After weeks of lockdown watching day after day of perfect fishing weather pass us by, we could hardly believe our luck when restrictions on fishing and private boating were eventually eased and we were blessed by a few days of calm and sunshine.

Most people with boats on moorings and in marinas hadn’t even been able to visit them to make sure all was well, although it was nice that the marina staff at Southsea Marina kept an eye on the boats and even sent us a phot if we wished. It wasn’t the same though, and when we got the green light there was a rush to get boats in the water, checked over and out to sea.

Social distancing still applies so it was “families only” for boat-owners, and single occupancy for charter vessels. I think most people were just happy to get a line in the water and the sun on their faces, and it certainly made a welcome change from Zoom meetings, queueing down the street to buy a carton of milk or wearing a groove in the same old park walk.

Even though we have only had a week or so of actual fishing to report on this month, the results have been surprisingly good. You may recall from the Local Guide we published in the previous issue of SAN, in May we can expect seasonal visitors of some big tope, bream over the rocky marks, smoothhound, plaice, the first mackerel and of course all the residence species.

Team Crawford (Heber, Heber Junior and Archie) found quality tope south of the Island and an epic trip included a personal best for Heber with a tope of 60lb plus.

Bream are plentiful if you get the tide and location right. My daughter Aedy and I fished a popular bream mark and only managed to land one. When we returned to the marina we found that another boat which had been on the same mark at 5am caught 60 (only keeping a few for the table). On another day, Arron Shons located some very good specimens and also boated the spectacular cuckoo wrasse which in those colours and weather conditions looks like it belongs in the tropics.

One of the problems of “social distance fishing” is that there is nobody to take your photo so unless you have a family member present or are proficient with the self-timer, you don’t get the fish and the angler in the same frame. Nevertheless Tim Andrews reported this nice blonde ray and a brill.

The combination of warmer winters and bass conservation measures has meant that bass are now much more plentiful, and the sizes are increasing steadily too. We can now keep two bass per angler per day over the MLS of 42cm. Drifting over the banks south of the Nab Tower and southeast of Selsey produce good catches, and boats reported plenty over 4lbs in size.

It seems to be a human trait to respond to adverse situations like the current crisis with humour. Thanks to Bill Arnold for his bream complying with precautionary measures, and the social comment from the fish point of view!

Let’s hope that all the efforts we are making to control this virus remain effective so we can progressively return to normal, including more charter trips and catch reports.

Neville Merritt

Southsea Marina Angling Club

Read the full issue of SAN here

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