Boat Angling

The web site for eastern Solent boat fishing

Page 2 of 27

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!

SMAC Monthly Meeting April 2022

We had another (nearly) full house for the April meeting in the Marina Bar – thank you to all that turned up. It was great to welcome new members and catch up with old friends who have been hibernating through the un-fishy months previously. Hopefully, April and May will see an improvement on the dogfish/pin whiting catches that we have had to endure on trips recently.

However – some people have been catching decent fish and this month we actually had to vote on Fish of the Month, unlike last month. And on that subject, we had to make a correction for the No Fish of the Month in March because Peter Churchill actually did catch a half-decent tope and for reason that escape me (because I wasn’t listening) the entry wasn’t put forward. Pete got his medal but I think his prize money had already gone into the RNLI envelope.

But back to this month – Neil Glazier won Fish of the Month with a 12lb small-eyed ray which is 109% of the specimen weight. Other club competition standings are as follows.

On to other news: the weigh scales shed is about to be painted (in regulation Premier Marina colours), and a tube heater installed to keep the scales cosy. Apparently the scales get sleepy if they get too cold and they need to be on top form for the rare occasions when a fish worth weighing turns up.

After not much debate it was decided that the Awards Night will be held on the Saturday after the Open Bream Competition. If that seems vague, it gets worse because although the Bream Competition is scheduled for Sunday 1st May, it may get postponed to the following Sundays if the weather is unsuitable. I hope that makes things clear. I also hope the Marina Bar are following this because that’s where we will hold the Awards Night, whenever that may be. It seemed to make sense last night anyway.

Daven Newnham has donated this very nice Bream Trophy (heading photo) for the Best Placed Member in the Open Bream Competition. The competition prize list is very impressive, see details below. Angling Trust Boat Rules apply – maximum two rods, thee hooks in total.

Neville Merritt thanked members for their orders of SMAC hoodies, the first of which were distributed at the meeting. These hoodies are Fairtrade certified and sourced directly from the cotton growers, fabric makers and garment factories in India, so you know for sure that your money is funding the people who make them rather than the owners of sweatshops. You can buy online here, or if you prefer to pay cash talk to Neville, or more accurately give cash to Neville and he will organise a hoodie for you. Here’s Steve modelling his SMAC Hoodie.

If you have any photos, news of catches or fishy stories please send them in to Neville for inclusion in the next Catch Reports. Whatsapp, text, Facebook Messenger or email.

Next meeting will be on Tuesday 3rd May unless otherwise advised.


Neville Merritt

6th April

Storm Eunice

I’m sure Storm Eunice isn’t news to anyone by now, but it might be interesting to share some boat-related stories local to Portsmouth.  Eunice, the most severe storm was actually sandwiched between two other storms, Dudley and Frankin, so we had three successive storms battering the UK in mid February.  Eunice hit us on Friday 18th and despite plenty of warnings and preparation, there was still plenty of damage.

The storm itself is well documented in this article. As you can see from this map, the Red warnings go right across the south of England which is unusual – most of the severe storms in the past have have more impact on the north of the country.

The storm created and coincided with a tidal surge and the strong winds and this high tide proved too much for the floating crane in Pounds Marine ship breaker’s yard. It broke loose and floated itself over to the M275 where it came to rest, uncomfortably close the the motorway. There it stayed until there was another very high tide a couple of weeks later, allowing it to be recovered.

The weather station at the Needles Battery recorded a record gust strength of 122mph at the peak of the storm. Winds of this strength proved too much for some of the the Camber Dock dry stack occupants.

Our neighbours in the ECA have the disadvantage that their boat storage yard is very exposed to southern winds, and one of the yachts took a tumble taking several others down with it (feature photo above).  The high tide pushed boats in Southsea Marina above the normal protection of the basin but fortunately, and a lot to do with the diligence of the Premier Marina crew, very little damage was recorded.  The new SMAC weighing shed didn’t move an inch either, and I’m sure the members that built it (and there seemed to be a lot of people involved) will be reminding us of this fact for years to come.

According to the notice below, there was another casualty of the storms although I’m not sure exactly when this vessel actually sank. Langstone Harbour took a battering for several days, and even the Hayling Island bridge was closed to traffic for a while as water washed over it. Sadly, an 11 metre catamaran sank at its mooring near the Mulberry wreck. From memory it didn’t have a mast which probably explains why there is still four metres of water above it. It will probably be recovered to ensure it doesn’t move to a more dangerous location.

