Boat Angling

The web site for eastern Solent boat fishing

Author: Neville Merritt (page 1 of 18)

Langstone Report – September 2019

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.

Langstone Report August 2019

July can be a bit of an in-between month in the eastern Solent area, and as a result catches can be unpredictable. Not that fishing is ever predictable! One day can be very productive, the next day can be very quiet. This year the fishing seems to be following a similar pattern. The spring and early summer run of species including plaice, bream and tope have been slowly moving away. Mackerel, once the reliable summer visitor providing fresh bait, food for the BBQ and fun for casual angers have been very patchy. One day can produce a boxful, another day just a few. Maybe they will arrive in greater numbers later on.

The huge variety of fish and fishing in this area means that there will always be something to catch, although you may have to adapt your tactics and locations accordingly. The Portsmouth, Langstone and Chichester harbours hold a good stock of large mullet. Heber Crawford and Luke Scott show the size of fish available, and they fight very hard on light tackle. The deeper harbour marks around wrecks and obstructions are worth trying for wrasse and you can find hard-fighting fish there as big as you will find on the reefs further out. Heber Crawford tempted this 5lb 2oz wrasse on a soft lure. If you know where to look, there are also seatrout entering brackish water and Heber Crawford tempted this impressive specimen with the traditional Mepps spoon.

The plaice have moved to the summer marks and John Evans shows what is out there. You need bright colours to attract plaice, and John has taken this literally. There are still some good tope around although not in the numbers we were catching earlier.  Richard Shirazian shows a 48lb fish which is good for this time of year. We will probably be catching a lot of small pack tope through the summer.

The reliable local species are smoothhound and rays. Team Crawford were out again, Archie shows a junior specimen of 14lbs and brother Heber Junior holds a very pretty undulate ray. Dad Heber Senior really needs to take up photography as a career, his photographs are superb. There are plenty of bass around but not so many turbot, and they managed to bag both.

Further out on the mid Channel wrecks and reefs boats are finding bass and pollack. Kev Johnson, Mark Banks, Tim Andrews and John Jones show pollack to 14lb and bass to 8lb. Every summer, thresher shark are sighted and with much perseverance, some are caught. This one caught by Vince Rogers was estimated at 65lb and quickly released.

As regular readers of this report will know, we celebrate the angling achievements of the entire age range. Levin Bellinger, aged only 5, caught this 2lb 14oz bream which I am embarrassed to report is bigger than any I have caught this year.

Meanwhile, the Southsea Marina Disabled Angling Club continue to show that experience counts. They fish from their boat Lady Elsa, and to accommodate the less able-bodied they also fish from piers and in lakes. As this is a sea angling paper we will draw a discrete veil over their freshwater activities and show you John Leythorne’s nice undulate ray.

Next month I’ll let you know whether we managed to catch enough mackerel for the Southsea Marina Angling Club BBQ!

Langstone Report July 2019

As you can see from the photos, the last month has seen weather conditions ranging from flat calm and sunshine to wind and rain. In fact wind and rain has predominated over the last two weeks and as usual I am envious of those who have the flexibility to nip out at short notice to take advantage of a weather window.

Despite these challenges we have plenty of catch reports to share. The geography of the Solent area means there is always somewhere to shelter from the wind and if the worst happens, there are always mullet in the harbours at this time of year! Heber Crawford has been sending me mullet photos through the month, each one larger than previously, culminating in a corker of 6lb 2oz (pictured).

This is also the time of year when big tope arrive in packs with some large breeding females among them. As usual with fishing, some days provide hectic sport and the same mark days later produces very few. Daniel Churchill, Heber Crawford, Heber Junior and Luke Bedson show some impressive tope but star of the month was Andrew Gilling with a tope of 68lb.

The offshore reefs and wrecks produce pollack when the weather allows for a run to mid-Channel. Arron Shons and Tim Andrews show the quality of fish that can be caught. Carol Stenson also shows off a quality fish and deserves a special mention. Carol has been bravely battling serious illness and on the good days she likes nothing more than getting out among the fish. She has a magic touch, often scoring first fish, most fish and biggest fish over other anglers on board. I think this proves that the way a lure moves is a deciding factor, because the tackle and location are otherwise identical. I take my hat off to Carol for both skill and bravery.

