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Gladding at Watchet

An old tradition of gladding to hunt for conger eels on the beach is evidenced here on the shores of the Bristol Channel.

News 1969 4 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


TV reporter Clive Gunnell is on the beach at Watchet in Somerset looking for conger eels. Underneath craggy rocks and seaweed the conger eels await the rising tide of the Bristol Channel. Two men are gladding with dogs, keeping up an old tradition believed now to have died out altogether. Conger eel commercial values are relatively low and the use of terrier-type dogs to flush out the congers at low tide may also be to avoid being snapped at by the large fish.

Snake-like and almost prehistoric, the slate grey European conger eel Conger Conger is found in the northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea and is strong and good at hiding in eel pits. They can however be line-caught at sea or end up in trawler nets and some large specimens have been fished off the south coast of Devon and recorded at over ten feet long. Conger eels are sometimes used to make caldeirada, a Portuguese fish stew and French bouillabaisse with the spine and tail too bony to be used as fish steak. Watchet is on the Washford River and sits on the edge Exmoor National Park.