EDP report 25/07/12

Lots going on around the coast with nearly all of our beaches worth a chuck right now, we have mackerel, bass and flats in the north, bass, flats and hounds in the east and sole, pups and bass in the south. It has been a decent spring and summer so far on balance, we didn’t see many big bass in the spring like we usually do, but we have seen plenty to 2-3lb and lots of schoolies. Some decent hounds are still showing between Yarmouth and Sea Palling and the sole from Lowestoft down to Aldeburgh have been a decent size this year with not too many slips reported. All welcome sport after last year’s dissapointing cod season.

I missed the match reports last week, I noted a cracking eel to Alan Doy in the RiteGear Estuary Champs on the Ouse at Lynn, a superb specimen of 4lb 5oz not surprisingly winning the heaviest round fish prize though not the match overall. The match was won by Lymington raider Andrew Dawkins with some specimen flounders and good eels in his catch of 7lb 14oz. Second spot went to Rob Tuck a further 2lb back on 5lb 14oz with Alan Lewis third with 5lb 12oz. It’s proving a popular series of matches with some consistent fishing, Dene and Co. at RiteGear should be congratulated for the hard work they put in to the local match fishing scene, the fact the matches are attracting anglers from all over the country speaks volumes.

With no wind to speak of and warm weather this week our beaches are bound to be busy, night times will be best and I expect there will be a few more hounds about this week. Balmy summer evenings and high water around 8pm over the weekend, will see a few out trying for sole Southwold way and I hope to have some decent catches to report next week.

Jolly Boys trip 19th - 22nd July

A return to the Isle of Wight for me Pete and "initiate" Chris Bulch for a few days saw us back at the old digs too on East Cowes though in a van and not the flat. We'd picked evening new moon springs and the forecast looked favourable, I didn't care in truth, I needed a break and I was going to get one. Decent digs the van though with a bedroom each and plenty of room to sit around tyeing rigs, sorting reels, drinking tea etc.

The perpetrators raping my rig box!

An early start and a 10am ferry (red funnel breakfast duly leathered by me and Pete, Chris left some, I ate his leftovers) had us in the digs early and making plans for the evening tide. We have some pretty good contacts on the island, I can't stress how useful that is, there's an awful lot of good looking coast if you haven't got anybody giving you pointers! A trip into Scotty's at Newport and it wasn't looking brilliant. There'd been no rays for a while but there were a few hounds still knocking about, they'd had some big ones earlier too, but even these weren't as big as we've seen from Lincolnshire.

Talking of Lincolnshire I've been asked more than once why we just didn't go there for a few days, after all the digs are cheap (staying with family), truth is the Island is prettier and we deserved a bit of a "holiday" type break. We can go and fish Lincs and back in a day and we wouldn't have had the chances of rays or the variety of fishing. Anyway, we like the island.

Plans for the first night were either Burnt Wood or Thorness, we had a drive out and scoped a few spots, we'd been told to go right at Thorness on the ledges towards Gurnard but the left towards Burnt Wood put us on a point with less reef in front of us and a much shorter chuck into more of the flow, so we amended the plans to suit a bit. Thorness is a nice easy venue, not much of a yomp and not too snaggy though Chris had to get his head round fishing over reef!

Thorness Bay towards Gurnard, Chris in picture and Pete behind me on the point itself

As we set up a local lad came down and set up above Pete, he'd had some decent hounds over the last few tides including a few doubles so our hopes were lifted. They were soon lifted further when a decent bite gave me a little hound, a perfect start to a lovely evening.

Sorry, I can't say anymore than that, just concentrate on the fish and you'll be fine.

More hounds followed for me and I was starting to feel bad for my colleagues (yeah right), I snared a better one at around 7lb before Pete hooked a better fish. Chris was still bite less at this time but we were all confident we would get them.

Something around 6 or 7lb, we don't weigh these only those that look like doubles.

It happened in a blur, I'd taken a picture of Pete playing the better one, as he was drawing the fish over some wrack he slipped, went arse over breakfast time and I never got a picture. You weren't there when Fester fecked over at Trimingham, Geno was and we still talk about it, Fester doesn't like to talk about it, his rib bones have only just knitted back together. Anyway I missed the ultimate comedy moment, my timings out without my wing man Geno. Pete had an audience too, the local guy next to Pete, his wife (fit as) and there little boy were watching the ex spurt play the brute into submission, they didn't know he is that good he can catch them laying down.

