"You're looking at cod, rays, whiting, flounders, pouting, dogfish and a few bass," local match angler George Smith confirms. "We get a good run of spring cod every year but the fish vary in weight, plus there's the odd scattering of dogfish too."
All of them biding their time...
According to Hull University's Geography Department, few coastlines anywhere on the planet are disappearing as quickly as this one. The soft boulder clay cliffs left behind by the retreating ice sheet 12,000 years ago are at the mercy of North Sea breakers and currently slim down at a rate of between one and three metres a year, necessitating a sea defence programme that currently accounts for almost seven miles of this crumbling shoreline in East Yorkshire.
As the old Irving Berlin song goes, with a slight alteration, however, "There may be trouble ahead, but while there's moonlight and music and love and romance, let's face the music and fish."
That's probably not quite how George Smith puts it, but while the waves that bring ruin also happen to be bringing fish, he and pal Karl Nangle could be forgiven for focusing on the short-term when they tried their luck at Hilston and Withernsea, two marks typical of the 15-mile Holderness coastline that separates Skipsea and Spurn Head.
"YOU have to take care with the cliffs, especially if you're an older angler," Smith warns. "Local anglers have cut paths into most of them but, being clay, they can be treacherous if it has been raining."
If you can get down to the beaches safely, though, then the fishing is year-round, although it is the spring run that offers the greatest variety.
"In winter, there are cod and pouting, with dabs and flounders in calm weather," says George. "The summer fishing is for dogfish and rays and you stand a chance of a bass throughout the year. In spring, though, you never know what you might catch.
"You can get bags of 30-40lb at that time of year. Rays and cod go to 10lb and bass to 6lb."
The coastline can be fished day or night and on any tide, although the size of tides varies either side of Hilston. "You get the bigger tides north of there than those between Hilston and Spurn to the south," Smith points out. "You get the advantage of more movement in the water on the bigger tides, but if they are too big you can get pushed back onto the cliffs. Normally, the beaches fish right up to high water."
Best after the wind has been blowing, the Holderness coast will fish from low water up to high and a little way back down again. The terrain is shingle, giving way to sand with patches of clay, and is striped with sandbars and gullies, the precise layout of which can be inspected at low water.
"The fish tend to occupy bands of water and your initial casts should be to different distances, so you can discover how far out today's band is," George maintains. His own tactic is to fish two rods, one working the sub-100yd range while the other explores deeper waters.
Karl will bag a 4lb 8oz codling within 10 yards of the shore on this occasion and George adds that this can make it a good mark for anyone who would like to fish lighter than usual.
"It means you can get by with a two- or three-hook flapper and save your clipped-down rigs for more long-range work. For the pleasure angler who's after a big fish and fishing at different distances, I would recommend a size 2/0 hook on a 25lb snood. I like my snoods long to promote more movement in the water.
"I use 18lb Ultima F1 Black mainline with a decent shockleader and a lead weight of 4-6oz will handle the kind of tides you get here. Be as light as you can with your lead when fishing close in, so that it rolls around a lot and keep an eye on your rod because it could get dragged in by a fish that close."
Bait for the spring season consists of ragworms, lugworms, crabs and squid, with the latter a big plus at a time of year when the coast enjoys a run of squid and cuttlefish that the larger predators seize upon with relish. Fish it on its own or use it in a cocktail with worms or crabs. Bring your own worms, though, as the shoreline fishes much better than it digs.
"There aren't too many crabs around to strip your bait in the spring, so you can leave about 20 minutes between casts," says Smith. "In the summer, you need to re-bait more regularly."
If you want rays, he recommends that you wait for a calm day with any breeze coming from the west. Dogfish also show in calmer conditions, while cod and bass seem oblivious to the weather conditions.
One final word of advice for the casual angler: if you are looking to take your pick of the Holderness marks, it may be advisable to take a day off during the week.
"All the matches in the area tend to be rovers and places like Hilston, Holmpton and Hornsea's north beach get busy at weekends," George, an England shore angler, advises.
Otherwise, the place is all yours. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Of the best laid plans of mice and men often turn to rubbish, to paraphrase poet Robbie Burns, it is fair to say the process can work just as unerringly in reverse.
