With simple access and easy fishing, there’s plenty to attract anglers to this comfortable fishing area
Words and photography by James Madsen
Burnham-on-Sea offers a mixed range of fishing from the sand, mud and the seawall. Located in the mouth of the River Parrot, the estuary opens out into Bridge Water Bay, which is part of the Bristol Channel.
Hinkley Power Station can be seen clearly over the bay, along with the Quantock Hills which head along west. The seawall at Burnham is just over one mile long and starts near the sailing club on the left-hand side, next to the mouth of the River Brue. The wall then runs up the Esplanade to the right and ends in line with Bay View Road. This is a very comfortable fishing platform which can be fished on many different size tides. It is particularly useful to fish from on spring tides and is a popular match fishing location.
Fishing in autumn offers a combination of winter and summer species of fish. Target include conger eel to 30lb, thornback ray, bass, Dover sole, flounder and codling.
Cod fishing generally kicks off in October and Burnham produces good numbers of codling right the way through winter and into the spring. Some really big cod have been caught from Burnham over the years.
Most anglers aim to fish Burnham seawall for two hours either side of high water. During this session you will start fishing from clean sand and then work your way up to the steps which rest below the sea wall. On the bigger spring tides you may want to move from the steps below and fish over the top of the wall itself. Burnham-on-Sea is famous for its strong tidal currents, which occur as the sea is condensed through the narrowing estuary which leads up to the River Parrot. However, the tide actually slackens around the two hour point before high water, which makes fishing from this mark very easy.
Sea and river weed can sometimes be a problem, so that’s worth bearing in mind on bigger spring tides, and after windy weather or heavy rainfall. Fish can be caught at all casting distances, which along with easy access, makes this a very good venue for anglers of all ages and ability.
As this is a muddy estuary in the Bristol Channel, the water clarity at Burnham is always dirty. This means all the fish species found here can be caught in day or night.
For bait, you are looking at lugworms, ragworms and fish. Squid and lug works consistently for codling, and will also pick up conger eels, bass and thornback rays. Straight worm baits work best for flatfish. A big worm bait is good for larger flatfish. Mackerel and bluey can work well for congers and thornbacks, and can also pick up the bigger cod and bass.
When targeting the larger species with bigger baits, use a simple pulley or up and over rig. Multiple-hook rigs work well with worm baits at varied casting distances. Use a five or six-ounce grip weight, even though there is little tide; you’ll miss fewer bites and you will keep your bait fixed, especially if there is weed in the water. You can get away with a wide range of different tackle choices because the ground you are fishing over is fairly clean. A lighter continental set-up will work, as will more heavier beach casting techniques.
It can get a bit muddy, but generally you are fishing from clean sand around high water and up to the seawall. Fishing is usually safe, although a certain amount of common sense needs to be used. Don’t walk out too far on the mud and check the tide heights when fishing from the steps below the sea wall.
NEED TO KNOW
The area is very accessible. Parking is only a very short walk to the fishing. Leave the M5 at junction 22. Go straight across the roundabout and pick up the B3140. Follow the road and go straight over the next roundabout. You then need to turn left at the mini roundabout, which takes you on to Oxford Street. Drive up Oxford Street and take the third turning on the right which brings you on to College Street. Drive all the way up College Street until you reach the Esplanade. The seawall can be accessed from various points up to the left and right hand side of the Esplanade.
Thyers Fishing Tackle, 1A Church St, Highbridge, TA9 3AE. Tel: 01278 786934.