Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Dec 11


I hope you all liked the new TF Gear DVD on shore and boat fishing in South Wales. Boy did we have some weather to contend with, it rained and blew all week. But we caught fish thanks to the help of Clive Vedmore of Barry Angling Centre who sorted the bait, Roy Tapper our guide and Steve Jones on his charter boat, Indiana out of Cardiff who put is on the fish.

If you don’t have a copy of the DVD it is available from TF Gear dealers. For a list etc contact. TF Gear unit 5&6 Industrial Estate, Brecon, Powys. LD3 8LA Tel. 08719117045 Web:

I bit off more than I could chew whilst fishing the Clubman Final at Kelling against the Holt SAC – Making a film for Tight Lines I was miked up all day and at the beck and call of the producer and camera man – It played havoc with my cast timing and time by the rod and I finished a dismal eighth out of ten, that’s my excuse anyway. The Sea Angler team who fished against the Clubman champions included: myself, Chris Clark, Joc Goudie, John Wells and the SA editor, Mel Russ. The Holt SAC team was Tony Thomas, Paul Fenech, Dean Conway, Peter Loke and Peter Morse. They pipped the Sea Angler squad by a couple of biggest round fish which was a significant margin because they had the only round fish caught worth 10 and 9 points respectfully. Otherwise it was a tight match – Star of the show was Tony Thomas of Sheringham who pegged next to me, ignored the dabs at short range and landed three codling at range for some mega points. A bit of local knowledge and some white ragworm did the trick, whilst the Sea Angler team had failed to spot the importance of the round fish in the complicated points system. A great days friendly club fishing, mind you one of the Holt Team did go a bit overboard with the victory celebrations and the best consolation was to see him posing as he reeled in for the TV cameras only to have three bare hooks! The film on Sky tight lines shows sea match fishing catch and release style and is bound to raise more interest in the Club fishing and the Clubman championships which is growing in popularity – If you want details or want to enter your club team e mail me on ;

The round of Christmas matches is upon us – A fun way to win a turkey dinner if you get lucky. It’s great to see match anglers spend a fortune on bait and entry fees and go home with a turkey when they could have brought six with the money it cost them. This sums up what I have known for years and that that just going fishing is more important to most than winning a prize, although a consolation prize is better than being a none mentioned also run. A lesson for clubs is that the Christmas match is always the best attended of the year because of the prize structure. Anyone thought of a similar prize structure for the normal club matches?

Some New Year matches worth a visit  include;

The Skua SAC Winter Open at Talacre on January 7th and 8th. Saturday fishing is from  1.30pm until 5.30pm and Sunday from 2.15pm until 6.15pm. Register at the Smugglers Inn. The event is three hooks but no crab. Contact Pete Corker on 07711622015 or Gordon Thornes on 01244 813003

On January 18th Mainwarings Angling Centre celebrate their 8Oth Anniversary with an open competition on Swansea Breakwater. (No juniors) Fishing is from8.30am until12.30pm. Its catch measure and return with a top prize of £1000. Meet at Fabian Way Park and ride for dock entry pass and peg etc. 200 entry limit. For tickets or more details contact Mainwarings Angling Centre Tel. 01792 202245

Nearer home I am organising the Kent Dab Championships on Folkestone pier on February 5th. Fishing is from10am until 4pm. Entry £10 plus pool but its pre book because pegs are limited. Alan Yates 01303 250017.

The largest Kentmatch in February is on the 12th and that’s the popular Fountain SAC Open event pegged along the beaches of Seabrook and Hythe. Fishing is from 11am until 4pm and the event carries a top prize of 1st £1000. The entry is £15 plus pool.  Brian Barnes 01303 260875


With proper winter looming its time to make the most of the mildest weather – Once the shingle and sands starts to freeze then shore fishing will be just the tiddlers. Lots of the mature fish move offshore to spawn at this time of year and it’s a time for tiddlers around much of the Country. Scratchy fishing indeed unless you are in one of the regions blessed with plenty of codling. It’s that time of year.

