Estuary rays Suffolk 26/05/11

A very silly o'clock start this morning was required to be at my chosen mark ready for the prime part of the tide. After a nice drive on empty roads, then a good 20 minute walk I had baits in the water by the first signs of daylight.

First couple of casts produced the usual motionless rod tips that I have become accustomed to of late, but at least the crab activity was minimal. After about 45 minutes, one rod top started a slow nodding, this continued for a couple of minutes before the ratchet slowly started to click away as the fish slowly moved off.

I picked up the rod and wound into a good weight, fish on! After a slow 'pump and wind' retrieve a nice ray broke the surface, on picking the fish from the water its weight felt good. After unhooking I put her on the scales, 10 lb 9 oz well pleased. A couple of quick pictures and back she went, she was about to drop purses as I could see the tips of a purse ready to 'pop' out.

10lb 9oz of pregnant mum. Deep respect for putting her back, unfortunately some sea anglers seem to think its a law to take what they catch.

About 20 minutes later the other rod started to nod then the line dropped slack, after taking up the slack and getting a tight line to the fish things took off, a series of runs up and down the tide, plenty of diving which actually pulled line off against the drag, (which is set quite light due to 14lb line) and then I think the ray stuck itself into the mud, for a good couple of minutes I couldn't move it but it was still pulling against me, the rod top lunging down now and then, eventually the ray moved and I managed to get it up and glide it to the bank.

I was expecting a massive fish judging by the fight, and was surprised to see the size was not what I expected, 8lb 7oz on the scales. Again quick pictures and back it went..

Another mummy, soon safely back in the drink.

Both fish took Herring chunks on long hook lengths fished using a D- vice. After several blank ray trips this year this session made up for all the dissapointments.

Thanks for the write up Paul, what a superb effort mate, very well done indeed!

EDP report 25/05/11

Sport seems to have slowed if anything this week; most of the talk on the beaches from Cley to Sea Palling has been the annual algal bloom. May weed is being reported in patches all along the north and east Norfolk stretches, it usually heralds a quiet spell though friends on the east Yorkshire coast look for it as a sign to fish for smoothounds. It’s very easy to spot and usually appears a brown, smelly “gloop” on your line. Thankfully it didn’t stop the near 60 anglers taking part in the last qualifier for the Help for Heroes series. A strong field on a difficult day saw Gary Hudson take top honours with a little over 7lb 8oz including a cracking bass of 5lb 11oz. Paul Tovell was second with 4lb 6oz with Trev Elliot sneaking third from Mark Sharman with a “lost” codling of 3lb 3oz. Story of the match for me though was another friend Matt Lawes taking his 10 year old son on his first sea fishing match, James promptly qualified for the finals at Lynn while his dad blanked, well done James.

There have still been a few school bass and small hounds about from Cromer down to Sea Palling, the ebbing tide at night is usually best whilst the sea is clear. Chatting to a mate over the weekend he was telling me of smoothounds getting washed up below Sea Palling, we’ve seen this before, unfortunately hounds die quickly in fishermen’s nets and have little commercial value though why on earth they don’t use them for pot bait I don’t know, seems more of a waste to throw back dead fish? There have been a few bass from Caister down to Yarmouth and into the river. Kayakers fishing the White Swan at Gorleston have had a few bass to 3lb 8oz. Yarmouth to Lowestoft has seen a few school bass and the occasional small codling amongst the debris along north beach to Ness point. There have been a few pup smoothounds in Pakefield bay, I know a few have tried for an early sole off the south pier though I haven’t heard of any reported yet.

South of Lowestoft down to Aldeburgh has been affected by the may weed bloom also and has generally been a bit of a struggle. There are a few school bass about though and it’s only a matter of time with these warm days and calm seas before the sole start to show at Southwold, Sizewell and Aldeburgh. Aside from a puff of southwest forecast for Thursday it’s westerly all the way this week, which will keep the sea flat and should give chances of smoothounds and possibly the first mackerel of the summer off the shingle, neap tides and afternoon high waters will give those fishing the early hours better chances than those fishing the afternoon tides.

