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Catch Reports 2007

Happy New Year for 2008

Happy New Year from Les, Mike and Due South. I am now at the end of my second full year in this Angling Leisure Charter business and it is proving a very expensive business and more costly than I could ever imagine. The contrast takes some getting used to. After previously owning a smaller boat, with an outboard for private fishing, this charter business has really become an 'eye opener' for me. However, with some hard work, the charters are now starting to cover the boat bills, just. Effectively though, the labour comes free. So at the moment, I do this for the love of boating and needing to get into bigger boats. I feel that I want another string to my bow and am willing the sacrifice to learn the job on a bigger boat, rather than just doing it, for the money. I really enjoying the Skippering work, aboard Due South, and I am learning all the time and on every trip. Mike has ten years more experience than I, which is handy and will help his crews enjoy some good days out in 2008.

On New Years Eve I managed a short 5 hour trip down the Western Solent, as the weather has been fantastic. This followed four days of Golf on Dartmoor, in driving wind and rain, and so was a nice rest day as there were no customers and no fish. The fishing inshore and down the Western Solent is incredibly quiet. It certainly gave me a chance to read the paper and clean a few nooks and crannies. I took our Border Collie, 'Millie' and chose to explore new marks on the Island side and around Newtown Creek. I found a nice spot that gave 60' of water and not too much tide and will be used again as an inshore, sheltered 'fall back'. Well, I did find a good looking mark, and one that will need a better test, so I will return again when there are more fish inshore. Offshore, the fishing is excellent with Cod, Bass and Congers making up the catches. While on the banks expect Blondes and Spurrs.

Biggest Story of 2007:

The Best Bass ever seen taken by Rod and Line from the 'shore', a Cracker of 19lb 11ozs, caught off Sandown Pier, a few weeks ago, back in November.

 

 

 

 

 

What a learning curve it has been through 2007. I have found that keeping everyone happy all the time has never been quite so difficult! Some hard calls have to be made and CANCELLING a trip when all seems fine, apart from the forecast, is necessary to avoid a bad day, which in my opinion, no one wants. I have definitely called three trips off that we should have fished and ended up fishing three trips that we definitely should have cancelled. That's swings and roundabouts but not bad and proves that forecasting is getting better all the time.

I have listed in no particular order the highlights and some of the lows of 2007. I like to finish on a high, so have started with the lows.

2007 Lows

bullet Inevitable Diesel Fuel price increase from 42p to 53p per litre, and prices are due to double again by November 2008, thanks to the Labour Government.
bullet The Labour Government ‘went back’ on a promise to increase the minimum landing size for Bass from 36cms to 40cms! It is still at 36cms.
bullet The Labour Government increasing the Cod quota in the North Sea after the last quotas allowed smaller Cod to increase in numbers slightly!
bullet The horrendous summer weather.
bullet We had 49 Charter Trips cancelled due to the poor weather.
bulletWe really struggled on a Church Crookham Bassing trip where we spent most of the day working lures through the Western Solent, after being forced to stay ‘inside’ by strong Southerlies. We tried really hard but all in vein.
bullet A Balmer Lawn evening trip where went out in flat seas and fading light only for the wind to pick up much earlier than forecast and the ‘wind over tide’ in the dark was too much, for most that were really trying to fish.

2007 Highs

bulletIn 2007 we had the best Spring and Autumn weather I can remember.
bullet 48 Charter Trips fished.
bullet Kev Witts cracking 16lb 7oz Turbot, just a few miles from the Needles Light.
bullet The Bob Foley Crew trip on 31st January, where every one of the six anglers managed a 30lb plus Conger, plus many more Congers plus they caught a Cod, a Bass, a specimen Undulate Ray and a specimen Thornback Ray.
bullet The Tony Lavington Crew trip on 22nd September where every angler caught one of the 15 Blondes to 13lb or Small Eyed Rays and where Tony and Jon Richards both hooked and reeled up the same 10lb 4oz Turbot.
bullet My Robert and Alison both cracked Bassing with floating live baits.
bulletAgain finding some quality Plaice round at Ventnor.
bullet Fixing the Gearbox Oil Cooler problem after identifying the source of the oil slick in the exhaust water.
bulletGiving Due South a really good clean up in August, you can't help falling for these boats when you see how well GRP cleans up, with a bit of effort. Thanks to Mike Callus for being such a good hand.
bullet Seeing a 20lb Cod again on the deck of my boat.
bullet 80 trips already confirmed for 2008 by November. I only had 3 confirmed for 2007 this same time, last year.

 

Final note for 2007, and just to prove that the 'Lunker Cod' are still around the Needles, here is Lee Price of the Balmerlawn Honda team that also fishes from his own boat, a 17' Dory. He caught this beauty just a couple of miles South East, a cracking 30lb Cod.

Happy New Year, to all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekending 23rd December

At last, the weather was kind and we managed to get to where we wanted to. The four man Tony Lavington crew  made the best of it by fishing hard through a fairly heavy 3.3 meter Range Tide, which meant battling with weights up to 1.5lb at times. They used plenty squid to attract 19 Congers to 40lb, two double figure Cod with the best going 21lb, plus a few Whiting, Pout and a Small Eyed Ray. Without doubt the fishing has started to pick up and there are plenty of species to be caught again with all  charter boats venturing at least 2.5 miles South getting into lots of heavy weight  fish. We even lost two lunker fish that fought, just as a big Cod would, with the best one being lost just under the boat when the braid 'went'. Reports from the dinghies proved that 'close in' was a struggle, with plenty of Dogs making up the catch although on boat managed a 16lb 4oz Thornback on the Outer Reef.

It was certainly a good end to 2007 and bodes well for January 2008. This part of the season produced the best days out for Due South early this year, when we could get to our preferred marks.

An interesting point was the 'wire Versus braid' test, which I judged. Well, my wire won actually, but mainly due to the fancy muppet, at the far end. While Jon Richards with his Diawa Interline 30lb Class Rod and braid managed the best Cod of 21lb, plus three Congers. Tony Lavington on Braid lured 5 Congers which matched me on my wire but then I caught a Cod too. Close, but I still find the 'winch and wire' easier to retrieve than the braid in a big tide.

The last competition of the Ashlett SAC series ended with Malc Lemoignan winning the Match and the Championship with the best result of the year with 195 points. His 75lb catch included 3 Cod to 13lb, a 5lb Bass, plus Dogs, Pout, Whiting, and a Poor Cod. In the championship final table,  Any Niven was a close second and Steve Davies was a distant third.

Jon Richards might have had the biggest Cod at 21lb but mine was the prettiest, although just 11lb, and went down well for Sunday Dinner.

Next month I will review my second full year in the Charter Boat and review the Leisure Charter Angling Business from my own perspective.

So it just leaves me to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and appeal to you all to  keep up the conservation message and push it forward.

