Here's this week's selection of the best sea, pier and beach fishing catch reports from top marks around the English, Welsh and Scottish coastlines provided to the team at Sea Angler magazine from reputable sources within the world of sea fishing...
Johnshaven Harbour, just outside the town, is a reliable mark for winter cod and pollack, both species running to 8lb. Try fishing off the harbour wall with lugworm and squid cocktails on two or three-hook flapper rigs cast just 30yds into the harbour mouth on the incoming tide. The better fish are being caught after dark.
A mark that offers safe fishing and decent access, Spittal promenade is just a few miles from Berwick. Sport won’t be red-hot but flounders will at least provide a few bites along with dabs, a few small whiting and pouting, fishing two hooks rigs baited with cocktails of lugworms, ragworms, fish and peeler crabs. Keep permutating baits to get bites, and cast no further than 30yds. High water offers the best chance. Day anglers are faring best, and it’s safer than fishing after dark.
Look no further than Newbiggin beach for a few cod on the North East coast, as this mark is currently producing fish to 6lb with the odd flatfish thrown in. This is a night beach, so pack the pressure lanterns and headlamps and aim for a few hours either side of low water, when a single-hook cod rig with a size 3/0 or 4/0 hook cast around 60yds-80yds will put you on the fish. Cocktails of lugworms, ragworms and razorfish are favoured.
For the chance of a few bites, target the mouth of the River Wear near the glass factory in Sunderland itself. Codling and whiting to around 2lb are dominating and you can catch at any time of day, with the tide more important than light levels. Ideally aim to start fishing at low water and keep going until the top of the tide, casting around 40yds into the deeper water with a two-hook flapper rig armed with size 1/0 hooks. A selection of baits should include cocktails of lugworms, ragworms, peeler crabs and mackerel strips.
Rat house corner
Just a few hundred yards inland from the glass centre in Sunderland is the oddly-titled Rat House Corner, another estuary mark that offers the best chance of a few bites. Codling and whiting are the main fare, but flounders and coalfish add a bit of variety. A two-hook flapper rig baited with lugworms, peeler crabs, mussels or mackerel works well. Again, a cast of 40yds will be enough, fishing either day or night at any time from low water all the way up to high tide.
In common with much of the area the sheltered marks are fishing consistently. Pilot pier, just outside Hartlepool on the headland, is in good form for cod to 5lb, whiting, flatfish and a few pouting. Night time is best: keep an eye on the tide tables and try to coincide your session with a tide of 6m-plus. A pulley rig cast 60yds to 80yds will do the job, baited with ragworms or a ragworm and squid cocktail.
It’s hard going at the moment for big fish, but if it’s bites you’re after then go to either the West pier or the beach in the town for guaranteed knocks from whiting and flounders. The fish aren’t huge, with 1lb a good weight, but there are plenty of them. Night anglers are taking the lion’s share, fishing around high water and a couple of hours down. A cast of 70yds from either venue is far enough, using a two-hook flapper rig with small hooks and cocktails of squid and mackerel strip
The rocks at Burniston and Cloughton offer the chance of a couple of decent cod, with numbers of fish between 6lb and 10lb showing. Whiting are also here, but these rocks are tricky for the visiting angler so the best bet is to go in daylight for a look around before attempting a night trip, which is the preferred time. High water is the ideal tide, casting anywhere between 30yds and 100yds until you find the fish. A two-hook flapper is good for the whiting, while a single 5/0 hook pulley rig will catch the cod. Black lugworms, mussel and squid are all working well.
Horrendous recent conditions have made fishing a safe mark essential, and Hornsea North beach or nearby Mapperton are ideal, with good access, safe shores and numbers of whiting plus the odd codling. The cod reach 3lb but are rare. Whiting make up the main sport with black lugworms or ragworms tipped with squid or mackerel best, but until the sea calms you’ll need a cast of 100yds-plus. Once the sea calms, you may catch closer in. Three hours either side of high water is the key time, using a clipped-down Pennell rig. Day or night, it makes no difference while the water is so coloured.
