Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary April 2015

It’s April and the codling are still around and recently I have been out at Seabrook and Sandgate in Kent catching codling and plaice from the same venue – A reminder of the past when this was commonplace.

Alan Yates 3lb Codling

Alan Yates with a late 3lb Codling

The return of the plaice in the English Channel and Irish Sea is undoubtedly due to reduced commercial quota limits which have restricted the trawlers and this has not only given the plaice a chance to spawn and increase, but other species as well have not been scraped and churned from the sea bed and thrown back dead. This must have had an impact on the codling and maybe even the rays as well which are also enjoying a comeback. Long may it go on, but the commercials are screaming for quota increases and when this happens it may well see the plaice vanish again. They are a very slow growing species not being able to spawn until three or four years old and that’s the main problem with their survival.

Alan Yates with a trio of Plaice

Alan with a lovely trio of Plaice

With summer coming lots of excitement for sea anglers with the arrival of the mackerel, smoothhounds and the bass which will all get anglers out for different reasons? Last year the mackerel season through the English Channel was poor and from other reports it was as bad elsewhere – Overfishing and the ability of the commercials to scoop up huge shoals of fish in one go has decimated stocks and a bad sign last year was that those that did show were tiny or huge – a sign of a species decline because it’s the middle size fish that do the spawning etc. The major mackerel venues will still produce fish and the main shoals move up into the North Sea from May onwards and in recent years this has meant they have bypassed the South as they move further North and this may have contributed to the shortage. The summer season being poor, but the fish return late in to autumn. The good news is that mackerel lures have become so deadly that the latest are really effective so don’t just stick to feathers and tinsel – look at the latest mini fishing lures, the Sabikis and Shrimpers which also catch herrings and launce as a bonus.

The smoothhounds too are subject to a longer summer migration route nowadays and it’s noticeable how they are moving further north each year, whilst the Solent was the hot spot for years the species now invade Lincolnshire and even further North and some of the southern venues are not as productive as they were. That is a key to catching big smoothhounds – fish where they are and not where they used to be!

Bass – well lots of anglers will be out with spinning gear and fishing the latest plastics for bass is all the rage and no wonder – It’s a clean and instant way to fish. No messing with smelly worms or bait, you can grab a rod and go fishing in an instant and wander where you like. No standing in the rain waiting for a bite for hours. OK lure fishing is not always successful and there are lots of skills and local knowledge attached to success but its fun fishing and getting a bass to take you lure is addictive. If you haven’t already try braid line on your spinning outfit, its lack of stretch increases the “feel” of the set up, anything touches the lure you will know about it and that goes for sea bed snags etc as well. Most anglers use a short mono leader to help cushion the abruptness of the braid with around 4 metres plenty. As for lures – there are so many new plastics available we are spoilt for choice although the sandeel shape does seem to rule with the lead head with a paddle tail design best for casting and lifelike action. Look out for the Black minnow and the Savage gear sandeels.

The latest from the European Union is a bass limit imposed on sea anglers of three fish a day – The Angling Trust are urging anglers to make this an election issue and to contact their local candidates for support for a balanced set of measures that include the commercial sector as well as anglers. These to include monthly vessel limits, a higher minimum legal size and seasonal closures. Personally, I have rarely landed three sizeable fish in a day and so am in total favour of the limit, although if I know the EU they will not restrict the commercial sector at all!

Before I go here is a picture of the biggest ling ever caught from the shore. It came from Bodo in Norway and was landed by Phil Hambrook of Ash in Kent. He has specialised in deep water fishing in Norway after losing a giant ling several years ago and his latest fish is a massive 59lb 8oz that took a mackerel head. It’s a potential World record for the species. Phil and his four pals have included halibut to over 50lb, cod to 25lb and haddock to over 11lb all from the shore.

Phil Hambrook 59lb 8oz new record ling Norway

Phil Hambrook 59lb 8oz new record ling, Norway

Tight lines, Alan Yates

Fishing for Plaice – Bling it up!

Gordon Thornes plaice- Greenfield match
The first few weeks of spring usually brings a calm sea, clearing waters, sunshine and plaice – It’s time to break out the bling, decorate those hook snoods with beads, sequins and the like and go in search of plaice.

There is something about catching plaice that stirs the imagination, the rod tip nods and

on the strike and retrieve resistance builds, the tackle seems to hang deep and then the lead surfaces ahead of a big flattie using every ounce of its width and strength to stay on the sea bed. They say plaice don’t fight, but catch one on light sea fishing equipment from the pier, beach or boat and they will prove that opinion wrong!

Giant dustbin lid plaice are a catch of the past and the species has been a real victim of over commercial fishing. As a popular plate fish its numbers have been thoughtlessly plundered, whilst the average size has fallen to under 1lb nationally. But, the good news is that during the last few years, especially through the English Channel and to the west, a quota limit seems to have allowed plaice numbers to increase slightly and the fish have returned in numbers.

I would say where to fish for plaice is more important to the shore angler than how – Just a few regions consistently produce the species in numbers. The best plaice fishing venues are mostly through the English Channel and up the Irish Sea with a few specimens taken from the shore line through north of Cumbria. The species is also not so prolific in the North Sea although several piers and harbours in the North East do produce regular pockets.

