Mumbles Motor Boat & Fishing Club 
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Hooked on Fish - Hooked on Fishing

Tight Lines All Round

   MMBFC Home      Fish and Fishing      Boat Fishing
Boat fishing the Bristol Channel

Boat Fishing
Sea fishing from a dinghy accompanied by an experienced boat handler, or our Club boats, or even a sea anglers' charter boat is a very good way to savour exciting angling over mysterious depths, the thrill of anticipation and reeling in a prize specimen.  Even catching a little one is a joy to behold, never mind the big one that got away.
Personal boat launching

What to do before setting off

  • Check the weather forecast
  • Check on the local conditions e.g. tide times, underwater obstructions, by-laws
  • Ensure your engine and equipment is well maintained
  • Always use fresh fuel
  • Wear a life jacket
  • Park your vehicle and trailer with care and consideration. Do not obstruct access for other users, particularly the Emergency Services
  • Carry flares or other devices for raising the alarm  

Be safe afloat

  • DO NOT drink and drive! It is as dangerous on the sea as it is on land
  • Leave details of where you intend to go and estimated time of return
  • Stay at least 100m from shore at the popular bathing beaches. No launching/recovery of craft at Langland or Caswell unless in emergency
  • Observe speed limits
  • Connect the engine shut-off lanyard if applicable
  • Do not allow young children to be in control of powered water craft or speed boats
 Fishing basics
Fish shoals often follow regular routes across the seabed to established feeding grounds/marks. Known marks nearly always provide good results. Marks favoured by fish depends on the species and marks may be seabed areas of sand, sand/mud, shell-grit, rocks, reefs, deep holes, hollows, gullies, troughs and wrecks.
To learn boat fishing and locate marks for species fishing put to sea with a knowledgeable person such as our club members and boat skippers. They can show beginners all the fish catching tricks, put together a fishing expedition that ensures the joys and rewards of expertly supervised boat fishing a low cost.
Inshore fishing
Sea angling from a boat within 3 miles of the shore is considered to be 'inshore fishing'. A small boat, dinghy (close inshore), small fishing motorboat, or the Mumbles Belle is normally okay for this type of fishing.
Inshore fishing near  sand or sand/mud river estuaries can produce fair-sized bass, dabs, flounders, mullet, plaice, thornback rays etc.
Rocky, rough inshore seabed is good ground for coalfish, conger eels, bull huss, pollack, pouting and wrasse.
We do a lot of drifting for plaice & dabs on Mumbles Belle in the summer, & we drift the rough ground off Rotherslade for Pollack, and the Mixon Bank on the flood, we find it a productive method when we use bling. This is a good an alternative to sitting at anchor all day, and you don't find new marks unless you go and look for them.  So we give drifting a try now and then.  
Deep sea fishing
Once 3 miles or more from the shore is deep sea fishing, regardless of the depth of water under the boat. A purpose built sea-going boat, like the Oystercat, is essential for deep sea fishing.
Larger fish are caught from deep sea marks, such as big cod, coalfish, conger eels, halibut, ling, pollack, rays, skates, tope and turbot.
Do not drink much alcohol the night before, have a good night's sleep, eat a light breakfast and dress as appropriate for the weather, it is often cooler at sea so include some warm clothing, spare pullover and waterproofs or sea angler's flotation suit.
Pack a hearty lunch and a flask of hot drink, if not provided on the boat.
Tackle ought to include, a blunt instrument (priest),sharp filleting knife, protective gloves and sea angler's hook disgorger or artery forceps, a long handled, large frame landing net to help board the fish. These are all provided on the Club boats.
Take plenty of bait, a board on which to cut the bait. spare hooks and weights.
After fishing, clean and tidy the boat, leave everything 'ship shape and Bristol fashion' and you'll be welcomed back, especially on the Club boats.
Safety Hints
Wear an inflatable  life jacket, a flotation suit is a wise investment for some fishing trips.
Never wear thigh boots in a boat they easily fill with water. Wear rubber soled walking boots or calf high rubber boots, and kick them off as soon as possible if you should go over the side.
Bait for Swansea Bay
The most popular bait for fishing in Swansea Bay and the Bristol channel is a worm and squid cocktail, big lug or king rag baits, squid works well both as a tipping bait, or whole for the bigger Cod and Bass.  

Ragworm tends to be the most available and most used, this bait will take a good range of species, nearly always tipped with other baits to make up a cocktail. Lug worm: the blow lug (brown) and black lug (bigger, darker in colour). Black lug is preferred for the winter cod. Usually tipped with a bother bait to make it more appealing.

Squid is used as a tipping bait for Rag and Lug worm and is used whole on a pennel rig forcod and bass in particular.

Sandeels are good bait for bass and deadly for most ray species. Peeler crab are used for bass and smoothound. Edible and shore peeler crab is better for bass and smoothound over rough ground.
Mackerel is a good all round bait and can be presented in many different ways.
Due to the silty waters, which ever bait is used requires as much scent as possible coming from the bait, the fast flowing tides wash out the bait of all its appeal quite quickly, especially in Winter.

