The summer in the Eastern Solent is following the usual seasonal pattern of fish movement. We are fortunate to have such a variety through the year, and there are usually some surprises too.
The larger tope have mostly now departed, although Rod Barr boated a nice 50lb tope at the end of July. There will be plenty of small pack tope around which can be a nuisance if you are fishing for other species but on light tackle can give good sport.
Probably the most noteworthy catch this month was a 47lb stingray to Alan Knight. This is a good fish in its own right, but Alan was actually fishing for bream with light gear and a 15lb hook link baited with squid strip. It came to the boat after a hard 20-minute fight which demonstrated great skill and tenacity from Alan.
The larger, breeding black bream have now moved off the rocky marks leaving behind their much smaller brethren who can also make a nuisance of themselves nibbling away at baits and creating false bites. On a slack day you can still have some sport with LRF gear but that isn’t for everyone. There are some gilthead bream around, either on the same rocky marks or more predictably, among the sandy, weedy shallows in the harbours. These are useful additions for species competitions!
For most anglers, bottom fishing is the name of the game, usually at anchor but sometimes drifting. Banks and gullies around the eastern Solent approaches produce most of the UK species of ray. Undulate rays are under pressure nationally but we have a good stock in this area. Chris Jewell, Richie Shippen and Jacko Jackson show the rather exotic markings on their undulate rays.
When the weather has been unfriendly to boat fishing, there are always summer mullet in the harbours. You can always tell how windy it has been by the number of mullet caught – not because mullet feed better in the wind but because frustrated boat anglers can’t target anything else! There have been some very good fish reported, Dennis Fuller shows one of 4lb 8oz; Bill Arnold with 5lb 2oz and top of the list Heber Crawford with his personal best of 7lb 6oz topping others up to 5lb 9oz. A lump of bread freelined under moored boats is the preferred method, and the weedier the boat the better the fishing.
On to club activities, Southsea Marina Sea Angling Club held their annual summer BBQ which was well attended. This is one of the few SMAC events where the organisers hope for wind, otherwise all the members would be out fishing instead of enjoying the hospitality and buying raffle tickets. As you can see, we had perfect weather conditions – enough wind to persuade anglers to stay ashore, but clear enough for SMAC to hold a good party.
Langstone Fishermen’s Association held their annual weekend species competition on 3rd and 4th of August, which is catch and release – only pictures and witness needed. There was an impressive range of species caught, 20 species including the more unusual pipe fish, shore rockling and twaite shad. Competition winner was Bill Arnold with 13 species; joint 2nd with 12 were Steve Jones and Luke Scott.
As August rolls into September we may see some trigger fish arriving over rocks and inshore wrecks. Most years we also see a run of September codling, so here’s hoping.