Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Mar 11

My day in the boat out of Brighton aboard Paul Dyer’s charter boat, Brighton Diver was to complete the TF Gear DVD with Myself – it’s out soon and shows a typical winter wrecking trip. A window in the weather day when the sea allowed us offshore between gales. I won’t spoil things by telling you how we got on, but fishing in the Mid English Channel shipping lanes between the super freighters that resemble a block of flats in a rolling sea is not boring.

Back home I have had a few duff trips on the beach as the winter season grinds to a halt although as I write some small codling are showing from my local Kent venues and they will spice things up. Mostly undersized fish, they are around 30cm with the odd 2lb to 4lber along with more dogfish and some bigger whiting, things are looking up.  Also some good news for ray fans is that the thornback rays in particular are making their way towards the coast and in Kent the species is comparatively new from the shore with a run of thornbacks underway. Hot spots include the under cliff marks at Eastchurch Gap on the Isle of Sheppey, beware of the muddy cliffs there, Leysdown is also worth a try along with Sandwich Bay which is an easier access beach venue and the piers at Dover. The Admiralty has produced several rays. Top bait for them is large frozen sandeel and Bluey, a combination of both helps keep the dogfish off.

Last week I took a trip to Kelling in Norfolk for a feature with Sea Angler magazine and had a proper Spring codling plus big pout, school bass, dabs. Altogether I landed seven species using two rods freelance style. I fished one at range with a clipped down Loop rig and one close with booms. It reminded me how two rod fishing makes life so much easier than match fishing when with one rod you have to fish trial and error to find the range of the fish!

Back home I won my latest club evening event with fours dogfish, four whiting a dab and a rockling at Sandgate beach. II fished at range with the Loop rig baiting with black lugworm and sandeel. The latter definitely has the edge at present and helps to keep the smaller whiting off. Mind you make sure you use the largest sandeels you can get hold of, either red pack Ammos of the bigger Bait box variety.


Hey, I have been selected to fish for England – Well sort of. I am in the team to fish the World Club Championships in Belgium in May representing Dover Sea Angling Association and England. Team members include, my son Richard Yates, Saul Page of Deal, Nathan Elliott of Dover, Martyn Reid of Folkestone and myself. Not a bad squad even though I do say so myself, NO I am not coming out of retirement to fish internationals again, although I do have a match in Sardinia in May with Chris Clark. Hummmmm?

I am just testing the latest TF Gear beachcaster fishing rod – It’s a super sensitive three piece match rod with three quiver style put in tips. It should be available later in the spring and will please lots of match angler because of the unbelievable price. It’s half the price of its competitors and a better rod, I know because I helped design them both! I have got to say that some of the tackle coming into the TF gear range is super value, I don’t know how they do it!

I got my hands on a new TF Gear tackle box last week and the first job was to fit a Breakaway carry frame and seat back rest. That completed I now have a comfy tackle box to sit on because it comes with a handy padded seat. A tip if you use a tackle box, apart from the carry frame, get hold of a couple of the clip on side trays supplied as extras on most of the tackle boxes. They are great for bait and odd tackle, especially when you are fishing from wet sand.

Oh how I wish someone would make a red seat box, black is so boring!


Deal pier front is still closed which is a shame with the thornback season underway – damaged in the winter storms the local Dover council have put the repairs out to tender and work is expected to start soon. The stem of the pier is open for angling. For Deal pier enquiries give Steve Allmark of Channel Angling on the pier a ring on 01304 373104.

Competitions coming up over the coming weeks include many popular annual events but there is a new two day competition that might interest many. It’s the

Morecambe Open being fished on the 26th and 27th March. Fishing is from 9am until 1pm on the Saturday and from11am until 3pm on the Sunday. Entry is £40 for the two days. Here are a few weird rules such as no white ragworm and no pendulum casting but that’s the organiser’s choice. Book in from 7.30am at Gerry’s of Morecambe. 07872 942820 or 07855 020407.

