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Category: Catch Reports 2022 (Page 1 of 2)

SMAC Open Cod Competition 2022 – Results

Well finally! After postponements due to the weather then nearly a postponement due to the World Cup (won’t say too much about that), the SMAC Annual Open Cod Competition was held on Sunday 11th December. A total of 76 anglers fished from 34 boats, braving some very cold conditions which is quite a change from the mild weather we have been experiencing. We were delighted that the first eight places were taken by cod catches, the remaining prize table going to whiting.

Here is the full list of prize winners.

1st Dan Lumsden, 13lb 10oz cod

2nd Steve Tambling, 8lb 14oz cod

3rd, 4th tied Simon Connor and Chris Jewell, both 3lb 11oz cod

5th Tony Connor, 2lb 15oz cod

6th Tim Warren, 2lb 12oz cod

7th Darren Price, 2lb 9oz cod

8th Mick Hardy, 2lb 4oz cod

9th Mick Beaty, 31.5oz whiting

10th Lee Smith, 29.5oz whiting

11th Wayne Comben, 25oz whiting

12th Paul Farrel, 20.0oz whiting

13th Dick Stubbs, 18oz whiting

14th Charlie Gattrill, 17oz whiting

15th, 16th, 17th tied Tony Allen, Jim Atkins, Ray Plomer, 16.5oz whiting

18th Lee Swire, 15.0oz whiting

19th Pete Churchill, 9.5oz whiting

There were no weigh-ins for Junior or Ladies prizes.

First prize was a cash prize of 60% of entry fees. Second prize was a cash prize of 30% of entry fees. Other prizes were kindly donated by Premier Marinas; Baits’R’Us; Victory Gas & Heating; Fish-On; British Game Fishing; Normark UK; Sportsmans Knight Charters; Newnham Builders; SMDAC; Cosham Angling; Anglers Edge charters; Marina Bar.

There are a couple of nice stories to share too. Ray Plomer, who won the prize of a day’s fishing on board Angler’s Edge charters is gifting his prize as a treat for a friend who is fighting cancer. On his way back in, Chris Jewell in Reel Affair noticed a boat in trouble. He stopped to set up a tow, so Steve Kelly took his cod ashore to be weighed so the delay providing a good turn didn’t cost him his third prize!

Thank you and well done to all competitors, and congratulations to all the prize winners. Until next year!

Catch Report November 2022

When I look back through previous autumn catch reports there is a common pattern – not much to report because so many days have been lost to the weather! This November follows that pattern, with the SMAC Cod Competition being rolled over from the end of October all the way into December. However, those lucky anglers with a bit of flexibility around the days they can go out have been fishing, and caught fish.

I’m very pleased to report that a few more codling have been caught, but nowhere near the size and numbers we used to have in this area. Dan Lumsden tops the SMAC Cod Pool with this codling of 5lb 8oz (heading picture). Other anglers chasing the cod with large baits have been plagued by roaming conger, and it’s surprising how large a bait can be engulfed by a small conger. Whiting on their way up to the boat aren’t safe from them either, it’s not uncommon for a hefty tug on the line to be followed by half a whiting arriving at the surface (see pictures).

Live-bait or dead-bait whole whiting is a good cod bait but apart from the conger, that bait is also attractive to big bass. Not as unwelcome as a conger, but not a cod after all. The bass season closed at the end of November and a bass caught before next March have to be returned unharmed to the sea immediately.

There have been plenty of good rays to be caught and Dave Newnham again won SMAC Fish Of The Month with a large Blonde Ray, one of several featured in the photos below.

Squid fishing is getting even more attention this year, and there has been a good run of squid and of respectable size too. They can be caught from harbour walls or over rocky marks from a boat, but I suspect there is plenty more to be learned about squid fishing. At the moment most people jig with squid lures at night in clear water.

Looking back as my catch log last year, by mid-November I had recorded catches of 40+ whiting a trip (frozen and consumed during the summer!) but this year they have been late arriving in numbers. By the end of the month whiting catch numbers were increasing and we can hope for more, larger whiting during December and of course, those elusive cod.

Catch Report October 2022

Rather a short report this month mainly because there isn’t anything particularly remarkable among local catches to report unfortunately. Although the occasional small codling has been boated, the flood of whiting we would have expected to arrive simply haven’t materialised. The weather and water temperatures remain warmer than usual for the season so that probably has a lot to do with it.

