Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary June 2014

The arrival of the mackerel around much of the UK coastline this month kicks off one of sea angling’s busiest times of the year. Apart from the fact that the smoothhound, ray and bass shoals are extending and exploiting their range around the coastline, summer brings an influx of new anglers. The holiday anger after mackerel that crowd the piers and beaches during daylight to fish with with lures and feathers with which the mackerel can often be caught in numbers and fairly easily. On many venues numbers are swelled by ethnic anglers who have seized on this easy style of sea angling and like it or not they have regenerated many summer venue as well as brought business to fishing tackle shops and charters skippers in the region. Feathering for mackerel is not every sea angler’s favourite method, indeed many ardent bottom anglers frown on the tactic and that is mainly because of the behaviour it can promote on a crowded pair, apart from the dangers of being impaled on a lure hook that is! Associated with feathering is the frenzy of anglers who give little thought to the fish or other anglers – They catch as many fish as they can, many are often left to flap their life away and then discarded when they become ruined by the sunshine. Litter is left and most piers have the stench of urine whilst burnt seating, damage and mayhem have lead to many venues being closed or threatened with closure. It is the case that you just cannot leave Joe Public to police himself and anarchy is the eventual result of doing so, especially with mackerel anglers.

But let’s not dwell on the down side, mackerel fishing can be great fun and is enjoyed by thousands of sea anglers and for many is a first step into proper sea angling.

For those that just want to catch a few mackerel for the bait freezer or barbeque the answer is to stay away from the crowded and popular venues and to use a more sporting method than six feathered lures. OK, if you need a quick fix of mackerel six big fizzy lures with a heavy lead (5oz min) will usually get a result. But a single silver sprat spinner fished at dusk will produce more sport.

Then there are the other methods to fish for mackerel and by far the best is with a float and a sliver of mackerel or garfish as bait. Cast and retrieve that slowly on a lighter spinning type rod for maximum fun.

Another tactic is to use a sliding float rig and this is a short float rig made up to an American snap link which is simply clipped on the main line of the rod already cast out and then slide down the line to the surface. The method allows the angler to fish a bait on the sea bed and a bait for mackerel or garfish etc on the surface.

Summer brings another problem for sea anglers and one is keeping both your bait and catch fresh. TF Gear have solved the problem with a couple of custom made cool bags and I am especially pleased to see the new cool bag. It is made to fit snuggly on top of the standard Beta angling seat box and big enough to contain a standard size seed tray or cat litter type tray to hold the bait. It can then be clipped to the top of your seat box. Perfect for the worms going fishing and the catch coming home and especially relevant at this time of year when the mackerel are around and you can catch and keep them fresh until they arrive home for the bait freezer.

TF-Gear-cool-bag

The second new item is a sand eel bag complete with liquid freezer sachet and compartments made to fit the standard packets of sandeel. Keeping your sand eels frozen is vital to their success and you can remove them one at a time or baiting up without thawing the lot.

It’s nice to be able to report that I am back fishing with a few more trips to the pier under my belt since my rheumatic problem. The down side is that I do have limited use of my shoulder and have had to switch to a fixed spool reel and long Continental rod – The new Force 8 in the TF Gear range at 15ft is ultra light and ideal. But I am never going to threaten 150metres plus and have had to accept the reduction in distance – Like so many other anglers older, disabled or simply limited in power. Not all doom and gloom though because the lighter sea fishing tackle and mindset has fuelled some fun fishing with size 4 hooks and 8lb line a whole new ball game – I am learning how to fish again and so far the results are encouraging.

I am holding an LRF Championships (Light rock fishing) at Samphire Hoe, near Dover on the 10th August. It’s an experimental competition. You can fish with any form of LRF gear. Basically a short spinning style rod, single hook bait/lure. It’s all catch and release with fish photographed on the smart phone on the days fish measure. Fishing in 10am until 4pm, all are welcome and it’s a complete rover anywhere around the Hoe. Prizes for species pts, biggest and best average fish. Alan Yates 01303 250017

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary May 2014

Alan Yates catching Carp

Alan Yates catching Carp

As some of you may know, I have been laid low in recent month by rheumatics – I was diagnosed with Polymigela after just about every test you can undergo – Didn’t like the MIR scan. Anyway, it has affected my neck, ankle and foot and I have been unable to fish for two months. Just this week I have returned to fishing I have had a great sense of what it is like to be disabled, no driving for two months, difficulty walking, maneuvering tackle is a particular pain, casting and all those things we anglers take for granted have caused me problems and its now down to the drugs and time for me to get better.

I managed a couple of coarse fishing competitions in the local ponds and I even managed to win, catching some carp and the next step is back to the sea. One thing I have had to accept is just how physical sea fishing is compared with coarse. Casting and those long walks with 30lb of tackle box, a bucket and a rod holdall are now a fearsome challenge and the trolley is out.

With summer just about to arrive it’s a nice calm time of year to fish and I must admit to the fact that I like the change away from fishing baits at range on the sea bed. The variety of fishing includes lures for bass, a bit of LRF and some float fishing and with my present limitations it’s the float that coming out.

There are several ways to fish a float from the shore and most anglers just add one to their basic beach casting outfit whilst bottom fishing. This involves a short sliding float rig that is simply clipped on to the main line (an American snap link is ideal) of the beach caster after its cast out. The rig then slides down the main line to the surface where the line enters the water. The rig doesn’t need to be any longer than 8ft. Great for catching the bonus mackerel and garfish and the method goes someway to improve the action when the sea is flat and clear and not a lot stirs on the sea bed.

