, so we bailed all the way back.  We landed and my son Peter who is now immensely strong (as I was in former years) was easily able to haul the dinghy and trailer up the slip to the road.

    We returned to our campsite that evening and had BBQ’d fresh fish for supper.  A few months before Peter arrived, I had planted some seed potatoes in some large pots at our campsite.  So each evening Charlie and I would dig up new potatoes from a pot and then boil them for supper having them with salty welsh butter on them.  Charlie was very impressed with the new potatoes and the grilled fresh mackerel.  He ate all of his first mackerel and became most enthusiastic about fishing.   The following evening we went to the Hake Inn in Hakin and had fish and chips for our evening meal. We took our meal down to the mackerel stage on Milford Docks and ate it there, while admiring the wide views of the waterway.   Charlie our new fish enthusiast manged to eat entirely by himself one huge jumbo cod fillet.

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