3 days afloat

Various clips taken from some recent fishing sessions.

The video footage was taken using two GoPro HD video cameras mounted on a YakAttack PanFish Portrait and my extendable camera mount.


Best viewed at 720HD full screen.

Mixed fishing in the Bristol Channel

Fishing, friendship & nudity!

The two previous days had provided me with some decent sport and with the weather window due to hold for another day, it seemed rude not fish for a third consecutive day. The morning was a slow start as I needed to have the car exhaust replaced as a matter of some urgency. I chatted to a kayak fishing friend, Dizzyfish, and he was looking to fish Lynmouth. It’s a great venue so I was more than happy to fish it for a second day on the trot.

I arrived around lunchtime, having collected some bait en-route from ‘West Coast Tackle’ in Minehead. I’d stocked up on mackerel, a packet of squid and some sandeel. As per the previous day the tide was out so I let the kayak drift down the river towards to sea with me stumbling along behind. I was quite surprised at how windy it was, the forecast had been for 3-5mph wind, this was more like 15-20mph, at times gusting more. There was no sign of Dizzyfish as I paddled through the chop towards the eastern headland. To be honest I was seriously doubting as to whether I should be out there fishing!. I paddled towards the cliffs in attempt to catch a little shelter.

The cliffs here are high, they rise almost 1000’ above sea level. I looked towards three small secluded beaches and I saw what at first looked like a flamingo at the waterline!. Intrigued I paddled in closer and noticed it moving along the waters edge. The boulders along the beach are actually very large, allied with the height of the cliffs, judging size can be difficult. About 1/4 mile out I decided is wasn’t a flamingo at all, merely a person wandering along the beach. The odd thing was this beach was cut off at either end, was this person stranded??.

Before I got much closer the person climbed some rocks at one end and disappeared from sight, I could see little detail, being some distance out they looked like a matchstick person. I surfed some small waves onto the beach, threw out the anchor and tucked into some lunch. What a stunning spot, secluded with fantastic views. I sat on the beach looking out to sea, munching away quietly on a sandwich.

Needless to say I was rather surprised when a voice spoke directly behind me, passing the time of day. Though I was somewhat more surprised at what greeted me when I turned around. A man in his 50’s, a naked man!. Here I am sat layered up, wearing a drysuit and PFD in weather that to be honest, wasn’t particularly pleasant!. Oddly enough I didn’t have too much to say, so he disappeared along the beach taking up residence on a rocky outcrop.

The wind had eased off considerably so I decided to get afloat and do some fishing. I was quite surprised to see Dizzyfish a a couple of hundred metres further offshore, he certainly hadn’t been there fifteen minutes earlier!. After chatting on the radio it transpired that he’s been taking a break on the next beach along, just out of sight.

I paddled over and dropped anchor, Dizzyfish had already been out several hours though the fishing by all accounts hadn’t been too hot. The wind was gusting pushing the kayak left to right, the kayak pulling back into the weak tide as the wind eased off. Fishing within the headlands provides much shelter from the fierce tides of the Bristol Channel. If we’d been fishing 300-400 yards further out we’d probably have been sat in four or more knots of tide, as it was we were anchored up in a more pedestrian 1.5 knots.

I was still hopeful of catching a tope so I rigged one rod up with a whole mackerel mounted onto a  running ledger rig, 8/0 Sakuma hook, short wire trace, 3’ of 80lb nylon, etc. The other rod was also rigged with a running ledger, though this time with 4’ of 30lb nylon with a 3/0 Kamasan uptide hook. I decided to use whole sandeel on this rig in the hope of tempting some bass and rays.

Things were a little slow to begin with, though as the tide increased the fish came onto the feed. First up was a small Spotted Ray which took a fancy to the sandeel. These really are a pretty ray and despite their relatively small size give a good account of themselves.


I then had a good run of Small Eyed Rays varying in weight from 3lb towards double figures. The smaller fish were generally coming to the sandeel, the larger fish taking a chunky mackerel bait. I had been fishing whole mackerel, though as the session progressed I was removing the tail, cutting it clean off two thirds of the way from the head. So it was still a particularly large bait, mounted onto an 8/0 hook. Despite this, the larger Small Eyed rays had no problems in taking a bait of this size.



