Bristol Channel Boat Report by Tom Wright
March has seen the exciting return at the tail end of the month of the charter boats to the water after an exceptionally long lockdown period. Straight away it was wonderful to see reports from Minehead and Watchet of a variety of fish being caught.
Just before focusing on some of the catches aboard the charter boats, during the lockdown period it has been possible for local private boats to be on the water. The one very notable fish being caught during the smallest of the neap tides were the very sizeable Spurdogs. Fish exceeding 20lb’s have been landed along with many mid doubles.
Moving to a region rundown now and with the charter boats out and fishing the usual haunts I will start with the marks around Watchet. Smoothhounds have moved in onto all the marks with fish exceeding 16lbs being caught, mainly to squid baits. Several double figure thornbacks are present with some very large specimens tipping the scales at over 15lb’s. Blonde rays have been present in very encouraging numbers and although normally a fish associated with sandy areas, blonde’s of up to 22lb’s have been caught from Doniford Bay, which any local will tell you is mostly a seabed made up of mud, stone and coral. Spotted rays, dogfish and a few small conger eels have made up the rest of the daily catches.
Blue anchor, Dunster and the Gables with its mix of seabed has produced all 4 ray species with blonde rays dominating the catches. Some large upper double Smoothhounds have put in an appearance along with countless dogfish when fishing tight into shore.
Minhead’s sandy areas have also produced all 4 ray species but as is often the way there is a much better chance of connecting with a few more small eyed rays with a few double figure small eyed rays being boated.
Porlock has thrown up a nice mix of fish. Ray’s, eels, Smoothhounds, dogfish and some good sized bull huss have all been taken on a variety of baits. If a sizeable bull huss is your target species, then this is the area to be targeting them to give yourself the best chance. A simple chunk of mackerel is often all you need to attract a double figure huss.
The final fish worthy of a mention which has been boated, mainly around Minehead, is codling. A small ‘spring run’ has been evident with fish ranging from 2lb-4lb being landed.