The best plaice fishing venues

Beaches around the Channel Island
South Hams beach
Slapton and Beesands in Devon
Chesil beach in Dorset with Cogden and Abbotsbury consistent
Poole harbour produces the odd specimen, especially the dinghies

Eastney, Southsea and Lee on Solent in the Solent in Hampshire are the southern plaice hot spots and although the species thins out toward Sussex and Kent the odd specimen is always possible from venues at Pevensey Bay, Dover Breakwater and the Prince of Wales pier at Dover.

On the Irish Sea side of the UK plaice are few in the Bristol Channel, but the North Wales estuaries like the Dee at Mostyn and Greenfields and the Mersey at Birkenhead and further

to the North west venues around Fleetwood and Morecambe Bay in Lancs produce good catches, whilst north west plaice marks include the beaches between Workington and Maryport at Blackbank, Redbank and Grasslot, The Whitehaven piers and further north the western Scottish Lochs.

You will find plaice on a variety of sea beds from plain sand and mud to sand and shell grit banks to patches of sand between rocks, weed and pea mussel beds. The best terminal rig for catching them is dependent on the venue with the Wishbone rig an often quoted favourite. Its two hooked design includes bait clips to streamline bait and rig making it suitable for distance casting. This fits the requirements of most plaice venues where the fish are often found at range, but not always. Where long range is not required a one up, one down flapper rig with longish snoods is the alternative.

Wishbone rig

Plaice have a fairly large mouth, which when extended can engulf a large bait with a size 2 and size 1 long shank Aberdeen the perfect hook size and pattern. These smaller sizes

being easier to remove than the larger sizes should you want to return the fish.
A range of baits will tempt plaice with the marine worms favourite, although location does influence bait choice and although lugworm are considered best by many, in some estuaries where ragworm are more prolific they produce more fish. Other baits that catch plaice regularly include peeler crab, harbour ragworm (maddies) snake white ragworm and a strip of squid which works well from most boat locations.

Plaice are attracted by movement and colour and are renowned for responding to bling, any bling! But don’t forget the basics first – deadly are wriggly ragworm tails and the potent scent of worms and crab juice, make sure that a few worm tails are hanging (Dip the bait in the sea before casting and they will stay intact)

It is the standard when fishing for plaice to add beads, sequins, vanes, spoons, in fact anything that glitters, reflects flutters or moves etc to the hook snood and this without doubt does increase the chance of a plaice taking the bait. More or less anything goes.

Bling for Plaice

Also when shore fishing for plaice it is possible to attract fish to the baits with movement and the attractors by simply lifting the rod tip occasionally, or releasing some line in the tide causes the baits and lures to flutter.


Latin Name: Pleuronectes platessa
Nickname: spottie or red spot.
Minimum legal size: 28cm
Specimen size: Average 2lb depending upon region.
British shore record: 8lb 6z 14drams caught at Southbourne beach, Bournemouth.

ID: Nobbly head. pronounced red, orange spots on top side, chevron white or clear on undersized smooth skin, rounded tail.

Tight lines,

Alan Yates



Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary October/November 2014


Alan Yates with a bag of dabs and a goer bass which won him a match from Seabrook’s Princes Parade with 8lb 4oz.

Midway through October and still the weather is mild and relatively settled. Yes we are enjoying an Indian summer and for the shore anglers it’s been a long spell of mixed fishing with the crossover of summer and winter species somewhat prolonged this autumn. Could be that this is now becoming the norm with the mixed fishing lasting later into the winter every year due to global warming. Whatever, it’s welcome for sure. Only this week I landed a mixed catch of dabs, bass, whiting, codling, smoothhound and dogfish from my local pier and beaches. Fishing the Prince of Wales pier inside Dover harbour the anglers next door landed two smoothhounds, mine was just a goer, but the specimens landed by Kyros Andrea from Tottenham both topped the 6lb mark, both took a large squid bait. Kyros is a retired trucker who regularly travels to Dover to fish and these were his best ever smoothhounds.

A surprise bass amongst the dabs at Seabrook whilst using braid line on the new Continental beach caster caused me some excitement and those codling seem to be showing all around the UK, even in the sunshine and so it’s going to be a shock for many anglers when the weather does eventually change to winter. Looking at the continuous south westerly storms that are buffeting us, that all too familiar winter weather blocking pattern will soon introduce more easterly and northerly winds and lower temperatures. Anglers in the North Sea will be rubbing their hands together at the prospect of onshore winds and more cod and here in the south when its calm nothing beats a calm sea and a frosty beach to spice up the night time whiting fishing..

However, now is a time to get serious with your beach fishing and going out prepared for the weather is an important factor. The waterproof thermal suit, a beach shelter or brolly, chest waders, warms socks, a hat and a flask are all essential to survival when the weather gets mean. Also important are the means to continue fishing when the wind blows and the sea swells. I pack a few heavier grip leads in the tackle box, those 7oz Breakaway green tops in fixed wire take some beating, although if it gets extreme then it’s a Gemini yellow head 7oz and nothing sticks like they do. Lots of anglers forget that the importance of a heavy lead apart from it anchoring to the sea bed is that it punches through the wind and tows baits far more efficiently than lighter leads. Which go off course in the wind. Bait clips also help you gain extra yards by tucking the bait snugly behind the lead for a more streamlined rig and bait. Now is the time to get your sea fishing tackle right. Make up a few rigs for extreme weather – the Pulley Pennell is a great choice for wind and sea both on rough and smooth ground and it’s the easiest clipped rig to make yourself. Lots of anglers also boost up their rig hook snood line to 25lb to combat conditions and that chance of a bigger cod.

