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Kingston Seymour

A Thornback ray taken in early October. Kingston Seymour wall runs for a number of miles from near St Thomas head up the channel to Black Rock near Clevedon. There are several access points along its length, but I'm not sure whether these are actually public rights of way, so I leave you to enquire at the local tackle shop. The wall varies in height along it's length, as does the seabed immediately in front of it. Generally, though, it is firm mud with some patches of stone and weed. The popular spots on the wall are generally best fished on a 12m+ (Avonmouth) tide, with tides over 13m, or so, over topping the wall in places. There is actually a secondary defence behind the main wall, in the lower areas, in the form of an earth bund, and the biggest tides reach the base of this. Best thing to do is take a visit on a smaller tide and arrive sometime before highwater and checkout the seabed. At highwater make a mental note of where the water reaches and you can then judge whether the section you're fishing can be easily tackled on a bigger tide.

Low water fishing is generally out of the question as the water retreats some way across the mud. However, I've heard of people fishing on neap lows and catching bass and flounder, but it's a risky business unless you know the area well. Highwater is when the mark is normally tackled, and I'd aim to get there about 2.5hrs before highwater. This gives time to tackle up, and also to secure a good position at the busier times. Some people wait until the sea reaches the wall, but in doing so miss the best chance of a fish. The mud is quite firm for 100yds or so, and scrambling to the base of the wall and walking a short distance to cast will often produce a fish. There is one problem: the water is so shallow the lead will often bury itself into the seabed leaving you to pull for a break when you retrieve -- normally, the water depth will slow the speed of the lead before it touches bottom. There are a few ways around this. If you're a very good caster, you should be able to get far enough to prevent this happening. Alternatively, you can wade out a short distance -- a bit dicey as the muds very slippery. The other way is to not set the lead wires, and just before the lead reaches the water stop the line with your hands to cushion the landing.

Kingston Seymour can turn up just about anything species wise. I've caught, or seen others catch, the following: Cod, bass, conger, eel, flounder, dab, dover sole, thornback, pout and whiting. Late summer to early winter gives the best sport. The most common catches being conger, whiting, flounder, codling and the omnipresent green eel (or silver eel or whatever you want to call the bloody things; Anguilla anguilla, if Latin's your thing!). It is a good bass mark on the right day, but this species can be rather elusive, and they are generally the exception rather than the rule. Same goes for thornback. Having said that, if you hit it right it's possible to take maybe 5 or so ray or bass in a short session. You'll be very lucky if you do, though! Codling are a different matter, and half a dozen between 2lb and 4lb during a session would be nothing special during a good winter.

Baits are the usual, but take a variety because the fish can be fussy! A few years ago, I fished next to a bloke fishing rag. I was on peeler. I caught six codling, he had nothing. Another time I've fished peeler, only to find squids the bait of the moment. During the summer crabs can be a nuisance, so this might restrict what you use. Putting fresh bait on every 5 minutes to feed the crabs is not my idea of fun so it may be worth fishing something like whole calamari wrapped up in elasticated cotton; you'll only need a new one ever 15 minutes, then.

Fish can be take at any time during the 3 or 4 hour period that the sea is accessible from the wall; but like I said earlier, the first couple of casts on the flood, more often than not, produce something if they're about. The ray in the picture was taken about 1hour before highwater. Interestingly, having talked to a few people, it seems if you want ray it's a good idea to hang on well into the ebb; good catches being made between highwater and the time that the water retreats onto the mud. Conger are most active just as the tide turns, and into the first part of the ebb. If you want one, stick on a whole calamari squid, bundled up with elasticated cotton, and lob it out 50 or 60 yards. Make sure you use a heavy trace, though, otherwise you're likely to get bitten off.

Looking towards Black Rock at top of a 10m (Avonmouth Datum) tide. A 13m will be just below the top of this section of wall. A 14m and you're under water.
Looking towards Sandpoint from about 200m beyond the end of the wall shown above. It's about 1.5hrs before high water on a 11.7m (Avonmouth datum) tide.