Boat Angling

The web site for eastern Solent boat fishing

Category: Catch Reports 2020

Langstone Catch Report July 2020

After all those weeks of lockdown with calm sunny days, the inevitable happened. We were allowed back onto our boats and the wind got up and the rain started to fall. Actually it wasn’t that bad, we have had plenty of fishable days and for those on a more “flexible” working arrangement there have been enough fishable days to give us a great gallery of catch photos this month. The socially distanced queue for bait at our local tackle shop was a sign that things are kind of getting back to normal.

May to June are excellent months in the Eastern Solent calendar. The bream are still here, smoothhounds have arrived, large tope are here to breed and there are plenty of mackerel for bait and the BBQ. All these in addition to our residents of rays, bass and lesser species keep the rod tips active.

Calmer days allow boats to push well offshore to the channel wrecks. Kev Johnson shows the quality of pollack available if you find the right wreck. If you scale the tackle down you can catch some exceptional bream on the wrecks, best on that trip was 3lb 13oz. As Arron Shons demonstrates, you can also find some lunker wrasse with pollack lures. There are some cod on the wrecks too. One of the dangers of prolonged inactivity is that boat engines can suffer, and it pays to check them over carefully and run them up before heading out. There has been a record number of callouts to Sea Start, our local “AA” for boats. Kev Johnson towed a boat back from his wrecking trip – broken down, no VHF and no lifejackets. They were lucky he was passing.

We are fortunate to have eminent marine biologist Bill Arnold as a member of SMAC, and he is a goldmine of information about fish species. I learned something new from Bill – he sent me pictures of two cuckoo wrasse he caught – male and female. Apparently they are all female at birth and change if they feel the need later in their lives (so that’s not a new thing). As you can see the male is much brighter and his job is to lure predators away from the nest where the female protects the young. Sounds like a dangerous existence. Thanks Bill for the biology lesson!

On to larger species, the tope fishing has been excellent and we have some great catches shown by Dave Jordisan, Dean Lodge, Josh Carter, Pete Brown and a personal best for Tony Myatt. There were also some good rays boated – Bill Arnold again with a blonde ray of 17.5lb; Kris Scott topped it with a 21lb blonde and a good undulate ray. Scott Gardner fishing off Selsey shows a good thornback ray and an excellent smoothhound of 19lb. Tim Andrews has one of our less common catches, a turbot.

Meanwhile the SMAC Ladies competitions standings were overturned with a nice bream from Hayley Ellis and she now also leads the Ladies Species Table.

We are hoping for more great fishing in the coming month before the tope and bream move off. August can be quiet but that is still plenty of fishing weeks away. See you next month.

Neville Merritt

Southsea Marina Angling Club

Sea Angling News

Cracking Bass

Here’s a nice photo to share, a cracking bass caught by Oliver Aubrey-Thomas from a mark south of Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex. It was tempted by a bait of fresh squid, fished on the bottom.

Langstone Catch Report June 2020

After weeks of lockdown watching day after day of perfect fishing weather pass us by, we could hardly believe our luck when restrictions on fishing and private boating were eventually eased and we were blessed by a few days of calm and sunshine.

Most people with boats on moorings and in marinas hadn’t even been able to visit them to make sure all was well, although it was nice that the marina staff at Southsea Marina kept an eye on the boats and even sent us a phot if we wished. It wasn’t the same though, and when we got the green light there was a rush to get boats in the water, checked over and out to sea.

Social distancing still applies so it was “families only” for boat-owners, and single occupancy for charter vessels. I think most people were just happy to get a line in the water and the sun on their faces, and it certainly made a welcome change from Zoom meetings, queueing down the street to buy a carton of milk or wearing a groove in the same old park walk.

Even though we have only had a week or so of actual fishing to report on this month, the results have been surprisingly good. You may recall from the Local Guide we published in the previous issue of SAN, in May we can expect seasonal visitors of some big tope, bream over the rocky marks, smoothhound, plaice, the first mackerel and of course all the residence species.

Team Crawford (Heber, Heber Junior and Archie) found quality tope south of the Island and an epic trip included a personal best for Heber with a tope of 60lb plus.

Bream are plentiful if you get the tide and location right. My daughter Aedy and I fished a popular bream mark and only managed to land one. When we returned to the marina we found that another boat which had been on the same mark at 5am caught 60 (only keeping a few for the table). On another day, Arron Shons located some very good specimens and also boated the spectacular cuckoo wrasse which in those colours and weather conditions looks like it belongs in the tropics.