One of the biggest winter mistakes made by many sea anglers, especially beginners is using too big a bait. OK big bait, big fish – that’s true, but a large bait is of no use if you cannot cast it far enough to reach the cod. So compromise between bait size, bait clips and lead size to maximise distance with your biggest bait and don’t fall into the giant bait fished in the gutter trap!!!!

The other common mistake of the novice is to recast a washed out bait. Replace your hook bait fresh every cast, fresh worms etc means a fresh scent so the bait scent trail the previous cast set up is continued. Casting timing is also important, keep an eye on how long your bait lasts against crab and small fish attacks and set you timing between casts around that.

The major problem once the cold weather arrives is obtaining bait. Lugworm prices go up every year as the worms become hard to come by. The problem is that the army of part time summer diggers cannot dig or pump enough worms to make it worth their while and generally it’s only the real professionals that dig all winter. Thus fewer worms and a bigger demand make bait scarce and easy for diggers and dealers to hike the price. One solution is to collect your own, although many will quickly find out that’s easier said than done. Winter lugworm digging in stair rod rain, frost and decreasing daylight is not easy. (Try it and you may not complain about the price or how small the worms are again!)
There are a few solutions and one is to freeze your lugworms. Black lugworms freeze best and when using them, tying them on with bait cotton makes keeps them more intact and on the hook because they do go soft. Frozen baits can be used to extend a limited supply of fresh although lots of anglers swear by frozen on their own. One tip – Treat frozen bait like you would your food, would you eat sausages that have been in the freezer for four years!

Sort your frozen bait in terms of how long it’s been frozen. Frozen lugworm from the spring tides can be used a week or month later when the tides are neap. That’s the way to manage frozen bait and not keep it for years!

Frozen squid is easy enough to buy earlier in the year in bulk, it’s cheaper. Break down into smaller amounts and store in the freezer and on some venues it’s all the bait you need, although for the current crop of codling fresh yellowtails or blacks take some beating.
You can obtain a supply by looking after your dealer – How many anglers buy their gear on the internet and then only visit the dealer when they are desperate for worms, small wonder he has none he will be looking after his regulars. So keep it in your mind to keep in with the local fishing tackle shop and with luck you will get a supply.

Tight lines,

Alan Yates

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary February/March 2014


New York plaice like bling too!

One of the worst winters on record for weather has taken its toll on shore and boat angling, not only venues made unfishable but piers damaged and closed, charter hours lost, competitions cancelled and a general feeling of when will it end? Well so much doom and gloom, but it has its upside and that is that the commercial nets have also been hit hard and a few extra small fish may have survived the winter this year and that may improve the fishing in the spring…

I have taken some time off to sort some of my fishing equipment and generally plan ahead – the Spring IS just around the corner and although those last few weeks can drag, it will get here. OK so I have more terminal rigs that Gerry’s of Morecambe, all my reels are loaded with new line and my tackle box is pristine. All I need is to get out on the beach for a few casts, but that’s just not going to happen until the sea flattens off and clears. First up is a plaice trip but as I said, red spots don’t like coloured, rough or silty water – Chesil Beach at Cogden is a favourite venue to head for, but only when that sea settles! In the meantime the tackle box retains my attention and one of the many jobs I keep promising to do but never get around to be replacing grip wires in my lead collection. Normally when a wire or a bead on a lead goes, I dump it in the throw away bucket for fishing the Irish rocks, or Samphire Hoe. It’s essential when fishing rough ground to have plenty of spare leads and to not worry about losing them. But the throw away bucket is overloaded so its wire cutters, pliers, beads and wire time.  The tasks brings about several options, for starters you can change the shape colour of the breakout beads, I hate blue and yellow and prefer red and so replace this missing etc with round  red beads, make sure you use decent strong plastic beads because some smash just looking at the beach. You can also change the grip wire length, bend them differently or simply straighten out and upgrade the lead in general. Whatever, the result is a box of new functional leads.

Another worthwhile spring clean job, is your sea fishing rods, because if you look closely you may have a cracked ring. After the countless times my rod has been pulled off the rest this winter I will be surprised if I haven’t got a ring that need replacing. The beauty of Fuji’s, Seymo and the other top makes is that they take lots of shit, but even the best cannot survive many more than one a gale driven clatters on concrete, rocks or beach stones and can be damaged and it pays to look.

First wash the rod free of sand, weed and all the other crud it has collected with use and give the rings and the reel seat the once over with a tooth brush. This will remove most of the unwanted and reveal the ring back at its best. Reel seats really benefit from a good scrubbing and you will find them less likely to jam afterwards. Examine the rings closely under a good light, the smallest crack can skim whisks of mono almost unnoticed. Of course losing a ring is a disaster on a beachcaster – it’s like scratching the door on a new motor UUURRGHH!!! For me it’s the menders and I mean specialist rod repairs not DIY. Sometimes an on the beach a temporary repair may be required and that’s fairly simple. I cut one leg of the rig whipping off. Wriggle the other ring foot free and remove the ring. Insert a new ring in the whipping and then tape up on the other side – good as new, for some!

One economic way to re-invent a tired beachcaster is to replace the shrink wrap handle. Most tackle dealers nowadays offer a range of different types, colours, materials of shrink wrap. You can buy it to the length required and simply shrink it on. Don’t be tempted to do it over the old handle though, remove this and thoroughly wash and dry the rod section before putting on the new shrink wrap. To close down the shrink wrap tightly you can use a hair drier, whilst boiling water from a kettle spout is more dangerous, it does a better job!

