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Catch Reports 2008

31st December 2008

On Tuesday I had a small novice crew holidaying from London but they enjoyed themselves still. I stayed closer in on a popular mark where the sea was most comfortable but this proved hard work with the stronger tide still carrying that annoying red stringy weed and the fish not feeding well in this cold Easterly wind, flowing clockwise round a high pressure system. The lads actually caught very little before some chose to go back to Yarmouth at 'half time'. The cold and the sea got to them quickly and like they say, they were there to enjoy, not endure! The rest of the crew continued to fish a mark down the Solent in perfect but cold conditions, only the fish still would not oblige.

The current form is to expect a Cod or two and plenty of Congers with some Whiting thrown in too but as the water is cooling down, quicker than the last couple of years, you will need to push off shore a bit further in the coming weeks. Close inshore may be productive after dark if you can hang in there with ice forming around you in this freezing cold weather but getting round the light and out a bit could find you a boat full of fish still in daylight. I know what I would prefer. I am looking forward to this Saturday as I have a local crew that should catch the fish, if they are there!

2008 was a good year on the boat and another good year of learning, once again here are my 2008 Highs and Lows..

2008 Highs

bullet Settling down and getting used to my new boat, ‘White Maiden’
bullet Being blessed with good weather in the Spring and in the Autumn
bullet A very good run of Cod and Whiting
bullet Excellent feedback from my existing crews on the new boat ‘White Maiden’
bullet Selling ‘Due South’ to fellow Ashlett Club anglers and seeing her on the same mooring and hearing reports that she is regularly catching some very good fish
bullet A record number of bookings, at 115, with 53 angling charters honoured
bullet Getting out easily in thick fog with the new Garmin Radar
bullet Getting back easily on one engine and with a full crew, on one occasion, after making an error when refuelling, and running out of fuel on one side.
bullet Enjoying the new boat more when fishing 4 trips in one week, than 1 trip in 3 weeks!
bullet Learning that she is a lovely boat to own, skipper and fish from. The more I use her, the more I like her.
bullet I have learnt too, that proving this displacement twin hull design with outboards for Charter Angling, can only be established over a much longer period of time. So far, she has been very good but this is only after clocking 130hrs and 1000miles, when running 34 charter trips since June.
bullet The smallish 60HP outboards are still amazing me, they have been excellent so far but I know that only time, will tell.

2008 Lows

bullet The poor summer that really restricted the fishing and boat owners like me enjoying our boats, like we deserve to.
bullet 62 trips cancelled mainly due to the weather but a few to the new boat purchase..
bullet The fuel price increase. But as I decided to ignore it when pricing my 2009 trips, I have been very fortunate that the fuel costs have come back down again
bullet I could not believe that the stern buoyancy on the new boat was, at first, not up to the job and that I needed to take White Maiden back for additional buoyancy, that luckily for me, did not change the economy

The plan for 2009 is to honour as many of the booked trips as possible but still only go out in favourable conditions that match the boat and/or the crew’s ability. So far I have 70 confirmed bookings for 2009 with plenty of evening dates at £175 still available. Note that I still have a few mid-week dates that have been reserved for existing crews.

Happy New Year and Tightlines, Les

24th December

Charter reports from this weeks trips are good still, in this still and poor visibility weather pattern. Unfortunately my Saturday trip was blown off due to the F5-7 SW winds forecast. Still, it was an opportunity to fit my Christmas present to 'White Maiden', well before I was expecting to have it all sorted out. I now have a very nice KAB Helmsman Seat. Thomas Scott Chairs, in Scotland, sold the chair to me, after some internet investigation and e-mail exchanges on Wednesday last week at 1530. I received the helm seat in Southampton on Thursday at 1200, less than 24 hours of me ordering it on the phone! I would recommend their range and service, absolutely outstanding.

This week some cracking Whiting have been caught around the 4lb mark, with the best I have heard recorded at 4lb 4oz. So the trick maybe to fish two marks in the day, one to target Cod with big baits all round the boat and another to target the Whiting with the Hokkais and fish baits. Still you know what will happen, you will get the Congers on the Cod baits and the Cod on the Whiting baits. That's how it is when the fish switch on at the Needles this time of year.

On one trip at the end of last week Steve Davies fishing solo on his own boat 'Agay' managed a trip out before the wind picked up on the Friday evening and caught 5 Cod and 8 Congers while being circled by a Trawler. He was on the right line and proved that the Cod are now starting to be caught just a little further out, from the famous Needles. Not massive fish but approaching double figures.

Let's see what the weather holds for this weekend and for next week. I hope to get out and have a proper weeks worth of fishing for those lunker Cod, with BIG squid baits on 8/0 and 9/0 hooks and the odd Cuttle thrown in now and again to spice it up. If there are lots of small Pout feeding, then one of the smaller ones will go on one trace as a live bait.

Tightlines and Merry Christmas

Weekending 15th December

Sundays Kiddlington SAC charter started in dense fog all the way down the Solent to the Bridge and beyond. Visibilty must have been less than 50m. The 9am late start helped a bit as we knew by then that round the light the vis was slightly better, which is always good to know when you are on your way but even then when we were out there it did take a while to clear and allow us to see the Cliffs, just one mile away. The 2.5m swell from the South and the NW F4 chop on the surface of the swell made for a spooky atmosphere in the freezing fog but the fish soon came to the hooks and so the anglers settled down well.

After persevering with the baited hokkais all day they managed 31 Whiting plus Pout and Dogs but no big stuff. Mind you I can put down and use more bait on my own in 3 hours than my crew of six did in 6 hours, but each to their own. It was an enjoyable day and my new chart table worked well, if not the smartest, yet, it fits and works.

Some of the other boats found some bigger fish, with more Eels but not one Whiting and the Cod were more illusive in the 4.2m Range spring tide. So fingers crossed for next weekend and lets hope the weather allows us to get back out there again. 

Weekending 12th December

Well this week we have had some good winter fishing and weather. It was a bit cold when coming from the North but this enabled us to find some good fish. Having said that it is not the same everywhere as in between the good trips we had one ‘not so good trip’ that did not go to plan, but there you go.

Yesterday, Wednesday, we had our best return of the week with the Geoff Wheeler crew and yes you guessed it we didn’t set out for too much or go too far and went to concentrate on the Whiting. We had a cracking day as the Old Codgers caught Whiting, Cod and Bass plus some huge Pout, plus the inevitable Dogs. The picture below showing in order, from left to right, is John Babbage (Cod 7lb), Tom Ennion (Whiting all gutted to 3lb), John (Cod 12lb) and Geoff (Bass 7lb). In all we caught around 100 Whiting of which about 70 went home to feed, friends and family. The biggest Cod was actually hooked by John Babbage but lost when his wire broke! Then 20 minutes later John reeled in his Hokkais with John B’s trace, lead and leader and Cod all attached. Luckily to save any big fights, John Babbage re-used his recaptured trace to boat his own Cod!

Great day out, although the coldest day yet. Initially I couldn’t get into the fuel fillers in the morning to fill up as everything was frozen solid, and no I didn’t pee on them! The sea water is still warm enough!

On Monday the forecast improved from what was showing Friday, to make the day out possible for the New Forest Police crew. It turned out to be a low end F5 from the SW or S or SE, as the wind backed to the East, during the day. This made for a sloppy and cold day, in fact freezing cold day and really we deserved some better fish. Well they never came. We had plenty of Pout and Dogs plus a few reasonable Whiting and then a Skate on the flood tide, but all in all not good returns for the effort put in. We even tried the Solent at the end of the flood for the last 1.5 hours, in desperation. Not a bite worth mentioning, let alone a fish.

