Boat Angling

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Category: Catch Reports 2018

Langstone Report Sea Angling News April

After weeks of challenging fishing, April was like turning on a switch, with many boats reporting exceptionally good catches. We had some good spells of weather for a change enabling the boats to get out, although some of the very calm days also came with thick fog which wasn’t helpful. Nevertheless we have, at last, some good fishing to report.

Plaice are the target inshore species during March and April, and they have been very obliging for those boats that found the all-important shellfish patches that hold the fish. Best method is casting out from the boat and allowing the rig to roll slowly down-tide, covering ground and creating movement. You will notice from the photos that some serious bling is required. These are known as WTF rigs. The fish sees some colour in the distance, thinks “WTF”, goes over to investigate and finds a conveniently placed snack. Baits included rag, lug tipped with squid or prawn, and Isome worms in light colours. Fishing has been so hot at times that triple shots were recorded, Heber Crawford’s threesome is pictured along with his son Archie’s first ever plaice.

Heber Crawford triple shotArchie Crawford first plaice

Other pictures were supplied by John Evans fishing from Boxerfish, 11 plaice to 2lb 13oz and Derek Norman with Brian Dale and Ken Saunders fishing from Blue with 25 plaice best weight 3lb. These early fish are thin having recently spawned. Bill Arnold’s fish weighed 2lb 10oz although from the dimensions you might have expected closer to 4lb.

John Evens Plaice 2.13Brian Dale - plaiceSteve Saunders - plaiceBill Arnold Plaice 2.10

The Langstone Harbour Fishermen’s Association ran their Plaice Competition 14-15 April. The winners were based on heaviest fish caught rather than bags, so smaller fish could be returned. The winner was Terry Greaves with 1lb 15oz fishing aboard Limpet, and second place went to Terry Edgerton with a plaice of 1lb 10oz.

Winne LFA Plaice Comp Terry Greaves

Plenty of herring have been shoaling and anglers are now targeting these very successfully. They make great eating, a good bait and can be fun to catch on light tackle. Small Sabiki rigs size 6 hooks and smaller work well. The trick is to hold the lures stationary at the depth the fish are shoaling, unlike mackerel lures which rely on movement.

Further out on the wrecks the target fish is pollack. Some good fish have been caught and gave great sport. The only downside is the distance travelled, many of the wrecks lie over 30 miles from Langstone which makes a long day – but worth it if you find the fish.

Kev Johnson PollackHeber Crawford - pollock 14lbArron Shons - Wreck Pollack

Heber Crawford, 2017 SMAC Species Champion demonstrated that anything is possible. Using LRF tactics he caught a Butterfish, slightly salted of course, while at Anchor using bread. We thought this was jammy but he was Utterly delighted.

Heber Crawfords Butterfish

Smoothhounds will be around from now on and the first have already been caught. A few bream have been reported caught in nets and will be another inshore target species over rocky marks and broken ground soon. I expect we will have some photographs of these next month.

Spring sees the migration of birds over the Channel to Great Britain, and it is very common to have one arrive unexpectedly on the boat. It is remarkable that such a small creature can fly across miles of sea, settle with a few feet of people, rest for a while then head on –  and in the right direction. If fishing is quiet, take a bird identification book with you. This example from Heber is a Chiffchaff.

Migrating Chiffchaff

Langstone Report Sea Angling News March

I thought writing the February catch report was a struggle, but March has been even more of a challenge! Wind and weather have been very much against boat anglers venturing out, except for the fortunate few who have more flexible arrangements and can take advantage of a weather window midweek. Those that did make it out headed for the Channel wrecks where some good pollack were caught. Tim Andrews and Kev Johnson provided photographic evidence.

Tim Andrews


Kev Johnson

Inshore, whiting have all but gone away now and many boats have struggled to catch anything worthwhile (that is, other than pout and dogfish). Plaice should be putting in an appearance and a few have been caught on the usual marks by The Blocks and in Hayling Bay. It is likely that the storms have disturbed the shellfish beds that attract plaice, so we may have to search out new marks that hold them. If we have a few days of settled weather maybe we can go and find out.

This is the time of year for boat maintenance while the fishing is quiet, and a number of the charter boats have been ashore for their annual overhaul and antifoul. This is also the time of year for the local clubs to celebrate successes over the past year and award prizes.