Best of all the rod refurbishments are those offered by lots of the major firms – Send your rod back to them and for a fee they will replace it to its original glory, well worth the money if you are fussy about your sea fishing tackle.

Already there are rumours about plaice – the first sunny day for months and tall plaice stories have started. Now let’s get one thing clear before we start talking about plaice. They are frail, thin and pasty when they first arrive inshore in March after the vigour’s of spawning and not worth eating or retaining so please unhook carefully and return. In a matter of months they will be returned to their red spotted plumpness and then will be prized for the table.

Time now to make up a few rigs with the usual plaice bling, beads and glitter, my tendency is to make the bait stop on my clipped rigs the bling and there are lots of options ranging from pop up bead, plastic beads, luminous beads, sequins, glass beads, vanes, luminous tubing etc. Don’t skimp either plaice often respond the flashiest hook bait and the rule is anything goes!

A recent letter in Sea Angler magazine criticised me for keeping (and grinning) with a catch of small dabs and whiting (4 dabs and seven whiting) Now excuse me, but I eat a lot of fish and the number I retained that day was a small percentage of that caught and returned – You see there is not much else in the sea around the UK coast in winter and I enjoy a few dab and whiting fillets.

Tight lines

Alan Yates


Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Oct/Nov 2013

The warm summer weather rolls on and at the time of writing this blog it is still very warm for the time of year and although the winter season has started to kick in the codling are marked by their absence in many regions. In Kent its masses of whiting and dogfish and its difficult to get a hook back without a fish on it after dark – Seabrook is producing some record number of whiting with 50 in a three hour contest fairly common. Check out next month’s Sea Angler magazine for the low down on how the match anglers are managing to catch so many fish in such a short time.

My latest competition was the three day Dover pier festival, in days gone by over 200 anglers fished each day, but in line with match fishing generally the event was down to a dismal 60 odd rods. To blame in undoubtedly the lack of bigger fish and the whiting and dogfish snatchers making it difficult for the average angler to compete and most are know no longer giving their hard earned cash to the matchmen. The event was won by Folkestone angler, Mick Tapsell who landed 95 fish over the two days. I managed a respectable second with a poor start on day one setting me back, although I came through from tenth on the final day. The biggest fish prize over the three days went to John Chalk from Herne Bay with a bass of 1.116kg, he also landed the best fish on Monday, a codling of 950 grams, which was the best of three landed from the breakwater and is an example of the size of codling coming from the shore in the region at present…

Other events I have fished recently included a club evening match on Folkestone pier and that turned into a dogathon. Dogfish two three at a time for three hours is exhausting with the winner landing 35 plus, not that enjoyable. One event I did not fish was at Princes Parade at Seabrook where Kent angler, Paul Gunner won with 57 whiting for 23.15lb. Second was Cliff Sharp of with 20.50lb and third Ronnie Warne of Hythe with 18.55lb. Fourth place went to Linton Warne of Hythe who landed his best ever catch of 38 fish, but didn’t make the top three! However, worse was for Ashford angler, John Smith who landed a cracking 9.65lb bass in the contest, a new Seabrook Angling Society all time record and he didn’t make the frame either – Sometimes I think we have our priorities wrong, such a splendid fish deserves more credit than a bunch of scrawny whiting.

All of this adds to the call for a change of approach to match fishing, we need a new system, but what it’s going to be I have no idea? More sea fishing tackle prizes?!

Staying with sea fishing competition’s it was a pleasure to fish the 41st City of London Thames Fishery Experiment competition, at Gravesend. This annual event is organised to help establish the environmental condition of the river and is fished from the Gravesend foreshore on the Kent side with anglers zoned adjacent to the Port Health Lower Thames office. 8 County teams of 8 and three school teams compete for an array of different trophies, fishing over three hours. The event started in 1966 and first arranged by the Thames preservation Society who together with the City of London Corporation shared the organisation from 1971 to the present day. Event sponsors include the Fishmongers Company and the Port of London Authority with the Environment Agency also represented. The points scoring devised by the Natural history museum reflects the species rarity etc in the river.

This year the match times arranged around the banquet (rack of lamb with mint sauce)  after the fishing , missed the best of the high tide, although several anglers caught fish on their last cast. Best of the catches though came on his very first cast to Essex captain, Mick Sharp who beached a 44cm bass by far the best fish of the day and along with whiting, flounders and eel was easily the best individual score of 75points which gave victory for Essex County almost on his own, the team score was 145points winning the Lady Howard trophy. Runners up were the Charles Stanley Angling Team on 85points and third The Thameside Angling Team on 80points. Schools winners were the London School for Girls with 25pt.

In total 99 fish were landed including bass, sole, eel, flounder and whiting. The poor catches, last year the event produced nearly 600 fish,  being blamed on a number of factors including local dredging for the new port nearby and the late spring/summer season, although the short tide was mostly likely to blame.

Thames Winner

Thames Winner

I am looking forward to a trip to Norway in February to fish a shore competition organised by Tin Tur’s Ian Peacock. Cod, haddock, coalfish and a halibut are the target species, but its going to be chilly with sub zero temperatures and just maybe – snow. Details: E mail Tel. 01914472363

Alan Yates Norway Cod

Check out Fishtec TV because I have a blog on there about the forthcoming cod season. Details:

Tight lines,

Alan Yates

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary – October 13

Alan Yates with a double figure boat cod

Alan Yates with a double figure boat cod

Just back from Ireland where the Sea Angler magazine and TF Gear crew attempted to make a DVD in less than ideal conditions, both from boat and shore – The East wind has a lot to answer for, although heavy mist, rain and a muggy feel to the three days meant the air pressure was all over the shop and air pressure does seem to have a great effect on fish feeding at this time of year. A mate checks his fish pond before going coarse fishing in winter, if the fish are feeding he goes, if not, he still goes but is armed with the knowledge the fishing is going to be tough.

