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Fishy Grapevine 2005 and older

Weekending 31/12/05

My one trip this week was on ‘Due South’, skippered for one of the last times, by Ted Entwhistle. We managed to find the faithful Dogs and Pout, with some Whiting in the 1-1.5lb bracket and three strap Congers. I did enjoy the trip, even though it was freezing during the first hours but the banter, the sunshine and the feel of a fish on the line made it all worth while. I would like to thank the ‘Tony Lavington crew’ for making a below average day, very enjoyable. We noted the lack of reports on Channel 06 and little movement by the other boats, it was one of those days, high pressure with some East in the very cold wind.

An excellent Cod fell to a Private Boat just before Christmas, believed to be caught ‘outside’. It was weighed on the Lymington Pontoon and pulled the ‘Due South’ scales down to 37lb. Then there was a report of another good one from the Western Solent, which was weighed at 24lb, caught on the Wednesday before Christmas. However the cold weather seems to have put the clamps on a lot of the fish movement. Those that are being caught are finicky and plenty of hard work is still required to keep those baits fresh. Cod ‘Around the Light’ or down the Solent have either thinned out or are feeding on something else. The faithful Dogfish and Pout are showing still while the Whiting are ‘patchy’. The open ground Congers are still there as is the odd double figure Pollock. However perseverance will catch the real big Cod that are normally around ‘til end of January.

The flounder marks have been producing well so there is always a daylight fall back if the weather keeps us inshore.

Next week looks good so we will have another chance at a big Cod and a few whiting over the bank holiday.

Happy New Year.

Weekending 20/12/05

Wow, Saturday was one of the coldest that I have fished. The wind blew a F5 NW which kept us in the Solent in 'Make My Day' a 19' Fastliner. After an hour, my skipper Andy Stevens, latched into a 12lb Cod. Then towards low water we tried deep, mid Fairway, to no avail, so we came back to the inshore mark and had Bass of 5lb,3lb and 2.5lb. It certainly made up for the cold but according to the fishy grapevine others were not so fortunate. Last weekend 'Jara' also fishing the Solent caught a similar sized Cod and a 3lb Pout. Round the light there are some solid hard fighting Conger, Whiting to 4lb and Cod in the following year groups 4-6lb, 11-12lb and 18-20lb. Not many Cod are going to the same boat, but Ted Entwhistle on Due South managed to find 3 Cod for the same angler on one recent charter. He must have been doing it right. I must confess I have just about had it with cuttle now. I have tried but with less success I recon than big squid. That's the problem at them moment, getting big squid in a 5lb box is proving difficult. Many only seem to hold the medium to small size squid.

Merry Christmas to all regular readers especially those that take the time to read this far :-) ! Thanks for your support with cranking the 'hit counter' round.

Weekending 9/12/05
It has been a while since an update, due to a number of things including some pure ‘crewing’, some fishing and some training. On the fishing front the Cod are there but it seems in mainly two classes 4-5lb and 16-18lb. I know which one I would prefer but hey, one is better than none and I managed to get one of the smaller Cod(ling)on my last trip on my Shetland. I was showing the new owner the ropes, so it set a good impression, mind you it was a bit brassy out there.

This weekend looks good again. I am booked on an RYA Diesel engine course all day Saturday, so I will miss the fishing again! But I am sure most of you won’t. As far as other reports go Due South got into some nice Whiting to nearly 3lb and some large open ground Congers with the best going 52lb.  Also caught were the odd skate supplemented by Pout and Dogs.

The odd Codling seem to be the main showing in the Solent but you need to put the time in. Bass are up around 4-5lb and can nearly be counted on at least one or two showing on each trip. There are some large Pout around.

How’s this for a story. A mate was fishing for flounders in 8’ of water last week when a Bass took the bait. It was a cold flat and quiet day. As he got it near the boat on the Starboard Quarter it was taken by a huge ‘fish’, he nearly s**t himself. As he grabbed the side of the boat fearing it may hit tbut it cruised under the keel and away, showing a dorsal fin about 100 yards up tide. It must have been a Dolphin but what a scare. It is certainly not expected in this part of the sea, that’s for sure. Having said that Andy Stevens witnessed a similar event mid-Solent 3 years ago.

Back to more sedate fishing. The flounder hotspots are showing good numbers again and there are Cod being caught from the Deep Water at Lepe and off the Shingle bank.

It is just three weeks now until I take on Due South and I can’t wait. I will soon be giving a few dates out if you want to come along. The Web site is near completion but not finished or published yet.  I have some groups interested in coming already and will be looking to do some ‘Individual’ trips based on coaching. Tightlines and lets hope more anglers can enjoy the thrill of catching a personal best.

Weekending 14/11/05
Ady Hume set the pace last weekend with 11 Bass between 7lb and 3lb topped by an 18lb Cod. All were caught on the flood tide last Saturday afternoon. Ady was fishing the Western Solent from his own boat on a good mark of which he was not surprised would help him find the fish. Meanwhile, Steve Pollard (picture right) who was fishing on Nick Dunning’s Quicksilver ‘Cinnabar’, also got into the action, with a good 10lb plus Cod that fell for a nice smelly cuttle, the mark was reported to be somewhere in the Solent.

During the same weekend Ashlett SAC held their November Dinghy Competition. Gary Withers on 'Sea Hunter' recorded 50lb of Conger and a specimen Sole to wrap this one up. He went round the light when the ‘seaway’ had eased. He boated 5 species by the end of the day, including the best specimen, caught back in the Solent, another specimen Sole of 2lb 8oz (weighed ashore and returned!). Totalled, this gave Gary the heaviest aggregate weight of 71lb 8oz for 175pts. Dink Lemoignan on 'Maestro' scored 90pts for 4 species and 35lb 8oz. Andy Niven also on 'Maestro' was third with 36lb 8oz and 3 species for 81 pts with just 1lb separating their catch of mainly Dogs and Pout. I scored 71 pts for 24lb and 4 species. Steve Davies and Andy Stevens on 'Make My Day' were 5th and 6th respectively. Going into the last competition of the Series Lemoignan leads with 911pts, Niven 882pts and Withers 767pts, Andy Niven is now favourite out of the three.

