If February is the doldrums between the winter and spring fishing seasons, March should in theory see the start of the spring species being caught. Unfortunately a number of factors get in the way of that theory. Many owners of private and charter angling boats take them out of the water for their annual antifoul and service, instead of fishing. I have noticed that the cleanest they will be all year is in the hours before relaunch – they’ll never look as good after a few fish have come aboard. Other friends have taken the opportunity to travel to fish in warmer climes instead of on a bleak Solent. The luckier ones have sent back some amazing photos of catches, but as this is not a Florida Fishing Report I can’t include them. The third reason is the number of storms: we have had a procession of them tailgating each other for three weeks as they roll up the Channel from the west. Those factors haven’t left much time for fishing or people to fish.

Nevertheless some of us have grabbed a day or two here and there and we have a few fish to indicate what is out there. First up is Mark Banks, showing that quality pollack can be caught from the Channel wrecks although some days can be tough. Marks offshore produce the usual range of rays. Conger are now moving back to their holes in rocks and wrecks and are less of a pest on open ground. Wayne Comben shows off a nice spurdog of 16lb and a bull huss of 7lb. Inshore we are having a run of plaice. Some days they can be fairly plentiful (by today’s standards) and other days they are hard to find. But if fishing was predictable I would have nothing to write about. Here are some photographs from recent plaice trips including a very late codling for Dick Stubbs and a surprise early bream for Dennis Hayden on the same trip, which neatly bridges the two seasons. Steve Kelly is waving both a plaice and a species competition card so it looks like he is going for it this year.

April is drawing near so we should soon be reporting smoothhound and bream in numbers. The bass restrictions change on 1st April for the summer and the opportunity to keep one fish per day may tempt more anglers to target them. The first garfish tend to arrive with the spawning bream and mackerel appear soon after. The tope will follow them in. The seasonal pattern certainly gives us plenty of variety in this area, if only we have enough weather windows to fish. Roll on summer, preferably one like last year.