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Category: Catch Reports 2023 (Page 1 of 2)

Catch Report December 2023

This is the usual story of wind and rain putting paid to most weekend’s fishing, and a few bright spots midweek allowing the flexibly employed and lucky retired anglers to take advantage of those rare weather windows. The photo gallery below makes it look like it was a calm December, but believe me it wasn’t. Even the calmer days were mostly very murky. The SMAC Cod Open Competition was postponed from one weekend to the next and we still have to find a suitable Sunday in January.

In terms of catches, it has been rather predictable if you know your Solent seasons. Hordes of dogfish of course, plus some bigger pout among the usual pack. Whiting are plentiful, and some good pan-sized fish among them. Regular followers will know I don’t like conger, and these have been out on their winter prowls gobbling bait and even grabbing hooked fish. If you like conger, you can enjoy catching up to 30 pounders even fairly close to shore.

More welcome are the very occasional cod, and each one is something to celebrate these days whatever the size. Most are in single figures but we did hear of an 18-pounder. Other catches were generally made up of rays, bass and further afield, some good pollock and bass on the wrecks.

One slightly bizarre spoof was a huge seatrout which turned up on the shore of Southampton Water, but on further investigation it was a dead spent fish that was washed up, not caught. It shows they are there though.

Finally, we said farewell to Bill Arnold whose funeral was on 27th December. Bill was a lifelong angler, Pompey supporter and all-round good chap. His son Lewis, who happens to be the Newhaven RNLI cox mechanic, gave a wonderful eulogy at his service. He said “if you wanted anything, just call Bill”. It’s had to believe we can’t call Bill anymore. He was very much a part of SMAC and did a huge amount for the club. We did give him a very good sendoff though, in several locations.

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!

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.

Catch Report August 2023

Once more I’m relying on other anglers to update us because my boat is up on blocks again, requiring engine out and all that. I thought I wasn’t missing much because of the weather and the traditional August fishing doldrums, but looking through the photos we have it seems that plenty of people were enjoying themselves. If it’s too lumpy outside the harbours, there are plenty of fish and good sport to be had inside with light tackle.

Those that managed to organise a trip on the fishable days found the full range of summer Solent species: plenty of mackerel, bass, rays, stingray, bream, pollack offshore and a nice porbeagle shark for Peter Churchill (see photos). Peter also won the SMAC Open Species Competition on 27th August, full report here

We always like to hear a bit of alternative news, and one of the strangest I have heard was about a snake. Peter Churchill (yes, he goes out a lot) saw this grass snake swimming between the Isle of Wight and the mainland and scooped it up. After a rest stop and a photo, it continued on its way.

Have a look through the photos below. It’s great to see our lady anglers taking the Species Hunt very seriously – this could be a very competitive year!

SMAC Open Species Competition 2023

After a postponement due to the weather, the 2023 SMAC Open Species Hunt Competition was held on Sunday 27th August. The alternative attractions of family activities on a Bank Holiday weekend and the Victorious Festival meant we had fewer  competitors than for our usual open competitions but that didn’t deter those that entered. The weather didn’t help either, and although it was sunny there was a strong westerly wind blowing which put paid to plans to fish to the east. Fortunately, there is always somewhere fishable and even the harbours can produce enough species to be competitive so there’s no need to travel far. As it turned out, the first few species were logged before the boats had travelled at all!

Fishing finished at 4pm and boats started arriving back. However, one was missing, and it contained our Species Hunt legends Bill Arnold and Peter Churchill. Eyes anxiously scanned the horizon and then, with seven minutes to the deadline, Sea Biscuit came down the channel and arrived at the holding pontoon with a flourish. After a final check of the entry photographs in the shade of the fuel hut we were ready to award the prizes. Glasses were replenished and we all sat back in the sun to await the results. Then we realised two essential competitors were missing from the assembly and once more, eyes anxiously scanned the horizon, although this time into the marina. Yes, Bill and Peter had decided to put Sea Biscuit to bed and were making their way slowly back to the bar. Finally, we were ready to start proceedings.

