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Category: Catch Reports 2022

SMAC Boat tops Sea Angling Classic Charter Boat Category

Well what an amazing fishing event the 2022 Sea Angling Classic turned out to be. After a trial run last year, Spirit of Angling run by Ross Honey launched the UK’s biggest and most glamorous sea angling competition we have ever seen – from Portsmouth! Ross has been very supportive of SMAC and has donated a number of the £250 SAC entry tickets as prizes for our own competitions.

The event was run along similar lines to the big USA fishing tournaments with lots of promotion, sponsorship, road trips, media coverage and entertainment – in fact it was almost a festival around the competition itself. Activities ran from Wednesday 15th June to Sunday 19th June with the two-day competition running on Friday and Saturday.

The event was run in two team categories: Charter Boat and Recreational Boat to give everyone a fair chance. Top prize in the Recreational category was a £150,000 fishing boat package so this competition attracted anglers from all over the UK. The Charter Boat category was a pairs event; the Recreational category was run as a boat team with two to four anglers participating.

The theme of the programme was to support recreational angling with a strong conservation message. All competitors had to take part in a Beach Clean. There were side-line activities to encourage young people to try angling. The main competition was strictly catch-and-release, with a slightly complicated scoring system made simpler by the use of a dedicated phone app. Simply explained, five species groups counted: rays, bass, bream, tope and smoothhound. All catches had to be measured and photographed, and the aggregate length of the longest three fish in each species on each day became the team score.

SMAC members competing in the Recreational Category were :

  • Ray Plomer and Bill Arnold (Ruthless)
  • Clive Newnham and Dave Newnham (Pedro)
  • Dan Lumsden, Steve Tambling and Ben Lumsdem (Sea Jay)
  • Tony Dickson and Steve Andrews (Big G)
  • Nick Wallis fished on a non-club boat Bad Boyz

Charter Boat Category:

  • Stuart Newell and Pete Churchill (Harvest Moon)

The overall results from the two days was spectacular. A total of 1.067 fish were caught, with locations and sizes recorded and the data shared with marine biologists monitoring fish stocks in the area. This included 128 Tope, 505 Smooth Hound; 300 Bream; 120 Skates and rays; 14 Bass. This was a combined length of 763.29 metres! The low number of bass caught was because the better bass marks were outside the limits of the competition fishing area.

Both teams from Stuart Newell’s boat Harvest Moon were placed at the top of the Charter Boat category; Steve Batchelor and Colin Searles coming first with 1,601cm and Stuart Newell and Pete Churchill coming second with 1,406cm, putting Harvest Moon firmly at the top of the league! Stuart Newell also won Biggest Fish with his tope of 161cm.

The Recreational Boat category was won by the team on Smartfish, but it was interesting to see that only 16cm separated them from second place Tequila, and only 1cm separated them from third place Paintball. At 4pm on Friday, the provisional placings put the SMAC team on Sea Jay in first position! The standings at the end of Day One put Tequila leading Smartfish and Paintball so the competition was close fought to the end.

The Recreational Boat category trophy was a spectacular model of the Spinnaker Tower, made by apprentices at BAE Systems Maritime. It was constructed from timber from HMS Victory and steel from the new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.

Overall, this was a hugely successful event attracting a lot of attention and much enjoyed by competitors and spectators alike. There was plenty of entertainment for those ashore from the opening parade on Wednesday to the final reception on Sunday. On the water, we could easily spot the competitors’ boats by the large flags they were flying.

For more details on the event and the full results listing please see the posts on the home page of Sea Angling Classic.

You can enjoy a photo gallery from the event here:

P.S. Stuart Newell has donated a heap of his prizes to SMAC for our forthcoming competitions and raffles. Thank you Stuart!

Catch Report May 2022

This year, unlike previous years, summer started the way it is meant to start! Bream arrived in good numbers and some excellent catches have been made both in size and quantity. It’s good to see so many fish returned and only a few kept for the pot. There have been plenty over the 2lb mark and the largest bream recorded at SMAC so far this year (4lb 8oz) is already a lot heavier than last year’s Bream Cup winner (3lb 13oz). See the SMAC Open Bream competition report and also the Harvest Moon report for more details.