The second way to fish a float is to go all out and adopt a lighter outfit and fish a slider or adjustable depth float on the main line with a single or two hooks. This outfit can then be cast where you want and the depth you fish adjusted via a stop knot on the mainline that can be set to suit the depth you want to fish. Rod wise a spinning rod will suit the tactic, whilst many are increasingly adopting a longer quiver tip continental rod style like the All rounder in the TF range, look out for the new Continental which is perfect for the method. The particularly effective thing about this type of set up is that the float and the bait can be continually moved, drifted, trotted in the tide etc with the longer rod giving more control, especially when drifting a long way back in the tide using a micro braid line. I prefer to call the method float/spinning and lots of anglers who fish a float in summer neglect the latter. They simply let the float go on its way down tide feeding out line to its demands. BUT a far better method is to continually stop the float in its drift, which causes he bait to rise and move. This adds to the baits attractiveness and increases the catch and can be used to target all manner of summer species. Another alternative is a bubble float and this can be loaded with water for casting weight and especially suits those fishing with a sandeel on a long trace for bass etc.

Integral to most float fishing is ground bait and it’s here the majority of sea anglers cannot be bothered. BUT again a small bucket of loose feed made up of bread, boiled fish, bran with a fish oil or extract etc added will increase the scent of the slick and draw in more fish. In clear water from the rocks it can be a terrific way to fish because you will spot the fish moving in on the feed.

Tackle can also be refined to suit the species and you may find lighter line and a smaller Waggler float more suitable if the mullet show up. In a lumpy sea a larger bulbous float will be easier to see at long range and will and can be cast or will drift further. The method can be used to catch more or less all the summer species in some regions and even using bread bait it can catch pollack, bream and mackerel.

Staying with the summer, top of the species list in the coming weeks for many are the smoothhound and as the shoals push around the UK coasts lots of sea anglers will have the chance of catching the most powerful fish they have ever hooked from the shore. It’s important though to fish the correct venues because the hounds do tend to leap frog around the UK coastline. They are found on some venues and not on others and this is mostly down, to food and spawning. So a top tip is to find a smoothhound venue. Do not simply fish your local venue and wait for the hounds to come to you – Travel to them because the best are mostly well known. On top of that the species is continually expanding its size and range and it pays to keep an ear on results. Fish the evening tides when its calm and still, into dusk can be deadly!

Smoothhound venues to head for this month:

Bristol Channel: Almost anywhere from Minehead to Weston S Mare.
South Wales coast: Cardiff, Barry, region, venues including; Rhoose, Nash Point, Portkerry, Aberthaw, Monknash and Ogmore.
Sussex: Pagham
Hampshire/ Sussex: West Selsey, Bracklesham Bay, Lepe, Gillkicker and Hayling front..
Dorset: Chesil beach
Kent: Dover breakwater, Sandown, Reculver.
Essex: Charter boats in the Thames estuary. Walton and Clacton, and Orford Island.
Lincs: Chapel St Leonards, Ingoldmells, Sandiland.

Greg Dixon With a Double figure smoothound from Selsey

Greg Dixon with a double figure smoothound from Selsey

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary March 2014

WOW-sandshark-for-Richard-Yates-in-Gambia

Some good news for UK cod anglers – There is a huge glut of small codling showing in many regions around the UK with the fish moving inshore to feed on the spring crab moult etc. The codling are mainly under the 35cm minimum size limit, although it has to be said in many regions, like here in Kent, the codling are close to the limit and will grow fast over the next few months. So hopes are really high that next year’s winter season is going to be a good one, exceptional compared with recent years. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime summer is on the horizon and should be early this year with the mild winter and it won’t be long until the first mackerel arrive at the Northern end of the English Channel which along with the mass crab moult and the return of the small bait fish like whitebait, sandeel etc will fuel some excellent shore fishing. It’s a great time of year as species spread around the coast in the clearing water although it’s a whole new ball game in terms of the fishing.

Back into the tackle box go the feathers, the floats, all manner of lures and I have taken to adding an LRF (Light Rock Fishing) rod and braid reel to my summer shore sea fishing tackle in recent years as an alternative method for those days when standard beach gear doesn’t happen. LRF is mostly about catching the small fish when they are all there. Using a single small hook or lure with all the lead on the hook a small spinning rod and braid line allows the angler to fish the nooks and crannies with worm or lures.

It works best in the wilds of Ireland where you can trickle and tickle a lures alongside the steep rock marks and in and out of the kelp fronds and rock ledges from cliffs in search of wrasse and bass but here at home its surprising what you can catch close in if you scale down enough and although it is mostly about small fish, when you hook a bigger one the gear allows even a 12oz fish to perform. LRF from the pier, jetty, beaches etc, especially from a pier with stilts or piles can prove great fun for mackerel, garfish, scad, coalfish, pollack, even bass.

I recently fished from a beach on the Isle of Wight with LRF gear swimming a ragworm close in under the edge of the estuary lip – The bass where mainly under 2lb but they attacked the worm as I retrieved it slowly and on 15lb braid and a 7ft spinning rod – I discovered a way to make chequer (small bass) fishing enjoyable!

