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Brean and Berrow

A thornback from Brean. November 2006.

Brean and Berrow are two sections of a long sandy Beach in Bridgwater Bay between Burnham-on-sea and Brean Down. The foreshore has a relatively shallow gradient which means the tide retreats for some distance making fishing at low water impossible. The shallow nature of the area may, at first glance, put off some anglers who often exclusively associate deep water with both quantity and quality of fish. This is not always the case, however, with fish often feeding in food-rich water of limited depth. During the autumn and early winter, on Brean and Berrow, large catches of codling can be taken from depths less than 6' close to the shore, with double figure fish just as likely to show as on some of the deeper marks. Thornback also put in an appearance from time to time, as well as the usual conger, and a very occasional bass. Other smaller species are caught, as well, and these inlcude flounder and whiting.

This beach is one of my favourites, and requires tactics somewhat different to those used on the more traditional Bristol Channel venues. It is best fish after a good blow, though don't completely write off a calm day as I once saw a 17lb cod caught there in such conditions! When it's rough chest waders are highly recommended, and thigh waders would be a minimum requirement. These are required to get some way out in the shallow water in order that the bait is cast beyond the surf. You also need to travel fairly light because the tide comes in very fast and you're constantly moving to keep ahead of it. Be wary of hooking a good fish and taking a while to land it as if you're out in the water with waders on you may miss the water catching up with the rest of your tackle on the beach! This is especially true at night; in fact, for safety's sake you're best off fishing it with a companion after dark if you're wading.

Berrow and Brean can produce all through the year, but holidaymakers mean summer fishing is impossible. It's best to wait until the weather's fairly foul, then you can have miles of beach almost to yourself. Generally, all things considered, I'd fish it October through to early January specifically for codling. Any ray, bass or large conger that showed would be a bonus. I've heard it gets codling in the Spring, too, but have never tried fishing then. This beach is one of the few in the area where you can fish any size tide, but the larger ones make for very hard work trying to stay ahead of the advancing water. I prefer fishing it on neaps, but even then you need plenty of line on you reel as you may wade out 30 yards, cast 100 yards, then back up with the tide several hundred yards. At this point it's best to mention that just because it's sandy and relatively snag-free you shouldn't get the idea you can use light line. There's a strong current running parallel to the beach, and what with the wave action, too, lots of the line can get buried in the sand. Weed can be a problem even in the best conditions, as well; so, I tend to use 18lb with the usual 60lb shock leader.

I like to keep the end tackle simple and just use the usual pulley rig with no baitclips and 2/0 hooks in a pennel configuration. For codling I'll fish lug and squid, wrapping it all up in elasticated cotton. Of course, the same advice is relevant as in other parts of the channel: you can never be sure that they won't prefer a different bait on the day. I remember fishing there with lug one day and catching nothing whilst a bloke with frozen mackerel and squid caught quite a few codling and a bass! However, if you don't have several sessions available to experiment you're best sticking with lug and squid. If you want conger, the best bait is ragworm. For some strange reason conger don't like lug.

You can start fishing around 3 hours before high water, maybe a little earlier if you're keen. At this point the beach changes to a slightly steeper gradient as it nears the land. Beyond this, towards the low tide mark, the gradient is extremely low and the water can move over it almost as fast as you can walk. You can fish until about half hour after high tide, but then the water disappears at an astounding rate, and it's best to call it a day. You can park on the beach between 9am and 5pm in the winter, but the gates are locked outside those hours. There is very limited parking on the beach road, and you have the option of putting your car there and taking a footpath down to the sea. If you do decide on taking the car on to the beach stay near the dunes. If you venture too far down the beach you'll sink and your car will be swamped by the tide. Furthermore, on really big tides you're best parking on the road as the water will come right up to the dunes.


Brean beach looking towards Brean Down.