Tag Archives: Bristol Channel Boat Fishing

Book a boat part 3- Teddie Boy, Minehead

Mike Webber was the youngest charter skipper in the UK when he started out in 2015 and has since earned an enviable reputation for putting his guests on the fish. The focus of part 3 of our ‘Book a boat’ series, Mike tells us how it all began and what he can offer you when it comes to a day’s sport…

Since a very young age I have always been at sea, crewing and gaining knowledge from my Dad (Steve Webber) who skippers the charter vessel ‘Osprey’ out of Minehead Harbour, together  with other skippers helping out and gaining me hours at sea. When finishing college I decided to take the challenge and start my own business and ventured in to becoming a Charter Skipper. My vessel is Teddie Boy.  

Teddie Boy- Fast and spacious

At the age of 16 I worked in acquiring all the courses and certificates required to become a Charter Skipper, many hours in the classroom it was,  but after lots of hard work, determination and support from friends and family this was finally  achieved. I had to wait until my 17th birthday to be able to commercially endorse these certificates which would then allow me to take people to sea. 

I have now been chartering for nearly 5 years, and it’s fair to say I absolutely love my job. Recently I purchased a 10m Cougar Catamaran which has been purpose built for my requirements in the Bristol Channel, offering a huge open deck space with full walk around making the most of the room. Powered by twin 200hp Nanni Diesels, this gets you to the marks quickly and most importantly dry and comfortably, offering cruising speeds between 15 and18knots with a  top speed of over 22knots, making this the perfect Charter vessel. Also, she is kitted out with the very best Simrad Electronics, radars, echo sounders, also a galley for tea and coffee making facilities and a ondeck W/C. The boat has seating for everyone aswell as a bait table and 2 large Icey Tek Cool Boxes to keep your baits and catch fresh. 

Since I have been Chartering out of Minehead Harbour some of my best catches include; 

Cod- 29lb 12oz , Bass- 13lb, Bream- 5lb 8oz , Smoothounds- 24lb , Pollock- 12lb, Tope- 64lb 3oz, Blue Sharks- 134lb, Porbeagle Sharks- 100lb, Conger Eel- 55lb, Turbot- 6lb, Blonde Ray- 25lb 8oz, Small eyed- 16lb , Thornback Ray- 22lb, Haddock- 6lb 1oz. 

Minehead is situated on the west Somerset coast of the Bristol Channel and offers a wide array of fishing opportunities. The coast here provides superb shelter from prevailing SW winds. We offer a multitude of other services such as commercial workboat duties, coastal cruises and ash scattering as well as traditional fishing trips for recreational anglers.

Parking is very good at Minehead offering some free slots plus some very reasonable pay and display carparks. Teddie Boy Charters offers fishing trips from 2 Hours to multiple day charters visiting other ports to mix things up and offering angling holidays. Most fishing is done within a short steam of Minehead which means  more time on the water and less time travelling. Bass, bream, hounds, tope, mackerel, conger, cod, ray’s, huss, whiting etc. can all be found especially close to port.  On species days we can catch anything between 15-20 different types of fish, so don’t think that Minehead is just about big fish. They are here too though!

Mike

Contact Details- Michael Webber-Griffiths 07894536672 

Email- teddieboycharters@gmail.com

Website- www.teddieboycharters.co.uk

Instagram- @mineheadseafishing 

 

Book a boat part 2- Channel Explorer, Portishead

Chris Buxton, skipper of Portishead based vessel Channel Explorer tells us about the kind of fishing we might expect to see out of the coastal Bristol Channel town of Portishead, in part 2 of our ‘book a boat’ series…

As a keen angler I was very lucky to have grown up right on the coast of the fast flowing waters of the Bristol Channel in the small Somerset town of Clevedon. I learned my trade on the rich fish filled waters of the upper channel around Clevedon for nearly 30 years before taking the plunge and running my first Charter boat- Channel Explorer. 

Plenty of deck space equals comfortable fishing

I’ve been privileged to have received some help along the way, particularly from Daniel Hawkins who runs ReelDeal charters from Ilfracombe-  Dan is a great guy and highly respected skipper. 