Here are some highlights from the Southsea Marina Angling Club awards night. Club Champion Cup was won by Mark Banks, Runner Up Kris Scott, who also won Best Specimen with a bass of 11lb 3oz. Mark also won the Bream Cup with a 3lb 5oz fish caught while wreck fishing. Cod Cup was won by Steve Kelly 17lb 1oz and son Jake took the Junior Cup with and Undulate Ray of 14lb. Tim Andrews bagged both the Plaice Cup and Pollack Cup. For the ladies, Martina Haughton took both the Ladies Cup with an Undulate Ray of 14lb 6oz and the Ladies Species cup with 10. On the subject of Species, the Crawford family nailed it with Heber smoking out a staggering 54 species to win the Species Cup and son Archie with 28 for the Junior Species Cup.

Mark Banks


Heber Crawford


Archie Crawford


Martina Haughton

Southsea Marina Disabled Angling Club prizes were dominated by George Dominy who won the Champion, Combination (boat and lake) and Specimen Cups (the latter with a smoothhound of 16lb), and Jon Leythorne who won the Champion Runner-Up, Three Oaks and Hambrook Cups. John Wearn won the Best Cod award with 11lb 15oz.

John Leythorne


George Dominy

The Eastney Cruising Association overall Champion this year was again Colin Kidd, who also won Specimen, Cod and the Pairs Cup with M. Davis. Other cups went to S. Emery – Flounder; T. Baker – Plaice; M. Argyle – Bream; D. Pine – Bass; W. Comben – Ray; K. Bowden – Whiting; D. Sissons – Wrasse; T. Ward – Variety and M. Davis – Tiers Cup. The Ladies Cup was won by K. Wheatcroft and Junior Cup went to J. Kelly.

Colin Kidd ECA Champion

Plenty of herring

Most of us catch the occasional herring when feathering for mackerel, but herring are around in good numbers at other times of the year – including now. They are not exactly a sporting fish but like mackerel, they are very good to eat and make excellent bait. I am still learning their migratory movements – last year I was catching them in late April and this year in mid-March, so there’s a start. After spending several hours at anchor catching nothing but a small whiting, I decided to fish seriously for herring. Result – 36 in half an hour. I was drifting, and either one small shoal stayed underneath my boat or the shoal was a quarter of a mile wide. The water was thick with fish, I could feel them pinging off the line before they took the feathers. Check here for herring fishing tips.


I tried smoking some this time. I used my standard brine and smoking method (see here) – the result was quite a mild taste, I think you could brine whole fish for up to an hour, and I will probably increase the smoke dust by 50% next time. Still tastes good though.


Heber’s Plaice Report

I have a successful catch report from today for you. Inshore plaice – small tides, murky water and cold temperatures are not ideal conditions but we managed to find a nice little feature on an otherwise flat area. we fished it with fresh black lugworms, raw tiger prawns and ragworm and landed 12 plaice with a couple of good ones,  one nice little dab and two small bass I even managed to winkle out a nice plaice on the isome worm.



Langstone Report Sea Angling News

Well February has turned out pretty much as predicted, made worse by the constant procession of low pressure systems from the Atlantic that have brought strong winds and rain. February is also often a fairly barren month, with the cod having moved off and the Spring species yet to appear in any numbers. Many charter skippers use February for annual overhauls on the basis that they are not missing much, and this year they were dead right. Good pollack will be on the mid-Channel wrecks, if only we have the right weather to let us reach them.

So, February news is on the light side. The Southsea Marina Angling Club Nelson Mandela Cup for best cod was fished very late in the season this year due to the run of bad weather. This meant a number of boats were unavailable, however seven members braved the elements to make sure we completed the calendar of events. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the timing, not a single cod was caught so the winner-takes-all prize went to Ray Plomer with a 2lb 2oz whiting. This was a great compensation for Ray, who missed out on last month’s Cod Open rankings by losing valuable fishing time returning for a forgotten flask and sandwiches.

Ray Plomer wins Mandela Cup

Other SMAC club news was the cod pool being won by Steve Kelly (correctly spelled this month, sorry) with a cod of 17lb 1oz, and John Wearn in second place with a cod of 11lb 15oz. The RNLI will be invited to give a small boat safety talk to members at the May meeting, and to support the Ocean Clean-up there will be a beach litter picking event later in the year.

