Sea Fishing in Seaton Bay.
Seaton Bay lies within Lyme Bay on the South West coast of England.
In 2008 the UK Government decided to close-off 90 square miles of Lyme Bay to scallop dredging and bottom- trawling which appears to have stimulated partial recovery of fragile reef ecosystems.
In 2012 The Lyme Bay Working Group, a collaborative body that includes local fishermen, scientists, regulators and the Blue Marine Foundation has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) designed to ensure that Lyme Bay’s local fishing communities benefit from a more sustainable approach to marine conservation, which recognises the need to balance commercial necessity with the pressing need to protect these fragile environments.
This has led to a a new voluntary code of conduct being agreed with fishermen from the four ports nearest to Seaton in the Lyme Bay marine conservation area restricting amount of gear used by any one fisherman.
The beach at Seaton is a mile long shelving shingle beach sheltered between the chalk cliffs of White cliff to the west and the red Haven Cliffs to the East.
Axmouth Harbour is at the eastern end of the beach at the foot of the Haven Cliffs and the mouth of the River Axe Estuary. The Estuary of the River Axe is tidal, so that at low tide the harbour bottom is exposed with just a strip of river water making its way down to the sea. Two bridges cross the river (one old, one new) a few hundred yards from the harbour mouth, effectively preventing navigation up the river by larger vessels. Past the bridges the estuary then opens out and the low tide exposes an expanse of mud flats.
These mud flats and creeks now a nature reserve, are rich in food which not only feeds large flocks of migratory birds but when disturbed by flood water can flow down the river into the sea where it is a constant food source for fish in the bay.
The esplanade road runs from the harbour to the middle of the bay, a sea wall forms a defence against storms with parking available on the road side of the wall. In summer months Parking is now Pay & Display until 6.00pm.
The shingle beach starts at the sea wall and shelves down to a distinct gutter which is visible at low tide where the sea bed changes to a sandy bottom. The sand then continues to shelve to a depth of 20′ after which it levels out.
The wave action is generally from west to east, this sweeps the shingle continuously eastwards. Strong storms and high seas will change the level of the beach. Over recent years the level of the beach has dropped. The two storms in February 2014 significantly swept away much of the shingle and harbour built up pebble bank. Since 2014 the beach has recovered and now has a reasonable depth of pebbles on it although sandy stretches can be exposed after storms.
The beach is still shingle but has not recovered to the height it was before the storms.
After prolonged heavy rain up country, the silt swept into the bay by the flood water of the River Axe, will colour the water for hundreds of yards out into the bay. This flood of fresh water can affect catches for a few days with fish staying away until the fresh water flood has cleared.
Storms with the wind coming in off the sea will bring in weed particularly kelp and sea lettuce, which clogs up your line and rod rings making fishing difficult. The beach can be fished in the first day of the storm before the weed comes in. The weed usually clears after a few calmer days.
Because of these tidal conditions the most favoured marks are at the eastern end of the beach between the Spot On Kiosk and the Harbour entrance.
Fishing off the Beach
The beach can be fished both during the day and at night, with all styles of fishing allowed, including spinning and feathering as well as bottom baiting.
A standard beachcaster and a 6500 size reel loaded with 15lb mainline is sufficient for fishing off the beach, although the mainline can be increased to 20lb when ledgering during the winter months.
Casting between 80-120 yards should put you amongst the fish, however the gutter being a rich source of food brings fish including Bass close into the shore. Many make the mistake of overcasting, missing the fish feeding in the gutter a few yards out. This can be solved by using two rods, casting one long and one short.
In calmer sea conditions the gutter can be fished using a float rig.
Grip leads can be useful to hold position as there is a strong lateral tidal flow in the bay.
The sea bed in the bay is free of rocks so rocky bottom tackle is not required.
Smooth hounds can be caught off the beach at distance using peeler crabs for bait.
Large catches of mackerel have been taken during the high tides and fine evenings of the summer months. News of the mackerel shoals being in, soon bring out hoards of casual anglers who line the beach preventing anything other than feathering until night fall. Mackerel shoals were sparse in 2017 whether this was due to overfishing by trawlers out sea or tidal conditions is a matter of opinion.
