After weeks of challenging fishing, April was like turning on a switch, with many boats reporting exceptionally good catches. We had some good spells of weather for a change enabling the boats to get out, although some of the very calm days also came with thick fog which wasn’t helpful. Nevertheless we have, at last, some good fishing to report.

Plaice are the target inshore species during March and April, and they have been very obliging for those boats that found the all-important shellfish patches that hold the fish. Best method is casting out from the boat and allowing the rig to roll slowly down-tide, covering ground and creating movement. You will notice from the photos that some serious bling is required. These are known as WTF rigs. The fish sees some colour in the distance, thinks “WTF”, goes over to investigate and finds a conveniently placed snack. Baits included rag, lug tipped with squid or prawn, and Isome worms in light colours. Fishing has been so hot at times that triple shots were recorded, Heber Crawford’s threesome is pictured along with his son Archie’s first ever plaice.

Heber Crawford triple shotArchie Crawford first plaice

Other pictures were supplied by John Evans fishing from Boxerfish, 11 plaice to 2lb 13oz and Derek Norman with Brian Dale and Ken Saunders fishing from Blue with 25 plaice best weight 3lb. These early fish are thin having recently spawned. Bill Arnold’s fish weighed 2lb 10oz although from the dimensions you might have expected closer to 4lb.

John Evens Plaice 2.13Brian Dale - plaiceSteve Saunders - plaiceBill Arnold Plaice 2.10

The Langstone Harbour Fishermen’s Association ran their Plaice Competition 14-15 April. The winners were based on heaviest fish caught rather than bags, so smaller fish could be returned. The winner was Terry Greaves with 1lb 15oz fishing aboard Limpet, and second place went to Terry Edgerton with a plaice of 1lb 10oz.

Winne LFA Plaice Comp Terry Greaves

Plenty of herring have been shoaling and anglers are now targeting these very successfully. They make great eating, a good bait and can be fun to catch on light tackle. Small Sabiki rigs size 6 hooks and smaller work well. The trick is to hold the lures stationary at the depth the fish are shoaling, unlike mackerel lures which rely on movement.

Further out on the wrecks the target fish is pollack. Some good fish have been caught and gave great sport. The only downside is the distance travelled, many of the wrecks lie over 30 miles from Langstone which makes a long day – but worth it if you find the fish.

Kev Johnson PollackHeber Crawford - pollock 14lbArron Shons - Wreck Pollack

Heber Crawford, 2017 SMAC Species Champion demonstrated that anything is possible. Using LRF tactics he caught a Butterfish, slightly salted of course, while at Anchor using bread. We thought this was jammy but he was Utterly delighted.

Heber Crawfords Butterfish

Smoothhounds will be around from now on and the first have already been caught. A few bream have been reported caught in nets and will be another inshore target species over rocky marks and broken ground soon. I expect we will have some photographs of these next month.

Spring sees the migration of birds over the Channel to Great Britain, and it is very common to have one arrive unexpectedly on the boat. It is remarkable that such a small creature can fly across miles of sea, settle with a few feet of people, rest for a while then head on –  and in the right direction. If fishing is quiet, take a bird identification book with you. This example from Heber is a Chiffchaff.

Migrating Chiffchaff