Weekending  15th December

The weather was good this week but deteriorated for the weekend. Today was a first, where I decided to phone the crew soon after I got out of bed, and logged on. I heard the wind chimes and a whistle round the chimney so I checked the Hurst weather station on the net and it showed 18Knts to 24knts of wind at  0610. So I called and gave the crew the option, we had a F5 Easterly against a flooding tide until 2pm. Christchurch Bay or the Solent was the comfortable fish and certainly nowhere near the 4 mile mark I had in mind. Sensibly they called off. It was also only 3-4 degrees centigrade all day! I went down anyway and gave Due South a run out down the Solent. It wasn't very nice for a smaller mono hull but turned out to be fishable, if you had a Big Cat! Out from Lymington, Arthur Savage and Greg Woodford  gave it a go, as did Mike on Challenger, fair play to them. Still there is no rest for the wicked as I came back home to get 9 fence panels, posts and lumps of concrete down to the dump, fix a fence and  clean out the car.

On Wednesday Mike managed to get Due South and the Geoff Wheeler crew out to the Needles, only to find it hard going inshore, with just Pout, Dogs and a few Whiting. A couple of other boats did OK, with a 17lb Ling showing up, and a couple of boats getting into the better Cod, up to 17lb. But it seems you have to push out to find them, the sea temperature is down to around 8 degrees, which is much colder than this time last year.

Weekending 2nd December

Last Saturday followed the forecast exactly, perfect first 2 hours followed by F5-F6. I don't like the wind to get worse when I have decided to cancel but it did. The day started off perfect and seemed fine but as I was heading down to the boat, from Christchurch at 13:30, I honestly thought there was no wind at all still. However when I got to Lymington Haven I was surprised to see that 20 Knots had been registering from 11:20 at Hurst, so a good decision it was, not to go. Particularly with a big tide against a nasty wind. I ran Due South against the ropes for a while and did a coupe of jobs. That was it.

This weekend was cancelled really by Tuesday, and looking at the latest forecast, next weekend looks worse! Yesterday was a matter of just having to get out on the sea. So I went joy riding down the Solent in about 25Knots of wind. I certainly got my boarder collie 'Millie' barking like a mad thing at the spray and the gulls. It was a good run out but not nice enough to sit and fish. Back on the moorings and while it was dry I fitted a new horn and was not impressed; so I will need to get another.

Weekending 18th November

Not the biggest Cod so far but this one fell to my bait during a short session with some friends deep again off Sowley on Wednesday last week. The flood tide proved a little strong for the depth of water we were in and the small amount of weed, that was around, caused a worked 1.25lb lead to be lifted off the seabed. So we had to go shallow for no result other than a dog or two. But at least we got there when we could. The weather was fine and cold and this is how it is normally when we find the Cod going well. We even got back in before the bar closed. On Friday evening 'Bob the plumber' and my Nephew Mitch found seven Cod to 9lb in the same area.

The IOW Cod Champs went well with plenty of Cod showing, although not massive, the numbers were up on the previous few years with the best on both days around the 17lb mark. The weather was great and it proved to be another successful two days of Cod fishing. There were a good number of 9-0 to 10-8 Bass caught too. This is about the only time an angler may not be quite so pleased as they normally would boating such quality Bass, but I suspect they still rather had those than a Conger! Keep an eye out in the angling press and on the Becky-M website for a full report by Dave Stephenson. I may fish it myself next year, not as a skipper but as an angler.

However Saturday found Due South running for shelter down the Solent as we were treated to an unexpected short blow, as a small ridge of pressure caused the wind to pick up to 20+ Knots at one point early on Saturday and through to about mid-day. With it came rain and it was very cold, for the anglers, but floatation suits made the conditions easily bearable. Outside, in the first hour, Kiddlington caught 23 Whiting in quick succession only to be forced to move after the building sea broke the anchor trip. Instead of re-anchoring we went for a mark on the inside. It was a timely decision as soon we found nearly all of the rest of the Charter Angling Fleet coming back too. After a couple of Dogs I decided to have a look outside again as the wind dropped to nothing again but the short swell was too big for any sensible comfort so we ran back down to Sowley. Believe it or not we had a mackerel, Private Venture reported 13 mackerel caught. We also had a small whiting plus a few dogs but generally the lack of a decent fish and the cold rain made for a hard days fishing. It was a pity the forecasters got it wrong but we had a sniff of what was out round the light. This weeks planned trips look to be in jeopardy already but we will wait and see.

Weekending 11th November

Could this be the new 'Due South Too'. I don't know yet but it has to be a big contender. It is all about learning boats really. Lets see what the accountant say's. This good looking CAT is made to order on the South Coast, fairly local and sports a 4.2m beam and is 9.5m on the waterline. She cruises at 15knts still while returning good economy, around 2 litres per mile. This displacement Cat is a practical and cheaper alternative to the planning South Cats. But this is more of a 'Championship boat' for inshore work rather than a 'Premiership' Alderney class angling boat. Why go bigger? Simple really 'comfort, economy and more space'. Two engines is better than one and unleaded is going to be the same price as Diesel. This boat has a 2 Tonne payload and is pushed along with a couple of 60hp outboards. The test trip was very impressive, even though we were just using twin 25hp Outboards on the test boat. We maxed out at 14Knts.

     

As far as the fishing goes, well there are a few Cod about, some small and some large but definitely not in any great numbers yet. The Lymington Cod open fished in perfect weather attracted lots of entries that could only muster a handful of Cod between them with a 14lber taking the top prize. While close by on 'Dulcie T' skippered by Ron Bundy they pulled in a beauty, over 30lb! Generally we have plenty of huge Pout dominating the scene inshore and plenty of dogs as you push further out. To catch the Cod you have to fish through these fellas. It takes a lot of bait, large hooks and hard work, there is no alternative. There are a few quality Pollack and Bass mixed in and the Whiting are in abundance on the famous Whiting spots. Blondes will be found on the offshore banks and Congers are starting to move about on open ground.

On Due South last Tuesday Evening, the Pat Warne crew found the Codding hard work and never landed one, although Pat's rod had the braid snapped on a good fish hooked just before slack water and at the end of the flood tide, deep off Lepe. Otherwise it was dogs and a single Bass. This is likely to be the last Evening Charter this year. I will look forward to Spring around the beginning of May before we kick off with these trips again next year. There have been some lessons learnt. One, is to get some light casting rods and fixed spool reels that beginners can cast easily and get the baits away from the boat, which is critical when fishing in shallow water at night. This will also amplify the feeling of a a good fish on the line.

Last weekend on Due South, Kiddlington SAC found more than 150 fish. With the biggest ones hooked, biting through the lightweight traces, suspected to be Congers. Interesting was this Pout caught on a live Poor Cod. The Spotted Ray was so well marked I decided to snap that too for Stuart.

                        

The week ago, Tuesday trip, found plenty of life deep off Sowley, on one of those perfect evening forecasts. The Pat Warne crew had a Thornback, Spotted Ray, Dogs, Pout and this small Cod. One or two more Cod would have made it a very good, short evening trip. Here is John with his Cod, caught just at the start of the flood tide.

 

 

Mikes midweek trip was a good one for the Andy Headley crew with plenty of large Pout a couple of Skate and a couple of big Congers keeping them busy.

