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Sea Fishing – Alan Yates’ Monthly Diary


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The Milford Haven shark boats are into some real monsters at present... The Milford Haven shark boats are into some real monsters at present...

It’s midsummer and it’s tough going on the beaches but Alan has a few ideas to keep you catching.










Midsummer and towards its end can be a very difficult time for shore anglers in many regions of the UK. Clubs hold far fewer matches at the height of summer not only because the beaches are thronged with holidaymakers, but also because the fishing is often not that good through the balmy midsummer weather. I believe much is to do with the sultry atmosphere, it puts us off so why not the fish? That apart, lots of species are on the move north so in the south some regions will experience the fish, species like mackerel and garfish have actually passed them north, whilst in the far north they may not yet have arrived.

The calm clear water and the increased daylight hours also have an effect and on many venues it’s not until dusk that the fish show. Don’t you just hate those evening events at the local club beach competition when all the action is crammed in the last five minutes, a last cast at darkness to catch the only fish!

This year the seasons have been well behind their normal arrival date and having spoken to anglers both north and south it is clear that the season difference is as much is six weeks! When things will eventually catch up is unclear, but one thing is for sure and that is that as the darker evenings and temperatures drop, autumn will arrive and the fishing will improve dramatically.

In the meantime it’s a case of making the best of what you have and this will vary around the country. In my neck of the woods, Kent, the dogfish are taking over but like many other regions of the English Channel, Irish Sea and increasingly North Sea the smoothhounds make up for the failures of the other prime species. Smoothhound hot spots appear every year and it does seem that there is a lot of good news for shore anglers when you look at the species the commercial fishermen don’t want so much.

Yours truly with a 10lb thornback from Sandwich BayDogfish are a curse, but they are a bite in many regions and this is increasingly being appreciated, especially by the match anglers. The rays are on the increase, I caught my first ever from Dover Breakwater recently and although they are not renowned fighters they are weighty and they bend that rod tip! Tope, well they are primarily a boat species, but shore specimens are increasingly possible since the species have been afforded some protection from the commercials. As for bass, well maybe there are more schoolies around now and the scarcity of the bigger fish is the worry, but the larger number of small bass in are certainly fuelling an expansion in lure fishing in the UK, although I have to say I think the bubble may well burst soon.

Personally I really do enjoy a wander around the rocks at dawn with a lure, but the success rate does depend on conditions and through the summer in my regions those condition are perfect on just a couple of days. My choice for bass, big bass, is a fresh mackerel fillet, head or flapper and it’s coming up to the time when big bass can be targeted from the shore.

Firstly look for a hot mackerel venue, because it’s likely that mackerel anglers gut their catch before they leave and the bass will be around to snaffle the steady summer stream of free food. In Kent the hot venue is the Admiralty Pier at Dover, in Sussex it’s the Brighton Marina west wall. In other parts of the country other venues, even beaches, offer a similar situation with the bass worth targeting on the first of the flood tide as the mackerel bits are pushed into the tide.

Elsewhere a small live pout or whiting, etc fished close in to the beach in darkness is an alternative tactic and although the really big fish are few and far between those that target them in this way have a great chance of success. One major tactic of catching bass is not to cast too far; that’s why it’s the novice or the birds nest that often catches the biggest specimen! The species is notorious for hugging the surf line and is rarely caught with a long cast. So use a big bait, cast it with a plop and fish lots of hours, especially at dusk and dawn.

If you are lucky enough to hook a big bass please consider returning it – I hear so many anglers go on about minimum size limits, but it is killing the bigger breeding fish that does the major damage to stocks. Anglers should take the small, 36cm to around 45cm, bass and return anything over the 45 to 50cm mark. They can breed the next season, whilst the smaller fish cannot and still have to run the commercial and angling gauntlet; kill all the mums and dads and there won’t be any kids!

The July / August issue of Sea Angler includes a free video featuring myself and Paul Fenech With the shore fishing not always at its best this month it’s well worth giving a thought to a charter boat trip – especially wrecking. Some of those far off virgin wrecks through the English Channel and North Sea are reachable through the balmy part of the summer with big cod, pollack, ling, conger and some monster black bream around for those lucky enough to anchor over them.

I have also heard a whisper that the Milford Haven shark boats are into some monster sharks. At the top of this month's diary is a picture of Canterbury angler, Andrew Griffiths with the biggest ever Porbeagle to come aboard Andrew Alsop's White Water charter boat at Milford Haven!

Finally, don’t forget the July / August issue of Sea Angler, it includes a free video featuring myself and Paul Fenech and lots of tips and advice for shore anglers on all subjects including tackle, baits, rigs and casting – check it out!

Tight Lines


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Sea Fishing, Boat Fishing, Alan Yates, Bass fishing, smoothhounds