Last Monday’s Ashlett Boat Knockout 2005 final fished onboard Due South was an excellent day of fine weather with Cod being the target fish. Andy Niven had the best Cod at 18lb plus a small Conger to set the pace, however Steve Davies landed a cracking Undulate Ray at 17lb 12oz for the best specimen and a boost to his aggregate weight to win by 154pts to Nivens 150pts. The rest of the crew made up the numbers with a small Conger and plenty of Whiting, Pout and Dogs.

British Cod Championships - Fished in cold but reasonable weather gave the chance for all the boats to get to the intended marks. On day 1 there were 13 Cod and Day 2 there were 22 Cod caught. Perry Dack had the best Cod on Day 1 and Day 2, both over 20lb. Sponsored this year by Raymarine it was a resounding success. See reports on West Wight Charter Skippers web site which should be there soon.

About time too, the NFSA are reviewing their membership scheme. The NFSA have decided to vote for proposals in a December EGM (Extra Ordinary Meeting) that if passed will amalgamate the Individual and Personal memberships. They will also vote on allowing Junior Anglers to join free of charge. Affiliated clubs will be charged £1 per member with a minimum of £25. This makes good sound sense. Be warned though, unless you are a direct or full NFSA Member and not just an affiliated member, through an affiliated club, you are not eligible to take part in the awards scheme or be eligible to claim Divisional Record Claims.

Lymington Cod Open – Sponsored by Glen Grieve - Sunday 27th November. Fishing times 9am – 3pm

Weekending 6/11/05
The weather is doing what it always does and that is make up for all the fine spells that we have had during the summer and autumn. It has really put the mockers on the Sole fishing and restricted Cod fishing mostly too. John Skeggs on Tomkat has managed a couple up the Western Solent, an area that many charter crews resist fishing if the weather is poor. They are reported around 16lb.  If you scale down to smaller hooks and don't have the patience to wait for a Cod or Conger there are plenty of bigger Pouting around and worth catching for the pan. In my opinion one of the better eating fish you can catch. You must fillet them off as soon as possible though and eat them quick.

The sea is a little warmer than usual for this time of year but there have been reports of a couple of good sized Dabs. Lets hope that bodes well for the Cod too later on when they get a chance to get round our way again. It still feels too warm to me. The law of averages must mean we will have a very harsh January, February or March if not before. I hope not as I have got my Yachtmaster Practical course and Examination booked and paid for with  UK Sailing Academy in January 2006 out from the Cowes! I wonder if they would mind me taking along a Cod rod plus some squid and cuttle bait!

The IOW International Cod Championships are coming round again see www.westwightskippers.co.uk. The time and place are as follows FROM YARMOUTH IoW ON 16th and 17th November 2005.

Weekending 14/10/05
Thornbacks and Black Bream, Flounders and Mullet, Cod and Congers, Whiting and Mackerel, sounds a good mix of species but that is the type of catch you could end up with this weekend, weather permitting.

We are getting more of these Red Mullet this year than ever, it is a funny little fish. You seem to either get none or just the one throughout a long session. This would indicate that they must be territorial and not a shoal species as such. They are a beautiful looking fish though and appear to be a cross between a Red Gurnard and a Bass and are good eating, tasting more like a herring. Incidentally they have very large scales and die very quickly if not handled properly.  A crazy mixed up fish.

The prospects must be good though this weekend up the Solent in particular although the Easterly wind might dampen proceedings a little. One trawler recently sweeping the Western Solent had 6 cod in his nets. A 6lb Cod was caught off the shore at the deep water section at Stone Point, Lepe. Sole, Cod, Bass and Whiting will make up the majority of the target species. It is not silly to expect one lucky angler at least to get a 15lb plus Bass falling to a big bait setup for Cod. This is based purely on the quality of fish already caught this year.  I don’t know how long Red Mullet stay around but I bet we have not seen the last of them. Also we may yet see a rogue small Tuna or two after the ones caught in November last year.

We should not be surprised if an Ashlett member or other local angler was to hold the British Record Sole soon from the Boats. It only stands at 4lb 2oz. Gary Withers has just improved the Ashlett Sole Record from the boats to 3lb 11.75oz! I recon the weed has restricted the trawlers up until recently so it is a race between us and them, although the real big Sole are not really edible. The professionals can’t even sell the monster soles so best keep them alive to weigh and put them back if you can.

There are still a few Mackerel around and many private and a few charter boats are still drifting for Bass.

The first cod generally come from the Solent and should be expected on the next set of spring tides.

Last year some good small eyed rays were being taken from Boscombe Beach to Sandeels, while at the same spot soles were falling to worm. Wrasse should be getting heavier too as they gorge themselves ready for winter. Sole are being caught in huge numbers all along our shores but you need to get there before the trawlers and netters do. The humble flounder should also begin to account for themselves too.

The IOW International Cod Championships are coming round again see www.westwightskippers.co.uk.

Weekending 30/9/05

Thanks to Wight Warrior for the positive feedback regarding the web site. It is nice to hear, especially as it does not come direct very often. By the way I did not receive your e-mail so try using les@sea-fishing.net or ltjones2004@yahoo.co.uk these should both work.

On a similar note, I e-mail anyone that I know is interested in sea angling making them aware of any web updates as soon as they happen. All you need to do is make me aware of your e-mail address.

After last years experience, ‘tongue in cheek’ humour does not work too well in black and white, I try my hardest not to offend anyone. For those that are unlucky enough to actually know me they will understand that I may find that difficult at times J.