I now own Dan’s original boat, a 10 meter Colne Catamaran twinned with 150hp mercury’s on the back that can get us going to speeds of up to 42knots, so getting to the marks takes next to no time. We have some very good fishing from the beautiful marina at Portishead which is 3 miles up the coast from Clevedon or junction 19 of the M5. All our fishing is done at anchor with the majority of anglers opting to uptide in the fast waters. Winter fishing can be excellent and we are very lucky to still get a decent cod run in the Channel. From September to May is when these fish run with bags of up to 84 sizeable fish having been taken so far this 2019-20 season. 

A typical bag of cod aboard Channel Explorer

We also catch plenty of Rays ,Congers ,Whiting and odd dogs amongst the massive Cod shoals. 

May through to September is a time we can pretty much target anything with all the ray species available, hounds in excess of 20lb, tope, bass more cod and my favourite- the Dover sole. 

The sole fishing is something I’d like to think we specialise in as they are large fish with 90% of fish landed over the 2lb mark and up to a few ounces short of 4lb. 

I’m after a 6lb fish and pretty certain they are down there in the murky depths. 

Channel Explorer runs pretty much everyday weather permitting and can take 10 Anglers with plenty of space, so when we can get back out on the water why not book a trip with us and I’ll doe my best to put you on the fish.

Contact Chris on 07804 241017 to discuss your booking

VMO autumn adventure aboard Aly Kat

On Sunday 9th September, the VMO team stepped aboard Minehead based charter boat Aly Kat, skippered by Dave Roberts. After a hearty breakfast, the plan was to target the smaller species that are in abundance here at this time of year and often found extremely close to the shoreline amongst the rugged terrain. The order of the day was small hooks and small baits fished on an assortment of light rods armed with compact reels filled with zero stretch braid. 

It was just as well that this was the plan from the off, as had the team wanted to fish offshore in the hope of larger species, it would have been a little uncomfortable to say the least and there was more than just a small chance that someone would be seeing their breakfast again!

The steam down against the heavy swell that had been kicked up not only by the spring tides but also the ever stiffening south westerly wind, gave everyone the chance to prepare their end tackle and talk tactics. With skipper Dave full of talk of good catches in the days leading up to the trip, the guys were particularly excited, especially at the prospect of connecting with the feisty shoals of bream that are often in residence during September. 

Simon and Jeremy talk tactics

In no time at all, Aly Kat had reached its destination, well beyond Porlock Bay and somewhere close to the border of Devon and Somerset. The high sea cliffs of Exmoor offered some sanctuary from the wind and with the anchor set in the ebbing tide, it was time to go to work. 

Carefully presented baits were lowered in to the depths and Harry, Andrew, Simon and Jeremy waited with keen anticipation. 

It wasn’t very long at all before a sharp rattle on Harry’s rod tip indicated the first bite of the day. The bite soon developed into a full on rod-wrencher and Harry was soon enjoying a tussle from a feisty black bream that took a shining to his ragworm and squid-strip offering. 

First blood to Harry

It was a promising start and one that was to set the tone for the rest of the day. 

Harry’s bream was typical of the fish that seem to be in residence at the moment at around a pound or so in weight, but it gave a pleasing account of itself on light tackle. 

As time went by, all four anglers started to haul bream to the surface with the fish steadily increasing in size. Andrew and Jeremy even enjoyed a double hook up. It was clear that this was going to be a stand out trip as the guys enjoyed some relentless action with more and more bream coming aboard. The majority of the fish showed a clear preference for traces armed with  floating beads.

 

Double delight!

Simon’s popped up ragworm bait gets hoovered up!

Minutes soon turned in to hours (time flies when you’re having fun) and skipper Dave decided that a change of spot was in order. The anchor was pulled and soon Aly Kat was repositioned a few hundred yards down coast, nose facing into the now flooding tide. 

This time, the frantic bream action experienced earlier had been replaced by a little more variety in the form of gurnards, scad, bullhuss, mackerel and conger with a colourful array of species hitting the deck of Aly Kat within the first half hour of arriving at the new location.

 

 

Simon with a stunning blue tipped Tub Guranrd

 

A baby tope for Jeremy

A surprise octopus for Andrew

A Bristol Channel mackerel for Jeremy – a rare beast!

