Fishing Mevagissey Harbour Wall: Locals Secrets

Fishing on Mevagissey harbour wall is excellent from both the lighthouse harbour and from the left hand side. It’s an experience so enjoyable it etches itself into your mind, and a lot of people must have nostalgic memories of childhood fishing trips on that wall. Even if you don’t catch anything, it’s a stunning place to be and you might see dolphins or a seal (though if you see the latter, that might be why you haven’t caught anything).

What fish can be caught from Mevagissey harbour wall?

The main species caught are bass, mackerel, dogfish, pollack (that’s the Cornish spelling), Wrasse, Flounder, Plaice, Whiting, Pouting, Conger Eel, squid and Poor Cod. Specialists often catch Scorpion fish and Dragonete.

The vast majority of fish caught from Mevagissey’s outer harbour wall are mackerel, and these are often caught in great numbers in spring and early summer, especially when it’s a spring tide.

What times are best?

The best time’s for fishing for mackerel from Mevagissey are the early evening before dusk (mackerel are very dependent on sight for hunting, unlike many other species) and just after dawn. In April-June on an evening spring high tide the odds of catching mackerel with feathers are very good. You can find out the tide times here.

You can’t fish until you’ve parked your car. Here are my quick-tips for parking in Mevagissey.

How should I fish to guarantee catching?

The best way to catch mackerel is using ‘mackerel feathers’ which are available in all tackle shops. The fish can be caught on both harbour’s, but the right handside wall with the lighthouse is generally superior fishing for all species except wrasse and pollack. The harbour wall with the lighthouse has a mostly sandy bottom, whereas the left hand wall is shallower and is mostly surrounded by kelp. You’ll loose a lot more tackle on the left side than the right, but the kelp does create a great habitat for smaller pollack and some beefy Wrasse that live there.

When the mackerel are in, they’re often present in a swarm-like frenzy and fish are caught every cast. Sometimes, people catch so many they begin to throw fish back, but few people realise that skin contact with a mackerel guarantees death. The best bet is to freeze the fish, share them with friends, or stop fishing – but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves!

There are a wide variety of species of fish that can be caught from Mevagissey harbour wall. Different fish are caught on different parts of the harbour, so to maximise your chances here’s a guide. 

Here are three ways to out-fish everyone on Mevagissey Harbour

  1. Target mackerel with mackerel feathers (or other lures) from the outermost point of the harbour near the lighthouse at high tide
  2. Targeting Wrasse directly down the side of the harbour wall on the very bottom, preferably with ragworm. 
  3. Using a float rig and small hook to catch pollack, garfish, and mackerel and fishing a short distance away from the harbour wall

The Six Sinful Fishing Mistakes Common on Mevagissey Harbour

1) Fishing for mackerel at low tide with feathers

Locals almost exclusively fish at high tide. I personally fish at Mevagissey mostly on spring tides during the evenings and only in the summer months. You can find out the tide times for Mevagissey here. This really isn’t a trivial detail. While fishing is always unpredictable, especially in the sea (which is what makes it fun), I’d estimate your odds of catching as being 5x higher when the water is high at Mevagissey. Having said this, if you are fishing at low tide, try fishing directly down the side of the harbour wall, as species like Wrasse and Pollack will still lurk around these areas even when the tides out. If it’s early summer time, there may be mackerel, but if you’re catching them there at low tide, there are probably lots more at high tide.  

2) Float fishing far out, when in fact most of the fish are well within 10m of the harbour wall

This one is counterintuitive. Deeper water must have larger fish, right? Actually, this turns out not to be true most of the time. If you’re using lures, you might as well get a larger coverage of area by casting further, but with a float it’s not necessary. Garfish like being near the harbour because they eat scraps that humans drop in, Pollack and Wrasse like the structure of being close to the wall etc. It feels good to cast a long way and makes people feel competent, but it’s rarely helpful. If you’re looking for a complete float set up that’s simple to use so you can get fishing immediately, try these. It’s much cheaper online and you can choose the best.

3) Using packaged dried out mackerel as bait

It’s the most readily available bait because you can buy it in many shops in Mevagissey, but try to find something less dry – anything in fact. Most fish rely on their sense of smell quite a lot, so while you can still catch fish with dried mackerel, your odds are reduced compared to smeller, more genuine looking baits. 

