The Best Fishing Spots in Torbay and South Devon

In this section Ted Tuckerman explains where the top fishing marks are in and around Torbay, what fish you can expect, the baits, the techniques and rigs to use to get the best from your visit; these are the better marks, there are others, some not as easy to access that I am sure you will discover as you fish and meet other anglers.

Launching Slipways

Torquay

Torquay Harbour Launch Slipway

On Beacon Quay, next to Haldon Pier, (about 150 yards from our harbour side tackle shop, Tidal Tackle, a new wide slipway opened in 2006, it has a gentle slope and can be used on all states of the tide, except when easterly winds create too much surge. There is ample turning space and trailers can be left on Haldon pier, a chain along the wall allows trailers to be locked to it, helpful if it is being left for several days. For the benefit of those staying several days, pontoons are available for mooring, the first night is included in your launching fee.

Cars must be taken to the car park. To reach the slipway you need to pass through a barrier, a conveniently placed bell push will soon have the duty harbourmaster opening the barrier; automatic on the way out.

The only time when there will be a problem is after hours, 7am to 9pm May to September and 8am to 5pm October to April. Outside those times you will need to phone a number clearly displayed by the bell, push and, as the harbourmaster, Capt Kevin Mowatt, told me, “If I was laying on a beach the other side of the world, I would simply key in a few numbers and the barrier opens”.
That telephone number is: 01803 550405

It is worth noting that you can pre-book if you know you will be arriving outside working hours on the above number.

So to that all important item, where to park the car and trailer. The trailer park is alongside the slipway, on Haldon Pier; your car unfortunately will need to be taken to the car park. The adjacent park is expensive, two cheaper parking spots are off Torwood Street, a private road one fifty yards up the hill on the left from the clock tower and the other known as the Terrace, one hundred yards on, turn left at the traffic lights; 3 to 4 minutes to walk back from the first, about twice that from the second.

Alternatively there is on street parking without restrictions about 6 to 8 minutes walk. Turn right as you leave Beacon Quay, drive up the hill past the Imperial Hotel, follow the road round to the left, the road levels out, there is usually plenty of space, or in the road on the right leading to Daddyhole Plain.

Paignton

Paignton Launch Slipway

This slipway is in the harbour, as you drive down from the entrance it is on the left, this is restricted, the harbour empties of water at low tide, trailers must be parked where designated and there is a multi story car park in Cliff Road, immediately on your left as you drive out of the harbour. There is unrestricted on road parking by following this road around and on the side roads off it.

Brixham

Brixham launch Slipway

This slipway is at the start of the Breakwater and the entrance to the Marina, it is wide, the biggest in south Devon, with ample room to manoeuvre but does become crowded at summertime. Trailers can be left there, cars in the car park adjacent or, the Marina car park, back out of the slip road, turn left, entrance fifty yards on the right, footway entrance at the bottom of the slip road. Harbour official on duty.

Devon Fishing Marks

Maidencombe

Maidencombe Beach Torquay

This is the eastern beach of Torbay, a popular picturesque cove, popular with visitors and locals alike, it is a typical Devon cove with red sandstone cliffs… To get there, follow the Teignmouth road out of Torquay, as you approach the Borough boundary you sweep down a hill, on the left is a garage selling cars, just past it is a cross roads, take the right hand road signposted to Maidencombe; this is a small hamlet including a popular pub and restaurant. There is a public car park as well as limited on road parking with wheel chair access to the beach.

The beach is sandy with rocks either side. Like all beaches in this area forget about day time fishing in the summer, go early morning or evening, either end is favoured by local anglers. In season facilities include a café and toilets.

Beach casting will bring lesser spotted dogfish, wrasse and the occasional flat fish; float fish for mackerel and garfish. Bass are taken from here, some of quality; mixed ground. Peeler crab, worm, mackerel and squid are all successful baits. Sandeel and prawn for bass, casting plugs and other lures do tempt bass from this beach.

Hopes Nose

Hopes Nose Torquay

The top shore mark on the Torquay side of the Bay situated just off of Marine Drive. To get to it, drive along Meadfoot road from the Town direction, just past the end car park is a sharp right turn on to Marine Drive; carry on right to the top where it bends to the left and is level and straight, you will see it below. Park on the road or, in the road opposite. The walk down is steep in places, probably not suitable if you have breathing or heart problems.

