Please note – Sea fishing can be dangerous but many marks around the Bristol Channel/Severn Estuary are especially dangerous. This is because this area has one of the widest tidal ranges in the world and some of the strongest tidal flows in the British Isles. In many areas the tide comes in and goes out with great speed and it is very easy to be cut off by the incoming tide. As well as this much of the inter-tidal ground is made of soft mud and sand which can pose a real hazard to anglers as it is possible to sink into this type of ground. Specific safety issues are mentioned in the articles but please take great care when fishing any of the marks mentioned below.
Babbacombe Pier – Good mark for a range of species. Ideal to float fish or spin for mackerel and garfish, plus chance of a pollock too. Mackerel strip on a size 1 or 1/0 seems to be the best method for float fishing, with baits set just below the surface for garfish and deeper for mackerel. Bottom fishing can provide dogfish, pouting, plenty of whiting and potentially school bass in the summer. The best technique is to cast a mackerel or squid strip, ragworm or lugworm out on a two hook flapping rig with size 1/0 hooks and see what is caught. Because the pier is quite compact there can be issues with anglers getting in the way of each other and the place can be full of inexperienced ‘mackerel bashers’ in the summer months. Fish here at night when the chances of catching will be greatly increased and mackerel crowds and tourists will not be present. High tide is the best time. All of the species caught at Babbacombe pier will also be caught here, along with flatfish such as flounder and possibly Dover sole. The rockier parts of the beach could produce wrasse and more desirable fish could be caught such as a decent winter cod or a summer smooth-hound to peeler crab. Parts of the beach are closed due to a major rockfall in 2010. View this area on Google Maps here.
Hopes Nose – A very popular mark that allows short casting into deep water. Towards the right of the mark there is deeper water over rockier ground, while to the left the ground is mixed with less snags but not so deep. In summer mackerel can be caught here on feathers, daylights and spinners, they will also go for float fished baits, as will pollock and garfish. Rockier areas will also produce wrasse, and potentially conger eels to large mackerel, herring or squid baits. Red mullet and black bream are other summer species caught here. Dogfish and pouting can be caught all year round, and whiting and cod come in during the winter. Try casting 4/0 hooks on a pulley rig baited with a big lugworm, squid or mussel bait into the rockier areas for a big cod. It is a long trek down to this mark so bare this in mind before setting off and be careful of fishing in darkness and also be aware of rising water levels if fishing here as the tide comes in. This mark can be busy with anglers when fish are in. Due to the behaviour of some ‘anglers’ the local council has brought in restrictions on how many mackerel can be retained and other activities such as lighting fires and barbecues – see this link for more details. View this area on Google Maps here.
Princess Pier, Torquay – Princess Pier is a popular fishing mark on the south coast, mostly because it is an easily accessible fishing venue. Many anglers coming to this mark in the summer are holiday anglers and the pier can get packed with people on a summer’s night. Many people use lures, feathers and daylights with the aim of catching mackerel, while garfish and pollock may also be caught. Float fishing is also extremely popular here with these all these species also being caught by this method, and wrasse taken as well. Dogfish, pouting and bass may take bottom fished baits such as ragworm, lugworm, mussel, mackerel strip and squid, and the seabed is mostly snag free. One of the main complaints is that the pier can get too congested and too full of anglers who end up getting in the way of each other. There are also restrictions on casting into the harbour. This is strictly banned and all casting must be done into the seaward side. The UK record Spanish mackerel of 1lb 10oz was caught here in 2003.
Brixham Breakwater – Very popular angling venue that can produce lots of fish and species. Many anglers head towards the end of the breakwater which does indeed produce great fishing but decent catches are also made closer in. Summer float fishing a mackerel strip will produce the usual species of mackerel, garfish and pollock, with these species also going for spinners or lures. Black bream can also be caught here, as can mullet in the summer months. This area is quite rocky and can be snaggy but this means that wrasse and potentially conger are caught here. Don’t cast far when conger fishing as they are often caught right next to the structure of the breakwater. Small strap conger often take a mackerel strip meant for other species but there is a chance of catching a much bigger specimen by using size 6/0 hooks and a large herring, mackerel, squid or cuttlefish bait. Dogfish are a constant catch year round, and winter sees the codling, flounder and whiting coming in. View this area on Google Maps here.