A spectacular Gilthead bream was weighed in on the Isle of Wight. It was caught by Robbie Swindle on ragworm while he was fishing for stingray, and tipped the scales at 7lb 12oz. This shows what could be out there, you just never know when a specimen fish could turn up.

Mackerel have also arrived in good numbers, and of a respectable size too. Last year they were late turning up but when they did they were plentiful. This year they already here in similar numbers, although I have found they don’t always seem to be hungry. You can find them in the usual places including very obviously in the entrance to Portsmouth harbour, right where you aren’t supposed to be in a small boat! See photo.

Tope followed the mackerel in and plenty of good fish have been caught. Bill Arnold and Peter Churchill shared these photos of large tope to an estimated 50lb coming to the boat (see the Gallery below). Conservation-minded anglers like Bill and Peter prefer to release big tope at the side of the boat rather than bringing them aboard. Large tope can damage themselves with their own strength, and their greater bodyweight needs the support of water to prevent risk of internal damage.  Smaller tope can be brought aboard without much harm if handled carefully. Thanks also to Dan Lumsden (wrasse of 3lb 15oz featured in our header photo) and Stuart Newell for their catch photos in the gallery.

There had been much anticipation of the national Sea Angling Classic competition on 17th and 18th June from Portsmouth, and we wish all competitors the very best of luck. We look forward to bringing you the results in our next Catch Report.

Neville Merritt



SMAC Species Competition 31st July 2022

Save the date!

All anglers welcome.

Fishing from 8am to 6pm. Last “weigh-in” 6:30pm (photos only!)
Sign on at the Southsea Marina Office, entry fee £10
Presentation of prizes in the Marina Bar at 7pm
Cash Prizes for first place (60% of entries) and second place (20% of entries). Other prizes donated by Baits R Us; Fishon Bait and Tackle; SMDAC; British Big Game Fishing; Cosham Angling; Sportsmans Knight; Anglers Edge; Marina Bar. Bonus cash prizes for Ladies and Junior winners
Reserve dates if the weather is unsuitable are 7th and 14th August.

May Report from “Harvest Moon”

This month we have a guest report written by Stuart Newall, skipper and owner of “Harvest Moon” and UK Big Game Charters.

Here’s a look back at May onboard Harvest Moon.

The beginning of the month was taken up by exploring the inshore reefs for the Black Bream that were being reported. We found good numbers of 2lb+ fish just perfect for the table, but I’m glad to say that the majority of anglers returned 99% of their fish. The best day was dream fishing with over 100 fish to the boat with six over 3lb and two 4lb fish, the biggest 4lb 8oz weighed on the boat.

We then turned our attention to Tope and Smoothies, with an early arrival of mackerel making our job easier. The Tope fishing has been very good with every trip so far producing 40lb+ fish and a good number of 50lb+ thrown in too. Fresh mackerel has been the best bait but frozen mackerel and herring also producing the goods. At times it has been a struggle to keep a single rod in the water with fish from the off.

The hardback crabs have been sorting out the bigger Smoothies again, at times it has been hectic fishing with every rod in the water screaming off as another pack moves through. Our biggest smoothhounds so far have been around the 15-16lb mark.

Looking to the next few weeks ahead we will be taking part in the Sea Angling Classic in June, and the start of our Shark fishing.

Tight Lines

Stuart Newall.

(Contact Stuart on 07919 001400 or British Big Game Charter on Facebook)

SMAC Open Bream Competition 1st May 2022

After weeks of cold, strong easterly winds we were all delighted that the weather on Sunday was light, southerly winds. Who cared that it drizzled much of the day, many of us were fishing for the first time in months. The target was the heaviest single bream and hopes were high because the time was right for some large fish to move inshore.

A total of 76 entries fishing from 27 boats meant that the cash prizes were impressive – first prize was 60% of the total entry pool. We also had Ladies and Junior sections. There was a generous prize table of other prizes donated by Baits’R’Us; Fishon Bait ‘n Tackle; Cosham Angling; British Big Game Fishing; Premier Marinas; Sportsmans Knight; Anglers Edge and the Marina Bar for which we are very appreciative.