Hopes Nose is an old quarry that ceased work in the late 1800’s. It is a large area that has a sea bed from sand through to big rocks. The variety of fish taken there over a year covers most of the species taken locally, included are; bass, plaice, dabs, mackerel, garfish, mullet, (not so many as in the past when the sewer out fall was open) red mullet, small black bream, LSD, bull huss, smooth hounds, conger, whiting and cod. (Don’t expect the full range on every trip).

When you reach the quarry floor, to the left, facing Teignmouth, this variously called the flats or the pier, is sand. Rock ledge is low to the water, this area suitable for float fishing for mackerel and garfish, on the bottom for flat fish, dabs and whiting in the winter. The point usually referred to as mackerel corner is where most of the feathering for mackerel takes place. Along the front, “the high ground” is where plaice and dabs are targeted in the spring and late summer. Long casts needed, and there is a ridge that needs to be negotiated, so wind fast (if you can). Good bass fishing along the front early morning and late evening with live bait or lures. The gullies further around where the outfall was, wrasse, bream, red mullet, also mackerel and garfish, mullet still caught along here. Conger and dogfish at night.

The top baits are peeler crab and lugworm for the plaice and dabs, for general fishing, lugworm, ragworm, peeler crab, squid and mackerel. When float fishing, rule of thumb is shallow for garfish, and deep for mackerel. All baits available from our harbour side shop, Tidal tackle.

Oddicombe Beach

Oddicombe Beach Torquay

In the summer months this will be off limits, it is one of the Bays top beaches; there is also a sailing club there so boat activity throughout the day and summer evenings. Cars not permitted to drive down to the beach during the summer months but, there is a cliff railway that has a great deal of history and is an experience to ride. The road is steep with sharp bends and is used once a year for Hill Climb races. Café and toilets in summer only; there is a footpath to Babbacombe Beach.

Fish here during the autumn and winter when cars are permitted; cast out on to a gravel and sand bottom with some snags for whiting and the occasional codling and flat fish. Not a popular mark but worth a visit, protected from the north and westerly winds by cliffs. Choice of baits; rag and lugworm, squid, mackerel and peeler crab.

Normal rigs, no tide so light weights will be ok, snaggy in places, the centre is fairly clean.

Babbacombe Pier

Babbacombe Pier Torquay

A popular pier with local and visiting anglers. Access is down a very steep winding road to Babbacombe Beach car park, easy access from the car park to the pier. Float fishing for mackerel and garfish. LSD and some other bottom fish caught casting in the evenings. The nearby rocks sometimes yield conger at night. Café and toilets available. This is a small pier and does become crowded at times.

This is a popular pier situated at one of Torquay’s best known beaches made famous by John Lee the man they could not hang; three times the trap door failed to open on the gallows after he was found guilty of murdering Emma Keyes in her beach side cottage in 1884. It also has a long history of local fishermen working from the beach, unfortunately the fisherman have long gone.

Access to the beach is down a very steep hill with sharp bends, the last stretch to the beach is 1 in 3; the road is to the rear of Babbacombe Theatre at the Torquay end of Babbacombe Downs. At the bottom there is a small pay and display car park, toilets, a café and a popular pub, the Cary Arms. Well protected from most winds except those with east in them. Wheel chair access level from the car park.

As I write this the whole area has been bought by Mr Peter De Savoury, he developed Lands End and other areas in England and Scotland, is redeveloping the Cary Arms, the café, toilets and the car park; the plans have been approved approved. His representative has told me they intend to improve the facilities on the pier for angling with a “warden” to keep it clean. There is to be an over flow car park on Walls Hill with a bus that anglers will be able to use.

As I write this the whole area has been bought by Mr Peter De Savoury, he developed Lands End and other areas in England and Scotland, is redeveloping the Cary Arms, the café, toilets and the car park; the plans have been approved approved. His representative has told me they intend to improve the facilities on the pier for angling with a “warden” to keep it clean. There is to be an over flow car park on Walls Hill with a bus that anglers will be able to use.

Fish to catch, mackerel and garfish on float are the top summer fish during the day time, float fish with sliding float; rule of thumb, fish shallow for garfish and deep for mackerel. On the bottom are lesser spotted dogfish with conger caught at night from the pier and from rocks on past the pier. In the winter months whiting and pout are caught here.