EDP report 18/05/11

The north of the region is still holding the nap hand with lots of bass and occasional smoothounds showing over the last week. I fished last Wednesday at Bacton with Karl Gibson, both of us managing a few school bass, the biggest just shy of 2lb in a flat and clear sea. The last couple of days have seen the winds swing round again and put a little colour and life back into the sea and sure enough the bass responded. Karl fished again on Monday morning and was rewarded with a stunning east Norfolk fish at Trimingham, the biggest I’ve seen so far this year at 9lb 4oz, tantalisingly close to the magic double. Karl returned the fish, bass this size are old fish and breeding stock, those school bass between 1.5 and 3lb taste much better.

Holt SAC’s latest match on the shingle at Kelling produced some good weights and surprisingly not made up of bass and hounds. Bill Beeton won the match with 7lb 5oz made up largely of bass at 3lb 2oz and 3lb 10oz, Mike Watts back after a weekend off, took second spot with 5lb 6oz of flounders and dabs with Sheringham ace Tony Thomas backing up the win last week with 3lb 1oz for third, again flatties making up his catch. Bass and flats have been the mainstay of catches from the shingle round to Yarmouth with school bass showing on most beats with odd fish to 4-5lb not uncommon. Mayweed has been reported from Yarmouth round to Lowestoft, whether this bloom has put the fish off a bit I don’t know but the stretch doesn’t seem to be producing as consistently as its northerly neighbour.

Anglers trying for early sole south of Lowestoft haven’t found too many with only odd slips that I’ve heard of, plenty of time yet and if conditions stay flat with a bit of colour in the water it won’t be too long before the likes of Southwold, Sizewell and Dunwich produce a few. Not much reported from Aldeburgh and Orford though I should think there are chances of sole along the wall and some huge bass turn up there from time to time. The wind doesn’t seem to know what to do this week though I note there’s a bit of southeast due which may break up the mayweed around Lowestoft, be worth a chuck south of Yarmouth if it puts a bit of sea on.

All by himself 16/05/11

Before I let Geno tell you all about his day I want to share a text exchange with you. It went, Geno "Fishing in the morning, kit in the car. Sea looks perfect. Can't wait, will do some self takes of my double figure bass and there'll be a write up waiting for you when you get in". I replied facetiously "Look forward to seeing your double mate", I'll never doubt the boy again, silly, silly me...

By Myself…

…with all my mates.  Holiday and work accounted for most of the jollies, and there’s one who is missing in action, so I was by myself. I was tempted to go with Splatt the Quack who was thinking of heading out yesterday morning, but the forecast was for 18-20mph north westerly winds, and whilst that’s fishable, it’s not as fishable as the 14mph south westerlies that were forecast for today.

I reckoned the change in direction would make conditions ideal. A bit of sea on the webcam last night raised my enthusiasm levels to off the scale (hopefully I’ll grow up one day), so I readied the kit for an early start.
True to form I woke up five minutes before the alarm went off, just before half past four. The voice on the radio was telling me that England and Wales would be dry, with the south east reaching the dizzy heights of 24C! The noise on the window was telling me it was chucking down. I

decided not to bother with the sun cream.
High tide was around half six. My first rod was in the rest and fishing just after six o clock. Bait was supplied by the pirate, and some of them could have come off the set of ‘Deadliest Catch’. The sea had a nice colour and a bit of lift on so confidence was high. Even so, I decided to ‘one rod’ it for half an hour just to see what the weed situation was…


The sea had dropped off nicely from last night.

The weed situation was ok, odd bits on the line but certainly nothing to complain about, so shortly thereafter both rods were out. An hour after high tide and it was time to recheck the baits. “Oh good”. I think that’s what I said as I swung my obligatory whiting from the surf. That trace was unclipped, another attached, and I blasted it out. As I walked back to my rest the other rod dropped back.

