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!


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.

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


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.

2017-06-04 Minehead SMoothhound




2017 – New Years Fishing Resolution

Another fishing year has snuck up on us! 2017 has arrived and like every year, it’s full of promise for the coming months -promise of fish to be caught and fishing venues to be enjoyed. Looking back at last years goals it seems I succeeded to some extent – i.e: to catch more sea fish on the fly, (thanks to my summer holidays on the Scilly Isles). Having said that, other than a single exploratory trip to the Teign Estuary I totally failed to find more saltwater fly fishing venues closer to home – in fact I shamefully didn’t really try… With that in mind my new year fishing resolution for 2017 is to not only do more salt water fly fishing but to explore more and new salty venues with the fly rod. It’ll be interesting to look back this time next year and count up how many venues and different species I’ve managed over the coming year.

So, alongside the usual boat fishing and coarse fishing I just need to find more time to dedicate to SWFF. Easy hey?

Black Bream from Beer

Mid September is prime time for black bream in Lyme Bay with the boats usually fully booked up at this time of year. We only had the single trip booked up this year out of Beer, so were desperately keeping fingers crossed for good weather in the lead up to the trip.

Fishing out of Beer is totally dependant on having the correct wind conditions as it needs to be right for the boats to be able to launch off the beach and be recovered back up the steep shingle bank at the end of the day. Thankfully a favourable forecast meant we were able to go, and a gentle northerly breeze on the day made for flat conditions and our hopes were high for a successful days fishing.

Fishing Beer is always enjoyable, and affords the opportunity to fish light tackle in marked contrast to our usual fishing in the Bristol Channel’s vicious tides.

We anchored up and quickly put down ground bait of chopped mackerel and squid. Both Mike and myself as well as the skipper all fished light downtide rods with generally small hooks and a selection of fish and squid baits.

The first bream wasn’t long in coming aboard and after that we had a slow but steady stream of bites and fish throughout the rest of the day. Many were a good size and all fought fantastically on light tackle. I fished the majority of the time with a 6-12lb class boat rod and braid mainline with a 4 or 6oz lead. During slacker periods of tide I even managed to get away with a light spinning rod and fixed spool reel with 2oz lead. That really made for an exciting scrap with a few decent sized bream, the biggest of which was 3lb.

We keep the biggest fish for the pot, but returned all the smaller fish. In total we had over 40 bream between the 3 of us which made for a fun day out. Honours for the biggest bream of the day went to Mike with a 3.5lb fish.

In amongst the bream there were a few dogfish, a bull huss, a couple of nice pollack, some jumbo sized mackerel, several scad, poor cod plus a big tub gurnard for the skipper. I also managed to pull up 3 spider crabs when we had a quiet spell between bites.

Quite a successful trip all round.


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.