All at Sea – 02-05-2016

by John Popplewell

The spring run of thornback rays is certainly under way and I really am amazed at the number of rays that are in the Thames Estuary. Most of the seabed seems to be paved with them and whether you are a boat, beach or pier angler, it makes no difference, there are rays being caught everywhere. Every year now we are seeing more and more of these rays turning up and staying in our waters for most of the year, it can only be good news for all anglers.

The charter boat Sophie Lea reported for the month that the weather had allowed them to travel further afield in search of different species. Although results have been predictable with thornbacks in every area of the estuary, small smooth-hounds and rays are showing on the sand banks but there are no cod to talk of.

Once again the smaller fishing boats are reporting the same, with masses of rays, dogfish and the odd bass showing.

Norfolk angler Wayne Mathews

Walton Sea Angling Club headed for the Frinton beaches for their latest evening match, and were met with a bitterly cold easterly wind which made fishing very uncomfortable. Plenty of small fish were caught which included bass, whiting, pouting and the odd dogfish. First place went to Rob Tuck with 5¾lb well ahead of runner-up Doug Sadler on 2lb 7oz and third placed Nik Highfield with 2lb 5oz. Heaviest fish was a 1lb 9oz dogfish for Rob Tuck.

Walton Pier has had a great week on the ray fishing front and Colchester angler Paul Packman took full advantage. He fished a 12-hour session on the top of the pier and recorded an amazing catch of 12 thornbacks to 10lbs. It hasn’t been unusual for angler to catch two or three rays each per tide. The surprise of the week has been a couple of rare cod weighing in at around the 7lb mark.

My trip this week was to the pier and within less than an hour I had landed two rays, both fish were caught on squid baits.

The Walton beaches are now seeing more small bass being caught together with some flounders and eels.

Colchester Sea Angling Club fished the Holland beaches for their league match and the weather threw everything at them, rain, sleet and snow! The fish were feeding though, and all anglers caught fish as whiting, pouting and dogfish were in abundance. Top spot went to Steve Yallop with 9lb 14oz with Mark Sessions close behind with 9lb 6oz. Third placed Olly Yallop had 6lb 14oz, Phil Buy 5lb 2oz in fourth and Bill Paquette fifth with 4lb 2oz.

The heaviest fished prize was a tie between four anglers. Steve Yallop, Mark Sessions, Martin Close and Phil Buy, who all weighed in 1lb 15oz dogfish.

Clacton Pier has fished much the same as its local neighbour with rays showing on most tides and some bass and dogfish after dark.

St Osyth Beach is still the venue to head for and those rays are feeding in force. The whole stretch of beach from the rocky breakwaters all the way up to the nature reserve are fishing well, plus some bass are now also being caught from here as well.

If you have any fishing reports, you can contact me at

The high tides for the weekend are Saturday 12.54 and Sunday 1.12pm.

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