Humberston Creek remains in form for flounders, with a recent match seeing a 17 fish haul win. Most of those fish weighed 1lb apiece. You only need a cast of 20yds into the middle of the channel to find them, using a two-hook flapper rig with size 2 or 4 hooks and a flat lead to match the pace of the tide. A medium tide fished one hour before and three hours down is ideal, using lugworms or ragworms tipped with mackerel strip.
Huge waves and rough conditions have made beach fishing in the area really tough going, but in calmer spells anglers have been catching whiting, dabs and flounders from Skegness north shore. These are mainly small but quite prolific, and a gentle cast of 40yds-50yds will put you on them, using a two-hook flapper rig with lugworms or, if you can’t get any, mackerel strip or squid. Day anglers have been catching well two hours before high tide and a couple more on the way down.
Driving snow kept a lot of anglers on the North Norfolk coast indoors, but those that ventured out found a few dabs at Salthouse. It’s real scratching about, though, using two-hook flapper rigs with small hooks and lugworms cast around 60yds in search of a handful of bites. An hour before and the hours after high water seem best, with night sessions producing better results.
The weather has blasted most beachcasters off the Norfolk beaches, but Gorleston pier is a sheltered spot away from the north-easterly winds, offering easy access and comfortable fishing. It is also in form for bites, not necessarily from big fish, though! Dabs, pouting and whiting are present, a fish of 1lb being about as big as you can expect. They are taking lugworms on three-hook flapper rigs with small hooks for scratching about. Cast 30 yds into the deeper channel, fishing on the flood tide into darkness for best results.
It’s been truly hard going in Suffolk, with only a handful of cod being taken from beaches around the area. Dunwich is perhaps the pick, but access has been pretty treacherous and once on the beach the north-easterly winds have made things grim. Cod to 5lb plus a few whiting have shown at Dunwich on lugworms fished at around 60yds, but you will need to fish the flood tide to have the best chance of a bite or two and if that comes in the hours of darkness, so much the better. Things got so bad that even the normally reliable Southwold pier was closed because of ice!
Plenty of dabs and the odd cod have been taken from the beach at Sizewell. The fish are reasonably finicky at the moment, though, so scale down your tackle and use small hooks, around a size 1 being best. Small pieces of lugworm and squid have been used to great effect, and fish are being taken throughout the day, although a few bigger specimens have come during the evening. Access is easy, with parking right next to the venue.
East Lane and Shingle Street still offer the chance of a big cod nudging double figures, but these are rare and the casual angler is perhaps better off fishing for the dabs, which are showing in increasing numbers. Small pieces of gutted black lugworms fished on three-hook flapper rigs will sort them out, but you’ll need to cast around to find them anywhere from 30yds to 70yds out. If you’re after a cod, after dark will give you the best chance. Fish over high water on the flood tide.
Despite the harsh conditions there have still been a few anglers fishing at Clacton pier, and one even caught an 8lb bass last week. There are also plenty of codling and whiting showing, and two-hook rigs with lugworm and squid cocktails have been doing the business. You can catch either close in or at range, an ebb tide being the most productive. There have been plenty of fish caught during the day but if you want to fish at night you need to buy a season ticket, available at the pier. There’s free parking a short walk away at Marine Parade East.
In weather like this it’s all about getting a few bites, and the World’s End section at Tilbury offers the most realistic prospect of delivering this. Small whiting, dabs and flounders will at least make the trip worthwhile, with lugworms on a two or three-hook flapper rig best, cast around 40yds. High water will give you maximum water to fish in, but be careful of the snaggy marginal ledges that can be a bit of a tackle graveyard!
