The web site for eastern Solent boat fishing

Author: Neville Merritt (Page 1 of 25)

Owner of and
Author of "Angling Boats"
Director of Pure Potential Development Ltd

Don’t waste your roe!

After years of gutting whiting and throwing the guts over the side,  my friend Jim Atkins pointed out that these were missed opportunities. At this time of year, the guts contain some very edible roes whch in the larger female whiting are plenty big enough to collect and save for a delicious meal. Roes are the unspawned eggs and look like a pair of orange sausages, so they are easy to spot. Carefully separate the roes from the guts, wash and set aside for your meal. There are plenty of on-line recipes for cod roe, but not surprisingly, whiting roe don’t feature. Don’t worry! Here’s what you can do. Simply roll the roes in seasoned flour and fry in butter for a maximum of two minutes each side. Serve on toast with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped dill or parsley. Don’t waste the melted butter, pour that on your toast too. This makes a classic lunch, brunch or high tea dish. For more exotic treatment (Jim applies Cajun seasoning), just experiment!

SMAC Monthly Meeting January 2022

The first meeting of the year was held on 11th January, at the earlier time of 7pm to allow Ross Honey to present an Open Q&A at 7:30pm about this year’s Sea Angling Classic competition.

Club News

Steve Kelly provided an update on the club competition standings, see below. The Bass Cup winner is confirmed as Kevin Johnson as that competition closed with the bass season. The other competitions will close at the end of January, so there’s still time for it all to change!

Fish Of The Month was awarded to Ben Lumsden for his flounder. This monthly competition is awarded by votes on the night, and takes account of Specimen Size, notable species or a story about the catch. Members all agreed that a 1lb flounder was a rarity today compared to in previous times, so we unanimously voted for young Ben.

The Mandela Cup will be fished on Saturday 15th January. Best cod, members only, winner takes all. This is a friendly competition and in seasonal spirit, takes place partly in the bar.

The date for the Presentation Night will be agreed at the next meeting.

Neville Merritt reminded members that he welcomes all photos of catches and reports for the website Catch Report and SMAC pages. You can send via FB Messenger, Whatsapp or email.

Also at the next meeting Neville will bring a selection of sizes of hoodies to try on and confirm costs so we can order a batch of SMAC branded hoodies if there is sufficient interest.

Next meeting will be on 1st February at 7:30pm. This meeting will the one where we elect club officers (Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Commodore) and review any rule changes that members propose.

Sea Angling Classic Q&A

We were pleased to welcome Ross Honey and Glen Milligan who joined the meeting at 7:30pm to host an open Q&A session. Ross first provided an update on the events surrounding the competition, clarification on the rules and explained how the prize table is made up.

There is now an extensive Q&A page on the SAC website, please see here . This covers many of the questions raised at the meeting.

The event itinerary is here. More details are being discussed and it appears that Portsmouth Chambers of Commerce, Council, QHM etc are all keen to use the event as a way of promoting Portsmouth. They are providing a lot of support which will make this fishing competition more like a festival!

The main prize of an amazing boat package plus an expenses-paid 18 month experience programme is unprecedented. Thanks to the generous sponsors, this fully kitted out Extreme 745 Game King fishing boat will be insured and storage paid for 18 months enabling the winning crew to participate in other competitions including the 2023 SAC if they wish. The boat package will be the focus of a “Boat Reveal” in Portsmouth on 19th March, after which it will go on a road trip around the coast stopping off in London for a trip along the Thames before continuing along the South Coast and back to Portsmouth. There are other competitions and prizes within the SAC and these are being updated as more sponsors come forward.

These Q&A sessions are a good way for the SAC team to explain more about the event and also collect valuable feedback and ideas from the local angling community. For example, a question about potential disruption from anti-angling pressure groups was raised. This has since enabled the SAC team to prepare a detailed risk assessment and have contingency plans in place to address this if it occurs.

We were also given the opportunity to try out the SAC app which will be used to manage catches and the leaderboard in real time during the event itself. There will be further app training sessions available nearer the date of the event.

