Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary June

Recent trips after smoothhound have seen me more often behind the camera than with rod in hand, the results will appear in Sea Angler magazine at a later date. The hounds have increased in size and numbers everywhere and it’s a nice change to be able to go after species other than dogfish and one that pulls, at this time of year. Currently the Kent coast, like many other regions, is fishing well and I cant help thinking that the fishing in spring and early summer is so much better than the traditional sea angling time of Autumn. Being as I am involved in match fishing via the National League I look at the fixture lists crammed with events in October and November and think, why don’t some of those matches, that to be honest have some pretty poor fishing nowadays, switch to May and June? In my region of Kent the British Championships fished at Deal on Sunday 7th October (2012 date) is typical of the large opens that suffer at the hands of a calm, clear sea with few fish around. OK if the date collides with a gale the dogfish and whiting turn up but most years you are lucky to see a bite and its tradition that now picks the date rather than the fishing. Meanwhile Deal in May and June is stuffed full of fish even when the sea is calm and clear with rays, dogfish and smoothhound and all you need is a Pulley rig, crab is the best bait but the fish also take ragworm, sandeel and fish baits. What’s more they are the bigger species that are needed to get the average angler back out match fishing. He cannot compete with the whiting snatchers in winter, but a big ray or hound can put him in the frame. Only one problem with the idea and that’s convincing anglers to get their beach gear out in May and June, the tradition of putting sea fishing tackle away for the summer months is difficult to break and so many anglers who ignore this time of year simply don’t know what they are missing!!!

Coming up I am making a new TF Gear/Sea Angler DVD and that includes fishing aboard Silver Spray out of Poole and a trip to the Perbeck rocks with my old mate Chris Clarke for a spot of bobber bashing, all weather permitting of course, so lets hope July is better that June!!!

Another great thing about summer is that I can get the float out, there is no more addictive angling than float fishing especially in a calm clear sea when the bottom species are awol. Mackerel, garfish, bream, pollack, scad and mullet are all float fishing targets although my personal favourite are the garfish because they lend themselves to a whole new sea angling technique. You can use ground bait or chum to attract them and on light float gear they can be fun to fish for even despite the frustration of being hard to hook because of their long beaks. The answer is to fish light with small hooks, mind you beware of going too light or too small because more than one bass has grabbed a sandeel section aimed at a gar and then there are mullet, pollack and even conger to encounter on some of the South Western Atlantic venues like the Channel Isles.

I have always been something of a specialist on garfish in matches – I even caused float fishing to be banned by one major organisation when I kept winning with gars. The big secret to catching them is movement, don’t just let your float drift back in the tide, lift the rod and cause the bait to flutter in the current, tweak it retrieve it, keep it moving and the gars cant resist. After that it’s being patient enough to resist striking the bites, keep the line tight and wait for the gar to hook itself. Best bait for garfish is garfish strip, cut from the belly in a fish tapered shape!

A great tip when fishing for gars is to use a fixed spool reel with a bait runner, I use one in conjunction with a 16ft quiver tip. This enables you to use ultra light snoods and small hooks, which can be deadly. Finally, fishing too shallow for gars is more effective than fishing too deep so keep it on the shallow side 4ft to 6ft.

Competitions coming up include the European Federation of Sea Anglers  England Shore Championships taking place at Samphire Hoe in Kent on the 7th and 8th of July. It’s a member’s event although you can join and fish for the first time this year. The Hoe is the venue because Dover Breakwater remains closed because a ferry boat has not yet been found to replace the one that has operated for years. Dover Sea Angling Association are trying to get a replacement and its fingers crossed. Meanwhile Samphire Hoe is host in several major events because the breakwater is closed and these include the Penn League Final, the Home international as well as several opens. For EFSA event details and an entry form:  E mail:

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Feb 2012


A trip to Sky TV for the first episode of Tight Lines in February and I found myself in HD – What a shock although Keith Arthur looked wrinklier than me. Tell you what the  sea fishing tackle and gear demos we did on screen came out crystal clear and I predict Tight Lines will become even more adventurous with tackle demos in future weeks.

I had a disagreement with the local South Kent fishermen over the lack of cod in the English Channel – I have only caught one small codling from the shore this year and compared with results of the past when I once record 100 cod over 10lb in a season 2011/12 has been a disaster. I tell you another thing its not down to my lack of angling skill or effort. There simply are very few cod in the English Channel currently and that’s despite the boats producing a few lunkers in recent weeks. A whopping 39lber came out of Eastbourne aboard Deep Blue skippered by Steve Bradshaw.

Hard at work for Sea Angler Magazine I have been finalising the 2011 Penn league results, a tedious job getting all those hundreds of points and surnames in numerical and alphabetical order. Anyway the task is nearly complete and next comes the Final. Whilst I qualified for the final myself this year because its at my Dover home town I am not fishing, I cant have people saying I fixed it to be at Dover when I qualified. Anyway this year it’s a two-day final and as way of a challenge its one day on Dover breakwater and one day on Samphire Hoe, weather willing.

