Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary November 2014


Varne boat club angler with the first big cod of the season for the Kent dinghy group.

With codling showing all around the UK at present it looks as if we are in for a reasonable winter, although the question is will the fish survive the nets for next year when they will be considerably bigger, in fact big enough to greatly improve the quality of the UK shore fishing? That is yet to be seen, although even the most cynical will expect a few to survive to make the 6lb mark and they can really pull the string.

Back to the present and my return from a week in Portugal was greeted with the first frost of the winter, I drove back from Gatwick airport amongst the gritters and the reality of winter has arrived. For me it’s time to loose the summer garments and break out the winter sea fishing tackle including hoodies, thermals and swap the brolly for the full Hurricane shelter. Time also for those 8oz leads to go back in the tackle box for a spot of low punchy casting into the teeth of the gale – they do tow the bait well and make a great difference on the stormy beaches.

I have also given the bait pump an overhaul with new washers which always give it some extra suction and a soak in fairy Liquid makes them even better. I am a bit concerned I will not be able to hack it with my bad shoulder, but the simple fact is lugworms will be difficult to come by in the tackle shop and pumping your on is the only option. I have laid down a supply of frozen blacks in the freezer and they do work well, especially after Christmas when the dabs arrive and the constant storms means the fish are accustomed to finding dead smelly marine life unearthed by the slightest swell. In the meantime nothing beats a fresh out, juicy, black or yellowtail for those codling other than perhaps a peeler crab, although supplies of peelers too start to dwindle this month. Also watch out for those shellfish being washed up after an onshore wind – Cockles, butterfish, razor fish and the larger clams all make a hook bait, but do work best when they are being washed up. Here in Kent Dungeness can be littered with shells after a good blow and being just inside the Point at the right time you can fill a bucket. I particularly like those large red queen cockles which are great for codling, bass and dabs as well.

Another bait which comes into its own around Christmas is fresh sprat and herring, the whiting love it in strips or chunks, whilst here it’s renowned for the biggest dabs which are nicknamed “sprat dabs” because of their liking for sprat.

Reports suggest most regions of the country are reporting codling and it’s noticeable that

the bigger fish are in the estuary regions where there are lots of shrimps. The rough ground codling also seem to grow faster, whilst from the clean sandy beaches the millions of hungry whiting mean the codling are lean. Those whiting are a pest particularly after Christmas when the pin size fish invade the shoreline, but don’t dismiss fishing a live bait rig at this time because the bigger fish and a late bass are fond of those small whiting.

Looking into the New Year it’s a time when only the match anglers have fun in many regions. Once those bigger specimens of all species have left to spawn its tiddlers only, especially from the clean beaches. My advice is to head for the deeper water of the piers, rocks or the boats for the bigger fish.

Here are a few New Year shore competitions to look out for:

1st of January Holt SAC New Year Open at Kelling. Details from Mike 07858758669 / Peter 07769908480 /

3rd of January the Pembroke & District Angling Club. Air Ambulance Open at Amroth.

Fishing is 10:30pm until 2.30pm. £200 first prize for the heaviest bag flounders only. Reg Amroth Arms. Details: John 01437 563552

4th of January the Wyvern Open shore at Slapton Sands, South Devon.  Fishing is 1pm until 6pm. Tickets and details from Mike Spiller 01404 43397.

10th and 11th of January the Asso Two Day Open is being fished at Seabrook and Hythe in Kent. Fishing 12pm until 5pm. Pre book only. Limited to 120 Entries. Details: 07866 714497

11th January East Anglian League and open at Sizewell. Fishing 10 am until 3pm. Contact: Rob Tuck 07855 848967

25th of January the Amble Open. Fishing 9.30am until 2.30pm. Register on the day at the Radcliffe Club, Amble from 7am. Tickets local tackle shops. Entry fee £12 all classes. Contact Jimmy French on 01665 711007 or Tony Cook on 01665 602034.

25th January the Fords Sports and Social S.A.C 40th Open Beach Fishing Festival.

At Weston Shore, Southampton. Rolling Mill to Beach Lane Netley. Fishing 11am until 4pm. Entry Fee is £11, juniors £4. no pegging beach prior to signing in. Steve Eales 02380650519.