Also you should have noticed that I avoid posting very exact reports. For example if I found a bank or reef at ‘Lat xx.xx/Long xx.xx’ layered in fish within 2 miles from my moorings, would I want everyone else to fish it? Unlikely! An impossibility anyway as fish or the tides move them around and what’s there one day is sure to be gone the next. However having said that, it is worth knowing what is out there, while it is out there. Generally the local newspapers are 1-2 weeks out of date when it comes to sea-angling, I know I send reports. Coarse angling, golf, yachting, Rugby etc are all similar. The Sea Angler Magazine is about 8 weeks out of date.

What I aim to do here is keep people up to date that is if I know of anything. Currently many dinghy anglers are targeting the illusive soles. I got ‘talked into’ going sole fishing after being at the boat show all of Saturday. I could not get back onto the moorings until 2am but we went anyway and were rewarded with everything but soles. These sole are hard to locate in any numbers but they pretty much hook themselves if the bait stays on the hook. Also they tend not to feed until very late, probably after midnight. Before that time of night there is lots of other species on offer by fishing shallow in the Western Solent and out at Christchurch Bay.

Dave Masterton latched into a nice Sole of 3lb 4oz along the North side of the Western Solent and there are bound to be bigger ones out there. While these sole are being fished for there are ‘bait robbing’ Spotted Rays, Thornback Rays, Dogs, Hounds, big Silver Eels, Pout, small Black Bream, good Bass and ‘Red Mullet’ coming to the boat, all after dark. Incidentally we had at least one of all these species bar the Red Mullet. Nothing is particularly very big but the variety is, at times, the spice of life. Gary Withers on Sea Hunter during the weekend caught a 1lb 1.5oz Red Mullet for a new Ashlett Club Record. Meanwhile it is reported that Red Mullet are being trawled up, from down the Eastern Solent with up to 30 at a time found in the net. The Island boys are also getting them along the South side of the Western Solent. Interesting times these. As fish recorder I know that Ashlett SAC have had new club records for Black Bream, Gilthead Bream, Red Mullet, Allis Shad and Stingray so far this year. Most of which have been caught in the Solent and within half a mile from the shoreline!

Please can I ask you for any ‘good’ pictures of local fish along with the angler, preferably showing the fish ‘alive and kicking’ and soon after capture. They will all be considered for uploading with any provided ‘story’ so please send them in by e-mail. This photography lark is not easy and takes some practice. Try to capture pictures with the angler holding the fish a normal distance from the body. Not with outstretched arms. This tends to show a miniature head behind a fish being held by fingers that look like they have been run over by a 10 tonne truck! Preferably the gills should be held and the tail supported just behind the vent with as few fingers showing as possible, not the ‘bird’. Remove dark glasses.

Weekending 23/9/05

Luckily after a busy Rugby weekend I made the right decision to pick a good day off for fishing on a huge springer at 4.9M. Early on Monday we had a short session at West Lepe over high water which produced a couple of small hounds and dogs to squid before heading out towards Christchurch Ledge. Luckily for us the 'sea' got a little too big so rather than go back into the Solent we made a good move and went in closer to the shoreline where in 20' we found it teaming with fish. The Black Bream, of which there were many, averaged 1.5-2lb. We must have had over 50. Meanwhile there were plenty of Mackerel and Scad on the bottom hooks on a set of Pollock boomer 'feathers'. There was also a 5lb 5oz Bass on the 'up-tider' and a Tub Gurnard at a 1ib. When it got dark we moved in for Sole and ran out of worms at 11:30pm after catching small Plaice and School Bass and five Sole to 1lb 4oz. If I was not doing the boat show on Saturday I would fish along there again this weekend. The Solent is fishing really well too as the weed has died back, with reports of good Bass and Thornbacks. Basically you are really spoilt for choice.
To book your places for the Cod Champs in November see
Just as a reminder it is time to order that Cod bait too. One recommendation is that 'Baits Direct' do good cuttle, at very cheap prices (3 in a pack for £1.30) but I would avoid their bargain squid as it looks very old to me and not the beautiful snow white squid with the fluorescent green eyes that you really want. Bells is usually a good bet for quality frozen bait. No doubt my loligilo squid will catch the competition doggies for me :-). Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Weekending 12/9/05

The fish could be there or they may not be. I managed to avoid the mackerel on Sunday even though you could have walked on them Friday evening. It seems that the fishing is very patchy. The Solent appears to be fishing extremely well with plenty of fish after dark and during the daylight hours. An Allis Shad was weighed on Saturday by Brian Jones, fishing on his own boat Jara, caught along the Hampstead Ledge area. It weighed 9.5 ozs and is a new club record for Ashlett SAC. There are plenty of fish in the Solent and the good news is the weed is well on its way to dying out. Meanwhile outside the Solent, Andy Niven and Dink Lemoignan on Maestro, recorded 12 sizable species caught during the Ashlett boat comp on Sunday. Their catch included good sized Bull Huss, Small Eyed Rays, Bass and Thornback Rays, quality fishing.

The tides are picking up for this weekend so lets all hope for a good forecast. Close in along the Solent shallows under darkness should prove tempting as should Barton, Freshwater Reef or Christchurch Ledge.

If the weather turns bad there is always the Southampton Boat show. A new, now affordable chart plotter has to be worth looking at and haggling over. My old Garmin 45 a 4 channel handheld GPS is proving too slow to update when I am ‘wrecking’.  Still, it did last me about 14 years! The Garmin 192C or the Lowrance 3300C sound like absolute bargains at the moment and I definitely need one to assist my wreck fishing. Now that I have a more economical outboard I can afford to drift the wrecks without causing issues with my engine ‘oiling up’ or burning too much fuel. These 4 strokes are very efficient at low revs when compared to the older 2 strokes. But then the even newer 2 strokes are supposed to be even better than the current 4 strokes. Who do you believe? Best go on recommendation, I say. No one has recommended the new 2 stokes to me yet!

Weekending 3/9/05

This is a good time of the year to be a sea angler as we are blessed with nice air temperatures and warm seas. Luckily the F5 during Saturday and Sunday cooled down what would have been a real scorcher. Sitting on your boat and fishing comfortably in a pair of shorts after dark is a treat that we are not always given in the UK but that’s how good it was. This usually leads on to some good catches too and that is exactly what has been happening.