It was amidst the constant action provided by the smaller species that Simon suddenly latched in to what was clearly a better fish as his rod hooped over without warning and tested his nerve. Dave appeared alongside Simon with the net, his suspicions pointing towards a bass and as the anglers looked on, they weren’t to be disappointed. Simons reward was a stunning bass, clearly a PB and only lightly hooked on the tiny Chinu hook he was using. 

A PB bass for Simon

A comparatively quiet spell followed, before Andrew added to the variety with a small blonde ray that took a shining to a  small strip of mackerel intended for gurnards.

 

It had certainly been a productive day so far, but the one species that had remained elusive throughout was the sub tropical trigger fish. All aboard were keen to latch into one of these special fish that have only been occasional visitors to the channel in recent times, but try as they might they failed to locate a single fish throughout the remainder of the trip. 

As Aly Kat headed for port and left the sanctuary of the headland that had provided shelter from the buffeting westerly wind, it became clear just how large a sea had developed. Crossing Porlock Bay, Hurlestone point loomed and and a particularly lumpy section of water made for a rough ride. 

Andrew decided this was a good time to take a tumble and fell on his back like a turtle, much to the amusement of his colleagues. Thankfully he lived to tell the tale, with just a slight bruise to his back and a dent in his ego!

It had been a brilliant days fishing and was rounded off in style with a pint back at the pub and a recollection of the fish that were landed. The team had landed over 30 bream, the largest bag of the species Dave could ever recall and with the majority of these returned to fight another day, it bodes well for the future. 

VMO would like to thanks Dave Roberts for a great day’s sport. 

Minehead boat fishing update

Today we welcome back Devon angler Scott Smy who gives us his account of a day aboard Minehaed charter boat, Osprey. It was one of those trips when the weather on the day makes you question whether you would be better off not going out, but as Scott explains, the skipper always knows best… 

With the wind howling out of the NE and white caps pretty much everywhere you looked, I think all eight of us stood on the pier at Minehead waiting for the charter boat, Osprey, to come alongside the steps and wished we were all somewhere else. However, skipper Steve Webber was sure he could find some shelter down in Porlock Bay and he was of the opinion that the wind would come in later than forecast so the decision was made to go for it. That decision proved to be right as the sea conditions remained pretty good all day – lesson learned there, your skipper always knows best!

Arriving at Porlock Bay and now out of the wind, a multitude of different baits were either cast out away from the boat or dropped over the side. A steady stream of dogfish came to the baits which was particularly annoying for those fishing prime peeler crab baits targeting the hounds. After a while Adrian Kruger, who was fishing from the stern, bent into something that we could all see was much larger than a doggie and after a short but spirited fight managed to get a nice double figure bullhuss into the net.

The first huss of the day for Adrian Kruger

A whole Joey mackerel on a flowing trace proved too good for the huss to turn down and shortly afterwards Adrian landed the first hound of the trip on a peeler crab bait fished uptide whilst the rest of us continued to get plagued by lessers. Dogfish can be a real pain early in the season in the Bristol Channel and today was no different.

With the tide starting to slow, the decision was made to move further down the channel to Ivystone to get a bit more tide and try and find a few more hounds. Whilst this move did find us a few extra hounds to just under double figures, on the whole the fishing was still very slow. I have found that any sort of east in the wind has the ability to kill the fishing in the Channel stone-dead and this seemed to be the case on this day. Luckily for us we were with a skipper who constantly keeps trying to find the fish for his customers so the decision was made to move just over a mile out over the slack water period to see if the fish were in the deeper water. 

We were all enthused by the news that Steve’s son Michael who runs his own successful charter boat, Teddie Boy, had anglers on board who had been bitten-off several times at another deep-water mark. This was a sure sign that the tope were already around, confirmed by Steve having caught one on Osprey the day before going 26lb.

The move out into deeper water paid dividends almost straight away and finally we seemed to have found the hounds as all of us hooked into some cracking fish, many of which were into double figures.

 

A double figure smoothhound for Scott Smy

Whilst peeler crab was by far the best bait for the smuts, several were caught on whole squid baits fished uptide. It looked as though the recent spell of slightly colder weather had resulted in the hounds pushing out into deeper water from the shallower marks in Porlock Bay.