Last year’s winner Wayne Comben was invited to present the prizes and as a practice run he presented Michelle Plomer with her Fish Of The Month medal from July. Then we could get down to the real business. We have a complicated way of determining tie breaks, but this wasn’t necessary except in one case. As it involved Ray and Michelle Plomer we decided to award the pair of them both prizes and let them fight it out between themselves. So in reverse order, the prize winners are:

10th place: Steve Kelly (4)
9th place: Ray Plomer (6)
8th place: Michelle Plomer (6)
7th place: Bill Arnold (7)
6th place: Dan Sissons (8)
5th place: Aiden Ely (9)
4th place: Pam Eckersall (10)
3rd place: Wayne Comben (12)
2nd place: Dan Lumsden (13)

and the Winner of the 2023 SMAC Species Competition is the man who must be on first-name terms with every fish in the Solent: Peter Churchill (15)

Pam Eckersall also wins the Ladies Bonus with the highest score among the lady competitors.

We would like to thank all of our sponsors who donated prizes: Premier Marinas; Sportsman’s Knight Charters; SMDAC; Baits ‘R Us; Victory Gas and Heating; Cosham Angling; Prestige Plumbing; British Big Game Charters; Newnham Builders; Marina Bar and Fish-On Tackle.

A big Thank You also to all the competitors and the organising team (mainly Steve Kelly) who made this another successful and enjoyable competition.


Catch Report July 2023

After record temperatures in May and June, we had an inconvenient Jet Stream up in the air somewhere that blocked the warm air from the Continent and channelled a string of depressions across the UK. Net result: wind, rain and very little fishing. A lucky few picked their moments carefully and made some trips out, often very early before the wind picked up. They gave us a taste of what we should all have been enjoying in a “normal” summer month in the Eastern Solent: bass, rays, the occasional wandering conger and bream. It’s very encouraging to see that there are larger bream staying on again this year giving good sport on light tackle. In previous years the fish worth catching swam off after breeding, leaving their little brothers to spend the summer nibbling away at baits too big for them. You may also be as skilled (or lucky) as Luke Scott and boat a decent brill – see the photo gallery below.

This year has also been good for mackerel so far, with plenty being caught by the boats that managed to get out. They don’t seem to be holding on the usually reliable marks so my advice is to just follow the gulls! They have been everywhere from the 100 foot deep main channel to 10 feet of water inshore.

One catch oddity was an Angel Shark reported just up the coast from us. Not really in our area but near enough to get the Species Hunters excited! And on that subject, don’t forget the SMAC Open Species Competition scheduled for Sunday 13th August, from Southsea Marina. Details here.

Have a look at our photos, thanks to Stuart Newell, Steve Kelly, Tim Andrews, Tony Dickson, Jim Atkins and John Dennis for contributing.

Catch Report June 2023

Summer is definitely here, the sun has been scorching us and there have been plenty of calmer days allowing us to get out among the fish. This part of the year brings plenty of tope and smoothhound. Peter Kinchin shows one below estimated to be 20lb in weight, his personal best. There seems to be no shortage of mackerel – when you can find them. You may need to search around, and gulls are always a reliable indicator. The bigger bream will be moving off now after spawning but those that remain seem to be larger than in previous years.

The Sea Angling Classic was held again in Portsmouth from 14th to 18th June. It was won by local Bembridge team Sea Raiders, Jason Williams and Liam Smith. They won the £135,000 first prize of the Extreme 745 Game King paired with a Yamaha 300 HP with Helm Master EX joystick control, Lowrance Ultimate Fishing System and SBS Trailer. They narrowly beat Portsmouth team Bad Boyz who were fourth last year. Maybe they’ll win in 2024? Congratulations to all the competitors and many thanks to the sponsors and organisers who made it a week to remember.

