Steve Calligan on Sea Fishing

By Steve Calligan : Courtesy of The Yorkshire Post 

Equinoxes are experienced twice a year when day and night are of approximately the same duration. The one in March heralds in Spring and the September one, Autumn. Whilst talking about such ‘astronomical’ events it is worth noting that ‘solstices’ occur twice a year when we have the longest day in June and the shortest day in December.

All affect sea fishing as the position and phases of the moon are very important. On the night of a full moon, the predators will stay deep and spot shoals of bait fish fry silhouetted near the surface against the moonlight. Therefore, we should fish at night on a ‘full moon’ and during the day on the sliver of a ‘new moon.’


The dance of earth, moon and sun has affected the life cycles and feeding patterns of our sea fish for thousands of years. Fisherpersons need to know these cycles and patterns before targeting their chosen quarry.

I remember my French fishing friend, Pierre, meeting me at midnight under a full moon at St Raphael Harbour in the south of France. We went to the end of the longest pontoon. The water surface was like shiny black glass being broken by frantic fry trying to evade the sharp toothed menace from below. We dropped our bibis (sand worms, which are known in UK as peanut worms) over the edge and immediately our rods bent double. I never accurately identified the predators only that they seemed to be a cross between small tuna and mackerel, all around the 1.5lb size.

It was a hectic night. We caught around 25 fish each all destined for Pierre’s family’s freezers with a few for us English holiday makers to barbecue in the hot Riviera sun. Nowadays my nocturnal fishing is replaced with daylight and perhaps a spot of spring sunshine.

So, having studied the weather, tides and fishing reports I set off along the M62. As I drove over the River Ouse bridge I spotted a beautiful hen harrier, soaring overhead. It was almost stationary with the light breeze providing sufficient lift under those huge red and brown wings.

The harrier is an absolute treat for the twitchers, but a dastardly gargoyle for gamekeepers. Was this a good or bad omen as I made my way to the East Coast beaches?

Choosing a sunny day for my present outing I walked along the beach from Kilnsea, near Spurn Point. I had some peeler crabs and squid for bait. As Spring is sprung and the blackthorn blooms, the crabs begin to discard their outgrown shells for soft new larger ones. These harden over time but leave them vulnerable to cod, whiting, bass, ray and smooth hounds in the short term.
It was two hours to the top of tide and the sea was lively with 2-3ft of surf breaking every 10 seconds. It was not until nearly high tide when the sea had calmed and filled the beach that I had my first bite. Using half a peeler crab and a bit of squid I landed a nice whiting which was returned to its watery home. The man to my right landed a cod around the 3lb mark. I got another whiting and my colleague, another cod.

I decided to eat humble pie and asked him for advice. The only difference was the size of the bait. He’d wrapped a whole squid to his hooks whereas, being a Yorkshireman, I was only using a third of a squid.


Stewart Calligan with a whiting he caught on his latest sea fishing expedition

Despite changing bait size I only managed another whiting before packing up an hour after high water. I doffed my hat in admiration of a better angler as I left with.

Post Easter my attention changes to boat fishing and I need to get my small fishing boat and its 65HP outboard cleaned and serviced as soon as possible. All the other boaters think the same way and marine mechanics are in big demand at this time of year but hopefully my next report will be off the Bempton or Flamborough Cliffs on a nice still day with a blue sky.

By Steve Calligan : Courtesy of The Yorkshire Post. 

Read more:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.