It will be interesting to see what came by this weekend. I had a rest, looked at a new boat, did some Christmas shopping, and ran the line at a Juniors Cup Rugby match, rather than put up with the Solent and those F6 Westerly winds.

It is the International Cod comp this week coming so let's see what the West Wight Charter Fleet and others can find for their crews. Good luck to all those on the comp. It doesn't come down to numbers just the best Cod for the biggest prizes, so everyone has a great chance.

Weekending 28th October

Thursday week I treated my Sarah and boat maintenance buddy from work, Mike Callus, to a Solent Evening trip as the weather was too good to miss. We were privileged to one of the best and longest sunsets I have seen. We were only going out for a couple of hours and ended up using all the bait we had. Mike boated a nice 12lb Undulate Ray. We were deep off Sowley. This is one of the best ever caught down the Solent. I think that as nearly ALL Undulates go back, they are becoming obviously more prevalent. He also lost a very big Cod at the back of the boat after it wore through his 25lb nylon trace. If Big Cod take the bait right down into those huge mouths you need a decent biting trace to take the strain. We still managed a smaller one and missed a couple of good takes, suspected to be Bass, so it looked very promising last week. Here is Mike with the Undulate.

                    

Last Saturday everyone seemed to struggled across most of the boats that were out there, it was very disappointing. There was very little tide, just 1.4m range. I should blame high pressure and the Easterly winds too. However one of my crew, Mike Callus again,  had some success and managed a Cod, Bass, Skate and Dogs while the rest managed just a Ray one huge Mackerel and a few Dogs. But just to buck the trend that day, Lee from the Balmer Lawn Honda crew, who has just bought his first boat reported that he and some mates found a mark on the same Saturday that fished really well! They found a couple of reasonable Skate to 12lb, Gurnards, a Ray, Bream and loads of Dogs. He just tried a mark in Christchurch Bay and it fished for them, so it just goes to show. You certainly won't catch them at home thinking about it.

Yesterday and through the last week has been patchy and sometimes hard work. You have to stick at it. My last two trips have been poor due to bad decisions on my part, regarding the weather, maybe we would have been better off doing something else, but hindsight is another thing. Both yesterday and Tuesday evening the weather all came through a little too early. On Due South to be honest we caught very little bar a loads of Pout and Dogs, behind the shingles for 3 hours, on the Flood. Andy Niven won that battle and won the comp. We moved as the wind was due to notch up again and found it was very poor down the Solent in 47' of water off Yarmouth in the massive Equinox Spring tide. On Tuesday evening we found just a few dogs and a Hound when restricted to 24' in the Sowley area in the evening, the rough sea down the middle in the dark forced us to fish shallower than I would have liked.

Mike called off Wednesday and it turned out to be far better than the forecast, but when that decision is made, that is it and we all know where we stand. There is always another day.

Arthur reported a 23lb Cod yesterday so they are now there to be caught. Two weeks ago West Lepe and East Lepe were fishing well for the Codling. On Monday evening Rob Thomspon had four, two in double figures, on 'Shogun', towards the East and down the Solent.

Hence the reason for me pushing the boat out this weekend when maybe I should have left her on the wave screen. Still Ashlett SAC got our Boat KO fished and the Balmer Lawn crew learnt all about wind over tide :-).

Update - 14th October

The weather has continued to be fantastic so the fishing has been comfortable to say the least. Cod in the 6lb and 14lb year groups are now showing with more 6lbers than the bigger ones. Some Whiting are there too but not in any numbers yet. Large Pout and the prevalent Dogs are everywhere. John Skeggs on TomKat proved that the Bass are now bigger and better if you know where and when to fish for them. While Greg Woodford on Southern Star has been finding Porbeagle Sharks for his crews out in the mid-channel, with the best one at around 300lb.

Last week on Due South we found loads of Dogs at 4 miles and a Bass, while back in, on the mile marks it was very quiet. It was just one of those days, everyone struggled on all the boats. So we voted on the Rugby  and went to Yarmouth for a pint and to watch England triumph over the Wallabies before going down to the Solent Banks and getting buzzed by WAFI's. There were no bites there and a bit too much tide. What a poor days fishing but we had a great time all the same and made the best of what we had. Mid-week Mike found a Cod and a Conger and some monster Pout. While yesterday my crew of two beginners and a future Charter Skipper, Alex Keller found loads of Dogs (too many), loads of Pout and a Bull Huss, Whiting, Tub Gurnard and strings of Mackerel at Anchor. It was the flattest day of the year so far and long may it continue.

Update - 2nd October

The biggest tide fished this year left me with a beginner crew conundrum, fish for what they want, big fish, or try elsewhere a little easier. Well the weather was perfect so we went for it. The first stop found too much tide for them and so we moved within 5 minutes. The next stop gave us half a Knot less tide but still difficult for them with a 1lb of lead on their braid. Still as the tide eased we found a couple of Congers which is what we were after. The day was fairly quiet all round after listening to the radio reports. We then moved for the Ebb which always runs away a little harder than the flood but this only found us a few more dogs plus some Pout.

Mackerel started coming to the bait rod and Gus decided to fish for them when I offered a swap. He tried for the Mackerel, I wanted to show them that there were Bass there. I baited his Hire Rod and sent it back down the tide, maintaining bottom all the way, and immediately had a bite. I let it go and then struck hard, only to miss. I let it go again and no kidding within 5 minutes of picking up the Rod I was commentating that I thought it was a good Bass or a small Conger. When it went out to the side I knew it was a reasonable Bass. Well as the picture shows it was a good fish at around 8lb and donated to the crew. Gus was gutted. On the next drop I was into another similar bite and gave instructions. As soon as I turned round the bait was being wound back in! Not sure why but I was convinced it was another one but unfortunately not given enough time.    

The Exbury Sole comp proved yet again that Christchurch Bay is not fishing well for Sole this season. Still there is always another year. The winner came from the Solent 'somewhere' secret.

On the Sunday three Cod were caught one to a boat. They included Southern Star, TomKat and Challenger. Let's see if it is all systems go from now on! I will keep you up to date.

Update - 23rd September

On Saturday and just for a change everything conspired to work for the CCSAC and not against them! A regular crew, they are better known as the 'Care in Community SAC' and are a good hearted group of mates, 'young' and 'old' from local Hythe. Just for a change a window in the weather and a neap tide let us get out to where we all wanted to fish. We first settled over a mark that has some old net across the South side of it and guess what, I managed to get them right over the net! Well after putting up with the odd stretchy snag for an hour we moved out to the sand banks. Immediately Sand Eels accounted for Small Eyed Rays to around 6lb and Blonde Rays to 13lb. They were coming regular through the Ebb Tide. Following the 14 rays caught on the Ebb we managed a Bass, a Tope and 2 more Rays plus a cracking 10lb 4oz Turbot on the flood.

The story behind the picture is that all three anglers were reeling in what they thought were individual fish across the stern of Due South. Mark Sturgess on the right had his fifth and smallest Small Eyed Ray in the boat first and then we were amazed to see that Tony (left) and Jon were fighting the same fish on light tackle, as the beautifully marked Turbot hit the surface. The big flatfish had both of their traces in it's mouth, just as well they are mates!

