A while ago, four of us went down to Sandgate in Kent and fished just behind the Castle. It wasn’t the best day to go cod fishing I have to admit and my hopes were slightly dampened by the steady South Easterly and bright sunshine as we neared the coast. It was cold though, however not cold enough to wear my Fladen Flotation jacket, just the bib and brace and my Mustad fleece. Having unloaded the car, I was glad of the short walk along the promenade and onto the beach.
I hadn’t fished this venue before, however knew of its rocky nature and potentially snaggy ground. It has to be said, local fishing knowledge is a must, especially when fishing this sort of ground, so before setting off Saturday morning we knew exactly where we wanted to fish, right opposite the Sandgate castle or within 50 or 60 yards to the left, looking straight out to sea. This would hopefully give us a clear sandy path through the rocks avoiding any snags. My idea was to get as close as possible to the rocks, while keeping my retrieval path clear. Sure enough between the four of us we never lost a single rig.
By the time we had set up and I had a few casts to wet my line, we had about four hours until high tide. I had chosen to use a single hook clip down pennel loop rig, with a snood of about six feet long (well that s what I call it anyway). I don t usually use such a long snood, but on this occasion I wanted to give my bait every chance of finding the fish. I’m a huge fan of sand eel baits and when worms are scarce, as they were, this is my favourite bait. I always cut off the head and tail to create a good scent trail and use bait elastic to secure it to the hook. My first fishing cast went about 100 yards or so, I d say between the four of us we had distances covering 60 to 120 yards. That said, I don t think any of us were expecting the next three and a half hours to be quite so uneventful.
Well, none of us had any bites for the next three hours or so, even our bait was coming back looking like it did when it was first cast out, no crabs were attacking our bait, nothing. Then funnily enough at high tide, which was about 2:40pm the south easterly wind dropped to nothing and the fish started to bite! I had whiting after whiting and the odd pouting, a few of the whiting were of good size, I still returned them though. It’s great to watch a fish swim back out to sea, no matter how small they are.
The whitings feeding frenzy lasted for about 2 hours, probably until the tide had turned and started to go back out. Darkness had crept up on us by this time too and thoughts of packing up were on everyone s mind. We decided to have a couple more casts in the hope of catching a cod or two, then sure enough, before his rod was even back in the rod rest, Jay’s sand eel/squid cocktail bait had fallen prey to a plump 3lb cod. With spirits at an all time high, we fished on for another hour or so, managing a couple more pouting and a nice sized dab.
If anyone decides to have a go here, there’s a ‘pay and display’ car park right on the promenade just along from the castle. (It used to be free but on a recent visit I noticed they’re now charging.) It does get quite busy though, as this stretch of beach is a favorite with dog walkers and as time would tell, people making the most of the pleasant January weather. We were lucky though, at 10:30 on Saturday morning the car park was quite bare, in fact we were lucky enough to have first pickings of where we could fish.
All in all we had a good days fishing, you never know how things will pan out with the weather and one things for sure next time I head to the beach to be greeted by steady south easterly, I won’t be so quick to write off the days fishing.