Berry Head, Brixham – Rock marks and ledges around Berry Head offer good summer fishing for a range of species, although most can be dangerous in bad weather and walking a long distance may be necessary to reach some fishing marks. The Breakwater and Platform produce summer mackerel and garfish with wrasse and pollock as well, along with black bream and a few more unusual species. Spinners and lures will catch predatory summer species here, while float fishing sandeel, ragworm or mackerel strip will also produce wrasse, garfish and pollock. Presenting a large mackerel bait on the seabed could produce conger, while other baits (rag/lug worms, mackerel strip, peeler crab) could catch dogfish or bull huss, with cod showing as well. Many marks around here have deep water very close in, although the tide can be very strong indeed. The seabed can also be very snaggy for anglers fishing baits on the bottom. The UK record shore caught mackerel of 5lb 11oz was caught from nearby Berry Head Quarry in 1982. View this area on Google Maps here.
Start Bay – Start Bay is made up of a number of different bays and beaches and includes some rockier marks. Pollock and wrasse will be caught around the rocks, and there are always plenty of dogfish here. Pouting also show in numbers at times and there is always the chance of a big summer smooth-hound to a peeler or hardback crab bait. The flat sandy beaches can produce plaice in the spring and summer as well as Dover sole and flounder are also found here in the winter. The beaches around the Slapton area can produce all of these species, with the mark known locally as ‘the tank’ (as it is near a memorial Second World War Sherman tank) being particularly good and Start Point at the southern limit of the bay is another great mark.Big winter cod and plenty of whiting are found throughout the bay in the winter months and it can be worthwhile going big and using a pennell rig with 40/ – 6/0 hooks and large baits to target a big fish. View this area on Google Maps here.
Salcombe – The Salcombe Estuary (also known as the Kingsbridge Estuary) provides a range of species. The mouth of the estuary has sandy areas which can produce flatfish such as plaice, Dover sole and flounder, as well as thornback rays and bass. Keep hooks small (size 1) and use ragworm, lugworm and peeler crab to target the flatfish, while step up the tackle and hook size (size 2/0-4/0) with sandeel, mackerel or peeler crab baits to go for big bass and rays. Rockier areas can potentially produce wrasse and some pollock to float fished baits, while the pollock will also go for spinners and lures. Mackerel can be caught from many marks using daylights, feathers, spinners and float fished baits. Further up the river plenty of flounder can be caught, as well as school bass and mullet in calm conditions. Black bream can also be caught from some marks around the mouth of the estuary and there are reports that gilt-head bream can also show from some marks around this area. View this area on Google Maps here.
Plymouth and Whitsand Bay – Mount Batten Pier (Breakwater) can produce mackerel, garfish and pollock to floatfished baits in the summer, and they will also take spinners and all manner of lures. Bottom fished baits will received interest from dogfish, pouting and gurnard (which can also take feathers or daylights) and there are wrasse present around this area as well which will take float fished ragworm or mackerel strip. There are plenty of fishing marks around Plymouth Hoe with mackerel, garfish and pollock also caught here on float fished baits and spinner, as well as school bass and various flatish species and dogfish caught on bottom fished ragworm, lugworm, peeler crab and squid. However, this area can be busy with passers by as well. Bass, flounder and some cod and whiting can also be caught from marks up the River Tamar on bottom fished baits, and sea trout also a possibility to spinners as well (licence needed to take these). Nearby Whitsand Bay is a great bass fishing mark, especially when some sea is running. Dogfish, plaice, pouting and whiting will all add extra sport. The area around and in front of Tregantle Fort is said to be the best for large bass. View this area on Google Maps here.
