Conger madness !

It’d been a week since my previous trip and I felt suitably recovered and ready for another trip on the water. The earlier trip had lasted twelve hours and had left me somewhat tender!. I’d seriously considered fishing the Monday night, though I decided to get another day trip under my belt before I resumed full on night sessions, so I decided to wait until morning.

It was an early start, I hit the road around 5:30am and enjoyed a steady drive up to the Blue Anchor in Somerset. On arrival the tide had barely turned, this was expected as I’d planned to drag the kayak over the reef in order to launch. However, I decided on plan B, pour a coffee and relax in the car for an hour or so. I’d been unable to source any fresh lugworm and I didn’t have to time to dig any so I was making doing with frozen squid and mackerel plus a good amount of fresh ragworm.

With the kayak rigged I made my way down to the beach. Being a smaller tide there was less mud exposed so I was able to launch a couple of hours into the flood without any fuss. The sun was rising, the skies were clear and the air temperature was four degrees below freezing. Allied with only a light breeze conditions could be considered perfect, if not a tad chilly. It was approximately 8am when I launched onto the muddy waters of the Bristol Channel.

With the anchor down the kayak duly swung into the tide. Both rods were baited up and I was soon sitting back awaiting the first bite of the day. I didn’t have to wait long before the first bite and I was bringing a steady string of conger eel and the odd whiting to the kayak. An hour or so later I was joined by a couple of other kayak fisherman. The skies clouded over though conditions remained wonderfully calm.

Slack water was relatively quiet with just the odd fish, though the frantic sport resumed as the tide began to ebb. An hour or so into the ebb I picked up a nice sized Cod, though it turned out to be the only Cod for me that day. It’s odd how a venue can fish so differently only days, sometimes even hours, apart.

Despite the pleasant conditions is was still rather chilly. I found that my feet did cool off somewhat, though not uncomfortably so.

I’d recently upgraded some of the fittings on my kayak. I’d removed the somewhat corroded 1.5” RAM balls that hold my RAM tubes and replaced them with later model composite items. It was second trip afloat in this configuration. I’d noticed on the previous trip that the rods had a slight tendency to bounce, the  RAM ball mounts flexing ever so slightly, though it was something I soon adjusted to.

However, whilst playing a fish on one rod the other rod bent over as a decent sized fish pulled on the bait. I wasn’t too concerned as this happens quite frequently at this particular venue. However, a couple of seconds later there was a loud crack and the rod dropped to the horizontal position. I managed to quickly grab the rod and it was immediately apparent that the RAM ball had sheared from its base plate!.



I removed the RAM rod tube from the rod butt and secured it elsewhere on the kayak. The composite RAM balls clearly aren’t capable of putting up the abuse that the aluminium versions endured for four years. I’ll be removing these items and replacing them with new aluminium RAM mounts at the earliest opportunity. It’s somewhat disappointing, though a learning experience I guess.

I was a little unsure as to what time to fish until, the longer I left it I’d have to recover the kayak over the reef. As I’d used the C-Tug trolley I really didn’t fancy that kind of haul, the Big Game is way too unsteady on the C-Tug. I decided to make a run for the beach which was roughly a mile and a half away. I knew I was cutting it rather fine and coming ashore onto deep mud was a real possibility. As it happens I did hop off the kayak into knee deep mud, though within 3-4 steps I reached far firmer ground. Bar a set of very muddy boots all was good!. It was about 4:30pm when I recovered to the beach so the session had lasted just over eight hours, another decent session on the water.


Below is some video footage from the day. The launch footage is a little grainy due to the low light levels, though I decided to use it anyway. I only had a couple of wire traces with me and once they’d been destroyed by the conger I was forced onto some traces made from 100lb monofilament. That wasn’t always up to the task, a conger eel has sharp teeth and given the opportunity it’ll make short work of ‘lighter’ mono lines. I’ll be re-stocking on traces this weekend.

Watchet, Somerset

I’m heading off to Norway for a couple of months hence I wont be posting any kayak fishing reports. That said, I’m packing a heavy duty spinning rod and I’m also hoping to fit in a couple of charter boat trips. I also want to have a go at ice fishing!… got to be done. As you can see, I don’t intend being located above the Artic Circle to stop me fishing !

A marathon session !

Previously my longest trip on the water was around eight hours, on Monday I somehow managed twelve hours on the water. Trust me that’s a long time and I’m still having trouble sitting comfortably two days later. As the Queen might say, One’s behind is somewhat delicate!!. It was definitely too long, the occasional leg cramps I could happily deal with, though it effectively resulted in a recovery period of 48-72 hours.

The cunning plan was to launch around three hours before low water, to fish the whole flood and return on the ebb tide. The problem was fresh bait, I always keep plentiful supply of frozen bait, though for Cod some live worm is advantageous. I needed to be on the water by 0930 and the tackle shop didn’t open until 0900. That left too little time to travel to my launch site, rig up and launch, it was likely that I’d miss the launch window. There was another tackle shop a few miles west that opened at 0800, allegedly. I was awake at six and sat in the car with a packed lunch and a hot flask of coffee by 0630. By 0745 I was sat outside the tackle shop in Minehead.

The sun was coming up and the view over the harbour was quite spectacular. There were a couple of shore anglers setting up next to my car. A few minutes later I realised that they were in fact packing up!. I asked if they had any worm they were prepared to sell, a moment later I was driving away with a pound of beautiful ragworm for the cheeky price of £5.

A short while later I was parked up at the Blue Anchor seafront rigging up my kayak. I was a little slower than usual as it was my first field test of the GearTrac and the PanFish camera mounts. It was also my first real test of my PS200 drysuit and Weezel Extreme undersuit.

