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Catch Reports 2009

Year End 29th December

The weather was good enough yesterday for the Church Crookham crew that's for sure, a bit cold first thing but the wind with tide made for a comfortable fish up until 1400. When the flood got away we did get pushed from side to side as the wind picked up to a low F5 Easterly and eased back off. But the anchor rope was avoided, just. The fishing was OK but mostly small stuff, with the crew mixing their tactics. Unfortunately two big fish bit through and one broke the leader knot so we had to be satisfied with about 40 Pout, 25 Whiting and 25 Dogs. The Whiting were better at the start of the flood.

Phil is holding the best Whiting of 3lb 8oz, a decent and just specimen fish. There were others, between 2lb and 3lb, so not a poor day by any means but we would have liked to have seen one of those big fish landed. One trick learned was the new fry-up, Tiger Prawn and Bacon in a bread roll, they were fantastic. The fresh peeled prawn bait from Sainsbury's also accounted for a few Whiting too!

The other boats reported Cod up to around 10lb, Conger to 42lb and a 10lb Bass plus a rare inshore Ling of 18lb, all those fish were caught in our vicinity, but not on our line but we managed to get out there, and the fishing was comfortable and the guys enjoyed a close competition.

Unfortunate for the Tony Lavington crew, booked for the day after Boxing Day, I had to cancel on a forecast of a F5-F7 Westerly giving us moderate to rough seas, with showers. Not a very nice way to spend a Christmas holiday day at sea. The Solent is an option but not as good as the Needles at Christmas and early New Year. However a decent Cod of 18lb was caught off of Yarmouth this weekend.

The new boat White Maiden has enabled me to honour 60% of booked charters in 2009, where previous years I have been below the 50% mark! All trips have been fished in comfortable conditions with very few of my anglers feeling seasick, a great compliment to the boat builder BWSeaCat. Their new boat is 'taking off' and selling really well. See my Diary pages for available dates in 2010.

Here's to the end of another successful year, so wishing you all a Happy New Year and Tight Lines.
Les, White Maiden, Lymington.

Weekending 20th December

Cod is what we wanted, and that's exactly what we got. Not one Conger, and every double figure fish, coming to the boat, was a decent Cod. The first went 15lb and is held by Steve left, and the last Cod was a tad under 15lb caught by yours truly. We had eight Cod in all, most between 14lb and 15lb, all good conditioned quality fish. It was definitely, an above 'average day'.

Was it luck though? The extreme weather put my booked in crew off travelling down from Oxford. With all the travel warnings to stay at home, this was fair enough, as common sense must prevail. The conditions were truly on the edge of 'severe', in fact it was so cold, the sea spray was freezing onto the deck on our way through Hurst race and that was gone 9am! The squid was even re-freezing in the bucket.  

Part 2 of our luck came when some boat owning mates could only get away at 3am  or 11am in the morning because of their tidal moorings. So my offer of a 9 to 5 trip, seemed a good plan B for all of us.

The Skippers of  'Major Tom', 'Agay' and 'Make My Day', Thommo, Steve and Andy decided to come and have a go with me on 'White Maiden'.

Here are Merry Fisher Marlin Skippers on the right, showing part of the catch. While I show my fine Cod off, above.

As it turned out, we had the best Cod days fishing that any of us could remember. But was it luck? Or, was it the wire line and Cuttle baits? They were caught on both the squid and Cuttle baits, and then divided equally too across the wire rods and the braid. But the fact we used a lot of Cuttle and there were 4 wire rods in use most of the time, I am convinced, was the recipe for our success. Anyway that's how you can improve your luck. Needless to say 'White Maiden' got the 'thumbs up' from the Skippers during the test trip.

This last week, Dink Lemoignan and Andy Niven on 'Due South' caught Bass of 9.5lb and 11lb 0.5ozs, plus Cod and Conger. While John Skeggs on 'Last Laugh' found a 4lb 8oz Whiting amongst the Cod for one of his crew. So the fishing has got to be classed as very good, that is, if you can put up with the cold!

Merry Christmas and Tight Lines,


Weekending 13th December

At last, and for the first time in 5 weeks 'Wight Maiden' and I could get a crew over the fishing grounds off the famous Needles. A force 5-7 with an imminent F8 sounds bad but when it comes from the North or NorEast ,we can fish on the South side of the Island in relative comfort. Only from the NorEast in winter, it is never tropical!

