Essex Sea Angling Retrospective 2017

by John Popplewell

all at sea logoI thought we would look back at 2017 and how we have fared in the anglers’ calendar year on our part of the coast.

We started off January with news that there would be a ban on catching and keeping bass for the first six months of the year and after that only one bass per angler for each trip could be kept. This didn’t go down very well, as commercial boats were still allowed to retain far more bass than the pleasure angler could do in a lifetime.

The first couple of months of the New Year were slow for anglers with once again no cod to speak of and just whiting and dabs and the odd thornback ray to be caught.

By the end of February, the fishing had taken a turn for the better with those ever-faithful thornback rays turning up in force, the weather had also warmed up a degree or two.

Essex beaches thornback ray

Colchester SAC member Ted Gower with his 6lb 14oz thornback ray

By mid-March the rays had arrived on Clacton and Walton Piers plus most of the Holland and St Osyth beaches, followed closely by dogfish.

April saw bass catches increase although all fish had to be returned alive to the sea, but bass to 8lbs had been caught.

May and June brought the arrival of stingrays to the beaches, although this year they were few and far between and most were caught from St Osyth beach plus a few from the boats.

Tope reports from the boats were virtually non-existent, not because the tope was not there, it was the prohibitive cost of fuel to venture to these far-off marks to catch them!

John with a typical Essex thornback

John with a typical Essex shore thornback

The bass were now also in force with plenty of school bass to be caught from the beaches, piers and rivers.

Walton Pier saw plenty of garfish, bass to lures, wrasse and some smooth-hounds.

Mid-summer arrived, and the fishing once again slowed with just a few school bass, soles and eels to be caught.

September came around all too quickly and the first mackerel shoals appeared, although they didn’t seem to stay in one place for very long. Walton Pier also saw the mackerel appear, but only for a short time.

The rays also returned to most venues with some good sized rays landed, the first of the autumn whiting arrived but cod once again were very thin on the ground.

Baily with his bass

12 year old Baily Coombe with his estimated 7lb plus bass

October and November saw the last of the bass from the boats but plenty of whiting and dogfish were now showing, the elusive cod had missed us out for another year!

Dabs had moved in and boats and piers were having a bumper time. It was nothing to catch them two at a time from the piers and they are still there as I write.

December has been a very slow month with only whiting, dabs and a few pouting showing.

Don’t forget the Walton Pier Boxing Day Fishing Match. Its only a two hour match fishing from 10am till noon. Its always well attended with a bumper raffle afterwards, so even if you are not fishing you can always take a walk to the end of the pier.

The Walton Pier Fishing Club fished their Christmas match on the local venue at the weekend on a very chilly day. They fished the stem of the pier on an ebb tide, and conditions were to say the least hazardous under foot, but 17 anglers fished in the cold bright weather and calm sea.

Lee Dunkley with his 11lb smoothhound

Lee Dunkley with his 11lb smoothhound caught on a hermit crab bait from Seawatch Charters

A club record of 311 sizeable fish were weighed in, mostly whiting and a few dabs. All anglers caught fish with the best bait being single lugworm.

1st place went to Peter Harris with 10lb 3.5oz, 2nd spot went to Joe Marvell 8lb 5oz and 3rd Dan Winter 7lb 15oz

The high tides for the weekend are Saturday 14.37pm and Sunday 15.16pm

Finally, I take this opportunity to wish you a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year.

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