Fishing is a major part of the culture, lifestyle and history of Cornwall. There are many different types of fish to be found in and around the coastline of Cornwall and we are looking at what you need to know and where to find the best sites.
The Cornish fishing industry
- Fishing generates over £100 million for the Cornish economy each year
- The Cornish coast hosts 46 ports, coves and harbours which can be used for fishing
- Newlyn has more than 600 fishing vessels registered, and over 40 species of fish can be caught there in one day
- Cornish Sardines have protected EU status – that is, one which is sold as Cornish sardine must have been caught in Cornish waters and brought ashore at a Cornish port
- A Cornish hundred is actually 132 fish, while a Cornish last is 132,000 fish
- 17,000 tons of fish are brought ashore in Cornish harbours each year
- £5 million worth of Cornish crab are landed each year. That equates to around 3,500 tonnes
- Fal Oysters may only be caught by boat powered by sail or oar
Where to find the fish you seek
The north coast of Cornwall is generally good for various species of rock fish, with Trenance and Trevoss being particularly abundant with ray, turbot, mackerel, wrasse, garfish, plaice, dabs and conger; Park Head for wrasse, gurnard, pollock and ray, with Rumps Point offering similar spoils. Prussia Cove, Cape Cornwall, Clodgy Point, Godrevy Point, Navax Point and Daymer Bay are also worth looking into. It is normally not recommended to go rock fishing alone – it’s much safer to have a companion with you.
If you’re planning some beach-based fishing during your Cornish adventure, you may wish to bear in mind that the beaches will be very busy with holidaymakers and surfers during the summer months, and successful fishing will need to be timed accordingly.
Those in search of codling, flat fish, mackerel, whiting and dogfish should consider Bude, Crackington Haven or Widemouth Bay. Skate and flat fish are plentiful on the incoming tide at Crooklets, Maer and Northcott Mouth, while Perranporth, Holywell Bay and Crantock are great for flat fish in its various forms. Perran Sands, Penzance, Porthcurno, Watergate Bay, Mawgan Porth and Constantine are also worthy of a mention.
If you’re new to beach fishing this video is worth a watch –
Trout fishing is seasonal and a permit will be required in most of the fishing areas. Be sure to check before you visit to avoid disappointment.
|Colliford Lake||Brown Trout||15th March – 12th October|
|Crowdy Reservoir||Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout||April – October|
|Drift Reservoir||Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout||1st April – 12th October|
|East & West Looe Rivers||Salmon, Sea Trout, Brown Trout||April – 15th December|
|Gwarnick Mill Fly Fishing Lake||Rainbow Trout|
|River Camel||Salmon, Sea Trout, Brown Trout||April – October|
|River Carey||Salmon, Sea Trout, Brown Trout||April – October||Yes|
|River Fowey||Salmon, Sea Trout||April – September|
|River Inny||Salmon, Sea Trout, Brown Trout||April – 14th October||Yes|
|River Ottery||Salmon, Sea Trout, Brown Trout||April – October||Yes|
|Sibleyback Water Park||Rainbow Trout||April – October|
|Stithians Reservoir||Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout|
|Upper Tamar||Salmon, Sea Trout, Brown Trout||April – October||Yes|
If coarse fishing is more your style, here’s where you should be looking to visit during your stay in Cornwall.
|Fishery||Types of Fish|
|Bake Fishing Lakes||Carp, trout, rudd, roach, dace, gudgeon|
|Bill’s Pool||Roach, tench, rudd, bream, eel|
|Bolingey Lake||Carp, tench, roach, perch, eel|
|Bude Canal||Rudd, carp, tench, bream, dace, perch, roach|
|Dutson Water||Crucian, tench, bream, golden orfe, rudd|
|Mawgan Porth Pools Lake||Carp, tench, bream, blue & golden orfe|
|Mellonwatts Mill Fishery||Carp, tench, rudd, roach, brown trout|
|Middle Boswin||Carp, tench, roach, rudd, perch|
|No Tackle Required||Various|
|Porth Reservoir||Bream, rudd, tench, carp|
|Shillamill Lakes||Crucian, carp, tench, roach, perch, rudd|
|St Erth Fishery||Carp, tench, bream, roach|
|St Germans – Badham Farm||Carp, tench, rudd, roach|
|Tredidon Barton||Carp, ghost carp, tench, bream, roach|
|Trenestall Lake||Roach, carp, tench|
|Upper Tamar Lake||Rudd, carp, tench, bream, dace|
|Wheal Grey||Rudd, roach, bream, carp, tench, gudgeon, eel|
|White Acres Coarse Fishery||Various|
Mainly used when fishing from a beach, this method involves weights, hooks and bait. Any number of different weight and hook combinations, known as rigs, can be used. Beginners may wish to research types of rigs (information may be provided in starter packs) before setting off. A little practise may come in handy.
Very suitable to fishing from harbours and piers, float fishing enables the user to determine what depth they would like to fish at and set the line accordingly. A moving float indicates a successful catch.
A basic yet effective method of fishing, free lining is particularly useful in the evenings when fish start to swim towards the shore. All you need to do is bait the hook, drop it into the water until you think it has reached the bottom, and then very slowly start to pull it back in.
Working in a similar way to spinning, plugging uses lures that generally have more than one treble hook and can be set to dive to a certain depth. Some styles of plug contain rattles to attract fish.
Lures are used by fishers employing the spinning technique, which involves casting the line out into the water and retrieving it slowly. The lure will sit near the surface of the water, hopefully attracting curious fish.
Types of Bait
Fishing is not for the squeamish, particularly when it comes to sorting out the bait. There are several different types which can be used, depending on preferences and circumstances, and most involve handling small creatures of some kind.
If you are fishing from a harbour or pier, a drop net can be a great way of obtaining bait. Simply place a little bait (such as scraps of fish) into the net, lower it into the water until it’s just off the bottom and leave for ten minutes or so before retrieving.
Frozen Sand Eel
This is widely available from fishing tackle shops. Frozen eel is recommended over fresh, due to the superior scent trail.
These crabs, which are those who have recently shed their shells, provide excellent bait no matter what type of fish you are hoping to catch. As the crabs will be in hiding while they wait for their shells to develop, the best place to look for peeler crabs is in estuaries, by the low water mark.
The most common types of worm used for bait are lugworm and ragworms. These can quite easily be sourced at any time of day by looking for the tell-tale squiggles in the sand. Dig between the squiggles and the nearby hole and you’ll find the burrowing worm.
If you fancy a day out at sea, there are trips available from almost every seaside town and port in the county, with a variety of options available including shark fishing, wreck angling and reef fishing.
Many of the trips cater for novices as well as more expert anglers and they will happily give tuition if required. With the local knowledge of the skippers it is unlikely that you will return to shore empty handed.
These are just a small selection for what is available to whet your appetite!