JUST when we thought our settled spell would last well into April, we now have strong north-easterly winds blowing in off the sea.

What it means is the boats will struggle to put to sea and for the beach and pier angler it will make for uncomfortable fishing, with not much escape from the wind.

Having said all that, before the winds arrived we were seeing a very early start to the smoothhound season.

Usually, these small sharks arrive on our coastline towards the end of April.

However, with that early warm weather, the hounds are here already.

To be honest, it's great that we are seeing so many thornback rays being caught but it certainly makes a change to see the hard-fighting smoothhound in among the mix.

Charter skipper Chris Mole took a party of anglers out to the Maplin Sands and they found the smoothhound feeding.

Chris landed the biggest, weighing in at 10lbs.

Neil Marples took his own boat Milore off the Walton coastline and found the summer species starting to feed with small bass, dabs, dogfish and rays being caught.

Clacton Pier is once again seeing rays and dogfish, along with a few bass showing.

The Holland beaches are fishing much the same, with thornback rays being the main catch.

The Clacton Sea Anglers Evening League headed for the Holland-on-Sea beaches for their latest match.

Sixteen anglers fished on a calm night and they fished the last three hours of the ebb tide.

Plenty of fish were caught, with whiting, dogfish, codling and thornback rays showing.

Top spot went to Rob Tuck, with 268 points.

In second place was Joe Dubiard (232 points) and in third was Phil Wringer (190 points).

The Frinton beaches have come into their own this week, with thornback rays now being caught on day and night time tides.

Local anglers Graham Harmon and Mark Oxley landed a ray each on these beaches, plus there are reports of other anglers also having success with rays here.

My trip this week was to fish the Walton beaches.

I fished a daytime tide and, using light fishing gear and small ragworm baits, I had a great afternoon catching early bass, flounders and dogfish.

I fished an ebb tide and in a four-hour session caught eight flounders along with plenty of small bass.

It was virtually a bite a cast.

All my fish were caught with only a cast of 40 yards.

Colchester Sea Angling Club held their annual presentation at the Grapes pub in Colchester on Saturday night.

Results: Beach League Chairman’s Cup: 1st Nik Highfield; 2nd Stephen Yallop; 3rd Dave Clark.

Colchester Bait and Tackle Evening League: 1st Neil Cocks; 2nd Dave Clark; 3rd Phil Buy.

Boat League: 1st Chris Mills; 2nd Chris Brown; 3rd Arthur Gribben.

Wass’s League: Joint 1st Neil Cocks and Gary Hambleton, Joint 3rd Dave Clark, Nik Highfield, Phil Buy and Mark Sessions.

Pier Champion: Stephen Yallop.

Beach Champion: Craig Buy.

River Champion: Michael Bradley.

Boat Champion: Chris Mill.

Pairs Winners: Martyn Close and Stephen Yallop.

Top Junior: George Deakin.

The high tides for the weekend are 1.29pm on Saturday and 2.01pm on Sunday.