Back with the Hounds

First boat trip of the year out of Minehead and we were back into the Smoothhounds as hoped for… A spell of reasonable weather boded well for the trip and suitably armed with a bucket of fresh peeler crab between the 3 of us, we had high hopes for plenty of action with the hounds. The month of May always seems to be one of the very best for reliably catching smooth hounds in the Bristol Channel and this months trip bore that out.

The anchor hadn’t been out too long before we were into fish – not only landing good sized smoothhounds but also losing a good few along the way; Probably a few too many! This was pretty much the story of the day, with us losing just about as many as we eventually landed. Not sure why today we were losing so many fish but that’s the mystery of fishing I suppose.

My father started off with a couple of very nice fish, up at the 12lb mark just to “show us how’s it’s done”. Chris and I, did also boat our fair share of hounds, but they weren’t quite up to that size, (or at least the ones we landed weren’t….)

Along with the Smoothhounds, there was the obligatory dogfish as well as a couple of congers and some Thornbacks. I think we finished the trip with around 20 hounds and 4 thornbacks between us, along with the congers and doggies, so not a bad start to the year in my books.

Look forward to what the rest of the trips this year will bring!




Wrasse fishing at East Prawle

A family camping trip down in the South Hams area and glorious weather meant it would have been rude to not at least try to get out for a spot of fishing at some stage over the weekend. Late one afternoon we managed to find a small window of fishing opportunity which Jason and I grabbed with enthusiasm. We had 2 hours of rock fishing down near East Prawle with conditions looking perfect for Wrasse – Calm…

2018-08-03 East Prawle 0851

I Lure fished with a cone weight and soft lures on weedless set up. Just bumping the lures back slowly across the bottom. This was a spot I’ve caught numerous wrasse from in the past and I was anticipating great things! As it turned out, we weren’t destined to be pulling out fish after fish and were in danger of going back to the tents fishless!

I only had one definite bite that turned out to be from a small ballan wrasse. Not any size but very welcome all the same. It saved us from a blank at least.

We had to pack up in the end as it was getting dark and our presence was required back at camp.

2018-08-04 wrasse - East Prawle

Uptiding for Small-eyed Ray

Uptiding in the Bristol Channel during summer almost always throws up some ray. This months trip from Minehead was no exception. We fished an 8 hour trip over the low tide. Weather was gloriously sunny, very hot and flat calm. Couldn’t ask for better weather!


The fishing turned out to be as excellent as the weather with plenty of ray coming aboard – there were times when two of us were playing fish at the same time.

We started on the sand off Greenleigh with us all using two rods each. Dad had a thornback that took both his baits at the same time so when he lost the fish in the strong tide on one rod he picked up the other and landed it on that rod… I’ve not seen that before.

I had probably one of the smallest baby tope I’ve ever seen, before we moved offshore to the sandbanks where we fished for most of the day.

On the sandbanks, I caught 9 small-eyed ray, whilst my father had a thornback ray, and 2 blonde rays and Chris had a further 3 Small-eyed ray. All in all not a bad selection of fish on board – 3 different species of ray! Most of the rays took either sandeel or herring baits. There was a really strong tide running when we first anchored. So much so, that I had a ray snap me up where I just couldn’t shift it against the tidal run. Most of the rays arrived as the tide dropped off slightly and started to turn.

Once the tide had picked up enough to make fishing problematic, we moved back inshore to the rocky ground off the point where we all had hounds on crab, both Starry and Common variety. All this whilst trying to fend off the hordes of dogfish!


Uptiding at Minehead

Our recent boat trip in the Bristol Channel at Minehead delivered slow but steady sport. We were fishing an 8 Hour trip over low water and were blessed with great conditions: Sunny and hot, starting off windy but with the wind dying away to leave us with flat calm conditions by the end. Time for the sun-screen then!

2018-06-30 Minehead IMG_0389

Uptiding with two rods I had a steady stream of fish even if I wasn’t rushed off my feet: 1 small smoothhound a couple of nice sized small-eyed rays, a spotted ray, strap conger and numerous doggies.

In amongst all the dogfish, my father had 3 smoothhounds, and a small-eyed ray whilst my brother, not to be outdone also caught a smoothhound and finished off with 2 congers so generally we had a satisfyingly productive if not amazing session.

At the start the easterly wind meant we motored down to seek shelter in Porlock bay which fishwise wasn’t that productive a spot today. As the wind dropped off we moved back to Selworthy Sands and then the rough ground near Greenleigh Sands. Despite the slow fishing it proved enjoyable.

Smoothhounds Galore!

Fished out of Minehead with my Father and Brother. Only a short 6 hour trip over the top of the tide but still plenty of time to get in amongst the fish!