One of the problems of “social distance fishing” is that there is nobody to take your photo so unless you have a family member present or are proficient with the self-timer, you don’t get the fish and the angler in the same frame. Nevertheless Tim Andrews reported this nice blonde ray and a brill.

The combination of warmer winters and bass conservation measures has meant that bass are now much more plentiful, and the sizes are increasing steadily too. We can now keep two bass per angler per day over the MLS of 42cm. Drifting over the banks south of the Nab Tower and southeast of Selsey produce good catches, and boats reported plenty over 4lbs in size.

It seems to be a human trait to respond to adverse situations like the current crisis with humour. Thanks to Bill Arnold for his bream complying with precautionary measures, and the social comment from the fish point of view!

Let’s hope that all the efforts we are making to control this virus remain effective so we can progressively return to normal, including more charter trips and catch reports.

Neville Merritt

Southsea Marina Angling Club

Sea Angling News

Langstone Catch Report March 2020

The highlight of this month’s report was Southsea Marina Angling Club’s Awards Night which we combined with Southsea Marina Disabled Angling Club. More by good luck than anything, we held it just days before the progressive shut-down of social activities which will also stop our monthly club meetings and SMDAC boat trips for a while.

Rupert Bremer, manager of Southsea Marina was our first VIP guest and presented the prizes to SMDAC winners. Club champion was John Wearn who also won Best Cod, Hambrook cup, SMAC Bream Cup and was SMAC Champion Runner-up. Runner-up to SMDAC Champion was George Dominy who should really be called George InDominitable because despite being well into his eighties George is a regular fisher. He won the Pier and Beach cup and was placed highly in the Lakes competitions. Jon Leythorne collected four prizes including Best Specimen with a spurdog of 21lb.

We then welcomed our second VIP guest, Nick Wallis who as manager of Allan’s Marine has been supporting our clubs for many years. Sadly the shop is now closed but we made sure Nick will still be associated with us by forcing him to accept a lifetime membership of SMAC (and a nice goblet) as a token of our sincere appreciation. Nick and Rupert presented a further 19 awards and as space here is limited I can only include a few. Ray Plomer is Club Champion and also won the Plaice Cop. Tim Andrews our Club Commodore won the Bass Cup plus the Pairs Cup with Mark Banks. Kris Scott won the Cod Cup and John Jones the Pollack Cup.

Ladies were represented too: Natalie Arnold won the Ladies Cup and Kelly Rowen the Ladies Species Cup. Jake Kelly won the Junior Cup and Junior Species Cup and he must have been taught well because his dad Steve Kelly won Best Specimen Cup with a sole of 2lb 9oz.

One of the novel attractions of the evening was a large display board made up by Bill Arnold, illustrating all the successes by club members that were featured in Sea Angling News.

“In other news”….there is almost no other news. For the fist time I can remember, the weather has been so consistently bad for an entire month that not a single fish was entered for the SMAC Fish of the Month medal. Fortunately one or two boats have managed to nip out between blows and found that fish are still there to be caught.

Dean Gibbs shows a bass of 8lb caught on a live whiting – returned because the catch limits didn’t come in until 1st March. You might think that bass looks smaller than it is but in fact it’s Dean that is dwarfing the fish, he’s 6’8”! His father Robin Gibbs shows one of many congers caught, this one was 40lb. As the sea temperatures start to rise the conger will return to their lairs and won’t be roaming the open marks in such numbers.

There were a few spurdog still around but they will probably have gone by April. Those boats that managed to get as far as the offshore wrecks had some excellent sport with some very good pollack such as this beauty from Heber Crawford.

More recently, plaice have begun to appear and the early ones will be very skinny after spawning. John Evans started the new SMAC competition year off with a plaice of 2lb 2oz.

These are very challenging times for many of us. Some charter skippers are no longer taking groups, others are carrying on as long as possible taking great care with hygiene. Those with their own boats can create a social distance of several miles which is probably as low-risk as you can get at the moment!

(edited – going out in your boat is banned due to the current Coronavirus lockdown)

To read the full magazine online click here

Langstone Catch Report February 2020

Thanks to Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis putting paid to two weekends since the last report, we have only had half the opportunities to go out. Fewer than that actually, because the weather around the storms hasn’t been great either. I expect the inshore mussel beds will have been rearranged so the plaice marks will have to be re-discovered. On the plus side, if you wanted to stock up on slipper limpet for bait there were plenty strewn all over the shingle beaches.

Pride of place in this report is an impressive cod caught by Dean Gibbs from his own boat, fishing in deep water south of the Nab Tower. A squid bait lured this 22lb 10oz fish, big by any standard along this coast and particularly impressive given how few cod of any size have been caught this winter.

