Autumn on the Tidal River Crouch

River Crouch Whiting

Autumn on the River Crouch.

As a new season draws upon us, I had begun turning my attention to some sea fishing. October and November can be great months to catch some fish for the dinner table. Skate, dogfish and whiting were being caught in numbers in the River Crouch from Hullbridge right through to the mouth of the estuary.

The source of the Crouch is actually a pond in a small wood. It is off to the right of the 1st tee at Burstead Golf Course, near Billericay in Essex. The river flows through approximately seventeen and half miles across the Essex countryside. Along its journey it passes in between South and North Fambridge. Two small little villages that run parallel either side the tidal river.

South Fambridge Fishing

When fishing new venues, I thoroughly recommend joining some Facebook groups that are relevant to the venues you want to fish.  The members of these groups, fish the venue all the time and most are very helpful.  As part of my research of the venue I manage to join a Facebook Group called River Crouch Fishing. Reports were showing that there were a lot of Thornback Ray, Dogfish and Whiting being caught around the Fambridge area and decided this would be my next adventure.

Parking

I parked at St Tomas Road in South Fambridge.  There is plenty of space to park up next to the filed. After walking about 150 yards to the water’s edge, I took a right and set up about 200 meters along at the edge of the first bay.

My Approach

Because I was new to the venue, I decided on a two-rod approach. The first rod with a three-hook flapper and another with a one up one down rig.

River Crouch Whiting

The Flapper Rig.

Rig body 50lb Pennell Tough Stuff

Trace 18” 15lb Dawia

Hooks 1/0 to size 2 Pennel

Plus, some attractor beads.

 

 

One up One Down Rig

Rig body 50lb Pennell Tough Stuff

Top Trace

24” 25lb Dawia

Bottom Trace

36” 25lb Dawia

Hooks 2/0 and 2 Pennel

Plus, two 6mm red beads

Bait

I had popped into online baits the day before and picked up some bait. 1lb of squid, 6 Blueys and 4 Mackerel.

Bluey Bait

Because of the volume of Whiting that were being caught I decided against taking any worm. You need a tough bait when you are hounded by these small whiting.  Some of the fish were not bad, around the 12oz mark but there were too many small fish.

I cut the squid into long triangles.

I use a Pennel rig, so I get good presentation. Below is an example of how I cut the squid. I like to present the long triangle of squid so the look like fish

 

Squid Bait

It was two and half hours until high tide with the river set to rise buy around seven feet. I cast out the flapper rig around 80 yards towards a boat in front of me.  As I was preparing the second rod when I looked up and saw the other rod bouncing around. I quickly grabbed the rod and leaned into a fish. My first fish of the day was a dogfish and fell to my bottom hook. I quickly re-baited and cast out again. I decided to fish my second rod slightly shorter at around 60 yards.

 

River Crouch Dogfish
Lesser Spotted Dogfish
 

 

 

Triple shot

Within minutes the flapper rig was dancing up and down and my reward was a triple shot of whiting.

The next hour was manic with fish every cast. By high tide I had a doggy and 18 whiting.

I was expecting the fishing to slow down as we got to high tide. Little did I know it was about to get even crazier. I had a bite on the flapper and to my complete surprise I had two fish on the same hook trace. One fish on each of the Pennel hooks. This happened three times during the session.

Triple shot whiting

Bites were coming a little too quick, so I decided to up the size of bait. With this many fish around there had to be bigger fish around predating on them. I started putting on 4-inch fillets of bluey tipped with squid. That did not stop the ravenous whiting, so I put whole sides of Mackerel on my one up, one down rig hoping for a skate.

The bigger bait did work but for a dogfish.  The whiting was ripping it to shreds.  Next cast I was unhooking an 8oz whiting I noticed that the fish had been bitten by something.  I am still no clearer as to what it could have been.  Some people were saying cuttlefish, others, crabs.  Who knows?

Time to call it a day

After my third triple shot in a row, I decided that I would call it a day, one and half hours after high tide.  I had 12 fish for the table with the rest going back.

In all I had 51 whiting and two doggies.  A great day fishing even if the skate had avoided me.

On the journey back home, I started thinking of what I could have done better.

If I am ever in that situation again I would try fishing with the smaller whiting as hook bait.  There most have been bigger fish around. Maybe some bass or skate.

I would also look at fishing some small whole fish or whole squid to avoid the whiting.

 

 

You might find the following article on Bass fishing interesting https://www.fishingmaverick.com/bass-fishing-in-small-esturaies

Facebook group River Crouch Fishing Link

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1740855366181248