This venue just outside Arnside in Cumbria is a great place to catch flounders from autumn through to spring
Words & Photography by Matty Preston
The picturesque Cumbrian village of Arnside nestles among low limestone hills, marshy plains, thick woodland and aside the River Kent estuary, making it, justifiably, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Its sturdy stone pier recalls times past as a fishing port, while the area was also a popular tourist destination for the Victorians. These days Arnside still attracts lots of visitors, while for anglers there is also plenty on the menu too.
Although you can fish from the promenade and pier, both of which offer great easy -access fishing, my preferred venue is New Barns Bay, just outside the village. This is a sheltered cove offering some excellent fishing all year from a mixture of grass, cobbles or mud into the estuary channel. Access is relatively easy with roadside parking before the caravan park and entrance to the Bob-In Café, from which it is a short walk to the water’s edge.
The estuary will produce fish all year, although, traditionally, the best fishing is from autumn through to spring. The main species are flounders, eels, bass, sea-trout, mullet and occasionally whiting and codling when big spring tides push them right up into the estuary.
Distance casting is not required because the vast majority of fish will be within the first 30 yards. A cast beyond that will often put you right over the channel.
The ‘Arnside Bore’ phenomenon occurs when the incoming tides from Morecambe Bay enter the narrow estuary. It is more exaggerated on larger tides when it is said to move faster than a galloping horse. The wall of water spreading down the estuary and across the mudflats is certainly worth seeing. A siren heralds the incoming tide during daylight and you should be careful not to set up too close to the water’s edge. Many an unsuspecting angler has had bits of his kit float away.
I prefer to fish this venue on small to medium size tides (anything below 8.5 metres). On these tides you can fish for longer and you don’t get pushed too far up the bank under the trees.
On slacker tides and over low water experimenting with a float set-up is both exciting and productive. Simply set the depth so the bait is presented just off the bottom. The idea is to get your bait moving.
Light rock fishing (LRF) has grown in popularity and it can produce some great action. Small jig heads or lures worked close to shore can induce some very aggressive takes. I like fishing at close range with an LRF rod and a simple running leger rig baited with maddies. The results can be spectacular!
For standard bottom fishing, a continental style set-up is ideal. The fine tip and softer action of such a rod are perfect for maximising sport with flounders. They also allow longer multi-hook traces to be fished more effectively. My set up is a little more ‘old school’ though. I like a shorter estuary/bass rod (anything rated one to four ounces with a soft tip) to produce the best enjoyment. A two or three-hook flapper rig with size 4 hooks or a running leger is ideal.
Almost all baits will do well here, but black lug, blow lug, peeler crabs and harbour rag are best. Tipping your bait with mackerel or bluey may pick out the better fish.
A busy angler will always catch more here. You can relax when the tide is running and you need a grip weight to hold bottom but get your thinking hat on when that tide is slow. A favored technique of mine is ‘fishing the arc’. This means selecting a lead weight that will roll around in an arc searching out fish. Over low water I switch to a watch weight and twitch my baits along the seabed, which is far better than leaving your rod in the tripod.
NEED TO KNOW
From Arnside village head up the hill on Silverdale road, turn on to Red Hills Road and continue straight on to New Barns Road, which becomes a lane leading to the bay. The post code for the Bob-In café is LA5 0BN.
Gerry’s of Morecambe, 52-54 Marine Road, West End, Morecambe, LA3 4EU, tel: 01524 422146.