For all the planning we put into life's landmark moments, how often does the tension of arranging the perfect wedding or surprise birthday party dilute our enjoyment of them? And, on the flip-side, how often do some of our fondest memories involve those unscheduled humdinger social occasions that grew out of nothing?
If you've ever popped into the pub for a quick half and five hours later found yourself part of a 12-man chorus singing 'You're just too good to be true' to the landlord's wife, you know where I'm coming from.
Fishing can be like that. What began in despair, as weed threatened to strangle a day's codding at birth and continued with this writer rushing to Lowestoft at the last minute in anything but an angling frame of mind, ended in resounding success.
From bad to better
Paul Kerry's dejection 24 hours earlier had been understandable. By his reckoning, the last time the fishing at Pakefield was this good, Bill Clinton's furniture was still being moved into the White House.
Think codling off Pakefield beach any time during the last ten years and you're thinking 2lb. Five years ago, that figure doubled, and then a 8-10lb fish was attainable on a good day, and the beach is buzzing with anglers.
No wonder Kerry had sounded a broken man on the phone. With everything set for Sea Angler's visit, two friends had gone down to the beach for a dress-rehearsal, only to find the sea thick with weed and the cod conspicuous by their absence.
Paul was determined to give it another try. He would fish Pakefield early next morning and call me if there was any chance the day could be saved after all.
Now maybe it's my age but just as ocean liners need a mile or two in which to change direction, I don't exactly hop like a mountain goat from one mindset to another. Paul sounded desolate, the weed sounded here to stay, the day sounded very much off. I was halfway to work the following morning before it occurred to me that I had brought no waterproofs or thick coat with me, should a miracle occur.
By 10am, however, my oversight was looking purely academic and no bad thing, judging by the way a minor gale was making the tree branches dance outside my window.
That Pakefield weed may have done us a favour, I reflected, just as my telephone rang.
It was Paul, and to someone underdressed for the occasion, his voice was alarmingly enthusiastic. The weed was gone, he and Gravesend angler Shane Pullen had several cod between them and could I get there by lunchtime?
So what brought all this on in the first place? Paul Kerry has no doubts.
"It's because the sprats are in," he says, once I have composed myself as best I can on a bracing afternoon on the Suffolk coast.
"Some people say that kills the fishing because the cod are too busy with the sprats to see your bait but I think it works the other way round - the sprats get the cod's mind on feeding and it will go for anything. Whenever I've caught several cod in a short space of time down here, they've all had sprats in their mouths.
"I've tried wrapping sprats with lugworms to improve my catch rate but I've found it doesn't lead to any more catches than lug on their own."
The feeding frenzy has made for a welcome infusion of promise into a region that has not exactly been fishing its head off of late.
"Norfolk has been quiet but between Pakefield, Kessingland and Southwold, there's been a concentration of cod this year," Kerry confirms.
Although Pakefield's shingle-and-sand beach is shallow, a cast of 100 yards gets you into an adequate 15ft of water. Paul and Shane were both working at 180yd range, however, to get their bait in the vicinity of a sand bar.
While both men take precautions against any weed that may still be around, standing their rods as steeply as possible against the rod-rest so as to keep the tip high and as much line as possible clear of the water, it turns out that they have indeed been spared; a fortunate break, as the stuff can sometimes hang around for a day or two.
"I've caught one or two fish in weed but generally, I don't think fish like having it around them," Kerry reflects.
The best tactics
He uses lug exclusively for bait, with razorfish an optional extra, depending what decade we happen to be in.
"I used to tip the lug with razorfish but the razors have gone off round here. I think it's because the ground has shifted.
It's a cyclical thing with razorfish; 30 years ago there were none to be found here, ten years ago we had them but now they've gone again."
He uses a single clipped-down metal boom, as casting distance is not at a premium here and the boom allows him to try a different bait presentation.
"I'd recommend a 170g grip lead because the extra weight lets you make a slower, smoother cast and improve your chances of getting your bait further out," Paul points out.
"I like to fish two rods, casting to different distances with each one so I can find the fish. If the tide is humming through, you need to fish closer in, while if there's a slack tide or there's weed about, you have to fish further out.
