Shore Fishing from Berry Head
Berry Head is an abandoned limestone quarry situated at the mouth of Torbay. The water around Berry Head are extremely deep, as much 100 feet just a few yards offshore. This area of Torbay creates a bottleneck for tidal waters which means a lot of fish feed in this area. Fishing can be excellent at all times of the year, however, summer time is very popular as Berry Head is a top mark for some species such as mackerel and garfish. You have every chance of catching many other species of fish including Dabs, Plaice, Sole, Ray, Bass, Pollock, Wrasse, Conger, Dogfish, just to name a few. The current British shore rod caught mackerel of 5 lbs 11 oz taken in 1982 at Berry head still stands to this day.
There are loads of places to fish at Berry head, although most of the time it will involve clambering down a few rocks. The most popular place people fish is what is commonly known as "the platform". The platform used to be a landing stage for boats when limestone was quarried in this area. This area gets extremely busy at times ur best advised to get there fairly early if you want somewhere to fish. If you walk a little bit further along then there are lots of places to fish off the rocks. Unfortunately Berry head is not really the easiest place for wheelchair anglers to fish. There was a time that you could gain access to the platform, however, the pathway has eroded so much now that you would be taking your life in your hands trying to get down to the platform in a wheelchair.
Berry head is probably about the best place in the whole of Torbay to catch mackerel. Because of the location and the deepwater mackerel will often appear in the Berry head area before anywhere else in Torbay. Mackerel are just about the easiest fish to catch in the world. In fact, you'll catch mackerel on a bare hook as long as it's shiny. If you want a bit of sport then use sliding float fishing tactics with a hook size of around 1/0. The best hook baits when float fishing is either strips of mackerel or squid, or half or whole sandeels. You can have an awful lot of fun using small rubber eels, or shiny metal lures. Alternatively, use a set of feathers with the possibility of catching a bin bag full of fish in a very short period of time when there are lots of mackerel around. However, I would always urge people to return fish if you are not going to eat or use them for bait.
This is a typical sliding float rig which enables you to fish at any depth you want
Berry Head can be a very productive spot for catching Bass. It's quite rocky around this area so I would probably advise anglers to opt for the sliding float method. During the summer months use a large 3/0 hook baited with a nice mackerel fillet, or mackerel head. The other good bait to use in an area that's rocky is crab. Mount a whole Peeler crab on a size 2/0 hook and fish a few yards out over the rocks. You could also try fishing prawn as these are an excellent bait for any fish that hunts over rocky areas. However, whether you are using Peeler crab or prawn, you'll probably get plagued by a wrasse.
If you prefer bottom fishing then I would probably recommend using some kind of Paternoster rig and a rotten bottom to ensure that any snagged leads can break free. I don't think I would recommend using a running ledger over rocky areas because nine times out of 10 the hook gets snagged.
Rocky areas like Berry Head are often teeming with small fish like Pollock, Whiting and Pouting. These baitfish will often work well when fished under a sliding flow after dark. Liphook a 3 - 5 inch live fish on a size 2/0 hook. When the tide is running quite hard, you can often trot the float along with the tide.
Lures are often deadly for Bass. Your best bet is to purchase several different types of and experiment to see what the fish will take on that particular day.
This bass lure is designed to dive to a maximum of 30 cm under the water
Wrasse can be caught just about anywhere around the Berry head area. These species of fish will often save the day when nothing else is biting. There are various methods to catch wrasse, all work well if fished properly. Sliding float tackle and bottom fishing tactics are what most people use. A size 2/0 hook baited with ragworm will catch wrasse all day long. Big Wrasse put up one hell of a fight bearing in mind you will be fishing over rocky areas, it's important that you used fairly strong tackle. If you are float fishing then you can use lighter tackle which makes the sport very exciting. Other baits which worked really well are prawn, lugworm, crab baits (both peeler and hardback) and shellfish such as muscles. You may be unaware that wrasse also feeds on sandeels. Therefore work really well when jigged up and down in the deep water right in under the rocks.
Try jigging using soft plastic lures
If you like Mullet then Berry head is often teeming with these elusive fish. In order to catch the Mullet, you will need to approach catching them in much the same way you would freshwater fish like the carp. You often see shoals of mullet swimming up and down right beneath your feet. However, you'll never catch one by just dropping a bait in, you first have to get them feeding. A simple ground bait made up of mashed bread and mackerel is the perfect ground bait for mullet. There are a couple of places that are known for good catches of Mullet. One of them is directly underneath the office at the far end of the platform. Another productive mark is located at the point where you can no longer walk any further. If you look to your left you will see a ledge about four or 5 feet above the water, this has been very productive in the past as far as I can remember. This location is also great for Wrasse and Pollock as well.
The ideal mark for Wrasse, Pollock & Mullet
Bottom fishing tactics fished from the platform and casting onto the sand will catch Dabs, use lugworm tipped with squid on a 1/0 hook for these small flatfish. Also expect to pick up other fish including Gurnard and the occasional Ray, not forgetting the prolific dogfish, especially at night. Fish baits, peeler crab and worm will catch Ray, Gurnard and dogfish. Don't be afraid to use large hook baits. You never know what you're going to bump into up at Berry Head. Try cocktail baits such as a ragworm/mackerel, lugworm/squid, lugworm or lugworm tipped with squid just for a few examples.
The south side of Berry head is renowned for its large Conger, whoppers of over 40 lbs have been taken from the rocks here. Use a simple running ledger with a strong wire or nylon trace with a size 7/0 hook baited with half a mackerel, herring or a whole squid. You can't get to the south side of Berry head directly from the quarry, you'll have to walk over the drawbridge and climb down the rocks just beyond the cafeteria.
If you don't mind scrambling down a slippery rocky little path that is no more than a foot wide in the complete dark then I will tell you about a good spot for conger not far from the quarry. We always knew it as "Copper Kettle", don't ask me why that is the name that we used to call it. There is a small rocky outcrop at the bottom of the cliff that can yield conger, some real whoppers so give it a go. It's easy to get to, jump over the gate on the right-hand side of the road just before you get to the main car park at Berry Head. Cross the field and then follow the path around to the left and you will see the small rocky outcrop below you. Being very careful, clamber down and fish from the rocks. Here are some photos showing you exactly where Copper Kettle is located.
The tides run very fast at the Berry head and fishing can be challenging at times. If you are float fishing, feathering or spinning then expect your gear to be swept out on an ebbing tide very quickly. If your bottom fishing then a minimum 6-ounce grip lead will be required to hold bottom.