In addition to the hounds a number of specimen bullhuss up to around 13lb were caught on fish baits fished downtide. The slack water period and the first push of the tide is always a good time for huss in the boat and today was no exception. Varivas Big Mouth Xtra hooks in 5 or 6/0 fished on flowing traces of 80-100lb Varivas Shock Rig Nylon proved more than ample for the huss whilst Varivas Chinu’s in size 3/0 worked well fishing peeler crab for the hounds.

Plenty of huss fell to baits fished over low water

As is usually the case in the Channel the deeper water marks gradually became unfishable due to the tide increasing so the decision was made to target some rays on the sandy ground closer to Minehead for the last few hours of the trip. This just resulted in one very small SE Ray to a sandeel fished uptide and a gradual stream of dogfish. With interest starting to wane and the forecast NE wind starting to come through as forecast, we decided to up-anchor and run for the harbour. Considering how we thought we wouldn’t even get out of the harbour some 8 hours earlier, it was a very enjoyable trip which was in no small part down to a top skipper and fishing from a port where you can get out in most weathers.

Can you uptide using braid?

A recent debate on social media regarding the use of a braided mainline for uptide fishing sparked much discussion. Seasoned boat angler, Scott Smy, guests on today’s VMO blog to offer his thoughts on the subject…

A recent post on everyone’s favourite media channel Facebook posed the question…..’Can you use braid for Uptiding’? Considering the number of differing views this post generated I thought it would be useful to run through some of the pros and cons of using braid for uptiding, using the Bristol Channel as a casing point.

I guess the simple answer to the question from my and many other anglers perspective is ‘yes’; you can use braid effectively when uptiding. Having spent almost the best part of almost 30 years fishing from boats in the Bristol Channel (both on charters and my own craft) I would like to think I know a thing or two about uptiding in these generally shallow fast-running waters. I have to say for the majority of that time I had been using mono lines in 15-20lb breaking strain along with a 40-50lb leader. However, in the past couple of years my attention has turned to using braid and to be brutally honest I find it a complete joy to use when compared to mono.

Loaded up and ready to go. With braid!

Loaded up and ready to go. With braid!

The first thing you will discover using braid is that the bite detection is second to none and you can spot the first enquiry on the rod tip long before the fish picks up the bait properly and steams off downtide, which personally has resulted in a greater percentage of positive hook-ups compared to mono. However it is essential that rods are securely fastened down to the boat rail if left unattended as the take from a large smoothhound or ray can be savage to say the least and could lead to rods and reels disappearing over the side, never to be seen again. Also, once hooked the sensitivity of the braid makes playing the fish so much more enjoyable as you can feel every head shake, although this does mean that you have to be careful not to bully the fish too much.

I also find that fishing with braid allows the grip weight to hold much more affectively when fishing in strong currents. On a recent charter trip out of Minehead fishing an offshore sandbank for rays where the tide was steaming through it was noticeable that those uptiding with braid were able to find and hold bottom whilst those using mono struggled to hold until the tide had eased off. The one problem I have found with braid is that occasionally it allows the lead to dig into the seabed a bit too well and has resulted in having to try to pull for a break (trying to break out 30lb braid is not easy and should be left to the skipper).

A beautiful blonde taken on a braid uptide outfit

A beautiful blonde taken on a braid uptide outfit

I have heard of instances where anglers using braid have been cut-off when using it over shallow water reef/coral marks due to the amount of line you need to feed out. This can be a downside to using braid and whilst tying on a leader of 20ft of 40-50lb mono can help reduce tackle losses and make it easier for the skipper when bringing fish to the waiting net, there will be times when you just have to revert back to mono. However the majority of the time this isn’t an issue for the areas I am uptiding which would be considered to be at the lower end of the Channel which are generally a bit deeper and less snaggy than the upper reaches. I guess it’s a case of horses for courses.

A further downside to the use of braid uptiding is the problem of you fishing next to your mate who is still using mono. If you are all using braid on the boat then no problem. However, if some of your fellow anglers are using mono then tangles can become a problem and worst still braid has a tendency to cut through mono when it is under tension. Your mate fishing next to you certainly isn’t going to thank you when your braid slices through his mainline as a 20lb Cod hits the surface just behind the boat!