Talland Bay and Polperro – Rocky marks around Talland Bay offer good spinning opportunities for bass, with mackerel and pollock also caught here. Live baiting or bottom fishing with sandeel baits could produce big bass, and wrasse, dogfish and rockling may also be caught here. Banjo Pier in Polperro produces similar species to float fished and bottom fished baits in the summer, although recent years have seen fishing restricted on the pier over the summer months. Mullet can be caught in the harbour and further up the River Looe. Whiting, flounder and decent sized cod can be caught here in the winter, and it can be worth stepping up hook and bait sizes to seek out a big cod. Failing that the whiting and flounders can be caught on size 1/0 hooks and ragworm, lugworm or mackerel baits. High tide is the best time to fish this mark. View this area on Google Maps here.
Fowey/Gribbin Head – Fowey has a number of good marks for the intrepid angler. St. Catherine’s Castle at the mouth of the River Fowey has a number of rock marks around it. Access can be very difficult but fishing can be great with large pollock and conger eel the species most anglers target, with wrasse, mackerel and dogfish also present. Further up the river can provide great fishing for mullet, flounder and school bass. Although also difficult to access Gribbin Head is a great rock mark where a range of species can be caught on spinners, lures and bottom fished baits with bass, wrasse, pollock, conger eels and many other species all on the cards. View this area on Google Maps here.
St Austell Bay/Megavissey Bay/Narne Head/Carne – St. Austell Bay can give good flounder and bass from the shore, as can the Pentewan area of Mevagissey Bay. Mevagissey breakwater can also have plenty of dogfish in, with flounder, plaice, pollock, gurnard and even conger eel possible catches as mullet when the weather is calmer. Narne Head is another heavy rock mark which produces pollock, wrasse, conger eel, dogfish, and bull huss. Mackerel and garfish may also be caught to spinners or float fished baits. Nearby Carne beach offers cleaner ground fishing for bass and various forms of flatfish. View this area on Google Maps here.
Penzance, Newlyn and Mousehole – Penzance harbour and piers offer a number of different species over high tide. Flounder can be caught on ragworm and lugworm baits and the combination of warm summer weather and calm seas can see mullet come in the harbour, but they can prove very difficult to catch. Other species such as school bass, wrasse, dab, rockling and gurnard will also be caught from here, as well as cod and whiting in the winter. Pollock, mackerel and garfish will all be caught on spinners and float fished baits. North pier at Newlyn offers similar species, as well as the chance of a conger eel to a fish or squid bait on a 6/0 hook and wire or heavy mono trace dropped straight down alongside the pier. The south pier at Newlyn is closed to the public. Mousehole harbour offers flounder around the mouth of harbour, with bass, wrasse and pollock also caught here. View this area on Google Maps here.
St Ive’s Bay – Porthmeor beach offers flatfish such as plaice, turbot and flounder (in winter) to ragworm, lugworm and peeler crab baits. Dogfish can always be caught here and there are large bass present when there is a bit of surf running – use sandeel or peeler crab baits as bait. There is also a chance of a ray to mackerel fillet or sandeel baits cast a long way out. Cod can also be caught here in winter. This venue can be packed with tourists and surfers in summer so very early morning or late night fishing is the best time to come. Carbis bay to the west of Porthmeor beach offers similar species. St. Ives harbour and piers also offers good fishing with mackerel caught on lures and spinners and flatfish (plaice, flounder and possibly turbot), dogfish and bass all caught on bottom fished baits. View this area on Google Maps here.
Newquay – Fly Cellars is a flat platform which provides a safe and accessible angling location. Summer will see mackerel caught to spinners, feathers and daylights and various other species are also caught such as pouting, Dover sole and gurnard. Codling, whiting and flounder are caught in winter and dogfish are always present. Best to fish from mid-tide up to high and then back down again. Watergate Bay can produce decent bass when the sea is running as well as various ray species to long casts. Nearby rock areas can produce wrasse, bass and pollock, with spinning an effective tactic for the latter two species. View this area on Google Maps here.