The hoards of summer mackerel anglers and the chaos they cause mean some venues are worth avoiding from now on. But, mackerel fishing is fun and necessary if you want the species for bait or to eat and so here are a few hints and tips to help you avoid the angler conflict and catch more mackerel.

Firstly the basic rules worth adhering to when you go mackerel fishing:

  • Do not encroach too closely on another’s fishing spot, ask if they mind first.
  • Cast with care and look before you cast.
  • Do not leave litter, gut mackerel on seats and do not urinate on the pier etc.
  • Only take the fish that you need.

The first mistake many novice anglers make is to fish for mackerel on a venue when the sea is coloured or even rough. Mackerel do not like silted and coloured water, as sight feeders they require clear water as do their prey.

The hot time to catch is dawn or dusk, usually around high tide when the mackerel ambush shoals of bait fish against a pier wall or beach.
The fishing tactic to catch mackerel involves a method called “sink and draw”. This involves casting a string of lures, allowing them to sink to the required depth and then reeling only as you lower the rod. You then lift the rod and repeat.

On occasions mackerel will take a bare silver hook, anything when they are in a feeding frenzy. Modern the lures are far more elaborate and sophisticated although they can fish better when they have caught lots of fish and are falling apart and are scraggy. The best lures are those that create the most fizz and water disturbance with white feathers still amongst the best along with favourite patterns such as Daylites, Sabiki and Hokkai designs.

Currently I am under the doctor for rheumatoid arthritis which had laid me low in recent weeks and my trips to the beach have suffered. I am awaiting an operation on my right shoulder and am expected to be out of action for several months and that’s one of the reasons I have adopted the LRF – At least I shall be able to dangle a worm somewhere.

The downside this year is that I missed my annual trip to Gambia to fish the West African Beach Champs but, my son Richard went and I have included a picture of him with a 25lb sand shark caught on his light continental fixed spool outfit and 12lb line.

Tight lines, Alan Yates

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary February 2014

Brian-Price-Sandwich-Jan14ray-2

The rays are around on the Kent shore with a January thornback for Dover specimen hunter, Brian Price, one of three in a couple of trips to Sandwich Bay.

The mild winter, it may have all changed by the time you read this, has lulled anglers into the false dawn of spring. Thoughts are already on plaice bling and rays and surprise, surprise the latter are already showing in Kent. Are they late autumn or early spring is the question? The answer I believe is that ray numbers have increased in recent years as they took over the habitat of the missing cod etc and they are now appearing inshore earlier simply because of the overflow of stocks. In my region rays always were a winter species for the boats when the cod left, now they are a winter species for the shore rods and have replaced the cod. Now rays are never going to set the world alight in terms of their pace or guile, but for sheer plastic bag in the tide pull they take some beating – Shame they don’t make the 100lb mark – I remember some diamond rays I hooked from the Beach in Africa that just run all the line off and Gambia’s sting rays take some stopping once they beat the 50lb barrier. All in all ray fishing can be fun when there is nothing else of any size to fish for, some people even eat them!

However, its plaice that get my attention now that the light evenings have hit 5.30pm. The species have been in decline for the last couple of decades with the numbers and average size having dropped dramatically, but last year they made a small comeback along the Channel coastline. OK, not mega size plaice of the past but enough tipping the pound to suggest they were worth fishing for deliberately. Anglers flocked to venues like Brighton and even Kent could boast of a couple of plaice venues with Dengemarsh and Seabrook amongst the pick, the reason given for the upsurge in the plaice population was that the commercial quota limit had been reduced. Well an MZ is about to come on line in Hythe Bay and that should do the region’s flattie population a power of good because soles and plaice are plundered mercilessly by the regions trawlers.

Back to the plaice and it’s time to check out the bling that you can add to hook snoods to attract plaice to your baits. I am a big fan of pop up beads, the luminous pattern with pink spots from Gemini, although beware because they can lift bait clear off the bottom – too many beads and you will be fishing for garfish on the surface. Sequins and plastic beads are also favourite and during a trip last year aboard Brighton Diver out of Brighton after plaice – I discovered the deadliest bead combination ever. Twelve standard plastic coloured beads on a snood with red, green and yellow bringing the best results. Bait was lugworm and you could do worse than add a sliver of squid to the hook point, plaice seem to like that! As for spoons, they also work with a short snood full of beads and sequins and if you bend the sequins alternatively that adds extra reflection angles! Not so keen on blades because they spin and cut casting distance although in summer they do add the chance of a mackerel to the catch.

I am just back from the Irish Winter beach festival fished from the Wexford beaches where I switched to fixed spools and light line because of an arthritic shoulder, but reeling in left handed did me little good in the event and I finished half way down the list. But I did fish Continental style with the new range of lighter blanks from TF Gear including the Force 8 Continental and the Delta Slik Tip (look out for them in the coming week) It’s a whole new ball game fishing with light sea fishing tackle and the one thing that struck me is the decrease in tide pull using lines below 12lb. This brings plain leads into the game, or should I say wireless leads because I tried some weird shapes and removed wires. All I need now is a watch lead mould because they hold bottom well with a light set up. I also used a variety of cone and pyramid leads with the double cone coming out best – where can I get them from, my last lots came from Portugal?