A well know match angler has been caught with fish in his possession before a big southern event and the repercussions around the match scene are still reverberating along the beaches and on Face book. My only hope is the Angling Trust does the right thing and takes action. Lots of sea anglers will not join the AT because they feel they are not represented. This will show what the Angling Trust are made of – Will they wimp out, or if the allegations are proven ban the angler concerned! As far as many are concerned it’s a test case and my membership is in an envelope on the desk awaiting the result.

Back home from the Irish winter beach championships with more euros than I took, I had a pool or match pick up on all three days. Although no silverware, actually some great crystal vases are to be won at the event. The three day match was won by the Irish with a clean sweep over the top three, well done to David Roe of Dublin for winning two years on the trot. Second was Joe Byrne and third Rod Stewart look alike, Ian Knight. My only disappointment with the event was that it has now become a flounder contest with all three days fishing the shallower flounder beaches – Could it be the Irish have found a way to beat the English – steer clear of venues with lots of whiting, dabs and rockling where the snatchers excel?

Here the winter finally arrived on the eve of the Kent dab Champs which I organise each year from Folkestone pier. The snow hit the entry big time and only 15 managed to get to Folkestone pier on match day despite the pier being sold out. But, whilst the dabs were absent a number of codling, which didn’t count in the event, showed – Is it not always the way. Match winner was Lloyd Page of Sheerness with 4 dabs for 2lb 14oz from peg 40 on the piers inside stretch.

Fancy a trip to Gambia for a one-hook beach match? – I didn’t at first, but the idea has grown on me. Organised by Brit, Bernard Westgarth it’s on the 11th until 9th April – Bait supplied, entry for the three days is £200, flights and accommodation can be arranged. Contact Bernard:

Frozen lugworm is great bait during late winter – the dabs and rockling love it – But here is a tip from Kent angler, Leigh Chapman. He partly thaws his frozen blacks and then pops” them in the microwave oven. They literally “pop” when they are ready for the hook, firm and just like the live fresh thing – Amazing. Only problem I have found is a 13Amp socket on the beach to plug the Microwave into?

I have found the answer to those infuriating pyramid leads which hold bottom great, but retrieve like a sack of monkeys as they bury and bundle in the sand. A Sardinian designed lead with a pyramid at top and bottom which holds well and retrieves smooth. Great when accompanied by a Delta quiver tip outfit loaded with braid or mono.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Jan 2012


I have been out in Kent after the gales over the night tides without catching a cod – its whiting city from the Kent shore with the thousands of small hungry mouths eating other species out of house and home. So my advice if its cod you want is to go and fish somewhere else other than Kent – The Bristol Channel being worth the drive!!!!!

Meanwhile in Kent it’s a bite a second with the whiting and last week my son Richard fishing in a Deal 1919 Angling Club beach match weighed in 38 dogfish – no mean feat in three hours. Most hate dogfish, but in a match they can be hectic, the clubs in my region give you 500 grams C & R per dogfish which is a great idea although some say we should cull them.

I did well in a couple of pier events at Folkestone with lots of big fat sprat dabs, whilst the only open I fished was the British Legion open on Hythe Ranges over the holiday and I packed up early fed up with the undersized whiting.

Currently the weather is hanging on and the freezing conditions have not yet got a grip but they will and then its going to be even harder although we have the rays to look forward because they arrive earlier every year with some big thornbacks around from March onwards.


I have not been to Gambia for a couple of years – The championship organised in November had become stale with close pegging and duff venues deterring me from going again. BUT now I see Bernard Westgarth who has a house and angling guiding business in the Gambia is putting on an event in April so I am interested in returning for that although the one hook idea I am not keen. Going on a fishing holiday I want a maximum chance of catching and one hook is not that – Better would be two rods with one hook or one rod with two hooks. Anyway the details are.


Pegged Match Series to take place on selected beaches in The Gambia, West Africa 15th to 19th APRIL 2012. Match days are Sunday 15th , Monday 16th , Tuesday17 th and Wednesday, 18th April 2012. Presentation & Prize Giving: Thursday, 19 April.

Limited entry of 30 anglers on a first come, first served basis.
All venues will be pegged and zoned (depending upon numbers).
Matches will be based on a point system with each species being awarded a set number of points.
All fish exceeding 3kg being awarded 10 additional points.
All matches are to be one hook.
Only bait provided by the organisers will be permitted and will be distributed on each match day.
Flights and accommodation can be arranged if required.
Transport to/from match venues is included within match fees.
All interested parties must be registered and fully paid by 31 January 2012. For those interested details of costs and a full set of competition rules can be provided by contacting Bernard Westgarth on 01325 720113 (evenings).

