Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A week of something different.

Last October when on holiday I had my first attempt at sea fishing and after some small successes I was really looking forward to return to the east coast to have another crack at it this year. On my first attempts I found my lack of knowledge on the subject made it hard to fish effectively, so after a suitable amount of research and some new gear I was confident that I could now get into some serious fishing. The one thing I could not forget however was that I was actually on holiday with Jacky and not on a seven day fishing trip. So before even getting in the car to leave I had thought that I would try and fit in a few smaller sessions when the chances arose rather than just disappear for the whole day. I had also decided that rather than just flitting up and down the coast that I would concentrate on two venues, one being Lowestoft harbour, a venue I had fished before and the other being Pakefield beach, a popular venue with locals that crops up regularly on the internet on websites and sea fishing forums. Both venues were within close proximity of our holiday home.
Day 1 
Lowestoft Outer harbour wall
Flood-High tide
For my first session I returned to the last place I fished last time I was here, with the knowledge that the inner harbour generally fishes quite well all year round. The inner harbour is a very industrial landscape that is home to a busy fishing fleet whereas the opposite side of the wall is open sea. I cast two rods out, one with a two hook paternoster baited with rag worm and the second, another two hook rig with larger hooks and heavier line baited with squid/mackerel, stood back and waited....... After an hour my confidence had plummeted as both rods hadn't moved at all, so a move to the sea ward side of the wall was made over the epic distance of thirty feet. Surprisingly to me the squid/mackerel rod was the first to get rattled by a decent whiting then followed by the rag rod by a tiny pouting

Pouting #1

After this the bites came thick and fast and I added two more viscious little pouting and this small flatfish I suspect to be a dab.

After this it all went quite till my squid /mackerel rod was almost hauled down the wall by this dog fish of 11/2lb.

My only other bite came from my very first ever codling of all of two ounces. Not even  big enough to make one fish finger out of but still very pleasing.

Fish finger, anyone?

It turned out to be a good start, but I was surprised by the size of the bait even a tiny pouting was capable of eating. A six inch rag worm and a huge hook by my normal standards went easily into a mouth filled with loads of tiny needle like teeth, and considering there were only the size of a small roach they rattled the end of my broom stick like rod with ease.

Day two
Pakefield beach
low tide
With a shiny new tripod in hand I trudged over the shingle high tide line to get to the beach, but sadly even with my new found freedom to give the lead some welly without having other anglers around who's lines I could cross, this session was destined to be a dud. When the sky blacked up and I found myself sheltering under the only brolly I had bought with me. A green and blue golf umbrella from the boot of the car.
The only movement of the rod was caused by the only fish of this session another small codling albeit bigger than the last.

The weather didn't look like it was about to clear up any time so I made the decision to head up the road to the harbour wall where I could park the car on the wall and get some needed shelter whilst still fishing. The wall was packed with locals who all seem to arrive just after work and fish until midnight.
It went well and I added a small whiting,eight more pouting a plaice and two more dabs to my tally for the day and went home a happy man.

Day 3
Pakefield beach
low tide

Returning to the beach determined to get into a few fish I opted to fish near a groin with some buoys at the end of it. My thinking was that the structure might hold some fish. I was right as I got bites from the off but the buoys turned out to be a marker of some rather rough ground and every time I struck the lead caught up on the way in and it wasn't long before I got terminally caught up and a rig got lost. It didn't take long for the second rod to snag up and lose another rig. So with time ticking away rather than move I cast out a couple of new rigs much closer in not far off the breaking waves and discovered something I stupidly never knew was there; when the tide is at it's lowest point the waves still pound the beach and scour out a trench which turned out to be full of fish. In two hours fishing in this low tide trench I added three pouting, a whiting , two more codling and two very aggressive bass all on rag worm. The bites came one after another and it didn't take long for me to run out of bait.

Angry bass

Cod hand Luke

This short afternoon jaunt filled me with confidence for the beach, especially when I was reeling in one of the small pouting and the rod took a sudden bang as a much larger fish snatched it on the way in.

Day 4
Pakefield beach
flood tide
I couldn't wait to get back to the beach the next evening for a few hours, but unbeknownst to me something had changed. I set up further up the beach to avoid the snaggy area and knowing there were some bigger fish around I put out a rod baited with squid on a running rig and one with a whiting rig on baited with rag worm to get some instant bites.  After ten minutes my squid rod thumped over and in a major flap I struck into some resistance. At first I thought it was an eel but soon realised I had bagged my first starry smooth hound of about one pound which was quickly followed by two more. By now I was thinking that a night of this would be great fun, but as soon as they started biting they moved on and my friends, the east coast pouting association, turned up again as I bagged three more of these hungry buggers.
The Lone Gunman on day trip to the beach catches small shark

Does anyone know any good grassy knolls round here?

Pouting #?

About half way through this session a local sea fishing club turned up down the beach for their mid week evening match. The last bloke along, a rather weather beaten old fella came over and had a chat with me before the match started and explained about the rough ground down the beach "argh ye wee call thaat death alley. it's where a uld chuurch fell into the sea yars ago. thars raacks the suize ave fraadge freezurs in thar" which went some way to explaining my lost gear the previous night and amused me all the way home.