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?





SMAC Monthly Meeting March 2022

It was wet. It was windy. Nobody had caught much. Portsmouth were playing at home. Folk were working. Kev was playing midwife to lambs. We thought it would just be Steve, Steve and me at the meeting but surprisingly we had a great turnout! Thank you everyone for coming along and thanks also to the Marina Bar for staying open for us.

Fish of the Month turned out to be…nothing. The £10 prize went into the growing RNLI jam jar and the medal went back in the box. Better luck next month hopefully.

The Species Competition fared very slightly better, slightly because it is only just more than also being zero. Jake Kelly surges into the lead in the Junior Species league with one fish and Peter Churchill rockets up the main Species Competition with two.

The new Bass Regulations 2022 are now in force which means that recreational anglers can take a maximum of two bass over 42cm length per day. If that sentence is too difficult to understand, the North Western IFCA have produced a helpful visual. I’m not sure what that says about their local anglers, but anyway.

The Annual Awards Night is likely to be held in the Marina Bar some time in April, COVID confidence permitting. Watch out for the notice. There will be prizes, there will probably be a drink, there might also be snacks. It will be a good night anyway. Bring family along too, to show them what civilised company you keep during the year.

We had a reminder of the Open Bream Competition, scheduled for 1st May 2022. The prize table is growing nicely with contributions already from Baits ‘R Us, Marina Bar, Premier and local tackle shops.

The Sea Angling Classic Prize Boat Reveal will be at 12noon on 19th March at Gunwharf Quay. This isn’t a SMAC event but as SAC donate prizes to SMAC competitions they deserve a mention.

The first SMAC Hoodies order will be processed on 9th March so if you want free delivery at the April Meeting please place your order here by 9th March and mark your order Click and Collect. You can order at any time if you want delivery to your home address with the standard delivery charge. If you have already paid Neville at the March meeting, these will be delivered at the April meeting.

Neville also reminded those present that he welcomes any catch reports, photos, stories, news and gossip for inclusion in the monthly Catch Report on the website. News has been a bit sparse lately because of a combination of the season and the weather.

If members have not paid their annual subscription please can you do so as soon as possible, to Steve Kelly. If you for some strange reason don’t want to renew, please tell him that too.

Next meeting will be at 7:30pm on 5th April in the Marina Bar.

Neville Merritt

March 2022

New SMAC Open Bream Competition Announced

Here’s something to look forward to: Southsea Marina Angling Club have had such a successful run of Open Cod Competitions over the last few winters that we decided that we couldn’t wait until next season for another Open Competition so we are announcing our first Open Bream Competition for this summer. It will be held on Sunday 1st May 2022 from Southsea Marina. Sign in at the Marina Office, entry fee £10 per angler. Fishing from 8am to 6pm, weigh-in must be complete by 6:30pm and this will be followed by presentations in the Marina Bar at 7pm.

There will be generous cash prizes and a prize table to be confirmed. There will also be a Ladies prize and a Junior prize.

Put the date in your diary!


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.

SMAC AGM February 2022

Thank you to everyone who came along to the meeting which was the best attended – and longest – of any of the SMAC meetings I can remember. Was it to hear the results of the nail-biting competition finale? Was it because a fight was anticipated over proposed rule changes? Was it because it wasn’t worth going fishing? Who can tell. Anyway, Steve Kelly opened the meeting and asked if anyone wanted to propose themselves to take on any of the Club Officer roles. Everyone was smart enough to keep very quiet and the current incumbents will continue their positions through 2022.

  • Chairman – Steve Kelly
  • Deputy Chairman and Competition Officer – Chris Evans
  • Commodore – Tim Andrews
  • Treasurer – Bill Arnold
  • Social Secretary – Steve Andrews
  • Publicity, Cook, strategic negotiator etc. – Neville Merritt

I can’t actually remember crossing the line between being coerced into writing Catch Reports for a now-defunct mag and having my name up there but hey, it’s all fun.

Next up was a reminder that fees are due for 2022, and you can’t enter any fish into competitions until you are a paid-up member. £20 each to Steve Kelly please, or more accurately, the cashbox.