Padstow Bay/New Polzeath/The Rumps – Padstow bay and New Polzeath have plenty of marks which will offer mackerel to spinners, daylights and lures. They will also take a small silver strip of mackerel fished under a float. Pollock are also present here and will take bottom fished baits but spinners and jelly lures are the best method to catch them. Rumps Point and the Rumps area has plenty of rock marks which provide pollock, wrasse, cod, dogfish, bull huss and potentially very big conger eel. However, be careful fishing here as access is difficult and it is a potentially dangerous place to fish. Always best to go during daylight with someone who has local knowledge of the area. View this area on Google Maps here.
Widemouth Bay/Bude – Widemouth Bay is a mark which offers small-eyed and thornback ray to sandeel and mackerel baits cast at range. Bass can also be caught to peeler crab, ragworm and sandeel or mackerel baits cast just behind the breaking waves. Plaice, sole and turbot are also a possibility from this mark. Rockier edges of the beach also offer the opportunity to spin for bass as well. Area can be busy with surfers and tourists during the day. Bude has a number of good marks. Lures and spinners can be used off the breakwater to catch pollock, bass and mackerel. Bait fishing can also produce decent bass from the harbour/breakwater, as can nearby Flexbury beach. Try fishing for rays at range or much closer in for the bass and various flatfish species. View this area on Google Maps here.
Westward Ho! and Ilfracombe – Westward Ho! Has a number of beaches and rock marks which fish well at low water. Species such as small-eyed and thornback ray, bass and smooth-hounds can all be caught here, with sandeels the top ray bait and peeler or hardback crab for the bass and smooth-hounds. Be careful about getting cut off by the incoming tide if you venture out a low-tide. Ilfracombe harbour and pier offers a range of different species. Big mackerel baits can catch a conger eel from here, while dogfish, pouting, cod, bass and whiting will all also take bottom fished baits. Pollock, mackerel and garfish can all be caught on floats and spinners. Be aware that the lower deck of the pier can become completely submerged at high tide! View this area on Google Maps here.
Baggy Point – Rocky headland which can produce spectacular fishing. However, access to fishing marks involves climbing down rocks and this area can be extremely dangerous and should never be fished in anything approaching bad weather as swells can swamp fishing marks and even light rain will make rocks dangerously slippery. Best fished in daylight and good weather with someone who knows the area and has fished here before. A huge range of species can be caught here with bull huss, dogfish, pouting, gurnard, codling and many others taking bottom fished baits. Some big conger will also go for bottom fished mackerel flapper or squid. Mackerel will go for daylights or feather in the summer and pollock and bass will be taken on both spinners and bottom fished baits. The British shore record tope is reported as having been caught here in 2010 with a specimen weighing 66lb 6oz. View this area on Google Maps here.
Minehead, Watchet and Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Stations – Minehead harbour wall is a high tide mark which offers codling, flounder and whiting in winter, plaice, dogfish and school bass in summer. Plenty of other species are caught sporadically here, and there is also the chance of something a little more interesting such as a thornback ray. Similar species can be caught from Watchet harbour, which is another high tide mark. There are two nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point. Power station A (the two blue reactors on the left of the picture) were deactivated in 1999, but power station B (the grey building on the right) is still operational. There is a path around the power station which can be followed to reach the accessible fishing area. This is a low tide mark with fishing generally possible three hours or so either side of low tide. Watch for tide coming in behind you. In the summer decent bass can be caught here, as well as some conger eels to large fish fillet baits. Dogfish are also caught here and winter sees whiting and cod. Ground is fairly rough so most anglers fish here using rotten-bottom rigs, but there are some cleaner patches. View this area on Google Maps here.