Eastney Cruising Association (ECA) are Southsea Marina’s near neighbours, based right on the entrance to Langstone Harbour. Congratulations to Colin Kidd who was awarded ECA Club Champion 2017, pictured here with cod and bull huss which helped him to achieve that.

Colin Kidd wins ECA Club Champion

Colin Kidd and cod

Next month we should sea the arrival of early plaice. There have been reports of some in nets already, but I have noticed over the years that fish ending up in nets don’t seem to be fish interested in baits. Maybe they are less interested in feeding when they are in early for spawning (which is why they are on the inshore marks) but just as susceptible to nets. After that we can look forward to bream, smooth-hound and the summer species. Bass will be catch and release only for 2018 unless the restriction is relaxed later in the year. I am certainly looking forward to some warmer, more settled weather too.

You just never know…

While some boats were heading for mid-Channel wrecks after the pollack, Simon Masters proved that you don’t have to go that far, catching this beauty only a mile off Bracklesham Bay while trying for a late Whiting. Simon reminded me that it is Mrs Masters who is holding the fish!

Langstone Report Sea Angling News

Read SAN online here

The last month has once again been very frustrating, with few days calm enough for comfortable fishing. Even more frustrating – none of the days over the extended Christmas break gave us suitable boat-fishing weather. Nevertheless some boats were out grabbing those rare midweek opportunities. Mark Banks, Tim Adams and Mark Weakarm were out drifting wrecks mid-Channel, and in a mad hour caught a dozen very good pollack with a 15lb, 17lb and a superb 21lb fish coming in a single drift.

On another wrecking trip, Mark Banks “accidentally” caught a 3.5lb bream – we don’t know what the bream was doing to the lure but it probably wasn’t trying to eat it. This has disrupted the SMAC points standing in an entirely unexpected manner! That has got us thinking though – are big bream down on those wrecks? Is it worth targeting them? It must be worth an experimental trip at least.

The highlight of the month was the Southsea Marina Angling Club (SMAC) Open Cod Competition. After months of planning, and weeks of successive postponements due to the weather, the competition finally went ahead on Sunday 14th January. The prize table totalled £1,170 plus generous donations from local angling businesses. A total of 88 keen anglers including ladies and juniors turned out aboard 38 boats. We even had a visit of a boatload of anglers from the Isle of Wight aboard “Ocean Star” – or should I call it a raid, because they carried off one of the prizes!

After signing in at the marina as dawn broke, the armada of boats headed south, keen to get among the cod. Despite a forecast of settled weather between two fronts, it was actually running quite a swell. I started fishing north of the Nab Tower and it was rather disconcerting to see the neighbouring boats disappearing from view in the troughs between waves.

We had anticipated a scarcity of cod, being late on in a poor season. The rules were adjusted so prizes could be awarded to whiting if insufficient cod were landed. This proved a wise move because only two cod were weighed in, the remainder of the prizes being taken by whiting. There are not many days when we actually welcome whiting but this was one of them, given the size of the prize table!

Top prize of £500 was well-deserved by Dick Prosser with a cod of 18lb 12oz – exactly what we were aiming for.

Dick Prosser winning cod

Second prize was taken by Kev Franks with a cod of 2lb 14oz worth £200, surely the most valuable cod per pound you will ever find. Third prize was rather bizarrely taken by a heavier fish than the second prize winner – a 3lb whiting caught by Alan Woodage. The remaining prizes were awarded to Alan Isaacs, Thomas Foster, Noddy aka Mark (he said “don’t ask” – he was the raider on Starfish), Lee Swire, Kim Bowden, George Dominy, Jon Leythorne and Martina Houghton. Martina also won the Ladies prize and young Archie Crawford took the Junior prize.

Martina Houghton wins Ladies Prize


Archie Crawford wins Junior prize

This was a very successful and hugely enjoyable event, due to the excellent organisation by Steve Kelley, support from Southsea Marina and crew and help from the SMAC members including Steve Andrews for the great photographs.

Signing in Steve Kelley and Dave Ford

The month ahead is likely to see the departure of the cod, hoards of small whiting attacking any and all baits, the arrival of some good pollack on the wrecks and most of us planning for better weather and the arrival of spring and summer species. Many charter boats come out of the water for their annual overhaul in February but there can still be some surprises out there for anyone who tries.

Neville Merritt

January 2018


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