This month we have been in a rather unreal state of lockdown which apparently allows for exercise in the form of recreational boating but at the same time actively discouraging us from making non-essential journeys. Charter boats could carry on operating, but with only one additional family group in the crew. The net result was that some people were able to go fishing and some weren’t, so our catch reports are more limited than usual.

The annual SMAC Cod Open Competition had to be postponed until 6th December and at the time of writing, indications are that the restrictions will be lifted so that this can go ahead. The latest situation will be reported on the SMAC Facebook page.

So on to fishing news: November is when we are firmly into the winter species and this year is no exception. Whiting are around in good numbers with some larger fish among them which are well worth filleting! If you want to take some white fish home it’s best to keep a few whiting because cod are still hard to come by, so much so that they are now referred to as Solent Unicorns. Those that have appeared are on the small size, under 10lbs in weight and you would be very lucky indeed to see more than one in a boat after a day fishing. Having said that, we have seen a few more in the last week so maybe there will be a run in December. Tim Andrews is leading the SMAC Cod Cup listing with this 9lb fish.

Colin Fry, fishing from Tim Andrews’ boat landed this haddock – a rare catch in this area but not unknown. It seems odd that a fish preferring deep, colder water would come into the Solent, when we are also seeing fisher from warmer waters such as trigger fish also making an appearance.

Some very good bass have been caught, Paul Harris landed this magnificent 15lb 4oz fish from his own boat “Emma” on a squid bait. Martin Morgan shows another good bass of 13lb. As a reminder, the Catch and Release season for bass starts on 1st December when no bass can be landed and all bass hooked have to be released unharmed.

Other species we regularly catch at this time of year are spurdog, rays and bull huss. For reasons known only to themselves and possibly marine biologists, conger decide to go travelling from November to January, and roam open ground in large numbers. They vary in size from small strap congers weighing a few pounds to brutes of 40lb plus. A pack of conger can monopolise the fishing in some marks making it impossible to catch anything else. I sometimes wonder where they hide at other times of the year. I recall once seeing a conger tank in one of the Sea Life Centres where an old Robin Reliant car was sitting on the bottom, jam packed with congers. I image our local wrecks must be similarly packed in summer months.

That’s all to report this month. I hope next moth we will have a successful Cod Competition to talk about, or at least a bit more fishing!

(The captioning went a bit wonky in this issue of SAN!)