Update - 16th September

The weather has been very kind at the same time as the England rugby team are enjoying the world cup, not, so that is a bit of a distraction for me but I am allowed a day off now and again. Watching Wales trying to beat the Aussies was fantastic yesterday and we had a great day out, now I just need to fully recover and get some more blood back into the my alcohol system! Some very good weather however has not meant exceptional fishing but if you can't enjoy fishing when it is like this, then you never will.

Mike has been finding some really good fish within a few miles of the light for the mid-week crews, with Eels to 45lb and plenty of them too, plus a couple of skate and a few nice Bass. Meanwhile inshore, in the evenings, I have found the Soles a little difficult, on normally reliable marks in Christchurch Bay but other species have made a showing, although nothing really special amongst them at the moment. The weed has nearly died off now and the Solent should really start to pickup as we go into October, a prime month for the Western Solent, during the dark hours.

Just to remind you that our bookings are now building up for next year and the weekends are not far off being spoken for, although some dates are provisional still. Mid-week trips are available but we are limiting them to a couple of midweek trips each week. The mid-week bookings are preferred to be on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and then one evening a week, ideally a Tuesday or Thursday. You can book up in twos or three's or as individuals, and I will make up the crew's to 5 or 6 anglers but the price for individual's does work out a little higher.

Full Boat charter for 2008 is £205 for an 'inshore' day charter and £145 for an evening Charter. Note my fuel cost is due to more than double from November 2008, so the full boat price still gives exceptional value. I am also registering to Space Finder in an effort to complete the bookings. Give it a week or so and then search on, Space Finder.

Update - 1st September

I wish I could show you a decent Bass or two from today's catch but unfortunately they just did not play the game for Due South and Church Crookham SAC. It wasn't for lack of effort, as we all worked hard, all day for just the one Bass plus bits and pieces during a short period at anchor. The story was similar from the other boats fishing similar banks and wrecks, on the drift. There have been a couple of pair trawlers and a beam trawler working their socks off, and it shows. Having said that you could see the fish markings on the Furuno Sounder at times, they just could not be enticed into taking the lures and baits. Mackerel are certainly and all of a sudden very scarce so I recommend bait be brought along on all trips from now on.

Ashlett SAC found some nice Plaice in their recent Committee Cup, fished on Due South, where the biggest Plaice was to take the trophy. Last Saturday Steve Davies had the leading Plaice on his first drop at 4lb 7oz, with 7 others all looking close and all having to be weighed. The odd 4lb Plaice was being returned by Gary Wither's. Seriously he put a 4lb Plaice back! Steve led throughout the day right up to the engine being started at 15:15 when both Steve and Andy Niven reeled in their last Plaice. Andy's was close at 4lb 5oz but Steve improved on his very first Plaice with one of 4lb 12oz. We had a couple of bait robbing Bream to 2lb.

So as not to be outdone by Steve, Andy Niven and Dink Lemoignan went back on the Sunday and found 18 more Plaice with the best one going 5lb 1oz. They also had a Codling


Meanwhile another local crew found the fishing has picked up inshore and that made me believe the recent quiet patch was well and truly over.  The inshore evening trips do tend to find the fish feeding, it's their time for dinner too. Codling in August, here is a picture of Lee with a Codling of a couple of pounds. That's not bad when you are in 30' of water, just off the shore, in a very small tide. You never know, dare we hope for a good Cod season to compliment all those open ground Conger that we are starting to expect during the winter months? The Codling was mixed in with a good catch of Bream to 2lb, a 3lb Bass and four Bull Huss plus the odd Pout and plenty of Dogs. Light line fishing at it's best.

Update - 23rd August

Due South has now got all those nagging little jobs sorted out plus a couple of bigger, well over due jobs done, too. Thanks to Mike Callus from work and my two youngest for lending me a good hand. It nearly killed me getting it all done in time for the next trip, only for the wind to blow it all away. I lost the Thursday evening trip and Saturday trip to that awful weather again.

Still we managed to get out on the best forecast of the week and treat my helpers to a bit of drifting for Bass. We put up with the building sea for 3 hours during the flood on Friday and after a couple of decent fish to about 5lbs decided to try some trolling. That was a complete waste of time so we anchored in Christchurch Bay for a break and in just one hour of fishing, at the end of the flood, we had Bass, Bream, Dogs and a Bull Huss, so it looks like it has started to pick up again. Unfortunately that horrendous weather at the start of last week on those huge tides seems to have dispersed the Mackerel from around the light. We all struggled to find in the usual places, so be prepared. Fresh dug King rag was a useful fall-back bait, in the absence of live Scad and Mackerel. It was good to see Geoff Wheeler back in form.

Due South now cuts through the water easily with her shiny new anti-fouled bottom and polished prop, making life much more pleasurable at the helm again.

Before the lift and clean up operation, Mike finally managed a Charter trip with a break in the weather letting them go to some reasonable marks for a variety of species. No doubt there was some reminiscing going on as the crew were one of his original and very first Due South crews. He even managed to wet a line himself, so good luck to him and may the weather start to turn better for us all. It has to improve in the Autumn surely, it is called the 'Law of Averages'.

On Saturday me and the Mrs attended the Lymington Haven berth holders Summer Bash. Unsurprisingly there weren’t many fisherman there but I went to school with one of the Marine Engineers so we had a good chat. It was posh nosh though, and we did have trouble turning up when there were other options on the way, like normal pubs and clubs but in the end I was glad I got there, as everything was free! So I will definitely return next year and be better prepared with jeans, T-Shirt and Sailing Jacket and an empty belly!

Due South is being booked by Clubs for next year, already. It is the Saturdays that you need to book as early as possible for the best tides, mid week and evenings are aplenty. I won't publish the 2008 Diary yet but it is a first come first served scenario., and will post the diary some time at the end of September.

This week we should be OK for our planned trips, according to the forecast, but they have struggled to call the weather from one day to the next in this very unsettled summer.

Update - 5th August

At last some decent weather, although high pressure makes the fishing a little harder. I have struggled to find the fish in numbers down the Solent in daylight hours with just a few dogs and just one or two Hounds and plenty small bait robbing Bream. Mackerel are plentiful still off Yarmouth.

Bass are a good option with even the 'woman and kids' finding decent fish on the evening trips. My Alison and Robert took advantage of the settled weather, and some space between bookings, to sample some good Bass fishing. They were absolutely made up with their catch, caught on different evenings but at the same state of a flooding tide.

 

Yesterdays Bisley SAC Bassing expedition over the 'inshore' banks was hard going with the Bass further a field harder to find, than the more local ones. We explored Banks to 10 Miles South East and we managed four to 4lbs. The weather allowed us to give it a good go and we used the lot; small scad, mackerel and a variety of 'artificials'. Still that is fishing for you, if we caught every time and all the time it would be 'catching'. There is a lot of competition out there with the Poole boats coming all the way over 'to our' ground to find some Bass at the moment. The trick is to go further South East on the best forecasts and biggest tides.