Night fishing can be a little better for fishing, although the difference is not critical and both the ebb and flood tide fish well. The limited casters among you should note that two of Shane's friends subsequently tried the venue and found that their shorter casting range made less difference under cover of darkness.
Shane Pullen cuts no corners where his bait is concerned. He made a 90-mile round journey from Gravesend to Deal to collect his yellowtail lug the night before, before rising at 4am and heading to Suffolk not long afterwards, for a day that could easily have come to nothing.
Eight hours fishing and 25 cod later, his gamble had paid off.
"It's a very shallow beach, compared to what I'm used to in Kent and after the solid shingle beaches and muddy banks of the Thames that I fish, the sand up here has got my eyes red raw when the wind blows. On the plus side, I haven't lost any gear all day!"
After Paul enjoyed some great fishing in the Thames at Shane's invitation, this was Paul's chance to return the favour.
Shane has opted for a clipped-down two-hook rig, size 2/0 Viking Pennell hooks and a 5oz lead weight, fished from a 80lb shockleader and 15lb mainline.
He is particularly enthusiastic about Breakaway's Imp bait clip: "It's an all-in-one bait clip and shield," he explains. "I've found traditional Impact leads can get clogged up but I've had no problem with these. They release every time."
Boom or no boom, both his approach and Paul's do their stuff on a thoroughly satisfying afternoon. You hear of pockets of resistance like this whenever fishing slips into a general lull; venues that go quietly against the grain and fish their heads off.
Usually, they are somewhere at the other end of the country, so to be able to enjoy one first hand is a rare treat. So much so that only when it's time to leave do I realise just how much I've missed a decent coat.
While many people regard Pakefield as a suburb of Lowestoft, it is in fact a separate village, sat alongside its larger neighbour on a bulge in the Suffolk coast that forms the most easterly point of the UK.
Thanks to sea erosion, that bulge was disappearing at a rate of several feet a year until the Pakefield's Jubilee Wall sea defence was completed in 1944.
Park in the car park at the top of Pakefield Street. Not only does this leave you with the beach straight ahead but you also have the Jolly Sailor pub on one side of you and Pakefield Plaice fish and chip shop on the other.
This is not the place that put the 'ease' in Easington. Cinderella Rock, with all its connotations of glass slippers and romance is actually more like something from ‘Who Dares Wins’.
Calling for tricky climb, it leaves you stranded by the tide for an hour or two, when you must steer clear of its crumbling edges and brace yourself for a drenching if you've misread the weather forecast.
If you're lucky, the locals on the cliffs just look at you: unlucky, and they throw things. Then when you're done and the tide's gone out, there's another tricky climb back down. Don’t all rush at once.
One man who swears by it, however, is Wayne Harriman. Since childhood, the local match angler has watched the Rock surrender gradually to the sea, its teeth ironically sharpened by the same demise of mining that has otherwise had such a mollifying effect on these County Durham beaches.
“High tide once fell 150 yards short of the Rock but when the tipping of colliery waste stopped, there was nothing filling up the beach any more and the sea advanced,” he explains.
Now high water surrounds it, leaving 20ft of water between you and the mainland. A 100yd cast from its top is equivalent to 250yd from the beach behind it. Wayne has had cod to 8lb here and the average is 2lb 8oz. Coalfish in the region of 1lb 8oz are available, along with whiting, flatties and eels.
Not for the faint hearted
So let's break down the challenges of Cinderella Rock one by one.
Firstly, with the best time for fishing being the last three hours of the flood and first two of the ebb tide, you need to be absolutely sure there are no psychological skeletons in your cupboard where being cut off by the tide is concerned.
Avoiding such a fate is so heavily ingrained in any shore angler that consciously embracing it for once might not be an easy mental U-turn.
Wayne Harriman admits to loving the solitude as the tide seals him off from the mainland but if you’ve ever felt your hands go clammy while watching 'Robinson Crusoe', this might not be your type of mark.
Even if it is, don't forget to take a good book with you, in case it turns out to be one of those days when the fish aren't interested. You can't just pack up and leave this mark.
Next - and this is crucial - you need to have studied the weather beforehand as thoroughly as if you were going out on a boat.