A regular annual event in the south is the Allan’s Marine Open on the 10th April at Stokes Bay and Lee on the Solent. Main organiser for years was Allan Watson of Allan’s Marine who sadly died last year – His staff, customers and friends have continued the event in his memory. Fishing is from 12 noon until 5pm with a limit of 160 pegs. Entry is £15 with optional pools. There is 100% payout. The match is fished to SAMF rules and fished measure and return. Details from Allan’s Marine, 143 Twyford Avenue, Stamshaw, Portsmouth. Match HQ Gosport and District Angling Club Stokes Bay, booking in from 10am. Tel. 02392 671833.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Jan 11

Just back from a hard week’s fishing in Ireland. The Irish Winter Beach Championships, fished in the Wexford region, was a grueller with easterly winds, clear water and extremely low temperatures keeping the fish away from the beaches at Morriscastle and Cloynes. The event winner was Dave Roe of Dublin who was a recent National champion and he scored three section wins to take the title by a clear margin. A shame for me, because I was on a hat trick having won the event for the last two years. Perhaps my luck ran out because I was drawn in middle zone B on all three days, which takes some doing. I did though end up seventh. Second place overall went to my team mate Chris Clark of Lymington who won the first two days, but suffered a wrong end of zone draw on the last day. In third spot was Joe Byrne of Courtown angling and he and Dave Roe obviously won the pairs and the team of four. The fishing in general was for flounders and they proved both small and elusive with plenty of undersized fish to frustrate competitors.

Back home, the easterly winds are having the same effect on the Kent coast with small fish, although the irony is there are lots of them which is a pain in a size limit match. A return to south west wind is badly needed to at least get the dogfish back inshore. On the plus side, the daylight is extending and the first thornback ray came off the Goodwin Sands to boat angler Mark Weller, who is a detective inspector with Folkestone police. It weighed in at 8lb and was nabbed aboard Dover charter boat, Reecer. Look out for the first rays from the shore in the coming weeks, the Kent shore hotspots are Sandwich Bay and the Eastchurch Gap on the Isle of Sheppey.

Match and Tackle News

The winter match season drags to its conclusion this month with most of the clubs looking forward to their spring events with a change of venues, tactics and species. Instead of the long range clip downs its flapper rigs cast in the gutter with mud ragworm, crab etc taking over from black lugworm and squid. Some clubs have adopted measure and return and that’s the case with the Gravesend Charity Spring open which is being fished in the Thames along the Gravesend foreshore on Sunday the 17th of April. Fishing is from 10.30am until 2.30pm and the draw for places is at 8.30am. Weigh in at the Ship and Lobster, Denton Wharf. Entry Fee is £10. More details from Graham East 01474 355440.

Other events coining up that are worth a look include the new Milton Open on the 5th March being fished at Avon beach through to Highcliffe Fishing is 7pm till 12.00am and the event carries a top prize of £250. Book in Sunken car park, Avon beach, Island View Road, Christchurch. Information from Los 07759829226 or Darren 07729800597.

I have just got my hands on a full set of the new TF Gear Force 8 Multiplier Reels – The 65CTMs are a work of art, open frame, full magnetic brakes which are really impressed with, a ratchet and a star drag that doesn’t jam up when you need it ion a hurry – cant wait to test them on the smoothhounds in a few months time!

I am fussy about the hooks I use and lots of the brands available are not as sharp as others – There is a great test for a chemically sharpened point and that to run in slowly over your thumbnail, the sharpest patterns will actually stick in your nail, the “blunties” will run over it – Try it and feel the difference.

Around the Scene

Where did you finish in the Penn League Rankings? Next months Sea Angler magazine contains the UK and Ireland rankings for match anglers, it’s a real eye opener to where all the competition fishing action is and reveals that some areas of the UK and Ireland are match fishing mad. So who are the top match fishing anglers in the National league? Well the leaders for the 2010 title include ex-World champion Joe Arch from Cardiff and new boy on the block, Daz Newland from the Isle of Wight.

Finally, I just had to laugh about the flak that messrs Gray and Keys received from their fellow journalists over the off side rule controversy. I cannot seriously accept that what they said was that bad, was it really a hanging offence? Maybe because I am of a generation, the one that thinks it invented such banter and an angler who can give it out as well as take it, I think the world has gone PC mad. I also think that football referees don’t understand the offside law either, and that Gray and Keys, like most men (and according to most women), keep their brains in their shorts!

