You never know what you’ll catch!

The forecast was for light northerly winds, continuing to rise as the day progressed. With this I decided to fish a mark on the south coast. I finally settled on a mark near Exmouth in Devon. I collected a little fresh lugworm from the tackle shop in Exmouth centre, I wasn’t expecting much though the quality turned out to be excellent.

I arrived at the local car park and that provided the first shock of the day. Car parking was £1/hour with no potential discount until you reached an 11 hour duration!. This resulted in me putting £7 into the meter, not impressed!

I pulled the kayak along the top of a shingle bank and launched into a small river, a few hundred yards from the sea. The tide was out so the river was flowing freely into the sea. There was a shoal of mullet working the surface, fins out of the water. They only took to the depths when my bow pushed into the shoal itself. A heron was fishing on the bank, a really pleasant way to start a trip.

I paddled out and hooked up to a pot buoy close to the edge of the reef. One rod was baited with a fillet of mackerel, the other with fresh lugworm, both mounted onto running ledger rigs.

The action was slow, very slow. There was eventually a rattle on the lugworm baited rod that resulted in a small ballan wrasse coming to the kayak.

A while later a tourist boat sailed past the front of the kayak, only about 20m in front of me. He passed me by and headed towards two small boats fishing close together, perhaps 30m apart. To my amazement he sailed between them!, incredibly inconsiderate and potentially very dangerous.

Every 30-40 minutes I moved onto another pot buoy in the hope of finding some action, though it wasn’t to be. The forecasted light northerly wind for the day quite quickly turned into a fairly stiff westerly wind which soon turned the sea into rather a choppy state. I decided to call it a day, though paused to drift over the reef a couple of times. I was drifting very fast, though I managed several very small pollack.

Whilst paddling back along the coast I noticed two men fishing off the rocks. It was clear to me from my vantage point that they’d already been cut off by the tide, so I paddled in and warned them. They made there way back, at times chest deep in water.

I stayed close by until I was happy that they’d made it back to safety before paddling back to the river entrance. I paddled into the mouth and soon realised that the tide was flooding into the river rather rapidly. I drifted in, without  having to paddle at a steady 8mph.. who said the Prowler Big Games are slow!!

I broke out of the flow and nosed around at the surroundings, bird life and a few other bits. One of the chaps I’d been watching earlier appeared at the edge of the river, clutching his rod and tackle bag. He decided to cross the river, something I knew was not only running fast, but was rather deep!.

He was quickly swept of his feet and headed in my direction at quite a rate of knots.

I paddled over, allowing him to grab hold of the kayak. I broke out of the current, towing him back to the shore. He thought I was the Coastguard and was going to give him a piece of my mind!. He was still clutching his fishing gear, I reckon that his gear will require a good wash and service!

A mixed days fishing

The weather forecast was looking pretty good today, so I decided to take an impromptu trip up to the Bristol Channel. I took the few packets of mackerel left over from my recent tope trip and I was soon rigged and eager to launch.


I fished my regular mark using two sets of running ledger baited with full fillets of mackerel. The action was almost immediate, though this turned out to be the result of a Dogfish being present in plague proportions. Baits were being stripped in very short time, often within moments of being cast out. This was terribly frustrating as not only was I getting through my bait at a high rate of knots, it limited my chances of catching something decent.

There was a light north easterly breeze which pushed the kayak across the tide making fishing a little awkward. I deployed the drogue and the kayak immediately swung back into the tide.


There was a brief break in the dogfish activity when a small Bullhuss made an appearance. A first from this location and it was a most welcome.


The rod tip started to knock quite heavily, a sure sign of conger activity. Sure enough a small conger had taken the bait, another species for the session and again it made a welcome break from the dogfish.


Another two Conger Eel came to the yak, not large fish, the biggest pushing towards 15lb, though in the running tide they provided pretty good sport.

The final species for the day was a reasonable sized Thornback Ray. I thought it was something much larger, though it was clearly taking full advantage of the tide flow. I wasn’t complaining though, species number four and it came towards the end of the session.





Despite the plague proportions of Dogfish, a few species came to the kayak. Nothing huge, though I honestly didn’t expect to get past the Dogfish, so in that respect I’m not complaining.

The last two trips to this venue has highlighted an large increase in the amount of Dogfish, to this end I’m intending to try a couple of new venues over the next month, hopefully it’ll result in some new species too.

Tope fishing in Wales

Well what to do ?, the family is currently enjoying a vacation in the Dutch Antilles, unfortunately some of us have to work. However, last weekend presented an opportunity for a few days away and I wasn’t going to let it go by.

Last year I’d fished the reef at Tywyn in the hope of a Tope, only to catch everything else but a Tope!. I’d tried to get there the previous two weekends, though a poor weather forecast kept dashing my plans for a few days fishing. However, it looked good for the weekend just gone, so I promptly packed my gear and headed off on the 250 mile trip to Tywyn. The last hour or so of this trip is very scenic, though the winding roads makes the going quite slow.

I arrived late on Friday and considered the possibility of an evening session. Though I decided to make camp and settle down with a couple of drinks in front of the camp fire.

The sunsets here are generally stunning and the first night proved to be no exception, a great way to relax after a long drive.