Due South has two trips this week and then is coming out Thursday for a good scrub and clean up, but she will be back in by next Wednesday, for the Thursday evening trip.

Update - 26th July

All Mikes trips have been cancelled so far this week, although my trip again on Saturday is looking good. Last week proved that there are fish to be caught when we can get out and a little way offshore. Or, if fishing shallow in the Solent and Christchurch Bay, we need to fish into the dark. Day light hours fishing down the Solent is hard at the moment, although there are a few stingers still to be targeted.

Last Thursday evening, I was caught short after only managing to find three Mackerel on the way to a mark in Christchurch Bay. ‘OK, what bait do we have then?’ I asked, having not seen anymore bait defrosting, or any worms. To which they replied, ‘Three Mackerel!’
Guess who had forgotten to pick up the ordered bait? Yes, me! Well there is a first time for everything.

So after a couple more drifts over ‘the’ mark, I decided to head out to behind the shingles and then onto the Dolphin Bank.  The clouds darkened and sure enough we got some rain, as the crew managed just a couple of small eyed Rays. There were Mackerel at anchor so we were OK for bait, enough for flappers even, so I decided a move to the 'back of the Shingles'. We were into Pout straight away and so I suggested they used these and the mackerel for a Conger.

The sea was oily flat calm by then, with very little tide. Basically it was perfect for Eels, as we caught four Congers to 20lb and dropped another three plus a they caught more pout plus a dogfish or two.

Saturday started like a proper summer’s day. It certainly made a nice change. We caught mackerel by the bucket load just past the spoil grounds and then got into Tope, small Congers, Bream, Pout, Scad and dogs. There were so many mackerel the crew had trouble getting their baited hooks through them. However the sea lumped up, and a few waves started to curl over and give a little growl now and again. Then the forecast on Ch16 issued by the coastguard, had changed from a predicted F4/F5 to a F6/F7, another two notches up the scale! Well after a wave came over the side and the tide had not yet pulled us fully round, I decided to move back inside, at about 12:45. It was relief to three of the crew and a bit of a let down for the other two experienced crew who were really enjoying getting into some fish. It was a hard decision but it was one that I had to make, and in good time. Inside, off Atherwood, we found loads of Bream from  tiny to small and up to 1-4 plus the one hound.

Still it is worth saying that if the forecast was a F6/F7 to start with, we would not have gone out. It certainly messed up a few plans and not just ours. The Exbury club species hunt was certainly caught out by the bad forecast too. However, this did not stop Ian Saunders recording seven sizable species to win the event.

In the last week a cracking sole of 3lb 12.5oz has been weighed in by Mike 'Tommo' Thompson, and is a good contender for the Ashlett SAC 'Best specimen of the year' award.

Mike still has not been able to Skipper Due South, mid week, as the wind continues to cause havoc with his planned trips. This coming weekend looks better though, so let’s get at them again. A few Tope will suit the 'newish to sea angling' crew, I have been told, and we can certainly find some of them!

I have added more dates to our Diary 2007 for this year, from September and onwards through the Cod season. The law of averages states that we have to have some settled weather sooner or later, so let's hope for a good Autumn/Early Winter.

Weekending 15th July

After some pretty poor weather we managed to get a few boarder line trips underway and the fishing was generally ‘OK’ with a variety of species and plenty of Mackerel for fresh bait, but it has been ‘harder’ on the flood tide, this last week.

Yesterday - Three hours before HW at Sconce saw loads of big Mackerel which is typical when a 30 nice live Joey's would be preferred. I wish that I had a sandeel net in this situation. After immediately catching a box of bait and about 15 smaller live baits the rest of the day proved to be extremely difficult and the hardest day. The expected F4 - F5 in the am going to F3 in the pm turned out to be a F6 all day. This scuppered everyone's plans, with some calling off, but nearly everyone falling back into the Solent. On Due South we decided to continue Bassing, not on the inshore banks but around the Hurst/Sconce area. Well after 5 hours drifting of hard fishing and not one Bass we threw in the towel and opted for the hook for the last 2 hours for ten or so Bream and a Dogfish. I tell it as it is, as this is all useful information. Luckily I had an experienced Church Crookham crew and they stuck to the task throughout all the tackle losses. We certainly proved the Bass were not around Hurst, yesterday. I was told a trawler had been working it mid-week.

Thursday  – late afternoon saw 24Knts of wind showing on the Lymington Yacht Haven Weather Station. The forecast, cold front, supposedly moving through at mid day, hadn’t, and a warm front was sat right on us. At that point, in my mind, I was calling off but that was because I had mistakenly thought the Tony Edwards crew were mainly beginners. Luckily they were not, and as some had come down from the Wiltshire area, they were keen to go, so long as I was happy. We went. After drifting Sconce at about 4knts, wind with tide, for a dozen Mackerel, we anchored Yarmouth/Hampstead just out of the main tide in 42’. We had a dozen Bream to 1-4 in 90 minutes but nothing else. So I moved a short distance and tested the edge of the ledge inshore, still at 42’ but sheered to 20’, to find the Hounds, even quieter! So then we shot over to Sowley Boom, which was very quiet compared to recent weeks with just 2 miniature hounds! So for the end of the flood, slack and start of the Ebb we went to 50’ off Sowley and caught a sizable Bass, Bream, Dogs and the best specimen for Tony a reasonable 10lb Thornback. The Hounds were conspicuous, only to me, by their absence.

The best part, was that we had no weed at all, at any time, during the evening. Can you believe it? I couldn’t as the weed was my biggest concern at the start, knowing we would be fishing the Solent. I think that the weather had pushed it up on the beaches.

Anyway the crew were in good ‘spirits’, literally, some of them, and we found a few fish. The flooding tide made for a very comfortable evening in the Solent, with the wind easing off towards the end. After the crew left the boat at 23:10, their next stop was a curry house. Now that’s the way to finish off a ‘Thursday night out’.

Sunday 8th July - A great start to the day for a change although at the end we had a good F5 from the South West. Here is a good series of pictures of Roy Davies from Langley with a nice 23lb Blonde Ray caught 10 miles from the light on Due South. The specimen Blonde was the ‘best’ on the early July Ashlett SAC Boat competition. Other species included Small Eyed Rays, Hounds, Dogs, Pout, Bass, Pollock, Bream, Tub Gurnard and Wrasse. Andy Niven, fishing on his own boat 'Pot Luck' won the event with 55lb / 150 points, with four more good hounds making up the weight. That gives Andy a 100% record of 4 out of 4 wins, so far. Second was Malc Lemoignan with 47lb / 149 points. Third was myself with 37lb / 127 points and fourth came Roy with 32lb / 126 points with the majority of the fish, weighed on the boats and then released. The general trend was for both boats to experience a very quiet flood tide inside the Solent and out.

                   

Please note that I am just starting to get one or two enquiries about next years diary. To book Due South and myself for evenings or Saturdays, or Mike for mid-week trips, please call me on 07894 912529 or 02380891441 or e-mail me on ltjones2004@yahoo.co.uk.