The most productive baits are: 1. Lug/Rag worm and squid for the Cod. 2. Mackerel strip for the conger eel, spurdog, smoothound and Tope. 3. Sandeel for Bass. 4. Feathers will take pollock, mackerel, and many other species when fishing in clear water.

Boat Fishing Tackle

Due the the ferocity of the tides in the Bristol Channel uptiding is normally preferred  with 6 to 10oz leads, anything lighter may have difficulty coping with the pull of the strong tide, using a multiplier loaded with between 18-25lb line, preferably braid.  If a shock leader is preferred then use 60lb line but keep it short.  Most anglers choose a heavier line because big fish will have to be bullied back against the tidal current.

Downtiding requires much heavier leads to hold the bottom, ranging from 12 to 18oz depending on tidal conditions with a 30lb class rod and reel.  The downtiding method can be even more effective than uptiding for catching the bigger cod by trotting (bouncing back) a big bait well downtide of the boat.   For both uptide and downtide fishing most members tend to fish only a two hook pennel rig.  The pennel is used to present a large bait, such as a whole squid or mackerel fillet, which would bunch up around the hook bend if a single hook was used.  Decent size Cod and Bass like large bait and this rig presents the bait more naturally. Hooks need to be placed out by a length of between 2 and 4ft.
Rods - need to be powerful stiff boat rods from 7ft to 8ft in length. Line class 20lbs or 30lbs.
Reel - multipliers or more suitable  .
Line strength - from about 15lbs to 25lbs breaking strain for normal boat fishing with a 20lb line class rod. 25lbs to 35lbs breaking strain with a 30lbs line class rod, where large and heavy fish are expected.
Weights from 8oz to 2lb depending on strength of current, depth and sze of bait fished.
Fishing methods
Try sliding float, 2 hook running leger, 2 boom paternoster, boat leger, spinning, driftlining, jigging, trolling, feathering and even fly fishing inshore using fresh water tackle, techniques and large artificial flies - for fish feeding on the surface, especially bass, mackerel and mullet.

Benefits of GPS for Fishing

GPS technology make your fishing trips much more rewarding.   More accurate than 'line of sight' or other navigational methods, a GPS unit tells you where you are and where you are going within a few metres.  GPS is now an essential item in the angler's arsenal.

A GPS is very handy and a good depth finder is useful too.  Finding these places still requires some travelling time but good pre-planning with a map and GPS means less wasted time.  Combine the benefits of mapping with GPS by getting digital charts or scan in paper maps with GPS mapping software and then enter way points along your planned route.

There are always changes to the bottom that are not on some older maps and these places can sometimes be great fishing spots.   Fewer people will know of these places and therefore less pressure on the fish stock there.  A GPS unit can mark these fishing hot spots so that you can find it again easily.  If you share your hot spot information giving GPS co-ordinates makes this easy to do.

Finding the right fishing spot isn't the only consideration, finding your way back home again is another, and your GPS unit lets you do that easily.  It is better to enjoy the peace on the water and see the fish biting without worrying about the rigours of navigation.  The GPS unit provides all the navigational information you need, including position, heading, bearing, speed, time to destination and more.

Marine Charts (Click on the chart to go to Navionics Charts website)

The best specialised maps are Marine Charts.  These offer information about shifting sands, sandbars, reefs, ledges and such that can be critical for productive boat fishing.  Make sure your charts are up-to-date so that you don't run aground or get lost.  Once you have located the desired place on the map, finding the location on the water becomes the next challenge.

GPS as Safety Tool

GPS allows you to navigate safely, even when caught in a heavy fog or other bad weather conditions.  It's easy to get turned around on the open sea, but no matter what the visibility with a GPS you know where you are and which way you are headed.   In the case of s 'man overboard' situation a GPS unit can mark the the exact place where the event occurred greatly assisting rescue crews.   GPS also allows you to easily communicate precise positions to the Coat Guard if you come across a boat in distress.  In emergencies, swift navigation can make a big difference.  GPS mapping software helps to quickly and safely navigate you to the nearest dock or port while avoiding known hazards along the way. 

Boat fishing success

Those were the days
Examples of GPS Fishing Marks

Bream mark  51 33 745N  003 59 938W. Langland Reef (inside)  51 33 724N  004 00060W.  Langland Reef (Outer) 51 33 209N  004 00 633W.

White Oyster Ledge 51 31 159N  003 59 325W.  White Oyster Ledge (mid) 51 31 172N  003 59 210W. White Oyster ledge (midi)  51 31 189N  003 59 244W.  White Oyster Ledge (West)  51 31 126N  003 59 486W.  White Oyster Ledge (East)  51 31 228N  003 58 577W.

Inner Bank (1) 51 30 706N  004 06 361W.  Inner Bank (2) 51 30 664N  004 06 350W

St Christopher Knoll (1)  51 33 277N  004 06 265W.  St Christopher Knoll (2)  51 31 228N  004 06 265W.  St Christopher Knoll (wreck motor vessel)  51 33 217N  004 11 936W

Mixon Shoal  51 33 004N  003 58 002W.  Mixon Bouy  51 33    N  003 58 008W