The Saturday crew from Bournemouth had a slightly better day than Friday with sunshine most of the day, and no frost to contend with and a few more fish too. The Darren Toomer crew caught 2 Cod around the 9lb mark and 5 Congers between 10lb and 20lb, plus Dogs, a Spotted Ray, Pout, Poor Cod and a few Whiting. After attending the Exbury Club weigh-in and having spoken to some of the other charters, the fishing for us, was just about average. The near record supplies for the 'big fry-up' kept me nice and warm, cooking it and eating it, just the job on a day like this!

Jason is holding his Cod, caught on a Keltic Tackle 'rig'.

Like I say, I think we hit the average, as some boats couldn't find a Cod, while some found four. One consistent catch were the Congers, with a few up to 40lb. The best radio fish of the day reported was a nice 20lb Undulate Ray weighed and released.

The best Cod to my knowledge was the winner of The Exbury Cod Comp caught by Glen Grieves on 'Bob the Plumbers' new dinghy. Grievsey latched into the bucket mouthed Cod, that was weighed ashore at 23lb 2oz.. Gary Withers won the Exbury comp with two fish totalling over 25lb and caught a nice bonus Bass of 8.5lb too.

On the Friday I eventually managed to get the Geoff Wheeler crew out for a days fishing. We had been waiting for a 'weather window' for three weeks and we started with a cracking morning, although very cold. The day had the lot, a heavy frost, black ice, fog, sunshine and a brisk NE that was blummin' cold. Still the hardened 'experienced' anglers stuck at it and managed two Cod between 6lb and 8lb and two double figure Congers plus a Thornback Ray, around 7 Whiting plus Pout and Dogs but the fishing was still a little on the slow side. We had a nice day and a good laugh again. One feller had his pork pies in with a pound of raw pork sausages, to save himself using another bag. I fried up the bangers for us all but then he ate his Pork Pies. How some of these guys make it into their late 70's, I will never know :-)!

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 6th December

Still no joy for me and White Maiden. A few dinghies fished the Solent last Friday and reported 2 Cod to a boat. Charter boats are not yet testing the Channel but this week from Wednesday onwards it is starting to look good. I have a Friday and a Saturday trip this week that appear to coincide with a viable 'weather window'. Fingers crossed and Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 30th November

Well that's November gone and all my scheduled charters were cancelled. Since then I have just been doing a few jobs and running her out to check all is well, and that she is surviving the storms.

John Skeggs on 'Last Laugh' braved it with one crew member and they found 4 Cod (today Monday) with two up around the 14lb mark. They were just down the Solent. Fair play to John and co. they deserved them. The weed was reported OK in the 50% 3m tidal range, too. We just need some settled weather now to really have a good go at the Cod and Whiting. Tomorrow evening was 'looking' OK but a F6+ is now in the offing and at night with the temperatures we are likely to get now, that is a bit keen in my books.

Tighlines, Les.

Weekending 22nd November

These high winds and rough seas are starting to get a bit annoying now, as trip after trip is being cancelled. In fact all my November trips have fallen foul to the weather. Although this has given me a bit of a break, I am itching to get out there and have a go at those Cod. How the guys that book once a month put up with it I don't know!

A mate snuck out down the Solent for an evening session at 4pm in this little weather-window but will have to put up with the Solent weed, assuming it is still there. I will update with anything interesting, so in the meantime keep polishing your tackle!

Les, Tightlines (not with weed!).

Weekending 15th November

100 mph winds were measured at the Needles yesterday. Not a weekend to be fishing from a boat, so no need to think about it really. Thursday's evening trip on White Maiden was also the victim of a Southerly F7 with lots of rain.

However the Cod Championship went ahead on Wednesday with 230 odd anglers weighing in 71 Cod on the first day. There were 19 Cod caught fishing the Western Solent, due to unfavourable conditions round the light, on the Thursday. Sorry I don't know the name of the winners but I know that Dave Stephenson skipper of 'Becky M' took his crew to the spot where he found 7 Cod for his crew with one angler boating 5 Cod, to 15lb. The next day they caught another 2 giving Dave the Top Boat. The best Cod weighed over the two days went 22lb plus and was caught round the light, on the Wednesday. The best Cod caught on the Thursday down the Solent, was 12lb.

A couple of Turbot grabbed the Cod baits on the Wednesday, greedy buggers.

Waiting for the wind to ease off,

Weekending 8th November

The forecast and sea conditions round the light made the Solent the only viable fishing option on Saturday but the weed is a real problem still. The booked crew didn't fancy the Solent so myself and a mate went just out form the end of the river for a test run and managed 3 Cod from 4lb - 8lb. Along with the fish came lots of weed bashing. 2lb of lead had to be used throughout the main run of tide, just to maintain contact with the bottom, in 60' of water. The best two fish came in the worst part of the weedy flood tide. Steve's first one was caught at the start of the flood at 7am soon after first light.