On Saturday the Balmerlawn Honda crew fought through a carpet of small Pout at the first mark, plus annoying Dogs plus a few Whiting, of which one or two were reasonable fish.  During the flood tide, we made our move out to around 4 miles where we eventually found the bigger fish in one short burst of activity. As the tide eased off we had a silly 45 minutes of fishing before the big fish went off and the pout started to come on the feed again. But after a few Congers and a couple of Nice Cod, plus one or two dropped fish, the day turned into a real good one as you can see from the pictures. Not only did we find some better fish but the sun shone all day and the wind dropped to a F1-2, a very good day, out on the sea for this time of year.

Left is Phil with his Cod that was shortly followed by Daves Cod on the right. The lads were keen, as I even had to boat the Congers for a picture. What a cracking Winters day for the UK.

Arthur had a 32lb Cod on our bow on the Saturday, on an inshore mark, Skeggsy found a 20lb Cod on Monday and Dink had a 20lb ling and Pollock to 15lb. The fish are well spread but the Solent is getting a bit harder in some places.

Saturday is already out, as the there is lots of wind from the South overnight that will ease off at about 10am, but it will take all day before the sea calms down. Sunday is looking much better now, so may still be on the cards. We will see.

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 30th November

The good fishing continues everywhere in the West Wight area. White Maiden had two good trips this week with the ‘old codgers’ on Wednesday boating sixty plus Whiting to 3lb, a couple of Cod, a monster Conger and then the inevitable Pout, some near 3lb and Dogs. Geoff Wheeler battled the big Conger off the bottom and after nearly breaking the surface well astern, the monster decided to go back down, and so it did. After a long fight Geoff got the Conger pacified and alongside, where we estimated it’s size, both were pretty knackered so it was fitting to T-Bar off the big fish and let it fight another day. Peter was keen to take a Conger for the pot but this one estimated at 55lb-60lb would have required a bloody big pot. Peter still managed to keep the Mrs happy with a Cod and some Whiting. Norm also chipped in with a Cod. Tom Ennion’s NZ hokkais found the best Whiting, but John caught the lions share, fishing hokkais through the tide. This was by far the best day of the week.

Yesterday the Jon Richards crew stuck to the task well, after a reasonable and steady morning. I decided we would chase the bigger fish but this also turned out to be a battle against the elements too. It was very damp and cold in the breezy 17knt wind that blew consistent from the NE. The first fish looked to be a good Cod but turned out to be a feisty Thornback. Dave Gerrish shows the gnarled Thornback that had more thorns on the belly than on it’s back. This was followed by a Jon Richards Cod, Mikes 25lb Conger followed by an 18lb Conger while the rest chipped in with the odd Whiting, Pout and Dog. Another move back to the mile mark for some better Whiting found Jon Gates one more Cod, well deserved after fishing big all day. We had a couple more Dogs before making for port, it seemed to be getting dark from about 1430, it was a miserable day, weather wise. The crew maintained good spirit, but we missed you Tony, ahhhh.  Both Cod fell to Cuttle!
The combination of tide, a feisty Thornback Ray and a bendy 20/30lb class Rod got Dave and the crew, and me going, believing he was into the best Cod being boated this year. The hardy fished deserved to swim away and have it's picture taken. Note the picture was taken from the wheel house, best place to be. It was bloody cold!

The Ashlett Cod comp fished on Due South was going well today, with four Cod boated by 2pm, not sure how they finished but a good day when the 10lb Pollock and Conger, plus Whiting, Pout and Dogs were added to their tally. Not sure who won yet.

The Solent is still fishing well with dinghy angler Mick Cousins on his boat ‘Sea Hawk’,  finding four Cod and Bass on one trip and Andy Stevens three Cod on his boat ‘Make My Day’.

Tighlines, Les.

Weekending 23rd November

Another week gone and some more lessons re-learnt. The first is, don't take note of forecasts three days prior to the trip in winter, as this Saturdays trip looked doomed on the Wednesday, dodgy on Thursday and fine by Friday, so after calling off the Saturday trip on Thursday, I had an opportunity to do some fishing myself and went along with a colleague from work. By the way we had plenty of fish, but nothing special, with a Cod, some Whiting and a Spotted Ray the highlights. 

Next lesson; fishing with three rods right through the tide after not having fished hard for some time was back breaking but very satisfying. Last lesson; the Solent is giving up some Codling and Whiting, large Pout and the inevitable dogs plus a few skate and Rays, but the proper fishing is found round the light! How do I know this?

Well  this years IOW Cod Champs, fished Wednesday and Thursday, drew 230 anglers of which on the first day a quarter of the entry caught the target fish with one Lunker Cod going 28lb+ after hitting the deck of Dave Stephenson's boat 'Becky-M'. Vernon Everett's new boat 'South Today' caught eight of the first fifty plus Cod on day one. The second day, Thursday, was a tester as the wind blew hard round mid-day, causing the fleet to take refuge down the Solent, where they still found Coding plus some good Whiting. This gave the Thursday anglers half a day round the light and the other half comfortable down the Solent, what an ideal venue for a competition.

The sea got so big 'outside' that Arthur Savage and crew on 'Private Venture 2', who was the last boat to head for the Solent, got hit by a wave that broke his anchor rope. Not that he was unsafe in an 11m South Cat, but more of an indicator of how quickly the sea can build quickly and create a 'rogue' wave.


Weekending 16th November

Saturdays forecast was spot on with a F4/F5 Sou Westerly making the sea almost 'moderate'. The result of that and a better forecast for Sunday meant it was all charter boats fishing round the Needles Light, on and around the one mile 'car park'. This was a very big tide with a 4.1m range as measured at Southampton Dock Head. The annoying weed, hanging on longer than usual, did cause problems in the ripping tide, however I chose to fish in 80', the high part of the First Gulley, which helped a little. But the fishing started slow, so at slack water we made a quick move to behind the Shingles and immediately the fishing livened up. Trident SAC found 7lb and 13lb Cod plus Whiting to 1lb 8oz and Pout to 2lb 4oz plus the inevitable bait robbing Dogs. If nothing else, this proved the theory that at the moment there are Cod everywhere inshore, so maybe that is where the Dinghy's were! The Solent is producing very well on the right marks but be prepared to experiment with big baits.

I called off today's mid-week trip due to the F5-7 WNW, forecasted with rain, which did get to a F6 at times, so probably justified. However this won't stop the Cod Championships tomorrow and Thursday and although I was asked to help out due to the huge entry, I could not find the time from 'work'. It is a pity, as I am sure this will be one of the best weigh-ins for some time, with plenty of Cod between 6lb and 14lb being caught with the odd fish around the 20lb mark.



Here is Bob and Chris with Cod of 7lb and 13lb respectively. Mind you they fished well with large hooks and plenty of bait.



Weekending 9th November

Just a quick note, as obviously we are not out there this weekend, or last weekend or the one before!!!

I did manage an evening trip with the Pat Warne crew in perfect conditions on Tuesday evening, calm and very dark, with neap tides. We started and finished in the dark and I would have lost money if I were to be bet that we wouldn't catch a Cod, but we didn't and luckily no one bet against us. Lots of Dogs and the odd Pout made up the catch. The boys stuck to it. Although there was little tide, there was a bit of weed still going through. We did it right, and were arguably in the right place and stayed on the same mark to attract the fish over the last part of the ebb and the start of the flood. Dink caught three Cod that day uptide from us and on the same tide line and depth, with the last of them soon after we got there. It must be something he puts in his bait.