Pete pre stumble

A spirited and comedic scrap and there on the beach is an obvious double. Pete popped her into a sling (the fish not the guy's wife) and onto the scales. "Well would you believe that said Pete, just under 7lb", the local guy by this time has walked over to see what all the fuss and break dancing was about, "That's just under 7kg's" said the local, I rolled my eyes and said something like feckwit, and there was Pete with the best fish of the trip. In fairness we don't often weigh fish so it's not surprising we didn't read the scales right first time, but either way, a superb specimen of 14lb and about 75% of the Island record.

In this shot Pete is the upright one, the fish is horizontal this time.

First night and we have a good double on the beach, we just needed Chris to get one and mission was accomplished. It's hard to imagine when things are going right, we've been there before and really struggled. that's the difficulty with planning away trips, they need to fit around work, family, tides and weather etc. so many variables and so many things that can scupper your chances. If Chris could get one we'd be sorted the first night and have a venue where we could be confident we'd catch with the forecast improving wind wise over the next few days.

It had to happen, it was always going to, Chris playing a hound at Thorness.

A shout from Chris and he was in, Pete had just dropped one off and I'd had one around 6-8lb, obviously a pack running through from above Pete.

Chris with another of those 6-8lb hounds, looking at it probably more 8 than 6, a cracking fish and a superb start to the break.

So back to the van at about high water, we could have stayed another hour before the ebb makes the Solent all but unfishable. A long but thoroughly enjoyable day, rounded off with bacon sarnies and beer back at the digs and plans for day two.

It's hard not to go back where you know you're likely to catch a few fish, but the Island offers us the chance to have a go at species we don't have a chance of locally. With that in mind we took a drive out the back of the island to look at some of the ray beaches, then lunch at Shalfleet (more on that later) and home to prep for the evening. We'd already come to the conclusion that trying to fish twice a day was likely to kill us and not leave enough time to tidy kit up etc. The main event is always going to be the evening tides so we used the day to chill out and look at venues, eat and sort the gear out.

We started at Yaverland, a place where we'd had painted rays before including one close to double figures for Smudge, you'll find the write up here. It looked clean and we knew a bit about it from the 2008 trip though I wasn't sure we'd get under the cliffs with the big tides, it was a contender though for night two.

Next stop was Whale Chine, a superb venue where we'd had fish in the past too, check out Russ's undulate here. It's a bit of an up and down (mountain goat style) but worth the effort on its day. There were a couple of guys fishing and we could see they'd had a bit of weed, last thing you want is to get down there and find you can't fish for the weed.

Shepherds Chine next and more obvious weed, heavier at Brighstone, Brook and Compton. It was looking like if we wanted to fish the back we'd have to go up Sandown way. We popped in to the New Inn at Shalfleet, a place where we've eaten before. It's sort of traditional that while your away from your significant other that you eat and drink what you like. This usually manifests itself in a mixed grill or the biggest steak on the menu, no different for us this time. While we were sitting down Pete remembered the last time we'd eaten in there and what most of us had devoured, lots of steaks etc but the choice that really stuck in his mind was Smudgers mackerel salad. When he mentioned it, it did strike me as odd. Your hundreds of miles away from "you eat too much fat you do" and "there's salt in food naturally, you don't have to pour half of Maldon on your plate", yet Smudge had a girlie mackerel salad. We must have been to interested in our own meals to give it much thought but there you are, he must have been on a diet!

Anyway back to this years trip, and Yaverland it was. A few spots of rain but nothing to concern us, we'd stopped by at Martin Kennedy's place for Chris to catch up with an old mate, he suggested not walking to the cliffs but stopping outside the grand, "they get them there and its dead easy" and it looked a lot more like home to us, short groynes and flat sand, so we set up with me directly in front of the Grand, Pete left towards Culver cliffs and Chris on the end peg closest to the cliffs but still 500 yards off them. Not a lot of tide and a lovely clean sand beach, I'd decided to fish with eel on one rod and crab on the other, simples.

Not so Grand now but a superb sunset.