Weekending 24th June

I must be going mad. I remember reading that there is a current fishing ban on Skate and Rays. But then I have looked for supporting evidence since and can't find it. I think they are definitely becoming more prevalent, nearly everywhere we fish at the moment. Good news for everyone I say, so keep returning those females.

Kevin Duell has now bought ‘Sundance’ from Roger Bayzand and so one of the better Charter boats that there has ever been is now working again. This is good news for his old crews and boat anglers in general that can afford to charter the bigger boats and prices that go with them. If anyone is interested in Kevin’s old boat ‘Voyager’ it is up for sales at £37K plus VAT.

The NFSA is working hard for us anglers in trying to formulate a sensible plan with the Government in the way Licensing will be implemented. We all have to wait and see but as a major stakeholder the NFSA have a good say in these things. If you moan about it and you are not an NFSA member or a member of any other ‘stakeholder’ then shame on you, if you don’t get sign up quickly. We sea anglers all need your help here. Basically membership costs the same as 100 worms from a tackle shop!

The weekend started really well but followed the forecast, to the letter, and by mid-day on Saturday, the wind picked up and made us head back down the Solent. Still my beginner crew, all rod hires, fared well on a Christchurch Bay mark, with the first two fish coming to Simon and Adam in the stern, on the first drop. I assumed a couple of Dogs when they shouted for the net but no they were both sizable Bass, with the best around 5lb and both falling to fresh mackerel strips. Those were soon followed by 5 hounds to 7lb and a Bull Huss plus the omni present Dogs, not bad for the first 45 minutes! Slack water brought nothing but enabled us to drink our tea and wolf down a sausage and bacon roll. I moved ‘Due South’ to the other side of the bank for the flood tide and apart from one Smoothound and a couple of Dogs it was much slower. Then as mentioned, the building sea forced us to move.

Back in the Solent we found a few more large mackerel, ideal for strip baits, off Yarmouth and then anchored in 50' towards Hampstead Ledge. We were still on the Island side of the Western Solent. The sea was flat, 10oz was perfect and there was no weed, but no fish either! So after an hour (and more tea) we moved across to the 'rough side' off Sowley where we got the full benefit of a F5-F6 WSW. The tide was right though, so the ‘sea’ was on the bow, as planned. It was comfortable and luckily for us the rain stayed on the land!

The action was consistent over 'our side' with 7 more decent hounds to 11lb and a Sting Ray, that punched well above it's weight on matched tackle and weighed around 12lb, for Paul up by the wheelhouse. We had a lot of small bream stripping the baits and one or two Dogs but the crew fished well throughout and got the results they deserved. The ride back was a bit choppy and wet, but getting the bow ‘right out’, at full speed, we flew over it and so made for an easier ride home. A good day was had by all. If you have some pictures lads, I will post them with this story, you kept me so busy, I did not have time to take some snaps of my own.

Sunday was a washout for those that planned to go but I have still not heard if the Lymo comp went ahead or not.

Mike Hannam will be running his first trip, next week, for 18 months on Due South, and since selling the boat and retiring from the Police Boats. I hope they have a nice day out and he enjoys the first of his new encounters with her. I will certainly miss the day off but I have to save some holidays for Alison and the kids, before she tells me to!

Reminder - we still have more dates and times free, so to book myself for evenings or Saturdays, or Mike for mid-week trips, please call me on 07894 912529 or 02380891441 or e-mail me on ltjones2004@yahoo.co.uk.

Weekending 17th June

Not a bad week, with only yesterday's 'Saturday trip' cancelled due to F5-F6 SW with rain in the forecast. Wednesday proved to be a good day for the Bream again, with the Geoff Wheeler crew catching loads to 1lb 10oz all through the Ebb Tide, plus three TBR's and a Spotted Ray, lots of Dogs, plus a Whiting, a Hound, a couple of Tope and a Tub Gurnard. Mackerel were again caught easily for bait round the light and were on the mark a few miles South all day too. On Thursday night we drifted the Bridge with the Pat Warne crew. Unfortunately we had hits with the Bass killing the Mackerel but did not manage to connect with one. Earlier that day Rob Thompson found a cracking 14lb 4oz Bass on the Bridge to live Mackerel for one of his crew. John had a couple of Pollock on a nice pirk size Blue and Silver lure which looked like it might fall foul to the rocks but John controlled it well, never lost it, and found the Pollock. It was an enjoyable trip as the 'potential' was always there.

On the Friday Bisley SAC caught with reasonable success while drifting for Bream on light tackle to avoid the heaviest part of the flood. In hindsight I wish we had targeted Bass at this time, as I had the slack water 30 minutes earlier in my mind, but we caught the Bream at  2.1Knts of tide, although they were on the smaller side, at  around 1lb 4oz. At anchor on the same mark we found a few more bigger Bream, inevitable dogs, some Whiting, and a small Tope. Then we went off to drift a couple of Bass marks. It was hard work to be fair, with a loppy sea but the crew all fished well and stuck to it and it sort of paid off in the end. Most of the Bass were small but here is a nice fish caught by Ron of the Bisley SAC crew and believe it or not on a very smelly old Sandeel while drifting just SE of the light. First he showed the rest of the crew how to catch smaller Bass on the Green and Orange shads before experimenting. The testing session secured him the best Bass of the day at 8lb 4ozs. It is amazing how quick smelly old sandeels can become valuable! As the others shared his bait more Bass were caught!

Weekending 10th June

Last week we had a couple of successful evening trips, with Hounds and Black Bream the main target species caught up to around 10lb plus dogfish and an occasional Bass and Thornback Ray. The female Hounds are fairly weighty with pups filling out the girth while the males are putting in a good scrap still. On the Tuesday we found some good Hounds in Christchurch Bay and on the Thursday evening a mixture of species to a crew who, were in the main, trying their hand at boat fishing for the very first time. I think now that 10:30pm is the time to get the anchor up at the end of a long day, particularly when we nearly all must work the following day. Thanks for the kind words and feedback Dave, all feedback is appreciated.

The weed is just starting to become an issue down the Solent but it is not too bad to fish it yet. There are Mackerel around Hurst too now but you will find them a bit ‘patchy’. Christchurch Bay seems to be holding larger shoals of mackerel, while the ‘drop off’ is fairly reliable and good numbers of Joey’s can be found with a bit of effort. Further out they are easy. The Hounds were not so easy to find ‘shallow’ last week but they were holding out deeper. The lower pressure and mid-night tides this week would make for Big Hound, shallow fishing, prime time.

The weekend’s weather was great although we had to put up with thick fog all day on Saturday off the light. This was the first real test for my ‘new’ Furuno RADAR, and it worked a treat having set a 1m ‘guard ring’ round the boat. It seemed that a low flying aircraft would set the alarm off occasionally but other wise all targets could be heard heading in or away and could be monitored until they were safely off the display. This made for a much more relaxing day when visibility wasn’t much more than 100m for most of the trip. The Solent however seemed to have stayed clear which made for a good last leg.

