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Sea Fishing in the Westcountry

December 10 2008

Russell Symons, MITD

The Southwest Peninsula's rugged coastline is washed by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream for much of the year. This combined with the milder climate of this wonderful part of the country, provides a rich and varied habitat for the prolific number of species prized by the sporting Sea Angler.

Anglers visiting the region for their annual holidays or indeed on specific trips to fish for the regions specimen fish will find a superbly equipped Charter boat fleet with qualified and experienced Skippers ready to take them offshore to visit the deep water wrecks and reefs of the Western Approaches. The most popular and well known Charter boats are usually booked months in advance on prime days such as weekends, Bank holidays and the years best tides. Having said that, most boats have days midweek reserved for day trippers. Even then a phone call to book places prior to your visit is well advised. Some skippers also have information packs telling what sort of tackle to bring, the telephone numbers of tackle shops where bait and tackle can be bought or reserved, etc.

Shore anglers will often find local guesthouses, hotels and Information centres carrying up to the minute information about what is being caught and most important, where to go. Local Tackle shops are a mine of information as well as sources of bait and tackle. When booking your holiday get the telephone number of the local tackle shop, they can help with the booking of boat trips, reservation of bait (can be in short supply during the holiday season) as well as up to the minute information of the what, where and how of the local shore fishing scene.

Fishing offshore in one of the regions fast charter boats is often an experience which will draw the committed angler back time and again. The explosive power dive of a slab sided Pollack or Coalfish is an experience to test both angler and tackle. The sheer physical effort and split second reactions needed to bring a huge Conger Eel or Shark to the side of the boat is a truly momentous occasion which will live in memory for your lifetime. Fishing over the rocks and canyons of such legendary places as the Eddystone Reef, Hand Deeps and the Manacles can be a rewarding experience in itself with a rich variety of species providing excellent sport on lighter tackle.

Shore anglers can choose between fishing estuaries, sandy beaches and the rugged rocks of the Westcountry shoreline. Bass roam the surf during the early morning and late into the night, they are a species which prefer the quiet times of the day when the disturbance from boats and people are at their least. The colourful Wrasse is a species which many holidaymakers find relatively easy to catch. Worm baits are favourites for this species, but if you want to try for the specimen Wrasse, try the deep water off a headland and try small crab fished near the bottom on a ledger rig or float. Floatfished worm baits will also catch the inshore Pollack especially if cast well off the shore and gently retrieved over the kelp. Mackerel and the long nosed Garfish are well known for their ability to give a hard fight and the mackerel provides a tasty breakfast if you are self catering.

Spinning with a lure such as a Toby will catch Pollack, Mackerel, Garfish and if you are very lucky, a Bass. Beach fishing with the modern generation of powerful beachcasting rods which can cast a 5 ounce lead well over a hundred yards will put you in with a chance of contacting such species as the Small Eyed ray, but you will often have to cultivate one of the many local anglers to find the best places to fish.

Other species such as the Mullet and Plaice can also be caught from the shore, but again local knowledge can be essential. Regular visitors will soon learn the when, where and how to fish for such species, knowledge which will stand them in good stead for future visits to the region.

With one of the countries longest coastlines the counties of Devon and Cornwall abound with small coastal villages and towns. Take the time to explore the cliff walks between them, little frequented beaches and coves will often reveal themselves to those energetic enough to walk. Finding the fishing spots frequented by the local anglers makes the effort well worth while.