Spring has definitely sprung. We have had daffodils in the garden, lambs in the fields and plaice in Bracklesham Bay. The winter-stored boats are going back in the water, fishing days are longer and mullet are back in the marina. The early spring doldrums are behind us and we are looking forward to the arrival of the summer species.
Boats pushing out to the Channel wrecks and reefs have had some good quality pollack. Heber Crawford shows off a brace from a recent trip. Offshore marks have produced spurdog and bullhuss of good size. Jocky Park shows a spurdog of 11lb and Neil Glazier a Bullhuss of 13lb 4oz on the same trip.
The banks usually hold resident stocks of good-sized blonde ray. Jason Gillespie shows the best blonde of the day weighing 27lb caught on launce flapper. There is always a chance of turbot and brill on the same banks, and Jason also caught a beautifully marked turbot while Peter Dudgeon caught a brill of 4lb.
The highlight of the last month has been the arrival of plaice in very good numbers compared to recent years. The most productive methods have been drifting with a spoon and beads baited with lugworm or ragworm. As the boat moves over the mark, tapping the bottom with the weight then lifting the bait will induce a take if the fish are there. They can be drawn in by the flash of the spoon from quite a distance, particularly if the water is clear as it has been once the winds died down. Stephen Fordred shows a typical plaice of 1lb 8oz, although fish of up to 5lb have been reported.
Boats fishing static baits have been plagued by starfish with is rather worrying. Starfish eat the same young shellfish as the plaice, and concentrations of starfish can decimate shellfish beds. One or two starfish is a good sign that you are in the right place on a shellfish bed. Too many starfish means you might not have that shellfish bed for much longer.
Southsea Marina Disabled Angling Club has the use of the boat Lady Elsa. On a recent trip skipper Steve Kelly added to his species list with a Bull Huss while his veteran crew reminded us all how to catch plaice – George Dominy is still on form aged 85.
Southsea Marina Angling Club Fish of the Month was a 21lb Spurdog caught by Jon Leythorne, which also leads the Catch and Release competition at 131% of the specimen size.
We are still awaiting the arrival of the main run of bream, and that should happen any day now. A few garfish have been caught and they tend to arrive in these waters with the bream and slightly ahead of the mackerel. We have already seen a few small smoothhound and the breeding adults should be appearing soon. Next month we hope to be reporting some tope too.