Glorious Guernsey offers great sea sport
Angling Times senior reporter Mark Peck and colleague Ian Jones have a brilliant time when they fish in the Channel Islands from boat and shore
IHAD never been on a fishing trip abroad. I owned no sea fishing equipment and my disposable income was nowhere near large enough to afford a trip like those you see offering the chance to fish for exotic species in faraway places.
So when my colleague Ian Jones and I were asked if we wanted to go and dangle rods off the coast of Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, you can understand why I was a little apprehensive.
Fast forward a few weeks, and I was on my way home from one of the best fishing trips I’ve ever been on. And it cost me little more than a weekend in Skegness! That’s when I realised Angling Times readers should be doing this too.
My trip to Guernsey taught me three things. First, fishing on the coast doesn’t require specialist equipment. Second, taking fishing gear away from these shores is easier than I thought – and third, sea fishing with light tackle is so much fun.
Before we left, Ian and I decided that with our low budgets and little time to prepare we wanted to see if we could catch plenty of fish using just the coarse tackle we already owned, except maybe for buying a few bigger lures and a couple of floats to cope with the swells. With Guernsey being no more than 78km square, finding the right campsite to pitch our tent was easy, and we didn’t even need to change any money – a real bonus! So, armed with a carp rod and a reel loaded with 15lb line, a lighter match set-up and our drop shotting kits, we took the Condor Ferries vessel from Plymouth to St Peter Port, Guernsey’s capital. The harbour town was beautiful. Medieval castles, lines of yachts and rows of whitewashed shops and cafés greeted us as we docked in warm sunshine, and as we drove off the ferry, excitement was growing fast. We were guests of former Angling Times staffman Greg Whitehead, who owns a fishing boat in St Peter Port and knows all the local marks – a valuable asset, since we hadn’t researched the best places to fish before we left. Our first port of call was the marina. Carrying just our match rods with a few wagglers and small hooks, we made our way down the wooden boardwalks and underneath the main marina walkway until we were hidden among the small sailing craft at the water’s edge some 40ft below the road.
Our target was the most finicky fish on the island – the mullet.
By regularly flicking out blobs of rubby dubby (a wetted mixture of bread and fish oils) Greg told us that the mullet would come to our baits. By altering the depth of our floats we eventually found the fish and all three of us managed at least two fish each, the best a thick-lipped over 3lb. It was an
The next day we wanted to explore more of the island so we checked when the tides would be at their highest and drove to the rock marks Greg had told us about – Fort Doyle, Castle Cornet, St Martin’s and Fort Hommet in the north of the island. Using eel imitation lures at distance and small jigs tight to the rocks, we had a super day netting numerous pollack, wrasse and odd bass.
On the final day we took a trip on Greg’s boat. He doesn’t run his vessel as a charter but others on the island do offer visitors trips to catch mackerel, bream, turbot, conger and tope.
After we’d motored a few miles out to known sand bars and bays, the fishing was superb. We caught bass on lures close to the rocks, while further out on the sandbars we caught turbot and Ian even managed his first-ever tope weighing more than 30lb. We returned to our tent exhausted but thoroughly satisfied.
Of course, Guernsey has plenty more to offer holidaymakers. Visitor attractions, historic sites and superb beaches, restaurants and shops make it a fabulous family destination.
The trip opened our eyes to how easy but satisfying a longdistance fishing expedition can be. I’ll definitely be returning to the Channel Islands soon.
Greg Whitehead with a colourful cuckoo wrasse.
A tasty turbot for Mark Peck from Greg’s boat.
Ian holds a sleek lure-caught pollack.
Artificial sandeel lures are real killers!
Rock fishing is safe when the sea is calm.
Floatfishing at sea is a whole new experience.