These larger rays were really great sport, at times making some aggressive runs. If they weren’t taking line they were ‘kiting’ in the tide, great fun!


Looking through the various photos I took throughout the session I’d managed to catch two spotted ray and eight small eyed rays, more than I’d thought.

The wind came and went throughout the session, at times gusting guide hard. During the last couple of hours the heavens opened and it rained. Thankfully the PS200 drysuit has a decent hood, it’s not often it gets used, though it’s certainly a handy feature!.  As the tide eased the fishing pretty much died off, though at around high water I picked up a couple of good sized Bullhuss in quick succession.

With the weather deteriorating and the fishing having gone off the boil, we decided to call it a day and had back into Lynmouth harbour. It bought to an end three consecutive days of fishing, the last day without a doubt being the most productive and enjoyable. A quick pint, a bowl of chips and some chatter in the local pub finished the day off very nicely!


Lynmouth – Excitement & lost fish

I was on the telephone early chasing down a pair of replacement front tyres. Fortunately I tracked some down quickly and an hour later they were getting fitted to the vehicle. The good news was that I’d be able to head off fishing once the tyres were fitted. The bad news was with the vehicle in the air it became apparent that the rear of the exhaust had fractured and could snap clean off without notice!. A replacement wouldn’t be available until the next morning so I chose to minimise my travel and forget the trip to Wales. I didn’t fancy another session in the muddy waters off Watchet so the decision was made to fish the clearer waters of Lynmouth.


Sure, the Watchet area is almost guaranteed to produce plenty of fish, though it can get a little boring after a while. The real adventure for me is fishing new marks and different venues… ideally somewhere scenic!

The drive over Exmoor is a thoroughly enjoyable one and really sets the mood for a day afloat. The sun was shining and the wind was but a breeze. It was early afternoon by the time I was ready to launch. The tide had only just turned onto the flood. With the tide out I had to navigate the small river that runs through the rocky inter-tidal area to the sea. It’s quite shallow, not deep enough to paddle without risking damage to the hull of the kayak. To make life a little easier I attached my buoy leash to the rear carry handle of the kayak, allowing it to float itself downstream as I followed behind.


I paddled out towards the centre of the bay and tied off to one of the few lobster pot buoys in the area. I’d normally anchor, though the buoys were conveniently close to where I fancied fishing so I went for the easy option and tied off. I’d cleared out some old bait from my freezer, whole mackerel in the hope of Tope and squid for anything else that was feeling hungry.


I dropped some feathers over the side and soon picked up a mackerel, it turned out to be the only mackerel of the session!. This was promptly dropped down as live bait with the other rod baited up with a large squid. I didn’t have to wait too long before line started to scream of the live-baited rod. I tightened up and felt the weight of a good fish. After another hard run the line went slack, despite allowing the bait to drop down, the fish failed to return. I retrieved the bait and on inspection there was an impressive set of teeth marks across the body, just short of the hook, a Tope for sure. Surprisingly, the bait was still alive so he was sent down into the depths once more.

Ten minutes later the bait was hit hard again, a shorter run than before and the rod was bending hard into a good fish. There was a lot of head shaking and short runs, though a minute later the fish swam free. It may have been a good Bass, perhaps a Conger, though it’ll only ever speculation!

I had two more Tope runs during the session, though rather annoyingly both were dropped. The dogfish were present in plague proportions and my bait supply was almost decimated after a few hours afloat. The tide slackened as high water approached and the Bullhuss came onto the feed, some being around double figures and providing a little welcome sport.


I returned into harbour during the ebb, no river to contend with this time, the higher water putting me straight up onto the slipway.

Watchet, Bristol Channel

I’ve not fished for a month or so, partly due to poor weather, though I’ve spent quite some time teaching my daughter some kayaking basics. The urge to actually get afloat fishing was taking hold and the weather looked to be playing ball. It didn’t coincide with a weekend so I took some holiday and made plans as to what venues I was going to fish.

