Today saw our first boat trip of the year out of Minehead up on the North coast of Somerset. We had been due to fish the previous month but the trip had been cancelled due to bad weather, so we were relieved to be able to get out today. We were fortunate to have wall to wall sunshine, even if it did start off with a biting cold wind.
There was a strong tide which meant we wouldn’t be able to fish too far offshore, so we started off hugging the shoreline just off of White Mark, before heading further out onto the sand banks as the tide slackened.
Being creatures of habit, Mike and myself settled into our usual positions on board with two uptide rods apiece. We both decided to fish fresh peeler crab on one rod and fish baits on the other. It is early in the year for smoothhound here in the Bristol Channel but we thought it worth testing the waters as it were. I thought the gamble had paid off at a couple of points during the day, when nice bites on the crab rod caught my attention. Sadly each time the hook was returned stripped of bait.
The rays thankfully were more obliging. I fished big fish baits consisting of half a herring, a generous strip of squid and a sandeel, all bound on a pennell hook set up with bait elastic. This big bait approach worked, with the endless procession of dogfish that this drew in, invariably brought up half choked on the bait without the hooks actually in them – which made returning them that much easier. It also reaped rewards in the form of two big blonde rays both double figure fish, a thornback ray and a conger. Mike topped up the ray tally with a pair of thornbacks too.
The day ended all too soon, and we got back into the harbour with just enough water to float the boat.
Looking forward to next months trip – May being one of the most prolific months for catching smoothhound in our part of the Bristol Channel. Think this year I’m going to renew my hardback verse peeler crab test to see if there really is any discernible difference when it comes to fishing for hounds. Last years experiment in May time was inconclusive with both catching their fair share of fish.