Follow the Sea Angling Classic Facebook page for more event news as it develops.


2022 Sea Angling Classic Competition

Following the successful “trial run” of the Sea Angling Classic competition in 2021, the event goes into full swing for 2022. Here’s the low-down on what the event is and what will be  happening in and around Portsmouth.

About Sea Angling Classic

This is a unique international boat  fishing event combining a major sea angling competition, conservation and environmental initiatives, education and research, while introducing a whole new generation to the sport.

This exciting and dynamic boat event event will take place from Wednesday 15th June to Sunday 19th June 2022, based out of the historic maritime city of Portsmouth. Gunwharf Quays will be the hub and centre of the event and the competition area will be utilising the diverse and prolific fishing grounds of The Solent.

There will be two categories run simultaneously: one for Recreational boats and the other for Charter boats involving 600 to 800 competitors.

A Huge Prize Table!

We expect up to 150 boats to be competing for the the largest prize table in UK boat angling history – a combined value of  £200,000. This is attracting a huge amount of attention from  hundreds of boat  anglers, while also welcoming youngsters, environmental research, countless businesses and high-profile event partners.  The huge prize table includes a fully equipped Extreme Game King 745 boat and trailer.

The Sea Angling Classic has been structured to stimulate and grow recreational boat angling initially in the UK. Using the model created it will expand throughout Europe and then globally. It is much more than just a fishing event. It has a very strong element at its core to help and encourage children as the next generation in all areas of sustainability, respect for the environment and their own personal development.

The competition is organised by Angling Spirit  who are an experienced professional  international events management and marking company. They specialise in boat based angling events and recognise the importance of making sure events are run safely and comply with all rules and regulations. Most importantly, they are also there to enforce them.

Backing , Support and Unique location

The event has full support, involvement , endorsement and backing from  Portsmouth City Council , The Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, The Historic Dockyard, Gunwharf Quays, The Angling Trust and leading global brands in the marine /angling industry including Mercury, Lowrance, Penn International, Rapala and others.

Portsmouth Harbour – this will be an extremely important event for the positive promotion of recreational boat angling and for this reason The Queens Harbour Master will be closing Portsmouth harbour for the event.

Gunwharf Quays – the area will be fully branded for a two-week period which will include having key event partners’ displays on site.

Historic Dockyard – the prize giving of the event will take place in the historic dockyard. There there will be a huge stage built with  live radio and live stream broadcasting everything, with the world famous backdrop of Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory. The final event celebration will take place on the deck of HMS Warrior for up to 525 guests.

Promotion and Marketing

The event will have  extensive media coverage including an hour-long TV highlights program that will be broadcast on BT Sports and on Amazon Prime.  Angling Spirit will be directing the TV  program and media activity to ensure they have full control of media coverage and can meet their commitments.

A full promotional roadshow with event partners around the UK will take place in March 2022 so that all key partners’ customers can benefit and get involved.

The use of Gunwharf Quays for two weeks including the period prior to and during the event at prime time of the year will expose the event to thousands of people.

The event will be promoted through Boot Dusseldorf attendance.

There will be a spectacular televised flag parade involving up to 1,000 people including children from the local schools and three marching bands.

Sustainability, respect for the environment and a profound scientific study are at the core of the event.

The Competition

Setting out from the competition  base at the Historic Dockyard, competitors will be targeting a variety of species in The Solent, including tope, smoothound, rays, bass and black bream on a catch, photograph and release basis. To keep track of angler’s catches, event organiser Angling Spirit’s custom-made Live Leaderboard App will provide real time, state-of-the art updates on who’s catching what.


Head over to the Questions page for a full list of frequently asked questions and the answers.

Website links

Outline Itinerary

Sea Angling Classic on Facebook

Children’s and environmental initiatives The Spirit of Angling

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Gunwharf Quays

QHM Portsmouth

SMAC Open Cod Competition 2021

Whenever we have to delay our annual open Cod Competition there is always more chance the fish will hear about it and go into hiding. The competition was originally scheduled for 14th November and was delayed by weather four times before we were finally able to hold it on 19th December. By then the news had got out and the cod made themselves scarce.