Another lesson learnt was established after noting the obvious slowness of the plotter updates on the Garmin when overlaying the RADAR. This caused me to do a couple of circles. It was pitch black and misty and when slowly making way against the tide meant that the bow never showed up on the plotter where it really was, but rather where it had been. The trick was to steer on a compass bearing first into known clear water and 'get going' first. The next trick is to return on the Track Back while trying to avoid those pot buoys.

Outside of the Solent and round the light those that can get out there midweek, in the better weather, are finding a few Cod. Sometimes it is one, two or three to a trip plus open ground Congers which are still falling to squid. To improve your chances try Cuttle as it has good scent and really stays on the hook well as it is more resilient to those pesky, bait stealing Dog fish.

I am looking forward to some better weekend weather now, as good as it has been during the week, will do.


Weekending 26th October

Saturday was cancelled due to the forecast but last week did get out on the Tuesday, although I chose to stay in the Solent and search for the Codling. We found them in the end and boated a couple and lost a couple. Pout, Dogs and small Hounds made up the rest of the catch. The wind with the small tide made for a very comfortable trip . With the average age of the crew, around 70 years old, it was good to have a reasonable fish return, some lovely sunshine and a good laugh. The only downside was that I called off the evening trip after listening to the Shipping Forecast all day and being in a squall or two. As it happened the evening actually turned out perfect. Sorry Lads.

This picture is a bit of a cheat but as promised is a blast from the summer, with John Gates showing off his 6-6 Brill caught on the 'Brill Bank', honest that is what it's called. Mike was skippering, while I was in France on Holiday and John Richards took the excellent picture. Thanks John.

Tight Lines

Weekending 19th October

Yesterday was not a bad day to go out and find some fish although the big tides limited our options and that annoying weed is still there causing heavy leads to be picked up off the bottom in the strong tides. Pretty much amongst the throng of private and charter vessels all around the mile marks, White Maiden settled down on our first mark on the 'First Gulley'. Later we had a move to the East but it didn't help us find those illusive bigger fish.

A nice Undulate Ray around 10lb started the day well and a large Conger that bit through not far from the boat were the highlights. Add 8 or so Whiting up to about 1.5lb and a few large Pout to around 2lb, plus a few dogs, and that was it.

Reports from the other boats were very similar.

We found some mackerel and a Gar fish under the birds, on the Bridge, on the way out. The odd Mackerel was very large, for a Mackerel that is. 

Here's Bob of the Trident SAC crew with his Undulate Ray.

By the way the Pout was fantastic again, thanks boys. Alison served it up for dinner to a couple of fellow anglers and their better halves, on Saturday night and they couldn't believe  how good skinned and filleted Pout is to eat. They decided Pout just has a bad name, still if the crew offer it my way, then I have no need to complain.

Please note my NEW boat phone number 07505 256356

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 12th October

Last Saturday was cancelled due to the F6-7 but by Wednesday it had settled down to allow us to get out for an evening session down the Solent. A 9lb Cod for Robbo was the highlight among plenty of Dogs and Pout. I managed to loose a suspect Cod twice, the cause probably a light rod and heavy hooks that are hard to pull home. Anyway an opportunity gone.

During the day 'Private Venture' found 5 Cod with the best falling to a Whiting bait on a 2/0 hook, at 25.5 lb, with Conger and Pollock feeding too. On the same day, 'South Today' found a 15lb Turbot and 3 Cod so it just goes to show when those familiar marks want to fish, they can!

Saturday (yesterday) was a super day and one of the best this year, although the high pressure put the mockers on the fishing. We managed a couple of Spotted Rays and a reasonable Thornback Ray, a Tope and loads of Dogs on a 3 Mile mark, but no Cod or Conger! A big relief to the crew was that I did not put the onto the 'bait wrecking' Pout. It was one of those days, with good fishing methods adopted and plenty of bait used, it just didn't happen. By the end of the day it was obvious from other reports that the fishing was quiet all round. On the way out there we proved that the birds could still show us where there are Mackerel and in amongst them were Gars and Bass too.

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 28th September

Super weather but if you can't find the fish, it doesn't matter how nice it is, you just don't get no satisfaction. On Saturday I failed miserably to find a decent fish. We were thwarted by a later getaway due to a couple of anglers not passing on a message, that they weren't coming. That added to the fog which restricted speed and visibility all the way down the Solent to the Light, sometimes as bad as 50 meters at times. Anyway this meant that I decided NOT to go to Atherfield banks as planned as I had already lost the tide by the time we made the reef, so we fished the reef. What a mistake that was. Still we live and learn. Back at the Mile marks there was a variety of Gars, Scad, Whiting, Pout and Dogs but we couldn't latch into anything decent. I should have steamed down to Atherfield for the end of the flood and then fished the 3 - 4 mile line, over the spoil grounds on the way back, in hindsight (again). Still we live and learn. The fog was another reason behind the decision as the Coasters tend to go close to the Atherfield Banks so you have to keep your eyes peeled or the RADAR on.

Thursday evening was fun, even though we ended up in a F5 down the Solent, wind with Tide, so it was very comfortable. The Dave and Malc Gerrish Crew caught some half decent Bream, loads of Pout and Dogs plus small Hounds before the Codling shown here in the picture, fell to a baited Hokkai. The picture shows Mike and Mike with Cod and Bream side by side. I like this time of year.

John Skeggs on TomKat 2 found a 21lb Cod for one of his crew and there are Codling showing up all over the place. So far, last weeks prediction is proving sound. Maybe this is some proof that those mid-channel summer Cod are the same ones that come inshore during the Autumn and Winter to spawn.

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 21st September

Its been a busy week with a mid-week Bassing charter, followed by an Evening beginners trip and a Saturday Inshore trip that has resulted in some reasonable fishing, now this weather has given us a nice settled spell, it is all systems go. The Bassing trip was made more difficult as the live baits played difficult to get. But dead baits and artificial's accounted for the majority of the 22 Bass landed by the Royal Berks SAC crew. Most were sizable with 3.5lb the best. The fish weren't big but the method used meant that they were a sporting contest. I liked the extreme light-line approach, used by the anglers, a method which I have used in the past but have recently settled on a slightly more stiffer set up, so it was a very interesting trip.

Next up was the Tim Munden and co. beginners evening trip who fished well considering the unexpected weed added to the difficulty of darkness. We had fantastic conditions though, with a full setting sun and a full rising moon. But the fishing was below par with mainly Dogs and Pout and a solitary Hound making their way to the baits.

The Saturday 'Tony Lavington Crew' started well enough with Mackerel easy to find on the Bridge. The fishing was hampered by lots of smaller Pout but the better fish were there, as one smashed up Norman who was not expecting to get dragged down the boat as his main line parted. While other opportunities found the whole fish baits, bitten in half. One hooked whiting only made it to the boat with its head left attached to the hook with the rest chomped off by a Tope or similar shark. At the start of the flood Robbo got the best fish of the day with a powerful male Undulate Ray pictured below which weighed in just under 14lb. At the same time Robin, tangled with the Undulate, landed the best Whiting. With hindsight I wished I had moved at slack water but I expected better results at the end of the Flood and the start of the Edd. The Ebb was disappointing. Still you have to stand by your decisions and that is how it worked out, a good start and a pretty flat finish. That's fishing.