In the meantime anglers have been occupying themselves with catching the usual rays and bass which are always a feature of catches in the area. I have added an extract from the Shark Trust ray Identification Guide here.

Squid arrive here in larger numbers in Autumn, although you can catch them all year round. Most squid anglers fish from the shore but squid can be caught over rocky marks and wreckage if conditions are right. Judging by the reports from the shore boys, there seems to be a good run of squid this year.

In other news…not strictly from the Eastern Solent but as it features one of our club boats and some of our club members it deserves mention: SMAC member Stuart Newell of British Big Game Fishing has been very successful catching the amazing blue fin tuna off the Cornish coast under an official tag and release scheme. Kev Johnson and Lol Summers (both SMAC members) joined Stuart and their fish of a lifetime catches are featured in the photos below.

The SMAC Open Cod Competition has been rolled forward to allow more cod and whiting time to arrive. Watch out for updates on revised competition dates.

Catch Report September 2022

This is the month when the autumn codling used to appear, but sadly they don’t appear much at all now although a few very small fish have been reported from the beaches. Young Aubree Evans (heading photo) showed they aren’t extinct or mythical by catching one from a boat to remind us what they look like.

Times change, and although we aren’t seeing the codling like we used to, I’m convinced that we are seeing far more bream and definitely more larger bream hanging around well into autumn. Where we used to have tiny bait-robbing bream making a nuisance of themselves, we now have enough larger bream to be worth targeting. They don’t seem to be as restricted to rocks and features in the autumn as they do when breeding, and I have been catching a lot on open ground particularly as the tide just starts to move after slack water. Mark Banks shows a cracker of 3lb 9oz although I think that came from further offshore.

An autumn fish that it still staying true to habit is the trigger fish which appear for just a few weeks then head off again. Little is known about the reasons for their visits and the National Aquarium at Plymouth is conducting research on catches, so if you catch a tagged fish you can report it here.  Ray Plomer’s trigger fish below weighed 2lb 2oz and Dave Newnham’s slightly smaller.

There are plenty of good fish on the Channel wrecks and reefs as Kev Johnson shows below. As you can see from the photo gallery, there is a great variety of fishing available in our area (and some interesting vessels passing too): wrasse, mackerel, bass, turbot, some nice rays and even a squid.

Next month we’ll have the Inter-Club competition and the Cod Open competition so check those pages out for more information.

Inter Club Competition 2022

The weather gods were unusually kind to us on Sunday 1st October as the Interclub competition was actually held on the date it was planned for! This competition is an annual event, aiming for the single best specimen fish caught by members of SMAC, Langstone Harbour Fisherman’s Association, ECA and Southsea Sea Angling Club. ECA won last year so they were hosting this year’s competition. We were secretly feeling a little bit hopeful because our top competition were either missing or hung over.

Those that were unable to compete were following the progress of the competition on the SMAC WhatsApp channel. We were a bit worried when Ray could only show us a spider crab but things started looking up when Dave caught a miniscule flat-thing. At least it was a fish. We had a long way to go but Dave showed us the way with a 8lb Blonde Ray. Soon after Dave topped that with a turbot but when we compared the size of his hands to the size of the turbot we realised the blonde ray was a lot nearer the specimen size. Rumours started flying around of an 11lb 4oz Small-Eyed Ray boated by an ECA member. Something had to be done, and Ray Plomer did it by catching a nice Bull Huss which came up at 112.5% of a Specimen weight and sealed the day. Chants of “It’s Coming Home” could be heard which soon faded away as we realised that Ray was fishing for LHFA this time and not SMAC.  Ray still scored though, as he appears on our Club Competition Standing sheet. He may even be in the running for Fish Of The Month but we’ll have to wait for the October meeting to find out.

Many thanks to ECA for hosting and organising the event, congratulations Ray Plomer and LHFA for winning this years’ event and thanks to all the competitors for being great sports and taking part.

Catch Report August 2022

August is often a quiet month for Catch Reports. The big hounds and tope have departed and the winter species have yet to arrive. Many anglers are also taking summer holidays while others are taking this lull in fishy activity to take their boats out of the water for annual maintenanace. Nevertheless, we do have news to share and I’m always very grateful for photos and news from other local anglers (mail to

Some of our regular contributors from SMAC took themselves off on a dream fishing holiday to Norway. I don’t usually include catches from outside the Solent but it would be a shame not to share Dave Newnham’s halibut! The other significant August event was the SMAC Open Species Competion, full story here.

