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Porthmadog Estuary.

The area covered is from the sluice gates in Porthmadog to the point known locally as the Powder House

The Powder House is close to where the river meets the open sea. From the sluice to the Powder House is a total distance of approximately 1 miles.

Approximately 1 mile from the sluice gates the river Glaslyn is joined from the left (the Portmerion side of the estuary) by the river Dwyryd and generally speaking this last mile offers the best chance of a large bass, unfortunately it is also a Mecca for jet skiers and water skiers in the summer especially at weekends and in school holidays. If you want to fish here your best option by far is a night session or midweek trip outside of school holidays.

Sluice Gates and Harbour
Borth-y-Gest & Danger Rock  
Powder House

Peeler or soft back crab:- available from the shop in season
Lugworm:- Can be dug behind the Ffestiniog Railway.   
Harbour Rag:- Can be dug in the mud directly behind the Ffestiniog Railway, also plentiful from mud at Borth-y-Gest
Lures:- available thru the shop.

For some reason fresh bait is a must for fishing the estuary. 

The Sluice Gates, Bridge and Harbour  (map)

The harbour, the road bridge and the and sluice gates can all be fished at either high or low water depending upon the species your targeting.  


If you want to target the bass right in town itself then I suggest a summer time spring tide when high water falls between midnight and 2am. The killer tactic is to fish from sluice gates side of the harbour bridge just as the tide begins its ebb. You fish from the bridge itself using light gear and smallish hooks, size 4 is plenty big enough, you free line or use a small float or a small swan shot weight aiming to get your bait fluttering near the waters surface right under the bridge itself. The best bait is bunches of 4 or 5 harbour ragworm. If there are any bass around it won't take long to get a few using this method.  The bass here are only usually school bass up to a maximum of 3lbs although the occasional larger fish will be taken. 

My own experiences fishing for bass elsewhere in harbour have been quite fruitless. The bridge for some reason offers the best chance of catching bass. 


At low water very large mullet some easily 8lb -10lbs cruise the shallows in and around the harbour. On calm summer days the bow waves they make as they move through these shallows are visible all over place there are so many fish. The fish really become a viable target for anglers for 2hrs around low water. The best bait is bread and the fish can be caught with patience.  About an hour or so after low water when the flood tide begins the fish start to move and are more difficult to contact.  For this style of fishing a pair of polarised sun glasses are a must.


For some reason flatfish aren't as abundant as they once were in the harbour, indeed the same is true for the whole estuary. Having said that they can still be caught just not in the same numbers. You best chance of taking fish is on the incoming tide fishing over the clean sand just after the tide covers it, the small beach off the corner of Snowdon Wharf was a one time favourite mark. Use light tackle with plain leads and small hooks baited with fresh harbour rag worm.  


Eels will turn up anywhere and everywhere. The snaggy ground by the sluice gates is a favourite spot. The eels are most active on summer or autumn nights when HW occurs after sunset.  Fish 2hrs either side of high water  using large lug worm, crab or lob worm baits. The eels a generally quite small with only very occasional fish over 2lbs.    

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The poisonous weaver fish is quite abundant in 
the estuary during the summer so be careful not to 
grab one thinking it's a small bass!

On all but the largest spring tides the estuary down to the powder house can be fished with light tackle,  carp or pike rods with line of 10-15 lbs.  Weights should be in the 60 to  90gm range and even lighter for the 2hrs around high or the 2 hours around low water. 

Borth-y-Gest,  (map)  Danger Rock and Samson's Bay (map)

Borth-y-Gest is a small village situated of a mile from Porthmadog's main harbour, it lies just beyond the the headland where Porthmadog's dockside buildings end. It surrounds a small a small muddy u-shaped bay off the main estuary. By car from Porthmadog you follow the signs for Black Rock Sands, just as you reach the top of the hill on the edge of town you take a left hand turn sign posted for Borth-y-Gest. Follow this road for a mile and park in the public car park.   

From the car park it's possible to walk the full length of the estuary to the Powder House following the coastal path a distance of approximately 1 miles. The coastal path follows the edge of the estuary most of the way.

Anywhere along the estuary offers the chance of decent bass although from confluence of the Glaslyn and Dwyryd your chances of a big fish increase.

Following the coastal path down the estuary you'll find plenty of small beaches with cliffs and rocks at the high water mark, you can fish any off these marks from low water casting into the river channel right up to high water and back down again if you so wish. Tackle can be kept light in all but the largest spring tides so carp style rods are fine. 

A productive method is to fish a plain lead so that the current slowly moves it,  this will normally need a range of weights from 1 ozs up to 3ozs depending upon the state of the tide.  No complicated rigs are needed just use a simple running ledger with about 12" - 18" hook length. Hooks themselves can be kept small size 2 or 4 when using harbour rag with larger sizes for lug worm or crab.

The best bait is peeler crab as it sorts out the better sized fish but if crab isn't available then bunches of harbour rag or single lug worm will catch fish.  Normally the bass and flatfish will be most active when there's some tidal movement. The hour either side of high water is often a quiet spell when the bait robbing crabs are the only things willing to play. 

In summer and especially during school holiday the beaches can be very busy during the daytime so a night session is best. Jet skiers aren't so active this far up the estuary so they shouldn't be a major problem. You'll usually only encounter them  further down towards Samson's Bay.

There are 2 rocks jutting out into the estuary which become Islands at high water, known locally as 'The First Danger Rock' and 'The Second Danger Rock' so called because both have life saving apparatus on them. The First and The Second prefixes simply refer to the order in which you encounter them as you travel down the estuary towards the sea.   

Anywhere from The First Danger Rock down to Samson's Bay (local names) offer you an excellent chance of that specimen bass. This is the area where the rivers Glaslyn and Dwyryd meet. 

Both Danger Rocks offer a good spot for fishing the channel at low water and a few hours into the flood but take care if you do as the both become islands at high water. The island shown in the foreground of the picture is The Second Danger Rock and the island just visible in the distance is the First Danger Rock. From the spot where the picture was taken is a small rocky headland just beyond The Second Danger Rock where strong currents come close to the base of the rocks making it ideal for the bass.  There are also some huge mullet to be seen and which feed right at the foot of the rocks, but this far down the estuary they are very wary and easily spooked. 

Landing a large fish at this mark is easier and less risky if you've got a landing net. 

You'll get small school bass with occasional flounder using harbour rag, with better fish on peeler or soft back crab. The estuary has many marks which look as though they'd offer some good lure fishing but this is something not many people seem to practice here.

If the jet skiers or the water skiers are active then you might as well find another mark. 

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Powder House (Black Rock Sands) (map)

A great spot early or late season before water skiers and jet skiers become too active, but having said that their season seems to get longer each year so to avoid them fish mid week if you get the chance.

The estuary is actually quite narrow here at low water and this is when to fish this mark. Every bass, flounder, sea trout or salmon entering the estuary will have to pass through this narrow stretch of water. 

This is a low water mark fished 2 hrs either side of low water. Access to the mark is either by driving along the beach and parking as close as possible to the estuary or parking close to the Golf Club and walking along the public right of way. Be careful the closer you get to the estuary sand can become quite soft. Access to the beach is controlled during the summer months and the gates to beach locked at night. Early season and late season the gates should remain open. 

Like the rest of the estuary bass and flatfish will be your target species. Carbs will out score all baits with harbour rag and lug a close second.  A really nice spot early morning mid week in the summer when there's no water or jet skiers and only the occasional boat passing by.      

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