Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary – April

I’m just back from a fortnight in Gambia fishing the West African Beach Championships organised by Bernard Westgarth and his wife Barbara. I finished fourth with a last day draw finishing my hopes of winning, although my son, Richard took the Championship’s first place with three zone wins and a third which would have been virtually impossible to beat anyway. Second place went to Nick Westgarth, another youngster with a consistent performance included an end peg on the final day, which he used to perfection. Third was Sheerness pensioner and great friend, Roger Weeks who landed a 9lb butterfish on the last day to also win that days biggest fish prize.

During the trip I landed a number of big fish with a 13lb cassava and a 15lb sand shark amongst my best, not in the matches though, whilst Richard topped the 20lb mark in the match with a 23lb captain fish and then added a near thirty sand shark from a freelance mark close to the border of Senegal. Some say the fishing is not as good in Gambia as it once was, which may be true to an extent, but going on what I saw there are plenty of speedy giants to catch, especial at this time of year (April).

13lb cassava Fishtec Alan Yates

13lb cassava

Alan Yates 15lb sand shark Fishtec

15lb sand shark

What was particularly pleasing for me was to see Richard catch his best two fish using a 15ft Force Eight beachcaster. He was a fan of the old Fox Matrix I designed way back, but I persuaded him to try the TF Gear version and it was a hit straight away, especially in terms of the distances he achieved with it. Like everywhere around the world long range is the get out of jail card when the going is tough, especially in match fishing conditions with those vital extra yards the bonus that so often win. One of the great things about a hot country like Gambia is that casting distances are dramatically increased by the hot air and the warmer oil in your reels – The skies the limit and there is nothing more pleasing to a shore angler than to see the lead and bait vanish over the distant surf line.
For details of Gambian fishing contact Bernard Westgarth at: E Mail:

After from the Gambia the foreign currency is now directed at Portugal where I have the World Club champs at Granola in a matter of days. I am fishing for the Dover Sea Angling team and hopes are high despite two pensioners being in our team. After that there is the small matter of the Magrini Championships in Sardinia – Italians know how to put on an angling event and its hard to really get into the fishing because the organisation, HQ, food, banter and wine is so enjoyable. The three hour weigh in after midnight is a feature most fear if they blank because it’s read out load!
In both events I will use the TFGear Delta All Rounder with fixed spools and light mono line. Species are small with small hooks required and a delicate hook length (5lb), which has to be protected by a softer actioned rod. I also use a very light continental quiver tip because most of the fishing is at medium range. Yes the advert is true the Delta is my favourite sea rod, but I would add that I don’t use just one fishing rod all the time. The Delta is for match and snatching, the Force 8 for long range and doggie hauling and that apart there is spinning, LRF, mullet and boat fishing which all require a different action, length and rating.
Between the two Continental matches I have a DVD to make at my home venues in Kent for Sea Angler Magazine and TF Gear. It’s an instructional video – all you need to know about sea angling from the shore. Something of a challenge in an hour, but I am sure we can manage with the help of Sea Angler, feature writer Paul Fenech.

Here at home it looks like the winter has finally ending with some blossom on the cherries and the first peeler crabs likely to appear as I write. Spring codling, thornback rays and plaice are amongst the species turning up on the Kent shores, although most anglers will now be looking towards the smoothhounds arriving. Their presence on a host of summer venues really do make the summer the best time to fish for big fish nowadays. Forget about winter cod that are almost impossible to catch from the shore and head for a smoothhound venue in June. They are now all around the British Isles. Here are a few to try. The Lincs. Coast is a smoothhound boom area with Chapel St Leonards and Ingoldmells amongst the many hot spots. Into Suffolk and Orford Ness is the venue to head for there, whilst on the Kent coast there is Sheppey, Reculver, Sandown and the Dover piers. In Hants the Solent is smoothhound central with Selsey, Pagham, Bracklesham red hot. Into Dorset there is Chesil beach, whilst the Bristol Channel on both the England and Welsh side boasts a host of venue from Minehead to Barry. Over the Irish Sea check out Rosslare Point and Courtown in Wexford. Next on the Welsh side is Anglesey, whilst the species are now commonly found in Lancs (Gynn Wall). and Cumbria and they are staring to show north of the Solway too. Good luck and remember not to leave your rod unattended and to loosen the drag!

You can catch me on Facebook from time to time – I am afraid I am a bit of a wind up merchant and like to see if I can get a “bite” with my posts. Indeed if you need to contact me for a question or something important its best to e mail me direct on: rather than use Facebook because I only check it when the mood takes me, whilst I work all the time on the computer.

Tight lines,

Alan Yates