Fishing from Cliffs

Fishing at the base of vaulting cliffs which plunge into deep water can be extremely productive for the shore angler, but great care is needed when working this type of terrain.

Cornwall’s north coast and the west coast of Ireland are classic examples. Huge ground seas sweep in from 3,000 miles of open Atlantic and crash on to the cliffs with awesome power. Even on days when there is little or no wind a progression of swells that can measure as much as 35ft from trough to crest arrive on the coast. If they strike the base cliffs at a slight angle the water is deflected and, instead of breaking, travels at incredible speed along the cliffs, all the time gathering height. Many anglers have lost their lives to this veritable wall of water, even though they were fishing from a ledge 40ft above normal sea level. On stormy days heavy spray can reach a height of 100ft. ‘Mountain men’

In many places suitable ledges can only be reached with the aid of ropes. It takes nerve to climb down with a load of tackle, and the men who engage in this rugged form of shore fishing thoroughly deserve their title ‘mountain men’. Inaccessible places often make highly productive fishing zones, particularly for territorial species like ballan wrasse, conger and, to a lesser extent, grey mullet.

Large shoals of mackerel habitually come within casting range and are taken by spinning with a variety of artificial lures and natural baits. Live sandeel is almost certainly the deadliest bait, but dead eels that have been ‘worked’ to break up the bony structure and make them supple, can also be recommended.