The calm sunny weather continued, causing widespread confusion. We have never experienced so many fishable days all in a row – what’s going on? This has all changed in the last week, but it was really good while it lasted. The calm seas in the background of many of the photos demonstrates how pleasant it was, right out into the Channel too.
Last month we were a little concerned about the apparent lack of mackerel despite huge concentrations of recently hatched fry. Well, word must have got out because the mackerel have turned up in good numbers, and in good sizes too. Early in the day, we can stock up on big fat barrel-shaped mackerel, full to the gills with fry. Later in the day, digesting their huge breakfasts, the mackerel have been a lot harder to catch.
There has been an interesting demonstration of the food chain in action in the eastern Solent. The proliferation of fry attracted mackerel, which in turn has attracted the dolphins. In previous years we have had the occasional treat of the sight of a pod passing. This year, the dolphins have been much more numerous and a number of boats have had the amazing experience of dolphins following the boat, playing alongside and riding the bow wave. The photo here was taken by David Cheal from his boat off the Isle of Wight. Dolphins have even been travelling into Chichester harbour.
Back to the fishing – the larger tope have now moved off leaving smaller pack tope which can be a bit of a nuisance at times. The larger smoothhound are still around, as Bill Arnold demonstrates with his impressive specimen caught inshore.
Offshore wrecks and reefs are producing good summer pollack. Rough ground holds bull huss, and although they are usually nocturnal they can be caught during the daytime in deeper water, as shown here.
Another benefit of the calm water has been the ability to spot our regular summer visitor, the sunfish. When basking (which they do on their sides, strangely) their pectoral fins stick out of the water making them easy to see at a distance. They can be scooped up in a landing net for inspection, but Kev Johnson caught one legitimately with feathers, estimated at 18-20lb.
With water temperatures now 20C (a full two degrees warmer than this time in previous years) we have had reports of more unusual fish sightings. Luke Scott even videoed a large, unidentifiable fish behaving very strangely just below the surface. Unfortunately this became a non-catch report because it could not be tempted. He did catch a beautifully marked starry smoothhound later though.
Mullet are a summer feature in our marinas and harbours, and can grow to a size that gives a good bend to a light rod. We once thought these fish were uncatchable and they are a challenge, but with a very delicate approach and lightening reflexes they can be landed. They also feed at night so a few hours in the evening can give great sport. Christopher Sart shows off his pier mullet, Bill Arnold has an impressive 4lb 7oz fish, and Heber Crawford tempted both thin- and thick-lipped mullet.
The juniors were also busy this month. Jake Kelly shows off his undulate ray of 13lb 8oz, and at the other end of the size spectrum Heber Jr. and Archie Crawford have been having great fun on LRF gear catching shanny. Dad Heber Crawford caught this monster (?) shanny – all things are relative.
August is often a quiet month before the first autumn and winter species arrive, but with fishing, you just never know what might turn up. I’ll let you know next month.
Read Sea Angling News online here