“I like fishing there when the water is just running off after a big sea and you watch the big swells rolling by but it's only fun if the wind isn't a northerly,” Wayne cautions. “If there's a northerly and it's a big sea the waves will explode on the front of the Rock and you'll be soaked. A dying northerly is ideal for fishing but you have to be certain the wind is dropping.”
The cliffs behind provide an effective windbreak to anything coming from the west, north-west or south-west, as well as providing the perfect vantage point for spectators. Sadly, the latter point is not always good news. On one occasion, Harriman had two juveniles throwing stones at him while he fished the Rock.
There is room for three anglers on the Rock, four at a pinch but beware that this is a sandstone feature that had a 20ft high pinnacle not so long ago. Erosion takes its toll and the edges can crumble.
“You all need to know what you're doing,” Harriman confirms. “If there's a small group, everyone tends to set up to the left to make casting room available.”
The Rock is primarily a winter mark and local matchmen all head elsewhere for their fishing 'fix' when spring beckons (which does, however, clear the way for some good mackerel fishing here during the summer).
The winter season extends from late September to early March if conditions are favourable.
“You have 10ft of water in front of you at high tide and directly in front the ground is very heavy, although less so to either side, say at 10 o'clock and two o'clock,” Harriman continues.
The mark will fish in any size of tide but as previously advised you do need to know from which direction the wind is coming. And if all this is not quite challenging enough, Wayne calmly informs us that the mark can also fish very well in the dark.
“I once had 18 codling of about a pound-and-a-half each one night,” he recalls. “And I was catching them two at a time.”
The fact that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea as marks go does work in favour of Cinderella Rock’s regulars, however. You may occasionally find that someone has beaten you to it but it is not heavily in demand, even among match anglers fishing a local rover competition.
Tackle and bait
“I fish a Greys Platinum beachcaster and a Penn 525 reel loaded with 20lb line and a shockleader,” says Wayne.
“I’ll use a one- or two-hook clipped rig, although you can make do with a two-hook flapper for whiting and codling if they’re close in, say 60yd off the Rock. Unless the water is fl at and clear, though, you need to cast about a hundred yards.”
He uses 6oz plain or grip leads and size 1 to 3/0 hooks, opting for a Pennell set-up on his clipped rigs. Rotten bottoms are essential: not only is there rocky ground out there but Easington’s mining tradition has left all manner of mechanical bits and pieces embedded in the sea floor.
“As far as bait goes, it’s crabs from September until mid or late November and then lugworms until the end of the season,” Wayne adds.
Should an unfavourable wind, vertigo or a phobia for being marooned put Cinderella Rock out of your reach, however, fear not, for there is still good fishing to be had from more conventional marks along Easington beach.
Just to the right of the Rock, parallel with it, is the Lime Hole. Once a prodigious flounder mark, much of the sand in the hole has been washed away but it can still hold fish.
Three hundred yards further south of the Lime Hole is The Twelve Foots, (“My dad used to swim there and he’d dive off these rocks into about 12ft of water, so I assume that’s where the name comes from!” says Wayne) a group of low rocks that can be fished at low water.
On the northern side of Cinderella Rock, meanwhile, is the Old Flight mark, a sandy bay adjacent to the Old Flight itself, where colliery waste was once tipped.
“This is another good flounder mark,” explains Wayne, “but there is a deep gully about 60yd in front of you at low tide that can hold a lot of codling.”
From the south: leave the A1(M) at J49 and follow the A168 and A19 which take you through Middlesbrough and past Hartlepool and Peterlee. In Easington, leave the A19 for the B1283 (Hall Walks, Rosemary Lane and Seaside Lane) to Easington Colliery.
From the north: leave the A1(M) at J62 for the A690 towards Durham. Turn left onto the A181 at Gilesgate Moor and just before Sherburn bear left onto the B1283 for Easington, which will take you into Easington Colliery.
Parking is available on the site of the former colliery. From here a footpath takes you on a 15-minute walk to the beach. At the cliff top, you will see Cinderella Rock to your left.
Long after it was written off as a resort, Ravenscar the cod haven is thriving. Steve I’Anson explores a Jurassic classic
Ravenscar is the town that never happened. Back in the early 1900s, builders hoping to cash in on the new Scarborough-Whitby railway got as far as laying out roads, sewers and foundations for a town called Peak, which it was hoped would provide Victorian city dwellers with homes near the beach.
