THORNBACK rays are generally associated with the spring but, over the last few years, they have increased in numbers.

This has been due to the cut in commercial fishing quotas.

The weekend saw light winds and calm seas, so plenty of charter and private boats took to the water hoping for some decent catches and they were not disappointed.

The thornback rays have moved in quite close to the shore and both boat and beach anglers caught fish.

Gunfleet Boating Club members had a good day with codling and thornback rays.

Howard Mason landed codling to 4lbs and also caught some good-size whiting.

Shaun Wright returned with six decent codling, plus skate and whiting, and Dave Holland and Rocky Rotchell caught codling to 4lbs, plus some rays.

Dave also told me those herring and sprats seemed to have dispersed somewhat.

Martin Smyth fished from his own boat, Nick a Bit, and landed 13 rays and a few codling.

The Mersea boats have also reported an increase in thornback rays and codling, plus the odd small bass.

A Colchester Sea Angling Club member landed a cracking 14lb ray in the latest Colchester Sea Angling Club boat match out of Mersea.

This is the biggest ray reported this year.

The pier and beach anglers have also faired much better this week.

St Osyth beach has seen a few thornback rays, plus plenty of whiting.

Clacton Pier has also seen the return of a few rays, the odd codling and whiting.

Along the Holland-on-Sea beaches, the big tides have also seen the fish moving in closer.

Some codling and now the odd thornback ray have been caught too.

For those venturing onto the Frinton beaches, you can expect whiting, codling and flounders, although codling are still at a premium here.

Walton Pier has also seen a return of the thornback rays from the top of the pier.

There are still plenty of dabs and small whiting to be caught and there is always the chance of some good-size codling, too.

Colchester Sea Angling Club headed for Felixstowe for their weather postponed River Championships, alongside their annual Dab Challenge.

Seventeen hardy anglers started the match in cold and snowy conditions but, as the match progressed, the sun made an appearance.

They fished a flood tide and everyone caught fish - mainly whiting, dabs and rockling.

In first place, to be crowned as the new river champion, was Chris Mills, with 4lb 10oz.

Second place went to Mark Sessions, with 3lb 14oz, and third to Grant Tappenden, with 3lb 9oz.

The heaviest round fish prize was tied between Mark and Chris, with a 7oz whiting.

The Dab Challenge results were very close, with Chris once again finishing top with 2lb 5oz of dabs.

Grant came second with 2lbs and in third was Steve Yallop, with 1lb 11oz.

The heaviest flatfish prize went to Grant, with an 8oz dab.

All in all it's been a pretty good fishing week on the East coast.

Let's hope we are now on the up and spring is just around the corner.

The high tides for the weekend are 7.03am on Saturday and 8.25am on Sunday.