We have an active Junior section in SMAC and it is great to share the joy in young faces as they show off their catches – Mikey Primmett, Jake Kelly and Lennox Patel show that size and enjoyment are not relative.

At the other end of the seniority scale is the Southsea Marina Disabled Angling Club and this month we have a story about Terry Watson. Terry was previously a more active angler but after many less active years was finally persuaded to come out to sea again on the SMDAC boat Lady Elsa, with skippering services provide by Steve Kelly. A dogfish is not usually honoured by a mention but it is when it is caught in such special circumstances. Plenty of bass were also caught on SMDAC trips, demonstrated by Terry, John Wearn, Dick Stubbs and Dennis Haydon.

Finally, we have a few photos from the Langstone Harbour Fishermen’s Association where John Evans won the Plaice Cup, Luke Scott second prize in the Pollack rankings, Ray Plomer the Pout cup and John Mardlin was overall champion.

PS. You might think you need special kit to take a great photograph. Not necessarily, Heber Crawford uses his phone for very well composed fish selfies and I thought his rather angry-looking conger was worth including just for artistic merit.

Langstone Report June 2019

May is a good month for boat anglers in the Langstone area and Eastern Solent approaches, and this year is proving no exception. With kinder weather we have had some bright sunny days and calmer seas (and a few choppy ones too). But the fish have been there below us and at this time of year just as the inshore plaice move out the summer species are arriving in force.

Bream have not featured in large numbers but there have been some quality catches. Luke Scott leads the race for the Southsea Marina Angling Club Bream Cup and shows off a brace of good fish including one of 3lb 8oz. Mark Argyle of Eastney Cruising Association shows a very nice fish of 4lb 3oz which was the largest of a catch of 15 that day with four over 3lbs.

There have been some cracking days chasing the tope and the many photos here show the quality of fish boated. The largest reported in the last few weeks was a female weighing 52lb caught by Jason Hogg.

Peter Churchill won SMAC Fish of the Month with a huge blonde ray of 33lb. It carried a tag #959 which we discovered later had been applied by a local charter skipper previously. It is good to see these fish survive and thrive in the area.  Bill Arnold shows that catching smaller rays is just as much fun!

Josh Carter, Ashley Brown and Ed McCarthy found a hotspot for large bull huss and rounded off the day with some big ballan wrasse too.

Mullet have arrived in the marinas and harbours and some are an impressive size. Heber Crawford proves you don’t even have to untie your boat to be able to catch some good specimens from it.

I had expected more smoothhound to be showing by now but Luke Hughes shows that the ones that have arrived include some very good fish, his weighed 19lb 5oz. It is worth varying the baits for smoothhound because for some reason, different baits work better on some days and in some areas compared with others. I recently heard of anglers switching from squid to rag to crab and back, with dramatic changes in catches.

It is always great to share the excitement when junior anglers catch fish. 12 year-old Jude Clarke was fishing for bream with a light spinning rod when something much larger nearly tore it from his grip. He hung on so his grandfather Grant Childs could net it. It was a bass of 9lb 2oz!

Southsea Marina Disabled Anglers Club have some very active members despite their seniority, and regularly fish out of their base at Southsea Marina courtesy of Lady Elsa. Experience certainly counts in fishing – George Dominy is still catching bream and thornback at 85 years old. John Wearn shows a nice bream from the same trip.

The first few mackerel are showing, hopefully the numbers will increase soon and by next month we will have a supply of fresh bait and fish for the summer BBQs.

Bull Huss Surprise

“It was an early start from Kent this morning which put us at Itchenor slip at about 5am. We went out to our mark trying some new ground hoping for tope.
We were pleasantly surprised with some BIG FAT ANGRY HUSS!
Ed McCarthy landed on at 15lb

Ed McCarthy

Then a 16lb and 11lb for me
Then a 17lb for Ashley Brown. Unbelievable! We didn’t know they were that common down this neck but it was very welcome…Anyway in amongst that we had two tope to 22lb.

Josh Carter

We then upped anchor and drifted for what was about and ended up with some good Ballan wrasse to 4.5lb plus bass and pollack.

Ashley Brown

Fantastic day out with stunning weather “

Josh Carter

Bream season

Mark Argyle sent in this report – ” Had a bit of luck on the Hounds today Black Bream fishing, launching from the ECA. I had 15plus Bream, and all good size fish, though predominantly females. I had 4 four Bream over 3lbs, with the best two weighing 3lb 6oz and 4lb 3oz.