The best chance of finding a few fish is to target the deep-ater venues, and one such mark is the new promenade at Rochester, where there’s the chance of a few pouting and whiting. You’ll find the deep water with just a short cast, and lugworms on size 2 or 4 hooks are all you will need. A flood tide is preferable to an ebb, but day or night makes no difference to catches. Park by the promenade.
There’s still sport to be had from dabs and whiting at Hythe beach. With a decent cast of 70yds you’ll be over clean sandy ground, and a three-hook flapper rig baited with black lugworms is as complex as it needs to get. Try and fish over high tide, although as the water is currently coloured day or night isn’t making any difference to catches. You can park for free close to the beach.
Channel Angling, Dover,
The beaches at Sandgate and Dengemarsh are both still producing numbers of dabs along with the odd codling. Those after dabs have been doing well with three-hook clipped-down rigs cast around 60yds-80yds. For the codling, head out under the cover of darkness with pulley rigs ¬ the further you can cast the better. There’s plenty of parking available at both marks.
St Leonards on Sea
Although the whiting are starting to thin out in the Newchurch area there are still flounders and plaice to be had, and if the wind changes the codling should start showing again. Live yellowtail lugworms have been scoring on Pennell rigs for the cod, and clipped-down rigs with size 1 hooks work for the smaller species. A cast of 60yds-plus should find the fish and a flood tide is preferable. There’s a car park opposite the beach.
Cod continue to provide the majority of the sport at Langley Point, with the best fish 15lb 12oz along with several other doubles and numerous specimens between 4lb and 7lb. There are also plenty of dabs and flounders, which can be good fun on light tackle. You’ll find the fish anywhere at between 30yds and 100yds, to lugworms fished on a three-hook rig. The cod are more active at night. Car parks are free after 6pm.
Flounders are the main species on offer at Langstone and Portsmouth harbour, with the odd bigger fish among them. Ragworms are the only bait that is working, fished on three-hook flapper rigs. Although there’s the odd snag the bottom is generally clean at both marks and you can fish right out of the back of your car. Fish are currently being taken at all times of the day.
Eastney beach offers the chance of catching whiting, rockling and possibly flounders. Ragworms on a three-hook flapper rig are best, cast 60yds-80yds at night. Eastney and the area by the pitch and putt golf course is a good place to start. Parking right next to the beach is free at this time of year.
The Town Quay is still getting the vote of local anglers, who are almost guaranteed a bite or two. Main species on offer include whiting, pouting, flatfish, bass, smoothhounds and plaice. Arm yourself with ragworm and squid. A three-hook flapper rig will catch pretty much anything that swims here. You can fish right out the back of your car, preferably at night.
A variety of species to be had at Swanage pier include flounders, bass, pollack, dogfish and whiting. Regulars use either two-hook paternosters or single-hook rigs baited with lugworms, squid or strips of mackerel. There’s no need to cast to the horizon as you can literally drop your rigs over the side or give them a gentle cast of up to 60yds. There’s always plenty of water at this mark, so tides don’t really make much difference, but you can only fish here during the day. Park just inside the gates and leave a donation in the box.
Head to Chesil beach for a chance of catching whiting, dogfish and the odd codling. Those fishing into the night have had the better results, and a cast anywhere between 30yds and 100yds should put you among the fish. For the cod use a Pennell rig with lugworms and peeler crabs, while for the smaller species you won’t go far wrong with a two-hook clipped-down or flapper rig with lugworms and squid on the hook. Try and fish the flood tide.
One bright spot amid some rather desperate fishing is the rocks at Hope’s Nose, near Torquay. They have been producing whiting, dabs and dogfish during the day and the same, plus the chance of a decent cod or two, at night to lugworms or peeler crabs at range ¬ 80yds being the absolute minimum. A two or three-hook flapper will catch the small fish while for the cod a pulley rig is a must, fishing the flood tide all the way up to high water.