Finally, I am just back from a few days fishing in the Algarve, Portugal, my first holiday of 2014 and it was great to fish in the sunshine with the new Continental TF Gear beachcasters. Real light line fishing for some speedy gilthead bream. I was surprised by the

result and the trip lead to a feature in the New Year edition of Sea Angler magazine so look out for it.


Tight lines,

Alan Yates

Alan Yates Filming the TF Gear/Sea Angler DVD


Alan Yates with a Pollack from the TF Gear DVD

Alan Yates with a Pollack from the TF Gear DVD

I‘m just back from making a DVD for TF Gear and Sea Angler magazine with Chris Ogborne, Paul Fenech, Tim Hughes and on the camera Lloyd Rogers. We spent three days in the Camel estuary in Cornwall both boat and shore fishing. Sad to say that the shore fishing was not that good, although having selected the tides for the boat, it’s a case of not having your fish and eating them. Anyway the boat more than made up for the lack of shore bites with 13 species taken on a range of lures and bait from Optimus Prime, skippered by Rodney Keatley out of Rock.

We used a mix of light sea fishing tackle including virtual LRF and a decent pollack on the Blue Strike spinning outfit and 15lb braid tested the clutch finger during a drift close to Puffin Island. I persevered with live lance and joey mackerel, whilst the others used a mix of lures and bait with some surprising results – look out for the DVD on the front cover of a future issue of SA because it has loads of boat and shore tips and is free!

Tight lines,

Alan Yates


Alan Yates Sea Fishing Rods Diary

Lots of anglers around the country are experiencing the changing season – One minute the fish are around and then they are not and it does seem that mass migration of species is far more acute nowadays than it used to be. Could be its global warming that is sending the fish further north and that they are bypassing southern venues on their travels? Whatever, something like this is happening and I suppose to an extent it always did in the past. In the south it’s the summer doldrums when the sea seems devoid of fish, even the mackerel have passed by! For the shore angler another reason is the amount of sunlight each day – with clear water the fish just will not come inshore in gin and wait until darkness to venture into the shallows. That’s the time to fish for conger, bass, hounds and others and the deeper water venues you find are better.

But it’s not all doom and gloom because once we are past the longest day then the light evenings start to close back and change is underway, least of all those fish that passed us by on their way north are due to travel back south into Autumn and some great sea fishing is to come. The trick is not to miss it and of course the timing varies around the different regions. In the North it’s a case of making hay whilst the sun shines and fishing hard before the shoals depart south. In the South it’s a case of getting out as soon as the fish show; the codling start to show as early as August some years and September can be the best month with a mix of cod and bass. In all regions it is a case of ignoring those old traditions of the “Cod Season” and being ready when the fish are around.

TF Gear has a new range of beach casters and they based on models from the Continent. Both fixed spools they feature the slim line feel and lightness of the long casting sea fishing rods from France, Spain, Italy, etc. Both include low rider rings which can be used with both multiplier and fixed spool reels plus braid, mono or fluorocarbon lines. Standard with these rings is that the butt ring is reversed which gives the rod a unique appearance and more than one novice has proclaimed the ring is on upside down! But this is not the case and 100% of continental rods using low riders feature this reversed ring build.  It’s done simply so that the rings legs prevent a loop of line going over the ring during the cast – especially braid and especially using a fixed spool reel.

The new models include the Force 8 Continental which is extremely light and designed for fishing small baits for small species using light lines and leads. With braid line its balance and feel are incredible and fishing for mackerel, pollack, scad, mullet, school bass etc is a new experience for the user. A word of warning though –it’s not designed for casting a whole Calamari squid and it’s also not designed so that the tip can pull free of snags what it is designed for is a new feel the fish sea angling experience – Enjoy!

The second model is in the Delta range and is the Slik Tip and is aimed at the in between UK fishing and the Continent – It’s a step lighter than standard UK beach casting gear and at a price that won’t annoy the wallet!

One of the big plusses with these rods fitted with low rider rings is that the guides do not affect the movement and balance of the rod as much as the larger standard UK style beach caster rings. Therefore the rod slices the air better when casting and resists the wind in the rod rest better – great for bite spotting.
Other continental rods with reversed low rider guides include Yuki, Colmic

Dogfish is considered a sea angling swear word and few anglers have a good word to say about a species that seems to have taken over the world in many parts of the UK. OK for match anglers they are obliging bites when nothing else stirs, but so often they take a bait aimed at other species and are just a pain. It’s got so bad in some regions that even the match anglers are not supporting the doggie dominated events.