Roger Williams of Ashlett SAC has caught and weighed a massive 53lb 8oz Common Stingray. Roger, an experienced boat angler respected by many a local skipper, was fishing from his own boat in 11’ of water just off Lepe. Anyone who thinks that this was the only big Stinger out there should think again. Tim Parvin reckoned on one night, some years ago, he and Andy Stevens caught and released 7 big Stingers all over 30lbs with some estimated nearer to 40lb. On the conservation front, Ashlett SAC has released many Stingray this year alone, alongside the boat or immediately after weighing on the boat. One Stinger was even boated, weighed ashore and then released unharmed. However both the Ashlett SAC Junior Record and the Senior Club Records have been beaten in the last 4 weeks! The NFSA rules used to say that a potential record or award fish must be weighed ashore and on club scales count. It is a grey area now though. There are many arguments around this but conservation is key to our sport and to the future of our sport but whatever your personal point of view, Rogers Stinger was a massive fish and deserves recognition. I have extended my thoughts and made a few notes and comments regarding this capture in an article called ‘To kill or not to kill that is the question’. It will be uploaded in a week or two after I have completed what is turning out to be an interesting investigation into this prickly subject.

Back to the fishing, some good Plaice catches have been reported and there are trigger fish to be caught too. Who knows what else may turn up? An old boy, Brian Williams, down at our moorings latched into a ‘Herring’ on a trolled Redgill. It may have been some sort of ‘shad’ but he had eaten his ‘bass’ before I could photograph it and count the fin spines and markings for a proper ID! You need to get out there in the coming weeks to get the best of the fishing in this country!

Weekending 13/8/05

It has been a long time with no reports. It is mainly because the weather has been good and I have been out in my boat but also recently I have been offline so to speak and on my holidays all of 15 miles away (as the crow flies) at Bembridge on the IOW. It was great, although the weather could have been better. I had plenty of time to explore new ground and some Eastern Marks between the Nab and Ventnor but like all fishing, I never had enough time. In fact the best mark was established one hour before bringing my boat back, typical but that’s fishing! Just to rub the salt in, the best days were the days I took my boat over, 2 days before we went on holiday proper and then the Sunday afterwards, when I brought her back. I think they call that sod’s law.

Back to the fishing, its been good, interesting and at times quiet. The best part of getting out of the Solent was the lack of weed although the crystal clear water made fishing a little less suited to complicated rigs. Simple was best. A long single hook on flouro-carbon traces was the way to go, with nice long strips of mackerel was an easy way to fish but luckily you dig your own worms at Bembridge.

Ventnor is fishing patchy for Plaice with the best up around 5lb but many are around the 1lb mark. A long way to run for a few small fish but the potential is still there. Some good Bass are still being taken in Christchurch bay and along the shallows of the Western Solent.

There is still hounds along the Western Solent after dark with some good Bass along the edges. There are good patches of skate on the banks. This is the time to start thinking about the sole. Although there seems to be more Brill around this year. There are certainly more round Culver that the Needles.

Weekending 24/6/05

What fantastic Weather. I guess some might say you don’t need to catch fish when it’s like this, true maybe, to a certain extent but when you have a session like we did Wednesday night in the boat along Park Shore and Sowley, you could be excused for thinking differently. When you catch just one small Hound and the most weed you have ever seen on a line in 6’ of water, after only 5-8 mins, between casts, then you can see it may not always be a true statement. Having said that a slight improvement on the rig would enable a quick release of the weed by cutting the mainline tied to a swivel above the weight. I spoke to Bells Sports ‘boss’ Alan Shergold who was organising and fishing a Hound event at Park Shore at the same time. He had 25 anglers sign on and the weed was beginning to beat them too with a few deciding that it was not worth it, that’s how bad it is, with no fish it makes the night very frustrating, I don’t believe any of them managed to find a Hound! The weed was shrouding the bait most of the time- although I did get one 6lb Hound on my uptider as this tends to keep the bait clear. So there you go, the perfect tide, big moon, clear sky, still night with the ‘sea like glass’ …. and tons of weed and no fish, that’s fishing!!! Personally it makes me want to go again and beat it!

Wednesday night’s ‘up and over’ was in complete contrast to the weekend where we had the lot, fine weather, good tide and lots and lots of fish. I fished the Ashlett SAC dinghy comp with my daughter Sarah (11) on our Shetland 570 called ‘Shetland’. All 7 skippers had their own ideas on how to win the comp as three boats fished the Ledge, 3 fished Atherfield and one elected to ‘stay inside’. Guess who caught the heaviest weight?  I like comps as you find out what is really caught (no radio fish) and various marks can be compared with the same weather and tide conditions, crucial data for success. I particularly enjoy the Ashlett Comps. Not only do you have to know how to catch fish but you need to get your boat out to a number of marks and back safely. You can go where you want on these comps (weather permitting) and they are all 12 hours long. You are also up against some good anglers. Ashlett allow 2 rods with 4 hooks between them in an effort to pre-empt an anticipated NFSA ‘new rule’ but they may need to change this back to 3 hooks next year as the anticipated ‘new NFSA rule’ was not adopted.

Back to the comp - the June competition was won by Gary Withers on 'Sea Hunter' who went to the Atherfield Banks and caught 8 species (Blonde, Small Eyed, Spotted and Sting Rays) and 61lb of fish for 143pts. Second was Andy Niven with the best weight of 98lb of Hounds for 140pts, who fished with Dink Lemoignan on 'Maestro' in the Western Solent. Third was myself with 4 species and 48lb (actually 70lb, I will explain later) for 125pts (in c a bonus 25pts for the best specimen) on fished Christchurch Ledge and fourth was Dink Lemoignan with 82lb of hounds for 114pts.  Fifth was Mitchell Jones (14) on ‘Jara’ with 91 pts caught 51lb of Hounds and Wrasse.