The winter beach was won by Paul Tyndall of Bray another of the up and coming Irish Match anglers – I tell you what I was impressed by the standard of the Irish – to a man they fish light and small and I reckon if the Irish World team was picked from the anglers that fished the winter beach event Ireland would win a gold medal. But Ireland has a county selection problem and that means they rarely field a team of top anglers, time for change there.

All this talk of spring is all very well, but what if it does turn cold? Catching anything from the shore once the temperatures have fallen and the frost have got a hold is a challenge. On many venues cold rain or snow melt water, exposed sand that has frozen overnight combine to drive the fish away and that’s on top of the terrible weather – Just rockling, small coalfish, tiny codling, dabs, whiting and the odd flounder remains and in such conditions, fish on and you must accept the consequences.
The problem is that fresh and sea water do not completely mix – they layer because fresh is lighter and floats above sea water – That’s why Icebergs float, they are fresh water! This means that layers of freezing cold freshwater can invade the inshore regions. This is particularly common in the large estuaries like the Thames, Solent, Severn, Mersey, Tyne etc after heavy rain or snow where the fresh water layers can drive fish completely away from a venue during an ebb tide, whilst on the other side of the river the fish are prolific in the salty flood tide.

Small rivers, streams, even road drains and localised fresh water outfalls can affect the fishing on all types of beaches even well away from the estuaries. Beware too of snags comprised of trees, bushes and rubbish spewed into the sea with the flood water at the mouth of the stream etc
Another major hazard for the winter angler is that a shallow region of sand and sea bed exposed to an overnight frost will cool the incoming tide so rapidly that the fish will avoid it. – My rule after for February and March is: NEVER TO FISH WHERE I CANNOT CAST PAST THE LOW TIDE MARK – In other words always fish on a sea bed that is never exposed at low tide!

My next away trip is to Norway, which I may have mentioned before, in a quest to catch shore cod after the worst cod season in my memory. It seems the cold is going to be my biggest problem with Norway in March a bit chilly. Thermals, onesies, floatation sallopettes and a Delta Marine jacket plus woolly hat, thermal socks and gloves, even my Rockhopper boots have snow grippers. The only trouble with flying is that it doesn’t leave much room for the tackle!

Last year I fished for the Dover Sea Angling Association team in the World Club Champs in Portugal –This year it appears that England is not represented at the event in Spain – the probable reason is cost because it’s around £2000 what with accommodation, flights etc. If you can raise a club team get on to the Angling Trust.

 

Alan Yates New Years Sea Fishing Diary

Alan-Rickards-dab

Folkestone sea angler, Alan Rickards with a 1lb plus dab from Folkestone pier

It’s odd how the New Year brings renewed interest and optimism to sea anglers – Suddenly the match entries are up and anglers are out on the local beaches and piers – Its all that new sea fishing tackle from Christmas to try I suppose. But the bad news is that the enthusiasm is short lived – The end of January, February and March are the worst months of the year for shore sea angling around the UK in general and the reason is that most species move away from the shore to spawn and all that are left are the tiddlers that cannot spawn and the few species like flounders, dabs  and rockling that spawn closer to shore. It’s a time when tiddlers are it and no amount of imagination can conjure up a big cod on many venues let alone a double calamari squid!  In the boats it’s a different matter with the chance of a very big fish from some of the wreck fishing port when the weather allows a long range wreck to be reached.

Sadly most shore anglers give up until spring, whilst a few hardy souls and the matchmen fish on through the worst of the weather. I must admit it’s a time of year I enjoy – it’s probably the challenge of getting a bite that does it for me and because it’s mostly small fish you get to appreciate what you have and make the most of it.

Typical February fishing gear is a lighter match rod, 12lb line or braid on a fixed spool, wire booms which allow you to fish lighter hook snoods tangle free, more beads and sequins and smaller hooks, Catching the smaller mouthed species may not be enjoyable in terms of the fight they put up, but the difficulty of catching them does it for me. Obviously it’s not so much fun if you are not fishing a competition although the challenge to get a bite, any bite can be addictive.

Talking about where fishing is going, it is so bad in places and at times it is impossible to ignore who is to blame. The greedy commercial fishermen have all but decimated our seas and no amount of bull from them about there being plenty of fish around will alter the fact that I am not alone in NOT being able to catch anything worth landed, especially in the winter and in terms of cod! Sea angling, especially from the shore is DIRE and yet millions of us in the UK continue to fish.  That’s why I believe that no matter where the fishing goes there will always be anglers who will make the most of the smallest fish – you only have to look at the Continent to see that.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs DEFRA via the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and the Inshore Fishery Conservation Authority (IFCA) recently produced the result of their 2012 sea angling survey of England. The document makes interesting reading and its like will eventually put an end to the commercial exploitation of our sea by commercially fishermen as it is gradually realised that sport angling produces more revenue and leisure time activity for the nation than commercial fishing. What’s more because fish caught on a hook  can be returned and caught again and again the revenue etc is ongoing and continuous unlike the commercial fishing which even kills the undersized fish it catches and has already wiped out most of the prime fish species.

The survey estimates there are 884,000 sea anglers in England, with 2% of all adults going sea angling. These anglers make a significant contribution to the economy – in 2012, sea anglers resident in England spent £1.23 billion on the sport, equivalent to £831 million direct spend once imports and taxes had been excluded. This supported 10,400 full-time equivalent jobs and almost £360 million. Taking indirect and induced effects into account, sea angling supported £2.1 billion of total spending, a total of over 23,600 jobs, and almost £980 million.