This month we are between the winter season and the spring run of fish, although smoothhound and garfish associated with summer have confused everybody by turning up in January! Debbie Harvey shows off her smoothhound with the white cliffs of the Isle of Wight in the background, a popular mark throughout the seasons. Ray tend not to be migratory and can be caught at any time. On the same trip Debbie also landed this nice thornback ray. Jason Gillespie was also fishing south of the Nab with squid bait and instead of the hoped-for cod he instead boated this impressive blonde ray of 28lb.

The winter run of spurdog have thinned out now but some are still being caught. Heber Crawford shows a nice specimen with the distinctive first and second dorsal spines.

February is traditionally a good month for the larger pollack from the mid-channel wrecks, if there is a weather window allowing small boats to reach them safely. Arron Shons was delighted with his 20lb pollack, and a number of other big doubles on the same trip. Kev Johnson shows another good pollack, caught during much calmer weather before the storms arrived.

We have an active community of young anglers locally and it is great to see their success – even if sometimes they out-fish us. James Smith aged 10 caught this 30lb conger on mackerel and squid by himself, although as you can see he needed help to lift it off the deck because it’s as long as he is.

Our near neighbour the Eastney Cruising Association Fishing Club held their awards night recently. Young Levin Bellinger won the ECA Junior Cup and an Angling Trust medal for his 2lb 14oz bream. Jake Kelly won the Junior Species Cup, the Wrasse Hat and an Angling Trust medal for a small-eyed ray weighing 8lb.

Many of the charter boats take February off for a re-fit before the spring run of fish. They are mostly back in the water raring to go so if we can find some quieter weather before the next issue of SAN we should be reporting on the first plaice caught. I think many of us are relieved the disappointing cod season is over and we are all looking forward to the arrival of more smoothhound, bream and tope in the next few months.

By the way, Arron Shons is the Redgill prizewinner in this month’s SAN! Congratulations.

Hampshire sea angling

Cod do exist!

A big thank you to Dean Gibbs for giving us hope. Dean caught this 22lb 10oz cod recently on a squid bait fishing from his boat south of the Nab Tower. Congratulations Dean, a rare feat.

Langstone Report January 2020

Many of us have a few extra days off work around the “Holiday Season”, as Christmas now appears to be called, so you would expect December to provide more fishing opportunities. However, the competition for our time from family and social commitments conspires to make those opportunities fewer not more. Nevertheless, many of us did find a few windows where weather, tides and families allowed us to go out.

Alas, the much sought-after cod were not so obliging. In fact, they have now been re-named unicorns because they are so rare in the eastern Solent. We have had some poor cod seasons in the past but this year is among the worst on record, partly due to the low stocks but also probably also because of the higher sea temperatures which would discourage them from moving inshore during winter.

Southsea Marina Angling Club held its annual Mandela Cup on the 28th December – it is “winner takes all” for the largest cod. Wisely, the rules allow for the largest whiting if no cod are caught. In the event, no cod were caught and some respectable whiting were weighed in. Competition winner was Peter Churchill with a whiting of 1lb 10oz. Aedy Merritt weighed in a whiting just an ounce less but unfortunately, in this competition there are no second prizes!

Peter must know the good spots because a few days later 10 year-old James Smith caught a 2lb whiting from Peter’s boat. One or two cod have come along, although on the small side compared to previous seasons. John Wearn of the Southsea Marina Disabled Angling Club shows a Solent codling of 2lb 2oz which is large enough to be placed third in the SMAC Cod Cup which runs all season. This really indicates what a struggle the cod fishing has become in this area.

On the other hand, bass fishing has been prolific.  Dave Ford and Heber Crawford show off some double figure fish while Luke Scott shows what can be caught on inshore marks. We are seeing large shoals of sprats on our fishfinders, providing plenty of food for the bass which we are seeing in healthy numbers now. Hunting packs of bass can be indicated by flocks of gulls overhead but unlike in summer, the action is much deeper in the water. Slow jigging at depth will find the fish, although it is strictly catch and release for bass at the moment. We are pleased the bass rules for 2020 allow two fish per day to be retained between 1st March and 30th November which is more than in previous seasons.

Further out, boats have been targeting the winter run of spurdog and also picking up some nice rays. Conger continue to roam open ground and range in size from small strap conger to 40lb and above. If you like catching conger, they provide some rod-bending action but I can’t pretend they are welcome in my boat.

We have just experienced a very violent storm so that will have stirred things up – perhaps there is still a chance of a cod before next report? We shall see.

© 2020 Boat Angling

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