Coming up soon is the New Year and for me it’s a time for real scratchy fishing – I like fishing delicate for flatties etc and out comes the quiver tip rod. Can’t wait to get my hands on the new 16 footer – only tested the prototype so far. Arm that with three wire whisker booms, size four hooks and some stale lug and maddies and away you go. Even the tiddlers can give you a good bite and fishing with braid on a fixed spool reel magnifies bites even more and allows the smaller fish to pull back as well.

Weed in the water can be a real pain in the winter clogging and jamming the rod tip ring. One way to eliminate its influence is to switch to a tapered shock leader so that the leader joint knot is smaller. Check out the TF Gear Aftershock tapered leaders. They are 13 metres long and with five on a spool they are available in hi Viz orange or clear.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Nov 11



The slow progress to winter weather has affected the shore fishing in my region of Kent and the expected cod have not materialised, YET, from the beaches. Instead the small whiting, dogfish and now an influx of postage sized dabs are eating all the other species out of house and home. It’s grim if you are a shore specimen hunter and my advice is to desert Kent for the many other regions that are fishing much better. The recent TF Gear DVD fishing in South Wales is an example – Plenty of codling throughout the South Wales, Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel region and some bigger ones from the boat. Other reports from around the country suggest the cod fishing is superb in some regions. The North East is enjoying an influx of codling and they are growing fast,East Anglia has some and the North West is improving rapidly.

With all this in mind much of my recent fishing at home has been in competitions and I have had a mixed bag of results recently, but the bright spots included a win from a dud peg on Folkestone pier although it proved to not be a dud and I suppose that teaches us all never to give up because in fishing you just never know. A catch of garfish and mackerel in mid November was something of a surprise – how a float outfit stayed in my tackle box I don’t know?

I had a pretty poor day at the TF Gear Kent Classic on the Isle of Sheppey, plagued with small whiting, I managed two goers out of 60 fish. However, the company was good because I was paired with a local junior. Although to be honest a paired peg was not what I had in mind and fishing in the disabled section was rather a handicap!

What I am doing is to try to get around catching those small whiting and any tips on that would be gratefully received. I have tried bigger hooks (2/0s) but even they don’t keep the 25cm whiting off!  With all the small fish around there is the temptation to go all in for the tiddlers with smaller hooks and lighter hook snoods, but the likes of size 4s and 10lb snoods really is a step too far and only practical in catch and release matches – Size 1s and 25lb hook snoods remain the sensible winter minimum.

With Christmas and the New Year looming is time for those seasonal events. Turkeys and Christmas fares attract lots of anglers who would not normally fish competitions and all this proves that lots of prizes are far more attractive than a big cash prize and although I have said it before a return to the old prize structure system may be the way for lots of clubs who are loosing support to go.

My next away event is the Clubman final inNorfolk where the Sea Angler magazine staff etc fish against last years Clubman champions, Holt Sea Angling Club. It’s a bit of a fun event really although you can bet that everyone will take it very seriously indeed.

Coming up is my annual pilgrimage to Kilmuckridge near Wexford for the Irish Winter beach championships on January 26th/27th and 28th. A very friendly multi day match with lots of Irish Craic Further Details/Entries to:

Warren Doyle, 98, Seacrest, Bray, Co. Wicklow. Phone: +353(0)1-2828769

Mobile: +353(0)86-8069961 (Evenings Please)



The new TF Gear Force 8 S MAGs with their one piece frame are proving popular – I have switched over to them after using one all season and I must say the addition of a power handle is essential for fishing.

Her are a few shore and boat fishing tips for the winter months.

Shore anglers watch out for frozen sand, cold shallow water and lots of fresh water, rain or snow melt. Nothing is worse for results at this time of year because the fish will not come inshore under such conditions. I have a rule and that is not to fish anywhere that I cannot cast past ground that is uncovered at low tide, from December through until April!

Bait shortages are the winter angler’s worst enemy and once the weather deteriorates to real winter mode and all the part time diggers pack it in you will start to feel the effect. No real answer other than to stay loyal to your dealer.

You can lay in a supply of frozen Calamari etc or even get the fork or bait pump out yourself.