A total of 88 anglers in 37 boats set off on a slightly murky Sunday morning although the visibility was far better at sea than further inland. The mist came down a couple of times, but the wind dropped during the day and all boats found somewhere fishable from the Solent to south of the Nab.

Not surprisingly, the whiting had also read the news about the competition and the larger fish we had been catching on midweek practice runs were noticeably absent from the marks where they had been caught before. Nevertheless, the target species were found by three anglers and we had three cod and eight whiting to make up the prize list.

All the boats returned to weigh-in by 5:30pm and we are very grateful to the Marina Bar for staying open to host the presentation of prizes from 6pm. The evening opened with a short address from Ross Honey, founder of the Sea Angling Classic competition who gave us a few highlights about the 2022 competition. Then onto the prizes!

First prize went to Paul Hanks for a cod of 6lb 12oz, winning him £500 cash and an entry ticket to the 2022 Sea Angling Classic donated by Ross.

Second prize went to Mark Argyle for a cod of 5lb 11oz which won him £100 cash.

Third prize went to Pip Saunders for a cod of 3lb 2oz which earned him £100 of vouchers from Andy’s Baits.

The Ladies Prize went to Megan Haughton who won £50 cash for a whiting of 1.06lb.

Two identical whiting meant we had a tie for first place in the Juniors competition. Jake Kelly and Sian Houghton both won £50 each for whiting of 1.16lb

The following Runners-Up prizes were awarded:

4th Place – Lee Swire, whiting of 2.64lb, boat rod donated by Fish On Tackle Shop

5th Place – Des Clare, whiting of 2.08lb, boat rod donated by Fish On Tackle Shop

6th Place – Dennis Hayden, whiting of 2.02lb, boat rod donated by SMAC

7th Place – Tim Warren, whiting of 1.92lb, boat rod donated by SMDAC

8th Place – Peter Churchill, whiting of 1.84lb, £50 bait voucher donated by Premier Marinas

9th Place – Peter Reynolds, whiting of 1.76lb, two places on boat trips donated by Sportsman’s Knight

10th Place – Darren McKnell, whiting of 1.72lb, boat trip donated by Anglers Edge

11th Place – Thomas Clare, whiting of 1.72lb, two meals donated by Marina Bar

Our sincere thanks to Steve Kelly and Chris Ellis for all their work organising the event; to Ross Honey of Sea Angling Classic, Andy’s Baits, Fish On Tackle, Premier Marinas, Sportsman’s Knight, Anglers Edge, SMDAC, SMAC and Marina Bar for donating prizes and to all the competitors who turned out to participate in the competition making it another successful event for SMAC.

Scroll through the photo gallery below for more photos from the day.

Ready to go
Fishing the competition
Peter Churchill and his whiting
Mark Argyle plus cod
Home safe at the end of the day
Paul Hawks cod 6lb 12oz
Mark Argyle cod 5lb 11oz
Prize Table
Steve Kelly
Ross Honey
Mehan Houghton Ladies Winner
Jake Kelly and Sian Houghton joint Junior Prizewinners
Darren McNell 10th place
Pete Reynolds 9th place
Peter Churchill 8th place
Mark Argyle 2nd place
Paul Hawks 1st place
Ready to go

Nevile Merritt

SMAC, December 2021

SMAC Monthly Meeting December 2021

I’m not sure what SMAC has done to upset the weather gods but this month’s meeting coincided with Storm Barra. This not only brought a lot of wind and rain, it also piled up the high tide causing flooding all around Langstone and Portsmouth harbours with the predictable knock-on effect on traffic. Nevertheless, the more stalwart SMAC members braved the wet and windy night to meet in the Marina Bar which had stayed open especially for us.

The Club Standings are documented below. Highlights are:

Plaice Cup: Tim Andrews leads with 1lb 8oz  – no disrespect to Tim, but that size shows just how poor the plaice season has been.

Bream Cup: Tim Andrews again, 3lb 13oz.

