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Alan Stevens

Neighbours News – And It’s Cod!

As we approach freedoms to fish beyond our local neighbourhoods, essex anglers will begin to bring updates from our neighbours either side of our wonderful county, introducing local top fishermen to provide insights and catch reports from their local marks beyond the county boundaries. Today I am pleased to introduce David Porter, who masters the beaches of North Suffolk.

A Tale of Two Tides by David Porter

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I have been invited to join the writing team to give a neighbouring county sea angling perspective and I hope that my approach will be both informative and entertaining.

I am based in North Suffolk and have fished very enthusiastically for over fifty five of my sixty five years. My great love is sea angling from the shore,  although I have been known to trot a float down the River Waveney in Suffolk for a bag of red finned roach on a crisp morning in the middle of winter, so that must make me an all rounder. As well as having a fishing mad son,  I also have two very young angling grandchildren and I now tend to refer to our family group as Team Porter. I hope to be able to write about the angling exploits of Team Porter occasionally. I enjoy writing about all things fishing including past angling adventures, contemporary catch reports and methods.

This lengthy Lock down period has meant that many have unfortunately been denied their angling ‘fix’ and I along with many others have taken shelter from the pandemic. I am however, blessed with a patch of coastline that is truly local, with venues within my town and located a few minutes from my home.

 That being the case I ventured out for the first time last weekend for a socially distanced session near my son, Tom, on my local sea wall. Locally known as the Wall, it is a known cod hotspot and has a history of holding fish well into the summer months because of the deep water, fast tides and patches of very rough bottom. 

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A few years ago we fished off a beach at this spot but the ravages of time and accelerated coastal erosion removed metres of sand so the beach no longer exists.

The venue needs to be studied at low water as the angler will find the broken wreckage of a previous seawall located twenty metres or so from the base of the promenade. The key to fishing this spot is to quickly get your codling onto the top of the water and skim your catch in through a gap between the lumps of concrete, which show above the water line.

If successful then the fish have to been lifted, hand-lined or netted and brought up the side of the wall.

The conditions we met with on our chosen day were very good with a fast flowing flood tide and the water showing plenty of colour from the sand and sediment disturbed by recent gales.  Unfortunately  despite our best efforts on the day those elusive Southern North Sea codling failed to show, as they have become increasingly rare over a short period of years.

 We had a good selection of baits on hand , including black lugworm, ragworm, squid and frozen peeler crabs. The bait was presented on standard pulley rigs armed with 3/0 uptiding hooks.

A blank session was on the cards after hours without a bite, until a dab gave itself up shortly before the end. Not a great success angling wise but great to be out in the fresh air with Tom taking our daily exercise. There was plenty of bait left over and the weather forecast for the next day was very  good. 

So we can now fast forward a day and a new dawn with yet another early start for me. This time the venue was the Lowestoft South/Pakefield  Beach which is a fairly shallow beach, and again very close to home. With a high tide predicted for 1100am, I was on the beach setting rods up at  07.30. The sea was flat and the sky was blue and it was certainly a nice start to the day, but for surf casting, well I felt it could be difficult fishing.There were no other anglers in sight and it was pretty quiet apart from a few early morning dog walkers and a few cold water swimmers. The beach comprises of fine grained sand with patches of shingle along the high water mark. The tide can really rip through at this spot, but there is a nice clean bottom.

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The tackle and the approach was different to the previous day as I came prepared to fish at distance and hopefully find some whiting, dabs or a thornback or two in the undisturbed water.

I used my pair of Century Fireblade rods coupled  with Akios Shuttles; yes I admit it, I am a bit of a  sucker for new rods and reels, but it’s not a really bad vice because they get plenty of use. I used pulley rigs again armed with needle sharp Mustard Aberdeen offset match hooks. 

The first part of the tide passed without any sign of interest shown by any of the target species of fish and it looked yet again that a blank was on the cards.

As the tide eased an hour from the top of the tide I caught a whiting on ragworm, which triggered a sigh of relief from me……no blank for me today! Recasting well up-tide with a hook crammed full of fresh lively ragworm I then settled down to study the rod tips. Both rods were bent over into the tide run when suddenly one straightened in the rest. The line tightened and then slackened again.

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 I quickly got to my feet and tightened into what felt like a reasonable fish. This was clearly no whiting and the chief suspect in my mind, as the fish pulled strongly down tide was a decent bass. It kicked hard at the back of the surf and really gave a good spirited fight. 

I guided the fish to shore on a wave and was so surprised to see the marbled green flanks, telltale fins and tail of a good sized codling showing in the water. The hook pulled out as the fish was beached, so I leant down grabbing the codling before an incoming wave carried it out to sea again.

Well……that was all of a bit of a surprise, and needless to say I was pretty pleased about things. I had targeted one of these several times earlier in the winter before the second Lockdown, but had been unsuccessful apart from a small one caught at the end of September. The codling was a smashing looking fish and in an A1 condition.

I had a couple of more casts, but it was pretty clear to me that I would not improve upon my catch, so it was time to pack up.

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At home it weighed five pounds exactly on my scales. I must admit given the conditions it was a surprise, but it happens so often in our wonderful sport; the unexpected!  After fifty five years of angling have I learnt anything; yes nothing is predictable!

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