Boat Angling

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SMAC Meeting December 2023

Tonight we drank a toast to the memory of a dear friend and SMAC member, Bill Arnold who passed away last week. Bill was a huge supporter of the club and did a lot of practical work behind the scenes to help. He was a regular contributor at our meetings, a fearsome seller of raffle tickets and of course a very competitive angler. We will miss him terribly.

To recognise his contribution to the club, there is a proposal to create a new prize which will be announced at the Presentation Night. Bill himself had the idea for both the award and the construction of the prize itself, so it will be nice to see it all come together.

We had a great turnout to the meeting and there was a lot to talk about. The Club Standings are listed below – Dan Lumsden leads (by one point) the Species Competition, the Bass Cup has changed hands and we have a new leader in the Cod Pool. It’s all still happening! The Bass Season remains open until the end of the SMAC year now, so there will be no early finishes.

Fish Of The Month was awarded to the larger of two cod entered, Tony Skinner’s cod of 8lb 5oz.

The Open Cod Competition still hasn’t happened due to the weather, and if it is postponed again on 10th the next possible Sunday (due to committee availability, Christmas and New Year) will be 7th January.

We have had very positive messages of support from Premier Marinas so we are hopeful that this will extend to more storage facilities and other practical measures. In turn, SMAC will continue to attract new members and new berth holders for them!

The Mandela Cup competition will be held on Saturday 30th December, to be followed by our traditional annual curry. This time it will be at one of the Albert Road establishments in Southsea. Details and a poll of members intending to go will be circulated separately.

Our Presentation Night will be held on Saturday 2nd March in the Marina Bar. This year the cost of glass prize replicas has increased considerably, so instead we will be giving out vouchers from our two main tackle shop sponsors, Fish-On and Cosham Angling.

The January meeting will be held a week later than normal due to New Year, so we’ll see you on 9th January 2024.

SMAC Open Cod Competition 2023

*** Please note: if the competition is postponed from 10th December due to bad weather, the next date will be 7th January 2024 ***

This will be our 6th Open Boat Cod Competition from Southsea Marina and it gets better and better. As usual the First Prize will be a whopping 60% of all the entry money, Second Prize 30% of entry and a table full of runner-up prizes from our generous sponsors. Heaviest cod wins, and if we run out of cod the heaviest whiting will count. Ladies and Junior (under 16) Bonus Prizes too. Sign in at Southsea Marina £10 per angler in cash or online with Eventbrite (booking fee applies). Fishing 8am to 4pm, weigh-in by 5:30pm at the Marina and presentations in the Marina Bar at 6pm.

October and November 2023

Oh dear. After the lovely weather we had in September, we have lost so many fishing days to the weather that I have had to roll two months into one. On the plus side my boat is back in the water, but if the last two short trips were anything to go by the summer species seemed to be moving off and the winter run of whiting hadn’t really started. Towards the end of November things started looking up and some codling and whiting started to feature in catches. Big conger are on their winter prowl so what you hope is a good cod is usually one of these.  The best cod reported so far are up to around 18lbs with most in single figures. Bass and rays make up the rest of the notable catches (ignoring dogfish of course). The SMAC Open Cod Competition has been postponed due to bad weather for several weeks in a row, but hopefully we will be able to report on that next month.

Catch Report September 2023

September was gloriously sunny which was good news for me as my boat is out of the water for some serious work. Hopefully it will be completed before the weather breaks. Calm late summer evenings are when we look for sole, and the SMAC Sole Night was very successful. Plenty of sole were caught, although mostly very small. Bites came from sunset to darkness,  then it went quiet so it was time to go home.  As you can see from the photo gallery there were plenty of the usual Solent species caught this month, plus a very good turbot for Steve Tambling. Squid can be caught from rocky marks. Bream seem to stay on later and later in recent years, and what was once a September run of codling doesn’t seem to happen. We’ll see if any turn up next month!

Langstone and Chichester Harbours Seal Survey

Help please! This survey is being conducted by the University of Portsmouth as a part of a Marine Biology undergraduate project about seals, their threats, conservation, and the public’s attitudes towards them in the Solent. The project is being run by Isabelle Barnsley, BSc Marine Biology student at the University of Portsmouth and she is hoping to include local club members and local berth holders in her research into the interaction between the resident seal population and leisure use of the Harbours.

If you would like to take part, please follow this link: Seal Survey

If you have any questions of comments you can contact Isabelle on the email address in the flyer below.