Tuesdays evening trip was cancelled due to the Westerly F5 forecast on a massive tide. No chance of a good night down the Solent, with that wind, strong tide and weed, all in darkness. The weed however is protecting these fish to a certain extent as the trawlers must find it impossible to work with.

Weekending 1st November

Yesterday the Tony Lavington Crew had a reasonable day, mainly due to an acceptable amount of weed rather than too much weed, plus a few fish. Steve hooked and beat a 12lb Cod that fancied a small bait on his Hokkais at slack water, while Tony connected with some decent Whiting to 2lb at the start of the ebb. Thanks to Steve for the pictures. The rest of the crew fished well and enjoyed the day, and fought the many Pout and Dogs, that ripped at their squid baits. Rick below is pleased with his catch but not sure what to do next! It's good to see a few Whiting and the potential feels to be improving with the weed now dying back.


One record broken was the amount of food fried-up by by yours truly and supplied by Mike and Co. Seriously this is what we ate: 12 fried eggs, 16 rashers of Bacon, 12 Sausages, a pack of Mushrooms and a foot long Black pudding, served up on 24 bread rolls!

On Thursday evening White Maiden took the Balmer Lawn Honda crew down the Solent.  Unfortunately we missed out on the switch of the tide either side of the 'low later slack', with amazingly, just Pout and Dogs showing. The weed, considering the small tide, was a nightmare in the Western Solent. However they battled on and fished hard through the weed and managed to hook this 7lb Cod in the worst part of the tide. So the fish are there but the weed is often protecting them from getting hooked up on the baits. The lads stuck to the task well and deserved more. On the previous night, one boat found eight Cod.

On Wednesday the Geoff Wheeler crew had the best of the weather and the tide but the fish were just not playing the game, unless you don't mind the 'ever present' dogfish. Apart from doggies the fishing between 4.2M South, 3M South back to the mile marks was hard going. Robert managed a small Spotted Ray, to break the constant run of dogs! One boat had at least 3 Cod on the day.


Weekending 25th October

We got out on Thursday evening and although breezy from the South the Solent was flat calm. The rain battered us a couple of times but it was no problem, well not as much as that damned weed. We fought with 2lb leads for the first 45 minutes and then as the tide eased back Dogs and a Cod for Stuart found the baits. The lads tried hard through the quiet but short slack water and we expected more Cod at the start of the flood but it wasn't to be. We moved to the Island side and definitely avoided the weed and the 3.2m Range tide, nicely still in 55', but only managed a couple more Dogs. Last night Skeggsy in 'Last Laugh' found 4 or more Cod on the same mark on the smaller tide. So the Cod are definitely down the Western Solent after dark! Malc Lemoignan and Andy Niven on Due South are clocking up an impressive Cod tally too. All my Cod this year have so far been caught at night.

The tagged 10lb Bass caught 2 weeks ago on White Maiden was reported to CEFAS. They replied and advised the specimen was released in April 2001, at 57cms long, in Totland Bay! Basically this was very local, slow growing fish, so it just goes to show, we can look after our own fisheries. It is just a matter of management and will power. So when we can, please recycle those extra, unwanted fish. If you eat them fine, but if you give them away, why not put them back for another day?

The 3 Dads from Hythe that were rescued from their upturned 14' dinghy off Yarmouth, last Friday at midnight, were extremely lucky to survive their ordeal. Floatation suits are the way to go, at night and in winter. Anchoring, and recovering the anchor, in deep water, in a small boat, in a big tide, is dangerous. Luckily they had 2 flares, and used them well. The second flare, they saved until they spotted anther vessel, and drew the boat their way. If nothing else, an EPIRB would be a fantastic addition. As even if the boat flips, in a second, it should switch on an send your Mayday and position to the coastguard!

Tightlines, Les

Weekending 18th October

Saturdays Charter with the Darren Toomer crew from Bournemouth turned out to be a ‘fish chaser’ event with little return bar Pout, Dogs and tons of weed clogging all inshore lines. It was a big tide though so that makes the weed ‘twice’ as bad as it appears to be. We avoided some of the Pout by using them as bait and that may have reduced the opportunity to catch those fish that are not too fussy about Pout!  We then tried for a Bass on a 5M Bank during the main ebb and then anchored a wreck at the end of the ebb, all to no avail. After all the effort it felt like a waste of bait and fuel, still it was a nice day, and we bloomin well tried! Note the pressure reading was up at 1033 which dropped throughout the day but high pressure tends to affect the fishing that's for certain.