That’s not a bad rule to have for the rest of the winters because getting your sea fishing tackle out when the wind direction, sea conditions, tide and air pressure is all wrong, can have a massive effect on the fishes feeding habits, especially for those after cod. The wind for instance is a big turn on, or turn off, in many sea regions. That east wind carries the “When the winds in the East the fish bite least” stigma and it is spot on in many regions, add some North though and the East coast of angling usually fishes well “When the wind blows north the fish bite for all they are worth”. Along the English Channel and up through the Irish Sea is a South or West wind that is best “When the wind blows west the fish bite best” and “When the wind blows south the bait falls in the fish’s mouth”.

Overall an onshore wind may be the most unpleasant to fish in, but it’s usually the most productive, especially in daylight when it colours up the water. The fish don’t like sunlight and if that can penetrate the water to the sea bed they will not venture into it. That fear is universal among the major winter species, so the rule is. Fish in daylight when it’s rough and in darkness or very deep water when it’s calm!

OK like most rules there are exceptions and one to look out for is what I call a chalky or milky sea, sometimes the sea is only just coloured and the fish will come inshore. Another phenomenon to watch out for is an impending storm. Fish can desert the shoreline the tide before an impending storm and then appear as if by magic as it dies away!  All things that help the shore angler to pick the best times to fish.

Only a couple more complications and they are the all important tide and the stock of fish available in a particular region. Why would a fish want to come close to shore to feed when the deep sea is packed with food? Well in summer there are lots of food like sandeels, mackerel etc for the cod to prey on out deep, but these migrate south as winter arrives and the bigger fish start to move inshore in search of whiting, pouting, etc. The changing fortunes of the cod angler depend upon the food available and spawning success of the species. Some winters there is an over flow of smaller fish which means they need to invade the shoreline to feed. On other years, fewer fish means they have an enough food in the deep water.

So assuming there is an overflow of fish they will then move inshore, but only in the best conditions to get an easy meal. The strongest tide tends to help fish travel to and from food, it also oxygenates the water and generally spices up marine activity, fish and prey. So the angler must first look towards the largest spring tides for the maximum chance of fish being present. Think about it, the water is deeper, and this means more cover for the fish, and more fish will be around. On a majority of venues the maximum fish activity occurs during the flooding tide towards high tide. Indeed many venues are devoid of fish at low water so it’s important to fish at that peak time and that can often be around mid darkness as well.

All this means that the absolute best times to fish are limited to a couple of tides fortnightly and explains why cod in particular are so difficult to catch. The various races of cod around the UK fluctuate in numbers dramatically and what with commercial overfishing, discards and the fact that the minimum legal size limit does not allow them to spawn its small wonder anglers struggle to catch a fish over 3lb.

So this winter – select your venue with care and a knowledge that fish are there to catch. Pick the best tides and I would say avoid the crowds.

Good luck.


There seems to be an excellent number of codling in the North East this year with fish to 3lb plentiful from the shore on the Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, Durham and Northumberland coasts.

Rough ground offers the best chance of cod and codling because the nets cannot exploit it like they can clean sand, so check out the rocks and kelp!

Your best chance of a giant cod comes from the boat in the English Channel and I recommend the Eastbourne and Brighton charter boats for a possible 50lb cod, especially after Christmas.

Mark Rogers 30lb cod from Folkestone charter boat a few years back

Mark Rogers 30lb cod from
charter boat

Top of the cod bait list is a live whiting with the live bait rig worth trying. This involves a large hook with a small baited hook (2) attached with a whiting taking the bait and then becoming bait itself.

The other bait worth using this winter if it’s a big shore or boat cod you want is a whole ,or even two frozen cuttlefish – Remove the bone and fish on minimum 6/0 Pennell rigs. Bites will be few and far between but could be a lunker!

My tip for fishing from now on is to fish a large bait close in on a second rod – there are still some monster bass to be caught, especially in the South of the country.

The final solution for anglers looking to catch a BIG cod this winter is a trip to Norway where you can virtually walk on water over the cod. Contact: Ian Peacock Tel 01914 472363 E mail:

Norweigan cod

Norweigan cod


The British Sea Angling Championships being fished from Deal, Walmer and Sandown beaches in Kent on the 20th October. Entry forms have been sent out to previous competitors and are available in local tackle shops. The details of the event this year are as follows: The competitions includes  the men’s, ladies, juniors and four man team championships and is open to all sea anglers. The fishing is from 11am until 4pm with the entry limited to the first 400 anglers (So get your entry in early as there may not be places if you leave it until the day 20th October) £6000 plus are on offer in cash and prizes including £1000 for the winner and £500 for the captor of the biggest round and biggest flat fish. The event is pegged from Kingsdown to Sandwich Bay and offers national Penn Points to the winners. The draw and late entry takes place at the Deal 1919 Angling Club headquarters 13, the Marina Deal on Saturday the 19th October from 7pm. The event includes bag labels that must be signed in with every fish caught by the adjacent competitor. Entries and details Deal 1919 AC Headquarters Tel 01304 363968 or 361248.


Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary | July

There is an old saying that goes “You win some, you lose some” and it sums up my recent angling exploits. Fishing a Dover Sea Angling Association mid week species open on Dover’s Southern breakwater. Not a large entry, so the rules were flexible with two rods and three hooks allowed. The idea was to catch the biggest of each species. Now the breakwater wall is alive with dogfish both on the outside into the open sea and in the harbour behind. The species have increased in numbers, like they have elsewhere, to the extent that on occasions they are thin and obviously struggling for food, but that’s another story. So catching a dogfish was not a problem, avoiding them was! To start I fished one rod with a float for mackerel and garfish and the other down the wall with booms fished just under the surface for bass with a head hooked ragworm. Three hours into the event with the sea chocolate brown with the May water, not a bite, except for dogs. Nearby Mick Tapsell from Folkestone even caught a doggie fishing near the surface on his bass booms. With the tide flooding and the evening coming hopes of a last hectic hour were proven when Folkestone’s John Wells of the next peg to me hooked a bass of 3lb, I followed suit with a smaller fish and then the float dived under and I had a mackerel. Peak tide on the breakwater wall and the tide run changes to flood hard towards Deal and then as it slows it’s the hot time for big fish, cod in the winter and in the summer smoothhounds and so I baited with a one up one down rig with two big peeler crabs on 3/0s and cast the Force 8 as far as I could.

A small bite signalled something was at the bait, probably a dogfish, but on the retrieve the rod bent over and the clutch slipped as the fish reached the wall. “Net” what a lovely word – Anyway I landed an 11lb thornback ray and a 3lb 8oz smoothhound on the same cast, what a result and my first ever thornback from Dover breakwater. The species have been on the rise around Kent and are now starting to appear from the piers and other beaches, how long before one is landed at Seabrook or Hythe? So a great weekend when everything came together.

Breakwater Ray Alan Yates Fishtec

In between I won two small midweek coarse matches before going to Grimsby on the river Humber to fish the Penn sponsored Clubman final for the Sea Angler Magazine team. The event, which I organise through the magazine, is a national club team event and apart from a host of sea fishing tackle prizes the winning team fishes against a team selected by the magazine from the anglers that either write, or are regularly featured. In this case the SA team was myself, Chris Clark, George Smith, Paul Fenech and my old mate John Wells who stood in at last minute for Editor Mel Russ.

The team we were fishing against were 2011/12 Clubman Champions, the Senhouse Street SAC squad from Cumbria and they were captained by Mark Scott and included Paul Crellin, Rory Campbell, Mike Edmondson and Dave Brunton. George guided us to the venue, which was the Courtalds Strait on the south Humber bank – A stretch of sea wall famous for its cod in winter whilst in summer flounders and eels with the bonus you could fish from your car!

The ten competitors were pegged out with plenty of room and after the starting whistle it was clear that the down river end was the hot spot and an end peg vital. Well my luck had changed and I drew a middle number and ended up last individually! This was the one I lost and I suppose there is a certain irony in that it’s often the more important competitions that your luck deserts you, lots of match anglers will relate to that.

Team wise Sea Angler won by some 300 cms with George Smith and Chris Clark top on the day with enough points to the event one their own. George did particularly well from his end peg with 18 fish and you can read all about it in a later edition of Sea Angler.

I am currently testing and reviewing bass rods, lure bags and lures for Sea Angler Magazine over the next few issues and the collection from the various manufacturers is amazing. I must say the quality of most of the gear is really good with some excellent value for money. You can pay a small fortune for a bass lure fishing rod or buy one fairly cheaply although the quality and performance is definitely proportional to the price.

Look out for the lure review especially its got most of the lures that the bass angler will need including the latest holographic plus and soft plastic baits.

It’s the hot time for bass coming up in many regions with some bigger fish starting to move around at the end of the summer. Hopefully I shall be off to Ireland for the peak bass season there with TF Gear and that’s the plan for the next DVD.

The current free DVD from TF Gear comes with the latest edition of Sea Angler magazine and includes lots of sea angling info and tips that should prove useful to the novice and improving sea anglers. Paul Fenech and myself spent a day on the beaches at Sandown and Seabrook in Kent making it with cameraman Lloyd Rogers. I have since upgraded my own camera equipment and hope also to bring you a few video blogs in the near future.

Canterbury, Kent sea angler, Andrew Griffiths is in the news after catching an impressive porbeagle shark. Andrew who fishes annually out of Milford Haven, West Wales aboard, White Water, perhaps the most successful shark charter boats around the UK, hauled in one of the biggest porbeagle sharks landed in the British Isles, certainly the best ever caught aboard White Water skippered by Andrew Alsop. The fish was caught on a live whiting fished on a “ready rod”  This is a rod baited at readiness for any sharks seen close to the boat around the chum which is a fairly common occurrence and tactic when sharking, especially overseas. The rod a Shimano travel rod was cast at the fish and it took Andrew 40 minutes to boat the powerful shark during which time the skipper had to back the boat up towards the fish to regain Andrew some of his line.  The fish was returned alive after measuring (82”long with a girth of 46”) with the length for weight chart crediting it as 234.4lb.