Day 5
Lowestoft harbour wall
low/flood tide
I dragged my lazy ass out of bed at 5.30am with a very muzzy head from consumption of the local vino to get down the harbor for an early one. The day before I had purchased a fresh batch of bait as the old stuff was beginning to stink. This proved to be a good move as there were plenty of fish in residence.
My first positive bite produced a small smooth hound which was followed by a micro dog fish. After this it turned into a very busy session with bites coming on both rods. A shoal of smooth hounds passed through and I added two more in quick succession as well as another codling and a whiting.

Giant man attacks young pup!

Mr Whiting

The best was still to come when my squid rod lurched forward and the butt lifted clean off the ground. For the first time there was some weight to the fish, which combined with the six ounce lead and a swelling sea made for an interesting fight. After winching it twenty plus feet up the wall I finally got my hands on the biggest fish I have caught in the sea yet a 4lb dog fish. After this the only other fish to nibble were my old friends the pouting.

Not exactly jaws but the biggest of the week

Day 5
Pakefield beach
flood tide
We had intended to spend the afternoon in the pub sampling the local brews. But upon arriving we city folk were shocked to find that in the off season the pub closed from two until seven like pubs used to before twenty four hour drinking came in. I will say at this point that I offered Jacky the opportunity to do many of the wonderful pastimes a UK holiday offers such as shopping at Asda or visiting a local attraction. But when the words "why don't you go fishing for a few hours" were uttered from her mouth I suddenly got rather excited. Though before running off whooping I did double check if she was of sound mind, which duly confirmed she wasn't by saying "I will come along. It will be nice to have a few hours on the beach whilst you fish". Five minutes later I was standing by the car hopping from one foot to the other, rods in hand begging her to hurry up. It was nice having Jacky with me and for her comfort whilst I stood facing the sea in a trance she erected the two brolly's from the car boot under my beach rest and sat chuckling away reading Warwick Davis's autobiography like a mad beach pixie. Pakefields resident fish population was nowhere to be seen and out of three trembles a single dab saved me from the dreaded blank.

Local Dab saves midlander from blank

Day 6
Lowestoft harbour
flood tide
I hadn't planned to fish today as the weather forecast was not good and being totally unprepared for any bad weather I didn't fancy get my nuts frozen clean off. But by dinner time the predicted bad weather had not appeared apart from a stiff on shore breeze, With a few valuable rag worm left over and half a box of squid I headed out under the guise of not wanting to waste any expensive bait.
All week the weather had been very kind to me, probably due to mother nature taking pity on this poor midlander who thought it would be fun to go sea fishing. But when I arrived at the harbour the slight ripple of previous days was now 3ft high waves. The locals were out in hordes. After chatting to a few I found out that these conditions often bring the larger fish closer on shore hence the abundance of local sea fishermen. The bites that followed where viscous and one chap landed a nice bass of around four pounds near the beach end of the wall. I missed two savage bites on whole squid then converted my third into smooth hound of two pounds (sorry no pic) before the sea calmed and the bites stopped. Whilst eeking out my bait I caught two pin whiting and two more pouting.

My second attempt at sea fishing as far as I am concerned went very well. The new knowledge learnt from both my own experiences and from local anglers/tackle shops as the week passed proved invaluable to my success.
Though I now know sea anglers really don't have it easy! When we have those windy days that we all moan about they have force ten gales, which after a few years of regular sea fishing can make a young man look very old, something I found to be true whilst chatting to a local angler who for some reason during a conversation confirmed he was the same age as me, 32 when he looked to be close to fifty two!
We all complain when we can't get a swim feeder to hold in a flooded river, whereas they get tides travelling in all directions all the time with the force of entire oceans and planets causing it.
Spending even a few hours hurling out 4-8oz leads using a rod as thick as broom stick with 20lb line and a 60lb stock leader plus bait into the wind is knackering, and reeling them back with a mass of seaweed whilst the tide is intent on pulling out to sea is a job in itself.
Up until know I thought that some of the baits I normally use are a bit pongy, but the baits used in sea fishing have a stink all of there own that is still lingering on my hands now, a fact Jacky and our car will both vouch for.
Rag worms are the single meanest mothers I have ever tried to impale on a hook and they cost a fortune at £4-£5 per hundred grams which is not  loads either. Squid though cheap is basically useless once it starts to hum, and crabs which though weren't around in any numbers can strip a carefully prepared bait in minutes, leaving you staring at a motionless rod tip thinking why aren't I getting any bites.

   This huge specimen was the angriest bar far and nipped me twice before he was finally hurled into the brine.......

But the one thing I can say with some certainty is that I love it and can't wait to return to the ever moving sea to have another go some time later this year!


  1. Cracking report Danny. Sea fishing is something I've only ever done off Shanklin pier on the Isle of Wight.

    I can't believe the contrast between the size of the fish in some of the photos and the savage bites you describe. Those sea fish must be turbo charged. Imagine a big one!?

  2. Excellent reading...I am off to the east coast this weekend,I am tempted to have a look in the local tackle shops and treat myself to some sea gear....good stuff mate.regards Gurn

  3. Brilliant stuff Danny, me, I'm jealous as **** I miss beachcasting that much.

    Are you going to give your multiplier a go?