12lb Bullhuss

Tackle

Fixed spools are becoming increasingly popular on charter boats these days and they are ideal for uptiding when trying to cast from a moving deck. Having initially brought them for use on continental rods for shore fishing, I have been using the Penn Surfblaster 8000 reels for uptiding and have found it to be more than adequate. Apart from the ability to ‘pick-up’ the slack line very quickly (one of the main advantages of a fixed spool), it has a great drag system for when fish get close to the boat. Also being a reel from the Penn stable it is well-built and will certainly handle the pressure put upon it by a large ray or conger hanging in the tide.

A relatively soft action uptider is essential when using braid. I am a big fan of Daiwa boat rods and use the TDX 4-10oz which is probably one of the best uptide rods ever made.

In terms of terminal tackle I have found that using an uptide boom locked between 2 swivels is far more effective than having a sliding boom as this acts like a bolt-rig and results in more hook-ups, especially for fish such as hounds which have a tendency to tear off with the bait. Hook sizes vary according to bait but I rarely find you need anything larger than a 6/0 uptiding out of ports such as Watchet, Minehead etc. Hooks are always Varivas Big Mouth Extra’s which are proven and have never let me down.

uptide boat fishing rig

Simple uptide tackle. Note the nail in the lead to hold the hook for casting

All Aboard Aly Kat!

Last Sunday saw the VMO team head out of Minehead aboard Dave Roberts’ boat, Aly Kat. Due to a variety of circumstances, only three of the team could make the trip and so it was that Harry, Andrew and Jeremy set sail that morning in high spirits upon a tranquil sea. Having had the last trip cancelled because of strong winds, the lads were ultra keen to get amongst the fish and with catches of smoothhounds, rays, tope and bass making the news over the past weeks, they had a feeling that the angling Gods were going to be kind!

Aly Kat leaves port

Aly Kat leaves port

bristol-channel-boat-fishing

After a lengthy steam down channel, Dave finally positioned the boat and dropped anchor on a spot that had shown good form of late. The plan was to target bream using small hooks but when just a few pout and dogfish graced the rods it became apparent that the bream were not in residence and the decision was made to move to another mark to fish on the drift, where hopefully a bass or two would be present.

The boat was finally positioned to start the drift and long flowing traces were armed with an assortment of Fish Black minnows and Sidewinder Shads. Harry and Andrew couldn’t believe their luck when within seconds of touching bottom, both of their rods arched over to the unmistakable tune of a bass. Harry’s fish had taken a Black Minnow whereas Andrew’s had fallen for a blue Sidewinder Shad.

First drop on the lures!

First drop on the lures!

Jeremy had to wait for the second drift before he could get in on the action when quite spectacularly his rod suddenly buckled in his grasp as another bass made a frantic grab for the lure.

Jeremy joins the party on his second drop

Jeremy joins the party on his second drop

Within twenty minutes, all three anglers had reached their daily bag limit and with the tide now easing off, Dave pointed the nose of Aly Kat seaward and steamed another couple of miles offshore. A whole host of other species including smoothhounds, blonde rays, bull huss and conger eels were soon coming over the gunnels.

Jeremy pulls a male blonde!

Jeremy pulls a male blonde!

Low water came and went, the wind had freshened from the west and the boat swung around into the face of the new flood tide. As it increased in strength and the offshore mark became unfishable, the remainder of the session was spent just a few hundred yards offshore of the north Devon coast. Big mackerel baits on wire traces were cast uptide by all three anglers in anticipation of tope; the one fish that was of particular interest to the lad’s on this trip and one that had seemingly been plentiful through out the summer. After a fruitless hour wait, several bait changes and time ticking away, a change of tactics was in order. Going all out with smaller hooks and a variety of different baits, the fish started coming aboard. Turbot, smoothhounds, bull huss, blonde rays and a specimen size grey gurnard for Andrew added to the variety.

A stunning grey gurnard for Andrew

A stunning grey gurnard for Andrew

Before they knew it, Dave called time and Aly Kat headed for port. Although both Harry and Jeremy are more at home on the coast, there is already talk of boat fishing related purchases ahead of the next trip which all going to plan will be in pursuit of sharks next month. Look out for a full report on the VMO blog!