Friday 22 April 2022


A short notice change of shifts brought an unexpected opportunity to fish; it would have been rude not too…  A bright sunny day with a decent wind from the east which would be in my chops, high tide was due at 1440 or thereabouts, the night time tide would have been stretching convenience so it has to be daytime.  I’m going but where?

I left home after the worst of the rush hour and trundled eastwards but I still hadn’t made up my mind.  Well actually I made up my mind about three times then changed it again.  The turn off approached, it really was time to decide but I didn’t, I simply didn’t turn off, which kind of means I did, in a way.  Fifteen minutes later I parked, hoisted my gear and began the trudge to Radar beach.  The first thing I noticed was plenty of snags that weren’t evident before.  I’m guessing winter storms scoured the beach which certainly looked a little steeper?  By 1030 I had the usual heavy rod/light rod combination set up and cast out with lumps of squid and bluey being boiled in the tide.  The wind was cutting but I managed to get the oval securely in place which provided much needed cover from wind and sun.

My first retrieve of the heavy rod revealed the bait had been stripped, evidence of crabs being active?  But the light rod provided a surprise, a Whiting had hung itself and the blank had been avoided.  Time passes quickly on the beach, the rods nodded rhythmically, waves boomed against sea defences, the sea crept up the beach with a crash and roar and I was catching fish despite not being to spot any proper bites.  One time when the tip did bang round with purpose I hooked something with a bit of weight which came up to the surface, as Dogfish often do, then splashed and shed the hook.  This was frustrating, not because it felt particularly heavy but more because I’ll never ever know what it actually was.

I fished through high tide and an hour or so afterwards, still hoping for the Ray that rarely shows up.  By 1600 I was tired and began the slow tidy up.  My tally at the end was four Dogfish and eight Whiting most of which would have made a meal.  A dozen fish beached and a couple more lost but the strange thing is I only actually saw about three proper bites all day.  How does that happen?

This time last year I hadn’t yet plucked up the courage to fish in the sea but this year I’m four trips along the way and feeling comfortable with how I’m fishing.  I’m also catching plenty of fish but apart from the one Eel I’ve only been catching Whiting and Dogfish.  The doggies are all of a decent size, usually give the tip a good whack and let you know you’ve hooked them.  Once caught they still don’t want to give up, twisting and writhing while I try to get the hook out they have a thuglife attitude.  Apparently there’s a way to peel the skin off them and then they make a good meal but it all seems a lot of faff to me.  Many of the Whiting have been of edible size too but I keep making the same mistake.  I catch a decent one and think “that’s a meal for one, shame I haven’t got another…” so chuck it back then go and catch another good sized one.  I did it about five times on this trip.  So far so good but these aren’t the fish I’m really interested in; there are a few Rays being caught, the Bass are arriving and the Smoothounds won’t be far behind.  Catching these smaller fish is fun but will only hold my interest for so long, as with all the fishing I’ve ever done it’s the rarer, sometimes bigger fish that motivate me.

Monday 18 April 2022


Another weekend, another Saturday on the beach.  This time the weather was a lot more pleasant, I could expect a mixture of sunshine and cloud with a moderate westerly blowing over my shoulder.  High tide would be around 1730 but I arrived in plenty of time as I expected the steep beach would be busy.  With a nicely timed tide on a weekend I expected plenty of anglers would arrive to fish the traditional ‘three up – three down’ so I made sure I was in position by around 1330.

I took my time setting up, firstly getting the oval erected but this proved to be a waste of time as I just couldn’t get the bloody thing to stay upright and in position so it wasn’t long before I scrapped it.  Meanwhile I got the rods out; as usual I used a big bait on the pulley rig which I hurled as far as I could and a smaller bait on a running rig dropped in close.  Then it was just a case of sitting back to wait.  By this time the beach was indeed filling up but sea anglers leave you alone, nobody feels the need to discuss the latest Youtube video (advert) or tell you who caught what last week.  For a couple of hours the fish left me alone too, I was definitely getting slight tremors and pulls on the light rod but no proper bites.  I noticed the anglers around me were getting a few Whiting though.