In contrast Tuesday evenings charter with the Tony Edwards crew, of ‘Chippenham farmers’, had a great evening once again, in perfect weather and hardly any weed. We had a F2/3 Westerly breeze in Christchurch Bay and a glass like surface down the Solent, on way back. After much Pout bashing, Phil caught a nice 15lb Cod on a flapper. This method is proving a theory of mine and helps target the larger fish.

Interestingly all went quiet as all rods were baited with just head and guts. Only a couple of Pout decided they would eat their mother, brother or cousin!

However we did loose two big fish, likely to be Congers, when the traces were bitten through during the scrap on the way up. When the tide really started to ebb away, Angus beat a good Conger, gently unhooked and weighed in the net at 30lb less 4lb for the net equals 26lb. It escaped the net to the deck but with a finger in both gills the flying Conger flew back safely. Angus then lost another smaller Conger on the last drop as this fish veered off to the right and an unprepared Angus became wrapped round the OB leg. Well played the fish!     

Many boats fishing the Solent struggled to beat the weed which spoilt their evenings by all accounts, but there are Cod to be caught, it simply comes down to method and hard work. Dink and Andy on Due South have the method and do not mind the hard work, accounting for a fair few fish up to 13lb during this week. Once the weed has gone, if the weather stays fine, the Solent will be the place to go, for an easier, comfortable Cod fishing experience. Let's hope the weather holds.

There were Mackerel on the Bridge early this week in the afternoons on the flood, same as there was this time last year.

Tightlines, Les

Weekending 11th October

What a nice fish. On the first drop of the day, followed by the first and only 'can you get the net Skip', I had a bit of a surprise, as a specimen 10lb-0oz Bass lay surrendered, on the surface, ready to be scooped up. The big Bass was tricked at slack water by a couple of good looking party squid, presented by Keith Newton, of the Church Crookham SAC, on a long flowing trace. Once seen I quickly jumped into action and the old looking Bass was easy to net. As the silver sleek, grey finned fish hit the deck, a tag could be seen just forward of the anal fin. I removed, cleaned and photographed the tag and with a couple scales, will send off this week, hopefully to learn some history of this 20+ year fish.


After the early excitement things cooled down to a very quiet but weedy flood tide, with just a few Pout and Dogs, plus one Bream and one small Tope making the rod tips bounce. It was extremely disappointing really and as the weed got worse and became more annoying, we moved out to another mark a further mile off but only to find more weed, stretching 2.5 miles South of the Needles light. The early Bass made up for a poor day, to a certain extent and is definitely a contender for the October fish of the month but you never know. During Saturday, at least two boats, amongst many that faired similar to us, found two Cod each but the Whiting are still thin on the ground and most boats like us, missed out on a Cod.

Thursdays evening trip was nominated a Sole session as the forecast improved and we had a lovely evening The fishing was very easy, almost like freshwater fishing, it was that calm, and we expected to see a variety of smaller species. The main target of Soles were caught at regular intervals throughout the flooding 4 hours of fishing. We finished with 7 Soles, the best, weighed ashore the next day, at 1lb. But the school Bass, Dogs, Pout, plus a Whiting made for some interest on the light tackle. However the annoying weed is still a factor.

This coming Tuesday looks to be another good forecast, on a smaller tide so we will target Cod and Congers, that will, with luck, be feeding among the marauding Pout, after dark.

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 4th October

Yes, it’s started, the Cod season is here and on our first ‘Cod’ session on Thursday evening, out in Christchurch Bay, we found one of 10lb and dropped two more. Mind you one of the lost two fish could have been a very large Conger. The trip included loads of Pout and a few Dogs too. The Cod feed on the Pout if they can catch them.

There are qualified reports of Cod all down the Solent with Lazy Daze and Due South finding Cod amongst the large amounts of weed. This years floating weed is worse than experienced anglers, in this area, can ever remember. Mind you this and the weather could protect the Cod, that are there, for a little longer.


Above is a picture of Mike Callus and the first White Maiden Cod of the year caught Thursday evening. The next picture is Lee who weighed-in with this 24lb Cod caught on the last Sunday in September, in just 55’, along with 40 odd Bream. Lee fished in his own boat in that perfect weather, not far from the light. What a cracking day out.

Soles are being targeted too, as the bigger ones can be caught this time of year on the right tides, if you can avoid the weed that is. 