So what can we do to reduce dogfish numbers or make them more enjoyable to catch?  Well having recently been laid up and not fishing my freezer was empty of fish so I took four home for dinner – Had I forgot how tasty this fish could be because of the fiddly skinning and preparation? Rock salmon is now returned to the Yates menu and I shall spread the word that this wonderful species is great on a plate.

Lesser doggy

I have got my hands on the new TF Gear Force 8 Beach Shelter – and I seriously recommend you take a look! At last a shelter that has pouches for beach stones in the base which makes for a much easier erection, the Viagra shelter goes up in seconds and stays there is a strong wind.

If you have ever tried to erect a shelter on your own in anything above a force five, you will know how difficult it is. The new Force 8 Shelter solves that problem because you can pile stones in the pouches before you pull it up. What’s more the F8 is collapsible and folds down to half its length for carriage – great for being strapped on top of the fishing tackle box!

I am arranging 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, singe look 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, (Book in car park from 8.30am) all are welcome and it’s a complete rover anywhere around the Hoe. Prizes for species pts, biggest and best average fish.  Contact me Alan Yates on 01303 250017 E Mail:

Tight lines, Alan Yates


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.


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:

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:

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 – 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

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary

The New Year is a great time to start match fishing, not only because most angling clubs restart their evening club match series, but because lots of anglers try their hand at the opens and entry numbers soar for the first couple of months of the year. OK, if you are not interested in competitive fishing and prefer to concentrate your efforts on catching bigger fish, then move down the page, if you are then here is some advice for those starting out.

Match fishing has become more and more competitive over the years, especially at open match level. Match fishing tackle, techniques and anglers have improved enormously and just as in most sports, winning is not quite as easy as in years past. This means that the novice or beginner starting out in competitions should really avoid the open events, especially the smaller open matches organised by matchmen for matchmen. If you want to fish opens then try the giant biggest fish contests where a greater element of luck is involved. For the beginner it is far better to start out at club level because with the thousands of angling clubs around the British Isles there is a lot of choice and many of the smaller clubs offer entry level angling. By that I mean competitions that contain anglers of an equal ability. Club fishing is more of a social occasions at many local angling clubs, competitive yes, but anglers are more likely to share knowledge or their fishing spot, a great place to learn the ropes.

Perhaps most important of all the skills required to be successful in competitions is knowing the venue and really only experience can teach you what is around at a given tide, time of year etc. Joining a club and concentrating your efforts on one venue will open your eyes to what is involved in solving the problems of fishing just one venue, let alone different ones. Undoubtedly learning to be successful will cost you money and its wiser to spend the smaller entry fees to club events to learn that spending a fortune on the more expensive opens. There will come a time when you think you are ready to compete in an open, especially one on a venue you have fished regularly.


Staying with competition fishing this month’s favourite terminal rig has to be scratching booms. I am a big fan of the very fine wire Continental style booms that allow the angler to use light line snoods and small baits without them tangling. It’s a case of horses for courses and fishing for what’s around rather than a whole Calamari on a 4/0 Pennel rig. Booms allow the delicate presentation of small baits for small-mouthed species and that’s the key. Flatties and the many of the other species have a greater liking for small wriggly worms etc and these can be fished more efficiently on a small hook and light line so they appear as natural as possible to entice the smaller fish. Of course the element of strength has to be retained in rigs and gear so that should a bigger fish come along you can land it, but overall finesse is a vital tactic to catch the smaller fish at this time of year.

For those that soldier on regardless of season in the hunt for the bigger, better quality fish and don’t want to turn to match fishing then the alternative is to travel. Access to better fishing is far easier nowadays and it really is possible if you are willing to travel to find better fishing, even around the UK.

Most years one or two regions will offer bigger codling for the first few months of the year. These are where the year class of the codling is second, third or fourth year fish. This year Cumbria has a good head of bigger codling at the time of writing and that may be the place to head. Last year it was South Wales and the Bristol Channel, although there the codling have reached breeding size and moved away completely. Alternatively take to the boats because some of the far off wrecks around the UK will produce some giant fish in late winter, through February – My tip for a real lunker are the wrecks in the English Channel with the charter boats out of Eastbourne, Brighton and Newhaven the ports to head for.