Virtually all marks along the River Tamar are fishing well, and there’s been a multitude of species reported, including cod to 17lb from boat anglers and 7lb from the shore plus whiting, thornback rays, pouting and dabs. You’ll find the fish virtually at your feet. Frozen black lugworm and squid cocktails on running leger rigs will catch pretty much anything, with tides around the 4m mark ideal. The hours of darkness are always better, and there’s loads of free parking available.
Thornback rays should start making an appearance any time now in the Helford River, and the best approach is to use Pennell pulley rigs with size 4/0 hooks baited with sandeels or peeler crabs. Although you can catch them during the day, the rays are always more active at night but you can be plagued by dogfish as well. A cast of around 50yds is fine, and parking is available a 10-minute walk away. There are also plenty of flounders further upriver to two-hook flapper rigs baited with ragworms.
The best bet for a few fish is the harbour in Penzance, with the Albert pier opposite the lighthouse the hotspot at present. Flounders are the main target with a few small whiting and the chance of a bass or two. Fish a two-hook rig baited with ragworm on the flood tide for flounders to 1lb 11oz. Day is better than night and a cast of 20yds is all you’ll need to get among the fish.
The headlands around the town remain consistent for mixed bags of small fish including whiting, dogfish and pouting, and if you do catch a cod, chances are it won’t be heavier than 3lb. A moderate cast of 40yds will be fine, using flapper rigs for the smaller fish, while a Pennell will work for the sit-and-wait cod angler using big baits such as lugworms. The whiting can be caught on mackerel strip, especially at night, provided you’re fishing up to and over high water.
The best chance of any sport will be provided by flounders in virtually any of the estuaries in the area, and there’s the chance of banking a specimen to over 2lb, along with the odd bass. All you need is a light spinning rod with a simple running leger or a two or three-hook paternoster rig baited with peeler crabs, ragworms or lugworms. To capitalise on the flounder’s inquisitive nature try adding a luminous bead or a small spoon to your rig. The falling tide is usually the most productive and the best catches have been taken during the day. Most of the main estuaries are easily accessible, with plenty of parking close by.
Finding a sheltered spot has been a must in recent weeks and Cheyne beach, just outside the town, is a hidden gem capable of producing all sorts of species including conger eels! Day anglers will find codling, whiting and dogfish on flapper rigs with mackerel or squid fished just 30yds to 40yds out, while at night the eels come out to play on big mackerel baits fished on strong single-hook rigs. Flood tide is best.
The cold weather has made deep-water marks highly treasured property, and at Kilve and nearby Hinkley and Lilstock there are the reefs and rock marks that offer deep water just 50yds out. Codling, whiting and dogfish are tobe caught on cocktails of lugworms, squid and peeler crabs fished on Pennell pulley rigs, but tie a rotten-bottom into your rig as it is quite snaggy here. Low water is the key time, with day or night equally good.
Many local estuaries are frozen solid, but the rocks at Ogmore remain ice-free. They are still best tackled in daylight, as they can be tricky after dark. Whiting to 1lb and dogfish to 2lb 8oz are the main species, with the odd big conger eel or cod. A medium-sized ebb tide offer best conditions. For big fish, a Pennell rig with lugworms or mackerel will work well, while a two or three-hook flapper with small hooks and lugworms or strips of mackerel is perfect for smaller species.
The rocks at Swansea Bay or Mumbles pier will cover all options, the rocks allowing fishing at night while the pier is the best for day sessions. Likely species include codling to 2lb, whiting and dabs to 1lb and dogfish, with lugworm and squid cocktails the best baits fished on two-hook paternoster rigs. Cast 70yds and you should catch. Aim to fish up and over high tide when the height is around 11m.
A number of hotspots have been producing fish in the area, with lots of flounders and dabs being taken. Glenn beach at Saundersfoot has been fishing well during the day, while good bags have also been taken from Tenby north beach. The south beach has also started to find some form of late and lugworms have been best at all these venues, fished on two and three-hook flapper rigs. Car parking is located close to all the beaches.