The calmer days meant that some boats could get out to the distant reefs and wrecks. As well as some good pollack, we now have some cod on the SMAC scoreboard. Calm nights in summer means sole and stingray, and as Dan Lumsden shows, the sole have already arrived. Hopefully we’ll seem more as the summer progresses.

Harvest Moon Catch Report May 2023

Our Bream trip on Sunday 7th May coincided with Southsea Marina Angling Club Open Bream Comp, one of the biggest boat competitions on the south coast. After a quick discussion our anglers all entered which turned out to be a great decision.

With 5 anglers onboard we secured :-

16th for Dan Shippen
7th for Mark Jackson
2nd for Dave Belcher
1st Rodger Cummings 🥇🏆

With Prize money of over £600 plus numerous tackle prizes, it proved to be another fantastic day onboard our British Big Game Charter boat Harvest Moon.

Stuart Newell
Skipper Harvest Moon


SMAC 2023 Annual Bream Competition Results

We set the date of 7th May for our 2023 Annual Bream Open Competition long before His Majesty decided on the same weekend for his Coronation, but no matter – it added to the festival atmosphere! This has become a hugely popular event and all those planning to compete had been anxiously watching the weather forecast all week. As it turned out it was the best day of the weekend and despite the early fog, 77 competitors in 33 boats set off to look for that big, prize-winning bream.

Although there are plenty of good bream marks in the Eastern Solent Approaches, for some reason the larger fish seem to prefer areas to the east of Selsey or West of the Solent so it was a gamble. Take a run through the fog to find a big one, or stay local with more fishing time and chance a big bream among the shoals of smaller fish?

Most competitors were having a quiet time in the early part of the day but as the sun broke through, spirits rose and bigger bream started coming to the baits. By the end of the day we had plenty of fish to weigh in and the placings were decided by the smallest of margins.

By 7pm the results had been decided. Most competitors had settled themselves outside in the glorious evening sunshine with a drink from the Marina Bar, so we decided to hold the presentation ceremony right there (with apologies to the few berth holders that found themselves in the crowd!)

First and second place prizes were a cash percentage of the entry fees, and other prizes to make up 18 places plus bonus prizes for top Junior and top Lady were donated by local businesses. We are very grateful to Sea Angling Classic and Lowrance; Andy’s Baits; Cosham Angling; Marina Bar; Normark UK; Victory Gas & Heating; Premier Marinas; Fish-On Tackle; British Big Game Charters; Prestige Builders; SMDAC; Newnham Builders; Brian van Daal; Sportsman’s Knight and Anglers Edge.

And now for the results. Prizes were presented by last year’s winner Jim Atkins:

First Place and overall Winner was Roger Cummings with a fish of 3.3lbs who wins 60% of the prize pool plus an entry to SAC.

Ladies winner was Eleanor Atkins with a bream of 2.06lb

Junior winner was Ronnie Roberts with a bream of 0.9lb

The prize table was allocated as follows:

2nd place Dave Belcher 3.18lb

3rd place Steve Tambling 3.08lb (and best-placed SMAC member cup)

4th place Tim Ward 2.86lb

5th place Dan Lumsden 2.82lb

6th place Bill Arnold 2.8lb

7th place Mark Jackson 2.74lb

8th place tie Kev Johnson and Mark Banks 2.70lb

10th place Mark Argyle 2.6lb

11th place tie Tony Allen and Dick Prosser 2.56lb

13th place Wayne Comben 2.52lb

14th place Dick Stubbs 2.42lb

15th place Mark Oldfield 2.4lb

16th place Dan Shippen 2.34lb

17th place Dave Newnham 2.32lb

18th place Jim Atkins 2.28lb

We would like to thank Steve Kelly for his monumental efforts in organising our club events; our many behind-the-scenes helpers; the Premier Marina staff who helped with the boats and all the competitors for helping to make this another successful and very enjoyable event.

Until the next one – tight lines!

Neville Merritt


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