A TIP FOR WOULD BE COD CATCHERS: The fast track to catching a giant cod is to take a trip to Norway this spring or summer to catch that lunker. North Norway offers the chance of a 40lb plus cod, plus giant coalfish, haddock and more to even the greenest novice, simply because they are there to catch. Contact Ian Peacock who organises fishing in Norway with Dintur

E Mail:

Tel: 0191 4472363


My annual trip to Gambia is looming. I am fishing the Gambian Beach Championships on the 11th to 14th April 2013. Unfortunately if you have not already booked a place you may be unlucky. Contact Bernard Westgarth on Tel 01325 720113 or E Mail:


The event and the days fishing around it are my chance of a catching a bigger fish with captain fish and cassava the two species that are most likely to show. But my chances are not done after that because I have some big English and French carp to fish for later in the year and if that fails there is always a large lake rainbow or a bass later in the summer.

Yes I hedge my bets with the bigger fish during the year and don’t pin my hopes on cod alone. If you are struggling to land a biggy you should try it!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year.

Alan Yates.


Alan with a 3lb codling, typical New Year size. He caught it to win the Folkestone SAA pier Christmas competition.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary

A great weeks fishing with three match wins and a second place in two opens and two club events. One of the features of this time of year is the increase in the number of dabs around and I am good at catching dabs. It’s the years of practice I suppose and my liking for lugworm management. You see, lugworm is not just lugworm and the fish are so well aware that when a storm devastates the inshore sand bars there will be lots of worm and shellfish casualties. Indeed after a storm they invade the shoreline for a feast. BUT and here is the rub. Several tides later and its all calmed down and the marine life that was missed by those first fish is buried etc. It’s in a state of decay and then when a small gale of wind sets up a surf the decaying worm is exposed to the fish. They are totally honed in on decaying rotten worm and have tunnel vision towards it – Fish with fresh then and you will catch fish, but fish with last week’s lugworm and you will catch a shed full, especially dabs.

I always have a supply of frozen worm and shells knocking around for such occasions and recently sticky blacks tipped butterfish and clam came into its own for the flatties. I won the Army Benevolent event fished on Hythe Ranges with 44 fish, mostly dabs, then won my club Christmas match fished at Seabrook with 47 fish in four hours and then topped the week off with a second place in the Grand Parade Open fished at Seabrook with 49 fish. Winner just a few grams in from was Karl Nangle of Grimsby with 37 fish – he found some bigger whiting. Anyway, all in all I am feeling proud of myself because both of the open matches had a very strong field of match-men.

TOP TIP: One of the problems when using sticky lugworm is keeping it on the hook. Well the best method is to sew the hook through the soft worm by twisting the worm around the hook as you pass the point in and out of the worm. This locks the bait around the hook eye and line and prevents it sagging too much. Of course you can always use a light bait elastic as well.

Dabs Folkestone Pier

On the cod front the season promised much and if you look at the highlights it looks much better than it was. Lots of the best anglers failed to catch other than codling and a few average anglers caught lunkers, but on the whole most regions were dire for proper cod from the shore. The boats have done slightly better and it does seem that the bigger fish are just offshore and not coming in unless there is a gale to attract them. Many blame the masses of whiting on which the cod are feeding, they have no need to come inshore. There are calls for the whiting minimum size to be lowered back to 25cm. Whatever, time is running out because most southern regions won’t produce cod after mid January – then its dab, pin whiting and rockling time and only the matchmen are happy. In the North the cod can hang on until February but there too reports for bigger fish are not that good. Cumbria though is alive with codling.

If you read Sea Angler magazine you will have seen my feature on Cramlington matchman, Bob Gascoigne – It makes interesting reading I think, although I would say that wouldn’t I? But Bob raises and interesting subject of clipped versus flapper rigs. Flappers have been my first choice rig for many years and in the past won me lots of competitions and I will explain why. Clipped rigs entail having a bait stop on the snoods to prevent the cast from blowing the worm bait up the snood away from and off the hook point. Thus on occasions, whilst its ok for the big mouthed species who snaffle hook and worm, for those small flatties like dabs it means they can easily take the bait off the LINE without getting hooked. Conversely when you use a flapper rig the bait is forced down the hook and around the point when you cast and the hook is always in the bait. It’s as simple as that, so think twice before using a clipped rig and remember what “Sir” Bob Says – “Clipped rigs for casting show, flappers for match doe!”