The largest winter sea driven by gale force winds can ruin a good fishing trip because it’s always in the worst weather that the fish are around. Ways to keep you fishing when the wind and sea are near gale force is to include a few 8oz fixed wire grip leads in your kit. These help tow baits through the wind with a low punchy cast more effective than a high looping thrash, and ensure baits stay where the land. Also add an adjustable sliding butt cap to your rod rest because with it you can raise your rod tip and line much higher up above the waves and weed. Finally – don’t be afraid to fish the piers and deep water rock marks. Lots of beach anglers don’t even consider such venues despite them being so much more practical and productive in the “dead” of winter.


Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary

TF Gear Alan Yates Diary                                              November 2011-11-02


My latest competition was the Dover Sea Angling Associations three day pier festival and as main organiser it’s always a struggle to balance the fishing with the organising. However this year thanks to a few mates pitching in, I even managed to finish in the top three – At last some Penn points!

The event which involves fishing the stone breakwater in the middle of Dover Harbour and that involves a boat to get to it was yet again weather affected with competitors only reaching the Southern breakwater wall on the Sunday. On the other two days they were forced to fish the Prince of  Wales pier inside the harbour where they competed with the local seals for the resident fish. “Finchy” the biggest of the animals was named after a competitor who was said to have a family resemblance to the seal, or so his Brighton mates reckon. Anyway, day one saw herrings and mackerel as the target, the Delta triple tip came in handy* and even more pleasing for me was that my son, Richard held up the family name by winning the day with 38 herrings, plus the one mackerel for 5.090kg. He used a fish based ground bait, continental light wire booms 0.200 snood line and size 10 hooks baited with a single maddie.

On day two the wind dropped enough to allow the boat to the breakwater wall although a couple of rogue waves did their best to wreck the day of several of the anglers with Whitstable’s, Alan Underdown losing his bait and fish buckets to the sea, he will never live that down. The best catch that day went to Ray Jeffrey of Sheerness with a bag of dogfish and whiting from knuckle peg 6 for 5.110kg.

On day three a southerly wind threatened to swamp the wall because of the large spring tide, so it was back to the Prince of Wales pier and the end peg (3) there dominated the catches with Sam Sampson of Brighton landing 56 small pouting caught alongside the wall for 4.50kg.

All this added up to another festival win for Folkestone’s Martyn Reid who had finished second on day two and been amongst the herrings on day one and despite only one fish on day three he hung on to take the main trophy and £500 prize with 8.680 kg. Runner up overall was Richard Yates with 8.080kg and third was myself with 7.890kg.

Other major prize winners included Mick Chapman of Herne Bay who landed the biggest fish of the festival, a 1.890kg smoothhound worth £200. The best flatfish was a shock turbot of 1.030kg for Lowestoft angler, Kerville Chilvers also worth £200. Most fish went to Sam Sampson of Brightonwith 67 and the most species to Deal angler, Saul Page with 7. Other aggregate weight winners included: Saul Page (4th); Sam Sampson (5th); Nathan Elliott, Dover (6th) Ray Jeffrey (7th); Mick Chapman (8th); Ben Arnold, Brighton (9th) and Joe Croxon of Dover (10th). The drawn team of four winners were: Mick Tapsell, Martyn Reid, Mick Wall, Great Yarmouth and Ray Jeffrey with 18.980Kg. Drawn pairs winners were Martyn Reid and Alan Yates with 16.570kg.

Bearing in mind its November the Dover competition showed how mild the weather has been in the south with lots of mackerel showing. The high water temperature, clear water and the unseasonal wind have all but halted the cod season at this end of the Channel, the festival produced just one tiny codling. Fingers crossed for a gale and stair rod rain soon!

Well I had to didn’t I – I went on to Facebook BUT in case any of you are wondering why I only talk about cricket it’s because I spend most of my day on my computer including lots of E Mails and Facebook is too much like work – So it’s a once a week visit to talk about cricket. Incidentally I have very few friends or family that like, or understand cricket that’s why!!!!


With the competition season underway it’s a busy time for events and the Sea Angler magazine ranking points (Penn League) are going berserk. Men to watch include Lymington’s Andy Dawkins who seems to be fishing for everything everywhere – some said he has a £50 grand annual sponsorship? Anyway he is scoring big around the country. My money is also on Dave Roe of Dublin as well as Martyn Reid of Folkestone. Then there are Joe Arch of Cardiff, Neville Charlesworth of Withernsea, Robert Tuck of Clacton and Saul Page of Deal.