On Saturday, the pick of the fish caught on Due South was a cracking Turbot for Kevin Witt, officially weighed at 16lb 5oz, caught just a few miles South of the light. Now this is what you call a bonus fish. Steve Davies also latched into another bonus species a good looking Red Gurnard.       
We found some good Black Bream to 3lb, plenty of large Pout over a small wreck, and the obligatory Dogs plus a 10lb Thornback. We also had the odd small Tope and Conger which stole our fresh baits but luckily not a plague of them. Kevin was the boat winner on ‘Due South’ with a total of 60lb of fish while the Ashlett comp was won by Andy Niven on ‘Pot Luck’ with 106lb. The majority of his weight, 70lb of it, was due to six ‘good’ Hounds, the best at 13lb 8oz. Nearly all the fish were weighed and returned, you can guess which one wasn’t!

                           

Arthur Savage on ‘Private Venture 2’ kindly lent us a frying pan on the Saturday morning (mine was in the dishwasher still) just before he shot off to St Catherine’s and found a massive 68lb Tope for one of his lady anglers. Hopefully we will see that one in the press soon. The rest of 20 odd Tope they had, over a fairly short period, were all a good size and somewhere between 30lb and 40lb!

Sunday was the better day, weather wise, but that still did not stop Tom from London throwing a spectacular projectile vomit about 3 meters! I think it was the beer Tom, and the fact you got in from a night out at 5am! Still his fellow ‘crew’, all new to sea angling, thought it was hilarious and videoed the whole thing and then promised to put it on U-Tube. I hope not! They ended the prime time, but shorter Sunday session, with plenty of Mackerel for their pending BBQ plus they caught Dogfish and a nice Spotted and Small Eyed Ray, all fish bar the Mackerel were returned to fight another day.

Weekending 3 June 2007

Apologies for the lack of reports but we have been sailing in Turkey for the last two weeks. We saw some Dolphins and a couple of flying fish and a Sailfish leap out of the choppy but turquoise seas. Unfortunately we caught nothing trolling a variety of lures, but then neither did anyone else.

However, back home, I understand that some of the weather (today!) has been good to test the fishing properly and it is fishing great. Well it should be, this is a fantastic time of year, with a huge variety of species available. Andy Niven has weighed and released a 17lb 8oz Hound and Mitch Jones broke the Ashlett SAC Junior Record Black Bream in the Solent with a 3lb 9.25 oz fish. I have four trips this week so I should be able to update too with some Due South news and with luck some decent pictures. I can't wait to get back out there. Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 6 May 2007

It is all systems go now as the Mackerel and other bait fish are being picked up more regular and the gars are back in numbers. Black Bream have been the main attention with popular marks fishing well with Culver Cliffs, Southborne Rough and The Ledge all figuring in the news stories. It is these spiky fella’s, to 5lb, that become the pot of gold at the end of the ‘Black Bream Rainbow’ for the ultra keen Bream Angler. There are two ways to fish for them; one is simply, hard and fast, with size 6 or 4 hooks and catch bloody loads, including lots of small ones. Or you take your time, with slightly bigger, well prepared baits and bigger 1/0 to 2/0 hooks. It helps to get the ground bait down there and start targeting that big old momma that has been going back and forward across the Channel for 10 years. With that in mind spare a thought for the females with a pink tinge to their flanks and obviously ‘square bottomed’ and ready to deposit her eggs, into the sand patches between the rocks. Your conscience should make you put them one’s back.

Dogfish are a complete pain at this time of year as our best baits that we are patiently preparing and working, keep getting wolfed down by them. It takes some effort to find good fish where the dogs, are not. Generally it is down to fishing harder and keeping your baits fresh and available and not leaving it down some old dogs neck.  Occasionally sometimes there is no choice but to move away and try elsewhere.

Saturday’s trip with Bisley SAC found 9 species; Bream, Bass, Pollock, Pout, Gar, Mackerel, Wrasse, Corkwing Wrasse and Small Eyed Rays plus a lobster, with a few specimen Black Bream among the 60 we boated. Not one Dogfish was seen all day! The best Bream all came on the one tide, with the average size increasing by around a pound to 2lb 12oz for the last 20 odd Bream. The best Black Bream weighed in at 3lb 8.5oz.

   

While last Thursday, an evening sortie in the Solent produced 34 Bream to 1.5lb and 7 Hounds to 10lb, plus dogs. There was also a jammy 2lb Bass, caught midway in 50’ of water, during the retrieve. There is no weed to fight against yet, and this is bodes really well for the next month or so in the Solent. By that time the best and biggest hounds should be around trying to get your line peeled all the way off your reel. During the summer months the weed will become suspended in the tide until a good blow in September puts it all on the beaches.

Two weekends ago we looked after a new crew that need plenty of help but that did not stop them catching their first Black Bream, Dogfish, Gars and Mackerel. They had a lovely day to go with it too.

Back to the weed; the keenest Hound angler will fight the weed to get to those 17lb - 20lb plus Hounds that are there but become harder to catch with weed fouling the up-tiders and the down-tiders. One tip is to NOT use leaders, best use quality 22lb nylon all through, and clear the weed simply by cutting the line above the swivel and retying it back on. Another tip is don't leave your baits out for more than 10 minutes AND fish one rod when there is nearly too much of weed.

Weekending 21st April 2007

Just fixed my website FTP permissions, the reason for no updates since Easter! But the boat has a niggling problem still that must be fixed before I go any distance. After the engine service this week, I ran her out, last night, past the starting platform and all seemed well but she does not like neutral and idling. A bit annoying really having been told yesterday that it was all ok. Well it is not easy moving around 3 tons of boat with a 'cutting out engine', in any sort of wind. When in neutral she stops running so I called today's trip off! I am gutted as I was fishing with a good local crew that always seem to get the brown end of the stick. The weather is fantastic and we would have seen the first decent Black Bream of the year. Best so far are going 4lb - 5lb although finicky and difficult to catch, the rowed up females are huge.  It had to be another great day when she is not ready, they call that sod's law. Still the mechanic is new to the boat and has to learn it, I suppose. She runs but like I say it is not right and I am not sure what the consequences are of running the engine in that way. Still life goes on. It could be air in the fuel supply soewhere but more likely I I think the fuel pump needs tweaking but I won't interfere with the process. Still the problem I had before with a dribbly injector is fixed!

However this is the news I have been trying to post over the last week. What fantastic weather for servicing the engine! Yep it is always destined and guaranteed good weather when the engine is being serviced. The first Ashlett comp of the year was a challenge as my engine was injector less, as three out of six injectors required new nozzles and had to be sent away. So to take part in the comp we tried our luck while still attached to the wave screen sat on my moorings! A good spot for fishing sunbathing and cleaning the boat up a bit. The mad idea left us targeting Flounders and hoping for a sizable Bass. in the end we managed one sizable Flounder and a few undersized Bass. The weigh-in proved that the inshore Banks were now producing as expected with Andy Niven catching 8 Small Eyeds in four hours for a top weight of 51lb and the most points.