In the middle of summer, large shoals of whitebait can appear in the bay, usually on fine sunny evening. These shoals become the target for the larger mackerel and Bass as well as sea birds who are attracted by the glut of food.
These predators drive the shoals of whitebait into (and sometimes onto) the shore making them leap into the air to escape.
Later on, the Joey’s (small mackerel) appear which can be caught on small hooked lures and used for live bait.
Dogfish can be caught off the beach for most of the year with a reef to the right of the harbour mouth said to attract doggies.
Good size Bass are regularly caught off the beach, although numbers can vary season to season. Bass have been caught using mackerel feathers or have taken mackerel which have been hooked on feathers.
Spinning with light Bass rods and Dexter’s into the gutter can also produce results, particularly when there is a surf. Live prawn on a float rig have also caught sizeable fish as has bottom baiting with lug, rag and squid cocktails. Fresh mackerel fillet pieces can also be very effective.
Other Bass marks include Seaton Hole at the west end of the bay and East Beach the other side of the Harbour. Both marks are very rocky and are best fished with plugs and dexter’s.
When pluging use shallow divers (600mm) or surface poppers to avoid getting snagged, when using dexter’s retrieve quickly as soon as the lure hits the water to avoid retrieving when the lure has hit bottom, the speed can then be varied.
There is a mud stone reef opposite the Chine café on West Walk which is said to attract Bass where they can be taken by bottom baiting.
Whiting, followed by Codling can appear from mid November onwards through to February, although this will vary season to season. Night tides fish best with the first four hours of the rising tide the most promising.
Fishing for Mullet has become more popular due to articles in the press. Try for mullet midway between the harbour mouth and mooring area, either with light tackle on a float rig with a small hook baited with bread or with a small spinner baited with harbour rag.
Axmouth is a drying harbour so that at low tide it will empty showing the harbour bottom. Boats leave the harbour on a rising tide and return with the tide still high so that they can get past the harbour bar.
Fishing off the harbour wall can mean that on a mid tide landing your catch can be a challenge and you need to keep an eye out for moving boats.
Flounder are caught the other side of the road bridge. Crab and rag are the preferred baits fishing the tide up. This is not a renowned Flounder mark, but it does produce fish.
You will need a licence to fish the landward side of the bridge and these are available from the Seaton Tackle Shop on the quay side.
Devon Bass Pro Charters operate a fast deep sea angling charter boat, Outcast out of Axmouth Harbour on the East Devon Coast, Skippered by John Wallington who specialises in catching bass – big bass off the wrecks of Lyme Bay.
To book your fishing trip phone or Email John Wallington.
Operating out of Axmouth Harbour, Seaton, Devon, EX12 4AB
Fishing trips can be can be booked from Beer where boats will take people out fishing for mackerel in the summer months or charters can be booked all year round for fishing off wrecks and reefs in Lyme Bay.
Deep Sea and Half-Day Angling Trips can be booked through Beer Fish Shop on 01297 20297.
Fishing Tackle Shops
There is one fishing tackle shop in Seaton, located on the Harbour Quayside.
Seaton Angling Centre sells a wide range of sea and freshwater tackle including Daiwa,Abu,Fladen,Shakespeare and Fishanywhere and is one of the best live stockists for fresh dug rag/lug,prawns and peelers in Devon.
They also stock a wide range of fishing Kayaks.
Connected to the shop is a Takeaway Cafe selling drinks and food where both anglers and visitors to the Harbour can sit and relax.
The shop is open 7 days a week from 8.0am to 5.00pm.
- Seaton Tackle Shop,
- The Harbour,
- EX12 4AA
- Tel:01297 625511
web site :www.seatonanglingcentre.co.uk
Fish you can expect to catch off Seaton Beach
- Red Gurnard
- Live or frozen sand eels
- fresh lug
- Black lug worms
- Peeler crabs
- Harbour rag worms
Seaton Sea Anglers Club.
The Club meets at The Clarence, Harbour Road, Seaton, on the first Wednesday of each month at 7.30pm.
Seaton Sea Anglers is about all types of Sea Fishing, Shore, Boat and Wreck. We have some matches for fun during the year but we would like to think we are a hub for Sea Fishermen of all interests.
New Members are always welcome, so why not come along and see what we are all about and meet everyone.