The weather was kind to us: sunny, warm and calm to start with although the wind picked up later on.

I had 17-18 smoothhounds and couple of bull huss along with the usual hordes of dogfish. All the hounds were a very good size which made for a cracking day’s fishing. My dad and brother also enjoyed good sport with the hounds and I think we ended the day with around 40 smoothhounds between us.


I fished two uptide rods as usual with crab on one and fish baits on the other. Mainly used peeler crab but switched to hardback crabs once we’d run out of peelers.

A very enjoyable days fishing! Finished the day with aching arms….


Isles of Scilly 2017 (Part 3) – Float Fishing Live Prawn

A family holiday on the Scillies invariably involves plenty of beach days and swimming or paddling in the sea. On a few of the days we saw lots of shrimps / prawns and on the spur of the moment the girls and I filled a small bucket with some monster prawns – Perfect for bait I thought. We popped out to try a spot of float fishing with the prawns off the rocks and first cast I had a wrasse on a prawn. I passed the rod to Isobel to try her luck next, but this first fish proved to be the only one we were destined to catch with the prawns despite Isobel being phenomenally patient. After that it was back to the lure fishing….

See Parts One and Two here, to read about the fly and lure fishing side of things.


Isles of Scilly 2017 (Part 2) – Lure Fishing for Wrasse

With very changeable weather throughout our recent holiday, lure fishing was by far the favoured method over all others. While the weather was mainly dry with sunny spells, the wind was pretty fearsome on certain days making lure fishing far easier than fly fishing – See Part 1.

On arrival, the first day I started off fishing with lures. Fished a sheltered bay out of the wind and used the Megabass xLayer lures fished weedless. Had a few takes and landed a small wrasse. Didn’t fish for long because of the weather conditions but was just keen to get out and pleased to start off with a fish.

Lure fishing for Wrasse - Isles of Scilly

Over the course of the holiday, I generally explored the east of the island and tucked myself into whichever place was most sheltered and out of the wind. The coast produced numerous nice sized wrasse to small weighed shads and soft worms fished weedless with cone weights. My biggest fish of this trip was just over 4lb.

Some days had lots of action whereas other days less so. I think finding a shallow weedy, rocky spot where the sea was calm and fishing it on the flood tide was the principle of success.

Lure fishing for Wrasse - Isles of Scilly

After some success on my own over a few trips, I took the family along for a try on some nice easily accessible rocks. Fished for a bit but took a while to find where the fish were. Once I’d had a couple of takes and lost a nice fish, I knew we were in the right spot so let the girls have a go. They’re used to pole fishing and have even done a spot of fly fishing but never had to cast a fixed spool reel before. I showed them how to cast and it was only a couple of casts before they were doing ok. Wrasse usually take the lures in close or under the rod tip so they had no problem reaching the fish. Rhianna had a few casts, bumped the lure back along the bottom feeling the lure hitting the rocks but was stressing she wouldn’t know what a bite felt like. I assured her she’d know and at that moment a 4.5lb wrasse decided to try to pull her in. Battling with a large wrasse with a light spinning rod is exciting stuff with no room for playing gently. She did really well to keep the fish out of the rocks and get it to the net. It proved to be the biggest fish of the holiday. Isobel and Maria also both caught wrasse. Great to see their smiling faces!

Over the course of the holiday I lost a good number of fish in the rocks having failed to stop their powerful runs. You can usually feel if its terminally stuck and you’re unlikely to see the lure again: and it’s pretty soul destroying to pull for a break when you know it’s a good fish. The fact that I’d only brought limited cone weights and worm hooks which the shop on the island didn’t stock was a little unfortunate. In these circumstances, losing too much tackle would have forced a switch of tactics.  I usually crush the barbs down on my hooks and have to say never felt at any stage that I was in danger of losing a fish to a thrown hook and boy does it make it easier to unhook the fish once landed. Another benefit is that if a fish does get totally snagged where the only option left normally would be to pull for a break is that you can occasionally give it slack – at which point there’s the chance it’ll ditch the hook and you can retrieve the lure.

Isles of Scilly 2017 (Part 1) – Fly Fishing

Two weeks of holiday in the Isles of Scilly provided the perfect opportunity for a spot of fishing – The weather was changeable throughout the holiday – generally dry with sunny spells although the wind varied between brutally strong to light. Strong winds favoured lure fishing and made fly fishing difficult (See Part 2 for a lure fishing slant). The first real chance to fly fish was on a trip to Tresco. Whilst the Family played on the beach, I explored the north end of the island to shelter from the southerly wind. Used fast sinking 40+ line which cast really well and sunk super fast – much faster than any fly lines I’ve used before. This caused problems when fishing shallower weedy marks but was really good for the deeper areas. Despite all the promise the location held, I had no interest from the fish at all sadly.