My daughter, Sarah (11) on the front page, caught the best specimen on the comp in the form of a fine Black Bream of 3lb 7ozs weighed ashore and a new Junior Club record. It was one of 10 Black Bream that Sarah caught. They averaged up around 2lb. All the Ashlett comps start unrestricted depending on the weather so I elected to take my Shetland 570 'Shetland' to Christchurch Ledge. Interestingly Sarah caught the Black Bream on a Fladden Maxximus 12lb class rod (good rod) and a Fladden reel (not good) that she won last year in the SAN Junior fish of the month competition. 

Not to be out-done I managed 19 Black Bream to 3lb 4oz and a few Bass with the best one weighed officially at 9lb 4oz. As much as people like to see these big Bass weighed and released this one is a marker for our annual Bass Trophy and went down really well after a visit to the frying pan.

For those with a head for detail our club competition boat rules only allow for each sizable Black Bream to count as 1lb. Therefore Sarah's Black Bream as far as the comp was concerned only counted as 1lb, they can then be quickly recorded and released. If it was 1oz more it would have counted as 3lb 8oz...rules is rules! Wrasse, Dogs and Pout also have a size limit and a max number restriction unless of specimen size. All the comps are run as weigh and release and work purely on trust with nothing but points to gain that go towards the annual championship trophy. This saves lots of fish, including Bass, Bream and Cod. In the June comp we weighed and released 350lb of fish from 4 of the dinghies with only a couple of Bream and Bass taken for the pan. A few years ago when we adopted these rules as a test we released 500lb of Hounds and Stingray in the same June comp, with Dink nearly catching 200lb on his own. Andy Niven, Geoff Wheeler and myself only had about 100lb each!! That was a lot of fish saved, it made good sense and they have extended that approach to all the comps. As more clubs are adopting these conservationist attitudes have you noticed more Hounds, Black Bream, Dogfish, Skate and Bass around now compared to just 8 years ago? I have.

A gem for those that read to the end - an old fisherman's tale is that thundery weather is good for Stingers! Oh and that thundery weather can kill your rag worm if you tank them (keep on the aerator)!

Weekending 17/6/05

There have been plenty of hounds to be caught at the well publicised Hill Head boat and beach marks. Of course catches all along the coastline will include large clumps of weed although it is not quite as bad as it has been over the last few weeks. Reports are still of many hounds with up to 6 or more fish going into double figures although they may now be dispersing in their search for more crabs. Most hounds are falling to hardback crabs and the trusty rag worm. One spectacular Hound was taken during last week by Alan Shergold while fishing in his friends small boat. Alan owns and runs Bells Sports Tackle Shop. The Hound banged the scales down to 22lb 4oz! Another reported Hound went 24lb, could this be the same fish?

Others that have persevered in the Western Solent say they have not caught as many fish and the average size is not as big during the day but close in under darkness will work as proved last night with the Best in the West reported going 14lb. If you use good worms you can encounter the odd Stinger too which Dink Lemoignan and Andy Stevens both managed to do.

Black Bream are also giving themselves up in large numbers on and around the Ledge still with smaller Bream off Culver Cliffs and most other marks. Bracklesham Bay in May threw up a 5lb 4oz Black Bream for Ashlett SAC member Dennis Willingham weighed ashore by the skipper. He then discovered that it had to be weighed on official scales to count for any club award! Still he will not be the first or last to catch a fish of a lifetime that will not be included in his club records list. A similar thing happened last year to Patric Warne when he caught a big Hound out from Langstone. The skipper was not going to let it die so it went back within minutes after being estimated well above 20lb, another potential Club Record!

We found Ventnor slow during the day on Saturday with few fish moving and those that were proved to be the faithful dogfish (vermin to many). What we had was small with nothing of any note but what a lovely place to fish. The mackerel although available were patchy with just the odd ones and twos complimenting our bait supply. It was noted that Freshwater Reef was crawling with dogfish as was The Shingles too!

I had another new experience this weekend while returning from Ventnor on a friends boat, a Jeanneau Merry Fisher 695. We were flying along at about 16knots when we hit something which caused a violent judder and nearly stalled our 150hp Volvo Inboard Diesel and whatever it was also resulted in poor steering. Having stopped the boat and scanned around the stern we decided to try in reverse and then forward again. We were drifting and free from the bottom but there was definitely something around the prop as we found that above 7knts we were juddering along. It was a long trip home. A new addition to my friends ‘safety kit’ is now a snorkel and mask as he found it very useful when cutting off what could only be described as some rubbish cargo netting. It was a useful comparison between an inboard and an outboard engine. When I pick up rubbish round the prop of my outboard - generally you can get to it a little easier - I wish I hadn’t written that now. The prop guards that BHG Marine supply must be worth considering, particularly with all the pot ‘buoys’ that are appearing everywhere up and down the Solent.

The Lymington Summer Species Open Boat comp is on Sun July 3rd hopefully the weather will be a little better than last year but it never seems to put off the majority of dinghy anglers with plenty of options inside the Solent at this time of year

Weekending 1/6/05

This weekend I was in Alderney, see our Alderney Story for the full details, so I have been phoning around for local news. I understand that the Bream are still showing in numbers on the favoured marks and are of a good specimen size.

There are Hounds around with the best going 12lbs reported from the Western Solent and 13lbs reported from the Eastern Solent, so take your pick.

From the shore there should are some big Silver Eels falling to worm and peeler. They can be fished for at the same time as Hounds as the bait is the same and can be caught along Shore Road at Hythe and the Marina

Weekending 21/5/05

With the breezy conditions over the last two weekends most small boats stayed inside the Solent with mixed results. Unfortunately there is a lot of weed clinging to the lines. It is here much earlier than normal and is as bad as it can get. If you get to the right spot there are a few hounds but they are fairly localised by the reports that I have heard and during a session witnessed last weekend. The trick for the early hounds has proved to be more productive by baiting up with squid. Some sizable Bass are coming from the gravel shallow banks and close in. Lets hope the weed will die away earlier while the late summer fish are still around. There is only one thing to do and that is get outside to escape the weed or fish through it. I am getting right outside and trying for a Turbot over at Alderney with Arthur Savage on Private Venture 3 out from Lymington. I hope to get a couple of good fish all being well we will have 5 days to fish for them. The long range forecast looks better so I guess we will all be outside.