I launched around 0900, the weather conditions were almost perfect with a light westerly breeze rippling the surface of the sea. I’ve not fished this area around low water before so I paddled out about half a mile into around 6m of water. The fishing was quite slow with whiting providing the majority of the sport. Water temperature was  8⁰C (46⁰F), air temperature was approximately the same. The tide was around the top of the springs, predicted water movement was over 11m.

Periodically the clouds over the hills would darken and this was accompanied by strong winds. The sea was quickly whipped up and I’d be sat there surrounded by white caps, twenty minutes later it’d blow itself out and calm would return once more. This cycle repeated itself another 3-4 times before the tide started to flood, a point at which I chose to pull anchor and paddle east to my favoured grounds.

It was just under two miles to the mark, the tide was barely moving so tide assistance was minimal. I paddled along steadily at around 3.5mph and eventually dropped anchor in just over 6m of water. In around six hours time I’d be fishing in over 17m of water!. As the tide began to flood the fishing picked up and I was soon bringing a string of codling to the kayak. Most were small at around 2lb and the majority were returned.

The larger conger eel were noticeable by their absence with only a couple of very small eels coming being caught. Eventually one rod nodded over hard and I found myself tussling with a good sized thornback ray, the first of four that day. Whilst unhooking the fish the other rod bent hard over!. I left the ray on my lap and reeled in a nice plump cod… two good sized fish were sat on the kayak, result!. Excuse the quality of the photos below, they’re actually video images.

It was not long after this that the weather went down the toilet. The wind picked up to a strong north westerly, the swell grew quickly and was soon breaking. I sat it out hoping it would pass, though it continued to deteriorate. The strong flood tide was keeping me pointed in a easterly direction and the swells from the northwest were constantly breaking over the the side of the kayak. I was far from comfortable and I was soon ignoring bites, happier to sit tight and ride things out.

The situation showed no signs of improving so I decided to get out of it. I didn’t fancy swinging across the tide/swell whilst recovering the anchor, so I chose to unclip, paddling hard back uptide to pick up the buoy. The first couple of pickups weren’t good, the swell causing the warp to jump off the cleat, the kayak swinging side across the tide. With the warp released I tried again. I probably should have left it until later, though the third attempt was successful and I had my anchor back on board.

I made for Watchet harbour where I intended to sit out the weather, however the the harbour is tidal and had yet to flood out. The waves were breaking across the harbour mouth, the muddy harbour floor clearly visible beyond. That left plan B, recover to the adjacent beach. I stood around for twenty minutes before the wind eased once more. Whatever happened to the forecasted of a light breeze all day?. It was still quite lumpy so I fished a little closer inshore. I took the opportunity throughout the trip to play with the DogBone camera mount from YakAttack. It’s exceptionally versatile and rock steady. I found myself using it to get angles close to the water, looking aft, from the side, etc. It’s a great piece of kit which I’ll continue to evaluate over the next few trips


There was a heavy pull on one rod and I was soon into a good sized fish. It was clearly a cod judging by it’s steady ‘nodding’ action during the retrieve. As the leader broke the surface everything went slack, the fish had slipped the hook and as a result I was quite gutted!. Twenty minutes later I experienced exactly the same, I suffered a slight sense of humour failure at this point. To that end I won’t elaborate on the third good sized fish that slipped the hook.

I would have been more than happy to call it a day at this point, though I was three miles east of the launch site and I had the wind, waves and tide against me. I wasn’t going anywhere so I continued to fish into the night.

Once the tide slackened and high water was only thirty minutes away I pulled anchor once more and began to paddle west. Initially I was averaging around 2.5mph, though once the tide began to ebb I was picking up towards 3.5mph. The wind picked up once more and I was soon paddling face on into a firm westerly wind with an ever increasing swell, it just wasn’t my day. With about a mile to go the wind increased to a strong blow, though bizarrely the swell was now pushing down from the north. The was a little concerning and I could now hear the surf crumping onto the beach and cliffs.

As I closed into the beach I flashed up my Apex headlamp and switched it to main beam to pick out the slipway. My heart sank, the slipway was getting hammered, the surf running 20-25’ up the slipway (past the white railings for those who know the spot). The slipway runs parallel to the sea with a large concrete wall running down the inside, needless to say it didn’t look good!. My options were limited, either risk the slipway or paddle another mile further down the bay to recover to quieter waters, knowing I’d have to then trolley the kayak all the way back to the car. I chose the exciting option and positioned myself several metres from the slipway, holding my position. I chose what I considered a quiet moment to make a dash for it, yup, I got it somewhat wrong!. I was duly launched up the slipway at a great rate of knots, legs out easing the impact against the wall. It actually ended very well and I hopped off dragging the kayak clear of the next swell as it rushed up the slipway.

I took the opportunity to clean my catch and rehydrate before returning to the car to de-rig and head home.

It was 2100 when I recovered back to the slipway, bar twenty minutes stood on a beach it’d been twelve hours on the water, not something I ever intend to repeat. I reckon seven to eight hours is sufficiently long. I clocked up just under ten miles which is another record for this venue, normally I’d only manage half of that at best.

Here’s a video clip from parts of the day. It’s not the best, I spent a lot of time experimenting with the new camera mounts so not all footage was useable. That said, it’s not too bad. I apologise for looking so grumpy and swearing on the odd occasion!

Blue Anchor 10th Jan 2011

The PS200 Drysuit performed extremely well, it was comfortable to wear whilst sitting or paddling on the kayak. The Weezel Extreme undersuit proved to be very warm and excellent at wicking moisture away from the body. Allied with my new Fourth Element Artic socks it seems to be ideal for the UK winter weather, keeping me warm throughout the long session, even my feet stayed warm!


YakAttack forum

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