Coming up soon is the Sheerness Steel open at Sheppey, Kent. It’s a TF Gear sponsored event and I will be there to take part. It’s usually a very hard match if the weather is calm. But if the wind blows and the whiting turn up it will be a proper competition and not a flounder raffle.

TF Gear Kent Classic. Sheerness Steel SAC. Isle of Sheppey. 13th November. Fishing 11am until 4pm.400 pre-book only pegs. Booking in from 7am at Sheerness East working Men’s Club. Tel. Trevor 01795-877127 or


*I mentioned the new Delta Continental quiver tip rod earlier and it will soon be available as well as a new 16 footer for the low multiplier plus the new SMAG reel which I must say I am impressed with – If you need a look give me a shout if you see me fishing.

Also the next issue of Sea Angler magazine includes a free copy of the new TF Gear DVD made in South Wales it includes reviews of the additions to the TF Gear sea angling fishing tackle range – check out the size of those cod, also whilst making the DVD I landed a surprise bass which caused me to swear on camera, not a bad word, but I am easily excited by fish!!


Alan Yates – Sea Fishing Diary

TF GEAR Alan                       Yates Diary 26 20/9/11


I nipped down to South Wales to make the latest TF Gear Sea angling DVD which will be out FREE with Sea Angler Magazine and the TF Gear catalogue soon. What a great decision to head for the coloured water of the Bristol Channel because the fish showed up from both the boat and shore. I am not going to spill too many beans except to say that we caught cod, bass, congers and ray despite some pretty foul weather. We fished aboard Steve Jones charter boat Indiana out of Cardiff and from the shore at Penarth and Friars Point amongst others. Just a word of thanks for the bait and advice that was supplied by Newport tackle dealer, Clive Vedmore. (Tel. 01633 855086) Clive’s shop supplies great tide booklet of the region that includes lots of advice on fishing tackle, tactics and venues.

Back from South Wales I fished the British Championships at Deal and Walmer in Kentand the event suffered from it’s usually summer heat wave with clearing water sending the fish to the deeps as the anglers arrived. The entry of 220 came from as far as North Wales and many blanked and only a shoal of dabs that turned up on match morning provided action at the Sandwich Bay end which produced most of the prize winners. There were also scattered dogfish which proved a bonus catch and they mostly came from the patches of rough ground at Sandown and Walmer. The Championship winner fishing from peg 20 in Sandwich Bay, was in form Deal angler, Saul Page who came home from the SAMF Versus Belgium match on the Saturday night where he won the individual prize, to take the British Champs title and £1000 in cash. Saul landed 20 fish weighing 4.340kg including a bonus dogfish, four whiting and 15 dabs fishing white ragworm at long range. Runner up and very close to getting a hat trick of British Championship wins, was Martyn Reid of Folkestone who fished at Sandown over a patch of rough ground to land 5 dogfish for 3.600kg, he hooked three on his first two casts and then had to wait until the last hour for the other two. Third was Bristol angler, Kevin Daly with 2.440kg. The £1000 prize for the biggest fish went to Leigh Chapman of Canterbury with a 1.230kg bass he landed on his very last cast. Junior Champion was Davis Morris and Ladies Champion, Shelley Bassett both of Deal. I finished a creditable 12th but was well please to have predicted the top two and the biggest fish winners in the local press the week before, perhaps I should take up book making!

Good news for sea angling following the recent campaign and petition against plans by Rother District Council to ban angling from the shore in the Bexhill and Pevensey Bay region. Rother District council have decided to back the anglers after being bombarded with complaints against the plans and the realisation that angling provides an important all year around revenue for the region. Of course the real reason is that they simply cannot ban fishing from Crown Land (sea shore) because it’s a public right that dates back to the Magna Carta that only Parliament can change.


