Monday, 25 February 2013

Fal Estuary 23-02-13

Whenever I can, I like to do most of my kayak fishing on the main South Coast of Cornwall.  The problem is that stretch of coastline is rather exposed which can limit the amount of times I can get out particularly in the winter months.

I mentioned in a previous post Cornish Winter Mackerel about the Fal Estuary.  Being an estuary it is more protected from the wind and therefore, more accessible.  That is great because I can at least get out and do some fishing. 

Fal Estuary

The Fal Estuary holds a variety of species for example:

Thornback Ray
Conger Eel
Gilthead Bream
Bull Huss
John Dory
Sea Bass

The upper part of the estuary north of a line drawn from Weir point to Turnaware point is one of the many nursery areas for Sea Bass in the UK.  The official rule is "Fishing for bass from any vessel, as well as, fishing for any species of sea-fish using sand-eels (ammodytidae) as bait, Is prohibited in 37 separate areas for all or part of the year.  These areas, their extent and the seasonal duration of the prohibition are set out below.  The legislation is Statutory Instrument 1999 No 75 the Bass (Specified Areas) (Prohibition of Fishing) (Variation) Order 1999)."

Any vessel also means kayaks however, there are plenty of other species to catch, and the Fal Estuary holds almost all of the species you can catch on the main coast.

Today the forecast would make it difficult on the main coast therefore; I decided to fish the estuary where I would gain some shelter.

The plan was to fish at anchor in the deep channel using two methods.  The first method would be to fish with bait on the bottom and whilst waiting for a bite jig a Herring Rig weighted with a 50g jig.  The bottom fishing could produce anything and the jigging might produce Mackerel or Herring.

The tackle for the bottom fishing is a 7'6" 12-20lb boat rod, an Abu 6500 multiplier reel loaded with 15lb nylon line and a 30lb leader.  At the business end is a running ledger weighted with a 4oz to 6oz lead, a 30lb fluorocarbon trace and a pennel rig with two 5/0 Varivas Big Mouth hooks.  Bait would be fillets of Mackerel.

The river has a deep main channel and to the sides are shallow ledges.  I wanted to fish in the deep channel but close to the drop off from the ledge to the channel.

To date I do not have a fish finder or GPS therefore, positioning is not that easy.  However, by using land marks and dropping a lead down and counting the turns on the reel helps to judge the shallow from the deep although not very accurately.  To be able to know the depth and structure of the seabed a fish finder/GPS will be a luxury I shall look forward to!

The wind was stronger than the ride and coming from the opposite direction a situation known as wind over tide.  To counteract this I deployed the anchor at the stern and a drift chute at the bow.  This kept the bow of the kayak into the wind and pointing with the tide.

Anchor deployed at the stern.

Drift Chute deployed at the bow.

With the bait lowered to the bottom, I secured the rod in the Scotty Orca Rod Holder.

While waiting for a bite on the bait rod I jigged the Herring Rig down the bottom on the other side of the kayak.  The jigged Herring Rig caught the first fish a large jumbo Mackerel that took the jig used as a weight and extra lure.

Large jumbo Mackerel rich in tasty oils.

The next fish also came from the Herring Rig this time a string of Mackerel.

It took some time before a bite on the bait rod but finally I landed a fish a Lesser Spotted Dogfish otherwise known as a dogfish or doggy.

Lesser Spotted Dogfish.

Many anglers hate Dogfish probably because they can become a nuisance catch when you are trying for other species of fish.  I personally like Dogfish to eat and if you order rock and chips from the fish and chip shop, it is likely to be Dogfish.  I would rather catch Dogfish than nothing at all but of course, a nice Cod would have more appeal!

The next fish also came from the baited rod this time a Whiting.


Finally, I hooked a Herring on the jigged Herring Rig.


This was a cold day only reaching a maximum 4°C!  Everything was OK apart from my feet, which eventually reached the point of no return, and it was time to stop for the day.

It was a reasonable mixed catch and I was grateful to be able to spend a Saturday out at sea.


  1. good fishing didnt no there was mackeral there in the winter .

  2. Hello Rob,,,I hope to float fish off pendennis point while i am visiting Falmouth,,is it ok to float fish for mackerel there>,,,I have watched your video and should i fish 2 hours before high tide and 2 hours after > love the videos,,great for a beginner lie me

    1. Hi Angela. I have never fished Pendennis point but yes no problem to float fish anywhere where Mackerel are likely to run. I have read that float fishing is a good method to use as opposed to feathers of Pendennis due to it being rocky ground. You can catch Mackerel from the shore at low water and the early flood but usually best to fish a couple of hours before and an hour after HW. Rob

  3. I wish i was more agile!!! love to fish

    1. I wish I was younger as I think increasing back problems means my kayak fishing days may be limited. May need a boat with an engine!


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.