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A number of anglers have commented on my rod rest light – It’s a Speleo headlamp, which I have bolted to the top of the rod rest so that it shines up the rod rings. It’s a really effective way of highlighting the rod tip. I have enhanced the whole set up by adding a set of luminous insert rod rings to my original TF Gear Force 8 beach caster.

Its spring clean time – don’t you just get the urge to sort out the tackle box, I do. A purge on the rig winder/wallet will see all my winders go in the dishwasher for their annual shower. It’s a great way to clean off the lug crud, weed etc (thanks to Heather Lindfield for the original idea) But don’t forget to let them all dry off before you put them back in the wallet. Leads are always in need of some maintenance – Don’t know about you, but I think Breakaway wire has gone down hill – wires on their grips never used to snap so easily? Anyway I take the time to redo the wires of my leads and the bonus of this is that you can choose the wire type and length you want.

I have also sent several multipliers back to the service centre for an overhaul, repair etc. I shall be switching to the multi tip and fixed spools in coming weeks, rockling matches are looming, so the next few months is the time for so reel TLC. Make sure you pack them securely and send by registered post or courier with a list of the problems – AND don’t forget to include your return address – you would be surprised how many anglers send reels in for repair etc and don’t include their address!

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary


A couple of coarse fishing sessions cheered me up somewhat after several sea fishing trips ended in blanks. It is not easy in the salt at present with the calm, clear water and the changeable air pressure especially to blame for the poor daylight fishing along the shore. Even a feathering session proved fruitless until the last light started to fade and a shoal of joeys passed by in a few minutes. I didn’t catch enough for the freezer, but will be out again on another calm night. A tip if you are catching mackerel for the bait freezer – Don’t cram them together or leave them in the sun. Get them filleted and frozen A.S.A.P. because heat can quickly soften the flesh. If you get a chance freeze down a few garfish because their flesh is tougher than mackerel and just as good as an autumn worm tipping bait for whiting, dabs, etc.

Fish is a great bait for the whiting soon to arrive, but as many cod anglers will know it is not so good for codling who tend to ignore fish baits. Squid is then the best tip bait for lugworm because it catches codling and whiting, the best of both worlds!

The good news on the fishing is that autumn is just a few weeks away, I cannot wait.


Doverbased charter boat, Reecer fishing a mark over theGoodwin SandsinKentproduced 20 blonde rays during a hectic charter trip for the members of the South East Kent Police Sports Club. The best fish of 20lb was landed by retired Police Superintendent, John Grace from Folkestone. Blonde ray are a comparatively recent addition to the English Channel fish population and have been increasing in numbers and size in recent years. It is said because of global warming, but in my opinion its because they are not heavily fished for by the commercial fleets and are expanding because of the room and food left by the demise of the other prime species. It’s the same inshore, take away the plaice, cod, etc and the dogfish, thorn backs, smooth hound and whiting take over! Blonde rays can grow 40lb plus and prove a large fish to land with four bigger fish lost during the days fishing aboard Reecer, bait was fresh mackerel. After photographs all were returned alive. There is great potential for a British record of the species throughout the English Channel this month.

Amongst the “away” competitions coming up is the SAMF Daiwa Irish Pairs which are fished on the Dingle Peninsula, county Kerryin Ireland. It’s a week of competitions from the 1st to the 6th October and that includes pegged match fishing and roving specimen hunts. Places go quickly so don’t leave it too late to apply. Contact: Nick Haward, The Priory, Priory Road , Blythburgh, Suffolk IP19 9LR
Email:  Tel. 01502 478004 m 07702037223

Top of my personal match list is the Dover Sea Angling Association’s Three day pier festival on 29th/30th and 30th October 2011. The reason for that is I am the main organiser. Over the years the festival, fished from Dover breakwater has suffered from a failing entry and I took it on a couple of years back to try to arrest the decline. Biggest enemy of the event is the weather which often prevents the boats from getting to the Southern Breakwater which is a concrete island in the middle of Dover harbour. To blame is the health and safety over kill of the national weather forecast which is always a couple of points more than reality and over a wind force seven the boats won’t transport the anglers. In that case the Prince of Wales pier inside the harbour is used although it leaves a lot to be desire in terms of catches. This year it is planed to use the nearby Admiralty pier, weather permitting of course. For details entry forms etc E mail me at:

I am on Sky Sport’s angling program, Tight lines as the studio guest on 26th August. It is around 7pm on Sky Sports 2 or 3 and is repeated later that night – if you have an angling question for me send it to:


Sea angling has been crying out for a proper tackle box for years, but because of expensive tooling (that’s always the excuse from manufacturers) we still have to make do with a plastic toilet cistern. I particularly like the idea of a box with built in wheels. It’s got lots of practical uses, especially for piers, promenades and long expanses of low tide sand. I use a small freshwater trolley with my box mounted on that, but spotted in the latest Sea Angler magazine (Issue 469 page 56) is a box with built in wheels etc. It’s a DIY model by reader John Flower that he reckons costs around £100. It involves adding a wheel kit to a steel padded tackle box. He even added a stainless steel rod tube and all the box needs to make in perfect is a draw in the lower half. Come on manufactures, John Flower has given you the prototype let’s have one!

