Sed­i­ment in the wa­ter is an im­por­tant fac­tor if you are look­ing for­ward to sum­mer suc­cess on the Hold­er­ness coast

Sea Angler (UK) - - SEA ANGLER | CONTENTS -

Where you need it to avoid a blank ses­sion.

Have you been among the in­flux of vis­it­ing an­glers to the Hold­er­ness Coast seek­ing some great smooth­hound sport, but left dis­ap­pointed? It was prob­a­bly be­cause you were cast­ing too far. Warmer, set­tled weather will see the re­turn of the hounds to this part of the East York­shire coast, where the fe­males come to drop their pups in the shal­low wa­ter. Some re­ally big girls turn up, with fish weigh­ing more than 20lb caught each sea­son, with dou­ble-fig­ure fish fairly com­mon.

It’s the pro­lific num­bers of th­ese sport­ing fish that at­tracts the vis­it­ing an­glers. Along with my dad and two sons, I have been known to pack up fish­ing and head off else­where when the hounds are here in num­bers, be­cause they can be hard work when we’re tar­get­ing other species.

My dad, Bill had more than 30 from 4lb to 11lb last year in one tide. It’s ex­haust­ing work, es­pe­cially if they are at long range. He went back to the same spot on the beach the next day and never had a bite. They had clearly cleaned out all the feed from the area and moved away.

Fresh and frozen peeler crabs, shrimps and squid are the baits for the smooth­hounds, but if they are around in vast num­bers I have caught them on ev­ery­thing from worms to Bluey to hard­back shore crabs. To com­bat bait-rob­bing crabs, we al­ways carry plenty of squid at this time of year to wrap baits. Oth­er­wise, if the crabs are out in force, they can strip your bait in a mat­ter of min­utes.

Along with my sons (Leon 15, Henry nine) and my dad, I am now look­ing for­ward to the longer days and pe­ri­ods of milder, set­tled weather so we can get out in search of the newly-ar­riv­ing species that haven’t been around dur­ing the win­ter and early spring.

My youngest son, Henry is just look­ing for­ward to the warmer weather as he’s a fair­weather an­gler but, as he gets older, I’m sure we’ll toughen him up enough to be able to

face the harsh­est of win­ter con­di­tions. In the mean­time, we’ll start him off on sunny days.

In spring, we carry a va­ri­ety of baits as we are un­sure which of the ex­pected species will show up. We reg­u­larly end up with a good mixed bag from the Hold­er­ness Coast dur­ing the spring and early sum­mer. Our tar­get species will be the spring run of codling, rays and smooth­hounds.

Once the crabs move back in­shore and have their first moult, noth­ing but a peeler crab seems to tempt the spring cod, and they will, at times, swim very close to the shore hunt­ing them out. Even a short cast will some­times find a spring cod.


When choos­ing where to fish, fea­tures and deep gul­lies are not as im­por­tant as they are in the win­ter. You will find a lot of fish run­ning the flats or sand bars, hunt­ing out shrimps or crabs.

The most im­por­tant thing we look for is the colour of the wa­ter. Driv­ing up the coast and look­ing from some of the higher cliff tops can help find the marks to fish when seek­ing good colour in the wa­ter.

If you find heav­ily-coloured wa­ter, a nice choco­late colour, you can usu­ally find fish. The colour comes from the sed­i­ment of the clay and cliff ero­sion wash­ing around, and is lifted off the bot­tom by the tidal and wave move­ment.

The colour can drop out of the wa­ter on small tides when there is very lit­tle tidal move­ment, or it can be caused by wind di­rec­tion. The sed­i­ment set­tles to the bot­tom and the wa­ter loses its colour. The fish­ing just seems to die when this hap­pens. If you take a bucket of the sea wa­ter and sit it on the beach you will see ex­actly what I mean in min­utes; the wa­ter will be clear and the sed­i­ment will be at the bot­tom of the bucket. Don’t be tempted to over-cast if the colour line is in close to shore, but stay in the brown wa­ter if you want to stand a chance of catch­ing fish.

In the last few years we have seen a rise in vis­it­ing an­glers on the Hold­er­ness Coast. They travel from the north, driv­ing down to East York­shire coast to have a crack at the hounds. We’ve seen good an­glers bring­ing some crack­ing crab baits and they blast the cast out to the hori­zon, out of the coloured wa­ter, then won­der why it’s not fish­ing well when they’ve heard good re­ports of fish hav­ing pre­vi­ously been caught.

I won­der how many peo­ple will hold their hands up and ad­mit to be­ing guilty of this? They’ve cast out too far.


Set­tled weather and calm seas see the re­turn of the thorn­backs and the very oc­ca­sional spot­ted ray. There are a few baits that can be used to tempt the rays, such as crabs, Bluey, mack­erel, squid, sandeels and live shrimps.

The shrimps can be col­lected at low wa­ter by push­ing a net through the shal­low gul­lies that ap­pear when the tide is out. My kids love do­ing this, but be very care­ful of poi­sonous wee­ver fish. I stuck my fin­ger on one when I was a teenager and it was a pain I will never for­get.

Live shrimps are one of the best baits to use on the Hold­er­ness Coast be­cause they will catch just about ev­ery fish that swims and can be deadly for smooth­hounds and rays. I find that shrimps are an un­der-used bait in this area, but it can be well worth the ef­fort of collecting them live.

Other species to tar­get in­clude dabs, soles, tur­bot, bass, dog­fish, whit­ing, pout­ing and sil­ver eels.


I favour pulley rigs with size 2/0 to 4/0 hooks if fish­ing at long range, with three-hook flap­per rigs with size 1 and 2 hooks for close-in work. We use loop and drop­per rigs with long flow­ing hook links for catch­ing rays.

I like to po­si­tion my­self at the bot­tom of the beach’s slope on the in­com­ing tide and cast as close in be­hind the back of the first wave. Henry and Leon like fish­ing this way be­cause they never know what’s go­ing to pick up their bait next. The best we have had is nine dif­fer­ent species of fish, which in­cludes a few good bass, and we even had a baby tope.

You re­ally would not be­lieve how close in the kids catch fish. I have seen them fish­ing with the shock-leader knots out of the wa­ter, get­ting bites and land­ing fish.


Fish can be caught at any stage of the tide, but three hours ei­ther side of high wa­ter seems to give us the most fish. Set up your rod stand well and slacken your drag im­me­di­ately after cast­ing out be­cause we have seen a few rods get dragged over by fish, es­pe­cially when the hounds are bit­ing hard.

We find the south­ern end and mid­dle beaches of the Hold­er­ness Coast fish bet­ter in spring and sum­mer, but over the last few years we’ve been hear­ing more and more re­ports of good rays and hounds com­ing from the north­ern end, as far up as Bridling­ton Bay. The flat, shal­low beaches at the north­ern end seem to be good for bass, par­tic­u­larly when there’s a good surf run­ning. Fresh yel­low­tails and black lug are the best baits for them. ■

Matt bagged this lovely cod

My youngest son Henry was de­lighted with this hound

You can usu­ally find fish in heav­ily-coloured wa­ter

A de­cent bass for Leon

Fif­teen-year-old Leon Hope, with a thorn­back ray

Bill Hope gets in on the ac­tion with a thorn­back ray

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