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Category: Catch Reports 2021 (Page 1 of 2)

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.

Nevile Merritt

SMAC, December 2021

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

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 Early October Fishing Report

The first week of October has been windy so when the forecast was for a calm weekend a lot of local boat anglers grabbed the opportunity and headed out. The mornings were initially very misty but within a few hours the visibility improved. The strong winds of the previous week had left murky water and a bit of a swell but otherwise all we had to contend with were strong tides, plenty of weed and an easterly wind. Nothing is ever quite right is it?

Birds can still be seen working over shoals of baitfish being attacked from below, but the attackers are now shoals of small bass as most of the mackerel have now dispersed.

Bass fishing on the banks has been superb with good catches of quality fish. Kev Johnson and his bass are our Featured Photo above. An unusually high number of bull huss have been caught on local marks. Although bull huss are not unknown, they are more commonly caught on deeper marks. Dave Ford caught two of 12lbs and a very nice small-eyed ray of 11lbs.

In previous years, larger bream have moved offshore leaving hordes of tiny bream behind to shred our baits. This year we have been catching good quality bream right into October – fish strip fished near or on the bottom seems to work well. Here’s a nice bream caught by Jim Atkins.

It’s always nice to see dolphins – thank you Dan Lumsden for sharing this photo, taken near Medmery Bank


SMAC Open Species Competition

After several frustrating postponements our inaugural Open Species Competition was held on 5th September. It was superbly organised by Chris Ellis, a veteran of many international species competitions, his wife Hayley and Steve Kelly. The competition was also sponsored by Sea Angling Classic, whose founder Ross Honey was very helpful with advice and support on the day.

Winner of the competition was Bill Arnold with 11 species, Chris Ellis was second with 9 and there was a tie for third places between Alan Isaacs and Darren Price both with 8 species. We hope to run this competition again in 2022 with a two-day event so watch out for further details.

There is a full write-up of the competition in the current issue of Saltwater Boat Angling (pictured).

Chris Ellis in his boat Miss Molly heads out of Langstone Harbour entrace at the start of the competition:

Bass and Mackerel Go Crazy

Over the last few weeks we have seen an unprecedented influx of mackerel into the Solent and Eastern Approaches, with gulls working above feeding shoals up to a mile in length. This combined with the good weather has meant a lot of anglers have been able to stock up with winter bait with ease. The mackerel were of a consistently large size so were great for eating too. Bass could be found feeding below the shoals, and bass were also very active feeding over the banks further offshore. Some anglers were also treated to an escort of porpoises within a couple of miles of shore. They are commonly seen further offshore but they had almost certainly followed the mackerel shoals closer inshore which is less usual, but not unknown.

Have a browse through the photo gallery below.

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Langstone Report June 2021

You may have noticed that our monthly reports are no longer published in the Sea Angling News monthly paper. Sadly as a result of COVID restrictions over the last year the paper is no longer circulated in either print or online form.  Sea Angling News continues as a website however, and you can view it here.

We will continue to publish a monthly catch report for the Eastern Solent and approaches based on news, gossip and personal experience, so if you want your catches to be included just message us here.

May and early June in the Solent approaches means bream on rocky marks, smoothhound wherever there are crabs for them to forage and the arrival of mackerel and tope. No surprises this year: all those events have happened and fish are there to be caught! The only deviation from the usual pattern was the plaice. Although some were caught as they moved onto the spawning grounds, not as many as in previous years. Hopefully they will be fattening up on the summer marks now.

There were some fine tope caught from the end of May through into late June, including several Personal Best fish. The larger breeding females will be moving away soon, leaving smaller pack tope.  If you find them or they find you they can either be a nuisance or hectic sport, depending on what you are really after!

Here’s a slideshow below of some great fish caught locally in the past month. Many thanks for the pictures and congratulations on some excellent catches.

Langstone Harbour Report May 2021

April is always one of those “transition” months where the arrival of the Spring run of species happens – or not, depending on weather and temperature. This April was exceptionally cold, coupled with prevalent northerly to easterly winds. Fishing is not only poor in these conditions, it’s less pleasant for anglers too. With fewer anglers venturing out in April and fewer fish biting than we would have hoped for we can only report on the arrival of species rather than big catches.

For those that have the time and fuel to push well offshore to the Channel wrecks, some good pollack can be caught. Kev Johnson, John Evans and Tim Andrews fished on Kev’s boat Reel Lucky and show some good fish.

The banks further offshore can also produce occasional turbot as Tim Andrews demonstrates.

There have been plaice caught but not in numbers. Let’s hope there are merely late arriving and not showing a further stock decline. In former years we would have been catching plaice by the dozen, sadly now a few plaice is regarded as a good catch. There are many theories to explain this but not proven. There is no doubt that over-fishing has put pressure on stocks but other factors are also significant – damage to the seabed in breeding areas affecting their food supply – shellfish; predation from the big increase in bass stocks; pollution; suspended matter from sea defence work; imbalance of the ecosystem caused by any of the above; the list is endless. Whatever the reason, managing commercial fishing is only part of the solution.

To cheer us up, two other Spring species have arrived. Bream can now be found on the usual rocky marks. The larger breeding fish will be around for a couple of months and then we will probably be plagued by large numbers of small bream that have a habit of whittling away at larger baits not intended for them.

