Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Dec/Jan 11

Scratching for bites is the quick answer – After one of the direst cod seasons on record and record low temperatures, most shoreline are devoid of fins. A few rockling, and thankfully some dabs and flounders, are keeping the shore anglers occupied, although its mostly the match anglers who bother at this time of year. My latest match was the 120 peg Folkestone angling Open fished at Seabrook and Hythe in Kent and organised by ex international Peter Owen. I finished a creditable second behind Nick May of Eastbourne, and in front of Martyn Reid of Folkestone, with 25 dabs for 3.025kg. The best bit was beating young whippersnapper Nathan Elliott from Dover. Nathan is the current Penn League champion and a great scalp for an old codger like me. Needless to say, the Yates house hold has been feasting on dabs fillets this week, although I was shocked at the match weigh in to see how many anglers did not take their dabs home and left them at the weigh in.

Fortunately the wind direction has changed dramatically, back to a warmer, wetter south West, and that will have an effect on the fishing. Maybe it will return the cod and whiting inshore if it hangs around, although I hear through the grapevine that the cod have returned up the North Sea Coast, with Hornsea/ Bridlington region producing fish to 12lb. Fingers crossed we get a run of fish in the South and no more snow, because I am just about to restart a new club match series with my local clubs.

Match and Tackle News

I went out with a group of sea angling casting novices at Herne Bay recently. It was for a feature for Sea Angler magazine and will appear in a couple of issues time. But one thing struck me as I watched the instructor take them through their paces. All were hugely outgunned by their choice of rod. Why is it anglers want such stiff rods? I have compared a beachcaster rod to a bow and arrow before, but it’s worth repeating. An over stiff bow that the string is difficult to pull back will shoot the arrow nowhere, whilst a sloppy bow will lack distance. Get a bow you can just about bend and it will give you maximum distance. It’s the same with beachcasters, you want a rod you can bend – not a rod you cannot bend, or a sea fishing rod that bends too much, but a rod you can just about fully compress when you turn on maximum power. No two anglers are the same in terms of strength and most would benefit from advice from an instructor as to the best rod, but initially advice is to forget about macho man or macho rods unless you are fully skilled up caster.

Here’s a great tip for this time of year for club and open match anglers and its about casting. On lots of venues the hot spot for fish is the low tide mark at the bottom of the beach, etc. It’s the place the low tide waves gouge a gulley or ridge, and it’s the place fish food collects. On some venues it’s as close as 40 yards, on others closer or further, but it’s the place to target when the fishing is slow because the dabs, flounders and others will be looking for food in the gutter. So don’t over cast, rein in your distance and try a plop; you may be surprised at the result.

Around the Scene

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstal’s Fish Fight has drawn some interest and support from UK sea anglers, because of the prospect of some better fishing as a result of a ban on discarded fish; BUT, he allowed the commercial fishermen to tell the public, amd I quote: “The North Sea is full of cod we are not allowed to catch.” What planet do these commercial fishermen come from? They must know that the average size of all of the commercial species has fallen dramatically in recent years and that cod really are facing extinction. I have fished with rod and line around the British Isles for nearly sixty years and have witnessed the decline. The commercial fishermen and bad fishing laws have gradually degraded fish stocks and they are at an all time low – The scientists are right and the commercial fishermen are blinkered by their greed. They have moved from species to species leaving nothing in their wake and it’s about time the British public realised the problem is the FISHERMEN. UK farmers would never leave the land in such a state.

I call for a one off quota ban, minimum size limits for all species not just the commercial ones, commercial and angling limit bans on precious fish species like bass, smoothhound, tope and cod, and a ban on any kind of commercial or private netting within one mile of the shoreline (two miles if we can get it). I also note the rest of the TV Chefs have joined Hugh’s Band Wagon and the whole thing smacks more of a publicity stunt than true concern about the plight of UK fish stocks!

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Alan Yates

About Alan Yates

Born in the channel port of Dover, Alan Yates spent his boyhood bass fishing from boat and shore. After a highly successful match fishing career, during which he competed for England 15 times, twice winning gold, Alan went on to become a full time angling journalist. While writing for, among other titles, Angling Times and Improve your Sea Angling, Alan also wrote his seminal work, Sea Fishing. Founder of the Sea Angler’s Match Federation, Alan fought for catch and release in match fishing and sea fishing more generally.

One thought on “Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Dec/Jan 11

  1. Hi,

    I came across your blog on Google and I’m a user of talk angling and think your blogwould be an excellent resource for the UK angler. If you get a chance please go to our angling forum and submit a back link. TA gets a more than 5000 visitors a day so you will see the benefit.

    Have you seen the damage that cormorants are doing to fisheries? I was speaking to a fisheries officer of the Environment Agency last week and he said ‘off the record’ that the RSPB claim there are only 30,000 breeding pairs in the United Kingdom at the moment whereas the EA has conducted research that shows it at over 100,000!

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