Essex cod fishing

After the success of the previous cod fishing trip to the East Coast, the opportunity came along for a repeat visit and it wasn't going to pass me by.

The weather forecast was showing light north easterlies which were to increase slightly as the day passed by. It was another early'ish start, leaving around 6pm I had a three hour trip ahead of me. I' d arranged to meet up with a few of the locals, bacon sandwiches were available on my arrival, brilliant or what!!


The loaded yaks were pulled a short distance to the seafront and away we went.. I cheated somewhat and had launched a few minutes earlier..


Fishing was about 1.5 miles offshore with the bait being a squid/lug combination as per the previous trip. The fishing was sporadic compared to the previous trip and the fish were somewhat smaller, for me anyway.

The wind picked up and was it cold!!, in fact it was possibly the coldest conditions I've experienced, probably purely down to the wind. I've fished sub-zero temperatures before without problems, though the wind child and sheer exposure of the North Sea made is very cold indeed. Though you have to bear in mind we were out there for six hours, the cold only really took hold halfway through.


Fish were being caught steadily throughout the day, with a few over 6lb.



So another cracking trip, I caught around twenty fish with the majority being returned to fight another day. Though 6 hours of driving with 6 hours of fishing on top took its toll..... next time I'm going to stay overnight in a B&B !

Please feel free to comment.

Kayak Fishing - Cod at last !!!

Over the past 4 weeks my efforts to catch a Solent cod have failed miserably. There isn't a great run of cod through the Solent, though a few do get caught every year.

Desperate measures were required, so the decision was made to travel 3 hours up to the Essex coastline where catch reports have been promising.

Preparations were made and I set off with my local yakking mate at 4am, arriving at the chosen destination shortly after 7am. The conditions were just about perfect, flat calm with barely a breeze, though there was still quite some mist about half a mile offshore. We'd taken the opportunity to meet up with a couple of Essex kayak fisherman contacted via a forum. They were kind enough to ensure fresh lugworm was waiting for us when we arrived. Preps were made ready for the launch.


The chosen mark was almost 1.5 miles offshore, though the tide was at low water slack making progress relatively quick. By the time we'd made it to the mark and dropped anchor the tide was already moving at a good pace. Both rods were rigged with running ledgers and 6/0 pennels rigs loaded with a squid/lugworm combination.


The squid had been 'glugged' for a couple of days prior to the trip, soaking in a combination of oils. It's not a must, though local knowledge suggested it was a worthwhile enhancement. The mist was proving persistent and the first hour was relatively quiet with only the odd smaller fish coming to the surface.


The mist finally cleared by late morning, though the wind picked up and the drizzle remained persistent throughout. Nothing too unpleasant, certainly not compared to the weather of late!. As the morning progressed the fishing picked up with a multitude of codling coming to the yak. The most prolific time seemed to be just before mid-tide, lasting for about an hour. There were quite a few pouting and smaller whiting, though thankfully not in the numbers I've been experiencing locally as of late.


clacton 15


As the tide eased off the fishing slowed down dramatically which resulted in me calling it a day around high water. I kept a few nice cod for the table, along with a handful of smaller codling and whiting that had been deeply hooked. The best fish was a shade under 7lb with another two around the 6lb mark.

Paddling back in I noticed a large charter boat about 1/2 mile closer inshore. Never one to miss an opportunity I pulled my stringer of fish from the water plonking them squarely on my lap in preparation for the paddle past, from the various comments it appears they weren't sharing in my good fortune!.. I know, probably not the best of sporting etiquette but it did make me smile.

Filleting the fish gave an opportunity to check what the cod had been eating, virtually all the fish were packed solid with hardback crabs with the odd small herring and pouting.

So all in all a cracking trip that was well worth the 6 hour return journey, hopefully to be repeated once more this year before the cod move on.

Please feel free to comment.

A plague of Pouting

The hunt for the elusive Solent cod continued with an evening trip to Browndown, fishing the edge of the main channel about 3/4 mile out. The fishing took place around low water for no other reason than the winds were low and I'd not managed to get out for 2 weeks. The northerly force 3-4 kept the sea flat making fishing conditions quite pleasant, if not a tad cool.

Two rods were fished, one a 6/0 pennel whole squid/ragworm combination, the other a simple two hooker flapper arrangement baited with a combination of mackerel, squid strips and ragworm.

Water depth was 20m, once I'd hit bottom an extra 40m of line was let out leaving little remaining on the reel.

The action was none stop with a multitude of double hook-ups of pouting with a few whiting showing up to. The pouting were generally large, though the whiting were disappointingly small with no keepers for the table.

A few dogfish showed up too, though thankfully not in the numbers experienced recently. There was a moment when a decent fish seemed liked, only for double hook-up of dogfish to appear at the surface.

So after 3 hours which saw a total of around 50 fish come to the yak the decision was made to call it a night. One great thing about the evening was terrific displays of fireworks around the Solent, and it didn't cost a penny!

Please feel free to comment.

Review - Hummingbird 565 Fishfinder

Maybe I'm just a gadgets freak but I knew early on that I wanted a fishfinder on the yak. Not for spotting fish, though it's always a confidence boost, but for surveying the type of ground that your fishing or paddling over.