Burnham-on-Sea – The beach at Burnham-on-Sea to Berrow produces a range of species. Bass are caught in the summer along with Dover sole, plaice, dogfish, pouting and thornback rays, while cod, whiting and flounder show in the winter months. Most anglers find this beach fishes best at low tide and fish a few hours before and a few after low water. Beach is muddy and tide moves fast so be careful about tide coming in behind your fishing position and never go onto mud or sand which is too soft as you can sink into it! The tidal run can be fierce on big tides so many anglers prefer to fish on a neap tide. Brean Down is a rock mark which sticks out into the Bristol Channel and offers good winter cod and conger eels to large fish baits on 6/0 hooks and wire traces. The Lower Lighthouse (the ‘Lighthouse on Legs’) is another good mark. Summer sees Dover sole, bass, pouting and possibly thronback ray caught, and winter brings cod, whiting and flounder. Again, watch out for incoming tide and soft mud/sand. View this area on Google Maps here.
Weston-Super-Mare – Sand Point is a peninsula along the coast at Sand Bay. This mark can produce good conger eel and thornback ray catches. Bass are also caught in summer along with pouting, dogfish and bull huss. Cod and whiting also show in number in the winter. Despite its name points around Sand Points itself are very rough ground marks and lots of tackle can be lost. Most anglers fish this mark around low tide. Birnbeck Pier at Weston-Super-Mare has been closed to the public for many years and is now inaccessible as it is sealed off as the structure is unstable and highly dangerous. View this area on Google Maps here.
Clevedon Pier – Easy access to deep water and a comfortable fishing position make Clevedon Pier a popular venue – it is over 150 years old and is the only Grade 1 listed pier in the UK, and is said to be haunted as well! The opening hours of the pier and the cost of buying a ticket to fish the pier can be found here. Winter sees cod caught here with dab and whiting also on offer. Summer months can see large species such as thornback rays and smooth-hound can caught here, as well as school bass, plaice, Dover sole and dogfish. Be aware that large amounts of weed and the strong tidal flow can make this mark challenging to fish in certain conditions, and at times it can become unfishable. View this area on Google Maps here.
Portishead – Portishead pier offers decent winter codling and whiting to the usual baits, and there are big thornback ray caught here every year. Be careful as tides over 11.5 – 12 metres on the local scale can come over the top of the pier. Mullet are also present in Portishead Marina in the summer months and can be caught to small bread or earthworm baits and stealthy tactics. Nearby Battery Point is a famous mark which can produce both a range of species and some large fish. It is fishable at most stages of the tide, but during a spring tide the power of the tide can make holding the seabed impossible. Long casts can produce the best fish but water is still deep close in. Cod and whiting are here in winter and it is wise to step up to size 4/0 – 6/0 hooks if targeting a large cod as there is a real chance of catching a highly sizable specimen here. Silver eels, conger eels, flounder, dogfish, bull huss, rockling and flounder will all also be caught here. View this area on Google Maps here.
Severn Beach – There are a number of marks around the Severn Beach area which provide good fishing. Fishing can take place off the beach itself or along the wall area. Many anglers fish this area at high tide as it can be risky walking out to the water at low tide. The reason for this is that the tide goes out a long way and comes in very fast indeed, meaning that it is possible that the tide will come in faster than it is possible to get back to shore. Tidal flow can be strong and grip leads are usually used to hold the bottom. Large cod, conger eels, Dover sole and thornback rays, along with severeal other species can be caught here. View this area on Google Maps here.
Chepstow and Newport – [Now on the other side of the Bristol Channel/Severn Estuary] In Chepstow there are good cod fishing opportunities around the Beachley/Severn Bridge area. Plenty of cod are caught here with some decent specimens among them, as well as flounder, school bass and silver eels. Worm baits are always a good choice here, with lugworm and squid cocktails also worth a try, as is peeler crab. Two hook flapping rigs with size 1/0 hooks will catch all of the smaller species while hook size should be stepped up and pennell configurations considered to target the larger cod. Goldcliff beach near to Newport offers conger eels, large cod, and thornback rays, as well as flounder, dogfish and rocking. It is best to fish over high tide from the sea wall. The tidal flow can be very strong and grip leads are usually used. View this area on Google Maps here.