See you on the beach.

Alan Yates


Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary


Angling can be a fickle business – I fished at local club match on Folkestone pier recently and despite not drawing the hot end pegs I ended the winner with dogfish, whiting and pouting. Incidentally the whiting were 30cm, In July that’s unheard of and after being 25cm all winter they seem to have grown at last. Anyway my good fortune was followed the next night by a complete disaster and miscalculation on my part when I opted to fish at Folkestone Warren in a beach rover and blanked after four hours trying. All this points to August arriving and along the English Channel and lower North Sea Coast this can be a hard time for sea angling. The problem is lots of the species have travelled north well up into the North Sea. We in the lower UK have been bypassed. However, it’s not all doom and gloom because as the nights draw back the impending autumn will see those same species scurrying south and that’s when we get our chance. Especially through the Straits of Dover which funnels all those returning fish in to 21 miles of water, but make the most of the fishing because the purple patch in the English Channel only lasts for a few months.

This week the first few codling have been landed from the Kent shore with fish just over the legal minimum size limit of 35cm, let’s hope plenty are to come. Around the UK codling reports are also good and I predict it’s going to be a good winter for codling, but before November rather than after, so don’t leave it too late to get your beach casting gear out of mothballs!


With the school holidays coming up lots of the regions juniors will be in action and one of the most successful in the South East are the two junior Festivals staged by the Deal 1919 Angling Club. The dates are: Sunday 24th July and August 14th with the fishing on Deal pier from 11am until 3pm (entries taken from 10am on the pier). The fishing is from the pier stem is open to all juniors up to the age of 16 years of age and parents/guardians can accompany and assist with casting and baiting, etc. The only stipulation is that the contestant must reel in his/her own fish. The festival is catch, measure and release. Entry is £1, which includes free membership to the Deal Angling Club (1919) minnows; free fishing on the pier that day, free refreshments and a big, big prize list which includes fishing tackle ranging from reels, rods, tackle boxes, plus lots, lots more. Further details from Pat Heath Tel. 01304 361248.

Here are a few other open competitions around the UK that also cater for juniors being fished during August:

August 14: Blackdown Sea Angling Club Open. Bossington to Porlock.
Fishing 2pm until 7pm. 100% Payout. Sign in  from 12 noon at Bossington Beach  Entry £10 Juniors/OAP’s £5. Alan 01823664085 or 07912018910.

August 25 – 29: Guernsey Open Bass Festival. £10,000 value prize fund
Shore and Boat sections plus bonus prizes for best bass caught from a dingy, kayak, visitor, female and juniors. Registration at Boatworks+ St Peter Port from 5pm on 25th August.  Info at or email

August 27/28: Lough Foyle Sac Shore Angling Festival. Day One Roe Estuary Fishing 1pm until 6pm Day two Longfield Wall. Fishing 10am until 2pm.  Entry Fees: £30, Juniors: £15 plus optional pools. Pre book only. Ronan Mc Monagle 07872943023 or Philip Brown 07709627496


Coasters or a fixed reel seat? No contest in my opinion, those that cling to coasters as a means to fix their reels to their rods are living in the past. The latest rods come with an adjustable reel seat and that include the TF Gear range of Force 8 and Delta beachcasters. The big advantage of these reel seats is that they hold the reel securely. No chance of it coming adrift as it can with coasters. I have had that happen with a reel in one hand and a rod in the other, causing the loss of a fish! That was why I switched to a screw seat in the first place. Coasters are OK in fields, but for proper sea angling you need a proper reel seat!

Thanks to many of you who have e mailed me regarding the TF Gear DVD. I had some excellent responses and hope it has helped improve your results. We are making another film later into the autumn and with luck I shall have some cod fishing to show you. Incidentally if you missed the DVD you can get a copy from your nearest TF Gear dealer or contact TF Gear Tel 0871 911 7045

The Fox Conqueror was one of the rods I designed for Fox International with Chris Clark – It’s a match sea quiver tip widely used by match anglers in fact Penn Champion Steve Smith of Whitehaven used one to win the recent National Penn final. With Fox cutting back on their sea gear two new improved versions of this rod will soon be available in the TF Gear range. I have stiffened up the blank slightly and it will be available in 15ft and 16ft versions.

See you on the beach.

Alan Yates