This was always going to be slower but the pressure was off, we'd all had our strings pulled and any ray we caught here would be icing on the cake stuff. I was busying myself with scotch eggs and fresh bait when the rod with eel on nodded forward, dropped back slack then nodded forward again. I leapt up (struggled to my feet) and wound into nothing, the bait came back with barely a mark on it. A fresh eel went out again and I never saw another bite on it apart from pout rattles. Chris had a pout on fish and Pete was bite less, I was fully concentrating on the eel rod when I suddenly became aware that the crab rod was in danger of taking off seaward. No mistake this time and I had the weight from the off, clearly a better fish than I'd managed at Thorness, I hoped it was a ray but I was certain it was a hound as it went from one side of the groyne to the other. I shouted Pete across and Chris to bring the camera and after a heavyweight scrap a lovely big girl was on the beach. She was clearly about to pup, her belly swollen and vent bright orange red. We took a few quick snaps and a weigh, conscious that we didn't want her to drop the pups on the beach and got her back in the drink. A level 10lb but she would have been 8-9lb without her babies.

10lb Yaverland preggie, the fish not me.

I followed her up with a pup of around 2lb and they were the only fish, other than Chris's pout, of the evening. We'd tried for a ray but were probably 6 weeks too late. There had been some nice undulates and a couple of stingers but not for us this time, perhaps we'll have a June trip next year and give the rays a better go?

I didn't stop up for a pint that night, the two I'd had at lunch had seen me off, I heard the first "psssst" as the boys opened theirs but didn't hear another thing until 9am. A day out round Cowes doing a bit of shopping and another pub lunch this time at the Anchor and haddock and chips and a couple of Doom Bars. I didn't make the mistake of sitting on the beer this time though, we'd walked up town, I suggested I went back to pick the car up while they had another pint, then I could take the shopping back and we could drive to castle Point to get the crabs some water and a whippy ice cream. I love whippy ice creams. Considering the crabs are about coming to the end of the first moult the Pirate had done us good, we had plenty to fish with and the bullets would come on in time.

It was a no brainer for our last night, we wanted to go back to Thorness. This time we'd put Chris on the point, if he could get a double then it would have been a pretty spectacular trip. Martin Kennedy and Adam Landy were going to join us for a session too, always good to have the locals on board, decent chaps the pair of them. The only fly in the ointment was an open match, word had got round that there were a few hounds along Thorness to Burnt Wood and when we got there it was rests and rods as far as the eyes could see. Conditions were better, it was warmer, flatter and windless, worth a chuck with rag for a stinger tonight.

Adam with a pup.

We found a spot where the reef was a little lower and would allow us to get our terminal tackle and any fish safely over it. Tackled up, bait on and whack, within minutes I've had a schoolie, next chuck a pup of about 2lb. Pete had a schoolie too which Chris's excellent photography techniques had made look like a 10lber!

Thorness schoolie

As the tide flooded and the light dropped we had plenty of hounds though smaller than those on the point, we also had schoolies and dogfish. I hung a hound up on the reef about 70 out and unfortunately lost the lot. I decided to use some of the rag up and tried a sole rig on the sand between me and the reef for a sole maybe. That was good fun and the rod was soon rattling away with schoolie bites until the bites seemed to drop off around high water. Around this time Chris had a slightly better hound which he'd got hooked up on reef just in front of him. he was pulling for a break when Adam jumped in and saved the day!

Its a bit dark granted but hopefully you can see Adam up to his nethers in the drink.

It was worth the effort, Adam soon had the fish and tackle freed up and Chris was able to land the last hound of the night and the trip.

The last fish of a pretty successful trip.

I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and hope we'll get back next year, between now and then though there's some sole to think about, possibly a Lincs trip while there's still a few about, and there's always the smaller hounds that knock about Yarmouth way most of the summer. Who knows we might even get a cod season this year, whatever happens, we'll be on another trip somewhere next year.

EDP report 18/07/12

It’s been a decent summer so far on the regions beaches, there’s variety north to south and it’s pretty much worth a chuck on any of our beaches right now. In the deep south it’s sole that are making the news with some good specimens to 40cm reported. The usual venues have all produced some but Aldeburgh and Southwold seem to be producing the slightly better specimens along with some school bass.