Tightlines (not with weed)

Weekending 14th September

I have a good feeling about this winter. Indicators so far are that we could have a very good one with a mix and variety of late summer and early winter species hitting the deck, yesterday. We had to move around a little before we settled on a mark that produced and we were not way offshore, the opposite in fact. The Trident SAC crew found the Dogs and Pout but also latched into a few Whiting to 1.5lb plus a 4lb Bass, 6lb Cod, 12.5lb Pollock, a couple of Conger to 35Lb+, Scad, Mackerel and Poor Cod. The best fish was the 12.5lb Pollock, that fell to Chris again, while a close contender was a Conger to John, which looked between 35 and 40lb which eventually bit through, on the surface and close to the boat. This was a fairly quiet day at first but finished well and in super conditions.


The only test, first thing, was the thick fog that was clogging the Solent and down to the light but the Garmin 24" High Definition RADAR was again an unbelievable tool when overlaying the Garmin GPSMap.

On Wednesday Mike skippered his last inshore trip on White Maiden but did reasonably well in the Solent, considering the breezy conditions. At the end of the day I met Mike on the pontoon and took the boat back out for a little night sortie, targeting Sole close to Lymington. As Mike had promised, there was plenty of life down the Solent with a sizable Bass, some school Bass, a couple Bream and a Hound in succession. Unfortunately it got to a low end F7 (29Knts) SSW by 20:30 so we came back in. We never had a chance to fish for the Soles but there is plenty of time yet though.

Last weekend the weather was awful which gave me a chance to fit 18 Rod Holders and wire up a Fluorescent Deck Light. With the weed now dying away in the Solent I am ready for some evening/night hours targeting Cod, Bass and Soles and the ('law of averages') calmer Autumn that we are due.


Weekending 2nd September

We managed to honour 4 out of the last 7 charters with the wind putting paid to the other 3 which included one for this evening. Some crews seem to be hit consistently while others seem to be blessed with good weather, it is odd.

The first trip of the week was with Bisley SAC drifting the 9 mile banks which nearly threatened to pay off when we found Bass between 2lb and 4lb for 5 of the Drifts but they were only giving themselves up one or two to a drift which gave us a total of 7 Bass in the day, which is not enough really. Then it stopped. Bait Mackerel were hard to find and dead sandeel worked as well as anything. The fish were showing and it makes me wonder if live Sandeel or some Launce would have made the difference. A short stop on the reef found a couple of Tope and a Small Eyed.

The Bank Holiday Monday and the Tuesday were blown off, while midweek I took a group from Ringwood out on one of the best and calmest evenings, for a long time. The Mackerel were very sporadic off Yarmouth, with a few Scad mixed in but we gave them a fair go before looking for some Bream which we found to around 1.75lb to the East, before they went off, as darkness fell. I was expecting some action from the Hounds but we never found one on the Island side. Over on the Mainland side of the Channel the Dogfish grabbed anything with some Squid or Mackerel on the hook.

Mike was hoping to get round St Catherines light and target Plaice off Ventnor but was caught short by the lumpy seas. Instead they fished the 3 Mile wreck area and struggled due to the wind against the small tide causing them to turn from one side to the other, which creates tangles. It was just one of those days.

On Saturday Church Crookham targeted Bass on the Bridge and caught a couple to 4lb on live Mackerel plus a 3lb Wrasse over slack water but generally it was quiet as the crew got to terms practicing 'floating live baits'. Breaming in the afternoon inside the Shingles was not as successful as I had expected with just a few smaller ones taking baits and the inevitable dogs, but we did have a cracking day with some sunshine for a change.

There are now only 6 Saturday trips free for next year as nearly all my 2008 crews have booked and confirmed again for 2009. I have reserved provisional dates for the Tony Lavington and Trident SAC Crews, so unless they decline any dates there are only the 6 Weekend dates left. Evening trips are a plenty and there are 13 free Midweek Dates available still.

Mike has his last trip with me on Wednesday, next week. I am looking forward to some more Bassing and trying for some Soles, the weather has to pick up soon, doesn't it?

Weekending 24th August

Lots of blown off trips as the wind keeps blowing a notch harder than the forecast mainly due to the warm temperatures which creates a bit of coastal sea breeze too, which added to the F4-5's SW making it a F6 to 7. Still Mike got out on Friday and caught a variety of species on the squiggles and on the reef, while I managed a trip out on Saturday to the 9 mile banks to hunt for Bass. We ended up with 7 or 8 Bass on the drift and then a couple of Tope and a Small Eyed Ray back on the Reef. Not the best fishing but at least we managed to get out there.

The boat was running well and I have been swapping props around, to my cost. First of all I paid £270 for a re-pitched pair of 14" x 12" props and then tested her out to find that I get more acceleration but a lower top speed, and consequently a big hit on the economy. This caused me a bit of a problem on Saturday when I ran out of fuel on the starboard side. We came back over the Needles Bridge on the port engine and against the tide, the last 7 miles home. I made between 6.6 knts and 9.5 knts, which was good considering I had a full crew. What caused me to run out was a combination of; forgetting a trip, mistakenly part filling my Starboard  tank by leaving it about 30 litres short, and the change in economy. I was chuffed the previous refill as the part re-fill skewed my numbers and this gave me better economy which I thought was due to the reshaped hulls! Still we live and learn, and we got back on one engine safe and in good time. Everything is back to normal again with the original props back on the boat and both main tanks and auxiliary tanks full. Hopefully we will get a bit of Plaice fishing in round at Ventnor soon plus some more Bassing.

One Dinghy that stayed on the Reef all day on Saturday weighed in a 13lb Bass and an 8lb Cod. While Private Venture nearby accounted for a 24.5lb Blonde Ray. Bream can be found inshore still and are starting to shoal up again making them easier to find too. Mackerel are patchy.

Weekending 10th August

I am back from my summer hols and ready to go but that darned wind keeps on blowing from the SW. In the meantime during a lull, I took eleven over to the Cowes fireworks and with some 'days off' I managed to finish the kitchen, wehey. With the extra time, due to cancelled trips, I have sorted the headlining on the boat, recharged and refitted a flat battery and learned loads about sealed resin filled batteries and how much they are, normally! How they compare with Gel and Hydrochloric Acid Batts, charging, loading and how my boat has been wired out. I put on a new pair of re-pitched props  today but not yet tested and I have fresh rag worms on board, already to go. Like I say I just need that wind to drop off and am looking forward to some evening Bassing this week.

Weekending 27th July

Mike is in control for the next couple of trips. Yesterday the Tony Lavington crew managed to find a few species, with a 6lb 6oz Brill and a 4lb Bass the pick of the fish. The offshore banks fished OK but did not set the world on fire. Let's hope the weather stays with us for the few weeks.

During this cracking weather I have been in the office most of the  week with the boat sat on the moorings. Most my days off this year are already booked up for holidays or charter trips. Then just to cap it all off, this last couple of weeks, when I get home from work I start on the kitchen, before checking the boat at the end of play! Still after the 'week before last' Thursday F7 and the Saturday F6 it is nice to see things settling down a bit. I managed to get out last Monday evening. It was a very nice evening but the crew did struggle, even the mackerel played hard to get with just a few showing plus some tiny Herrings. Even the hounds wouldn't oblige for my crew although Dink on Due South had around 25 hounds all released and 4 Bass just a few hundred meters away from our last stop. It just goes to show that our time and fuel spent getting to the Dolphin bank and back was a bit of a waste.