The TF Gear S Mag multiplier increasingly impresses me – The thicker diameter main drive spindle prevents distortion and the spool doesn’t lock up even with three dogfish on! During a recent session I fished the S Mag with 18lb mono, filled it to the gunnels and the beauty of the thicker line is that it is impossible to birdnest with the magnetic brakes half on!  Increasingly the beaches I fish are snaggy and 18lb mono and a Bimini twist leader knot enable me to get free from a lot of snags and this save tackle. The trick is using no bigger hooks that size 1 Kamasan B940 which the line and knot can bend out of a snag. OK so I am not fishing for cod, rather whiting, dabs etc with multi hook rigs, but a size1 can handle a bigger fish if required. Thereby lies the seceret to fishing snaggy beaches – If you are after big cod use a single 6/0 rather than a Pennel and fish it on a Pulley rig. For multi hooks, small fish and codling little beats a Loop rig.

Few modern sea anglers would disagree that the biggest improvement in rod construction concerns lighter materials allowing longer lengths. Longer rods are longer levers and they are easier to cast further. Don’t believe the twaddle spouted by some that all you need is a 12ft beachcaster. Longer rods give the lesser skilled and older caster a much better return for their limited power because they bend. That’s not to say you cannot overpower yourself with too much length, but that there are plenty of 15ft models that are light enough for the ladies and pensioners to cast with that will raise their game by a considerable margin with a simple overhead style and fixed spool reel.

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and New Year. – May the cod be with you.

Alan Yates.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary

The arrival of October signals a start to the cod season for most shore anglers, although in many regions lots of fishing rods are already out on the beaches etc because once the nights start to draw in the first autumn codling start appearing. However, its at the end of this month that a majority of venues start to see the odd bigger specimen moving inshore as the summer species move away and the cod follow the whiting inshore. The whiting are though becoming the problem because there are so many of them that they take baits aimed at big fish and appear to eat most other species out of house and home. It’s only the match anglers that are happy when it comes to whiting although the fact that there are so many that they appear stunted and almost always undersized can be frustrating. Dogfish and whiting are so often the sea anglers lot nowadays and it makes you wonder where we will all end up.

Last week a glimmer of hope came when a DEFRA survey team appeared on a beach at Deal in Kent. The anglers fishing were quizzed on what they had caught and how much they had spent on their fishing. One angler told me that the result of his individual statistics suggested that a small bass he had caught and returned was worth £57 a pound to the British economy! What angling brings to the economy is at last being examined and its my bet that it will open a few eyes and move DEFRA to start looking after the angling species, fingers crossed!

I am just back from a trip to Ireland with Sea Angler magazine and TF Gear where we spent a week fishing from boat and shore for magazine articles and a DVD which will be free on Sea Angler in the future. Our group included several well known sea anglers under the Sea Safari banner with the fishing funded by the Irish Tourist board and supported by the Inland Fisheries Ireland with two of their inspectors acting as guides. Unfortunately our visit collided with the worst September weather for a decade and we spent a week scurrying from venues to venue to get out of the gales. Fortunately this meant a couple of new venues and overall the results were good considering the weather. I cannot though leave Ireland without saying that the ethnic anglers over there are a problem for the Irish angling authorities because nothing is returned alive. Some of the marks we fished showed similar signs to those in England where catch and kill and the litter are so bad that it makes you wonder how anything can survive on the mark and that includes above the water line! Ireland already has a limit on the number of bass you can take in a day and a total ban on commercial bass fishing and I can see them extending it to mackerel, pollack and other species.

My Irish adventure also proved interesting because I got to try out some LRF. Now this stands for “light rock fishing” and it’s fishing with extremely light gear using lures. TF Gear have introduced some new sea fishing tackle items to compliment the style and part of the trip was to test out the new rod, reels and lures. Now I am a bit cynical when it comes to lure fishing because I believe that more fish can often be caught on bait than lures and view the style of fishing as an alternative rather than the be all and end of sea fishing. The fanatics must get used to catching nothing and so I am going to stick with the beachcaster and only use the lure rods when conditions are perfect. In Ireland a rock mark out of the wind was perfect for a spot of wrassing – trouble was whilst the plastics barely got a look, the ragworm was seized every drop by hungry wrasse topping the 3lb mark. I fished a small 0.25oz bullet slid down the line to the hook knot, jig head style. Baited with a whole ragworm this was cast and fished sink and draw – The bites were fierce, the fight fierce on micro braid and a 10lb mono leader – check out the forthcoming DVD. Incidentally if you need to know anything about the venues that appear on the DVD they will all be featured in Sea Angler magazine in forthcoming issues.

