Winter Sea Fishing in Whitby
Winter Sea Fishing in Whitby article by John Staten
It's that time of the year now when grown men are reduced to a quivering wreck at the thought of all those cod arriving on our shores after a good blow and stir up of the sea. This disability can last anywhere from October through to the end of March! It doesn't matter what time of day or night it is, if the tide and conditions are right, then so are we. Doesn't matter what state the weather is, might be blowing a force ten, the rougher the better.
Off we trudge, laden down with our tackle box, bait bag, rod stand, rods, tilley lamp, flask, sandwiches, drop net, dressed in a pair of the wife's tights or Long Johns, 2 tea-shirts, a pair of quality jeans, shirt, jumper or sweater, (is there a difference?), fishing waist-coat, a big woolly hat or balaclava that makes you look like a terrorist, a headlight, a 2 piece or 1 piece wet-suit, 2 pair of long thermal socks and either waders or chest waders depending on where we are heading!
This is where us anglers/fishermen differ from the rest of society. They don't undertstand about winter sea fishing, they don't understand the importance of being dressed like a drag queen on the inside and a deep sea diver on the outside. Neither do they understand the joy of standing freezing, watching a brass monkey looking for a welder at 3 in the morning, while explaining to your companion why there ain't any fish about but there will be tomorrow and trying to thread a frozen worm onto a very sharp hook, as you just found out by the amount of blood dripping off your finger! Then telling all and sundry it's, "just nice to get out for a bit of fresh-air actually"!!
If you are fishing on a pier or jetty anywhere in the country, especially Saltburn Pier, a few short miles up the road, pray you don't catch a fish of size or you will have every village that is missing an idiot asking you; What hook size are you using, what bait are you using, how far did you cast, what rod have you got, what sort of reel is it, what sort of line do you use, what time are you fishing too and is your missus all alone at home tonight?
A lot of anglers who fish piers and jetties, especially in the winter, nearly all attempt to cast to the horizon for some strange lemming like reason. Most of the fish will be caught close in where there is a natural supply of food. Mussels will be attached to the pier piles or the jetty wall, crabs, small bait fish etc, they all will most certainly be there to attract the feeding fish.
On most piers you can walk along at low water and see if there are any 'runners off to the side or any large holes around the base of the pier legs. It always pays to do a bit of homework before a fishing session.
Whitby is a picturesque town based at the mouth of the Esk river. The town is dominated by the cliff-top ruins of the beautiful 13th century Whitby Abbey.
There is plenty of accommodation if you want stay over for a few days fishing. In the winter accommodation should be quite easy to find. Self catering is always the best option if you are planning to be fishing most of the night. Nobody will thank you for clonking about with a load of gear in the middle of the night while they are trying to sleep. Plus, if you arrange a self catering holiday you will probably have some sort of freezer to put your catch in until your leaving date.
I like a trip down to the Suffolk coast for a bit of sea fishing and we always book a local holiday cottage if we want to stay for a few days, gives us the freedom to come and go as we please, and the rates are very cheap compared to the mid summer months if shared between four. (The wife understands about male bonding...honest)
The cod season normally starts towards the beginning of October but it does seem to be getting later every year and lasts until the end of March or possibly a bit longer. Beginning of the season and the spring the bait to use is definitely Peeler Crab, followed by Lugworm, Ragworm, Squid and Mussel, NOT necessarily in that order.
A word of warning here for the un-initiated, keep an eye out for the many boats and trawlers leaving and entering the harbour.
Sandsend beach just a couple of miles down the road provides a variety of fish and the car park makes for very easy fishing. Do be careful though and don't back the car right up to the sea wall and then fish out of the back of the car if the sea is really rough. You are sure to fill the car with lovely cold sea water when that rogue wave comes blasting over the top, which it surely will. Trust me, I know!
Some of the locals fish from the top of the cliffs at Sandsend, certainly not recommended for anyone not knowing the area, but it does go to show the diversity of the fishing in and around Whitby.
In conclusion: Whitby offers some of the hardest fishing through to some of the easiest sea fishing anywhere.
Why not come along and enjoy some very good winter sea fishing in Whitby ?
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