That the beach lay at the foot of a 600ft cliff only seemed to register with anyone late in the proceedings. The idea never took off, only a handful of houses were built and in the 1930s, Peak was renamed Ravenscar.
History also links this building with mad King George III, who was reputedly treated here, and with the smugglers and pirates who took advantage of its difficult access to smuggle tobacco and brandy.
Nowadays, the sea’s produce is more legitimate, although the angler who hankers for the good old days shouldn’t look too closely at the cliffs as he descends to sea level. This is prime Jurassic period coastline and those craggy walls offer much fossilised evidence of the denizens of the deep that lurked here millions of years ago.
Their fishy descendants, though, are not to be sniffed at. Indeed, it is the chance of cod of monster proportions that regularly draws a loyal legion of foot soldiers to fish this mark, despite the physical rigours involved.
In the descendancy
The good news. This is a beautifully wild, untouched place to go fishing. High, terraced cliffs, lined by trees and decked in bracken enshrine the rocks below in a mysterious cloak of shapes and shadows.
Let your imagination run on a murky day and you could really imagine you are in a scene from Steven Spielberg’s epic movie Jurassic Park, the rocks shuddering underfoot, especially as your rod creaks seaward in a seemingly unstoppable arc.
The bad news. The cliffs here are over 500ft high - some of the highest in the country - and the sea can seem a long way down when you walk the path from Raven Hall. While the track is steep and basic, however, it is quite manageable and some steps have been cut out and reinforced for part of the way by the National Trust.
A quick look over the cliffs before the descent gives you an idea of the venue’s basic layout: a boulder-strewn shoreline tight against the bottom of the cliffs, trapped between two prominent scaurs that become exposed at low tide.
The scaur to the north, below the Raven Hall, is Peak Steel and the scaur to the south, below the old village car park, is Blea Wyke Steel.
Three routes lead down to the beach below. One is down the track below Raven Hall Hotel, which sits proudly on the South Cheek of Robin Hood’s Bay. Follow this down past the golf course and progress to the beach. The track splits towards the bottom; continue straight down to fish Peak Steel and turn right through the bracken to reach the shoreline beneath Raven Hall, which leads south to Blea Wyke.
Here can be seen wreckage of an old Ferguson tractor and caterpillar tractor from 1965, abandoned after an abortive attempt to salvage the wreck of the Fred Everard, a cargo ship that ran aground, some of whose remains can still be seen at a spring tide’s low water mark.
The alternate routes are the spiral staircase that leads down from the old village car park, and the other is above Lady Green, about half a mile further south on the Cleveland Way cliff path.
Take my advice, use the track under Raven Hall and leave the others to the local wildlife and experienced anglers.
Most fishing takes place over low water on and in between the two Steels, although south of Blea Wyke Steel is a good area known as Lady Green and Common Cliff, which runs to Rocky Point, marking its boundary with the village of Staintondale.
Straight below the path is Peak Steel, which is exposed to its full length at low water and fishes best two hours either side of low tide.
The Steel can be fished in all but the roughest weather. During winter, the best place is fishing the north side and end of the Steel, fishing into kelp-lined gullies with a relatively clean bottom. In summer, the best place is halfway back along the south side of the steel, casting into the thick tangle beds. Beware that the Steel does get cut off from about mid tide.
To the south of the Peak Steel, under the cliff below Raven Hall, is a shoreline comprised of a room-sized boulders that plunge into the deep, kelp-festooned North Sea. This shoreline stretches south right up to the opposite side of Blea Wyke Steel.
This rough ground has very few prominent fishing holes, but one that is easy to spot is an area of clay scaur exposed between the rocks. A third of the way between the Steels, it marks what is a cut-off point between the two Steels from about one hour before high water.
About halfway along, the boulders come back in towards the cliff slightly, marking another popular mark called the Pulpit Rock, where you will be fishing mostly from boulders into thick kelp and deep water.
Fish can be taken here at most stages of the tide, but most anglers tend to fish it over high water after they have been washed off or are waiting to go onto the Steels. Unless you know where to fish, the best way is to have a cast and move on until you come across fish; anywhere along this front can produce.