I knew it was a good fish all the way in. When I got it in the edge it went for it a bit with two or three powerful lunges, but even when it wasn’t charging about it hung in the breakers stubbornly. Anyway, after a few minutes of this, I landed a lovely Bass. I looked at it and half wondered/hoped it would be a double.

Out with the scales and weigh sling (a big heavy duty carrier bag).
I didn’t think it was 10lb, but new it wasn’t far off so I had to have everything in my favour.

A big handful of hemp in the bag (an old winter league trick, apparently).                         


Scales calibrated for British summertime.                                                                            


Show it a bar of Chocolate.                                                                                                        


Chocolate? Well my Mrs reckons she’s only got to look at a bar to put a pound on….

Anyway, it went 9lb 4oz. I’m happier than I look…


Dodgy photo due to it being a self take with my compact on a mini tripod on my box, in the rain, whilst rushing so I could get it back ASAP.


A better pic, just so I had one..…

I won’t take Bass this size unless they won’t go back. A few years ago I had an 8lb’er, brought it home, and when I filleted it, it’s flesh was full of worms. It went in the bin and I felt guilty for weeks. I held this one in the surf for a good five minutes. It didn’t move. I was getting soaked. I looked at it. I was just mulling over some recipes, then bang! It set off like a man on a motorbike. Well pleased…

It took me a while to take it all in. I guess I was savouring the moment. I don’t catch fish like this very often, and I suppose ‘cos I’m just a big kid, my hands were shaking…

A few minutes later and both rods were out. That was the last proper fish despite fishing the tide right down (well almost), but I did manage a schooly, a greedy Flounder, and a foul hooked Dab, before packing up about midday.


An ambitious flounder that took a big bait on a 4/0 pennel. The quality of the pic is improved ‘cos flounders sit nicely in a bucket while you prep everything. That, and the fact it wasn’t raining, and I wasn’t quite so exited.

Ten crabs left. What to do……………

Cracking write up old mate and a good day out, tidy.

Geno and Aitch do the gas site 11/05/11

There's not too much to report really. I've been hammered by work at the minute so my old mate Geno rang with an eleventh hour offer I couldn't refuse, a few crabs a few hours locally and the chance of a smut. With those last words ringing in my ears and the thought of mumping some of his crabs, we met up around 17:00 to be greeted by an ebbing flat calm sea.

Low water was around 20:30, we'd been sort of arguing about it all night, I reckoned he wasn't or his tide table wasn't adding the hour for BST, either way bottom of the tide was around 20:30. Not too much to report, a nice tide pull, next to no weed apart from patches of snot that would catch you out from time to time.

I'm going to have to get some of that anti-ageing cream.

i was first in with a schoolie just shy of 2lb, she was deep hooked so she came home. I then snared another shy of a lb and my old mate who's bait I'm using still hasn't caught. i lost a set of kit on the cast, the rig body parting in that weird way it does occasionally (when you've used the same rig more than 6 times) and you don't know whether its gone along the beach or out. I knew it hadn't gone far as the weight was off before I got round on the cast and I didn't fluff my reel up.

A long story shortened and I found it 40 yards along the beach at low water. geno called me a lucky something or other, I retorted I wasn't that lucky as the hooklength had gone just leaving the 6oz impact lead I was using.

Is it me or do I look like I'm nipping one off?

I think Geno managed a schoolie then followed by my third. I then had a barren spell (if 3 schoolies in an evening isn't barren I don't know what is) and Geno manages to catch me up. 3-3 on the last chuck, I'll settle for an honourable draw, sadly not to be. Anybody that knows my old mate knows what he thinks of whiting, poetic justice then that on the last cast he winds in a 4" long pin to edge me out 4-3. I've no complaints, it was worth losing to see his disgust at catching a whiting on a half of fresh peeler and a 2/0 pennel.