Ballan wrasse Ballyrene TF Gear

At the time of writing this report the England shore squad are out practising in Holland for the forthcoming World Sea Angling Championships. – My son Richard is a member of the England team and so I have a vested interest. Particularly because my first world gold medal came in Holland in 1991 with England – Good luck to all the home nations who are competing in the event – Its close to our style of shore fishing and the best chance the home teams have of a medal away from the Mediterranean style of most other countries.



Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Jan 2012


I have been out in Kent after the gales over the night tides without catching a cod – its whiting city from the Kent shore with the thousands of small hungry mouths eating other species out of house and home. So my advice if its cod you want is to go and fish somewhere else other than Kent – The Bristol Channel being worth the drive!!!!!

Meanwhile in Kent it’s a bite a second with the whiting and last week my son Richard fishing in a Deal 1919 Angling Club beach match weighed in 38 dogfish – no mean feat in three hours. Most hate dogfish, but in a match they can be hectic, the clubs in my region give you 500 grams C & R per dogfish which is a great idea although some say we should cull them.

I did well in a couple of pier events at Folkestone with lots of big fat sprat dabs, whilst the only open I fished was the British Legion open on Hythe Ranges over the holiday and I packed up early fed up with the undersized whiting.

Currently the weather is hanging on and the freezing conditions have not yet got a grip but they will and then its going to be even harder although we have the rays to look forward because they arrive earlier every year with some big thornbacks around from March onwards.


I have not been to Gambia for a couple of years – The championship organised in November had become stale with close pegging and duff venues deterring me from going again. BUT now I see Bernard Westgarth who has a house and angling guiding business in the Gambia is putting on an event in April so I am interested in returning for that although the one hook idea I am not keen. Going on a fishing holiday I want a maximum chance of catching and one hook is not that – Better would be two rods with one hook or one rod with two hooks. Anyway the details are.


Pegged Match Series to take place on selected beaches in The Gambia, West Africa 15th to 19th APRIL 2012. Match days are Sunday 15th , Monday 16th , Tuesday17 th and Wednesday, 18th April 2012. Presentation & Prize Giving: Thursday, 19 April.

Limited entry of 30 anglers on a first come, first served basis.
All venues will be pegged and zoned (depending upon numbers).
Matches will be based on a point system with each species being awarded a set number of points.
All fish exceeding 3kg being awarded 10 additional points.
All matches are to be one hook.
Only bait provided by the organisers will be permitted and will be distributed on each match day.
Flights and accommodation can be arranged if required.
Transport to/from match venues is included within match fees.
All interested parties must be registered and fully paid by 31 January 2012. For those interested details of costs and a full set of competition rules can be provided by contacting Bernard Westgarth on 01325 720113 (evenings).

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A number of anglers have commented on my rod rest light – It’s a Speleo headlamp, which I have bolted to the top of the rod rest so that it shines up the rod rings. It’s a really effective way of highlighting the rod tip. I have enhanced the whole set up by adding a set of luminous insert rod rings to my original TF Gear Force 8 beach caster.

Its spring clean time – don’t you just get the urge to sort out the tackle box, I do. A purge on the rig winder/wallet will see all my winders go in the dishwasher for their annual shower. It’s a great way to clean off the lug crud, weed etc (thanks to Heather Lindfield for the original idea) But don’t forget to let them all dry off before you put them back in the wallet. Leads are always in need of some maintenance – Don’t know about you, but I think Breakaway wire has gone down hill – wires on their grips never used to snap so easily? Anyway I take the time to redo the wires of my leads and the bonus of this is that you can choose the wire type and length you want.

I have also sent several multipliers back to the service centre for an overhaul, repair etc. I shall be switching to the multi tip and fixed spools in coming weeks, rockling matches are looming, so the next few months is the time for so reel TLC. Make sure you pack them securely and send by registered post or courier with a list of the problems – AND don’t forget to include your return address – you would be surprised how many anglers send reels in for repair etc and don’t include their address!