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!

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Oct 10

Despite having to organise the Dover three day pier festival, I managed to find time to fish myself and was rewarded with fourth place overall plus prizes for the most fish, heaviest fish on the final day, and the best over 50s. Festival winner was Folkestone angler, Martyn Reid, who is on fire at present, especially at the draw bag. He won two days by a clear margin with a three day total of 20.890kg. The weather played a big part in the event and as any winter anglers will know, an in-your-face gale certainly sorts the men from the boys. It also sorts out the wet weather gear and I must say my neoprene chest waders and the latest Delta Marine smock from TF Gear kept me warm and dry on the final day of the event when winter arrived in earnest. In such conditions being able to sit on your tackle box without getting the wet bum is a real plus to your concentration and being warm and dry allows you to concentrate on the fishing. It was touch and go whether we stayed on the Prince of Wales pier inside Dover Harbour with the wind gusting SE force 9, but the event made the time which took the pressure off myself as organiser and the only hiccup at the prize presentation was a clash of venue with the local pensioners club!

The very next day I had a repeat of the weather whilst making a DVD for TF Gear’s new sea tackle range. Instead of the planned session after Dungeness cod which was in the midst of a force 9 storm, we had to divert to the relative gale at Deal. The weedy sea made conditions difficult and I only managed whiting and a single dab – it was even too rough for the dogfish, and that’s a first in Kent. However, we did manage to get lots of tackle advice and tips on the DVD. The next day the swell from the storm cancelled the boat trip and that has to be rescheduled before the DVD goes public.

Fishing News and Competition Reports

Coming soon is the final of the Clubman league organised by Sea Angler magazine – this involves a five man team from Mersey-based Sefton Sea Angling Club versus a team from Sea Angler, including me. The fishing is from Otterspool promenade in the Mersey. More on the venue, etc., next week.

I missed my trip to fish the West African Beach Championships in Gambia this year – the event had gone stale and lots of competitors stopped going because – to be blunt – the organisers lost interest with tight pegging and poor selection of venues leading to fewer fish. So next year, a group of us are organising our own event in February 10. If you are interested send me an email  ( and I will keep you in the loop as to when and where. Currently my angling representative is visiting the Sheriton Hotel near Banjul to sound out the accommodation, etc.

Tackle Reviews

Look out for the Force 8 beach umbrella from TF Gear – at last, a brolly that will hack sea fishing. It was my idea to introduce a 45inch brolly with skirt built to exacting sea angling standards. The model has reinforced fibre glass stays, both flexible and corrosion proof and the canopy is in hard wearing waterproof material that is welded to the ends of the stays rather than help by a plastic cap. The main support pole has the options of an upright fixing in the rear of the brolly for calm days or in the straight position when it’s windy. Some might say why only 45inch? Well, it’s my experience that larger brollies are much more difficult to anchor in  sea angling conditions, and that 45 inch is the maximum size for stability, especially if you don’t want to play kites! The model is light weight enough to use on the beach when you are moving back and forth with the tide.


In many regions, the summer casting events have come to an end as more casters return to the beach in search of cod. The last Kent Sportcast event held at Norton in Kent saw Steve Swan with the top cast of the day of 220.9meters with 150grams, which in the calm conditions was exceptional. With the casting ended for another year, the club reflected on another successful season. The highlight was Steve Morris hitting the first 250metres  on his favourite 100gr lead in March, then later in June, Didier Laroy and his group of casters travelled from Belgium to take part on the day when Steve Boyt reached 256m on the 150gr, creating a new Norton distance record. On the 28th August with ideal wind conditions, Jason Carter obliterated all previous records with a cast of 266.44m using the 150gr lead.