I am organising the Dover Sea Angling Pier Festival on the 29th.30th/31st October. Its being fished from Dover’s “Concrete boat” the breakwater were some excellent catches are the result of being marooned each day of the three in the centre of Dover harbour. Lots of cash and lots of tackle prizes are up for grabs with the event sponsored by Sea Angler Magazine amongst others. Late entries will be accepted at the draw on the 28th from 7pm at Dover Sea Angling Association HQ 14, Priory Road, Dover Kent. CT17 9RG. For info on the event ring me on 01303 250017. or e mail Whilst making the latest DVD in south Wales I got my hands on the new SMAG multiplier – It’s a one piece aluminium frame 56C multiplier. The field casters will love it with its larger magnetic control knobbly, but it also includes a larger diameter free spindle which makes the whole reel assembly stronger. This version is a proper fishing reel that will cope with dogfish and cod hauling and there will be a special power handle option available.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary

October   2011



An autumn trip to Ireland with Sea Angler Magazine for the Irish Tourist Board proved very successful and you can read and see the results in the coming issues. I can’t spill the beans, but what I will say is that if you want to catch bass on lures, Ireland is the place to do it. The water clarity is a major factor and no matter how rough the bass can see your lure, unlike many venues that I fish in the UK where a pea souper is as good for bass as it is for mackerel. The latest soft plastic lures are deadly for school bass and the tactic is so addictive, it even got World Champion match fishing fanatic Chris Clark hooked with his intentions to rove the Perbecks near his home town of Lymington with a lure rod next summer.

Whilst I fished in Ireland for a week during a storm, England basked in a heat wave, but it did mean I had to avoid some of the best Atlantic facing Irish rock and cliff venues. The dangers of rock fishing in a large sea are not always obvious so I have included a picture with the caption “Anglers beware”


Back home all thoughts switch to cod and the Indian summer weather has made a mess of the daylight fishing so darkness has been the time to hit the beach, although in Kent the calm seas have produced more bass than cod and its still not too late to fish a live whiting or pouting very close in at night for a bass, The best venues are the steep shingle beaches, but avoid beach stone crunching and flashing head lights.

I am off to Wales in a week or so to make a second TF Gear DVD – hopefully we should find some cod or codling amongst the whiting this year and with luck a boat trip out of South Wales will produce some bigger cod. Target from the shore or boat is 10lb. That’s a bit below par for my memory because I caught over 100 cod over 10lb in a single winter season from the shore in the 1960s, nowadays ONE would be good!


For me it’s the main competition season, I don’t fish open beach matches during the summer because the fishing is generally poor and for tiddlers. But come October the water colours up, usually and the whiting, codling, dogfish, dabs and a whole lot more turn up for the feast. My match fishing philosophy has always been that catching lots of fish is more important than winning and I see no joy in spending hours on a venue without a bite. Of course plenty of fish means the challenge is catching them quickly and catching the most – Much more fun!

TF Gear are supporting the Kent Classic being fished on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent on the 13th November 2011. This event is nearly always a sell out of its 400 pegs so don’t lave it too late to booking. Fishing 11am until 4pm with 400 pre-book only. Prospects rely totally on the wind direction, strength and sea state – Rough and coloured and Sheppey fishes well with a draw around Barton Point usually good, but flat and clear and you will need those maddies for the odd flounder.

Booking in from 7am at Sheerness East working Men’s Club. Trevor 01795 877127 or

Ray 07930390761 or Entry forms can also be downloaded from the website


Chest waders are a real boon to the winter shore angler because they keep you totally dry and for the beach cod angler allow you to sit on your tackle box in the rain without a wet bum! The latest breathable waders are light weight and lots of sea anglers are switching to them, especially for bass lure fishing but on the beach I still prefer the older neoprene design. They may be heavier, but they retain warmth and best of all stand the wear and tear of rocks and shingle. Kneel down in a light weight pair too often and you go through the knees – I know because I did!

With the whiting hitting the beaches in numbers after dark lots of anglers caught up in the excitement will find their forefinger like a pin cushion after a whiting session. That’s OK whiting only have tiny teeth but a couple of nights of finger puncture and the bait juice will get into the holes, nicks and scratches and you will be in trouble, believe me its painful especially ragworm or crab juices. What’s more wrestling a hook out of a whiting is sure to kill it. A far more efficient idea is to use a disgorger and release the fish without touching it into a bucket of water for careful return later. A simple Gemini disgorger is the complete answer. Run its loop down the hook snood to the bend of the hook and then use the weight of the fish to pop the hook free “Simple”

See you on the beach.