Weekending 7/5/05

I have been a little busy so the updates are behind but the fishing and rugby was been worth it though. After last weekend most of us are hoping for less fog but it looks like the weather is conspiring against us again this weekend with a F6-7 in the forecast from the SW. The Ledge is producing some classical Black Bream with the best reported at over 5lb on Greg Woodford’s charter boat. Ashlett SAC member Andy Stevens has latched into Black Bream of over 4lb on consecutive trips with the best at 4lb 1.5ozs breaking the Ashlett SAC Boat Club Record. It certainly seemed to me and was consistent with other reports that the Bream were coming on the Ebb while the flood tide was difficult. The party squid are the fellas to put on the small hooks. They are deadly easy to bait up with.

Sandbanks local to the Wight are producing good catches of Small Eyed Rays, some under sized but the right marks are producing well to sandeel baits. There is also the chance of a small Turbot. Mackerel are now showing over those banks too. Hounds have started moving down the Solent and Pollock are in over the inshore reefs. Basically in 4 weeks we have gone from fishing hard for little reward to having to decide what fish we want to fish for. The summer’s here boys, fill yer boots.

The real trick and the way to satisfaction is to concentrate on a species and then to catch what you target. A good specimen is the icing on the cake although a bait intended for one particular species will often turn up a surprise. Whole squid will often appeal to the Hounds this time of year as they move inshore. Similarly fresh mackerel and cuttle strip can be very affective for the big ‘May’ Stingers. If you just want to ‘catch anything’ then use small strong size 4 carp hooks baited with a ragworm and mackerel cocktail, that will catch most species at most sizes. Remember small hooks catch big fish, look at those 40-50lb carp.

From the shore I have had a report of sizable Bass in numbers from Calshot beach at the start of the Ebb, Small Eyed Rays from Milford and more dogfish to make up the bags.

Oh and it seems the catching of a 400lb Tuna in a net is believed to be myth although the huge shoal of herring that moved East up the English channel last month was not. Of course there is no reason why Tuna and other exotic fish should not be following them. It is all down to water temperature.

Weekending 18/4/05

It was interesting yesterday as I was able to fish on two boat trips on the same day. I shot out in my Shetland 570 at 0430 to fish the channel of the Western Solent over dawn and was back in at 07:15 mainly because of the tide and also to take advantage of the fine weather. All we caught were Pout and Dogs but there were many and the Pout were over a 1lb that was until just before we came back when the sun was up, they definitely stopped feeding. Then I went with some friends on a brand new Jeanneau Merry Fisher 695 with a 150HP Volvo Diesel engine a really lovely boat out to Christchurch Ledge taking advantage of the weather. It was really bad luck that the engine had a fractured injector pipe which we discovered only when we got out there. Luckily included in the package was something called SeaStart and after a few phone calls they came out and towed us back into Lymington. We fished for an hour for a few Wrasse before the SeaStart rib found us but the whole experience made me consider a SeaStart package for myself and for just under £130 a year it seems good value. Do you really want to lug an Auxiliary around when SeaStart are in 5 different ports, 24hrs a day around the Solent Area? See http://www.seastart.co.uk/seastart.html for further info.

As for what is going on the fishing is getting better and the Black Bream will be starting to gather for spawning into the sandy patches between the rocks off Culver Cliffs and Sandown Bay.  Please release the hen fish as these should be left to do their thing and future proof the Black Bream population. Mind you there were loads of smaller fish last year all over the place. On the Poole species comp in May I caught 44 Black Bream all around the pound mark plus some undersized ones too. The marks are easy to find just keep going ‘til you see 50 boats all within 50M of each other. You think I am joking!! Another target fish would be the Plaice still. On the banks the Rays will be at their biggest ready to drop their purses.  From the shore along Southampton Water Flounders will feed again but will be in very poor condition after spawning. They are good fun to catch as they try to stuff themselves but not for eating that’s for sure. I remember running out of hooks once this time of year off Ashlett Creek! Anywhere along Taddiford, Hordle and Barton must be favourite for a Plaice or a Small Eyed Ray, worm for the first and sandeel for the second. Remember small hooks can catch big fish but big hooks won’t catch small fish.

Ashlett SAC Shore Championship attracted twenty two anglers fished of which five were Juniors and between them they managed to catch 9 Flounders and not a Plaice looking Flounder amongst them. It was a fine sunny day so there were no excuses for the red spots, they just weren’t there. A couple of Plaice would have lit up the day. First was Mike Cooper with 2 small Flounders for 1lb 6.5ozs the next to figure with one each in order were Maurice Young, Ted Yeates, Chris Wheeler, D King, Alan Rowland and Dennis Willingham. All the members hope that Rods wife is OK and well and they hope to see him back on the next comp.

Ashlett SAC evening match was dry and comfortable but the fishing was hard work. Alan Rowland was the clear winner on the night as the six anglers targeted anything that moved. One Pout, a Bass and a Flounder made Alan an easy winner. Five more Pout were shared between the next three anglers, S. Pitman was 2nd, Ernie 3rd and Ted came 4th. They are all hoping that the fishing will be better on the next comp at Magazine Lane. They way this works is that the winner takes the money with a small amount going to the club. It is a very competitive event but also sociable and fun so get your rods along to the next one, if you can.