SMAC Bait Supplies

We have our own in-house supplier of frozen squid at a very competitve price! SMAC member Peter Atkinson runs the wet and smoked fish retailer Anyfish based in Bishop’s Waltham, and also charters his boat Dotty which is based in Southsea Marina.  Pete is supplying 5lb boxes to members at only £18 (but check prices as these can change). These can be collected from his shop or by arrangement Pete can deliver to the marina. For enquiries and orders contact Pete by email or phone 07860 920007

Other baits in smaller quantities can still be bought from the Premier Marinas office at Southsea Marina.

SMAC Meeting November 2023

Our stalwart members have got used to the cold dark evenings and this month turned out in force to support the SMAC get-together in the Marina Bar. John Wearn kept us supplied with chewy sweets while we waited for the formalities to begin. Steve put the finishing touches to his paperwork, last meal orders were put in, drinks topped up and we were off.

First item was a review of the club competition standings, which you can read below. Then came Fish Of The Month, and because of the recent weather the list was very short. I was surprised there were any, given the severity of the storms. Nevertheless, we had a vote and the top specimen was a 10lb 2oz Bull Huss earning Mick Beatty a medal and a tenner.

The Cod Pool is still open and currently stands at £320. The only cod entered so far is a very junior 3lb something so if you haven’t put your money down, hurry up because that next cod could be worth a lot.

The last order of our Anniversary t-shirts has now been distributed, and thanks to all the members that supported this.

A quick update on The Shed Saga, Episode 4. The original shed used by SMAC members has now gone back to Premier for re-letting. The number of members wanting shed space puts the total requirement outside the scope of what SMAC funds can cover, so we recommend that those members who want to combine forces to share a shed with freezer space do so without involving SMAC. We have been promised “something” by Premier for the limited club requirements but unfortunately this won’t cover the wider needs of individual members.

The Cod Open Competition will roll on from Sunday to Sunday until we have a suitable weather window.

The Nelson Mandela Cup (a SMAC event) is traditionally held in that quiet period between Christmas and New Year when our families want rid of us and this year will be held on 30th December. We will fish 8am to 2pm, with plenty of bar time afterwards. Largest cod or if no cod largest whiting will win.

Rumours abound regarding frozen squid availability, but there are some in 1Kg boxes in the marina office freezer for £12 a box.

Club funds stand at a healthy £2,302.29 which means we can have a very jolly Presentation Night. This will be on 2nd March 2024 in the Marina Bar. Families welcome, there will be a free drink for members and a free buffet. There will be a presentation of cups if we can get the prize cabinet open. Steve has accidently thrown the keys away – does anyone know a locksmith? Otherwise we will just have to point to them instead of giving them, which could make the award photographs a little awkward.

Next meeting will be on Tuesday 5th December. Nobody has mentioned Winter Bar Times so far so unless you hear otherwise it will be 7pm as usual.

2023 Inter-Club Competition

The BBC called it “unseasonably warm” and we called it great weather for the annual Inter-Club competition – sunny and calm. We could have done with a bit more tide but that’s being a bit picky, considering how often competitions are blown off completely. The competition is between four local clubs: SMAC, ECA, SSAC and LHFA. This year a total of 27 anglers and 15 boats fished for the Largest Specimen – one prize, a cup and winner takes all on the prize money.

LHFA won last year, so this year they were hosting. It’s a great excuse to visit, because their clubhouse is very pleasant and the evening views from the deck are delightful. Throughout the day a lot of large bull huss were caught, plus bass and rays. A report came in of an enormous bass of 14lb caught by an ECA member, but unfortunately for him he hadn’t entered the competition. All was not lost for ECA though, because Wayne Comben boated the winning fish, a bull huss of 11lb 7oz which is a 94% specimen weight or thereabouts, depending on whose list you are looking at. Ray Plomer, winner of the 2022 competition presented the prize. Congratulations Wayne, he consistently proves he’s a great angler. Although privately I’m thinking he’s winning a lot these days. Should we introduce handicaps like they have in horse racing – maybe slow him down a bit by filling his pockets with 1lb lead weights? Continuing the tradition, next year ECA will be hosting and Wayne will be presenting the prize to the 2024 Inter-Club winner. It was a great day, well supported and a good demonstration of the collaboration and friendly rivalry between our three clubs.

Next up will be the SMAC Open Cod Competition on 5th November – see you there.

SMAC Meeting October 2023

Evenings are drawing in and Portsmouth were playing at home so perhaps that’s why we had just a few of our core supporters at the meeting. OK, so some people had Covid and others had to work, but those are pretty poor excuses. Anyway, with our small but merry band we quickly proceeded with our agenda so some of us could go over to the ECA for the Langstone Harbour Meeting, more of that later.

Steve went through the current standings which are reproduced below. The Species Hunt Cup leadership is changing daily because the top three (at least) are very close. Do remember to photograph your fish before throwing it back though.