Blea Wyke Steel
Probably the most popular venue at Ravenscar, but it takes about 20 minutes to walk from the bottom of the track to Blea Wyke Steel. As the tide starts to ebb then the Steel becomes progressively more exposed.
Once onto Blea Wyke Steel you are fishing into very deep water. Fish can be taken here all year round and it fishes well in both summer and winter, best months being from December to March, but good fishing can be had in June and July for red cod.
The ground is very heavy kelp at the point nearest the shoreline, and, as you progress to the end of the steel, the snags become less and the water deeper with more tide. On the very point of the Steel, sub-surface ledges can be felt as fished are dragged up from the depths. Fishing is best here from about two hours either side of low water.
Directly South of Blea Wyke Steel is Lady Green, where the ground becomes more boulders and kelp. The cliff directly behind is very low, forming a bracken-covered depression at the foot of the higher cliffs.
Fish can be taken throughout the tide; best times are over high and low water on spring tides. It can fish well in summer.
When describing Cardiff Foreshore it’s best to use the term 'beach' advisedly. For Cardiff Foreshore is the ugliest, uninviting, awkward and certainly the most uninspiring rat-infested place you can go for a good day out.
Shoe-horned between the industrial sprawl of Cardiff docks and the thickly coloured, swift flowing waters of the upper reaches of the Bristol Channel, the coastline looks like the outskirts of an Iraqi town paid a courtesy visit by the US air force.
The smashed concrete slabs and girders, tangled steelwork and the general detritus is all that's left of a once profitable, productive and now long lamented industrial age. Put bluntly, the place is a bloody mess.
So why aren't anglers advised to head further west where the beaches don't look like a war zone? Or even the numerous mud and peat venues to the east, marks that might be messy to fish but at least they do resemble a more natural environment?
It's all down to fish. The foreshore is one of hottest shore venues in the area and over the autumn and winter months has been one of the best cod marks for miles
Visit first before fishing
Often I advise sea anglers to make the effort to visit a new mark at low water before attempting to fish it, so that the inter-tidal topography and fish-holding features, such as sand bars, gullies and mussel beds, can be pinpointed and snags located.
Cardiff Foreshore extends from The Gut, a small stream that runs onto the beach near the roundabout on Rover Way nearest to the docks entrance, westwards for approximately a mile and a half, almost as far as the Cardiff Bay Barrage.
"It is possible to fish at the foreshore for approximately three hours over high water on all sizes of tides," advises Clive Vedmore, one of the area's most experienced match anglers, "though mid-range to spring tides are by far the most productive.
"The problem with fishing smaller neap tides is that only a few marks are easily fishable and these can become congested, especially when the word is out that the fish are running.
"I have to admit that anglers capable of presenting their baits at range will often have the advantage," says Clive, "but as long as you can cast a baited rig between 60-90 yards you'll catch fish.
"Quite often the biggest cod, which includes doubles, are caught by anglers fishing very close in. Daytime fishing can be very good, but often more fish are caught at night," he advises.
A brace of Cardiff Foreshore codling for Gary Parsons.
Catch more than cod
A wide variety of species can be caught with cod top of the list and the first codling appearing by early September. Sport generally peaks late autumn/early winter, but in recent years there have been plenty of fish around until well into the spring.
Whiting fishing throughout the autumn can be warm work and I once watched former world champion Jimmy Jones amass an impressive haul of over 50 sizeable whiting during a four-hour match here. This season the whiting haven't shown.
The foreshore is noted for conger eels, with plenty of fish into low double-figures and even an occasional 20-pounder from spring to autumn; winter too if conditions remain mild.
Other species include silver eels, bass, flounders, mullet and occasional plaice and soles. Interestingly, dogfish were rarely caught east of Penarth, but these days they are common. Many local anglers, including Clive, feel this is because the nearby Cardiff Bay Barrage and the second Severn Crossing have changed conditions, which suit other types of fish.
For example, vast areas of foreshore, areas that used to comprise entirely of rock and hard ground, are now covered by soft mud that in places is up to a foot thick.
Codling are the attraction for Nigel Davies, at Cardiff Foreshore.