This time last year there were sufficient mackerel to catch a steady supply of bait, on that assumption I grabbed two packets of frozen Ammo mackerel and headed off to rig and launch. The surf was light and the weather fantastic. I paddled the mile or so to my mark for the day, dropped anchor and lines were soon in the water.


I didn’t have to wait too long for bites and there were soon several bullhuss and dogfish coming to the kayak. However, the mackerel were very noticeable in their absence.

After an hour or so I had my first tope run of the day, an absolute screamer, though it was over almost as quick as it had begun. I was getting through my bait very quickly and I was forced to use fillets of mackerel by the time I’d opened my second packet of bait.

This attracted yet more dogfish and small bullhuss.


Some of the bullhuss were a good size, the odd one pushing double figures.



I had another two tope runs, the last one I managed to hook up to for about ten seconds, then it was off.. very frustrating. Within three hours I’d used up all of my bait. I did catch a small codling on some baited hokkais early in the day, though for some reason I popped it straight back, only realising it would have been top live bait about two seconds after it left my hand.. oh well.


So what was supposed to be a session lasting 6-8 hours, was all over within three hours, definitely not good. I tried for a wee while to catch some live bait, though it clearly wasn’t going to happen, so I decided to call it a day and to come better prepared for the next session.

I wasn’t the only one on the water that day, it’s a tad annoying when you’re sat there, anchored up quietly when a charter boat with a throbbing diesel engine decides to fish close by.


There was noticeably more surf when I returned to the beach. When riding one wave in I saw all to late out of the corner of my eye a reflected set of waves coming side on to me. The nose of the kayak was pushed around and I found myself side on to a breaking wave. Despite the yak being up at 45 degrees with me leaning out into the wave, I somehow managed to stay upright!. Pure luck, but at least I stayed dry and avoided my first dunking.

Back at camp I cooked up a meal and took a stroll along the beach. I could see a couple of kayaks out over the reef, massively frustrating!!


It was another night of refreshments whilst watching the sun go down, life is hard at times!.


The following morning saw yet another ridiculously early start, 0430 to be exact, the joys of camping in the summer months. I wonder if they’ll invent a tent that keeps the suns rays out ?, no I’m not buying a caravan!!
No mistakes today, straight into the tackle shop and purchased six packets of frozen mackerel. The day was noticeably breezier, a light onshore blow that was creating the odd white horse here and there.

I paddled out with dolphins swimming under and jumping around the kayak, what a brilliant start to the day. I navigated back to the same mark as the day before, the sea was quite choppy, though still quite fishable. The last couple of times I’ve fished for tope I’ve hooked the mackerel through the nose. I’ve noticed that it’s all to easy to loose a bait by being ripped off the hook, at times you don't even realise, only to be presented with a bare hook when checking your bait. I’ve tried small squares of bicycle inner tube over the hook point, etc, though it’s not made a huge difference. I decided to hook the mackerel through the back, weaving the wire trace through the nose to provide a solid hook hold.


I was also hopeful that it’d provide a better hook up ratio as the tope tend to pick up the bait and run prior to swallowing it down, well at least that’s what all the books say.

Within an hour I’d had a couple of large bullhuss onto the kayak, they really are a nasty fish, doing their best to bite a hole into your dry suit!. Again the bait was being knocked around, another bullhuss I thought. However, the baited started to be pulled off at quite a rate so I tightened up into the fish. The reel screamed and line poured off the reel, perhaps as much as 100 yards. The slight down side was the fact it swam up-tide, right past my anchor warp. I slipped anchor and went with the fish. After a fight of a few minutes the tope came to the kayak and was carefully lifted aboard to be unhooked, plus a couple of photos of course!


The same charter boat from the previous day came chugging by and dropped anchor less than 100 yards away, I wasn’t too impressed, but what can you do?. There were about ten anglers on board, chatting away and making jolly. In the next hour I managed to catch another two nice sized tope, much to the dismay of the charter boat which was having a very quiet session.

By this time the wind had picked up considerably, as had the sea. Waves were regularly breaking over the side of the kayak, they were steep sided and close together making fishing rather uncomfortable. I decided to pull anchor and head back in, yet again I’d only been on the water three hours. Once paddling back with the winds and the waves I realised it was actually better being anchored!. Without paddling I was being pushed along at 3mph, hitting 6mph as I went down the waves. This should have been a lot of fun, though I needed to concentrate in order to stop being turned going down a wave and ultimately being dumped overboard, something that came a bit too close on a couple of occasions.

Fortunately the waves were quite light at the beach making landing straightforward. Back to camp to de-rig and head home. It was disappointing to have only managed 6 hours on the water as opposed to the planned fifteen hours or more. However, I did manage three tope as well as countless bullhuss. Interesting, the first day say me have three tope runs with one brief hook-up. Day two say me have fours runs resulting in three tope being bought onto the kayak, the other being hooked but lost early on.

I’m putting the much better hook-up ratio down to mounting the mackerel bait differently, I certainly wasn’t having mackerel pulled off the hook, chewed up?.. yes.

Here’s the view from above the cliff at the campsite. I’m not so sure the picture does the sea conditions any justice, though I was rather nasty out there!


I took some video footage so I’ll hopefully get a short clip put together sometime soon.