Alan Yates


Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary


I took a week out from sea fishing to visit the south of France for a carp fishing holiday. I found an ideal carp retreat last year inMartinsLakesnear Montpon. A six berth gite, swimming pool and a well stocked specimen lake means the wife is also happy and although my carping is not too serious I enjoy it. Unfortunately this year the weather let us down a bit with a monsoon on our arrival putting the carp down for the week with my best of 24lb beaten by step son, Andrews’s 35lb mirror.

Back home I was greeted with the tail end of Katrina and whilst the south ofEnglandescaped the worst of the hurricane the stir did wonders for the local shore fishing. After a month or more of very poor results it was nice to see bass, dogfish and codling number on the up, even a few soles appeared in the local competition reports and these are the most reliable when it comes to the real weight of the fish around! I am now itching to get fishing once work is caught up on, although this coming month I go toIrelandwith Sea Angler magazine for the annual Sea Safari and preparation for that is also taking up much of my time.

One thing the recent gale did do was remind me of the winter fishing to come – Rough conditions ruin many a novices attempt at sea angling at this time of year if only because it forces them to fish a less productive, but calmer shoreline. If you can handle an onshore wind and are willing to face some discomfort I promise you better results, but many don’t even get out of the car!


Several large competitions in my region coming up include the TF Gear sponsored Kent Classic being fished on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent on the 13th November 2011. This event is nearly always a sell out of its 400 pegs so don’t lave it too late to booking. Fishing 11am until 4pm.400 pre-book only pegs. Booking in from 7am at Sheerness East working Men’s Club. Trevor 01795 877127 or

Ray 07930390761 or Entry forms can also be downloaded from the website

Another popular southern competition that is also likely to sell out of places well before the date is the British Sea Angling Championships. Fished from Deal and Walmer beaches it’s on Sunday 16th October. Fishing 11am until4pm and the top prizes include £1000 for the heaviest bag and £1000 for the biggest fish. Details etc. Pat 01304 361248

The SAMF Masters championships on the 11/12th of November are a competition I started in 1989 when I was secretary of the organisation. This year it’s an Open although you have to join SAMF to fish. It’s being fished inSuffolk fromOrfordIsland and the Dirty Wall. Entry fees are: £40 non qualifiers, £20 qualifiers. Competitors have to become members of SAMF. Optional pools of £20 on the day. 100% payout on day prizes and overall prizes. Contact Andy Steele on 01772 611597 or John Amery on 01995 61211.

My last event is the three day Dover Pier Festival on the 29/30/31st of October fished on Dover Breakwater. I have a special interest in this one because I organise it. Its pre book only. 01303 250017 or 01304 204722.


I did a demo of a rig with bait clips on Sky’s Tight Lines programme a few weeks back and it has caused lots of interest from anglers. It concerned tension springs.  A lot more anglers are now realising just how handy this small accessory really is for keeping the bait clips under tension when casting. Not only do they help off the ground casters, but they keep the baits clipped down when the wind is buffeting hooks off clips without springs. Try them out and a tip, cut one in half and you can use it on two hook snoods.

Worth repeating is that Breakaway Imps are the perfect add on bait clips for those that want to use their own moulded lead. Lots of anglers now use the popular Breakaway impact lead with its built in bait clip but the Imp is the complete answer because it makes any lead and “Impact” lead!

The price of carbon worldwide is rising fast and the word is that it’s going to put 15% or rod prices in the not too distant future – So don’t leave buying that new fishing rod too long. Fishtec is the UK’s largest mail order fishing tackle retailer. Check out my TF Gear 14ft Delta Nan-Tec beachcaster on Tel. 0871 911 7001

Finally: The best advice I can give sea fisherman at the start of autumn is to make a point of picking the best tides to fish. All over the UK it’s the spring tides that produce the most fish – As a newspaper reporter for local papers I know that the fortnightly spring tides produce the best catches from boat and shore. So get your hands on a tide table for your region and mark down those spring tides and fish them!

See you on the beach.

