In one sentence, your best bet fishing in St Ives is either to target mackerel in the daytime with feathers or else to target big bass while night fishing. There are loads of other species around too and an incredible coastline to explore, but bass and mackerel are the staple species.
St Ives is known for its light and its remarkably clear water. The harbour offers the most accessible fishing, and the beaches at high tide at night are accessible for those with beach casters. Otherwise, it’s rock fishing you need to be thinking about in this area – so safety is important. Some of these places can be pretty deadly, despite being post-card perfect for most days in summer. All of the marks at St Ives actually fish better with a bit of chop in the water, so the post-card calm waters aren’t ideal but still pose no problem when targeting mackerel or plaice.
You can book guided shorefishing experiences here.
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I’d recommend picking up some of these for the bass at St Ives before your trip. They’re a cheaper imitation of the Fish Minnow, which is the most effective and by far the most popular bass lure on the market today. The lure is designed to be weedless, meaning that the hook only emerges once a fish bites and you won’t get caught in so many snags – if any. This saves a lot of faff while fishing and increases your chances of catching a bass dramatically. FISH MAG also has a full guide to the best bass lures and mackerel lures so that when you come to St Ives you’re well equipped!
Porthmeor beach offers flatfish such as plaice, turbot and flounder (in winter) to ragworm, lugworm and peeler crab baits. Dogfish can always be caught here and there are large bass present when there is a bit of surf running – use sandeel or peeler crab baits as bait. There is also a chance of a ray to mackerel fillet or sandeel baits cast a long way out. Cod can also be caught here in winter. This venue can be packed with tourists and surfers in summer so very early morning or late night fishing is the best time to come. If you’re bottom fishing, be sure to bring your baiting elastic because the crabs in St Ives are unforgiving…
From Porthmeor beach you can target the full range of prize flatfish species: plaice, turbot and flounder when the waters cooler. As usual for these species worm baits are usually the best, with crabs also being highly effective for these bottom feeders. You may find that you catch more dogfish than anything else some days, but they are always welcome in my book. Catch the beach with a surf and large bass are probably present, so offer them a large sandeel bait of bit of mackerel. Ray are sometimes caught too, with the same approach, so long as you can get your bait a fair way out. In winter, you can effectively target cod. Dawn and dusk rule – especially when the beach is busy in the summer. In summer, stay well away from tourists I hear they are difficult to unhook. Either end of the beach is your best bet, and that allows you to fish closer to structure too so it’s ideal.
On the left-hand side of Porthmeor beach is Mans Head. From there you can cast further than is possible from the beach and fish into deeper water over rougher ground. People pick up turbot and ray from here on bottom fishing rigs and baits. Brill also make appearances, as do decent-sized bass. It fishes best with chop in the water on a spring tide and is better still at night. Try using sandeel during the day and lugworm at night if possible.
St Ives Harbour can be good for mullet, plaice and mackerel fishing.
Fishing in Carbis Bay is very good for flatfish and bass from the beach and you may also pick up ray, much like Porthmeor. You will also pick up pollack and Mackerel from the rocks on the left-hand side. The ground at Carbis Bay is all sandy on the bottom. Use sand eel and ragworm as bait from the beach and lures from the rocks.
When lure fishing from the rocks at Carbis Bay, you should cast out as far as you can, preferably about 60 yards out as there is a drop-off there and the fish seem to feed better further out unless the sea is very rough. If the sea is rough, just cast out past the breakers as there are often good-sized bass that lurk in that area.