Autumn is upon us, marked by the weather, shorter days and seasonal fish movements. The end of summer is the time some anglers target sole at night – Alistair Gicquel and Peter Churchill show examples of what can be caught. Catching sole isn’t easy (what is, these days?) because success is a result of finding the right location, the right calm conditions, nailing a bait to the seabed and sitting it out. Or you could fluke one out in entirely adverse conditions, just to confound the experts!

Another seasonal change is the departure of the mackerel. This year we noticed the fish were very much smaller and often missed when using conventional feathers. Sabikis seemed to find them. We saw a lot of scad shoals along with the mackerel and they are just as good (some would say better) than mackerel both for bait and for eating.

The elusive cod is scheduled to make an appearance at this time and in common with recent years, we are teased with occasional catch reports but we don’t experience the autumn codling “run” that we used to see. Nevertheless a few are being caught from the Solent and approaches – Neil Glazier and Tim Andrews show typical autumn codling which cheered us up. Organisation for the annual SMAC Open Cod Competition on 8th November is in full swing, and the reputation from previous years and a big prize table will attract boat anglers from across the area. First prize is £500 cash for the largest cod with numerous runner-up prizes. If we run out of cod to weigh in, we switch to largest whiting. Although cod can’t be guaranteed, we can guarantee whiting so everyone is in with a chance of a prize. Contact Steve Kelly at Southsea Marina for further details.

The main competition held this month was the annual inter-club specimen contest between SMAC, Eastney Cruising Association (ECA), Langstone Harbour Fishermen’s Association and the Southsea Sea Angling Club. Winner-takes-all prize is for the best specimen caught on the day, and 36 anglers representing all four clubs fished. Mark Argyle won with a bass of 8lb 7oz, securing the prize for the ECA. He is pictured receiving the trophy from Pete Kilshaw.

Rays are plentiful locally and the area is famous for big blonde rays. John Wearn caught an impressive blonde of 22lb which rather overshadowed Terry Watson’s fish of 16.5lb on the same boat, which would have been a good fish in itself. On a different trip Guy Chandler boated a blonde of 21lb, another very good fish.

We have a healthy local stock of bass and the shoals of school bass from previous years are maturing nicely. Preston Firth shows a good fish of 7lb 14oz.

Regular readers of this report will know we like to celebrate the successes of our junior anglers. Ollie Shons on his first boat trip was delighted to catch this conger – those sharp teeth will be something to talk about at school! Jake Kelly also scored well with a good Junior Specimen undulate ray of 12lb. It is good to see fish being handled sensitively with a weighing sling doubling as an unhooking mat. As you can see from the lack of red tinge to the wings, the fish is relatively unstressed and will make a good recovery when returned. Jake also added to his Species List with a spotted ray, putting him in the lead of the SMAC Junior Species competition.

Next month I hope I can report more cod catches. Until next time!

Neville Merritt


SAN November 2020