Around 1600 I had a proper bite at last, the close range rod whacked over as something tried to make off with my squid fillet.  I bent into something with a bit of weight and dragged a Dogfish up the pebbles.  I like doggies, they are tough little fuckers with nice markings and they act like they think they’re a Great White.  I hoped this would the start of things but it wasn’t yet still I noticed people either side of me were catching Whiting.  I continued to get half hearted rattles and pulls so decided I had to change things.  I baited up a two hook flapper rig with short hooklengths which I thought might encourage something to hook itself.  When I wound in the running rig a Whiting had hung itself!  Should I stick or twist?  I decided to go with the flapper rig and I think it made a difference as I started getting positive bites and began catching Whiting regularly.  While this was going on the big bait which I alternated between Squid and Bluey wasn’t doing much, well it was doing fuck all to be honest.

High tide was upon me, this is when I’ve caught the bigger Rays in the past so I sat sipping a brew hoping the tip on the big bait would whack round and would you believe it did!  But it sprang straight back again and nothing developed.  When I wound in a few minutes later half my squid was gone.  As the tide ebbed so the bites slowed but I did get a couple on the big rod, these were better sized Whiting and had I kept a couple they would have made a decent meal for two.  But not the one below...

The tide gradually receded and the sky darkened, sometimes darkness brings a flurry of bites but this didn’t materialise tonight.  I fished until around 2100 then packed up tired and content finishing with nine Whiting of mixed sizes and the one Dogfish.  After two trips on the beach this year I feel like I’m in the groove again and I’m looking forward to getting back.

A bright sunny spring day, mild as opposed to hot as the easterly breeze is keeping the temperature modest but its undeniably spring, announced by the first beech leaves on the hedge this morning.  The roads east were surprisingly quiet and I pulled into a different car park a little before 1800.  This is ‘Long hike beach’, will the effort be worth it?  I fished here once last spring and it wasn’t, the sea was wild and angry, I blanked.  After fifteen minutes on a solid path and another five trudging across pebbles I arrived at what looked like a suitable spot.  The low tide revealed lots of rocks, humps and lumps which I didn’t feel experienced enough to try and fish over, so I walked beyond all the snags.  By 1830 my first cast touched down, as usual a chunk of squid on a pulley rig given the big un.  On the other rod I reverted to my usual long trace/running leger rig which I mostly fished close in although I did vary the distance at times.  I had it in mind to maybe change to the flapper rig again if things didn’t go to plan.

But the first cast on the light rod brought a definite bite but by the time I reacted it was long gone.  The first couple of casts on the heavy set up saw the baits go AWOL but any crabs about soon buggered off. At 1920 I sat with a brew watching a Kestrel hovering behind me as the sun settled lower in the sky.  Darkness would arrive and with it a full moon and a rising tide which should reach its high point after midnight.  In theory a good evening to be fishing?  I certainly felt confident.

The first hour of darkness, thw wind died but the fishing was nuts.  I was getting bites on both rods and it was non stop; unhooking fish, baiting up, casting, winding in…  At the end of the mad spell I’d caught five decent sized Dogfish and one Whiting.  For the rest of the evening bites were more sporadic but one fish would bring another so there were spells of activity between calmer periods.  By midnight I’d beached three more dogs and an Eel but with high tide approaching I was hoping a Ray might put in an appearance.

My biggest two Thornbacks previously have come right at the top of the tide and bang on cue the tip of the big bait rod rapped over.  I panicked and struck like a twat waving the rod through thin air, bugger!  Had I blown it?  I fished on for an hour longer by which time I was knackered.  Winding in the heavier rod it felt like I was attached to something heavy that didn’t want to come in, was it a Ray?  Whatever it was got stuck and wasn’t shifting, eventually the leader knot gave up.  It may have been a fish or it could have been a load of weed and debris.  Either way, when I wound in the other rod the Whiting that had hung itself was no consolation.

By now it was 0130 and I still had the long hike back to contend with followed by a forty minute drive home.   Needless to say I collapsed into bed at an ungodly hour and apparently snored like a hog?

