A popular match venue, the area between Weybourne and Blakeney Point offers plenty of space to fish
Words PAUL FENECH
The shingle bank that stretches east from Weybourne all the way to Blakeney Point in North Norfolk produces plenty of decent sport throughout the year. What is more you’ll have plenty of space, which is one reason why it is a popular match venue.
Facing into the North Sea and west of The Wash, the area is split into several sections that include Weybourne, Kelling, Salthouse and Cley. During the summer the shingle can be very busy with anglers casting feathers in search of mackerel. May weed can be a problem here in early summer too. The horrid stuff clings to your mainline and often masks baited hooks. There will be whiting in the autumn and winter, along with a few cod.
Be warned, the area has plenty of seals. It is not uncommon to hear stories of anglers having a fish ripped from the hook when reeling in, or worse, having their rod dragged from the tripod and pulled seawards, so be alert.
It is renowned for producing good bags of flounders and dabs. Once spring arrives, expect plenty of action with other species too, such as bass, smoothhounds, the occasional spotted or thornback ray, dogfish and whiting. Some anglers target garfish and black bream here.
Those anglers who are prepared to trek over the energy-sapping shingle past Cley and up towards what was the blockhouse are often rewarded with a big bass, especially during an onshore gale.
Standard beach rods matched with either a fixed-spool or multiplier reel loaded with 15lb mainline and shockleader are used. Fish with two rods to optimise your chances by fishing close and further out. A lure rod with a selection of hard and soft lures is worth packing, especially during calm and clear conditions.
Best results will always come when there is a tide run, either flood or ebb, and you can expect bites to dry up during slack water
Calm conditions are perfect for targeting the flatties. If there is a decent amount of colour in the water, combined with a running tide, you can expect hectic sessions with double and treble shots. An onshore wind that produces a surf sees the bass feeding close in, with some fine specimens over 6lb not uncommon.
As the peeler crab moult gets underway, darkness heralds some fantastic smoothhound action with fish averaging 6-8lb, as well as the occasional double-figure fish.
Local anglers who tend to mix up their tactics often use bubble float rigs that sit just beneath the surface hoping to attract a garfish. In recent years more and more black bream are making an appearance to this tactic. Lure anglers tend to keep their catch reports secret when targeting bass. Walking the shingle and whacking diving or surface poppers on an early morning or late evening tide generally produces better results. A quick scan to see where the sea birds are diving certainly gives the game away in terms of where the baitfish are shoaling. Not many anglers use livebait here for bass, but a joey mackerel slid down the line close to the shingle at high tide is without doubt worth the effort, especially for the larger specimens.
Two or three-hook flapper rigs armed with size 2 or 4 Aberdeen hooks are ideal for targeting dabs and flounders. Lugworms are the main bait, but by tipping off with a sliver of mackerel, squid or Bluey, you will find the bites coming a lot quicker. There’s really no need for extreme distance casting and a decent chuck of around 60-70 yards will certainly put you among the fish.
Ragworms work for bass while a bunch of harbour rag (maddies) will see you connecting with a large flounder. Often these fish can be caught just a few feet from the edge, especially if you use a light, plain sinker and allow it to roll in the tide.
Peeler crabs are the top bait for hounds and bass, and local tackle shops nearly always have a decent supply, but it is worth a phone call to secure these in advance.
NEED TO KNOW
The A149 runs parallel with the shingle bank and there is plenty of parking available at Weybourne, Salthouse and Cley. Expect to pay a small charge for parking and be aware that the beaches can be busy during the summer.
Rite Gear Angling Centre, 32 Cromer Road, West Runton, NR27 9AD, tel: 01263 838248.