Andrew Griffiths Porbeagle Fishtec


July can be a difficult month for lots of sea anglers around the UK, not only with the daylight beaches etc crowded with holidaymakers, but the humid conditions definitely put the fish off feeding and coming close to shore. In some regions, particularly the south, some species have passed through on their migration north, whilst in the far north some may not yet have arrived. All in all it can be a frustrating time and it pays to be a little more selective with your venue choice. Those remote rock marks and deep piers are favourite from the shore, but a trip wrecking on a charter boat is also worth considering because the calmer weather is the most favourable for reaching some of those far off barely fished virgin wrecks. Check out the Whitby and Tyne charters for a deep North Sea trip, Milford Haven is also a worthwhile destination for sharks, whilst on the English Channel coast big congers and some huge black bream are in range.

Tight lines, Alan Yates

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary | June

I love it when a plan comes together, mainly because it doesn’t happen very often. In my roll as contributing editor to Sea Angler magazine I go out on a feature with a photographer almost weekly and finding pictures of fish when you are tied to a day, any old tide and 9 to 5 working hours is almost impossible. BUT occasionally my trip out with Sea Angler magazine photographer, Lloyd Rogers is successful and that makes a big change for both Lloyd and myself from the normal run of the mill tackle reviews, baits pic that we would normally deal with. Recently I had a call from the magazine, could I use Lloyd for a beach trip, short notice, he had a cancellation. First thing I do in this situation is consult the tide table, and wonders of wonders the tide was perfect and so Lloyd and myself set off for Sandwich Bay in Kent with my angling mate John Wells along for back up.

I chose to fish the ray hot spot near to the Sandwich Bay Yacht club slipway and on arrival, a dismal dull dirty day, the beach was deserted. First cast a typical doggie bite and then a line full of May water suggested that the reason no one is fishing. But no the bite culprit was bigger than a dogfish and a thornback around 6lb surfaced. That’s what you call instant success, but better was to come when on my second cast a much bigger ray christened my new TF Gear Force 8 beachcaster. The fish were fairly close in at 80 yards and the bait was an Ammo sandeel with a Bluey wrap on a 3/0 hook fished on a Pulley rig. I tend only to use a single hook rather than a Pennel when fishing catch and release. Both rays went back to fight another day and that’s perhaps one of the reasons there are plenty around at present. You can read all about the days fishing in Sea Angler in a future issue. In the meantime there is nothing like a bit of success to fire the belly for even more fishing and my next target are some bass.

Alan Yates Thornback Ray Fishtec

The May Water is a little late this year undoubtedly because of the freak weather we have had – it’s a pain jamming leader knots and rod rings and its sticks to everything when you remove it because it flicks and splatters off your line. For glasses wearers a nightmare. Well I am sorry I don’t have an instant fix to combat these brown globules that coat line and sea fishing tackle, but if there is a tip its long finger nails or a pair of surgical gloves to pull it off the line as it gets to the reel. Another way to combat it is to bang the fishing rod with the palm of your hand during the retrieve; this can help shake week and gunge off the line.

Finally, don’t leave it on your fishing gear, wash all your reels and fishing rods off when you get home because it’s highly corrosive and smells terrible after festering in the garage for a week!

On the current DVD from TF Gear and Sea Angler magazine I included a review of the TF Gear shelter range. That’s the basic green brolly, the Force 8 brolly and the Hurricane shelter. I am a particular fan of the Force 8 brolly because it is the only sea-angling umbrella THAT IS ACTUALLY MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR SEA ANGLING. Not a lightweight, flimsy rust bucket coarse brolly, but a brolly that has fibre glass, a tough removable hood and built in skirt with shingle pockets, it also has a straight insert support pole for maximum room. Give it a look you will be impressed by how well it is made. A great shelter for match and freelance anglers that have to move with the tide.

A new TEAM competition has been arranged by ISAC (The Individual Sea Angling Club) It is for teams that have previously been selected to fish for the Home Nations in the CIPS World Clubs Championships and is being fished on 30th of November and 1st of December at Browndown beach, Hampshire. Organiser is Trevor Sutch of ISAC who is seeking sponsors for the event, which is for teams of ten anglers from the clubs that have been selected to fish the World Clubs Championships.

My favourite match of the year is the Dover Sea Angling pier Festival which is being fished from Dover breakwater on the 12th/13th and 14th October 13. I am the main organiser and this year the event has been moved forward in the year hopefully to some calmer weather that will allow anglers to fish Dover breakwater, which is only reachable by boat. In previous years the boat has not been able to reach the wall and the event has struggled for fish on the Prince of Wales pier inside Dover harbour. Entry details E Mail:

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Early June

The problem of an increasing number of seals taking fish around the coast of the UK was highlighted for me by the dramatic fishing demise of Dover Harbour. With commercial fishing of any kind banned inside the harbour for decades the harbour was always a natural sanctuary for a number of common sea species including bass, pollack, flounder, plaice and even pouting in summer and cod, dabs and whiting in winter. But all that has changed in recent years with the arrival of several large seals inside the harbour only dogfish can be caught consistently, which tells me that seals are not that keen on the doggies. Just up the coast from Dover harbour the River Stour estuary has a similar problem, but even worse the Canterbury coarse angling club report that seals are plundering bream, chub and pike stocks well up the river past Sandwich. They have secured photographic evidence, which they have passed to the Environment Agency for action. Seal cull? – No way. So politically incorrect it looks like we are stuck with them!