Langstone Report May 2019

Spring has definitely sprung. We have had daffodils in the garden, lambs in the fields and plaice in Bracklesham Bay. The winter-stored boats are going back in the water, fishing days are longer and mullet are back in the marina. The early spring doldrums are behind us and we are looking forward to the arrival of the summer species.

Boats pushing out to the Channel wrecks and reefs have had some good quality pollack. Heber Crawford shows off a brace from a recent trip. Offshore marks have produced spurdog and bullhuss of good size. Jocky Park shows a spurdog of 11lb and Neil Glazier a Bullhuss of 13lb 4oz on the same trip.

The banks usually hold resident stocks of good-sized blonde ray. Jason Gillespie shows the best blonde of the day weighing 27lb caught on launce flapper. There is always a chance of turbot and brill on the same banks, and Jason also caught a beautifully marked turbot while Peter Dudgeon caught a brill of 4lb.

The highlight of the last month has been the arrival of plaice in very good numbers compared to recent years.  The most productive methods have been drifting with a spoon and beads baited with lugworm or ragworm. As the boat moves over the mark, tapping the bottom with the weight then lifting the bait will induce a take if the fish are there. They can be drawn in by the flash of the spoon from quite a distance, particularly if the water is clear as it has been once the winds died down.  Stephen Fordred shows a typical plaice of 1lb 8oz, although fish of up to 5lb have been reported.

Boats fishing static baits have been plagued by starfish with is rather worrying. Starfish eat the same young shellfish as the plaice, and concentrations of starfish can decimate shellfish beds. One or two starfish is a good sign that you are in the right place on a shellfish bed. Too many starfish means you might not have that shellfish bed for much longer.

Southsea Marina Disabled Angling Club has the use of the boat Lady Elsa. On a recent trip skipper Steve Kelly added to his species list with a Bull Huss while his veteran crew reminded us all how to catch plaice – George Dominy is still on form aged 85.

Southsea Marina Angling Club Fish of the Month was a 21lb Spurdog caught by Jon Leythorne, which also leads the Catch and Release competition at 131% of the specimen size.

We are still awaiting the arrival of the main run of bream, and that should happen any day now. A few garfish have been caught and they tend to arrive in these waters with the bream and slightly ahead of the mackerel. We have already seen a few small smoothhound and the breeding adults should be appearing soon. Next month we hope to be reporting some tope too.

Langstone Report April 2019

If February is the doldrums between the winter and spring fishing seasons, March should in theory see the start of the spring species being caught. Unfortunately a number of factors get in the way of that theory. Many owners of private and charter angling boats take them out of the water for their annual antifoul and service, instead of fishing. I have noticed that the cleanest they will be all year is in the hours before relaunch – they’ll never look as good after a few fish have come aboard. Other friends have taken the opportunity to travel to fish in warmer climes instead of on a bleak Solent. The luckier ones have sent back some amazing photos of catches, but as this is not a Florida Fishing Report I can’t include them. The third reason is the number of storms: we have had a procession of them tailgating each other for three weeks as they roll up the Channel from the west. Those factors haven’t left much time for fishing or people to fish.

Nevertheless some of us have grabbed a day or two here and there and we have a few fish to indicate what is out there. First up is Mark Banks, showing that quality pollack can be caught from the Channel wrecks although some days can be tough. Marks offshore produce the usual range of rays. Conger are now moving back to their holes in rocks and wrecks and are less of a pest on open ground. Wayne Comben shows off a nice spurdog of 16lb and a bull huss of 7lb. Inshore we are having a run of plaice. Some days they can be fairly plentiful (by today’s standards) and other days they are hard to find. But if fishing was predictable I would have nothing to write about. Here are some photographs from recent plaice trips including a very late codling for Dick Stubbs and a surprise early bream for Dennis Hayden on the same trip, which neatly bridges the two seasons. Steve Kelly is waving both a plaice and a species competition card so it looks like he is going for it this year.

April is drawing near so we should soon be reporting smoothhound and bream in numbers. The bass restrictions change on 1st April for the summer and the opportunity to keep one fish per day may tempt more anglers to target them. The first garfish tend to arrive with the spawning bream and mackerel appear soon after. The tope will follow them in. The seasonal pattern certainly gives us plenty of variety in this area, if only we have enough weather windows to fish. Roll on summer, preferably one like last year.