Alan Yates


Alan Yates – Striking

Striking is one of the most exciting tactics involved in sea angling, its like pulling the trigger of a gun, it’s a crucial part of the hunt to many anglers. But is it essential to success and what’s involved?

It’s a fact that most species of sea fish will hook themselves eventually if you don’t strike simply because they are intent on eating the bait and oblivious to fishing tackle. A deliberate strike makes little difference to the catch rate in many situations although it does please the ego of the captor to think so, whilst more important to many anglers is that a premature strike helps prevent deep hooking!

The way the particular species feeds, what it eats, the mouth structure and its mobility have an influence its ease of hooking. Most of the speedy tropical mid water predators are more difficult to hook than the bottom grubbers such as the flatfish which once the hook has entered the mouth cannot escape, others with large hard bony mouths are difficult to hook because the hook cannot find a place to lodge!

Overall for fishing around the UK a less enthusiastic approach to striking will result in more fish being hooked. The decision when to strike depends upon what the angler wants from his sport, what he is fishing for, the type of bait being used and conservation. If the rod is lurching seawards and is in danger of being lost then a strike is essential, if the rod tip is nodding continuously its likely that the fish is already hooked.

The actually strike can vary from a full blooded sweep of the rod to just tightening the line. Line stretch at distance of course reduces the amount of movement at the hook end of your tackle and some sea anglers even run backwards during the process to increase that movement. Reeling as you strike can also prove more effective, but beware of striking too hard, especially at short range when it may test your tackle and knots.

Let’s look at the best striking technique used when some of the most common UK species.

COD: A relatively slow bottom dweller with a large mouth, invariable swallows the hook when a bait is left on the sea bed. Powerful rod pulling bites are generally after the fish has hooked itself. Slack liners from codling can be most difficult to hook and the answer to them is patience. Take up the line and only strike when the fish pulls the rod tip down.

WHITING: Difficult to hook on occasion, this small predator attacks baits in numbers with some tremendous rod pulling bites that are easily missed, especially in slack tide. More fish are hooked when fishing in strong tide because the fish have to swim to stay still to eat the bait, when it is engulfed they relax and the tide drives them back on to the hook. Short snoods and neat (small) bait presentation and a wired grip lead definitely improve the hooking rate.

BASS: A fast feeding predator that rarely swallows the hook because the bites are so positive. Be near your rod when it takes off. A bony mouth, so a large, sharp hook is essential.

DAB, SOLE, PLAICE AND FLOUNDER: Often flatfish nibble and pluck at the bait, but invariably once they take the bait they are hooked because their mouth is far smaller closed than open. There is in fact no way to prevent flatties swallowing the hook. With hook removal often fatal even with soft wire hooks. For the conservation minded tiny hooks (8s- and less) can be removed more easily with a disgorger and with less damage than large sizes of 2 and above.

TOPE AND SMOOTHHOUND: Positive bites give the angler every opportunity to pull the trigger on this species which is why they are so popular and fun to catch. The tope is one of UK sea species that circle hooks are practical for , but there is a definite technique for striking with circle hooks and it involves a steady tightening of the line and not a full blooded strike!.

RAY: Invariably this species cloaks the bait causing the rod tip to tremble, later the fish moves off having taken the bait pulling the tip down, slacking the line or sometimes pulling your fishing rod over, Because of the way they feed ray are sometimes foul hooked outside of the mouth by a premature strike.

BLACK BREAM: One of the most difficult sea fish to hook because of their bait pecking and small mouths, use light tackle and line, small hooks, bait small and neat and be patient.

GREY MULLET: Mullet like the coarse fish have learned about hooks and line through being caught and returned, their more acute instincts in clear water also makes them shyer. A rule when fishing for mullet is never to strike by sight when you see a fish take the bait, always wait until the float disappears or the tip goes round!

DOGFISH: Infuriating to hook if you react to the bites, ignore them and they are more likely to be hooked, but not every time. Don’t move the rod or bait once a bite is spotted!

CONGER: The old school reckon a conger should be given time to take the bait, but this may allow it to swallow the hook and so striking early is recommended to avoid deep hooking.