Most of the fish that evening were just a couple of miles from the end of the river! However the weed was a problem down the Solent with the bigger tide.

One conclusion is that I may need to show my less experienced hire crews how to cast up-tide, and set the baits away from the boat and stay weed free. I am beginning to think now, that this is the difference with some crews and how I would tackle the Western Solent.

Tighlines, Les.

Weekending 17th July

Well it was a good test trip for the modified hulls, on White Maiden, with the Church Crookham crew, Mike Hannam and I heading out into a South Westerly, that blew F5 for most of the day, getting gradually worse rather than gradually better, as the predicted forecast.

Mackerel are abundant but the fishing in the morning on the ebb, was slow, with the fish playing hard to get. The boat lay across the tide, beam on, but was very comfortable. A move to the Atherfield Banks brought more action at the start of the flood with seven Blondes to 17lb, two Small Eyeds and a Spotted Ray making up the majority of the catch with a Bass, a few Tope and a couple of Dogs making it a reasonable return.

Paul is pictured with the best blonde. The crew enjoyed the new boat and commented that it would have been a different trip on my previous boat. I probably would have been back 'inside' well before the end of the day, somewhere down the Solent.

On Tuesday evening the Pat Warne crew had unusually warm conditions at 27 degrees with a clear sky and a brisk F5/F6 SW. It was lovely with the wind slightly off the Island at Yarmouth and the Mackerel obliging down through Sconce at the start of the flood.

After getting enough Mackerel bait and Wednesdays dinner, we went down the Solent. The target species was a Bass, we ended up with 5 hounds to 9lb and dogs.

The boat ran well and the RADAR overlay on the Chart was fantastic, in the dark running back up the Solent.

Tonights trip was postponed until Monday. While Saturday is already looking dodgy unless the Solent Hounds is a draw for the crew, although with the bigger tide, the weed becomes a bigger concern. We will wait and see.

Tightlines Les.

Weekending 6th July

Over the last 10 days I have been ultra busy, replacing our kitchen and taking White Maiden back to BWSeaCat for some snagging and modifications! The 'work' included both engines having their first service, an additional galley top, 2 additional galley lockers and 4 additional port/starboard storage lockers, a replacement fuel cock, additional letting port on both fuel hatch rims, a manual bilge pump fitted to both fuel compartments, and most significant, BWSeaCat have added another 200Kgs of buoyancy to the stern sections of both 'sponsons' or 'canoes'.

Here are some more details to put the record straight. It still amazes me how gossip can change the real situation into something quite different from the truth. After my first few test trips, stern buoyancy became an issue for me, not the crews as they seemed completely unaware, or maybe they just concentrated on maximising their time fishing! Whatever, I could see that more lift was required in the stern to keep the bigger outboards up and out of the water, particularly when there was a reasonable sea, and all tanks were full, and a crew of anglers with kit all revved up to go, in the business end, the cockpit area.

I have to say that the work has been completed in good time and to a high standard and the run from Lymington to Portsmouth Harbour on Tuesday 24th June, starting at 5am, to 'drop her off', was awesome. What a way to start a day in the office on probably the best day we have has over the last 4 weeks, and since my Maiden test trip, with Trident SAC. It also made me realise what I have been missing while chartering, as I used to often go out at 04:30 when my mooring was tidal. I have made a mental note to do this more often in future!

The launch off day is tomorrow, Monday, and I hope to get her back to home port Tuesday or Wednesday, ready for Thursdays two charters and Saturdays trip (a cracking neap tide). Although the weather may change things yet, noting that horrible low which looks set to persist for a couple more days.

Out of the 7 crews that have been let down over the last two weeks, only one would have been a 'good weather' day out and even then this particular crew were light on anglers and were a little relieved. I guess that basically, I have been fortunate not to have had 7 crews looking at blue skies and flat seas, either side of their beach casters!! Anyway that did not help the other skippers. The weather has been breezy to say the least. I hope we get a break soon, although it is giving the mid-channel cod a chance to disperse and look after themselves a bit better.

Having been on Maiden at Wicormarine again Saturday, yesterday, I am really looking forward to getting her back to Lymington now the work is completed and the she is all ready to launch off again. I hope to give more fishing updates soon but I know there are lots of pack tope chewing any bait offered plus some good Pollack on the drift, Rays and Bass on the Banks and Hounds in the Solent, so we just need the weather now..........

Just so you know, keep an eye on the press as there is an application to extract hundreds of thousands of tonnes of aggregate from SW of the Fairway Buoy every year for the next 15 years. Needless to say they are trying to keep this quiet. The effect would be to wreck a good whelk fishing area, which in turn directly affects the fish. That area will be left barren, no weed, no shellfish, no crab, no baitfish - no life.

Tightlines Les.

Weekending 22nd June

It has been a disappointing week as I was forced to call off Thursday's trip due to a F7 in the forecast and unfortunately it was the same again today (Sunday)!!

However we did get out on Friday with the Dusty crew. We had a low end F5 SW and the sea was still moderate round the light. I was hoping for something a bit better and along the lines of the forecast that was given. We got light rain most of the day too. However, this did not dampen the crews spirits even though the mackerel were playing hard to get.

The F7 the previous day seemed to have split all the mackerel away from their usual haunts, with the crews on all boats struggling to find them in any numbers. This has happened before.

Anyway we only got as far as a small wreck 2 miles South where we found 4 small Tope and 2 small Congers plus Dogs. Their 8/0 hooks helped keep the dogs to a minimum. Pending a wind over tide situation, following the HW we were on, I decide to move inside to Christchurch Bay, after drifting the Bridge. We cut over the shallows at the west end of the Shingles, it was not very nice out there and enabled a fair sea trial in the new boat.

She is certainly different to a mono hull.

Many of the wrecking charter trips are catching high numbers of Cod, with Kevin Duell on Voyager finding 240 Cod for one of his crews last week!!

Weekending 16th June

Sorry for the brief update but the last 4 days have been hectic.  I have some jobs to do but basically the new boat certainly catches plenty of fish. The Trident crew on Saturday caught some really good fish on 'White Maidens' Maiden Angling Charter, particularly Chris the party organiser. His 15lb Pollock was the best specimen, caught drifting a wreck, just a few miles offshore. Here is Chris' portfolio of best fish.

So far we have had a good days Charter fishing with 8 total aboard, 6 anglers, myself and a crew. While Yesterday, Sunday, we had a total of 13 friends and family aboard for some testing and some sightseeing. I am still holding judgement on her full capabilities and will describe and update when ready.

I know now that the fuel tank locker hatches are screwed down and not just turned 180 degrees, that a letting port in the stern hatch corner is required and that some ballast weight must go forward now I have moved my main rope, chain and anchor midships! I will do some more updates shortly after speaking with BWSeaCat's, Ben the Boat Builder. Basically I am still learning the boat and we have some bits and pieces to sort out. I will keep you all posted. Chris I got your booking in the Diary.




Tightlines Les.

Weekending 8th June

Bit weird not having a boat with such a good weekend of weather. Boat reports are good with John Skeggs on Tom Kat 2 finding 60 odd Bass for his crew of two on Friday and the struggled to hit the numbers on the next day, that's fishing! They released all doubles and kept a few for the pot. Wouldn't it be good if the netters and trawlers did this!!! No chance.