One species that does make headlines in August is the sole. Anglers picking calm, quiet nights and fishing over sand and mud close to shore managed some good bags of sole this month. Small hooks, worm baits and rigs fished hard on the bottom will account for sole if you have found the right mark. In the right conditions they can even start feeding in the evening. The problem with night fishing (for me, writing these reports) is that photography tends to be more succesful in daylight, so here are stills from Peter Churchill’s evening double header and Dan Lumsden’s sole in the carusel below!

Bass fishing also continues, and the kinder summer weather makes trips to offshore wrecks, banks and reefs more possible. Mark Banks shows an impressive brace of 10lb 1oz and 9lb 9oz, the only two retained (Bass Rules) from a very good day offshore.

Mullet are still cruising around our marinas and are a worthy target if you can’t get further afield. Lee Marshfield demonstrates the quality of fish, this one caught in Southsea Marina. A lot of fun can also be had fishing LRF-style for mini-species. Jake Kelly and Jim Atkins both show Tompot Blennies below.

The summer wouldn’t be summer without a discussion about mackerel. Last year they were hard to find and then arrived in massive numbers in early autumn. This year they made a late start but by August we had plenty, and some big ones too. It’s always a relief to fill the bait freezer for winter. John Calton (pictured) was helping me fill mine, which we achieved in double-quck time and then laid in a stock for the smoker!

Although the larger breeding bream have moved off to deeper water by now, I have noticed that this year we still have good numbers of bream in the pound to pound and a half range (good table size) on open broken ground. Over Ryde Sands it’s hard to get past them and they will worry larger baits so you may as well scale down and have some sport. Mackerel skin strip seems to be more effective than the traditional squid strips in my experience.

There’s always a hope of an early run of codling in September but many years have passed since that was a reliable prediction. We can expect plenty of whiting later on though, and I have found fish baits to be far more effective than other baits if you want whiting for the pot.

Neville Merritt
August 2022

SMAC Open Species Competition August 2022

After being postponed from 31st July due to adverse wind conditions we were all delighted that the reserve date of 14th August held good, and the competition was ON! With executive direction from last year’s winner Bill Arnold, and ably organised by Steve Kelly, the competition attracted entries from SMAC, surrounding clubs and others.

The objective of the competition was to catch as many different fish species between 8am and 6pm, and proof of catch was a photograph before the fish were returned to the sea.  As you might expect, several anglers vying for a prize position caught the same number of species and in anticipation of that Steve had devised a clever scoring system which weighted the most likely species to be caught according to rarity. Mackerel, dogfish and pout for example scored zero as they pretty much give themselves up. Turbot on the other hand scored 10. We’d all like to catch more turbot!

Fishing ended at 6pm, the final count was closed at 6:30pm and the winners were announced at 7pm.

In reverse order, the overall winners were:

12th Steve Kelly 3 species 0 points
11th Eleanor Atkins 3 species 0 points ( Ladies Trophy winner)
10th Ken Farmer 3 species 5 points
9th Steve Andrews 3 species 7 points
8th Ray Plomer 3 species 7 points
7th Chris Ellis 4 species 0 points
6th Luke Scott 5 species 0 points
5th Lloyd Jones 6 species 0 points
4th Dan Lumsden 11 species 12 points
3rd Bill Arnold 11 species 22 points
2nd Pete Churchill 12 species 12 points
1st Wayne Comben 13 species 20 points

One of Wayne’s species was a 20lb stingray, a personal best and not a fish anyone expected to see on the list! Congratulations to Wayne Comben, Competition Trophy winner and also to Eleanor Atkins, the Ladies Trophy winner. There were no Junior entries.

It was a great day in glorious weather. We would like to thank all our sponsors for their generous donations of prizes: Victory Gas & Heating; Normark UK; Baits R Us; Fishon Bait and Tackle; SMDAC; British Big Game Fishing; Newnham Builders; Cosham Angling; Sportsmans Knight; Anglers Edge; Marina Bar.

Photos from Steve Andrews and Steve Kelly.

Catch Report July 2022

We have had some remarkably warm and mostly calm weather throughout July, which has meant many local boat anglers have been out probably more than usual. Calm, settled weather in summer tempts us to head out 15 miles and more to the banks that hold bass. Although we can only bring home two fish per angler, there is still great sport to be had (see gallery below).