Consideration was given to transporting the yak upside down on my vehicle which restricted how I was going to mount any fishfinder. A fixed base would soon get damaged during loading/unloading operation, however careful, it was just a matter of time. One thing was for certain, it was going to be mounted past my feet and that dictated that I was going to need a larger screen so viewing was easy and clear.

Colour, B&W?.. GPS?, what to go for. Well the colour combo units are so damned expensive, I didn't like the idea of putting all my eggs in one basket with a combo unit, should one part fail I've effectively got to replace the whole unit. Colour?, I saw it as a luxury not really required hence it was going to be a B&W unit. There are a good few to choose from though after much research I decided on the Humminbird 565.
I liked the large screen, dual beam performance and the simple large button layout. It comes with a standard transom mount transducer though the yak was equipped with a Humminbird compatible through hole scupper fitting. However, the latter was going to cost an extra £60 and I didn't see any reason for it. The transducer was duly bonded to a roughened area on the forward base area inside the yak using Marine Goop, and there is has remained after a year of use.

Transducer in place (ignore the nut!)

The screen can be used in various modes, split screen, large digits, zoom mode, sonar mode, etc.. though I tend to keep it nice and simple as shown below.

As well as depth, I have water temperature and battery voltage displayed at the bottom of the display. Being an EU specification model the unit can be switched between metric and imperial. The unit, as well as being detachable, is fitted to a modified RAM mount allowing the mount to fold down into the footwell during transportation/storage to prevent any possible damage.


The picture is clear, the backlight very effective. Occasionally some light misting of the screen can occur, though this clears fairly quickly. At a later date I purchased a separate GPS unit (see review) which has fulfilled my requirement. A good unit at a reasonable price.

Please feel free to comment.

Boiled Lobster

I was lucky enough to have caught a decent lobster, so I followed some basic online info and cooked it myself.

First a pan of boiling very salty water... a big one for my lobster.

Slowly coming to the boil... all 4 burners were needed for this pot!Next..... one juicy lobster.

Now for cooking... for the 1st pound you allow 10 mins, then an additional 3 mins for each extra pound. So a 2lb lobster would be 13 mins, a 3lb'er 16 mins, etc..

Slipped in live...

Keep it covered and boil for the required time.. it'll soon turn to a fantastic red colour, quite a transformation.

Once shelled the body and nippers provided a good deal of meat, more than enough to feed my visiting family !, what a treat.

Served with a little lemon juice... simple, but perfect!

Review - Garmin 60CSx GPS

When I originally kitted out my Big Game I wanted the largest fishfinder display, within reason!, that I could find.. mainly because it was going to be situated past my feet and I wanted it to be clearly readable.

I also wanted the combined GPS unit but the cost with maps was prohibitive, plus I wasn't happy about losing both facilities if the unit/battery should fail.

So I settled on the Humminbird 565 which has turned out to be a good choice and I relied on an aging Garmin Etrex to provided a limited GPS service (no maps). I'd been researching GPS units for some time and I've finally taken the plunge by purchasing a Garmin 60CSx. I didn't want something dedicated to the yak, it had to be good for hiking, cycling, etc.



Various reasons why I chose this unit, but to summarise:

  • Reasonably sized display if suitably positioned.
  • The ability to load Garmin BlueChart maps.
  • Electronic compass facility when stationary.

There are stacks of other functions, such as 'drag anchor' alarm ,etc.As for maps the unit ideally requires the Garmin BlueChart maps which can be purchased on CDROM for PC use, though unlocking codes are required to unlock individual maps for GPS use.

Now this isn't cheap!, the Atlantic CD literally has hundreds of charts, the Solent chart unlock cost around £100. Though..... if you know where to look you can get them, for nothing. The above photo shows the scale set to 800ft, though you can zoom down to 120ft and more.The charts are extremely detailed both on the PC and handheld GPS, they are in fact the same on either unit. The detail is simply awesome and I'll be trying it out for the first time tomorrow.

Mounting was carried out using a Garmin marine mount to suit the 60 series.



From experience with the Etrex I know the batteries don't last a fantastic time when the unit remains on, especially in cold weather. Hence I took the opportunity to fit a DC power lead and it's wired into my main wiring loom fed by the 12ah battery. If the DC battery feed is interrupted it reverts to internal battery supply with only a cautionary warning.

Comparing to my Etrex, the satellite sensitivity is excellent,.. I can sit indoors and get a sat lock. Time will tell, but initial impressions are very encouraging.

Below is a screen shot of the BlueChart mapsource as viewed on the PC showing the details available, though it's shown somewhat zoomed out here. The PC also allows charts to be printed out, laminated and stored on the yak for quick reference if required.


The 60CSx comes with an internal memory card, 64MB I believe, though I've upgraded to 4GB which if I chose would allow me to fit all charts for Atlantic, Pacific and Americas in one go... with loads of room to spare!

I still carry my old Etrex and handheld compass for backup of course.

Having used this unit for several weeks now I'm tremendously impressed with. Not only is is handy for marking fishing spots, monitoring drift at anchor, etc.. the map detail is simply superb and accurate. The electronic compass only works in the horizontal position which is a pity, though if required for that purpose it's quickly removed from its mount. Operation when on the yak is easy enough, switching between screens, selecting waypoints, etc. I've navigated in extremely thick fog, using the GPS to recover to my launch site, worked a treat!.

No regrets whatsoever.

Please feel free to comment.