I was looking to overnight in Wales, fishing Stackpole in Pembrokeshire, before heading southwest to fish Porlock Bay and Lynmouth on the southern side of the Bristol Channel. However, like all the best made plans they went straight down the toilet!.

I was travelling towards Minehead on Monday morning, following some slow moving traffic, in front of me was a large truck. It clipped the verge scattering large rocks over the rock. With no time to brake I picked the ‘best’ route through the debris, however, I didn’t make it. A hard thud resulted in a front wheel blow out, the result being one shredded tyre. Typically the spare was in the boot, the boot lid didn’t lift much with the kayak loaded. With the kayak moved out of the way the boot had to be unloaded to gain access to the spare wheel. Needless to say I wasn’t too impressed and by the time the wheel was replaced I was running late. I revised my plans and headed to Watchet to purchase some bait before launching from the Blue Anchor slipway. It wasn’t the venue of choice, though at least it maximised my remaining time on the water.

At this venue there’s a good chance of catching Rays, Conger Eel, Smoothound with the outside chance off a late Cod. Baits were unwashed squid and lashes/whole mackerel mounted on 6/0 Pennel rigs. I tend to add 8” of 50lb wire to the hook just in case a decent conger takes the bait. I do at times make do with 80lb monofilament, though there’s a good chance that this will get bitten off!

The tides were at the top of the springs and 8oz was required to hold bottom during the peak flood period. The conger were feeding and several fish to about 20lb came to the kayak. A nylon trace was bitten off so both rods were soon upgraded to wire traces. A fierce bite, followed by a solid run and a good tussle resulted in a Smoothound of about 10b, a couple more hounds at around 8-9lb were also caught over the next hour.

What little wind that had been present during the session dropped off completely and an eerie calm came over the sea. I really love moments like this, an oil calm spreading over the water. Just being afloat in conditions such as this is simple fantastic, fish are merely a bonus.

Once the tide turned onto the ebb I decided to call it a day and head home early, if for no other reason that I had to source a replacement tyre!

Throwing a cast net

A few years ago whilst I was holidaying in the Dutch Antilles I purchased a cast net. I carried it all the way back to the UK where it’s sat quietly in a dark cupboard in the garage!. I’m returning to the Caribbean this year and I’d like to be able to catch live bait, enabling me to effectively fish for Tarpon, etc. Today I dusted off the cast net container and carried it out into the light of day.


These nets come in a variety of sizes, though this particular net has a radius of six feet. The attached throw line is about twenty one feet in length, this ultimately dictates the maximum throw distance (unless it slips off your wrist!)

Once out of the bucket it was all tightly bound with a set of instructions.


Before I rushed into this I carried out a little research and watched several videos on You Tube. I expected this to be extremely difficult and to take many hours of practice to achieve something that was actually going to be useable in the field. However, I was achieving acceptable results within a few minutes!

Anyway, my wife was kind enough to catch a few photos from my early attempts. Below is a set of frames capturing a throw of twenty feet.


It’s early days and I’ll be putting many hours of practice in over the next few weeks. I intend to try this from the kayak at some point, I’ve seen it done, it would be a great skill to have.

Practicing self rescues

Whilst I was out today putting my 8yo daughter through some kayak basics I took the opportunity to practice a few drills of my own. Yup, I managed to launch leaving the PFD in the boot of the car, though the lagoon was small and the water relatively shallow so I wasn’t sufficiently concerned to run back and get it. As it happens, despite ‘burping’ my drysuit, enough air remained within the drysuit to make me quite buoyant, not hugely different from wearing a PFD. However, that’s no real excuse, just an observation!

I’d purchased an NRS Paddle Float some weeks ago and I’d yet to really put it to the test. Watching a few videos on You Tube is one thing, trying it out on the water in anger is another. There’s certainly a technique to it though after a few attempts I was sufficiently happy that should I require it, I’d be competent is its use. It’s not needed for a standard self rescue, however a few months ago my drysuit was damaged and flooded when I capsized making a normal self recovery impossible. I’m sure if I’d had this piece of kit I’d have managed a successful recovery despite my tricky predicament.