Holding your rod with the line between the fingers you will be able to feel the tugs from the small species and it’s a fun way to fish. Experiment with striking and you will find that in a majority of cases catch rates are greatly improved by letting the fish bite for a few seconds before hitting it. Of course when using multi hook rigs to catch fish for the pot letting the fish hook themselves is far superior to striking every rod tip rattle!

Using braid line that does not stretch is a practical way to improve your bite indication but remember the lack of stretch amplifies the smallest nibble, so be patient and wait for a positive movement.

Alan Yates


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

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary


I fished Samphire Hoe in a local club competition recently. The venue is built on top of the spoil from when they built the Channel Tunnel and is situated between Folkestone and Dover in Kent. If you have fished there you will know that it is fish packed, but gruesomely snaggy. Not many venues in the UK can claim to be as bad for fishing tackle loss and the Hoe is every bit as bad as some of the many snaggy rock marks in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Several ways to combat it and as I was in a match I fished small hooks and light snoods so that I could rip gear back through the snags – It works a treat for pout, wrasse dogfish. However for the bigger fish and there are some good bass, a Pulley Pennell is the only rig and then it needs to be fished 30lb line all though. I caught nothing big, but did win the event with 2.844kg. Best time to visit the Hoe is in the evening from low tide up and it is also worth taking a float to combat the snags and a set of feathers for the mackerel.

I was out fishing in a lightening storm last week and several of my mates suggested I was in more danger because of my liking for long beachcasters – Yer? Well I admit to keeping a low profile and not touching my 15ft of carbon beachcaster… whilst huddling under my Force 8 carbon fibre glass stayed brolly when the storm was at its worse.

I took time off from the beach and pier this week for a spot of coarse fishing – yes I cast a bobber from time to time. In fact I am a big fan of the pole and fish the odd carp match. Oh that sea fishing was as simple. Just turn up shovel in a ton of pellet and get a carp a chuck. Great fishing therapy if you are experiencing a run of poor results at sea. Head for a commercial lake and bag up on carp, great for the fishing confidence although be warned too much of a good thing and you may lose your appetite for a challenge!


Its high summer and shark mania has started to hit the National media headlines. Annually there are reports of giant man eating sharks close to the UK coast and the more sensation seeking of the UK’s newspapers have a field day. But it is a fact that there are lots of big sharks around the UK including one that is a close relative of the fearsome great white. Working for the angling media I regularly receive fish catch pictures and they ones sent to me by Canterbury sea angler, Andrew Griffiths are awesome. Andrew made the trip to Milford Haven in South Wales to fish aboard White Water the specialist shark fishing boat operated by charter skipper, Andrew Allsop. The best of Andrew’s catch were porbeagle sharks of 120lb and 100lb plus a blue shark of 123lb.

Andrew and friends landed a total of 14 sharks during the day fishing 30 miles out of Milford Haven using a mix of mackerel and pollack baits fished on the drift in a chum trail. There are lots of sharks caught around the UK in summer including porbeagle and mako which are both classified as man eaters – watch those teeth.

The Sea Angler magazine Clubman competition is proving popular – Being the main organiser I can tell you that lots more clubs have joined in since it started in May 2011. It works via e mail, you send me your club results and they are entered in the competition. It’s for individuals and teams of four and even though I do say it myself its putting club match fishing on the map. There is still time to join in because the league runs until February 2012. Check out the Clubman page in Sea Angler magazine for rules and details.


I have just been asked by TF Gear to put together a list of tackle to be added to the range. Got some ideas for custom made items and its nice for a change to see more and more custom made and bespoke gear for sea anglers. The coarse boys have had the best tackle for years and now it’s the turn of sea angling to get some attention from the designers. So if you have any bright ideas to improve existing gear drop me a line on my e mail:

Now am I being over critical or am I alone in thinking that the new Breakaway lead is pants? Plastic plays a great part in modern life, none more so in sea angling tackle, but the change of the design of Breakaways impact lead seems to have been done for plastics sake. The nose of the old lead involved the wires gripped into the lead via beads and indents in the lead and allowed for great adjustment for the different sea beds we fish over. But the new lead uses a plastic nose cone and the grip on the wires is firm and less adjustable – Some say the lead is also not so aerodynamic when towing big baits. I am at present touring the UK tackle shops looking for old style impact leads.

See you on the beach.

Alan Yates