Alan Yates – Sea Fishing Diary November 2010

I fished the latest Kent Open series at Seabrook and was delighted to make the frame against some of Kent’s top competition rods. Winner was my mate, Ceiran Bull, who is a fishmonger from Hythe and has recently been amongst the Kent bass. He racked up a bunch of dogfish and whiting while fishing a Loop style terminal rig for 6.670kg, taking home a large wedge of cash. In second place was Deal angler Saul Page, fishing his last match before he leaves (along with my son Richard and the rest of the England squad) to fish the World Shore Championships in South Africa. Saul landed 19 fish, a mix of dogfish and whiting for 6.20kg. The event saw competitors plagued with small whiting, mostly 26cm; would you know it, the minimum size limit is 27cm! It’s a bit of a mystery why the Kent whiting have stayed so small this autumn, they have been undersized for months and it does look as if it’s just sheer weight of numbers and lack of food.

Ceiran Bull With winnings

Ceiran Bull With His Winnings!

Away from the beach casting, I took a day out and went trout fishing. I was intending to fish Kent’s Bewl Water reservoir, but was shocked to find it only half full so switched to Power Mill Reservoir at Sedlescome in Sussex. What a cracking fishery, well run and in some pleasant woodland scenery. A boat costs just £12. I fished with Folkestone’s Paul Foot and we decided to fish the bank. Although we didn’t set the trout fishing world alight, we did manage to catch some quality rainbow trout from the dam wall using damsel flies. I can vouch for their eating quality, a change from all those cod and far better from clean water reservoirs than from muddy ponds! Fishery details and so forth are available from the bailiff/manager – telephone 01424 870498


The pegs are running out for the popular Sheerness Steel SAC, Kent Classic  Open being fished in the Isle of Sheppey on the 21st November. The event is always a sell out so if you want to fish, hurry and contact Trevor on 01795 877127, or Ray on 07930 390761. More details on:

Nearly 500 sea anglers fished the Gateway Holiday Park Flounder Cup in the Lougher Estuary, South Wales, and a record number of 1kg plus flounders were landed. Even better, over £5,000 was raised for the RNLI Local Inshore Lifeboat, and that’s just about one of the best charities to run an angling match in aid of because you never know when you may need them. Match winner was William Dykes who landed the best flounder of 1.134kg, which was worth £1710. Jonathan Harris was second with a 980g flounder (winning him £1040) and Dominic Lewis was third with a 974g flounder, winning his £650. Junior winner was William Thomas with a flounder of 818g, and he won a £200 tackle voucher.

Another charity event suggested that charity really does begin at home with the 75 competitors fishing at Highcliffe, Dorset, raising £1020 for the England Junior International team. It’s a sad fact that the sea angling teams have to fund much of their own costs; they do receive a small grant towards travel costs but that’s usually about it. In my day, the sea anglers didn’t even receive that and it was a fact that most of us who fished for England used our annual holiday, and that cost more than one a marriage!

Matt Brook of the Isle of Wight won the catch and release total of 353cm.

England Junior Angling Team With Cheque

England’s Junior International Team (credit: Clive Morgan)



The cold Northerly winds this week sent a chill along the beaches – time to dig out the thermals. What kind of weatherproof clothing do you wear during the winter? I am a big fan of the bib and brace trousers and waterproof jacket combo and am well pleased with the new Delta Marine Clothing from TF Gear which is Teflon coated, 100% waterproof and fleece lined, with jacket and bib and brace both at £59.99. Sallopettes can be worn alone when the sun is out and they give you some warmth around the lumber area. I am not a fan of one piece suits although for the really cold weather and the boats, the floatation suit can be essential. It’s difficult to get the combinations of clothing right with the UK climate, cold one minute and sunny the next.

Another popular combination is Geordie Pyjama’s – that’s chesties if you live south of Watford Gap. Neoprene chest waders (like the Hardwear Pro Neoprene Chest Waders) combined with a smock type top (TF Gear’s Delta Marine range has a smock at £59.99), are great for rock hopping and wading, but watch those wader soles; studded or none slip are essential for treading wet rocks or the kelp edges. Perhaps the most important winter garb for the angler is a hat and the peaked baseball type cap takes some beating for keeping rain and spray off glasses – and it’s cheaper than laser surgery. On colder days, the good old woolly hat is the business. But best of all for keeping warm, and keeping your sea fishing tackle and bait dry, is some form of angling brolly or sea fishing day shelter.