I went round his at the weekend to have a few scoops and watch the footie (14/05/11 Utd claim their 19th title, are you watching Merseydive?). He was busy making rigs ready for our upcoming Jolly Boys trip, I need to sort mine out too, he's said he'll service my reels too which is a bonus. He also offered to tie me some rigs, I politely declined. Can you imagine, I couldn't win. If I caught it would have been his rigs making the difference, if I didn't it would have been him transferring his run of bad luck to me!

There's lovely.

EDP report 11/05/11

The past couple of weeks have been all about the north of the region and it’s no different this week. Sport has been pretty consistent in the north with plenty of bass to keep rods nodding and a good sprinkling of smoothounds to add a bit of variety too. Unconfirmed reports of a monster 16lb smut at Cley have been backed up with quite a few smoothounds in the 4-6lb bracket, along with the seemingly ever present school bass, things looked promising for Holt SAC’s latest match on the shingle at Cley. Unfortunately day time tides in bright conditions and a bit of lift in the sea meant that hounds were off the menu though hopes were high for a few bass. Tony Thomas returned to form with a win including a nice 3lb bass in his winning weight of 4lb 2oz, second spot went to Pete Loke with 1lb 14oz and third went to my old mate Pete Morse with 1lb 4oz, makes a change to see Mike Watts out of the frame, did he miss this match?

All of north and east Norfolk has produced a few bass at one stage or another in the past week, darkness has helped as the seas have gone shear, but there are still a few bass willing to bite and when the sea is flat those hounds will be about too. Matt Lawes has had a couple of tidy little sessions lately, amongst the bass to 4lb and hounds to 5lb at Weybourne and Trimingham respectively. Rob Allen has had a few schoolies to 3lb and some baby hounds at Trimingham too. Last year around this time saw some cracking fish beached, the best a superb 19lb by Mark Hudson, he’d been out trying again and managed a few small ones at Trimingham again.

Yarmouth has seen some bass from the river along with dogfish and bits on the surrounding beaches. Lowestoft has been generally quieter though Paul Turrell managed 8 or 9 school bass in a nice session at Benacre. School bass seem to be the order of the day further southwards and there have also been the first signs of may weed down here. I’ve heard little reported or on the grapevine from Aldeburgh and Orford and I think for the next week or two at least it’ll not be so grim up north!

EDP report 04/05/11

Most of the regions beaches are producing a few bass at the minute, onshore winds helping to keep the sea rolling and surfing the way bass like it. The best beaches have been those of north and east Norfolk with some good bass landed on pretty much every beach from Cley to Sea Palling. Karl Gibson and Pete Freezer fished Trimingham last Saturday, they managed a nice mixed bag of dogfish, school bass along with some better bass to 6lb 6oz and a bonus smoothound of 7lb 7oz. There have been a few smaller hounds falling to crab baits meant for bass but it is the bass that are really stealing the show with lots of fish in the 1 to 3lb bracket and a liberal sprinkling of 5lb+ fish. Jamie Bale had a bonus 4lb 8oz codling along with bass between 2 and 4lb and catches follow in a similar vein right down to Yarmouth.

Gorleston has produced a few school bass and there have been one or two better specimens showing in the river. There are still a few of those foot long codling showing amongst the  obligatory whiting and occasional school bass from Hopton, Corton and round to Lowestoft north and ness point. I haven’t had too many reports from the pier or beaches south of Lowestoft which would indicate there’s not a lot going on or all the Suffolk lads are fishing north Norfolk! Walberswick has produced a few school bass and an occasional codling as has Southwold. Aldeburgh and Orford have been quiet with few reports, though the reports I have had have been of school bass and small codling, Aldeburgh generally throws a few better bass up and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lump come from this stretch.

With east and north in the forecast for the week ahead the trick will be looking for a window when it eases and hoping it coincides with the required state of tide. From Wednesday this week it looks favourable with the winds forecast to ease and high water around sunset, the ebb into darkness should see a few more better bass of our lovely Norfolk beaches.