Monday, 12 February 2007

Watchet Harbour, Somerset

Watchet Harbour, Bristol Channel, Somerset

Watchet is a small town on the Somerset coast facing Wales across the Bristol Channel. There are signs directing you to the Harbour and Marina. Drive down through the town, around a sharp left hand bend (Marina and slipway on your right) at a short distance on the left is a pay car park. You can walk onto the Harbour wall by going through the archway by the side of the pub opposite the car park.
The Harbour dries out at low tide, you can fish from up to four hours before and after high tide on neap tides and three hours before and after on spring tides. It is a good idea to walk out on the harbour wall at low tide and have a look at the sort of ground you will be fishing over. If you have wellie boots you can go down the steps at the end of the wall by the lighthouse and walk around the end of the wall and onto the ground you will be fishing when the tide comes in. If you keep your eyes open you can usually find some lost tackle to salvage.
The water in the Bristol Channel is affected by the run-off from the rivers that feed into it and is usually red brown in colour. The water is seldom clear here and as a consequence there is not much difference between daylight and night fishing. The ground here can be snaggy so be prepared to lose some tackle. Heavy gear is used here, currents can be fairly strong ( very strong at the end on the ebb tide) and there is often weed in the water. I would normally use a strong beachcaster with 18lb mainline with a long 40lb leader so that a fish can be lifted up the wall. Long casting is not required as some very big fish are caught close in. Target species here are conger eels, cod (in winter), whiting, dogfish, pout, thornback ray and the occasional pollack, flatfish or bass. Baits are fish-baits, squid, ragworm and lugworm. There is a tackle shop in the town West Coast Angling, in the main through road, Swain Street, at the top end of the town near the station.

Shops, caf├ęs, pubs, car park and toilets are a short walk away.

The first section of the harbour wall has an elevated pavement along the wall you can fish from here only when the tide is well up, a freshwater inlet from the stream that flows through the town enters the sea here, there is a flat area to fish from over the wall, At the end of this section are steps down at the corner, this is a favoured spot as the high wall here can give some shelter from the wind.

Watchet Harbour, elevated pavement and steps at the "Corner"

The tide run and currents get harder as you go towards the end as does the 'snagginess' of the bottom. You should not fish from the end of the harbour wall as you can endanger boat traffic, however many people do when the weather prevents boat traffic or at night. If you catch a big fish there is the problem of getting it safely up the wall, use strong line for the first 40' or so, climb up onto the wall hand-line the fish up and hope, get a drop-net, or try to manoeuvre the fish to the steps at the end of the wall on the harbour side.
Some nice fish can be caught inside the harbour where lighter tackle can be used. A few people float fish for mullet here with good results.
The harbour is a great place for catching prawns in a baited drop net in late summer and autumn along with legions of shore crabs. Crabbing can be interesting as dogfish and congers can be caught on crab-lines here. Spider crabs are not found in this part of the Channel. The huge tidal range of the Bristol Channel means that the water can be a looong way down or very deep depending on the state of the tide, it is not a safe place for young children. In stormy weather the spray can wash up over the wall and give you a good soaking, as this photo shows;
It's not always sunny when I go fishing ! Spray at Watchet

But when the rain stops......... a pot of gold

If you get bored with fishing there is a steam railway that runs through Watchet, from Bishops Lydeard near Taunton to Minehead.

Tide Times for Watchet for the next 7 days
Outer wall too high, fishing into harbour only
Updated 17th August 2010


Melissa said...

Wow you have captured some great changing sights here. I spent a week with my family in the nearby Doniford Bay Haven Caravan website and absolutely loved the place. The caravan park itself is beautiful, with live cabaret and plenty of things to do, and the backdrop that it is set on is simply breathtaking.

Anonymous said...

car park for disaabled free or paying ?

Anonymous said...

what the post code to arrive there ?

haddock said...

TA23 0AN

disabled parking; 3 hours free