Meanwhile the blocks are still fishing well although the Plaice are on the smaller side. This weekend saw the first Black Bream and more Small Eyed Rays making a decent show. Out deep on the 10 mile banks there are Blondes and the odd Conger, Cod and Spurr Dog. Whatever and wherever you go just get out there and enjoy this fantastic weather. Hounds in the smaller 6lb bracket are now being taken in the Solent and the odd Codling is being caught inshore. Mick Cousins did well last Saturday with two Cod on the boat at 14lb and 24lb. Others are finding the odd Codling too.

For those that charter my boat, and read to the end, here is some good news. There are mid week dates now available on Due South. Note I will be only be taking bookings a couple of months in advance while we see how it goes. The trips will be skippered by Mike Hannam who knows the boat really well as he owned and skippered Due South for the first 10 years of her life along with Ted Entwhisle. Please call for details.

By the way the Perkins injectors have lasted for 8700 hours. I wonder if this is a record? Probably more of a tribute to the way the boat has been looked after and run by her previous owners.

Weekending 1st April 2007

From the boats, Plaice and Small Eyed Ray’s are the best fish to target this weekend in my book. Thing is you need to target Plaice with worms and target the Rays with fish strip or baiting with quality, never defrosted, Ammo Sandeels as they are often the best bait. Personally I would put my Sandeel at the end of a long flowing trace and have my Plaice bait on a longish snood or plastic boom, 6-10 inches above the weight, so that it is moving around in the tide but still not far off bottom. Don't forget beads and sequins on the Plaice baits. You then cover the odds and keep your options open. Then if you have a second rod on the go, whack a nice Sandeel, Mackerel or Squid bait uptide, and you are fishing, in my opinion, properly. You could still latch into a good Bass or Thornback and you will get Dogs stealing your baits, too. The question is; do you go East or West? The wind is at F6 NE on Saturday so I am choosing East and will target Plaice again in the Eastern Solent. Well, that is the plan.

Weekending 18th March 2007
A couple trips cancelled and one date that coincided with some quiet weather and a perfect tide for the offshore banks but the crew could not make it. However, last Saturday and yesterday we were out there and fishing and putting up with Westerly F5’s and occasional F6 but dry, so on both occasions so we went on an inshore species hunt. We found some choppy Solent seas and did a lot of fishing but very little catching. With just a few Dogs and a single Plaice to show for our endeavours.

Saturday saw the most bacon 'sarnies' served up so far on Due South with 3 packs of Bacon, a pound of sausages and a dozen eggs going down over the course of the day. While the catch was the worst ever, with two dogfish falling to the same angler on the first two drops! Still we all tried hard and found that we could not locate one Plaice in the Western Solent. I think that they are around but there is a lot of fornicating going on. Why, well, at 8am on my moorings, I watched three Mallard Drakes on one poor old female, trapped alongside my moorings between the boat and the wave screen. I pushed the stern of Due South out and got a rod and pushed all four of them in a floating scrum out into the middle. They just carried on, fornicating. I could have grabbed hold of each of them one at a time and twisted their necks and offered them to my fishless crew. Not that I really thought of that at the time, but I think that this generally a reflection of what is going on in the wild, they all have their minds on something else. The other boats struggled too, all over, but everyone was restricted to their favoured inshore marks. The distance banks and wrecks are still the ideal marks to get on, if you can, this time of year.

For those wanting some Plaice guaranteed over a long day, then the Blocks is still the mark to fish but it will get hammered, so you really need to find some other marks and if they fish, keep them to yourself.

I am looking forward to more Plaice fishing, early Black Bream and Small Eyed Rays to start to show in a couple of weeks time. While on the offshore banks Blondes and Spurs would be the target species over the next couple of weeks, with the odd Conger, Bass and Cod making a show.

Weekending 4th February 2007

What a difference a week makes. An Easterly F4 and a very high barometer reading of 1038mb seemed to put the mockers on proceedings as the fish just did not oblige. Most boat anglers seemed to struggle on Saturday with Sunday being slightly better. On Due South, we just could not, find anything better than Dogfish, a few Pout and a couple of Whiting. Not the best of trips for a group of Beach Anglers, but that is 'fishing' for you. We did get a bit of a suntan but the uncomfortable sea gave one Alan Banks crew member, Pete a horrible taste in the mouth for most of the day, poor fella. He survived well though and started to recover towards the end.  Mike Cottingham on 'Challenger' found a Cod for one of his crew and Skeggsy on 'Tom Kat 2' found a couple of Congers fishing in more tide. Next week hopefully we can get off shore on those smaller tides and find the fish again but a kind forecast is what we want. Currently if it stays as described on metcheck, better termed as 'iffy', we are unlikely to go, but these forecasts do change.

This is the time of year to make your repairs and plan your holidays. I still have a couple of prime time weekend dates available this year. Having said that I have planned more than twice as many charter dates than last year. I have updated the 2007 Diary.

Weekending 28th January 2007

So this is what the fishing is like when you get out there in January! January has gone from storms to a near summers day. The perfect conditions on Saturday 27th (yesterday) allowed 'Due South' to find a mark for the the Bob Foley crew with plenty of good fish. We had over 25 Congers with Bob and Mike getting the better ones at 35lb and 38lb weighed on the boat. I must have weighed 8 Congers from 28lb 8oz to 38lb as they had a fiver on the biggest fish. Why didn't they catch the 38lb Conger first! It was manic at times with Mike snapping his 30lb 'NorthStar' class rod on the strike on one smaller conger. Have a look at the Photo Gallery, the first picture shows Mike with his 14lb Undulate, then Steve with a feisty 12lb 12oz Thornback, which wouldn't open up, and lastly Wayne and Mike with a 6lb Bass and a 7lb Cod respectively. Like I say, loads of fish which came on the Ebb, over the slack water and consistently during the flood.

One of the best Cod was caught by Brian Jones in the afternoon on his own Quicksilver 'Mystyque' who was exploring the Solent. He managed to find a Bass of 4lb and a Cod of 23lb plus Pout and Dogs. All in all this is good fishing for the end of January. Maybe the warm water as I mentioned last time is keeping the fish inshore.

Weekending 13th January 2007

I have 'cancelled' due to the weather again today and it looks like both Wednesday and next Saturday is at risk too. It is starting to wear me down now, I don’t know about you? The sea temperature is still at 10.1 degrees C, last year on the same date it was 6.8 degrees C. I wonder what the fish are doing, if this weather were to abate we could find out. The usual pattern is for the majority of species to start pushing out deeper and further offshore as the water temperature cools. They move over towards the Channel Islands. This time of year Bass and Black Bream shoal up around the CI’s and are caught very efficiently by pair trawlers, weather permitting. Good Tope are also caught in numbers over there too. Logic however tells me that if the water stays warmer over this side and further North they are less likely to move, but who knows, anything could happen.

I have published my boat diary right up until New Years Eve. You can see that there are now evening trip dates reserved throughout most of the year. These trips can be booked as individuals which is a little more expensive or by whole boat which works out cheaper per head. It is up to you. Now that all my regular crews are booked in it is a first come first serve situation.

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