There were several eligible catches for the Fish Of The Month medal, but in the end the important decision was which fish would Steve Tambling win with and we decided a turbot of 7lb 9oz was the best candidate.

The Cod Pool stands at £240 so if you haven’t paid, get your £10 to Steve before you catch that winning cod. You can’t pay afterwards!

The Inter-Club competition will be hosted by LHFA this Sunday 8th October, but you can sign in at the Southsea Marina Office. £5 entry, winner takes all for Best Specimen.

The Cod Open is most likely to be held on Sunday 5th November, weather permitting.  Hold the date and more details to follow, but it’s highly likely to be exactly the same as all the other years we have run it.

The last order for our 10-Year Anniversary printed t-shirts and polo shirts is being put together, so if you don’t want to miss out please order on this form before 9th October.

Finally – an update on the shed which we have used for storage. As the tenant who allowed us to use the shed is leaving the marina, we urgently need alternative storage. Premier have asked us what space we need so Steve, Stuart and I will put together a request for Premier to consider.

The next SMAC monthly meeting will be on 7th November. There being no other business, a few of the few nipped over to the ECA for the advertised Langstone Harbour Advisory Board meeting. Just quickly on that, because it’s not SMAC business really but it is relevant. As we hadn’t read the leaflet properly it wasn’t quite what we were expecting. Anyway, it was interesting and the bar was rammed with mostly sailing and environmental folk. There were four presentations from different organisations each with an interest in the Harbour.

First up was Solent Seascape Project, with some decent funding and can actually demonstrate some practical results in improving the marine environment – oyster beds, seagrass, kelp beds etc.  The Trawler-Free Zone on the Sussex coast shows that the seabed recovers surprisingly quickly. The Clean Harbours Partnership presentation was about monitoring storm discharges by the water companies and didn’t seem to have much in the way of practical proposals to be honest. We are all frustrated by the lack of direct Govenment intervention on this.

Langstone Harbour Board’s message was about the future use of the Harbour and supporting commercial use, leisure use and environmental protection. We know from the Annual Report there is a huge deficit in their budget, mainly because of the drop in revenue from dredgers and leisure use. They are currently exploring more ways of increasing revenue, some being commercial services but others being considered include walk-ashore moorings instead of swinging moorings. It’s good that they are trying to fill the funding gap rather than waiting for the Council to make them cut costs. Final presentation was from Fay Pasani of the RSPB who is acting for the Three Harbours Partnership. She has the probably impossible job of aligning 20 stakeholder organisations into a common strategy. This did appear vague at present but the intention is good – to have multiple partnerships with a common goal rather than the separate, conflicting and overlapping activities that are happening at present. Her presentation style reminded me of Sarah Pascoe which was a nice thought to end on.

Thank you ECA for hosting another interesting evening.

Tracking Sharks and Rays

On 2nd October we were treated to an excellent workshop presentation by Dr Peter Davies from the University of Plymouth, hosted by ECA. The purpose of the tagging project is to gather data on fish behaviour and movement in our local waters. Species included in the project are bream, tope, smoothhound and undulate rays, although data is also being gathered from other species such as bass and shad that have tagged by neighbouring projects and wandered into our patch.

Earlier tagging exercises relied on visible tags being recovered and this only showed where a fish’s journey started and ended. Advances in technology have now made it possible to gather much more information and at a more granular level. It even shows individual fish movements during a 24-hour cycle as well as much longer journeys such as to the Netherlands and the Channel Islands.

Fish are first caught by line and a transmitter is surgically embedded in their bodies. A visible tag is added so that if a fish is caught later on it can be released, or at least the transmitter can be recovered. The transmitter has a battery life of 10 years. The fish movement data is recorded by a network of devices laid on the seabed in key areas which are periodically raised to collect the data files for analysis.

The project is already gathering valuable information which can be used to make fact-based decisions on how to best protect fish stocks. This is surely better than the near guesswork which seems to have driven some of the decisions made previously.  The data will give a better understanding of the use of breeding locations, how long fish stay in specific areas, how far to they range and how well they survive catch and release handling.

As part of this programme to communicate with local angling groups, Peter explained how to spot a tagged fish and what to do with it. Basically, this to keep a record of the tag details and then quickly put it back in the sea because it has a rather special mission. There is a copy of the information leaflet below for sharks and rays. Tagged bream are more difficult to spot because they have a small yellow stamp on their dorsal fin (pictured).

The workshop concluded with an extensive Q&A session which demonstrated the keen interest in this project. However one question which had been on everyone’s mind was finally raised. Where did Peter get that brilliant t-shirt? We all wanted one.

Program Partners include the Professional Boatman’s Association with our own Stuart Newall (Harvest Moon); Natural England; Angling Trust and Southern IFCA.

For further information or to report tagged fish, please contact


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