I am getting anxious now while waiting for the new boat and not sure what to do with myself. Still this is all part of the fun I suppose. I am told the Sea Work show may suffer due to the good weather, as the half interested charter skippers will be honouring their charter trips, during this fine spell. I note on the 'long range' it is turning for my first lot of trips on White Maiden, but then it is just a forecast. Things change, we will wait and see.

Weekending 1st June

White Maiden is nearly finished, with the coding completed. She is coded for Cat 2, which is 60 miles from safe haven. So the web site is showing all new White Maiden pictures. Due South was sold an hour after my last trip, as the Due South Skipper / Owner, yesterday. So all in all, everything is going to plan still.

Last Thursday Evening the Balmalawn Honda crew brought the rain along too, after a cracking day of sunshine. Anyway the Mackerel are definitely inshore now and that ensured that the rain didn't dampen their enthusiasm. We fished the Ledge and a nearby hole, in calming seas until 10:20pm. The Ledge was fairly quiet except for a few dogs, some small Bream, inevitable Pout and one very feisty 9lb Bull Huss. In the end the crew counted 40 Dogs and 40 Pout, 5 Bream, loads of Mackerel and the Bully.

Here is a picture of Chris keeping an eye on those teeth. The cracking Huss was released to bite another day. On a trip last year Chris had 4 out of the 5 Huss caught on the boat, on another evening trip, so he is a bit of a Bull Huss expert.



On yesterdays, last Due South trip for me, the Church Crookham crew, could not have had a better spell of weather. Having given the Ledge enough chances this last 3 weeks, I quickly moved from there after about 45 minutes and went West and ended up with the most fish caught in one day on Due South during my time. This really happened as the odd Pollock around 3lb kept us interested and on the spot. Regular Bream going to 2lb, plus a good Bass run on a floated Pout live bait, made us decide to stay throughout the day, on the same, very productive mark.

In the end, Richard had 98 fish, all on his own!

The huge squid, that is shown blowing water everywhere, on the left, is held by captor, David. In all we saw 12 species caught. This included 180 Pout, 60 Black Bream, 20 Poor Cod, 3 Gars, 3 Pollock, 2 Whiting, 2 Dogs, Mackerel, Tom Pot Blenny, Cuckoo Wrasse, Ballan Wrasse, Corkwing Wrasse, there may have been more!

Well that's it for Due South and me now. I will still be helping the new owners with learning the ropes no doubt.

White Maiden will be here in Lymington, in around 11 days time. It is just starting to get a bit more exciting now the new boat is becoming a reality and the prospect of everything going to plan looks very likely. Can't wait.

See you all on the new boat, White Maiden. Please note I have had to remove Mike's free dates after August as he has a contract in Abu Dhabi, teaching Boat Handling, starting in September. I will Skipper the other mid-week dates already booked for Mike.

Tuesday 20th May

Who would want to be a weather forecaster? Last night we fished Christchurch Bay from 6pm – 9pm where we had some wind to start with which then died away to a gentle breeze. It was a bit slow and I wanted to find some bigger fish, so at 20:45 we moved back inside to Sowley, to go after a Hound or two. Here we found a little more wind but that soon changed into a F4 and maybe even touched a F5 before we up anchored to go for home. Now here is the interesting bit, look at these wind measurements first at the Starting Platform at the end of Lymington River, and then at Hurst Castle.

At the entrance to Lymington River at 22:40 it was gusting 21Knts and averaging 17Knts.

At Hurst Castle at exactly the same time it was gusting just 7.55Knts and averaging 6.33 Knts.

These two wind instruments are only 2.3 Miles apart from one another and the wind did not start to pick up until an hour later at Hurst . Interesting eh? The Sky was clear over the Solent, with some cloud over the mainland . Anyway the fishing was not the best, unless you like dogfish that is! I think these Easterlies will need to go round first and switch the fish into feeding mode again!

Lymington Starting Platform wind measurements:




Avg Wind Direction

Avg Wind Speed(Knots)

Max Wind Speed(Knots)









































































Hurst Castle:




Avg Wind Direction

Avg Wind Speed(Knots)

Max Wind Speed(Knots)









































































Weekending 18th May

On Saturday the Vicky crew was a family affair with all members of the crew related, except Mick, that is. Dan, Glen, Paul, Dan, Steve and Mick did fairly well, as the rod hires, caught 15 Bream, 6 hounds and loads of dogs on a day that was hard work due to the unwillingness of the fish to come out and 'play'. We tried a few marks and caught on all of them although never in a prolific way. The lads fished properly all day and deserved their hard earned results.

On Sunday the Darren crew also fished hard for minimum return as the ebb tide continued to fail to turn on the fish into any sort of feeding mode. We caught the two biggest fish on the last 10 minutes and the first 10 minutes of the both flood tides, that happened at both ends of the day! Although Nick did manage to find a decent 3lb Bream on the Ledge. Nicks Bream and a Small Eyed were caught on a new fancy spinning Rod and Bait casting reel. I must admit that there aren't many rods that I would like to add to my collection but the Berkley Rod and Abu reel worked very well. In the end the crew managed a couple of Rays and a dozen dogs to add to a couple of Hounds and half a dozen Bream. Here is a picture of Rob with the best Small Eyed Ray, at 9lb, caught this year on Due South on a good little mark in a hole, found in the middle of some fairly shallow banks and ledges.

Just 5 bookings left on Due South, 2 evenings and 2 Saturdays for me and 1mid-week GW trip for Mike, before the handover date.

White Maiden is in the final stages of fitting out now. I managed to reduce the Insurance by £170 simply by just calling round. Curtis Marine have done me proud though. They were my original Insurance company and have matched the best deal offered by Bay Marine.

Weather looks to be holding and warming up again too.

Tightlines, Les.


Weekending 11th May

On Tuesday the Pat Warne Crew came out for the first evening trip this year. They hammered the Dogs and Pout and found a couple of decent Hounds plus one Bass on a cracking evening session which went quieter as it got dark, which was odd. We moved 'out', in hindsight, we probably should have moved 'in'. Thanks to Pat and Stuart for the 2lb of sausages and a dozen eggs, they went down a treat for tea.

It's black Bream time and yes, the bigger ones are there to be caught still if you are willing to be, patient, put up with some tackle losses and be pestered by small Pout and Wrasse. The Ledge is best described as quieter this week but still produces quality fish. Left is a picture of Tom Ennion showing a 3.5lb Hen Black Bream caught on the Ledge. Along with a dozen more decent Bream the Geoff Wheeler crew caught Pollock, Pout, Dogs, a small Bull Huss and lastly a decent 12.5lb Thornback on the Ray mark.

Yesterday was the calmest day I have witnessed for a long time, with absolutely no wind, at any time for the whole duration. The day started badly with flat Batteries due to all the equipment being left on since the Wednesday. It was my fault, I had gone though my shutdown routine, only to be 'caught' getting into the tender by Dink and Andy the new owners. After we went back aboard and worked through some Navigation kit, I forgot to shutdown again.

Anyway, I called Seastart and they had me up and running within 35 minutes of the initial phone call. That is what you call a fast response! After a brief chat I picked up the Bisley crew just 30 minutes late, Rob Thompson on Shogun had warned them for me. It was then I found out that one of the crew had whacked a Deer at 70 mph on the M3 and luckily got away with a smashed front end and bits of Venison mashed brain splattered over the windscreen. It could have been much worse.

