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!

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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!

 

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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!

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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.

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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….

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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.

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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….

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Quality Smoothhound and Plenty of Ray

This months boat trip out of Minehead supplied plenty of Ray as well as some quality Smoothhound for Mike and myself. The 5:30am start did nothing to dampen our optimism, and we were into fish as soon as the first baits hit the bottom… dogfish of course; and boy did we catch a few of them this trip! The doggies were present in near biblical plague proportions, with any fish bait gobbled up within moments of settling on the sea bed.

Spotted Devil / Dogfish

In amongst the spotted devils there were good fish to be caught, with both Mike and myself having some good smoothhounds, in fact everyone was nudging double figures if not just over the mark. We had around a dozen hounds, both starry and commons; We also had more than a dozen ray between us, mostly Thornback Ray but also a few Small-Eyed Ray. The skipper, Marcus who also fished this trip for a change had a couple of Small-Eyed as well before calling it quits once he’d had enough of pulling up the dogfish.

A couple of small congers graced us with their presence as well, although the smallest of which could have easy passed for a large green eel, size wise… Other than that – the dogfish ruled the day! The only way to not catch them was to fish with hardback crab for the smoothhounds!

The early start paid dividends as we up-anchored and headed for the harbour, watching some of the other boats just heading out – just as the heavens opened and the rain lashed down.

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Boat Fishing at Minehead – Could it Get Any Better?

Wow – what a day’s fishing! Sunday’s trip out of Minehead on the “Edwin John” with skipper, Dave James couldn’t have been much better. The weather was faultless and the fishing pretty damn good too!

Mike and I fished our usual 2 uptide rods apiece and had numerous good fish in amongst the hordes of dogfish that snaffled our baits. It’s amazing how easy the fishing is when you don’t have to struggle to stay upright whilst fishing – the flat calm conditions really were a very welcome change from some of our recent trips.

We had an early start and an 8 hour trip, so plenty of time to get into the swing of things. We started off on the sand banks not far offshore, fishing pretty shallow water in search of rays. I fished sandeel, the ever favourite ray bait, on one rod and switched between whole herring fillet or whole squid on the other rod. All fish baits were eagerly greeted by the dogfish, but in amongst them came some good rays. My first two were both double figure small-eyed rays – one on herring and the other squid, by which time the tide had dropped sufficiently to allow us to move further along to another area of sandbank not fishable in the full tide flow.

At this new location we would again primarily be targeting rays but the sandbanks here could also through up the potential of smoothhounds as we were reliably informed by the skipper. So it was that the first decent fish I connected with here was a lively starry smoothhound which showed no hesitation in devouring the hardback crab used as bait. We both added further hounds to our tallies; me using hardback crab and Mike using fresh peeler crab; before the rays came back on the feed again.

Mike had a couple of nice Thornback rays on sandeel, whilst I had a couple of thornbacks too, and 3 more small-eyed ray, including another double figure fish. Again, my rays all with the exception of one which took a sandeel, were taken on herring or squid. After the tide had turned and picked up enough to make winding in even a small dogfish a strenuous activity, Dave called for a move. We headed back closer to the shoreline, to fish a patch of rougher ground where the skipper again announced we might expect rays, conger or hounds…. exciting!

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Mike persevered with crab in the hope of further hounds, or he would no doubt have had more rays, whilst I only dabbled with the crab bait on one rod every now and again. It seemed to pay off when, I had another cracking bite on the rod fishing crab bait, only for the unmistakable feel of a conger to be felt as I wound up and tightened into the fish. Still, shouldn’t be ungrateful as it was another different species to brighten the day yet further.. Following this, I was fortunate enough to round off the day by adding to my tally of different ray species by landing a blonde ray.

Can’t complain about a day’s fishing like that – perfect weather, a smattering of smoothhounds, conger, dogfish, and 3 different species of ray. If only every trip could be half as productive and with weather to match…

Start of the year Ray Fishing in Bristol Channel

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.

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Bull Huss – the daddy of all Dogfish.

October out on the Bristol Channel and it’s all beginning to feel considerably more autumnal now. Sunshine or not, the stiff north easterly breezy today was pretty chilly.

Mike and myself fished our usual brace of uptide rods each, and with a smallish tide we were able to head out to deeper water from the off without having to hang around inshore waiting for the tide to ease.

Mike picked up a good smoothhound on the first cast, whilst true to form I pulled in a dogfish. We had steady action throughout the day, with conger eels being around in significant numbers.

I had 8+ congers, some of them a decent size too, along with another 3 or 4 that I lost (usually as the result of being bitten off – despite the 80lb mono traces). I also landed a small tope although only about dogfish size, along with a few proper doggies and a couple of Bull Huss – the biggest being a pleasing 12lb.

Mike had congers and dogfish before finished off the trip with his 2nd smoothhound of the day weighing in at just shy of 14lb. Quite a fun day all in all. Most of my fish came to whole calamari, whereas Mike’s hounds were all needless to say on crab.

Only one more trip left now for this year then it’s our winter break from the boat fishing before recommencing in the spring. Maybe November’s trip will see a cod or two, you never know!

The Bristol Channel in September

Quick update on Septembers trip out of Minehead.

Overcast but warm with nice calm conditions which made for easy and pleasant fishing.  Mike and myself both up tiding as usual with two rods each. I caught a couple of smoothhound and 2 small-eyed ray. Only had a solitary dogfish as did Mike which was pretty mind boggling considering their usual prolific numbers here in the Bristol Channel. It made for a change to be able to chill out and wait for bites from other fish without being bothered every few minutes by dogfish.

Whilst my day might of been a little quieter than usual, Mike did have half a dozen smoothhounds and a small-eyed ray to go with his dogfish, so all in all we had a respectable number of decent fish on the boat between us.