A range of baits suitable here, mackerel strip for mackerel and garfish, I like to cut my strips across the fillet so there is silver and the dark colour back, put the hook into the dark side and the silver belly will flash and attract the fish; mackerel and squid for LSD, ragworm and lugworm for other species and of course mackerel, squid or cuttlefish for conger. Strips of garfish are also a good bait for mackerel, very tough.

Ansteys Cove & Redgate Beach

Ansteys Cove & Redgate Beach Torquay

This picturesque cove is partly closed due to a rock fall as I write, I have included it because it is possible to fish at low water and the Cove will re-open fully at sometime, the café does open in summer.

To find the Cove, turn down the road that runs behind the Palace Hotel in Babbacombe road, it is one way after a short distance; the entrance down to the beach is opposite the pay and display car park. If you have a medical problem it is a steep walk up and probably not suitable.

Not a top angling mark; float fish for mackerel and garfish from the rocks dividing the two areas, wrasse sometimes caught from here. Fishing from the middle of the beach you will cast on to snaggy bottom with sandy patches, some tackle may be lost. In the winter a few small whiting and pout caught, casting a float or a spinner will give some sport with mackerel; LSD’s a possibility, and bass are sometimes taken around the rocks ether side on sandeel. This beach is only accessible at low water until the bridge is re-opened so beware of the rising tide that will cut you off. You will be safe until the tide recedes. In the summer this cove is a haven for boats to anchor and crew to come ashore so, day time can be difficult.

Sandy Point

Sandy Point Torquay

This is a mark of its own but, is part of Hopes Nose, it is around to the right, the furthest point back towards Meadfoot, a footpath runs along the cliff edge from where the sewer was. It is a very rocky area, a prime spot for specimen sized wrasse, conger and bull huss taken at night. Mackerel and garfish on float and spinners. Hard back and peeler crab for the wrasse, mackerel, squid and cuttlefish for the conger and bull huss.

To walk there from the road, walk down to the first flat area where the path divides, go to the right and follow the path down to the bottom. Fishing is on either rocky outcrops, the right hand being the favourite.

A rig for the big wrasse is to have a a single hook rig, the snood about 12 to 14 inches above the weight that should be on rotten “bottom” The wrasse experts will tell you to have heavy trace 20lb+ and strong hooks 3/0 or 4/0, big wrasse are powerful. Hard back and peeler crab the favoured baits. Leave the area tidy.

Thatcher Gut

Thatcher Gut Torquay

Thatcher gut is a bass mark, also caught there are quality wrasse. The best time to fish is on the rising tide. For bass, live sandeel and lures are the preferred baits; for the big wrasse, hard back or peeler crab are best. Access is off Marine Drive, as you drive up from the Meadfoot end, after passing the traffic lights you will come to a park on the seaward side. Park and walk down to the left hand corner, follow the path onto the cliff. To the left is a “path” down to the rocks, not too difficult.

Meadfoot Beach

Meadfoot Beach Torquay

This area offers a lot of choice at different times. The beach cannot be fished during the day in the summer months; the slipway allows casting out on to rocks, an area where bass are frequently taken from around July to November, a good surf is the better time to fish. Lures including plugs are popular here and so is live bait. Risk your tackle for a few wrasse.

At the end of the beach is another car park, similar fishing for bass in that area on a rising tide.

Thunder Hole

Thunder Hole Torquay

Thunder Hole is a popular spot, walk along the prom where the beach huts are, at the end is a low “cliff” walk up over and you go down into an old quarry known as Thunder Hole. Fishing is slightly impaired because you will be standing on narrow ridges, but safe. Casting is on to sand, a few flat fish taken here and it has been known for the odd sole to be caught. Mackerel and garfish are mostly the target fish. LSD and wrasse also caught so too are a few conger at night at the rocky ends.

Haldon Pier

Haldon Pier Torquay

This pier is accessed from Beacon quay, just along from our harbour shop, Tidal Tackle where bait can be bought daily. Like Princess Pier casting into the harbour and fishing in the entrance is not allowed. The best fishing is from the end section either on the bottom or float fishing. Bass can sometimes be caught from this pier early morning or late evening about midway along, climb down on to the rocks on the seaward side. Conger can be caught after dark fishing on the outside or close into the wall from the inside towards the end of the Pier by the shelter.

Princess Pier

Princess Pier Torquay

This is a popular pier, access is next to the Princess theatre; fishing is not permitted from the first wooden section, fishing allowed only from the long stone arm. Take note casting into the harbour with weights is forbidden as is fishing in the harbour entrance, it is marked. Read notices.

