Matt Hope’s guide to places to fish.
With its huge prize fund of £35,000, the annual European Open Beach Championship, which takes place on the Holderness Coast of East Yorkshire, attracts more than 1,000 anglers from across the UK and Europe. The match is fished between Bridlington North Beach and Spurn Point pilot jetty.
Living in the area, I have competed in the big event and also fish this coastline on a regular basis. Here’s my guide to some venues to consider fishing in the roving event or, if you are not taking part, to visit this winter.
I’ve chosen some places with easier access because I don’t want to send people on long hikes or difficult-to-access areas.
Located 10km south east of Hornsea, there are a couple of well-known marks here – Aldbrough Dip and Aldbrough Road End.
These marks are located at either side of the Aldbrough leisure park (static caravan park), with Road End being my favourite of the two marks. Road End is Seaside Road, which terminates at the cliff edge just past the Double Dutch pub, to the side of the static caravan park.
There is parking at the end of the road for up to half-a-dozen cars if everybody parks sensibly. Make sure you don’t block the driveway entrances.
It’s quite a high cliff at Aldbrough, approximately 20 metres, and there is usually a ‘get down’ point at the road end that’s used regularly by the caravan site residents to access the beach.
As on most of the Holderness Coast, fish can be caught here at any stage of tide. I find the best period to fish is the last three hours of the flood over the top and a couple of hours down. It can be fished even on the large tides of over six metres on the Bridlington scale, and I prefer to fish on the bigger tides.
There are quite a few grass ledges that have fallen down due to the cliff erosion, and these can be fished off during the higher tides. Alternatively, there are a few spots with a straight lift, so you can fish off the cliff top. With tides under six metres, you can usually stay on the beach and fish, but always check the high water mark and plan your escape route. Don’t get cut off; some very experienced anglers did so in the European Open in 2018.
From December to February, cod are my target species here. This is my go-to spot in a rough sea, and some of the best fishing I have ever experienced has been on this beach in a dying sea after a big blow.
Fish can be caught at all ranges, but I’ve had most success at distance, especially if there is any amount of swell still left in the sea. A cast of 100 yards or more should find fish in these conditions, but further the better, in my opinion.
I use a short Pennell pulley rig with sharp size 4/0 hooks on hooklengths of 18-24in. Otherwise, I go for any clipped-down rig for distance. For bait, go for yellowtail lug or black lug or cocktails of worms and squid.
My first cod of last season came from here. We decided to move after fishing Bridlington North Beach, where we’d gone for shelter from the north-easterly wind and swell, but after two-and-a-half hours without a bite, I suggested we moved to Aldbrough.
We arrived at top of tide and the sea was bigger than I expected. My mate Lee dropped down on to a ledge on the get down at the road end, while I fished the cliff top to the left. I wasn’t expecting anything because I thought the sea was too big, and with the strength of the wind I didn’t think we’d get out far enough to catch.
The first half-an-hour produced nothing. The tide had turned and I’d just put out fresh bait when I had a big pull-down on the rod tip. I waited, but nothing happened, so I gave it about five minutes before reeling in and baiting up again. I put it back out as far as I could manage and it didn’t take long for my rod tip to give a good nod, then nod, and nod again. After a good scrap in the surf, I hauled up my first cod of the season.
We only fished it a couple of hours down due to the surf really picking up the shallower it was getting, but I caught a few whiting and a small bass. I fished Aldbrough Road End on the Sunday in last year’s European Open and had one cod and a few whiting and lost a cod that got snagged.
WITHERNSEA TOWN CENTRE
Often overlooked by many anglers, this is a venue where distance casting can be the key. You need to get your bait out past the breakwaters that run along the seafront to find some tide pull. This is where you’ll find the better stamp of fish. It’s worth having a look here at low water on the big tides to see which groynes have the better holes and gullies. The final breakwater to the north has the last set of steps and always seems to have a good gully year after year. This area is located as you leave the town towards Waxholme, with parking on the side of the road next to the playing field. Other good marks in Withernsea are the slipway at the lifeboat station and the brick pond to the south of the town, while the area between the groynes can have some steeper areas. Whiting can be a nuisance on the Holderness Coast when targeting cod, particularly during a flat calm frosty night at Withernsea. These whiting can be a nightmare because they are on your bait in seconds. There is good parking, but check all signposting first. There is a free car park situated on Lee Avenue to the south of the town and easy access to the beach via steps. I like a medium tide, so I can stay on the beach, but you can fish off the steps or promenade on the big tides. Bait is available in the town’s tackle shop, but pre-order your worms.
THE POO PIPE
Not the most attractively named venue on the Holderness Coast, this mark is just south of Withernsea heading towards Holmpton on Holmpton Road. No prizes for guessing that it’s near a water treatment plant. A new stone track and parking area, giving access to the cliff top, was made while work was completed. You can fish from your car, which makes this spot very popular at times. The cliffs here are some of lowest on Holderness, mostly under 20ft. A lot of anglers like fishing off the cliff tops here because the sea hits the cliffs on the larger tides, but on the smaller tides you should stay on the beach. There are usually a couple of spots cut into the cliff to get down to the sand. There have been some large bags of stone put in to cover the pipe against the cliff, with a sign saying ‘do not climb’ but, unfortunately, it is largely ignored. Three hours either side of high water is the time I’d fish this mark, but if you’re wanting to stay on the cliff tops consider two hours either side of high water. Most of this stretch fishes well, but I like fishing tight to the pipe. I had my second cod of the season here too. It’s also a very good mark for rays right through winter. Fishing is mainly over sand and shingle, but it can be over clay at times. Low-water fishing can be snaggy due to exposed clays. It’s worth putting out a longer trace with a large squid bait just before high water as the tidal pull eases. I’ve caught a few bonus rays in calm conditions doing so here. I find a light westerly wind and a flat calm sea the best conditions to fish the pipe, as it’s fairly open here. I’ve caught some nice fish from here over the years and some very good mixed bags of dogfish, whiting, cod and rays in the winter. I have found it can go quiet on the ebb on some occasions. If the mark is busy, try just a few hundred yards further south towards Holmpton at what is know as Runnels. Unfortunately, it has limited parking, but there are several places for two or three cars to pull in on the roadside near the signpost for Holym. Walk towards the cliff top along the left-hand side of the dyke, where you’ll find easy access at end of the dyke and a five to 10-minute walk to the mark.
I’ve had some good fish here at low water over the last couple of seasons. It is one of the spots you’ll find me fishing for cod on the smaller tides. To get to Easington, take the A1033 from Hull to the caravan site (HU12 0TY). Just past the caravan site, there is an old disused boat compound, adjacent to which is a slipway cut out of the cliff, giving easy access to the beach. This venue has good parking just past the caravan site. It can be quite snaggy at low water because there are lots of clays just beyond the lowwater mark. You can fish here any stage of the tide, but if you are fishing low water be prepared for tackle losses due to the snags. Most people fish this spot from half tide up and a couple back down. Local Spurn lugworms and squid are my bait choice for the cod here, so I’ll often dig bait at Spurn Road or Kilnsea before fishing. Easington is only two-and-a-half miles from Kilnsea.
Aldbrough Road End
A lovely cod from Aldbrough Road End
A medium tide means you can stay on the beach
There is easy access to the beach
Holes are gullies are found near the groynes
A decent ray caught from the pipe, and a cod too