The next fly fishing opportunity was whilst fishing the rocks on the east of St Mary’s with lure and fly rod. I mainly used the lure rod and had a lot of success. I did however give the fly rod a reasonably thorough go with various flies and did have a few follows from small wrasse, but frustratingly no takes. Given that the fish were queuing up to attack the soft lures there was no contest as to which method to concentrate on.

With nicer weather forecast for one of the days it finally tempted me to pop out to Penennis Head at dawn to fish the deep water there for Pollack. The wind blowing in an awkward direction however, made things difficult and on top of this my casting was pretty atrocious too – despite this, I had numerous takes on small sparsely dressed sandeel looking flies and landed several small pollack. Just happy to catch something on the fly rod at least.

With the easy fishing and greater success on the lure rod, I found myself reaching for the lure rod rather than the fly rod for the majority of the holiday so didn’t really manage to do as much fly fishing as I had intended. Will have to be a little bit more single minded in future perhaps.

Small-Eyed Ray bonanza in the Bristol Channel

When boat fishing at Minehead I’d usually expect to catch a few rays; Blonde, Small-eyed, Spotted or Thornback. Some days we can catch quite a few during the course of the day but our last trip out of Minehead was spectacular for the quantity and quality of the Small-Eyed Ray.

Mike and I fished our usual two uptide rods each; I started with sandeel on one and herring on the other. We were fishing in close over the sand and targeting ray so it was no surprise when the first couple of Small-Eyes came up on the rods fishing the sandeel baits. The next half dozen ray came to the herring however, at which point I switched to fishing herring on both rods. Mike followed suit, and we had managed close to 20 fish in the first 2 hours – not bad fishing by anyone’s standards! To top things off, Mike pulled up not 1 but 2 small turbot. Adding to this, the complete lack of dogfish, who at this time of the year seem to go on holiday really marked this out as a red letter day!

By the time the bites tailed off, the falling tide had left us with almost no water under the keel so a move out to deeper water was in order. There we fished a variety of baits, and proceeded to land our first couple of doggies of the trip and a few conger eels. I had a few Starry Smoothhounds on crab whilst Mike boated a beautifully marked Spotted Ray. The day’s only disappointment for my point of view was losing a good fish that put a serious bend in the rod as soon as I wound into it, before giving a couple of shakes of it’s head and proceeding to bite straight through my 80lb hook length.. Needless to say, but I didn’t hear the end of that mishap for the rest of the trip.

Once the tide had turned and begun to pick back up, we moved in closer again hoping to pick up where we’d left off earlier. It wasn’t to be, and although we did have a couple more Small-Eyed Ray, they weren’t as prolific as earlier in the day. Arguably, my highlight of the day was to pull up a small turbot on a herring strip – My first ever turbot I believe!!. Small but perfectly formed!. To crown our trip off on the last cast, Mike caught a welcome bass as well, just to add to the species count. All in all I don’t think the trip could have gone much better.


Smoothhounds & Dogfish at Minehead

This months trip out of Minehead didn’t look like it was going to go ahead when I checked the weather forecast in the days leading up to the weekend; fresh north westerly winds not being ideal for the section of Bristol Channel we usually fish. However, the message we got the night before from the skipper was that we were good to go.

I met Mike at the harbour on Sunday and admired the cloudless blue skies and blazing sunshine but have to admit my smile faded somewhat when I walked out onto the harbour and felt the strong NW wind howling. I consoled myself that at least the wind would take some of the edge off the heat.

We were fishing a short 6 hour session over the top of the tide so had the opportunity to head straight out to deeper water rather than shelter in close from the tide as may have been the case otherwise.  Mike and myself fished two uptide rods each as usual and both started with fresh crab baits aimed for the smoothhounds. I baited one of my rods with herring or squid throughout the day. A steady procession of dogfish inevitably came in on the fish and squid baits, including numerous double hook ups when fishing big squid baits; each hook in the pennell set-up accounting for a dogfish which just shows how many of them must of been down there.

2017-07-02 Minehead Dogfish

The crab baits on the other hand didn’t attract much attention from the dogfish. I think this is mainly due to the fact that we fish crab with the shells on. Fishing crab with the shells on, doesn’t deter smoothhounds of rays at all but does help minimise hassle from dogfish.. I had half a dozen good sized smoothhounds before we had to call it a day, and Mike also had a few; the majority being starry hounds although a couple were the ‘common’ variety. Unusually for Minehead we didn’t catch any rays at all – in fact nothing but hounds or dogfish. Having said that, we finished the day feeling we’d had a successful fishing trip which is the aim of the game….

2017-07-02 Minehead smoothound