All at Sea – 18-01-2016

by John Popplewell

We seem to be into our first prolonged cold spell, heavy frosts on most days has brought the water temperature down making everything more seasonable. I did write last week that those thornback rays would head for deeper waters, but reports this week have proved different. In fact, we are now seeing bigger rays being caught from the boats than we have seen for a few years with many weighing in at more than 10lbs.

The charter boat SeaWatch, skippered by Lester Baker, reported the biggest ray this week, a 19lb 2oz fish caught by local angler Tony Holt caught 2 miles off of the Clacton coast. This is the biggest thornback that I have reported on for many a season.

Tony Holt with a 19lb 2oz thornback

Clacton Boat Club were out in force this weekend as lighter winds made for favourable conditions and their boats headed out for various fishing marks. Club members Dave Hollands and Rocky Rochelle headed just a mile and a half out, and had a reasonable day until the wind began to pick up in the afternoon and they had to head back to shore. Dave reported that the thornbacks landed were much bigger than they had seen at the end of last year, and they also landed a few codling to 4lbs.

Lee Harmon and John Williams, also Clacton Boat Club Members, reported similar catches landing 7 rays and codling in the 2lb to 3lb range. Neil Marples reported several Walton boats out at the weekend, but it seems they didn’t fare as well with just a few rays caught and lots of very small whiting.

There are still reports of dense shoals of herring and sprats in the Thames estuary, but it does look like there are a few cod feeding on some tides. Beach and pier reports have definitely slowed down this week, with just the odd ray and hardly a codling caught.

The Walton Pier Club fished their latest match in very cold but calm conditions; there was a good colour to the sea and they found the fish feeding. 13 anglers fished and between them they caught 120 fish, mostly small whiting and dabs. First place went to Peter Harris with Colin Harris second and Kevin Blackwell third.

Walton Sea Angling Club also headed for the local pier for their evening match, fishing an incoming tide. They headed for the top of the pier, and once again there wasn’t a shortage of bites, mostly whiting and dogfish, but two rays were caught. Top spot went to Vic Pearce with 10lb 10.5oz, a bag which included a ray, runner-up Mark Peters weighed in 9lbs which also included a ray and third placed Rob Tuck had 7lb 14oz. Heaviest fish Mark Peters’ thornback ray of 5lb 11oz.

Pleasure anglers on the pier have had a quiet week, with mostly whiting and dabs being caught. The odd ray is still showing when conditions are right; local angler Andy Hipkin landed a 5lb ray from the top of the pier. The beaches have had a slow time of it, only small whiting and the odd flounder. Clacton Pier has also slowed down, with lots of small whiting and dabs and the odd ray.

St Osyth beach has produced a few rays this week, the flood tides will fish best and calamari squid is the bait.

If you have any reports you can contact me at

The tides for the weekend are Saturday 11.07am and Sunday 11.53am

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