Looking back at the archives, I’m usually struggling to write a Catch Report for February. We are often unable to get out because of the weather, and this period sits between the best of the winter fishing and the start of the spring run of migratory species like plaice and bream. Many boat owners and charter skippers pick February for their annual maintenance for the very good reason that they aren’t missing much. This year was no exception, and our fishing was well and truly locked down by a trio of storms: Dudley, Eunice and Franklin which battered the South of England particularly badly mid-month. The SMAC Fish of the Month award blanked, and even the Species competitions struggled to get off the ground.
Surprisingly, we have seen mullet appear in the marina already. Steve Kelly snapped this shoal in the floodlights, which does seem very early. Having checked the water temperature against the available archives it isn’t significantly warmer than in earlier years – maybe half a degree – so either half a degree matters or there is another reason for their early appearance.
Even more remarkable is the tope in our header photo. This was caught by Peter Churchill and was estimated to be around 35lb – released at the side of the boat to reduce stress. We’re often tempted to mentally halve an angler’s estimate but not with Peter’s depth of experience. I have every confidence this fish was as big as he says it was. With more settled weather hoped for in March, I wonder what we will see caught next. More warm water exotics perhaps?