The survey also found that sea angling also has important social and well-being benefits including providing relaxation, physical exercise, and a route for socialising. And that anglers felt that improving fish stocks was the most important factor that would increase participation in sea angling.

Almost 4 million days of sea angling were recorded over the year. Shore fishing was the most common type of sea angling – almost 3 million angler-days compared with 1 million for private or rented boats and 0.1 million on charter boats. Anglers had most success on charter boats, catching 10 fish per day on average compared with around 5 from private boats and only 2 from the shore.

The most common species caught, by number, were mackerel and whiting. Shore anglers released around 75% of the fish caught, many of which were undersized, and boat anglers released around 50% of their fish.

Remember the survey was just sea angling in England.

For a full copy of the Survey:  www.seaangling2012.org.uk

The storms are raging as I write have closed several of the popular piers in my region. Dover Admiralty pier which has been the best pier for a shore cod over the last decade has been closed for all of the cod season and is not expected to reopen until the end of January. Even “indestructible” Folkestone pier suffered damage in the current maelstrom with tarmac ripped up and railings smashed. Deal pier has a catalogue of closure during the storms and worse may be yet to come, whilst a similar fate awaits Dover breakwater. All this suggests that the winter weather is worsening annually, although it’s fair to say that materials and repairs are not of the quality they were when most of the older piers were built and that Health and Safety has resulted in some unwarranted and unnecessary closures (in many anglers opinions)

AND it’s not all doom and gloom for the piers – Hasting pier repairs are starting and I for one look forward to the return of the Hastings three day pier festival  in the future.

Picture above: Folkestone sea angler, Alan Rickards with a 1lb plus dab from Folkestone pier – its dab time, so remember to add a few beads and sequins to your hook snoods and don’t through away that lugworm, next week wnen its stickie it will be deadly for dabs!

Wishing all a Happy New Year

Alan Yates

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Nov/Dec 2013

A really busy month for sea anglers with lots of whiting from most beaches, especially after dark and they produce some hectic match fishing. The cod are noticeable by their absence on my Kent beaches, although the mild weather may be the reason for that and anyway the bass are hanging around. In the club evening events up to 60 whiting are required to make the frame and its frightening the club match anglers away in droves. Many, including, myself at times just cannot, or don’t want, to compete in the numbers game – It’s not enjoyable fishing, its hard work. Freelance wise it’s almost boring catching three whiting a chuck and as fast as you can recast. I fished Dungeness this week and the whiting just would not switch off, only the occasional dogfish, dab or rockling broke the monotony of the whiting. Even so I have never seen Dungeness so crowded on a weekday with anglers packed in like sardines between the RNLI and the Power Station. Undoubtedly a lot to do with the popularity of Dungeness, as well as the Dungeness Angling Association and their founder, Phil Tapp who sadly died recently. Phil put Dungy on the map when he negotiated the key for the gate to the concrete road allows angler car access. Phil will be sadly missed, but the Association survives with many good men to take Phil’s place, one of the best things that ever happened to Dungy!

I have just got my hands on a couple of prototype sea fishing rods that are due out in New Year and spring. I designed a slim line match rod that became popular in the past and longed for the chance to tweak the design. Now the TF Gear model is about to be released in the Delta range. Called the Slik Tip it’s a three piece multiplier or fixed spool match rod. Great on bite indication its sits still in the rod rest even in a gale and it’s ideal for club anglers, surf bass angler etc. Also new is the Continental and this is again a 15 footer, but designed along Continental lines, ultra light and slim its aimed at summer fishing with light line and tackle, the ladies might find it just what they want. One thing in line with most of the gear I have produced with TF Gear it’s going to be far cheaper than some of the overpriced “designer” rods available. I cant wait to get it in the surf for bass.

With the leaves leaving the trees at a rate this week it reminds us of the winter to come. Those chill winds make beach fishing tough going from December onwards. It’s noticeable that the T Shirt brigade leaves us in a few weeks and the beaches become roomier because of it. My favourite time of year, not because the drips freeze on the end of your nose, but because the crowds have gone. It’s also great to find the beaches litter comparatively free as well and I am sorry if this upsets some, but I have been appalled lately at the amount of litter left by so called sea anglers and it’s not all Octobers great unwashed or the foreign anglers either, I have watched some regulars leave litter and they don’t like being told to pick it up!  All you need is a plastic bag in your kit to pack the rubbish into to take away, so simple.

Back to the weather and that extra fleece will be required soon, I am a great believer in comfort when I am fishing it keeps you fresh and alert and you are more likely to catch if you can concentrate on the rod tip rather than worry about cold toes!

COMPETITIONS

Congratulations to Wales and England for their performance in the CIPS World Shore Championships in Spain. Spain took the gold medal and their performance included the top four individuals. Wales took silver ahead of England’s Bronze – Having been there I know how good a medal, any colour is in the Mediterranean.

ENGLAND shore team with world bronze medal

ENGLAND shore team with world bronze medal

Coming up (January 23rdth to 25th) is the Irish Winter Beach Festival which I fish annually. It’s fished from the Wicklow region beaches in Southern Ireland with the base for the event at Sean Ogs Hotel, Kilmuckridge. It’s a great event for the Craic –1st Prize is €500 and there are events for Teams of 2 & 4 over 3 days. Entry fee: €150 inclusive of Presentation Dinner. Accommodation at Seàn Òg’s may be reserved through Warren Doyle, 98, Seacrest, Bray, Co. Wicklow. +353 (0)1 2828769. Mob. +353(0)86 8069961. warrendoyle@iol.ie

Last year the event was won by my mate Chris Clark of Lymington, although I have to remind him regularly that on day two he killed all his maddies and it was only the generosity of others that got him over the line!

