Bass, Ray And Spurdog Off The Essex Coast

by John Popplewell

all at sea logoJust when we thought the warmer weather was here to stay we have been hit by another cold spell, the only saving grace is that it hasn’t deterred the fish from feeding.

Plenty of thornback ray to be caught and spurdogs for the boats that want to travel that bit further out to catch them. The boats have had a great week; Dave Hollands launched his boat from the Gunfleet Boating Club and set off to search for spurdog on those distant marks. He was rewarded with a fine 14 pounder that was caught on a squid bait.

The charter boat Sophie Lea has seen the first of the bass, they also reported plenty of thornback rays and bigger whiting to be caught.

Spring bass for Mick Butcher on board the Sophie Lea

An early Spring bass for Mick Butcher on board the Sophie Lea

Neil Marples took his boat Milore out of Walton’s Titchmarsh Marina and fished just off the local coast line and also reported his first bass of the season. Neil also landed 10 smoothhounds between 3lbs and 6lbs plus thornback rays and dogfish. Peeler crab was his favoured bait.

The Mersea boats have reported some very big thornback rays plus a few early smooth hounds now showing. Early shoals of mackerel are also now showing and although at the moment they are difficult to find, as the sea warms up the shoals will increase in size.

The beaches and piers have also had a pretty good week, with St Osyth beach being the venue to head for. Rays are showing well here from in between the rocky breakwaters or the long walk up to the nature reserve. School bass have also been caught here and there is always a chance of a bigger fish from these beaches.

Clacton Pier is fishing very steadily with rays on both day and night tides, dogfish and whiting are also being caught.

The Holland beaches are also a repeat performance too, although the night-time tides are showing more rays and dogfish. The small whiting here can be a bit of a problem as they are very prolific and taking anglers baits before the bigger fish can find them.

Thornbacks are now also showing from the shallower Frinton beaches with the flood tides fishing the best.

Gary Hambleton looks happy with this fine looking thornback ray

Local angler Gary Hambleton looks happy with this fine looking thornback ray that he caught from the local beaches

The Walton Pier Club fished their latest match from the local venue. They fished an afternoon high tide in bright and breezy conditions and with reports of some decent fish being caught they were hopeful for a productive match. Unfortunately, the fish had other ideas!

16 anglers fished the lower section of the pier and fish were difficult to find. First place went to Glen Parker with 16 ounces, Barry Adair was second weighing in 12½oz and Robert Pobjoy third with 9½oz. The heaviest fish of the day was a 12½oz bass for Barry Adair. Species caught were bass, dabs and the odd eel and whiting.

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

The high tides for the weekend are Saturday 15.45 and Sunday 16.24

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