July can be a bit of an in-between month in the eastern Solent area, and as a result catches can be unpredictable. Not that fishing is ever predictable! One day can be very productive, the next day can be very quiet. This year the fishing seems to be following a similar pattern. The spring and early summer run of species including plaice, bream and tope have been slowly moving away. Mackerel, once the reliable summer visitor providing fresh bait, food for the BBQ and fun for casual angers have been very patchy. One day can produce a boxful, another day just a few. Maybe they will arrive in greater numbers later on.
The huge variety of fish and fishing in this area means that there will always be something to catch, although you may have to adapt your tactics and locations accordingly. The Portsmouth, Langstone and Chichester harbours hold a good stock of large mullet. Heber Crawford and Luke Scott show the size of fish available, and they fight very hard on light tackle. The deeper harbour marks around wrecks and obstructions are worth trying for wrasse and you can find hard-fighting fish there as big as you will find on the reefs further out. Heber Crawford tempted this 5lb 2oz wrasse on a soft lure. If you know where to look, there are also seatrout entering brackish water and Heber Crawford tempted this impressive specimen with the traditional Mepps spoon.
The plaice have moved to the summer marks and John Evans shows what is out there. You need bright colours to attract plaice, and John has taken this literally. There are still some good tope around although not in the numbers we were catching earlier. Richard Shirazian shows a 48lb fish which is good for this time of year. We will probably be catching a lot of small pack tope through the summer.
The reliable local species are smoothhound and rays. Team Crawford were out again, Archie shows a junior specimen of 14lbs and brother Heber Junior holds a very pretty undulate ray. Dad Heber Senior really needs to take up photography as a career, his photographs are superb. There are plenty of bass around but not so many turbot, and they managed to bag both.
Further out on the mid Channel wrecks and reefs boats are finding bass and pollack. Kev Johnson, Mark Banks, Tim Andrews and John Jones show pollack to 14lb and bass to 8lb. Every summer, thresher shark are sighted and with much perseverance, some are caught. This one caught by Vince Rogers was estimated at 65lb and quickly released.
As regular readers of this report will know, we celebrate the angling achievements of the entire age range. Levin Bellinger, aged only 5, caught this 2lb 14oz bream which I am embarrassed to report is bigger than any I have caught this year.
Meanwhile, the Southsea Marina Disabled Angling Club continue to show that experience counts. They fish from their boat Lady Elsa, and to accommodate the less able-bodied they also fish from piers and in lakes. As this is a sea angling paper we will draw a discrete veil over their freshwater activities and show you John Leythorne’s nice undulate ray.
Next month I’ll let you know whether we managed to catch enough mackerel for the Southsea Marina Angling Club BBQ!