After the late start, we tried the Ledge, which was very quiet, and soon moved further West to find a quick 60 odd Black Bream to 2lb plus. The other boats nearby seemed to be quiet so it was a bit of luck on my part and good angling on the crews part. As the Flood tide, topped it became a bit quieter, so we went on the hunt for a small eyed and failed. It was incredibly quiet at slack water, so I decided to up anchor and drift to give the baits some movement and life to find we only drifted about 200m in 30 minutes!! There was no tide and absolutely no wind. Then after a further 30 minutes of very quiet Ebb tide, not even a dog, we went to look for some hounds and found two in the last hour, plus Dogs. It was a good day out and good fun too.  Thanks to Robert. Les and 'Dogfish Dave' for thinking of the skipper and allowing me to chuck a couple of Bream on the BBQ today. Also to Dogfish Dave for leaving me all his ball leads that he had expected to loose and didn't!

Weekending 4th May

The Biggest Bream (3lb - 4lb) are there and localised with many smaller Bream (1lb - 2lb) showing in all the favourite early hot spots. Yesterdays crew managed to find 25 Bream to 3lb, plus 4 Small Eyed Rays, lots of Dogs, lots of Pout, lots of Wrasse, Gar and a Goby thing. All hen fish were returned as were some of the smaller cock fish, plus all the Rays and other bits and pieces. The weather made for a comfortable days fishing and it was an enjoyable start to the Bank Holiday weekend.

The Exbury Bream competition, also fished yesterday, with ten dinghies and twenty one anglers, was won by Gary Withers with the best Bream of 3.96lb a tad under 4lb and his two best Bream weighing over 7lb together. Only the best two Bream counted and all other Bream and fish were returned.

My new vessel 'White Maiden' is progressing nicely.

Weekending 27th April

Better late than never on the reports as White Maiden and Rugby has taken up all my spare time.

The Beaulieu Boat Jumble was good again today, although much the same as the last time I went about six years ago, it was still worth going along to. Thanks to Steve for the 'lucky' entry ticket. All in, I saved myself about £120 and spent no more than £45, collecting two A4 Fender Buoys, 6 rods holders, 2 Buckets, and an 86m, 8mm floating line.

In fishing trip order from yesterday back in time and over the last two weeks. The Wrecks are fishing well with Arthur Savage on Private Venture seeing a 25lb Turbot, hit his deck yesterday, a few Cod and plenty of Pollock. Not sure how the rest got on out there as a few boats went for it. Inshore has been good with John Skeggs finding a 4lb 8oz Black Bream for one of his crew. While the crew on Southern Star found 90 odd Black Bream during one of their stops yesterday.

I skippered the Church Crookham SAC crew and we did OK down at Southbourne Rough, and found a variety of fish. This was a lovely day with flat seas from first to last. We caught ten species including a Tadpole fish, a species I had heard of but never seen before. The boys managed Bream, Pout, Skate, Small Eyed Ray, Dogs, Gar, Poor Cod, Tadpole Fish, Ballan Wrasse and a Bull Huss. This is Peter with a fiesty 12lb Thornback which was the best specimen on the day.

Below is Paul's Tadpole Fish. Note there are no barbs as you would expect with a Rockling. Strangely looks a bit like a big Tadpole!



During a couple of trips last week Mike found the Bream harder to catch on the Ledge but the Crew stuck it out and managed to catch them up to 3lb on both days.

Saturday 19th April, the previous week was a complete blow out due to a forecast F7.

April 15th Mike took the Phil Balson crew out to some banks between 4 and 6 miles off in a neap tide and one of the best days so far this year. They caught 18 Conger to 45lb and lost plenty more. Along with those hefty Eels came Thornback Rays to 13lb, Blondes to 13lb and a few Small Eyed Rays. Here is a couple of good shots of Phil holding one of his Dad's Congers, and Lee with the best Thornback a specimen at around 13lb.


Saturday 12th April was a F7 after a much better forecast was promised, some crews went straight home from the quay. After offering to cancel which was unacceptable at the late stage, I decided to take mine down the Solent, as they were desperate for some fishing practice. The wind was with the tide all day and so would be fishable and comfortable. As it turned out it was a bit too much for two of the crew so we fished for half the day. Anyway, we have had the hounds out deep and a few miles off shore but this was the first sizable hound caught in the Solent for Due South this year.

Unfortunately a couple of trawlers have been working the Western Solent hard and have been landing Tons of Bream. I know they need to make a living but it would be good if the poor buggers could be allowed to spawn first. On Due South as on other Charters we make a conscious effort of returning all hen fish. It is a pity we are putting them back for the trawlers half the time.


Weekending 5th April

The Tony Lavington crew fished a species hunt on Saturday, non-competitive of course, while the main quarry was an early but large Black Bream. Well we had one Black Bream along with eight other species making a total of nine species for the day. Not bad in early April. The pick of the bunch was a rare inshore Coalfish of 4lb 5ozs skilfully caught by 'Nonchalant' Norman (old fashioned for 'cool', I think), who also had the best two Pollock of around 2lb 8oz. The Ballan Wrasse held by Tony was pictured due to it's fantastic colours! I took the picture with my shades on only to find that my nipper had been playing with the settings. The Wrasse was already heading back to it's lair between the kelp before I found out. By the way John Exton caught 6 different species.
Species caught: Pollock, Pout, Coalfish, Black Bream, Dogfish, Ballan Wrasse, Bull Huss, Corkwing Wrasse and Tompot Blenny.

The Best Black Bream reported so far went 4lb 7ozs caught on 'Shogun'.

Weekending 29th March

This weekend is another one for the 'crossed off' list. Most of us, that don’t have to go to sea, have taken the sensible path and decided to cancel. Why take on the F7's and F8’s that will be blowing from the South West?

However when the weather is good the fishing is always good, because even if we don’t catch a lot, it is very pleasant trying to. It has been reasonable between the weekends and a few Plaice are now showing inshore on some marks with Small Eyed Rays on others, unfortunately not on the same marks! The Black Bream should be here on the next set of springers and in about 10 days time and the first Mackerel should show around the end of the month. Blonde Rays on the offshore banks, will still be my 'end of March to early April' target species, plus the odd Conger, Early Hounds, Bass and Spurdog.

The trick is when you can’t get to these distant marks you have some good marks inshore. On Monday we had a smattering of checker Bass, Pout, a tiny Spotted Ray and two 5lb Undulate Rays on a very comfortable inshore mark. We fished a F4 North Westerly and for only a few hours, so as you can see the fishing is gradually picking up again.

As you may know, in readiness for my new Catamaran ‘White Maiden’, I have already sold ‘Due South’ to a local syndicate of three local anglers which include Dink Lemoignan and Andy Niven. These guys considered ‘Due South’ while I jumped in and bought her at the end of 2005. They are both top Dinghy/Boat Anglers that know the area and ‘Due South’ very well. 'Due South’ will be in the hands of her new owners by mid to end of June and after the Sea Work show, when I plan to get ‘White Maiden’ back to Lymington.

Our first ‘training run’ on Monday went very well plus I didn’t let them catch all the fish either. They know the marks and the boat so a happy union is a likely outcome.

As far as the ‘White Maiden’ is concerned everything is progressing to plan, during what is, effectively ‘the quieter season’. I have decided to have fitted an electric windlass, a Lewmar Pro-Fish 1000, to recover the anchor as an option to the Alderney Ring method which I will still use on certain occasions.