The first Ashlett SAC Boat competition of the year was supported by only four anglers on two boats due to our date clashing with Saints v Chelsea and Easter Holidays. The conditions were indifferent to say the least.  Both boats elected to fish Atherfield Banks 9 miles East of the Needles Light. The trip down the Solent went well at 20 knots all the way. The 9 miles from the ‘Light’ to the mark forced them down to 8 knots.  By the time ‘Make My Day’ a 19’ Orkney Fastliner with Andy Stevens and Dink aboard, got to the mark, Gary Withers’ ‘Sea Hunter’, an 18’ Raider, already provided Mickey Thompson a 17lb Blonde Ray! The Blonde fell to Tommo’s first bait and was an excellent start to the day!  Dinks next fish was the nearest to a specimen, a 4lb 3oz Spotted Ray. Dinks first fish was followed by a Painted Ray then a Pout, a Dogfish and a jammy sizable Whiting.  Those fish apart, the fishing did seem a little on the slow side.  As the tide eased Dink had a small Blonde Ray then nothing. A quick chat with Andy and ‘Make My Day’ moved back 5 miles and were soon into Pout and dogs which was enough, they thought, to cover a 17lb Blonde Ray.  Andy also snatched a sizable Hound to finish the day off. The trip back to the light seemed reasonably quick as they surfed 6ft waves.  Once round the ‘Light’ and all the way to Yarmouth again they were up to planning speeds whilst they tried to get back to the Brickyard for the big “Game”.  From Hurst the conditions conspired against them as they went back to plodding along at 5 knots with the boat hitting several brick walls before the sedge of Seagull Island came into view - sanctuary.  Dink was first with 5 species and best specimen for 175 points, Andy Stevens second, Mickey Thompson third and Gary Withers didn’t weigh-in. It was nice to see Tommo back fishing with the club and at the weigh-in he added a ‘nice to see’ 5lb Turbot to his 17lb Blonde Ray. It was not the best days fishing and not the best sea conditions and the 2nd half wasn’t much better for the Saints either!

Weekending 3/4/05

Good weather down south this weekend with a little warming up of the fishing too. For those that managed to get out onto the sand banks, deep off the back of the island, some better quality fish were available, although the fishing was still on the slow side. While some blanked others connected with some good fish with Mick Thompson landing a 5lb Turbot and a 17lb Blonde Ray on Sea Hunter skippered by Gary Withers. Small hounds were also showing along with 4 more Blondes, to the nearby boats, and a 93% specimen Spotted Ray plus Small Eyed Ray going to Andy Stevens boat 'Make My Day'. Closer in and there were a few Dogfish and an odd Whiting.

The Solent is still slow to react to this warm weather and Plaice are still the target fish.

Weekending 28/3/05

We have had some fantastic weather which has gone some way to making up for the fishing. There are a few more Plaice starting to show now. ‘The blocks’ off Portsmouth and Winner Bank being the marks to produce a few at a time with the biggest near to 3lb. All the boats are getting at least one Plaice. Smaller fish are showing along Calshot but only a single fish to a boat and that’s if you are lucky. I managed to get one myself big enough to remind me that they can put up a good account of themselves. That is slow fishing but there are 'just under sized Bass' in amongst them too. As there is little weed suspended you can scale down to very light tackle so they all give some sort of fight. The trick is not to catch fish at the moment but finding sizable fish.

Deep along the Solent channel is showing small Pout, a dogfish or two and the odd Spotted Ray.

Out past the Island is slow too generally with just a few Pout, Dogs and Spotted Rays and an odd early Hound. although there will be some good Blondes on the banks on the smaller tides and a few Pollock on the wrecks.

Weekending 21/3/05

Apart from the fresh air, the confidence that the boat is working well, that the end tackle is casting well and not tangling there is no point raising hopes too high. Expectation is the key to fishing through to the end of this month and early April. Set your expectation low and be prepared to fish hard. You have to do this when there is not a lot interested in your baits but you will probably need to put more effort into moving the bait, keeping it fresh and trying different marks.

Locally, Calshot seems to be the best option with the banks off Ryde, Portsmouth and Hayling also being areas to target for the Plaice from Boat and Shore.

The boats that had a go this weekend struggled to get a bite when fishing in the very neap tides (1.2M between high and low) in the Western Solent, which currently seems to be almost fishless. Although during an all day session in the Western Solent on Saturday, one boat did produce a couple of Thornbacks. A few boats started in the Solent, caught nothing, then braved the poor visibility to get out past the Needles light and settled a couple of miles off. They were in Fog all day. It was still hard work out there too with reports of an odd Thornback, Dogfish and Spotted Ray making up the catches. The water is gin clear and cold, with the mist and fog causing visibility problems all weekend.

I bought a few worms headed into the fog on Friday evening and came back without wetting a line as darkness was on its way and I could not see any real benefits in staying out there. I passed the worms on to my brother for Saturday who also realised the fog was thickening again towards the evening, and he also decided to give the fishing a miss and gave the worms back.  They were then passed to a mate who saw the thickening fog on Saturday night and realised Sunday morning was a non-starter too. He didn’t use them either! Two miles inland and it was like a mid summers day, all very frustrating.

The sea temperature should be warming a little from now and the worms would have finished spawning and so too the Flounders, maybe more inshore fish will show some interest over the next couple of weeks. A little more tide will help too when fishing deeper.

Fog and why it forms along the coast

Fog and mist are both made of tiny water droplets suspended in air. The difference between them is the density. Fog is denser (thicker) so contains more water droplets than mist. For air pilots, if you cannot see further than 1000 meters, then it is called fog. For motorists though, visibility has to be less than 200 metres before it is classed as fog.

Fog can form along the coast when warm air moves over a colder area of sea. This will cool the air and its moisture will condense into fog. This 'Advection' fog often forms in spring and early summer and sometimes early winter when there is a greater difference between the temperatures of the sea and land.

Fog forms in many different ways, but generally the air near the ground can hold its moisture for longer, so water droplets condense to form fog. The amount of moisture that air can hold depends, amongst other things, on temperature. The cooler the air is, the less moisture it can hold, so fog can form. Fog usually clears soon after dawn as the sun heats up the air again, allowing it to hold more moisture.