Target fish are mackerel and garfish, with the better fishing normally early morning on a rising tide and the same in the evening. Float fishing is best; fishing with feathers is not easy with so many people walking on the pier so best not to do so. Casting out on to sand with worm baits does yield the odd fish.

Please leave the pier tidy and DO NOT cut up bait on the seats and be aware of people, especially children walking and running behind you when casting.

Torquay Harbour

Torquay Harbour

Mullet fishing in Torquay harbour yields thick lipped above 5lb on a regular basis; there is also a good head of golden mullet in the harbour some above the current British record. With restrictions on fishing call into our harbour side shop, Tidal Tackle for the latest update on catches and where you can fish. Baits are topped by mackerel fished on a size 4 hook, maggots also good plus bread. Ground baiting is essential, mashed mackerel mixed with bread or bran.

Brixham Harbour

Brixham Harbour

Fishing is prohibited from the enclosed harbours the fish quays and the Marina, please read the notices.

Brixham Breakwater

Brixham Breakwater

This half mile long, Victoria Breakwater protects Brixham from the easterly winds. From it through the year can be caught, mullet, bass, conger, plaice, dabs, pollack, mackerel, garfish, scad, small black bream, wrasse, LSD’s and conger. Parking on the Breakwater car park is expensive, the Marina multi storey park is slightly cheaper, entrance to that is about fifty yards past the entrance to the Breakwater; there is direct foot access from this car park to the breakwater.

Mullet fishing is from the inside of the Breakwater, the old “paint” floats as they are called are hot spots, ground bait well. Bass can be caught, mostly early morning and evening around the oil jetty, (you are not allowed on it) and from there to the end. This is also the top area for conger at night, baiting with mackerel or squid; wrasse are also caught on the bottom, mackerel and garfish can be caught here on float tackle.

The outside of the breakwater is popular along its length for mackerel and garfish during the summer, scad also taken with some close to the pound; the mackerel hot spot is right at the end by the light house but you do have to contend with and, be aware of boats, some come close in as they enter and leave harbour. Flat fish are sometimes taken casting out to sea from the middle section. There can be a conflict between scuba divers who work the outside, also pots are frequently laid along its length so it is necessary to cast around them.

On stormy days when there is a nice surf on Breakwater beach bass can be caught early morning and evening.

Baits, all the popular ones can be used; ragworm and lugworm on the bottom for flats and wrasse, peeler crab for wrasse and almost all the bottom feeders, live prawn for bass and pollack, mackerel as strip for mackerel, garfish and scad, fillets and flapper for conger, sandeel for bass, squid as strip and for tipping baits, whole for conger. Hardback crab popular for the bigger wrasse; mackerel flesh, bread and maggots for mullet, plus of course plenty of ground bait.

Fishcombe

Fishcombe

Located beyond Quarry Car Park. Park in the pay and display car park and walk left to Battery Gardens, about thirty steps to climb, fishing is from a flat rock. This is a deep water mark and popular with anglers float fish for mackerel, garfish and pollack, mullet also caught, bait with small square pieces of mackerel flesh, bread or maggot; other species caught on occasions through the summer are wrasse, red mullet and small black bream. Baits; mackerel and garfish strip, sandeel, ragworm, lugworm and lures.

Berryhead Quarry

Berryhead Quarry Brixham

Not as easy to access as the breakwater but, worth the walk. Shares with Hopes Nose, the title of top fishing mark in Torbay. The quarry stopped working about thirty years ago, the quay is still there with deep water in front of it. Access is from Berry Head car park where the visitor centre is and where guillemots can be viewed via a video link to the nesting colony; cars must be parked here. For disabled anglers it is possible to obtain a permit and a key to the gate to drive down. The office is found at the end of a short road to the left at the entrance to the car park. To reach the quarry walk towards the Fort, at the entrance bear to the left, along this track you will find a “five bar” iron gate, walk down to the quarry from here. It is steep and might not be suitable for anglers with medical problems.

Fishing is varied from casting over clean sand from the old quay to standing on rocky platforms close to the water casting over sand and rough ground, the quarry offers the full range of fishing opportunities for all abilities, including fishing for the wily mullet.