Wednesday 6 April 2022

Smelly fishy bits

Spring is here, allegedly.  You wouldn’t think so from the weather; overnight frosts, gale force north easterly winds along with rain, sleet, hail and snow.  If there’s any other form of precipitation we probably had that dumped on us too.  Friday was a non starter fishing wise and I didn’t fancy my chances for spring Carp or Tench when it all calmed down on Saturday.  In the end I spent a large chunk of my time off driving, firstly to Norwich on Friday to see my daughter and then on Saturday out west to Sudbury to drop my son off at a party.  There’s a strange vibe about this part of the county, I always expect to hear a banjo…  From here I backtracked and headed east towards the coast to get my fishing fix.  All this driving gave me plenty of opportunity to listen to music, old and new.  Frank Zappa has many fans but after half an hour of musical wanking (i.e. jazz with guitars) I decided I wasn’t one of them.  The latest Van Morrison record project was little better, badly produced with each song blending into the next becoming a boring procession but at least I made it to the end of the CD.

Eventually I reached the car park at the steep beach, the tide was all wrong but I didn’t care, I’d hurl some lumps of smelly fishy bits into the sea, relax and take what comes my way, if anything.  The afternoon was clear and bright, the north easterly had eased to become manageable even if I required the old oval brolly to ensure my comfort. The tide was all wrong, I’d be fishing it down for an hour or so then back up for as long as I could stay motivated.  As I sat slowly tackling up I wondered if I’d bitten off more than I could chew?  Soon I had remembered enough to get two baits out into the grey watery mass, my usual set ups; a running leger with a small bit of squid dropped in close and a whole squid on a pulley Pennell chucked out as far as I dared, which wasn’t that far as it turned out.  As I’d tackled up the big bait I thought I’d seen a rattle on the other and sure enough when I checked a small Whiting had hooked itself, my first cast of the spring had brought me a fish, result!

I was off and running, blank avoided so I settled back on my chair with a brew and tried to reacquaint myself with this beach fishing lark.  The late afternoon was pleasant and bright but I was glad I’d brought the oval because once outside the shelter the wind was cutting.  I’d like to say the bites came thick and fast but this was not the case, I had to get used to the quirks of sea fishing and the rhythm of the waves.  I may have had several bites but if this was so I didn’t spot them.  Two lads fishing to my right had no such trouble, by the look of things they were fishing short hooklengths on flapper rigs and were very active, casting often and striking regularly they were catching a few Whiting, while I wasn’t doing much at all.  I was sure I had a few plucks and rattles but few proper bites and when I struck it was either early or late.  I considered switching methods but in the end I just couldn’t be arsed, this frenetic fishing isn’t for me even if today it would have been more effective.

By 1900 the sea was creeping back up the beach and the sun was getting ready to set, also the wind had died away completely meaning I could tidy up the brolly and get it out of the way.  As the time passed I began to remember the little details that make a difference, my casting improved dramatically and I began to feel like I knew what I was doing again.  As the light fades I always feel confident and sure enough another proper bite materialised.  I picked the rod off the tripod and held it, when another shudder transmitted up the line I struck and I managed to winch another Whiting onto the beach.  With the rising tide the waves grew bigger even though the sea beyond the breakers was flat, I haven’t a clue about the subtleties of wind and tide and I probably never will.  I am definitely guilty of taking Pike fishing seriously, too much so at times but here on the beach I just want to fish and relax, I don’t feel the need to try too hard and the simplicity is part of the appeal.  I look at the lengths modern carpers go to and in some cases admire their effort but it’s definitely not for me.

Another hour passed and full darkness had descended, the horizon was lit by a row of ships heading south to Felixstowe and Harwich, the stars above were spectacular.  The roll and crash of the waves shifting tonnes of shingle seemed louder in the dark, it really is a surreal and wild environment on this stony coast.  But as the night time passed so the temperature dropped, by 2200 I’d added another Whiting but a frost was forming on my kit so I made my last casts.  Half an hour later I was back on country lanes, the stereo throbbed with Marley’s ‘Survival’ a classic that won’t disappoint.  My headlights picked out rabbits another positive and welcome sign of spring.  The fishing hadn’t been at all spectacular but it had ticked all the boxes.