Bristol Channel Thornback fishing

Yet again it’s been hugely frustrating due to the poor weather. Heavy snow and strong winds have kept me off the water for a couple of weeks. However, a forecasted break in the weather allowed me to plan a weekend trip. I was looking to fish an evening session, sleep overnight in the car, before heading off to fish a new mark further down the coast.

I drove up quite early in order to collect my bait before the shop closed for the day. The fresh bait there is truly excellent, it’s the tackle shop in Watchet for those who haven’t read my previous entries. The chaps name is Steve, very helpful fellow.

The rig up took place at a leisurely pace and I eventually launched around 7pm. What a cracking evening, barely a breath of wind, clear skies with plenty of light as a full moon is less than a week away. There was a fairly strong swell rolling down from the north, though to be honest it was quite relaxing. For this time of year is seemed exceptionally warm, certainly compared to the weather as of late. Less than a fortnight ago it touched –22 degrees on my local airfield at Yeovilton.

Bait were mounted on a 6/0 pennel rig, large squid tipped off with lug on one, a lash of mackerel on the other. Within 15 minutes I’d hooked into the first fish of the evening, nothing huge, a thornback of around 5lb. No complaints though, the blank was off and the session was barely underway.


As can be seen from the above photo I was trialling a Sea Scenter, a new weighted feeder suitable for the sea fishing environment. I wont say too much at this stage as it was my first experience at using them. I’ll post a full review within a month or so once I’ve clocked up a few trips with them. That being said, I was 30-40 metres from another yak fisherman who had no fish by the time I’d managed six rays.

No sooner had I hooked into one ray when the other rod started nodding away. I soon had the first fish back into the water and the other fish was heading heading towards the kayak.


The was a distinct lack of Conger Eels during the evening, this was no doubt due to the cold weather forcing them into deeper water. I found this disappointing as they are great sport on light tackle, they are without a doubt my main reason for fishing this particular venue.

At times the rod tip rattled aggressively, a sure sign of whiting. They were all quite small, though despite the 6/0 hooks I still hooked a few during the course of the evening. I put one down as live bait for over an hour, though it failed to produce a result. It was no doubt quite relieved when it was unhooked and swam away into the evening !


As the tide continued on the flood the bites kept coming, this resulted in more rays coming to the yak, a total of six during the session.

I took two charcoal hand warmers with me,slipped into the front pockets of my Palm Kaikoura Tour PFD. This resulted is considerable heat being passed to the ‘Hand Warmer pockets’ located immediately behind. At one point I opened one of these units, blowing on the stick as it was about to go out. A sparking plume of embers disappeared in the evening breeze, mission accomplished. Moments later I could swell burning plastic… looking down I saw a small glowing ember, the result?, a 2mm hole in the outer cover of my drysuit!. Nothing a simple repair wont cure, another one of those comedy kayak fishing moments !




I’d managed to forget my coffee flask, not great issue as the evening was mild for this time of year. However, around 11pm the breeze lifted and I found myself starting to chill off. There’s no point in fishing if you’re not enjoying yourself so I called it a day and lifted anchor.

On returning to the car I found it nicely frosted up. I threw on old tarpaulin over the car before packing the kayak gear away. I cant normally sleep with cars headlights driving past on a regular basis, though this seemed to be the perfect solution.


I woke during the evening frozen solid, perhaps my summer sleeping bag just wasn’t up to the job!. I threw my thermals back on and all was sorted. I woke up rather chilled, glancing at the clock proved all too alarming. I normally wake at daylight if over-nighting in a vehicle, however, it was 9am. I’d missed the flood tide, I’d missed the opportunity to travel to a new mark.. all in all very frustrating. I rigged the yak, though the wind picked up and I knew screwed up the master plan by sleeping in.

I decided to give it a miss and wait for a better day. Hopefully I wont be waiting too long this time !


John Griffin said...

Well done, this is a great blog. Thank you for sharing your information, I have read almost all your posts at his stage. I wish i had found it last year when i was setting up my kayak, I especially like your idea for the Ram rod tubes, hope to have them on my Kayak before the weekend.

david tilly said...

nice one rob thanks for all the info for setting up my yak well done on the fishing

Rob Appleby-Goudberg said...

Hi John
the RAM tubes do work extremely well for me. What kayak have you got?, send me a couple of photos, always interested to see rigged yaks.


Rob Appleby-Goudberg said...

Hi David
I'm pleased that you found my site useful. Keep coming back as it there's always new stuff appearing.


dave tilly said...

thanks rob ,i have a bait shop in dublin if your ever over in IRELAND give us a shout .i got on to the guy selling the sea seanters as they are not over hear yet ,i have some bait to diliver to arklow on tursdayso i am going to have my first outing, this area can have some ray so i will give it a try i will send you some photos

Anonymous said...

Hi Rob,

this is a really nice weblog with great stories and info and pictures.
Me myself purchased a green ocean big game last oktober and for now its fully basic.
I really like the ram tubes , you have an internet adress where i can purchase them?
I am from Holland and i checked here but i can't find them.

Please go one with the weblog because its one of my favorites

Best regards from Holland
Stefan Worseling (