TIPS ON BAITING THE HOOK
Bait should be dictated by target species. If it's cod you want, then fresh or frozen black lug, fresh blow lug and ragworms, squid and peeler crabs either fi shed individually or as a cocktail are killers.
Frozen mackerel is number one for whiting, while congers can be caught on most bait with squid and mackerel being especially effective. Worm baits and peeler crab are tops for flatfish and bass.
Aren't you lucky? The foreshore doggies clean up everything. If you are ace at mini shark snatching then I suggest you fish with fish bait or squid. Personally I can't really see the point.
Single and twin snood paternosters work well, with most anglers using a twin-hook 2/0 to 4/0 Pennell to carry large baits for cod and congers.
If congers are your thing, you would be well advised to beef up the hooklengths. Heavy mono or even wire would be a wise choice for this.
The swiftly-flowing run of tide demands the use of 5oz or 6oz spiked leads with the mark fishable in most weather conditions, but winds with an easterly aspect will kick up a choppy sea and actually tend to be the least productive.
Lug, squid and crab mounted on a Pennell rig is perfect here.
The easiest way to the foreshore is to leave the A48, Eastern Avenue, at the Cardiff Docks/City Centre exit at Llanedeyrn. Follow the signs for Cardiff Docks, first along Southern Way then Rover Way. The dock entrance is just past the steelworks. Parking is restricted because access to the docks is not allowed unless fishing a prearranged open match. Park on the approach road near to the security gates and walk past the heliport to reach the foreshore.
The old saying that you don't miss something until it's gone might have been written for Scarborough's Marine Drive - a jewel in the crown for sea anglers living near and far.
In its pomp, the All England Codling Championship boasted an entry of more than 500 anglers, hundreds fishing side by side along the Drive.
This year-round mark saw action around the clock in all but the roughest seas. It was a source of easy, relaxed fishing and an eye-catching spectacle for the thousands of visitors to the town, many of whom had never seen prime cod without a coat of batter!
Alas, another saying - 'nothing lasts for ever' - now sadly applies to the revamped Drive. Once a magnet for anglers of all ages and abilities, it is now confined to those whose idea of a super-hero is half John Wilson and half Spiderman.
From the roadside, anglers are faced with a concrete wall about three feet high. This drops away vertically for about 10ft onto granite blocks and man-made acropodes.
You may have thought the acropodes belonged on a hilltop in Athens: sadly, not so. They are actually large concrete blocks that collectively resemble giant sugar lumps in a bowl.
Few of them on the Drive lie sufficiently flat to provide good fishing platforms but the real fun begins when you retrieve fish. Previously, anglers simply had to reel the fish to the foot of the Drive and then haul them up by hook or drop net.
Due to the slope of the acropodes, however, the foot of the sea defences is often as much as 20-30ft out from the base of your fishing platform, which means that smaller fish have to be swung up or dragged over these tricky obstacles.
Fish around 4-6lb can be dead-lifted at a price, but anything larger has to be physically retrieved, meaning someone has to clamber down the smooth acropodes to get the fi sh. No wonder many locals work this mark in pairs nowadays.
This cod was caught by Paul Medd at the Shell Hole - a mark along Scarborough's Marine Drive.
It is not ideal and, sadly, the politics behind the new-look Drive could fill a feature on their own.
Many of us believe the situation could have been improved by proper negotiation between the council and local anglers.
Although there was some consultation, we seemed to be facing a done deal and the sad reality is that the Drive has become out of reach for many of our less-able anglers, especially the kind of youngsters who would have once cut their teeth for rock angling at this very spot.
The hunter-gatherer, however, has always had to adapt to obstacles and even on the remodelled Drive, those of the same spirit are still being rewarded with some excellent catches of fish.
Anglers are now using cut-down portable ladders to descend the wall and gain access to the sea defence system. These ladders are lightweight and can be easily carried by hand should their owners want to move to another position on the Drive.
Fishing in tandem, as so many now do, means that one angler can manage the rods while the other works his way precariously down through the maze of acropodes.
The commando wannabes among them descend the slope by ropes tied round the higher acropodes, while several resourceful souls have taken the old Drive drop net to a new level, constructing landing nets that can be lowered 20 or 30ft.