Mackerel have as usual continued to tease us with shoals in the usual places one day, then a blank fish-finder screen on other days. The other summer frustration is floating weed. This tends to affect fishing within a few miles of shore which includes all of the Solent. Neap tides aren’t so bad, but some tides can be unfishable unless you drift or head offshore beyond the worst of it.

Species competitions, whether one-day or annual club competitions have become increasingly popular. Our area is well served with probably one of the widest range of species available across the seasons. As the water warms up at the end of summer, some very exotic species can appear. Unfortunately the SMAC Open Species Competition has had to be postponed until 14th August so we hope to bring news of that in the next report.

Catch Report June 2022

June provide plenty of fishing opportunities and the summer species have been very obliging. Highlight of the month was the national Sea Angling Classic competition based from Portsmouth. Please see our separate report here. The catches were very representative of what has been around this month: a lot of hard fighting smoothhound, big tope, plenty of bream, rays and bass. There were fewer big bass boated during the competition than you would expect at this time of year but that was because the best bass marks were beyond the limits of the competition grounds.

From personal experience, this year has shown a significant improvement in bream catches both in number and size. Hopefully this is linked to the conservation efforts over the breeding grounds of Kingmere Reef in West Sussex, and improvements will continue.

We had a flurry of early mackerel, then they became rather difficult to locate reliably. As the summer progresses they should shoal up again. There are plenty of baitfish in the water to attract them in.

Some very good pollack came from the more distant wrecks – see gallery.

Mullet are well established in the harbours and give good sport when conditions are unfavourable outside.

Future dates to be aware of:

Sunday 31st July – SMAC Open Species Competition with a great prize table

Monday 8th August – Southsea Marina Fuel Bay out of action for maintenance work

June Report from “Harvest Moon”

As we approach the end of June and losing a few days to the weather, we take a look back at an incredible month.  June started with amazing fishing, with plentiful packs of Tope, Smooth hounds and mackerel still fairly easy to find.

Every trip bar the last one produced Tope to 40lb + and one amazing day producing 30+ Tope in 4 hrs crazy fishing only to be cut short by the weather which arrived earlier than expected. A day out on the overfalls and French banks produced bass on most drifts with the majority being in the 3-5lb bracket.

Our first Sharking trips have taken place, sadly no hook ups yet only lots of small Tope, but we have seen one free jumping Thresher which is always a awesome sight.

Towards the end June we had the Sea Angling Classic in which we had entered the Charter Boat section. There was some stiff competition with the likes of Glen and Zac Cairns running their Valkyrie charters and the Wetwheel boats from Portsmouth and Hamble. Our 2 teams consisted of Steve Batchelor and Colin Searles both England international anglers and myself with our secret weapon in the one and only Mr Peter Churchill aka (Mr Tope).

The plan was to use Peters 30+ years of knowledge about the tides, marks and fish behaviour. After an exciting start with over 60 boats racing from the start line, we managed to secure our first mark without to much hassle, although I didn’t get the anchoring spot on as got pointed out! We all fished our socks off and by the end of day 1 Peter and I finished in 1st position.

Day 2 was going to be more tricky as we knew we had a target painted on our backs. But we managed to get on our marks, again my anchoring wasn’t quite up to the standard of Mr Churchill although close enough for us to catch our intended species. By lunchtime the fishing had slowed up, more to do with the amount of boats flying around than the tides I think, but this is where Steve and Colin really showed us why they fish for England. Constantly changing baits and rigs for the different target species and to be pulling out fish while I was lifting the anchor made the difference.

At the presentation event held in Portsmouth historic dockyard, the excitement of everyone involved was electric. Harvest Moon won 1st in the charter boat section with Steve and Colin getting 1st place and Peter and I coming in 2nd spot. Plans for next year’s event are already in place.

The only thing that made the result of the Sea Angling Classic better was receiving a email from CEFAS to inform me that I had been picked from the application process to be one of only 25 boats legally allowed to target Bluefin Tuna in the UK. This is something I have been working towards for the past few years and can’t wait to give people the chance to catch these amazing fish.  More details to follow if you fancy booking a trip of a lifetime!

Stuart Newell, “Harvest Moon”

(Contact Stuart on 07919 001400 or British Big Game Charter on Facebook)

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