FROM its entrance to its very end, Walton-on-the-Naze pier is three quarters of a mile, which is much further than anyone could possibly cast! This gives you a massive choice of tactics and the ability to approach sea fishing from a slightly different angle.
Arguably, Walton is the longest pier in the country with regard to going out into the open sea. Southend pier is actually longer by quite some distance, but that is in an estuary.
The fishing at Walton can often be dynamic and TSF were fortunate enough to have an expert guide to describe the sport to be had around the pier.
Richard Holgate is the proprietor of the Meta-Lite tackle shop based in Walton and positioned very near to the pier. He was kind enough to show us the hotspots along the pier and passed on top information with regards to what is likely to be caught here – as well as the relevant times of year to approach these marks.
To travel there from the A12, turn off onto the A120 and follow it until you reach the A133 where there are signs that direct you all the way into Walton itself. Once there, go to the sea front where the pier is very obvious and park anywhere along the coastal road.
For any further advice, contact Richard on 01255 675680 and he will be only too willing to assist.
In the summer, the main target species are bass and sole, which hang around the right-angle-shaped area created by the end of the amusement platform and the beginning of the wooden walkway onto the pier. A simple two or three hook paternoster rig baited with rag or crab is the best way to approach this spot.
In the winter this mark is often neglected but, in fact, it becomes a great flounder holding area. Casting is not an issue here, a simple 15 to 20 yard flick is all that is required to locate the fish. The flood is the best tide here, so for best results check the tide timetables before fishing this spot.
Pier End Left
Winter is the top time of year for this mark if there is a run of codling. Some very reasonable cod have been caught from here, so large lug and squid baits are a must to stand a chance of bagging a lunker. Whiting also play a big part in the winter catch. Lug, tipped with mackerel, works best to bag up on these hungry little critters.
From May to June stingrays can put in an appearance and some of these can be well over 30lb. A strip of mackerel or eel section is the top bait to tempt these rays. Also, thornback rays can be caught using herring fillet as bait. The flood tide is the best time to fish this spot at any time of year.
Pier End Right
As it happens, the fishing here is virtually the same as on the left-hand side, so there is little to choose between them. If one side is packed, then it would make sense to fish the other if there is more space. The only difference is that the best time to approach this spot is on the ebb tide. The clever angler can quickly work out that if everyone is set up on the left for the flood, he can get to this point before the tide turns to gain an advantage over the others who are fishing the earlier tide. Again, working out the tide times is your best chance of picking the top spot. The best tactic is to cast into the tide as this seems to work better than just simply casting off the end of the pier.
Lifeboat Station Outer
The best time to approach this mark is, with no doubt, during the summer. The ebb will produce the most fish, but nevertheless it is possible to catch at all times of the tide. Bass and garfish are the main target species in the summer and the top way to bag up is spinning for them. For the more adventurous, another tactic is to catch a small pouting, then use it as livebait under a float and wait for a savage take from a hungry bass. Remember to keep hold of the rod or to slacken the clutch, as a big bass will soon pull the rod and reel over the side.
Lifeboat Station Inner
This spot is very similar to the outer mark and should be approached in the same way. The only aspect to watch out for are the mooring ropes of the lifeboat. This is a perfect holding area for fish because of the mix of structures keeping small fish and food, which attracts the bass and garfish. To catch the garfish, the best method is to trot a strip of silvery fish under a float. A size 1 or 2 hook attached to 20lb mono below the float is all that is required as they have long narrow mouths and a serious array of teeth. Be aware though, because they hit bait hard and fast. Stay with your rod or use a bait runner reel.
Along the pier there is a little cutout and this spot is so-called because there used to be a second shelter there. It has subsequently been removed due to some anglers having unsuitable toiletry requirements! Nevertheless, it is a good mark, which in fact runs all the way along to the first shelter. Anywhere between these points is good, especially if the sea is very rough because the cod tend to come in to feed here during harsh winter conditions. Lug and squid are the most effective baits if the cod are showing. The ebb tide is the top time to approach this spot and the fish could be at any range, so a bit of experimentation is required to locate them.
Local Tackle Shop
J J Metcalfe, 15, Newgate St, Walton On The Naze, Essex, CO14 8DT, tel: 01255 675680.