Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary | July

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

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

Breakwater Ray Alan Yates Fishtec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Griffiths Porbeagle Fishtec


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

Tight lines, Alan Yates

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary | June

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

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

Alan Yates Thornback Ray Fishtec

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

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

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

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

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