Bass Cup: due to the season restriction this competition has now closed, so we can announce that Kev Johnson has won the cup with his bass of 8lb 11oz. Congratulations Kev.

Cod Pool: all to play for but Lee Jackson currently leads with 8lb 7oz. With 34 people in the pool that’s a decent prize.

Fish of the Month: this was awarded to young Ben Lumsden (Junior Member) for his bass of 4lb 11oz.

The Cod Competition: what can I say. This rolls on, next stop 12th December but that’s looking dodgy. Some of us are secretly hoping for 19th December which would make a great start to the Christmas break.

Mandela Cup: This informal club competition is usually fished between Christmas and the New Year, with the rules adjusted according to the weather and hangovers. Watch the WhatsApp Group for further information.

Curry Night: probably a Saturday night in January because nobody could identify a specific Indian and I can’t remember the road name anyway. It’s lucky that this level of imprecision doesn’t extend to weighing fish for club competitions, I think we do that rather well by comparison.

Next Meeting: this will be a week later than our regular slot, it being New Year and everything, so put the date in your diaries for Tuesday 11th January 2022 at 7:30pm in the Marina Bar. See you there!

Neville Merritt

December Catch Report 2021

Well this is awkward. I had planned to provide a long and detailed report of the Cod Competition but what was planned for 14th November didn’t happen due to the weather, neither did it happen on the 21st November, 28th November or 5th December. If the competition had been scheduled for a Monday, Wednesday or Friday it could probably have happened several times over. Such is Winter fishing – hopefully we can get out on 12th December.

With any excuse to brighten our day (or nights), Southsea Marina boats are starting to show their Christmas Lights and this year Rebel Runner will also be dressed overall with Christmas twinkle. Visit Premier Marinas for details of the Shine A Light competition.

Elves have appeared on shelves and our feature photo is of Steve Kelly’s elf. Anyone who knows Steve will be aware of his twin passions for fishing and punk, so this elf is perfect.

Anyway, back to fishing. Bass catch regulations in force means we can’t keep any bass we catch from 1st December onwards, it’s Catch and Release only. That means the SMAC bass competition has ended and the winner is Kev Johnson with his bass of 8lb 11oz, narrowly beating Bill Arnold’s bass of 8lb 10oz.

With our attention now on cod, most reports for the Solent and approaches are of the very occasional cod, plenty of whiting and in certain places, roaming congers.  Paul Farrell has our only cod picture of the month, which indicates how rare they are this season.

John Calton joined Rebel Runner for the day and showed the skipper how to do it by catching a corker of a whiting, 2lb 5oz.  Modest John doesn’t believe in bigging up his catch but scales don’t lie.

We also had a drive-by from SSFC and it’s good to know the are keeping an eye on things.

Trevor Stewart fishing from Pete Churchill’s Moonshine appears to be catching whiting by the brace.

Keith Ward also fishing from Moonshine caught this impressive ballan wrasse on a lure:

That’s all this month I’m afraid. We have a couple more chances to fish the Cod Competition before Christmas so hopefully I’ll have more to report next time.

Neville Merritt

December 2021

New Beacon Registration Portal

This week I had an email from MCA advising that they have migrated the old database of registered beacons (EPIRBs) to a new portal. They advise updating the information on the new portal so they have the correct and current information about the beacon, you, your boat and usual area of use.  When you go to the new portal there is quite a lot of information that they will collect so it’s worth setting aside 15 minutes or so to do it. You will need your beacon and vessel information to hand when you do it.

“It is important that you do this, to assist the emergency services should they receive a ‘distress alert’ from your beacon(s). If you do not claim your beacon(s), the data will eventually be deleted.”

If you have a beacon and haven’t received this notification, check your email Junk Folder or visit the new Beacon Registry Service at If you have changed your email since registering your beacon, you may not get the notification. You can update it using the portal.

“If you need advice or support on how to update your details, please contact the Beacon Registry Team, Telephone: +44 020 3817 2006 or email

Bass: Catch & Release after 1st December

A quick reminder that ALL bass must be returned to the water unharmed after 1st December 2021 until the end pf the year. If this year’s bass rules roll over to 2022, then we can expected to be able to retain some bass after 28th February 2022 but that remains to be confirmed. This rule applies to both boat and shore fishing.

