Port spot­light

The River Mersey pro­vides ac­cess to shel­tered fish­ing all-year-round, and is served by a num­ber of mari­nas

Sea Angler (UK) - - Con­tents - Words by Dave Barham Pho­tog­ra­phy by Dave Barham, Mike Thrus­sell jnr & Shutterstock

The fo­cus falls on Liver­pool Mari­nas.

There is boat fish­ing all year round from Liver­pool, with the char­ter trips de­part­ing from ei­ther the Coburg or Brunswick docks. Both are ser­viced by a lock sys­tem, which al­lows easy exit to the es­tu­ary.

These are among eight docks along the River Mersey, the oth­ers be­ing the Al­bert, Can­ning, Salt­house, Wap­ping, Duke’s, Queen’s docks.

Most an­glers flock to Liver­pool dur­ing the win­ter to sam­ple the su­perb cod and whit­ing fish­ing avail­able within the con­fines of the River Mersey. It’s a five-minute steam from the lock gates to reach the best fish­ing grounds, so you get much more time for fish­ing with very lit­tle trav­el­ling in­volved.

This area is also well pro­tected from the wind, so you can of­ten get out fish­ing when other ports get blown off.

Dur­ing the sum­mer there is some ex­cel­lent fish­ing found in the outer reaches of the river, with bass, smooth­hounds and thorn­back rays fea­tur­ing in catches.

The big at­trac­tion of the outer es­tu­ary is the train­ing wall, which con­tains the main nav­i­ga­ble chan­nel on both sides for around eight miles out to sea. It’s ba­si­cally a rocky reef put in place to pre­vent en­croach­ment from the sur­round­ing sand­banks. It’s a haven for crabs, prawns and small fish, which in turn at­tracts the bass.

Be pre­pared to lose some tackle here, but on the right day the fish­ing can be su­perb. The wall can show at low tide, so care must be taken not to run into it.


The fish­ing out of Liver­pool can be put into two categories, win­ter and sum­mer fish­ing.

For the win­ter cod, rays and whit­ing, you will need a stan­dard up­tid­ing set-up or 12/20lb-class down­tide kit. The tide run can be fierce at times, so make sure you have a selection of grip weights from 6oz to 10oz, and down­tide sinkers from 6oz to 16oz.

Many an­glers pre­fer to use a braided main­line, which helps to com­bat the fierce tides. If you do use braid, it’s a good idea not to at­tach a leader. On some days the river can be full of de­tri­tus and weed, which can col­lect around a leader knot – there have been plenty of big cod lost due to a weeded leader knot in this area.

Rigs tend to be sim­ple run­ning leg­ers tied with 20-30lb fluoro­car­bon and car­ry­ing size 4/0 to 6/0 hooks in a Pennell set-up. For the sum­mer bass and smooth­hound fish­ing, the Pennell hooks are re­placed with a sin­gle size 4/0.

The real key to suc­cess is bait qual­ity and pre­sen­ta­tion. Fresh peeler crab, mack­erel and rag­worm baits work well dur­ing the sum­mer, while lo­cal lug­worms and squid are the win­ter sta­ples. Frozen black lug whipped into a sausage tipped with squid is a good bet to get plenty of scent into the fast-flow­ing wa­ter.

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