Langstone Report February 2019

Finally…the Southsea Marina Angling Club (SMAC) Open Cod Competition was held on 30th December after seven postponements due to the weather. We even had a few settled days beforehand to get into the swing of things after two months of being stuck ashore. Although overcast, visibility was good, it wasn’t too cold and a slight westerly breeze gave us plenty of options.

A total of 102 anglers signed in, with 45 boats mostly heading out from Southsea Marina, the Eastney ramp or Eastney Cruising Association (ECA). More fish were being caught inshore of the Nab than further out. Although the winning cod wasn’t as big as last year we were pleased that five cod weighed in (only two in the 2017 competition) and we had the main prizes awarded to cod with a number of good whiting as runners-up.

The winner was Tim Andrews, SMAC Commodore with a cod of 9lb 2oz. Other winners were

2nd: Ken Barton cod 8lb 14oz; 3rd: Tom Baker cod 4lb 9oz; 4th: Bradley Tomkinson cod 4lb 7oz;

5th: Dean Kilford cod 3lb 10oz. Runners up with good whiting included Pete Bowden,  Darren Price, Kim Bowden, Germit Ladaher, Bernie Kwil, Steve Manning, Dick Stubbs and Tim Ward. There were also prizes for Ladies, won by Hayley Ellis and a Junior prize won by Michael Houghton. The entire event would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication from Steve Kelly, SMAC Chairman who made sure all the anglers had a great day.

Although the cod season this year has been disappointing there have been some notable fish caught, topped by Lee Frampton with an amazing 31lb fish caught out of Bembridge. Mark Argyle from the ECA also caught a cod of 16lb 9oz on squid bait.

Further out the banks and wrecks have been producing some good pollack and bass. Mark Banks and Tim Andrews demonstrate a typical catch. Heber Crawford had an amazing day on the bass which was topped by this monster of over 14lb. There are some very big bass around – Robert Foster’s 13lb 9oz fish reported last issue was awarded SMAC Fish of the Month.

Rays feature in many boat trips but Ash Dowdswell’s 18lb Undulate Ray is a very good fish. We had a run of congers on many marks, not only taking cod baits but also attacking fish that were being reeled in as Phil Stride shows.

Southsea Marina Disabled Angling Club prove that age is no barrier to fishing. George Dominy shows how it’s done at 85 and John Wearn has no trouble wrestling this conger. At the other end of the age spectrum we always encourage young anglers and Mikey Primmett is delighted with this fine dab.

After Christmas we usually find the remaining cod and larger whiting are hunting sprats further up in the water making them less interested in conventional bait fishing. As a result inshore fishing tends to quieten down in January and February before the plaice arrive. However we are already hearing reports of plaice being caught along the shore so the unseasonably warm water might be encouraging them in early. We will let you know next month!

First spotty of 2019

The last few weekends have been spent in accessible places in Rebel Runner, installing the wiring for my new capstan and other things. Now that’s pretty much done I decided to go fishing again. I had heard rumours of the occasional plaice being caught so this weekend I headed out to find some for myself. I have found that frozen black lug tipped with a strip of squid is the best bait for early plaice but the shops were out of stock. Luckily, right at the bottom of my freezer was a very old and sorry-looking packet. The plaice don’t mind what it looks like as long as it is smelly, so I was in business!

First stop was The Blocks, which looked very busy. I anchored just north of the crowd and set out some lines with plenty of bling. Within half an hour I had my first plaice of the year. The next couple of hours were bite-less but the weather was lovely so I didn’t mind too much. As the tide increased the anchor decided to trip so a move was an easy choice to make. I headed over to Hayling Bay and with half an hour another two plaice were on board. They were all small so I filled a bucket of water and put them in it while unhooking, to reduce stress and aid recovery. I made an interesting discovery, they all sicked up lugworm in the bucket so it is pretty obvious why lugworm scores.

I soon ran out of bait so I practised a SAR mission on an abandoned life-ring I had seen float by half an hour earlier. It is surprising how difficult a bright orange life-ring is to spot on a clear fairly calm day. Eventually I spotted it and won myself a new life-ring and about 15 metres of floating rope.

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