Bass Catch And Release In Full Swing On Essex Coast

by John Popplewell

all at sea logoSummer is coming although the cool northerly wind has certainly made things that bit chillier this week, none the less the fish are feeding for the boat anglers.

It must be about the bass this week; it has to be the best early season bass years that we have had for many a year. Yes, there is a ban on keeping bass and all fish must be returned as quickly as possible, but they are showing in numbers from boats, beaches and piers. Perhaps those in power who set these rulings should be looking at those trawlers that are having to throw back tonnes of dead bass that have been caught in nets. And maybe letting the rod and line angler take the odd fish for the plate.

Martin Smyth, Benny Keeble and Luke Harper set out from Brightlingsea to fish from around the wind farm area. They fished a flood tide and the bass were feeding with Martin catching the biggest at 6lb 6oz, Benny landed bass to 5lb 3oz and in between catching bass they also caught some double figure rays. Ragworm was the top bait for the bass on the day.

Benny Keeble and Luke Harper fished out towards the wind farm

Benny Keeble and Luke Harper fished out towards the wind farm, plenty of bass were caught along with plenty of thornback ray

Some big smoothhounds have also turned up this week and fish to 18lbs have been reported.

Sandie Davis launched from the Gunfleet Boating Club ramp down at Holland Haven and caught a personal best thornback ray weighing in at 12lb 2oz. Sandie also told me that there were also plenty of dogfish and whiting to be caught.

The Walton boats are also seeing an upsurge in smooth hounds and bass. Neil Marples fished from his own boat and landed rays to 10lbs and plagues of dogfish.

The charter boat Sophie Lea has been among the fish and young Archie Chipperfield had a great day onboard. Archie landed a cracking thornback ray and won himself the under ten year old Sophie Lea Shield.

Archie Chipperfield with his thornback ray

Young Archie with his shield winning thornback ray

St Osyth beach is still the top shore venue and anglers are patiently awaiting the first of the heavyweight stingray to hit the shores. So far it has been very quiet, although there was one report of a stingray lost from this beach. Stingrays can weigh up to 70lbs! So if you are targeting theses rays make sure your tackle will stand up to these hard fishing fish. Ragworm is the best bait but they will also take peeler crabs.

Clacton Pier is once again producing thornback ray. Sudbury angler David Backler fished here and caught thornbacks to 10lbs on squid baits. St Osyth angler Peter Rose lost a massive thornback ray here estimated at 20lb plus.

The Holland beaches are still fishing better after dark with thornbacks and dogfish being caught from most beaches. Mayweed is still a big problem, particularly on the ebb tides when the full force of the tide is running. There is no easy fix for this, it’s a case of fishing through it and as the tide eases it will subside.

The author with a bass landed today

The author with a bass landed today

Walton Pier has seen the first of the bigger smooth hounds arrive from the top of the pier with the biggest weighing in at just under 5lbs. As we move towards the end of the month there is a chance of a hound of over 10lbs from this venue. Peeler crab or hermit crab will be top bait. Thornback ray are now being caught during daylight hours. Still garfish to be caught from around the lifeboat area and bass from most areas of the pier.

The High tides for the weekend are Saturday 10.19 and Sunday 11.10.

If you have any fishing reports you can contact me at

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