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The last month has once again been very frustrating, with few days calm enough for comfortable fishing. Even more frustrating – none of the days over the extended Christmas break gave us suitable boat-fishing weather. Nevertheless some boats were out grabbing those rare midweek opportunities. Mark Banks, Tim Adams and Mark Weakarm were out drifting wrecks mid-Channel, and in a mad hour caught a dozen very good pollack with a 15lb, 17lb and a superb 21lb fish coming in a single drift.

On another wrecking trip, Mark Banks “accidentally” caught a 3.5lb bream – we don’t know what the bream was doing to the lure but it probably wasn’t trying to eat it. This has disrupted the SMAC points standing in an entirely unexpected manner! That has got us thinking though – are big bream down on those wrecks? Is it worth targeting them? It must be worth an experimental trip at least.

The highlight of the month was the Southsea Marina Angling Club (SMAC) Open Cod Competition. After months of planning, and weeks of successive postponements due to the weather, the competition finally went ahead on Sunday 14th January. The prize table totalled £1,170 plus generous donations from local angling businesses. A total of 88 keen anglers including ladies and juniors turned out aboard 38 boats. We even had a visit of a boatload of anglers from the Isle of Wight aboard “Ocean Star” – or should I call it a raid, because they carried off one of the prizes!

After signing in at the marina as dawn broke, the armada of boats headed south, keen to get among the cod. Despite a forecast of settled weather between two fronts, it was actually running quite a swell. I started fishing north of the Nab Tower and it was rather disconcerting to see the neighbouring boats disappearing from view in the troughs between waves.

We had anticipated a scarcity of cod, being late on in a poor season. The rules were adjusted so prizes could be awarded to whiting if insufficient cod were landed. This proved a wise move because only two cod were weighed in, the remainder of the prizes being taken by whiting. There are not many days when we actually welcome whiting but this was one of them, given the size of the prize table!

Top prize of £500 was well-deserved by Dick Prosser with a cod of 18lb 12oz – exactly what we were aiming for.

Dick Prosser winning cod

Second prize was taken by Kev Franks with a cod of 2lb 14oz worth £200, surely the most valuable cod per pound you will ever find. Third prize was rather bizarrely taken by a heavier fish than the second prize winner – a 3lb whiting caught by Alan Woodage. The remaining prizes were awarded to Alan Isaacs, Thomas Foster, Noddy aka Mark (he said “don’t ask” – he was the raider on Starfish), Lee Swire, Kim Bowden, George Dominy, Jon Leythorne and Martina Houghton. Martina also won the Ladies prize and young Archie Crawford took the Junior prize.

Martina Houghton wins Ladies Prize


Archie Crawford wins Junior prize

This was a very successful and hugely enjoyable event, due to the excellent organisation by Steve Kelley, support from Southsea Marina and crew and help from the SMAC members including Steve Andrews for the great photographs.

Signing in Steve Kelley and Dave Ford

The month ahead is likely to see the departure of the cod, hoards of small whiting attacking any and all baits, the arrival of some good pollack on the wrecks and most of us planning for better weather and the arrival of spring and summer species. Many charter boats come out of the water for their annual overhaul in February but there can still be some surprises out there for anyone who tries.

Neville Merritt

January 2018