Mackerel and garfish dominate the summer fishing; this is one of the few venues where garfish are caught to 2lb most years, spinning for mackerel can be rewarding and a lot of fun. A rule of thumb when float fishing is to fish deep for mackerel and shallow for garfish, as shallow as three to four feet at times. Adjust the float depth frequently to find the depth they are feeding at and, don’t forget to adjust to allow for the rise or fall of the tide, as much as 16 feet, 5 metres when fishing close to the bottom.

Mullet fishing is popular, fish of specimen size frequently taken; you will need to ground bait heavily for the best results. A mash of minced mackerel with a little bran to bind it, feed little and often after getting the fish to your swim. Bass, LSD, a few dabs, the occasional plaice and bream also feature. Winter fishing sees cod arrive; usually 3lb to 6lb in weight with the occasionally bigger fish taken, whiting and pout are frequently caught above specimen weight.

A range of baits can be used, peeler crab is a top one for many of the species especially the cod; rag, lugworm, mackerel and squid will also attract fish, mullet tempted with the usual mullet baits of mackerel flesh, bread and maggot.

Fishable here in most winds except North to North East.

St Mary’s Bay

St Mary's Bay Brixham

This popular bay is only fishable evenings and mornings during the summer season. There are also steps to reach the beach so might not be suitable for those with medical condition; fishing is from either end on the beach. Bass are caught here plus the other summer species. To get there from Bolton Street turn right at the first set of lights coming from the town, at the Rugby club turn right, it is well sign posted.

Sharkham Point

Sharkham Point Brixham

This is the site of an off shore sewer out fall, now only “clean” water discharged. To get there drive along Caster Road, past the Brixham SAC club, at Tree junction turn right, through Sharkham new housing estate to a free car park. It is a long walk from here. Float fishing for mackerel and garfish popular, also pollack occasionally. Bottom fishing is for conger; bull huss and LSD’s plus quality wrasse, some bass also taken.

Peeler crab and hardback crab for wrasse, calamari and mackerel for both conger and dogfish, sandeel and prawn for bass plus ragworm, although it can attract small pollack and wrasse.

Rough ground so “rotten bottom” recommended.

Paignton Harbour

Paignton Harbour

Paignton Harbour dries out so little fishing from there; out to the end of the car park when boat traffic allows and early morning, float fish for mackerel and garfish, some mullet fishing.

Goodrington

Goodrington Paignton

Follow the road out of Paignton to Brixham, the entrance to the beach is clearly signed, it is a waterpark centre with giant Flumes; the turning is at a major traffic light system, on the right is Torbay Leisure Centre and car park. Turn left and find a parking space in the car park or down by the sea. The beach is not for fishing during the summer, to the left is Goodrington Promenade under red cliffs, dry at low water for most of its length, but a very pleasant place to float fish on a rising tide in the morning late afternoon, mackerel and garfish are the target fish. Casting in the autumn and winter tempts a few fish.

Dartmouth

Dartmouth

The Promenade fishes well at times, but not in the summer, too many people. Casting out on to the muddy bottom of the River Dart will result in flounder, thornback ray, bass, whiting and pout. Peeler crab, rag and lug worm all proven baits.

At Dartmouth Castle fish off the rocks for mackerel and garfish.

Slapton Sands & Beesands

Slapton Sands & Beesands

These two beaches are popular marks, a few major competitions are held on these beaches in the autumn and winter months. In the summer cast a float for mackerel and garfish, also spin for them. Over low tide is the best time along both beaches when flat fish are taken. In the colder months whiting and cod are caught, also pollack and LSD’s. Both beaches will sometimes yield quality plaice in the spring.

Peeler crab is the preferred bait followed by lug and ragworm. Tipping bait with thin strips of squid with beads above the hook will improve catches.

Teignmouth

Teignmouth

On the Point at Back Beach fishing into the river as it pours out of the Teign, float fish for mackerel and garfish, mullet also taken in this area.

The River Teign is renowned for its flounder fishing through the winter, unfortunately through over fishing by commercial boats the stock has dwindled and catches are not as they were. Back Beach among the boats is still popular, Polly Steps, the slipway, the car park side of the Docks, Coombe Cellars, Charlies Beach and Red Rock are all marks worth fishing. Peeler crab is more or less the only good bait although fish are taken on lugworm. The current British Shore Record is held by Barry Sokell, weighing 5.7.0 it was caught at the boat yard (Gasworks), foot access here only.


All info provided by Ted Tuckerman

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