Not everything about fishing Marine Drive has become harder, however. Access to the favourite low-water mark known as the Coffee Pot, is now relatively easier, allowing more time for fishing while the tide permits.
The mark gets its name from a limestone rock with a coffee pot profile that gracefully rises from the sea at low water. It was previously reached by vertical descent down the Drive by rope or an by extended walk. Fishing here is over low water in all but the roughest conditions
Other favourite marks include the grass bank, pump house, double railing and back of Corrigan's, all of which can be identified by a walk around the Drive. But then you can catch fish almost anywhere you can get a line in.
The secret to the Drive is its protrusion into the sea and the fact that you are fishing into a good depth of water with plenty of tide run.
Most marks, from the north-east corner of the Drive right round to the south side can be fished all through the tide. Most anglers prefer to fish over high water with relatively calm seas on big tides but over the years, fish have appeared at any time, although no matter how much they may be biting, fishing is not recommended when a big sea is running.
Waves often encroach onto the acropodes and come over the wall onto the road itself. Getting drenched could be the least of your worries.
A cut-down ladder really comes in handy when fishing here.
The Drive has always been a top mark on the Yorkshire coast, as a venue that will produce year-round. The predominant species is cod and every year double-figure fish are caught, as well as bags around the 20lb mark.
The Drive boasts a whole range of species, including pollack, coalfish, wrasse, whiting, pouting, mackerel and I have even seen a 14lb conger.
Winter fishing revolves mainly around cod, but summer gives the angler chance to flex some lighter tackle. There has always been a good head of pollack on the Drive and over the past few years their number has increased, with fish up to 7lb and a lot between 2-4lb. Anglers can pursue these fish with a float or light lure, along with mackerel and coalfish, which are also common at this time.
Paul Medd fishing at the Coffee Pot.
The most consistent catches are taken at distance, putting the bait out into the tide.
If this fails, try a cast really close in, where the acropodes provide a haven of nooks and gullies in which both fish and prey hide. Good fishing has been had just 30-40 yards out.
The ground is rough though, so if you are lure fishing don't let the lure sink too far.
Big peeler crab baits, rotton-bottom rigs and plain leads are best at Marine Drive.
Rough terrain and the need to lift big fish some way call for heavy tackle, so standard rock angling fare - 30lb line and 60lb shockleader - should be used.
Lighter lines can be employed to gain extra distance, but that need has to be balanced against the increased chance of wear and tear on the rocks.
Recommended rods are standard 12-13ft rock rods, capable of casting up to 6oz, while reels tend to be of the 7000 size.
Hooks depend on species, but for cod, size 4/0-6/0 hooks are the standard weapons on snoods of at least 30lb. Plain leads from 5-6oz on a rotten-bottom are standard.
For float fishing, an 11ft rod is ideal to control the float and lift fish, along with 15lb line or even braid. Lure fishing is best with most types of metal spinners of around 1oz, but artificial eels seem to be the best tactic for pollack, and also the least expensive, given that numerous tackle losses can occur among the kelp-festooned defences.
Extra items peculiar to this mark, as previously explained, would include a cut-down ladder, a 20ft landing net and a rope.
This brace of cod for Dave Medd were caught at the Shell Hole mark.
Summer fishing is best with fresh crabs, which will catch most species, but if targeting pollack with a float, mackerel or sandeel strip is best. If lure fishing,
Wedges and Kosters are ideal spinning lures, whereas artificial eels and shads work well for pollack
In winter, frozen crabs and worms are best baits, but mussels and razorfish will all catch fish
The way ahead?
If it's hardly a model venue for comfortable fishing, the new look Marine Drive at least provided a pointer to the future of sea angling when it hosted its first match.
The competition turned out to be a fish bonanza, with several bags of over 30lb, individual fish up to 9lb and countless caught in the 3-6lb range.
For several weeks afterwards, good fishing continued, but after a while the returns became normal again, prompting the theory that because it had been unfished during construction of the new sea defences, fish had moved into the area in numbers.
The main road into Scarborough is the A64. From here, head straight for the foreshore, where you can't miss Marine Drive, which runs along the foot of the famous headland on which Scarborough castle sits.
There is ample parking all the way around the Drive; although there is a charge from April to October.