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Berry Head to Brixham Harbour

Jane Hyde
Jane Hyde

With a headland offering classic wrasse ground, a famous breakwater and a harbour, there is plenty of angling opportunity

Words and photography by Mike Millman

Three hundred years of coastal quarrying at Berry Head left a legacy of a flat stone base at the edge of the sea giving access to deep water and very good fishing.

It was while going down the very long lane that leads to the base of the Headland that I encountered what I am certain was a black panther. Several other reports exist of such an animal being in the area.

The half-mile long Brixham Breakwater is justifiably popular not least for its accessibility


Garfish and mackerel are constant throughout the summer and autumn months. During the winter, whiting and codling are present in numbers and specimen size fish are recorded each year.

In addition to mackerel and garfish, Berry Head also produces big wrasse, bull huss, pollack, bass, thornback ray, small-eyed rays, dogfish and congers.

Brixham Breakwater is a half mile in length but opportunity alongside the inside edge is limited. The lighthouse area is a mackerel and garfish hotspot during the bigger tides. A garfish of almost 2 lbs took ragworm offered on a float rig.


The front area of the headland is washed by very deep water, reached from the aptly named pinnacle and its Hairy Ledge, to which access is by a rope fixed to the rocks with steel pegs. The latter is only for those with confidence in their ability to cope with the height. Access to the waterline on the south side is difficult but it is classic ballan wrasse country for those with the will and climbing ability. Low light is the time to seek bull huss.

Between the Headland and Brixham Breakwater is Shoalstone, which has easy access to a rocky shore. All the usual species including conger are available. One or two sizeable bass have been night and dawn captures.

Brixham Breakwater offers excellent float fishing for garfish and mackerel with most of the fish caught along the seaward side to the Lighthouse, where it gets very busy. The rated area for congers is near the oil jetty on the inside edge.

In the years before the longliners removed many conger eels, a fish of 56lb 4oz, then a UK Record, headed up a fair number of others to 43lb and evening conger competitions have produced fish to 35lb. The wilder outside edge gives large eels but securing the catch has its difficulties.

To the right of the Breakwater is an accessible pebble beach right in front of the pay and park area. One or two sizeable congers and bass have been taken in the summer and it is a fair winter mark for whiting and codling. Brixham Harbour has many mullet but the Marina’s jetties are out of bounds, so choose wisely where you fish along the inside edge to avoid the multitude of mooring ropes and buoys.

The pinnacle with anglers on the Hairy Ledge


Getting there

Brixham is on the southern edge of Tor Bay, with access from Exeter on a the A38, A380 and A3022. At the Breakwater or as you approach the road down to it on your right is a large multi-storey. At Berry Head, there is a choice of a sizeable regular parking area or associated field, where you pay on exit.

Tackle shop

Brixham Bait & Tackle, 10 The Quay, Brixham, TQ5 8AW, tel: 01803 853390

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