I am all booked up for a weeklong trip to Norway at the end of February with my son Richard and a few mates. We are going to fish a week long big fish competition organised by Ian Peacock and Din Tur. It may well be my only chance of a big cod this winter because the Kent season does look dismal. It’s such a long time since I landed a double figure cod from the shore (I am really looking forward the Norway)

Michael Buzzby 5lb 3oz Whiting Norway

Michael Buzzby 5lb 3oz Whiting Norway

Details: www.dintur.co.uk. E mail peacock@dintur.co.uk Tel. 01914472363

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary – September

My first evening club beach competition of September resulted in a mackerel, a sole, a scad and a pout with the shoreline at Sandgate in Kent, warm, still and clear.  I am not knocking it, but late summer does not seem to want to leave us and the autumn season may yet be delayed by that late spring. In the past I have caught codling from the Kent shore in August, although most years it’s the second week in September when they turn up on my patch – Noticeable the whiting are not showing yet, although, that could be a godsend because small whiting have become such a nuisance in winter they have driven lots of shore anglers to the boats or the carp puddles. Of course the one thing about this time of year when the sea is flat and the weather balmy, is that fishing a live pout or whiting on the surface close in to the beach can be deadly for bass, big bass. This week an angler from Dover, Robert Gismondi landed a 16lb plus bass at Dover – the fish took a surface lure from Dover beach and it was officially weighed at Dover’s admiralty pier where some huge bass are landed at this time of year. Time to get the live baits out. The only trouble with that is catching them, but if you can mount them on a small strong hook (the Tronix dog pattern is ideal) on a slider and slide them down the main line so that they float on the surface in the margins. It is essential not to use an over large or heavy hook because these will drag the live bait down and drown in. A small compact, but strong hook does the job. Keep lighting and beach crunching to a minimum and you could be in for some excitement especially after midnight.

16lb Bass from Dover

16lb Bass from Dover

The other tactic I enjoy this month is the float – with the garfish and mackerel moving south they often turn up around the south of the country late in autumn and can be fun to catch on a float outfit fishing fish baits near the surface. No need to fish any deeper than 8ft and fish the float as a slider so that you can keep the bait on the move. The tactic works well from beach or pier and its a fun way to fill the winter bait freezer and garfish is every bit as good as mackerel as a winter tip bait for worm.

Now is a popular time for match anglers and traditionally the major shore competitions are held from September onwards – Even despite a downward trend in entries to competitions the majors seem to keep going.

Here are a few that may interest would be match angler:

The TF gear sponsored Kent Classic Open at Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey takes place on the 17th of November. The venue is not that renowned for its fishing and if the weather is calm and clear it is a bit of a flounder raffle and that gets the entry up because everyone has a chance. You can also fish with the wife or kids which is attractive for families. If it’s rough and the water coloured then those whiting turn up and it’s a bit more clear cut with one of the many matchmen winning. The fishing is from 9.30am until 2.30pm.The match is pegged and pre book only contact is Trevor Back 01795 483676. Email – trevback@sky.com

One I am arranging soon is the Dover Sea Angling Association three day Pier Festival fished on Dover Breakwater on October 12/13/14th (Reserve venues: Sat: POW Pier fishing 12noon until 5pm. SUN: Admiralty pier fishing 8.30am until 1.30pm; MON: Admiralty pier fishing 9am until 2pm) The Southern Breakwater at Dover is a popular venue because of the fantastic fishing it can offer from both the outside and inside wall. It’s only reachable by boat and the boat only runs in winds under force seven so that’s why there is a reserve venue each day. This year the date has been moved to early October in an attempt to find some calm weather. A big prize list of catch and tackle is on offer from sponsors and a total pay out of the entry fees. Entry fee £20 per day, optional pools £5 per day. All three days are for Penn points. Enquirers Dover SAA 01304 204722 or Alan Yates 01303 250017 E Mail: alankyates@aol.com.

My third choice is the giant Daiwa Open being fished on December 1st between Bridlington North beach and Paull lighthouse. Fishing times are 10am until 4pm. With booking in from 07.30am at Northfield country club. Entry fee is £10 with Juniors £5. This competition carries a prize fund of £3000 and is popular because of its large prize table. This gives all a chance of winning rather than just the matchmen. Contact Paul Jefferson for detail Tel. 01482 326814

Catching a big or rare species is not such an unusual occurrence nowadays and I suppose apart from the excuse that global warming may be responsible for more rare species being around, it’s a fact that anglers are better equipped, more knowledgeable and are more willing to chase the unusual. Take Luke Aston a charter skipper who fishes out of Carrigholt in the Shannon estuary aboard his charter boat, Clare Dragoon. An ex commercial skipper, he has made catching the very rare six gilled sharks almost commonplace and his latest catch by German angler, Detlef Geiling who is  a regularly on Luke’s boat shows why. The fish measured 3.4metres and was estimated at 770lb, and that makes the recent fuss about makos and porbeagles look a bit pathetic. Luke boated four big six gills last season and his biggest is over 1000lbs! This is the first one this year taken on his first trip over a mark that has produced fish over the last five years. Sea fishing tackle used is 80lb class, although Luke uses a rubbing leader of 300lb mono and 200lb wire. Fish in the past have destroyed light fishing gear. Bait is a combination of Mackerel and Coalfish. One problem is that the fish are so big that they cannot be landed aboard the boat for photographs and are released after being snapped in the water alongside the boat. You can contact Luke at Carrigaholt Sea Angling. Tel. 00353 87 6367544   www.fishandstay.com

