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26th-30th April 2005 - 5 Day Trip to Alderney

You may have heard of these trips and never been on one or you may be a hardened Alderney Grockle Angler, whatever, you need to go and do this as it is excellent value for money and gives 5 days worth of good fishing and a period of absolute rest and relaxation from the real world. I thoroughly recommend it for any boat owner as the skipper and deck hand really look after the fishing bit for you. A good crowd of anglers will help too. These guys had all been there before and knew the ropes.

Here is an example of what my fishing buddies were like. The weather had been really poor the previous day with the Condor FastCat out from Weymouth, cancelled. I was expecting the worst conditions that we could possibly go on, so I togged up with my usual foul weather gear including a life jacket. Did I get some stick for the life jacket ! As I got off the bus at Lymington the rip cord was pulled and I made a good impression of May West, needless to say they all fell about laughing, the was scene set and I was ready for anything, well almost.

Our Skipper, Arthur Savage and Glen were waiting for us on Private Venture. We prepared the customs documents and stowed our bags below decks and made our way down the river and out into the Solent. As we rounded the light I was expecting rough seas but it had really calmed down form the day before. The sea was nothing to Private Venture a 32’ South Cat with a massive deck which swallowed 8 anglers. It has a large wheelhouse that can shelter the crew too from bad weather. Arthur demonstrated many of the features of his Raymarine Navigational equipment, it was truly impressive, and came in very useful crossing the shipping lanes. A must have at night or in poor visibility conditions. You can fish from all around the gunnels making it the best angling boat I have ever fished from. This feature is particularly useful when fishing on the drift as the boats tend to spin in the eddy tides as they drift over the banks.

On the way over we stopped and drifted ‘the rips’ with little reward, a few mackerel in the upper layers but nothing down deep, so we moved on. Within 20 Miles of Alderney we again tried for bait and filled our box within 15 minutes. Around Alderney there appeared to be bait fish everywhere although Glen and Arthur still spent many hours catching Launce and Mackerel to provide fresh bait for the live tank. We motored past Alderney and on to the banks to the South West for Bass of which we had a few and lost a few before going in for the first night.

 

Private Venture alongside in the Inner Harbour, Bray Harbour, Alderney.

 

 

The first full day of drifting for Flatfish was in super conditions with PV catching as many if not more than the rest of the Charter Boats put together. We had at least 14 Turbot and 5 Brill with the odd Tope and Bass taking the bait too. Jim caught two dogfish (extremely rare) one after the other each costing him a £20 round of drinks! But then instead of blanking on the Flatfish front he caught the last 4 flatfish in a row. Here is a good picture of Jim (Brill left) and Ray (Turbot right) that compares nicely in weight, caught at the same time. Individually they are a little tricky to pick when coming up in the clear water but when you put them side by side the differences are more obvious. We were not sure how well the fish would keep from the first and second days so most of the fish went back alive.

The next day we tried another area where we had more Bass up to 6.5lb than we did flatfish but Gary Withers tried his hand at the right state of the tide and knocked out this ‘double figure’ Turbot. Here is the best flatfish we had on the trip.

  

In the afternoon of day three we decided, after a consultation, that we should try for a Tope. After getting the mark spot on we settled down and managed some reasonable Tope around the 30lb mark and Bull Huss up to 11lb. Here is Jeff Semple with his snarling Bull Huss.

The next day the forecasters were giving a F6 SW. We were a little undecided but in the end all seemed to want to have another go for the flatfish and we drifted the South Banks latching into Pollock, Bass and the odd Turbot. We certainly gave it a good go as the sea eased a little we moved to the Shoal Banks, even further a field. The seas by then had built a little although drifting in these conditions was safe and an enjoyable experience in the South Cat. Quite remarkable as in a more traditional fishing boat most of us would have been seeing our breakfast again. The fishing suffered little and we could still give it our best shot. One lasting memory will be when a wave decided to slap onto the gunnels and curl the top of itself right over Jim, before dumping its contents right on his head! Talk about a shower, he was soaked in an instant. Here is a picture of ‘Peace and Plenty’, not, as she was completely hidden by the adjacent wave, honest it was there.

 

On the return trip we drifted a wreck for a few hours and pulled in one Ling and 16 Pollock. All the Pollock were of a good size. After Jeff and I had finished filleting all the fish, we could see the Needles Light in the distance and then it was back to reality as we moved into the Solent. A great 5 days fishing on a super charter boat so thanks to Gary and Jeff for organising the trip and thanks again to Arthur, Private Venture and his crewman Glen Greaves.

The head was one of Gary's best catches!

            

The last laugh was on me as I suggested that the person who caught the biggest fish on the wreck on the way home should buy the last round at the Ship Inn at Lymington, as it was pure luck who connected with the biggest fish. Guess who caught the biggest fish? Yes the ling did it for me! Jeff's fish was the pick of the Pollock, estimated to be up around the 14lb mark.

 

Last but not least a picture of Glen who did an excellent job assisting Arthur - that is when he wasn't showing us how to catch fish!