Fishing started at 8am finishing at 6pm, with the last weigh-in by 6:30pm. That meant 10 hours to find that big bream. Many boats headed east, fishing rocky marks around Bracklesham Bay, Selsey (Boulder Bank), Bognor, Littlehampton (Kingmere) and Worthing (wind farm). Others headed to Sandown, Bullocks Patch and other more local marks.

The fishing was terrific with everyone I spoke to reporting constant activity catching bream, the target species and also a wide variety of others also hungry for small baits. However, the only number that counted was the weight of the largest bream and there was an impressive number of good fish brought to the scales. (Note the freshly-painted, centrally-heated SMAC Weighing Station!)

At the presentation in the Marina Bar afterwards, our master organiser Steve Kelly and Commodore Tim Andrews who presented the prizes kept us in suspense by calling the winners in reverse order, but I’ll do the conventional thing here by reporting the final placings.

Winner overall was Jim Atkins (SMAC) with a stonking bream of 4.5lb – a clear pound heavier than the next heaviest. This also sets a new SMAC record for heaviest bream.

Second was Mark Argyle (ECA) with 3.5lb

Ladies Cup winner was Eleanor Atkins with 2.66lb. Is it a coincidence that both Jim and Eleanor were wearing their new  Fairtrade SMAC hoodies? I think not. If you want to win, wearing a SMAC hoodie clearly helps.

Junior winner was Jake Kelly with 2.3lb

Runners-up prizes were awarded from the prize table as follows:

3rd place Lee Swire 2.9lb

4th place Mark Oldfield 2.68

5th place Eleanor Atkins with her winning bream of 2.66lb

6th place Steve Kelly himself with 2.48lb

7th place Dan Lumsden 2.44lb

8th place Dick Stubbs 2.34lb

9th place Jake Kelly with his Junior Prize fish 3.3lb

10th place Mark Jackson 2.26lb

11th, 12th, 13th and 14th places tied with 2.22lb fish each: Nick Wallis, Jay MacKay, Kevin Johnson and Richie Shippin

This was a great event and we are very grateful to Steve Kelly for his hard work organising and promoting the event, the sponsors who donated prizes and all the competitors who turned out to make this competition so successful.

There is a very good chance we’ll run this event again!

Neville Merritt
SMAC May 2022

Catch Report March and April 2022

March and April have been rather quiet on the Catch Reports here. This is due mainly to the time of year, which has traditionally been rather slow for fishing, and the persistent easterly winds which as legend and experience will say doesn’t make the fish feed very enthusiastically.

Plaice showed briefly on the usual inshore plaice marks of Hayling Bay and The Blocks but not in the numbers we have seen in previous years. Some were caught from the boats that weren’t ashore for maintenance and could get out on the calmer days.

Clive Newnham

While we were waiting for the spring and summer species to appear, there were still the resident rays to keep us interested.


Peter van Daal

By mid April the first of the smoothhound were appearing in catches. David Cox sent in this photo and report:

“April 14th – an early start ruined by heavy fog so I got to bass marks a bit too late, which is my excuse for zero fish! However, I had seven 12lb plus Smoothies on Hard Grounds. This was the best at 17lb caught by me on Velvet Crab. The females were obviously pregnant so all fish were promptly returned. On the way back in to Chi we had some nice bream on the drift at Bullocks Patch.”

David Cox

The arrival of the bream means we are now looking forward to the SMAC Open Bream Competition on 1st May!

Catch Report February 2022

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?





Catch Report January 2022

January is what I call a transition month – the end of the winter season and perhaps the hint of the species arriving in the early spring. Our normal winter season sees whiting in large numbers following the sprat shoals; cod, although in far fewer number than in previous years and conger roaming open ground. As the winter season draws to a close there are still one or two cod around; numerous whiting; nice pollack are caught on the channel wrecks and spurdog make an appearance. Some large bream are found on the wrecks in autumn and winter, although few people target them preferring the chance of a big fighting pollack. Bass are catch and release only until 1st March 2022 and although there are still plenty of bass around, most anglers aren’t targeting them. Plaice usually start appearing in February and this year catches off Brighton in late January attracted the attention of long-range anglers based in Hampshire. Have a look at the photo gallery below to see some of the catches reported in January.

Included are John Jones, with his SMAC Fish Of The Month Award conger of 70lb and Brian van Daal with the cod of 15lb that won the SMAC Cod Pool and Cod Cup.

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