Bristol Channel – Monster Cod !

How the weather has changed this past week. Temperatures are starting to plummet with heavy snow falls forecast over the next 48 hours. I’d noticed at the weekend that there was a possible weather window mid-week, so the yakfishing gear accompanied me back to work. Sure enough, I woke up Tuesday morning, my day off, and the wind were light south easterlies and forecast to hold for the day.

On my previous trip to the Bristol Channel a chat to a local fisherman had provided me with a few potential marks. I’d also been looking over the Garmin Bluecharts in order to find some fishy looking marks.

A lazy drive of an hour or so saw me arrive at the local tackle shop. Disappointingly he was clean out of fresh lugworm so I had to make do with 1/2lb of fresh rag and a box of frozen squid.

Despite the tide having turned onto the flow , I struggled to get across the mud flats to the water. After a bit of ‘cross country’ travel over some heavily weeded rocks I finally launched into a flat calm sea.

A beautiful winters day.. 

Looks perfect..

The light easterly breeze was biting, though with three layers of thermals, my drysuit and some waterproof ski gloves.. I was toasty warm. I paddled over a mile to my first mark of the day, a hard shingle bottom as opposed to the mud I’d fished on my previous trips.

Baits were full half a mackerel on a 6/0 pennel and a double squid tipped off with fresh ragworm, again, on a 6/0 pennel rig.

6/0 pennel baited with squid & ragworm

The flood tide was running nicely and a 6oz weight kept the baits tight to the bottom. Initially the fishing was slow though there was soon a flurry of aggressive rattles on the mackerel rod.

The culprits tuned out to be Whiting of a respectable size. I only picked up four due to the 6/0 hooks, however, if I’d down-sized to a 1/0 flapper rig I’m sure I could have quite happily bagged up on Whiting.


The fishing was steady with a few Thornback Ray making a show. Initially these were small, though as the session progressed the size steadily increased towards double figures.

Thornback ray

Thornback ray

There was an obvious lack of a Conger Eel presence on the flood tide, rather unusual for this area of the Bristol Channel. However, as the tide slackened and turned onto the ebb a few conger started to make an appearance. They weren’t particularly large, though they provided good sport in the tide, especially on the 6lb outfit.

Conger eel

The Thornback Ray kept feeding well into the ebb tide, by this time the sun has long since set. The Easterly breeze firmed up and the swell increased to a point where is occasionally broke over the side of the yak, filling the footwells in the process. It was getting quite cold at this point, I was extremely thankful for the pockets on my Palm Kaikoura Tour PFD !.

Thornback ray

Thornback ray

Just before the top of the tide there were a couple of gentle knocks on my 6lb outfit baited with the squid. I held the rod and felt the bite develop over the period of a few seconds. I raised the rod,feeling the weight of a good fish. The light rod bent over as the fish took some line. Nothing new here, and I suspected a decent Conger Eel. Several times the fish came to mid-water before plunging for the bottom.

I was surprised and ecstatic when a large Cod appeared on the surface. As it came towards the kayak I could see that it was well hooked, though I took no chances and gaffed the fish, bringing it aboard.

Safe on board

It was positively huge!, dwarfing my best previous cod of around 7lb. I attempted to weigh it on the kayak. though the swell saw the weight drift between 18.5lb and 22lb, either way it was a positively storming fish!.



I fished on into the dark and the action continued with some more nice Thornback Ray. At one point I was convinced that I’d hooked into another large Cod, though it turned out to be a large Thornback. After about five hours on the water I was starting to feel the cold, in fact I was struggling to feel my feet. The swell had risen throughout the session, as had the Easterly wind. At one point it even snowed for a few seconds with a steady spattering of sleet as the night progressed.

Due to the increasing cold I decided to call it a night somewhat earlier than planned. The paddle back was assisted with the wind and tide so I found myself making a steady 4-5mph and was approaching my launch site in quick time. Once alongside I re-weighed the Cod and it came in a 21lb 2oz !, a great result.

Cod - PB of 21lb 2oz

Here’s a short video from the day..

Capture of my PB Cod @ 21lb 2oz

I’m praying that the weather will allow a couple of trips out over the Christmas period. Hopefully a trip over to the east coast in the hunt for more cod.


Paul said...

That's some fish Rob, well done!

Rob Appleby-Goudberg said...

Cheers Paul !

Basserisk said...

What a massive cod - well done !

Rob Appleby-Goudberg said...

Cheers Basserisk, i'll be smiling fo some time yet, that's for sure.

greg said...

well done for taking the opportunity for getting out , a special fish that is ,are you the other side of the channel as i'm cardiff side

Rob Appleby-Goudberg said...

Hi Greg
I generally fish the south side around Minehead, I've yet to try the North side. How's it fish up that way ?


greg said...

fishing great at the moment had some big blonde rays off the yak, plenty of congers , but no cod as yet we fish around sully area ,can be very productive , tides need to be carefully picked though .

Rob Appleby-Goudberg said...

Sounds great !

What bait do you catch the blone rays on ?

Feel free to drop me a line on, there's a link on the right of my blog. I'm always up for a meet or trying new areas.

greg said...

We are using mainly squid, mackerel and crab cocktials ,will be turning now to crab,squid and worm .You would enjoy this area we fish, a real challenge. suprised the blondes are'nt over with you .Will be in touch on your email ad see if we can arrange a meet over the christmas period (weather permitting)

Rob Appleby-Goudberg said...

Sounds great to me, keep me posted.

steve said...

fantastic cod there rob very well done!

Rob Appleby-Goudberg said...

Cheers Steve.
Just looking at the 'kayakandshoreseafishing' website, looks good. I'll have a closer look tomorrow.

Unknown said...

thats one beaut' of a cod! well done!

Rob Appleby-Goudberg said...

Cheers Isaac... Happy New Year to you when it arrives !