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Joe Chappell

The Call of The Crouch

This Tuesday, my dad and I decided to take an evening trip to the River Crouch. The tide was perfect as high tide was around eight o’clock and we planned to fish from five until nine. Our chosen stretch of the river was South Fambridge as it’s around a 10 minute drive from where we live and a venue we fish quite a lot. We were hoping to catch a thornback ray, the species that the River Crouch is pretty much renowned for however, one that we were yet to catch there. We knew that there was also a chance of some dogfish and it was inevitable we would catch whiting too at this time of year.

There are a few spots along South Fambridge that we have fished before and on this occasion, we decided to stick to what we know. My dad didn’t fancy the long walk to the Saltings in the dark and due to me leaving my tripod at home, we would have only been able to fish 2 rods there anyway. We decided to fish the first bay as you walk to the right. After visiting at low tide a couple of years ago, we found that there were almost no snags at this point of the river. There is also a farmer’s fence behind the path which I could rest my rods on.

Crouch Map

We arrived at around half past five and started setting up the rods. We both opted to fish one rod with a pulley pennel and one with a two hook flapper. Chosen baits for the evening were all frozen. We had a pack of squid, herring and some frozen rag and lug worm which were left over from a previous trip to Canvey. (We only caught a few whiting, nothing worth blogging about)

The water was eerily calm, usually at the River Crouch there is quite a bit of current however the small tide coupled with lack of wind meant that the water was calmer than some of the lakes I have fished.  Even though it was pitch black the calm water was reflecting the light and we could see and hear our leads hit the water on every cast due to there being no sound from the waves.

I got my pennel rod out first and as soon as it hit the water it was getting nibbled. Before I could set my other rod up, I had manged to catch two whiting. Both the fish were caught on a mix of herring and squid wraps. I baited the two hook flapper with the frozen rag worm and before long had caught a fish on that rod too.

That was three to me and my dad still hadn’t caught anything. However, his luck was soon to change. After I had caught my flurry of fish my dad started hauling them in while it was my turn to catch nothing. Soon my luck changed and we were both catching whiting on nearly every cast. It was frustrating as the larger baits intended for a ray, were getting stripped within minutes.

The largest whiting of the night.

About an hour before high tide, my rod with the pennel on received a proper good bite. It was such a good bite I was certain it wasn’t a whiting. I was right, it was a dogfish and a first from the crouch for either me or my dad. It wasn’t very big but a nice change from all the whiting. I slipped him back, holding him in the edge while he recovered to ensure his safe return. A little while later my dad received a good knock too, his rod tip pulled down and went back to its original position. He waited for a little while longer but whatever it was had unfortunately dropped his bait.

The lone dogfish.

The bites continued throughout the night on all baits. There wasn’t one bait which outperformed the other however, the frozen lug was a bit slimy and we only used it after we had used all the rag worm. The fish didn’t seem too bothered and my dad actually received a double while using the lug on his second to last cast.

I’d like to add that unexpectedly, the frozen rag worm performed just as well as fresh rag and actually seemed to stay on the hook much better than fresh. It performed so well that my dad has said he’ll probably start buying fresh and salting/freezing it from now on. Freezing rag is so simple and my dad is going to make a youtube video about it which I will share soon.

The fish were biting throughout the night which kept us busy, although the ray that we were hoping for never turned up. Whilst it was mostly whiting being caught, some were quite big and overall, it was our second best session on the crouch to date with around 40 fish caught between us over less than 4 hours. With my dad moving to Switzerland for work soon, it’s great spending time together while we can and for me, that’s one of the best things about fishing.

If you’re interested, here’s another one of my blogs about sea fishing:

Thanks for making it to the end. Check me out on instagram here:

Thanks to Trev for the bait too.

2 replies on “The Call of The Crouch”

Great info unfortunately I moved to norfolk so cant fish these spots .the fishing at moment is very good all along east coast thanks again kev.

Keep persevering and the rays will come . My brother and I have fished the same place many times and only really caught whiting , bass and the odd dog. One time we went and had 9 rays and 10 doggies and had the best ever session we have ever had. So they are there buddy.
Going tomorrow so will see how it goes.
Tight lines
Colin

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