4) Using hooks that are too big

Even the hooks on mackerel feathers, which are typically size 1o are a bit on the large size in the eyes of most saltwater competition anglers I know. It’s not true that bigger fish won’t take smaller hooks. That’s why I tend to use ‘Sabiki’s’, which are special mackerel feathers with smaller hooks. This way you won’t get all those ‘knocks’ and ‘bites’ that don’t result in hook ups. I’d recommend these one’s. Try them out. You will catch more fish.

5) Ignoring the time surrounding dusk and dawn

Don’t you love a sunset and dawn? You can watch the fishing boats leave the harbour and come back in as the sun melts below the horizon, or just begins to light up the clouds. When the sky is pinky red and orange it’s just glorious. These times are also often the best for fishing, especially for fish like bass, but really for pretty much everything (except Wrasse).

6) Not asking other fishermen what’s been caught recently or for advice 

Fishermen are famously proud, and most don’t ask others what they’ve been catching recently in the area. However, if you do this, while you may get a few grumbly responses you might learn something really useful, like ‘yesterday we weren’t catching anything until 6pm, then they all came in’. If this is the case, and today the tide is a little later, it’s likely that 6:30-7:30 will be a good time to be fishing that day! If others haven’t caught anything, don’t give up hope, it’s not uncommon for a single person to outfish everyone on the whole harbour if they have a better approach. 

Where to Catch Each Species 

For mackerel, the best area is usually the area around the point near the lighthouse. When mackerel come in large shoals, you’ll catch them everywhere along the outer wall, except perhaps down the end towards the cliff where the water is shallower and rocky.

Wrasse are best targeted towards the cliff on both sides of the harbour, it’s advised you fish for these either with a float rig to prevent getting caught in the weed or with modern weedless soft plastics on lure gear. You may have seen these hooks before that let you fish over rough ground without getting snags. I’d recommend them. They’re especially useful when the fishing is quiet as there’s almost always a nice Pollack or Wrasse lurking in the weeds where few people are willing to fish for fear of losing tackle.

For Pollack, the opposite is true, you’ll be better off fishing over more seaweedy ground or better yet from the left wing of the harbour where it’s almost entirely shallow sea weedy ground (the side without the lighthouse). Mevagissey has large numbers of smaller pollack, but it’s not nearly as good as more rocky areas, so consider moving along the coast for rougher ground. 

Flatfish are best targeted inside the harbour itself, rather than outside it, especially in the area around the inner harbour wall. Although, these may be awkward and busy places to fish and there are lots of ropes you could snag on and boats to watch out for, so probably give this a miss unless you’re fishing with light tackle and are experienced.

For a whole heap of fun, especially with young children, target mystery mini species and wrasse directly down the side of the harbour wall with a ragworm on a size 8 hook right on the bottom. You will almost certainly catch fish using this method, though it’s highly unlikely they’ll be edible so remember to return them and take care of them as best you can. By far most of the fish around Mevagissey are small and quirky species rarely targeted by anglers, and they tend to lurk in the cracks and rocks on the bottom of the harbour. These tend to be easy to catch with the right methods, but it does involve fishing in a way few others realise is possible.  

Sandy VS Rocky Areas

The type of ground you’re fishing over will determine the kinds of fish you’re likely to catch and the likelihood of you losing your tackle to snags. The outer harbour has fairly deep water of several meters, with rocky areas covered in kelp and seaweed as well as much larger areas with a clean sandy bottom. You can normally tell at low or mid water where the rougher ground is because the water in those areas is darker. However, just in case, the rough ground is along the straight stretch of harbour which starts near the cliff where there’s a small staircase onto the harbour and continues until about half way along the harbour. If you are standing on the outermost corner of the harbour near the lighthouse looking out to sea, there is rough ground immediately to your left but not on your right.

There’s a tackle shop in Mevagissey you can’t miss on the right-hand side on the road towards the lighthouse harbour. It’s a small tackle shop and may not sell rag or lug, so consider visiting Lowen Shy Art & Angling in St Austell for a slightly more comprehensive range of baits.

The harbour is just one of many excellent fishing spots in St Austell Bay. See my list of beaches near Mevagissey for more fishing spots in the area.

Mevagissey Cornwall