The new look website is all in preparation for the White Maiden.

Tight Lines, Les.

Weekending 16th March

With a couple of windy weekends at the beginning of March, this month so far has been 'all Rugby', until this weekend, when I managed to get the Royal Berkshire SAC crew out to a decent bank. Four Charter boats braved the 'slot in the weather' to honour their bookings, they were Due South, Tom Kat 2 , Voyager and Challenger.

We needed a good forecast and a decent sea to get there and were lucky with a forecast that gave us some rain but was fairly warm for this time of year without too much wind. The wind freshened from a SE F3 going ENE to F4+ by early afternoon and at the start of the flood. If I said we had Conger to 20lb, Blonde Ray to 23.5lb and Smoothound to 5.5lb you could be excused for thinking this was a decent trip, but the story read the other way round ..... we had four fish and 2 missed bites all day gives you a better idea of how hard it was. The other fish was a single dog!

The crew fished well though, with good well presented baits, baits, which enabled Bob to nail this single Blonde, which pushed the scales down to nearly 24lb. The big beautiful female Blonde, which put up a 20-25 minute scrap on Bob's up-tider, was slipped back over the side, to fight another day.  The lack of more Ray's was a surprise and put down to the Easterly wind, we have to blame something don't we.

After fishing three marks, tight around the same bank, we drifted a wreck on the way back but the neap tides and F4-F5 winds made positioning the boat tricky, still we did fish through a huge shoal showing on the fish finder all to no avail. It was just one of those days.

Talking of fish identification, I will have one of the new 'digital' transducers and 'black box' Garmin sounder, wired to a couple of Garmin 12" 'Touch Screen' Displays, in my new Vessel 'White Maiden' which is still on target for the Sea Work 2008 show. With this new kit I should be able to identify fish sizes much easier, quite exciting really. I have updated my prices to reflect the new boat now from June 21, please see 2008 Prices and the New White Maiden pages. I have also updated our 2008 Diary. However, as previously stated, I will honour all agreed prices until the end of 2008. You will see that the new prices will still give VFM.

This is the new vessel 'White Maiden' during her Preliminary MCA survey, with a picture taken during her stability checks, two weeks ago. When these 10 'passengers' plus 2 'crew' all walked to one side and then moved across to the other, she hardly moved! The surveyor picked up a minor issue with the fuel arrangement and that was it. We just need to obtain and then fit all the safety equipment for the final survey, after the new 'build work' is complete.

Two large 'Icey Tek' seat / freezer boxes with cushions are centre deck now with a stainless rail for rod holders and bag holding centre deck, but forward. Passenger /angler comfort along with good economy are the primary features of the new 'Classic 995'. 

Our new domain http://www.white-maiden.com is now working. The new domain name points to this same web which will be updated with all the new White Maiden website features at the beginning of the Sea Work show in June.

Weekending 24th February

High pressure has dominated over the last couple of weeks. This allowed us to get out to the, three to four mile marks, on three separate occasions. We fished in 'relative' comfort with the freezing cold wind predominantly on the bow. In the English Channel, this time of year, we always sit on the bottom edge of these high pressure systems and this normally means very cold winds and anything from F3 - F7 Easterlies. Well, we got F4 to F5, nearly F6 on the Saturday, Easterlies all week.

Mike found some decent fish on the Thursday with the tides easing back after the huge Spring Tides, the weekend before. He managed to find a nice Bass of around 9lb for John, of the Geoff Wheeler crew, plus another ten or so Congers, plus Dogs and Pout. Hopefully I will be able to get a picture of the Bass, from Tom, in the next week or so.

On the Saturday in the same area I found a couple of Congers and a Smoothound for the Bob Foley crew, plus Dogs and Pout.  Cod were about, as one of the other two boats, braving the conditions, had a double figure fish just inside us. But we were forced closer to the Island as the wind went above F5 and more towards F6 around mid day. Then with a F7 in the new forecast, we found a more comfortable mark 'inside'. However this put the literally bitter and freezing wind in our faces and we needed more than the couple of Dogs we caught, to warm the cockles. Still we were there and I enjoyed the day and the company.

On Sunday the weather was forecast to be better and it was but we basically missed the fish coming on the feed by 10 minutes as the boats left out there, a couple of private boats from Beaulieu bagged up on Cod and Conger in the last hour before dark. However here is Bob from Bisley SAC who hooked and released this cracking Thornback Skate of just over 13lb. It was a pity the fish remained difficult to catch for the rest of the day.

As the fish move well offshore and the tides are big this weekend I have decided to concentrate on other things and so that our crews are up date with the news, this week I committed myself, by putting a large deposit down on a new vessel.

Read on...........





'White Maiden' - A 10 meter BWSeaCat.

'White Maiden' is a classic 995 built by BWSeaCat Ltd, Wicormarine, Porchester. This is nearly as much a surprise to me as it maybe to you. However I have been looking at, and considering, this new design and model since September last year. This is a boat that breaks with tradition as she is pushed along by a pair of new highly economical Yamaha EFI F60 High Thrust Outboards. White Maiden is very eco-friendly and extremely quiet, even at  max revs. She is quick at over 20 knots. She is incredibly good looking and incredibly stable.  She is being finished and modified in time for the Southampton Sea Work show in early June. Two hulls and two engines make for an extremely safe and comfortable day or night out fishing.

So the plan is:

By the end of June all trips will be on the new vessel, 'White Maiden'.  I will honour all my existing 2008 trips at the previously agreed prices.

My intention is to make 'White Maiden' available for the smaller crews still and yet keep prices keen and competitive, just as I have in the past. Let's see how she goes and how well the crews take to her.

Weekending 4th February
We have cancelled the last four trips since the  last report, one definitely, maybe two of them, in error, as the weather turned out to be good enough and the sea conditions certainly acceptable to most. On Saturday I cancelled only to wake up to a perfect day. Mind you by 11:00 the boats that did go were on their way back inside and many had cancelled, like myself. Still it paid off for them as on 3 miles and further there are plenty of fish. Cod and Congers plus some Whiting, Pout and Dogs. A friend fishing Solo on his own boat caught a 12lb Cod and Congers all within the first 2 hours, before running for home. That was pretty much it, as in the Solent it was very quiet. The Solent this time of year is testing and makes finding a fish, other than a Dogfish, really hard work.

Last weekend, Saturday, I ran the boat out in the afternoon just in the Lymington River, and wet a line, finding a couple of good condition Flounders for a friend. One to a floated silver spoon and one to a plastic ledgered spoon. I have to run the boat most weekends even when the weather is not good enough to get round to the back of the Island. Someone has to keep her primed, and I enjoy the short trip out there.

The weekend before Mike really struggled to find any flounders for one crew. It was not for the lack of effort, as all the other boat crews suffered the same. It is that time of year and the seals that have taken up residence are being blamed too.

Weekending 13th January
Nothing to report really apart from;  the boat is running well and ready to go. All five charter trips so far for 2008 have been cancelled and inshore fishing is proving to be very hard work. Flounders are a valid inshore target species but loads of dirty brown 'freshwater' flooding down the rivers and the odd seal has made them difficult too.

If we could get out to the offshore banks, there is lots of good fishing to be had but the weather and sea conditions continue to conspire against us all. Still, standby for some nice neap tides and a spot of good weather for those distant Blondes and Spurrs or a nice big 'springer' on a bright day for some Lymington, Newtown or Keyhaven Flounders.

Tightline, Les

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