At night, the ground loses or 'radiates' heat. In turn the air near the ground cools too and cannot hold as much moisture. Any excess moisture condenses into 'radiation' fog, the UK's most common fog. The longer the night and the clearer the skies, the more the temperature can drop, so the denser the fog can become. However, a wind can prevent fog from forming, because it 'mixes' the cool air by the surface with the warmer air above, preventing the air from getting cool enough for its water to condense

Weekending 12/3/05

Nearly every man and his dog were out last weekend but there were not many bites to go round with no one landing a fish from the shallower marks. Most were after a Plaice or two but the Plaice were not playing. This weekends tides are perfect for wrecking and deep banks. The threat now is from Fog as the weather is very calm and still but with good sunshine the air temperature has shot up unfortunately the sea is freezing still. I tried to go out last night but in the end decided to just give the engine a run. It did not make sense heading out into fog with my 9 and 11 years olds just as dusk was approaching for a dogfish or two. Hopefully the boys will get out to the Atherfield Banks this weekend. There are some wreck trips planned too.

Calshot seems to be the mark for inshore Plaice. Others areas to fish would be Ryde and Hayling, good luck. You need some this time of year.

In the latest Ashlett SAC Evening League fished at Hurst shingle bank the fish were hard to come by as only four anglers weighed-in. Ernie Cuthbertson with a Pout and a Dogfish for 2lbs 0.25 ozs won the night with Ralph Pitman taking second place with a solitary dogfish, and Alan Rowland third with a solitary Pout

27 members fished this Winter Rover with Pout, Plaice, Flounders, Rockling, Whiting and Silver Eels being returned to the scales. Ernie Cuthbertson secured 12 points and first Plaice with a brace of Flounders, a nice Plaice and four Pout for 3lb 12oz. Second was Emily Carr, a Junior, fishing at Lepe, who out-fished her Dad by three Flounders to none. Emily also caught the best specimen on the day with a 1lb 12oz Flounder. Alan Rowland was 3rd and Ted Yates 4th.

Weekending 26/2/05
This is the time to get your fishing tackle maintained and new traces tied and ready. Also a good time to ensure the boat and engine is ready to go and make sure that your charter trips and competitions are booked and in the diary. Next if you get a chance have a go at testing what you have done but don't expect too much unless you are lucky. The benefit in going out this time of year is that you can test new ideas and you may get one of those special out of season days and a 'full fishing fix'. Traces can look good but cast and 'work' very poorly.

On the actual fishing front on Friday 18th BAT SFC again chartered Dakala Mist skippered by Steve Guyan. They set out from Langstone for a wrecking foray. The deal was that it would be wrecking or nothing which is a good idea at this time of year considering the unpredictability of the weather. It was not the best of days catch-wise on the wrecks but they were out there and trying, you never know. However, they boated about 10 congers the best going 45lb and a Bull Huss of 11lb. Pat Warne then hooked into a 16lb Smoothound as can be see from the 'FrontPage', I wonder what he thought he had latched into, during the retrieve, as this fish is way out of season. I guess when you are out in the middle you can expect anything.
Last weekend inshore boats fishing the shoreline for flatfish struggled to get bites. However this weekend promised to be better with Northerly winds, brighter days and bigger tides. It should of created ideal conditions for chasing those early Plaice but they did not play the game.
I started the weekend trying to get more water going round my Yam 60HP 2 stroke by changing the water pump. I was chuffed when I removed the top half of the pump to see two 'teeth' broken off the impeller. After replacing all the bits that come with the kit, there was more water shooting out of the 'tell tale' at 2500rpm and the water coming from the exhaust just below the cowling was not boiling hot and steaming so I think that it is now fixed. That gave me two hours of tide to take my nipper and nephew out for a spot of Plaice fishing. As it happens like all other reports received this proved fruitless.

Weekending 19/2/05
The weekend suffered with high winds from the North East which meant that only a couple of ‘diehards’ got out and fished, mostly sheltering their boats on the North Shore of the Western Solent. Thanks to the meteorological webs I could see that at 13:00 on Saturday it gusted to 50 Knts (F10)! Anyway the fish kept there heads down too with school Bass ripping the baits. Unfortunately trawlers have been spotted working up and down these areas for the last couple of weeks. They don’t do it for nothing, there must be fish there. They have a living to make but it is frustrating when you are waiting for a good run of fishing only to see your 3 hooks competing a few hours a week with a huge net that is dragged up and down for hundreds of hours a week.

Prime targets for next weekend with the neap tides will be getting deep again with large baits and hoping for a late Cod or a nice Skate or Conger. This can be done while picking off anything smaller that moves with squid strip, worm and slivers of mackerel. If that fails then there are Plaice and Dabs to chase with the same small baits.

The odd large Flounder should show inshore and around the rivers to King rag presented well on a size 1/0 black Aberdeen style hook. Another Flounder trick is to have a ‘flyer’ above the weight. This bait will have more movement as the waves and boat move the line above the weight. Another trick is to add beads, sequins and even small rod tip lights above the hook. Then there is the float and spoon method, I actually prefer the plastic spoons…loads to play with. The moral to fishing is not to sit and wait but to experiment with tactics and try new marks.

Weekending 12/2/05
The Western Solent Boats that are fishing the deeper marks on these small tides are finding a few Whiting to 2lb, the odd small Pollock, reliable Pout and Dogs. You have to be on the fish as there have been reports of some fishless days. In the sandy shallows there have been small Plaice and Dabs caught. A few Flounders are being taken still form just off the shore but they are very hard work to catch. The odd Bass is still showing to 4lb. A cracking Thornback of 15lb was caught by Mick Cousins on Sea Hawk. The Specimen 'Skate' was a big female bursting at the seams and was released immediately, she put up a good fight on sporting up-tide tackle and a fell to a small hook baited with mackerel. Not aware of shore of charter activity.

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