With a week booked off work and a mass of pent up desire to fish beyond my residential area, the weather forecast could not have been better for a late March Monday. 22-degrees with no wind was promised but leaving home at 5:30 am with frost and fog I had dressed for the worst.
Suffolk was my destination, to be precise, Pakefield in North Suffolk, to meet up with local legend and fellow blogger David Porter. I was keen to pick David’s brain for his vast knowledge of this coastline and having caught a decent codling only the week before he was a man in form. The trip also served an additional purpose as it gave me a chance to evaluate another location for the John Wilson Fishing Enterprise beach adventures we are running from April.
The 90-minute drive north along the A12 took me past the amazing Suffolk coastline marks of Shingle Street, Orford Ness, Aldeburgh, Sizewell, Dunwich and Southwold. All of which will be visited soon for blogs and combined, is without doubt one of my favourite stretches of coastline anywhere – and right on my doorstep. I know people rave about Chesil, but give me Suffolk shingle coastal marks any day for great fishing and amazing scenery without the crowds.
Pakefield is situated at the north end of this coastal stretch, just South of Lowestoft and I arrived at 7:30 to be greeted with the most beautiful views imaginable. As dawn sunshine warmed the empty beach hardly a wave troubled the shoreline. My solitude was shared only with the Sand Martins busily nesting in the soft cliffs that are ideal for them but give nightmares to the owners of properties perched precariously upon the fast receding plots of land above.
Parking is right by the beach making access very simple. The beach itself is a mix of sand and shingle stretches littered with small fishing boats that have been hauled onto shore ready for their next foray to sea. My excitement towards the day ahead had caused me to be early for the planned 8:00am meet so I set up with simple flapper rigs baited with worm and squid keeping an eye out for David to arrive. With less tide run than Corton to the North of Lowestoft, a 4-5oz weight is ample to hold across the right to left moving flood tide.
David arrived on time and advised me that my chosen place to set up was in fact about 200 yards from where he would have chosen. I realised that I hadn’t thought hard enough about the signs from the water movement, but we kept faith and enjoyed the view, just happy to be out for the day in the spring sunshine.
The beach itself recedes into the sea at a reasonable gradient – a nice compromise between depth of water and safety, if fishing with youngsters or heavy weather, before reaching a sand bar that runs parallel to the coastline to Kessingland, perhaps 80 yards from shore. So to fish there you either cast inside this bar (our option) or cast beyond it to the clay seabed another 30 yards or so to hope for bigger fish. Our near shore focus would probably limit the catch to small fish but we were not that bothered and settle in for the day.
Despite the weather being so perfect, the beach remained quiet. I guess the fact that Suffolk boasts such a long stretch of beach coastline and has way fewer people than Essex, spreads everyone out and we were happy with that. The odd passing Clydesdale horse from the local riding school and the occasional friendly walker shared this idyllic setting whilst we reeled in whiting and dabs reminiscing about fishing over our lifetimes.
As high-water approached we finished off the last of the freshly baked scones that David’s wonderful wife Bridget had kindly baked that morning and it was time to pack up and head home. No record breaking fish but as a therapy for minds fogged by a long winter lockdown it was just perfect. David is great company and a seriously good fisherman who I can’t wait to get out with again.
So is Pakefield a mark worth visiting – for sure yes. Family friendly fishing with stunning views cannot get better than here. It will be ideal for the John Wilson project going forwards. Even if you don’t fancy the fishing, what a beautiful place to come to walk. For me, I will be back soon, perhaps after a gale has stirred up the seabed or maybe a summer evening after dark for soles and bass. Looking ahead, my first boat trip of the year aboard Dawn Tide 11 on the River Crouch is booked and I hope to be blogging on that over the coming week or two. For now, if you haven’t already heard it here is the link to my first podcast capturing my fishing history, some lessons learned and the new project with the John Wilson Fishing Enterprise