770lb Six Gill Shark

770lb Six Gill Shark

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary July/August

A great days fishing recently from Dover’s Southern breakwater, not that I caught lots of fish, but for the sheer fun of trying something different, which came off. Currently the breakwater is alive with dogfish so avoiding them is a priority for freelance anglers and other than fishing a giant crab bait for smoothhounds most anglers have been targeting the bass. Why, because the fish swim around the breakwater wall well up off the sea bed and away from the dogfish, well that’s the theory, although I must admit to catching dogfish well up the wall on occasions.  So a head hooked ragworm, or two, dangled into the tide via a set of booms up the wall is the way to fish.

On this occasion I thought, why not fish a float and so I rigged up a slider on my TF Gear Delta All-rounder and trotted a float down tide along the wall. On the business end was the standard 1.5oz bullet lead, it was a big bright float and a two hook wishbone on the end with size two carp hooks which are very strong, bait was head hooked ragworm, nice and wrigley. Into the tide the float drifted away – the harbour entrance was where I wanted the float to end up and although it took twenty minutes to get there, a whole spool full of line, my reward as soon as the float rounded the wall and went out of sight was two school bass. The long haul back was exciting because although they were both around the 36 to 40cm mark, they got the tip bending against the tide. Bass big enough to keep but the conscience says they had to go back unless they are Barbecue size (45cm). I managed to reach the pier entrance four times and on three occasions hooked a double of bass, one the fourth no bite and when I retrieved I found the hook length tangled around the float! Other shorter drifts caught wrasse, pollack, mackerel and a lone scad before the tide turned and I could not reach the killing zone. The beauty of the sliding float is that apart from the fact you can work the bait continually over new water you can lift, drop and tantalise and keep it moving naturally in the tide and this the fish just cannot refuse. One word of advice and that is to keep the snood line light – I used 8lb which fools the fish, you do though need a soft tipped rod like the Delta to avoid snapping the light snood line and a net in case you hook a biggy.

Red mullet and Trigger Fish

Angling litter has been an age old problem and more than one venue has been closed because of it, but the majority of anglers who are members of an angling club have got the message. Most clubs have serious rules governing litter as do the major National organisations, others have not and I would be as bold as to say that in the main its freelance and occasional anglers that are responsible for a majority of the rubbish left on beaches and piers. In my region it’s the mackerel bashers that pee on the pier, cut bait on seats, pinch lifebelt ropes and leave barbecues and rubbish everywhere in summer, whilst in winter the beaches get cluttered with flotsam which exaggerates the problem, although cod angler’s bait paper, beer cans and discarded line are prominent and a disgrace to the sport.

In Northumberland, Amble pier has recently been highlighted as having a litter problem and the local club and anglers are worried that it will effect the future of the pier and that applies to several other piers around the country. Please take your litter home with you or discard it sensibly. All it takes is a couple of plastic bags in the kit for the rubbish to go into after you have finished fishing. Staying with that subject please remember when discarding rigs, hooks and line that will eventually get to a rubbish tip and could be a potential hazard for birds. Cut line into short lengths, take bait off hooks and think about where you are disposing of the rubbish, mine goes in the garden rubbish incinerator.

August has been a bit slow in my region of Kent although things are just starting to improve with the first codling and the whiting returning. Some big bass, sole and still the odd big smoothhounds are showing and as the light evenings fade and the temperatures drop sport in general should improve, so don’t miss those early weeks of autumn – lots of anglers think the cod season starts in October well they are wrong in many regions codling are showing now, don’t miss them. It’s also the time to catch a rare species with the red mullet and the trigger fish among the species likely to show up as the summer species leave and the winter species arrive – its crossover time!

Some say junior anglers are on the decline because of computers etc, but I reckon the main problem is that junior coaching now requires so much paperwork and vetting, plus the litigation laws and general political correctness that lots of clubs and anglers will no longer get involved. Take me, I qualified as a coach in 1979 and taught angling at the local school every year for more than ten years. I have a certificate on my wall to prove it, but nowadays I cannot coach because my qualification doesn’t count anymore.

In my region there are a few clubs that look after the juniors and Deal 1919 AC are one – Check out the pic of their recent junior festival with club president, Pat Heath asking how big the one that got away was.

president, PatHeath, entertains the juniors at the prize giving

COMPETITIONS

A competition date for the diary is the TF gear sponsored Kent Classic Open. At Sheerness on the 17th of November. The fishing is from 9.30am until 2.30pm. The match is pegged and pre book only contact is Trevor Back 01795 483676.   Email – trevback@sky.com

Coming soon is the Dover Sea Angling Association three day Pier Festival fished on Dover Breakwater on October 12/13/14th (Reserve venues: Sat: POW Pier fishing 12noon until 5pm. SUN: Admiralty pier fishing 8.30am until 1.30pm; MON: Admiralty pier fishing 9am until 2pm) Its one of the few open events that I organise nowadays because the Penn League keeps me busy. And the Southern Breakwater at Dover is a popular venue because of the fantastic fishing it can offer from both the outside and inside wall. It’s only reachable by boat and the boat only runs in winds under force seven so that’s why there is a reserve venue each day. This year the date has been moved to early October in an attempt to find some calm weather. A big prize list of catch and tackle is on offer from sponsors and a total pay out of the entry fees.