The AGM marks the end of one club year and the start of the next, so the winners of the club cups were announced. The final tally is listed on the sheet below and the winners include:

  • Kevin Johnson – Champions Cup; Bass Cup; Pollack Cup; Catch-and-Release Cup
  • Tim Andrews – Bream Cup; Best Specimen Cup; Pairs Cup; Nelson Mandela Cup
  • Mark Banks – Plaice Cup; Pairs Cup
  • Brian Van Daal – Cod Cup; Cod Pool
  • Pete Churchill – Species Hunt (27); Open Cod Comp Best Placed Member
  • Bill Arnold – Species Hunt Day Competition
  • Eleanor Atkins – Ladies Cup; Ladies Species Hunt (7)
  • Ben Lumsden – Junior Cup;
  • Jake Kelly – Junior Species Hunt (7)

January Fish of the Month: out of nine entries, John Jones won with a conger of 70lb (feature photo) on the basis that a) it was  a good fish and b) he bravely risked losing his ear to it.

It was decided to roll the annual Presentation Night, usually held in February, forward to later in the Spring when hopefully COVID risks will reduce and members and families will be more confident about going to socials.

Chris Ellis proposed a Summer Open Competition to be held in August. Ross Honey from SAC is keen to promote the event and feature the SAC winning boat. Two options were discussed; a mini-SAC five-species competition, or a full species competition as organised by Chris last year. A members’ vote opted for the full species competition.

An Open Bream Competition will be held on 1st May. Club funds will be boosted by retaining 10% of the entry fee, the balance to be distributed as prizes.

Proposed Rule Changes: after much discussion it was agreed that Rule 9 restricting anglers to fish SMAC competitions from an annual berth holder’s boat could be waived in individual circumstances on the agreement of the Club Officers. The club Rule Sheet will be updated. In the interests of keeping things simple, other rule changes discussed were not adopted.

Finally, Neville Merritt showed the SMAC Hoodies from Fairtrade brand SU-stainable, with sample sizes to try on. Due to the high level of interest from members, the company will set up a dedicated ordering page accessible from the SMAC website page. Delivery will be to home addresses for a fixed delivery fee, or for the first batch of orders delivery to the marina for collection will be free of charge. More details will be circulated when the ordering page is live.

Next Meeting: Tuesday 1st March, 7:30pm in the Marina Bar.

Neville Merritt




SMAC Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the club will be held at 7:30pm on Tuesday 1st February in the Marina Bar. Results of all the annual competitions will be announced. Also on the agenda is an Open Bream Comp, Open Species Comp, Presentation Night, voting on Club Officers, Rule amendments plus any other subject brought up by members present.

Subscriptions for the year will be due from 1st February: £20 per person, concession for Juniors.

I will also be bringing samples and try-on sizes for the 2022 SMAC draw-string hoodie so if you are interested you can see the quality and try for fit. These are made to order in batches so we need to have a few folk interested before we can commit to supplying them.

See you there!


Farewell Moonshine

January 2022 marks the end of a significant era: the charter boat Moonshine will no longer be seen around the eastern Solent skippered by Pete Churchill. Pete and Moonshine have been together for 31 years and together they built a tremendous reputation in the charter fishing community.

Even if they don’t know Pete Churchill, many boat anglers will be familiar with the blue and white 10metre Starfish charter boat which would often be seen on the usual marks, fully booked with parties of very happy anglers. Moonshine was based in Southsea Marina and Pete Churchill has been active member of the Southsea Marina Angling Club.

Sadly, all good things come to an end and when Pete decided to finally retire from chartering, it was also time for Moonshine to go to a new home.

In early January, Moonshine was loaded onto a transporter for the journey to her new owner in Grimsby. This was rather fitting because the SMDAC boat Lady Elsa, often berthed alongside Moonshine came to Southsea from Grimsby. Maybe they compared notes.

It is sad to see Moonshine go and it must be a real wrench for Pete, but we will still see him around Southsea Marina. He has bought Seabiscuit with SMAC member Bill Arnold. We look forward to following their joint fishing adventures and I’m sure they will carry on competing with each other for the SMAC competition prizes as they have done so successfully before.

Here’s one of many testimonials from happy Moonshine customers:

“Moonshine is a 29ft starfish skippered by Pete Churchill, in my view one of the better skippers around. Pete and Moonshine are responsible for plenty of big fish including two 80+ Tope one a British record breaking 84lb, Blonde rays over 38lb, many Smoothhounds over 20lb, lots of 20+ Cod, massive Plaice, lots of tea, and the list goes on. He even caught a juvenile Thresher shark on Mackerel feathers!” – FishyNige

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2022 Boat Angling

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