The harbour or Milford Waterway in the town centre offers 40 miles of water to fish and holds a real mixed bag of species, from conger eels to cod. The cod, whiting and thornback rays are being taken on lugworms or squid fished on two-hook flappers or Pennell rigs at 70yds. Daytime is best, while the conger eels are showing to big fish baits on strong single-hook rigs fished after dark just 30yds out. You’ll need a tide of average height for all species.
Good mixed bags being taken from the North beach, with dogfish and rockling in the day and whiting in the evening. Two or three-hook flapper rigs work well, cast around 50yds. A variety of baits have been used, but squid and mackerel have produced the majority of the fish. The best tide to fish on is two hours either side of high. There’s plenty of free street parking close to this popular hotspot.
A number of areas have been producing the goods of late, although Raven’s Point in Trearddur Bay has been the most prolific. Some decent whiting to almost 2lb have been landed along with a few codling. Lugworms have been working well in conjunction with Pennell or two-hook clipped-down rigs. A cast of around 50yds is needed, although a good tip is to keep casting around to try and find the deep holes which are natural fish-holding areas. Most successful anglers have been getting to the venue one hour before high tide and have fished on from there. Only limited parking is available, although local tackle shops will doubtless be able to advise you on a few hidden areas!
The wall at Bromborough has been fishing well for dabs and whiting, with numbers of fish being taken two hours either side of high tide. Lugworms, sandeels and peeler crabs have been working well, with two-hook flapper rigs producing the majority of fish. Parking is located close to this popular hotspot.
The Five Bar Gate has been fishing well either side of high water for lots of small codling and dabs. The best time to fish is an hour either side of high water, and the fish seem to have pushed out slightly of late, so cast as far as you can to maximise your chances. Simple pulley rigs are working, with black lugworms the best bait. Free parking is a mere 40yds away from the venue.
The Stone Jetty has been fishing well on night tides for whiting and codling, the latter falling to bigger baits such as fresh lugworms tipped with squid. Simple two-hook flapper rigs have been working well. The odd plaice and flounder has also been taken close to the golf course at both high and low water on lugworm baits.
Lots of codling to 6lb have been caught off Parton beach, despite the cold winds battering the area recently. Pennell pulley rigs have produced a string of impressive catches, with good numbers of fish falling to lugworms and peeler crabs. Night time is your best bet for a fish or two, although the daylight hours shouldn’t be dismissed if there is a south-westerly wind blowing and there’s a bit of colour in the water. You can literally fish out of the boot of your car here, with parking on the sea front.
Isle of Man
Port Erin has been fishing well despite the dire conditions, with lots of mackerel and wrasse taken. Floatfishing is the way forward, with lots of bites forthcoming to strips of mackerel. Fish are being taken at any time of the day, although the better specimens are being landed four hours either side of high tide. Plenty of free parking spots are located close to the Breakaway.
The Yellow Isle at Portpatrick has been producing a variety of species, including dabs, whiting and the odd coalfish. Simple two-hook flapper rigs fished on the bottom have been used by most of the locals, with small pieces of mackerel and lugworms tipped with squid the best baits. Most of the better fish have been taken during the evening. Free parking is available next to the Scottish Power building.
Codling to around 6lb have shown off Newton shore alongside good numbers of flatfish. A variety of baits have been producing fish, with mussels, lugworms and peeler crabs favoured by local anglers. Bomber and Pennell rigs are best, but the bitterly cold temperatures mean virtually nobody has ventured out overnight. All recent reports are coming from anglers fishing during the hours of daylight. A road runs parallel to the venue and free parking is available here.
Loch Etive has been fishing well for pollack to 6lb, with Taynuilt pier particularly good at the moment. There are a lot of deep holes in the area and these can be located by casting around 50yds. Simple pulley rigs are producing most fish, with lugworms and ragworms the best baits. Fish can be caught throughout the day, but the better specimens have been taken in darkness. A free car park is by the pier.