The other popular Spring arrival are smoothhound. Jason Watts boated his personal best at 20lbs, and Gary Dee did even better with one of 23.5lbs. Both very good fish. Smoothhound will stay in the area all through the Summer.

Ray species tend to stay around all year and often a good ray can save an otherwise uneventful trip. Ashley Nichols shows a blonde ray of 22lb and Les Beever holds another good Blonde ray of 19lb.

With warmer weather expected in May we hope the fishing will continue to improve. If the Atlantic weather system can push those Easterlies away we will all be grateful. South-westerly winds bring wetter weather but at least it will be warmer, and the fish will be more active. The very first mackerel have been reported so hopefully the tope will soon be following them in.


Neville Merritt

Southsea Marina Angling Club.

Langstone Report April 2021

I’m not sure where March went but that’s probably just as well. Those of us living a distance from our boats couldn’t travel to the coast so we had to be content reading reports on social media about what local anglers were up to. Not a lot, it would seem.

March is a strange month, because it is too late for the Winter species (cod and even whiting have moved on) and the Spring run of plaice moving inshore to spawn sometimes doesn’t start until the end of March. There will be pollack on offshore wrecks and reefs and you might find some late spurdog, but inshore the only predicable fish are dogfish and rays.

When you look at FaceBook angling groups and see photos of sunsets instead of fish, with comments like “Nice to be out though”, you know you aren’t missing much fishing action. It would have been nice to be out though. The charter boats have been gathering weed on their moorings waiting to be allowed out with clients, although I noticed many of them have had a thorough Spring clean. Let’s hope those shiny decks get dirty soon.

This month our catch report would have been very sparse without two of our regular contributors, Arron Shons and Heber Crawford. Arron headed 40 miles offshore on Time Out to a mark in 200 feet of water. Using a 110g lure he boated some nice pollack, the best weighing 19lb 2oz.

Heber defied my predictions and caught a nice cod early in the month, followed by pollack on an offshore trip. Closer to shore he also caught gurnard and wrasse, before ending the day finding a shoal of herring in the Solent approaches.

Herring are a frustrating species because you often see them on the fishfinder at this time of year, at various depths and spread over a wide area. As dusk gets closer they shoal up and rise to the surface to feed. This is when they are more likely to be caught. Tackle and approach is very specific because they have small, soft mouths. Using a very soft action rod fishing small Sabiki feathers, suspend them  a few feet below the surface and hold very still to simulate the larvae the herring are feeding on.

Early plaice were beginning to show up towards the end of the month. Charles Gattrell shows a better than average plaice of 3lb caught in March. Bait was supplied by the new shop Fishon Bait and Tackle in Cosham, Portsmouth

With lockdown rules gradually allowing a return to whatever normal will be, we will be having our first Southsea Marina Angling Club meeting (outdoors) in May and our “End of year” Awards Night will be in July.

Many charter boats are fully booked for the next couple of months which is good news for skippers and my catch reports, but if you want a space or full boat I’d recommend you book well ahead.

April should bring us plaice, bream and smoothound, heralding the start of the summer species arriving in numbers. It can’t come soon enough. Tight lines all.

Neville Merritt


Note: The Sea Angling News monthly newspaper is not being printed at the moment and is no longer being published on Issuu. The monthly reports are published on the SAN Website below.

Langstone April 2021

Langstone Report March 2021

Well goodbye February. According to the few who could go fishing, those who couldn’t travel to their boats weren’t missing much. A late cod or two and a run of spurdogs were the highlights. The whiting worth catching have moved off leaving a horde of bait-robbing pin whiting in their place. There are still a few roaming conger on open ground but as March opens they will go back to the rocks and wrecks, and we will see the first of the plaice as they come inshore to spawn. They will be in better condition in a few weeks’ time after they recover.

March also heralds the opening up of the bass restrictions. The previous EU rules were rolled forward into 2021 which means recreational anglers can keep up to two bass per day from March to November inclusive, minimum size 42cm. This may change so watch out for further announcements. The first mullet have arrived back in the marina which seems early, but the sea temperature is trending upwards so perhaps this is normal now.

Many charter boats are taken out of the water for maintenance during the fishing lull in February, but with the much-anticipated easing of lockdown restrictions many are taking bookings already. The first few months on the new charter season promise to be very busy as anglers make up for lost time.

This month we usually report on the Southsea Marina Angling Club Presentation Night, but with no actual presentation night yet, we will celebrate the successes here.

Club Champion is Kevin Johnson (11 Points). Kevin also takes the Bream Cup (3lb 13oz); Bass Cup (11lb 10oz); Pollack Cup (12lb 14oz); Best Specimen (Bass) and Pairs Cup with John Jones. He however did leave some other cups on the table, and John Evans won the Plaice Cup (2lb 2oz); Bill Arnold won Species Hunt day competition; Peter Churchill won the annual Species Cup (33); Neil Glazier won the Cod Cup and Cod Pool (22lb); Jim Collett won the Catch & Release Cup with a Spurdog (22lb 8oz).  Junior Species Cup went to Jake Kelly (13); Ladies Cup to Aedy Merritt for her bream (1lb 4oz) and Ladies Species Cup was won by Haley Ellis (10). Congratulations to all the runners up as well! Out of respect for the Lockdown restrictions, some of our competitions could not be run this year so those cups will not be awarded this time.

I’m hoping for good weather as soon as we are allowed to travel again. I think there will be a lot of boats on the water that day!

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