Entry fee £20 per day, optional pools £5 per day. All three days are for Penn points. Enquiries Dover SAA 01304 204722 or Alan Yates 01303 250017 E Mail: alankyates@aol.com.

Alan Yates on Sea Fishing

An evening competition on Samphire Hoe at Dover reminded me that it was high summer. Not only the scorching weather, blue sky and the gin clear sea, but the slow fishing, until it got dark. Despite the poor spring and early summer weather when the fishing was amazing it was inevitable that the month long heat wave would got things back onto normal and low and behold Kent is in the summer doldrums. Lots of species have swum past us into the North Sea, whilst others are well away from the shoreline in the dark deeper water.

It’s much the same around the rest of the UK and Ireland – Could you believe the clear water during the open golf at Muirlfield, little other than mackerel swims in daylight in that! The key to fishing now is to find some colour, heavy rock, weed or fish at night.  Great if you live near one of the large estuaries like the Severn, Thames, Humber, Solway, etc, or on the more rugged coasts, but on the open shores only the piers and rocky headlands offer the fish enough depth, cover or darkness to allow them to venture close in. OK there are species exceptions like the mackerel, garfish etc, although they too have been thin on the ground in some regions – No it’s late into the night if you want a few bites.

The good news of course is that the nights are drawing in and the falling daylight hours are what kick starts autumn and its great fishing. AND autumn is just around the corner with, hopefully, some improved fishing is on the way. My tip is to look out for some giant bass in the coming weeks. Fishing close in with a fresh mackerel head, flapper or fillet from the pier end, or at night from the beach with a live pout or whiting. My bet is that Dover will reclaim the bass record soon with the end of the Admiralty pier at Dover the venue to head for. On that subject the pier walkway has recently been renewed and narrowed and Dover SAC have banned certain items of sea fishing tackle like trollies, broillies and rod rests from the wall.

Lots of talk about the potentialfishing bans in areas around the UK. Hythe Bay is one in my region and the local fishermen are up in arms and organising meetings with MPs etc. Of course the anglers are joining in and the Hythe Bay situation has reached panic stations for many. Some may scoff and say it’s only going to involve the commercials and it probably will, but there are so many opinions involved with everyone wanting their say who knows where it’s going to end?  As an angler of 60 years I have seen the fishing deteriorate dramatically and to me it’s obvious that the commercial fishing, EU and foreign trawlers etc are to blame. It’s not the number of fish it’s just the quality. Instead of cod, plaice, sole etc, its wall to wall dogfish, plus ray and smooth hound and its obvious what is happening. The species that can reproduce in a year or so can survive the commercial onslaught, the species that take several year to mature and are popular on a plate cannot! Fishery conservation requires a commercial fishing ban inshore, catch limits bigger size limits for anglers including an upper size limit for bass and compulsory catch and release.

One species on the up is the Tope since its protection from commercial fishermen. Michael Bell of  Seaton has just landed a Tope over the  British Record fish (It was returned) of 66lb 10oz. He was fishing from the northern beaches of the isle of man with a mackerel fillet.

Michael-Bell-with-66lb-10oz-tope-Isle-of-Man--with(Mark-Quirk-IOM)

It had to happen! We are following the Continentals down the two rod competition route. With the fishing getting poorer, because of those commercials, angling clubs are attempting to improve competition catches by allowing competitors two fishing rods. Why not, carp anglers use four? Well of course the problem is you need more bait and that puts pressure on supplies etc. The latest club to try the system is Swanage SAC, although they have only allowed a total of three hooks between the two rods which sound like a good compromise. The event takes place on the 5th October at Swanage, fishing and release without size limits. Contact  Graham Woods the main organiser on Tel 07967 491 995 or E Mail: sadacgw@yahoo.co.uk

Staying with the competition theme, entries are dropping off all around the country to the larger “open” events and it’s only the local club competitions that are really thriving. In an attempt to improve things clubs are changing the rules – two rods is one idea but I think bait supplied is the next big change and the ten worm challenge idea is one that I think will catch on..

The dates are out for next years four day Gambian West African beach Championships. I fish it every year and have enjoyed some excellent fishing in recent times. My chance to catch a big fish from the beach. The event is being fished from the 27th March to 30th March 2014 inclusively. Organiser, Bernard Westgarth has a ceiling of 40 entries and you can pre book with him on E-Mail:  bernard@fishthegambia.com

For accommodation check out the Gambia experience web site.

I’m just back from organising the Sea Angler Penn Sea League Final at Milford shingle Bank (Cut Bridge). Thanks to my mate Chris Clark for his help locally with stewarding, pegging and the pub at the end. You will be able to catch up on the result on Sky TV Tight lines as well as Sea Angler magazine. Catches included some nice black bream as well as wrasse, mackerel and garfish, a venue well worth a try NOW!

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 TIP OF THE MONTH

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