Another trip abroad to Italy this month was to fish the Magrini Championships in Sardinia. A third on the first day raised my hopes, but a blanks, along with six other GB anglers I might add, ended my chances. It seems the slow start to spring and summer even effected the Mediterranean angling with the Sardinian anglers complaining of a lack of fish. I must to admit to a liking for fishing ultra light for sea fish because most of the semi tropical species like those found in the Med pull for their size although in the case of Sardinia five hours for two undersized (15cm) weavers has tested my patience. Magrini winner was Irish angler J P Molloy who put in a consistent performance to become only the second Home Nation angler to win the event (joey Arch was the other). Only problem was winning five trophies and an armful of prizes ranging from Sea fishing rods to reels, meant a huge excess baggage charge on his return home. Never mind JP well worth the extra cost because few Home nations anglers can claim such a great win on their CVs.

Tight lines, Alan Yates


John Paul Molloy with his Magrini Championship trophy.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary – Late March

A busy month of competitions at a time of year I really enjoy shore fishing – Its scratchy with bites at a premium and to do well you need to scale down both your tackle and your angling ego. Lots of anglers fish through March still in their November cod goggles, but the bigger fish are no longer around in a majority of regions and its time for the dabs, flounders and those damn rockling.

OK the match anglers actually enjoy this time of year, as I said, I do especially when it’s calm and cold. Most beaches slow to walking pace in terms of bites in the frostiest weather and it’s a case of dropping the hook size, the bait size, the line size and fishing closer in. The low tide gutter often being the only hot spot on the beach. It’s a time when the casting ego has to be put in its place, although keep it handy because the first rays of spring are no far off.

My latest competition was the Ten Worm Challenge – A sea fishing competition with a difference with competitors allowed to use just ten lugworms as bait – Nothing else! The event received lots of publicity despite which the entry was small, I suspect novelty events are not for many serious matchmen, although it is the case that event organisers are continually looking for competitions which offer more of a level playing field for all anglers in an attempt to attract more to competitions.

The Ten Worm Challenge was a rover, fish where you like and you could use ten rods with one worm if you preferred.  I opted to get out my Continental sea fishing rods and use the event as a practice for the forthcoming World Clubs Champs in Portugal where I am representing Dover Sea Angling Association.  Size 4 hooks, 8lb hook snoods, 16-foot quiver tip and fixed spools reel loaded with 0.24mm line.

I chose to fish at Dungeness and to cut a long story short I finished with 32 fish and half a worm left after five hours, the clear winner with the next place catching by Mark Howard fishing next to me at Dungeness landing 11 fish. My secret was to fish small baits each tied on the hook with elastic cotton – That way the bait lasted ages. I think I will claim a Guinness book of record place with the catch, but only so as to create more interest in the idea, which was the brainchild of Seabrook sea angler, Tim Raymond.


Another event that attracts a huge entry because anglers see the event as giving anyone a chance of winning is the European Championships fished at Bridlington. It also coincided with the worst of the month’s weather and just three codling were landed despite a huge entry of 2095 anglers, with the winner Karl Wiepcke, Goxhill winning the overall which included a car with a single 3lb codling he caught at Aldbrough. Big fish matches are the way to go if you want a larger entry, whilst pegged, catch and release will only attract the most dedicated match anglers.

The other event I fished recently, also a biggest fish event, was the Pollack Challenge out of Brighton, which is an annual event for me aboard Paul Dyer’s, Brighton Diver, which also carries Keith Arthur and the Sky Camera crew.  With the BBC Shipping forecast giving gales it was touch and go whether the event took place, but fish we did although heading out to a wreck at thirty miles was a bit lumpy to say the least. However, the day calmed and some nice fish where landed by the 100 anglers taking part, including a 17lb 9oz specimen for Brighton Schoolboy, Connor Bonwick fishing on Terry Lee’s Brighton based Sea Breeze 3.

Keith and myself ended with three pollack a piece caught on a mix of jellies and Sidewinders with Keith’s best of 11lb and the best on our boat was third overall for Alan Milford who landed a 14lb 14oz lunker first drop. If you not tried lure fishing for pollack over a wreck it’s worth doing although the two-hour steam there and back does tax the brain.

Keith Arthur of Sky’s Tight lines with his best pollack 11lb in the Pollack Challenge event at Brighton.

With snow on my lawn at the time of writing this blog its difficult to get involved in the spring prospects but there already seems to be plenty of plaice around in the English Channel and it wont be long before the rays push inshore. Rumblings about smoothhound on Facebook seem a bit premature when Britain shivers in its worst spring weather for years. But all can change overnight, hopefully and it’s the hounds that most are looking forward to. Last year it was noticeable that the species has moved into the North Sea big time with Skegness region on the Lincs coast one of the best hound venues, Selsey and the Solent kept their end up as did South Wales and even Kent got in on the act at Sandown. But first the crabs need to peel, fingers crossed for some warm sunshine.


Staying with the changing format of competitions this one just had to happen and is possibly the way more events are going to go in the future. The Gerry’s Fishing Open in the Morecambe Bay area on the 7th of September, fishing 10am until 4pm involves all anglers owning a Camera with time date function and removable SD card. Your catch is snapped with the days bag label and returned. Check in from 9am Gerry’s Fishing or contact Sam or Chris 01524 422146. Email – or facebook event –

Another catch and release event worth a look is the Rutherfords Conoflex 2 day open. On the 29th and 30th of June fishing two zones at Copthorne Hotel and British Airways Business Park on the river Tyne. All fish to count but there is a maximum hook size of 4. Entry is £30 for the two days, to book or for more info ring Andy Rutherford on 0191 5654183