Fitting the float to the paddle whilst in the water can prove a little tricky. I found it easiest to either place the paddle into the holder or jam it into the seat webbing, securing it quite firmly, prior to fitting the float. Once fitted it’s inflated in seconds and ready to go. The idea is to place it across the kayak and to brace against it whilst making a re-entry. I found it most effective when the bare blade was wedged into the kayak seat webbing on the opposite side of the kayak, the paddle lying directly across the kayak over the seat. In that position once my hand was placed onto the shaft of the kayak it was effectively locked into position. The first images just missed me locked down onto the paddle as I lifted from the water, I’d just let go having bridged the kayak.

I took the opportunity to practice multiple self rescues on both my Big Game and the Hi Marine Mini Angler. Both kayaks were also used to ‘rescue’ my daughter whilst floating in open water. Easy to achieve of both kayaks due to their inherent stability, though the Mini Angler was reaching its maximum recommended capacity!



So as much as I’ve spent a couple of mornings getting my daughter afloat, I’ve taken the opportunity to practice a few drills, something that we should all do from time to time.

The next generation of kayak anglers!

You may have read that I’ve purchased a Hi Marine Mini Angler kayak for my daughter. I’m keen to get her involved with a water sport of some description, after all she’s not learned to swim for nothing. She’s been mentioning for months that she’d love to learn to kayak and to join me fishing, to that end there was only one logical way ahead!.

The UK climate is pretty poor at the best of time, sure we get a summer, though this often lasts a few weeks at best. One of my big concerns was her comfort whilst afloat, a cold child will quickly lose interest in any outdoor pursuit, perhaps to a point where they’ll be very reluctant to try it ever again. Most people would probably buy their child a wetsuit which is ample for those warmer days and for shorter sessions afloat. I decided to buy her a drysuit that would enable her to paddle/fish in all seasons, it’s not a cheap option, though in my opinion its money well spent.

I was quite fortunate in the fact that I returned the Gul Junior drysuit I originally purchased due to it being huge!, this provided me the opportunity to purchase a reduced price CrewSaver Razor Junior fully breathable drysuit of for the same money. It sports Glideskin neck and wrist seals making it easy to get into and comfortable to wear. A PFD was a must and a Crewsaver Kasmira JUNIOR was also purchased. A pair of Crewsaver Zircon wetsuit boots finished of the basic clothing setup.


I took her out for her first taste of kayaking earlier in the week, I did however forget to take my waterproof camera. It was rather windy, gusting 15-20mph, which blew down the length of the lagoon where I’d taken her. It wasn’t particularly ideal for a total beginner to learn to paddle and she constantly found herself side on to the wind, struggling to master the basic strokes.

It wasn’t a concern and we decided to practice numerous re-entry drills, something that she picked up very quickly indeed!. I took the opportunity to freshen up on my own recovery drills and well as practicing ‘rescuing’ her from the water onto my Big Game kayak. Whilst she was taking a break I jumped into the Hi Marine Mini Angler and took it for a spin. What can I say, it’s easy to paddle, very stable and being light it quite quick off the mark. The tracking is ok for a short kayak and as expected it’s width limits it’s top speed which is probably comparable to the Big Game. I found it easy to re-enter and it happily took both the weight of myself and daughter as we practiced some rescue drills.

This morning we hit the water again to continue my daughters basic training. The wind had eased and changed direction which made it far more suitable for paddling. Surprisingly she picked things up very quickly and was soon paddling happily in a straight line, turning as required. She soon tired, a combination of using new muscles and an early morning start, that said she’s well on her way.

She struggled to right the upturned kayak in the more traditional manner so I opted to teach her to tie a rope to a grab handle, throw it over the hull, using to to climb aboard the hull and using her weight to flip the kayak. She’s getting there and managed a few successful recoveries.


So there we have it, after only a couple of days on the water, perhaps four hours in total she’s well on her way to mastering her capsize drills and paddling. A few more training trips and she’ll be out on the ocean chasing some mackerel!