Early November Fishing Report

The summer fishing seems to have extended well into autumn this year, with the mackerel staying with the spratt shoals right up to the end of October before fading away. The amount of baitfish seen on the fishfinders is spectacular, attracting mackerel and bass. This is probably why the dolphins are being seen inshore here and bluefin tuna not so far offshore too. Every day that I have been out over that last two months I have seen large flocks of gulls working within a mile or two of shore, and if you like catching school bass on light gear you can catch a fish almost every cast, some of them actually into the “keeper” size of over 42cm.

Bream have stayed on the Blocks and rocky marks into early November, and looking back at my log I don’t see I caught many this late in previous years, although I probably wasn’t targeting them. I have always been interested in fishing methods used in other countries and this one caught my eye recently: fishing for yellow snapper (very like our black bream in habit) groundbaiting with oatmeal – or what we call porridge oats. I gave the method a try and it certainly produced some nice bream. Best bait was fish strip or prawn, not the usual squid strip. It wasn’t a scientific test because there was no other boats nearby using a different method to compare, but if you want to see the technique in use here’s the original video:

 I was expecting more whiting by now and some are showing but not in the numbers we can expect as we move into winter. There are some good sized fish around – Lee Marshfield shows one that will produce some nice fillets.


Further out some nice bull huss have been caught – shown here a 12lb Bull Huss to Andrew Law fishing from Moonshine, and one of similar size for John Jones.

There have been plenty of good bass caught and Ben Lumsden showed his dad how to do it:

Finally – cod. Yes, some have been caught but there’s a reason why they are called Solent Unicorns – because they aren’t very common. One boat reported catching four but that is unusual. One or zero is far more likely. Tim Andrews did a very good job of making this one look sizable, but the game was up when we saw the weight in the Cod Cup listings – 5lb 6oz but still good enough to be in second place behind a 5lb 7oz fish caught by Tony Callard earlier.

The Cod Competition has been postponed from 14th November to 21st November, so that gives the cod and whiting a bit more time to organise themselves into turning up.

SMAC Monthly Meeting November 2021

We had a good crowd in the Marina Bar on Tuesday to catch up on the latest club activities. The Marina Bar has just launched a new menu which might have contributed to the attraction too (thumbs up for the burger and blue cheese by the way).

First up was voting on Fish of the Month. Dave Ford won with a specimen Small-eyed Ray of 11lbs, a good fish. This is 100% of the specimen weight. The fish was released.

Other club standings were confirmed, as listed below.

The new Scales Hut is now in place. The door can be opened with a code which can be obtained from the marina staff, although if you know the code that is used elsewhere on site you can guess it correctly. The electrical power point has been installed and a floor will soon follow. The height of the hut has been kept low so as not to obstruct visibility from the marina office, so don’t expect to have a party in it.

The Open Cod Competition will be held on 14th November.  High Water is a Neap at 08:20 with a mean range of 2.4 metres.  This is very convenient for marina-based boats because the Cill will be open from 05:13 to 11:13, and again from 17:44 so we can put our boats away after the presentation which starts at 6pm in the Marina Bar. More details here

Chris Ellis gave us an update on next year’s Open Species Competition which will be held in the summer, probably a weekend in August and this time running over two days. The organisers of the Sea Angling Classic will be loaning their mobile app for competitors to register their catches in real time.

Steve Kelly passed on a message from Premier Marinas for all members to make sure their boats have the boat name clearly marked on the boat hull or superstructure to avoid confusion during boat movements carried out by the yard crew.

Neville Merritt asked if members would be interested in a Fairtrade alternative for branded SMAC hoodies. Currently Vintage Pig can supply standard hoodies with our logo, although not everybody knows that. If there is sufficient interest in a good quality Fairtrade hoodie, Neville will bring a sample to a future meeting.

The next meeting will be at 7:30pm on Tuesday 7th December in the Marina Bar.



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