Lowestoft has sole off the south pier along with smoothound pups, whiting and dabs, some of the soles here are 30+cm too. Above Lowestoft to Yarmouth and its school bass, whiting, and hound pups, occasional better hounds to 6lb have showed above Yarmouth and there are eels and school bass in the river. The east Norfolk beaches have produced school bass and flounders though conditions haven’t quite been right long enough for the hounds to show.

The shingle in the north has produced school bass and flounders and there’s good chances of hounds here too when and if the sea goes flat. Lincolnshire is still the place to go for a chance of these hard fighting sharks, several fish to low doubles were caught by friends last weekend, hopefully they’ll show up across the wash and give us some of that sport!

EDP report 11/07/12

It’s been another decent week on the regions beaches with a variety of species giving anglers targets right the way round our patch. In the deep south there have been some smoothounds, mostly pups but a few better ones too. The sole have started to show in flat seas, the usual haunts should produce, the flatter the sea the better and colour or darkness will help too. I’ve seen reports with 2 or 3 decent soles in from Aldeburgh, Southwold and up around Lowestoft, these lovely little fish can often be surprisingly close in so don’t cast too far and keep your rod low to nail the bait to the deck. Above Lowestoft and Corton, Hopton and Gorleston have all produced a few school bass and smoothound pups, with the occasional codling around the features.

Yarmouth beaches have produced school bass, whiting and smoothound pups and the odd decent eel in the river. Up to Cromer and it’s mostly school bass with the occasional better fish to maybe 3 or 4lb. The shingle in the north has produced mackerel, smoothounds and school bass, again conditions tend to dictate the target on the day, if it’s flat then mackerel and hounds will be the quarry with bass showing after dark or when there’s a surf on. The Wash beaches have produced some hounds and will likely produce a few rays too; it’s well worth fishing crab on one rod and sand eel or herring on the other if you’re around Hunstanton way. Lincolnshire beaches are still the places to head to if you want a chance of a really big hound. Paul Coulthurst had a beauty of 23lb 8oz last weekend and the Trunch open was won with over 118lb of fish. Assuming the forecast is something like right, the run up to the weekend will give best chances for mackerel and hounds, the northerlies due over the weekend will put a nice surf on and there should be a few bass around making it worth a chuck pretty much anywhere.

And Coalies beast, note the rod rest scenario below has been avoided!

EDP report 04/07/12

It’s been another decent week on the regions beaches with mackerel, bass and hounds showing at many venues. In the north of the region the shingle has produced plenty of mackerel and you can soon fill a bag when the shoals are in casting range. There have also been a few decent hounds amongst the school bass for those fishing with crab baits. It’s a similar story in east Norfolk, plenty of school bass and occasional hounds. Alan Kettle’s patience with the whiting finally paid off, he managed some fine hounds to 7lb with friends, it pays to be optimistic Mr Kettle! With south in the forecast this week I think the sea from Sea Palling down will have too much on it for the hounds, your best chances this week will be above Sea Palling and don’t discount the Wash beaches.

Lincolnshire has produced some of the most dramatic fishing I can remember. Norfolk raider, Rob Allen, and a couple of mates landed 51 hounds between the three of them. Twenty-nine  of those fish were in the 12-14lb bracket, awesome fishing whichever way you slice it, and better for knowing all of these great sport fish were returned alive to fight another day. The best fish I’ve seen so far this year was a stunning starry smoothound caught by James “Woody” Woods at 22lb 3oz, with fish of this quality, and in those numbers, I think it’s only a matter of time before a national record falls, let’s hope when it does it’s on an East Anglian beach.

Below Yarmouth has seen a few pups and these seem to be getting a bit bigger with fish of 3-4lb not uncommon in decent conditions. I took a walk along the beach at Gorleston over the weekend, it was pretty quiet but I would imagine those hounds will be getting amongst the remnants of the White Swan rooting out shellfish. Its quite dramatic to see the beach building at Gorleston and apparently disappearing at Hopton. No reports of any sole from the usual haunts but it can only be a matter of time, they’ll show if we ever get a settled warm spell. School bass are figuring in catches from most of the beaches, Southwold would be a hot spot and those better hounds often get in at Aldeburgh down to Orford Ness, though that southerly wind will give conditions more favourable to cod fishing down there.

Woody's beast - Note the car crash that was his rod rest!