Due to this weeks flurry of bookings, I have only two free Evening charters until next April 2010. So if you want a good chance of a Sole or a Cod, then next Thursday 8th October, or Thursday 12th November, is still an option for you. I will make the trips available to individuals too, so it is first come first served. Next Thursday is a similar tide to last Thursday Evening. I don’t mind if we fish heavy (Cod / Conger) or light (Soles) but in an evening session, it must be one or the other! The first few bookers will have their pick.

I am still organising next years Saturday dates, with my existing crews, once this is done I will post my diary to the web.

Tightlines, Les

Weekending 28th September

This Saturday the Tony Lavington crew had a very small tide and ideal flat calm, warm sunny conditions, only wished for when nearing the end of September. The plan was to catch some Wreck Congers and then move to a Bank. First fish on the wreck was a trusty Pout followed by a few more before a 20lb Tope took a whole Pout bait, setup on Vicky’s rod. She reeled in the feisty Shark no problem but was not too keen to hold onto it for a photo and then release over the side, so Tony helped with this bit, as you can see below. Next was a 20lb Conger to Jon. This was followed by Normans best of the day, a 35lb Conger, weighed correctly and gently unhooked, in my home made, extra large, landing net,. Then there was another 20lb Conger to, yes you guessed, Vicky. Jon then lost a 'screamer', then did Mike, and then so did Malc, although this time the big Tope followed up his bait up and sat happily finning the surface, still trying to chomp Malcs retrieved Pout bait.  With some careful bait snatching (not) Malc managed to loose the Tope before it caught site of us and the boat, and shot away fast.

On to the Bank we found a quiet bit of tide and managed 3 Blondes and a couple of dogs, the best Blonde about 12lb falling to, guess who again, Vicky! Not bad all in all with everyone catching a reasonable sized fish during a period of extremely high atmospheric pressure.


On Thursday evening we went chasing Soles, and got weed mostly, on the fairly small tide, so maybe just a bit early in the year. We arrived just before dark and low water and fished the first 3 hours of the flood after disturbing an unlit ‘netter’ doing his thing. The middle part of the session was blighted by weed. We may have been a bit deep too but were definitely in the right area as we soon boated a good one at 2lb 3ozs by yours truly. When the weed started proper, it was a pain but finished 2 hours later. Up tiding will be the way to combat this weed. Sarah was pleased with her Pout, oh and the tea, Cheeseburgers and cakes too!


Weekending 13th September

No wind, no clouds, no waves and no fish. What a contrast to the previous week. We tested the Wrecks off St Catherine's Point in perfect conditions. We then came back to the 9 mile banks, then to the 5 mile banks and then on to Freshwater Reef. In all we caught 10 Mackerel, 2 Pout and had a live bait chomped in half leaving just the head. Honestly, that was it. On the sonar I could see layers of fish on one wreck, and plenty of bait fish on the Banks. The anglers deserved better as they continued to fish hard right to the end.

Reports from other boats were similar, just one of those days! Next week the fish will start to feed again and no doubt there will be the odd early Cod report and the Whiting should be there. The Mackerel are very thin on the ground and so can't be counted on as one of your available baits for your days fishing, although some will be caught.

Some decent soles are showing in the Solent and if you are interested there is a Sole trip on White Maiden on Thursday evening at £30 each. You will need worms and must be able to cast away from the boat, with fairly light rods and 4ozs. During this session we will find Bass, small Hounds, Eels and some weed but the target species will be Soles. The forecast this week is looking good.

I also have some free dates with individuals spaces, where I will fish too, if I don't get a full crew. There are just 4 free evening trips left now until the end of the year. I also have 2 unadvertised but reserved free mid-week dates at £295 for the boat. This can be any day you want, and can be booked up to the end of November. For me to take a day off work the forecast has to be good F3/F4 maximum on the 12 mile but if cancelled, the day can be saved and rolled forward to another date. See my diary.

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 13th September

Yesterday the small tide and F5 NE made the Chale area the place to go for White Maiden. It certainly paid off for the Darren Toomer crew as they caught some quality, specimen fish and some White Maiden Records amongst the 11 species caught. We were blessed with sunshine all day and plenty of Mackerel but the worm and squid baits made the difference!

The lads found Mackerel, Scad, Blonde Rays, Small Eyed Ray, Tub Gurnard, Bull Huss, Bream, Wrasse, Poor Cod, Red Mullet and Pout.

The best fish a cracking 27lb Blonde Ray was caught during slack water, which was just as well, by James on his new very light rod and reel. This is the best Blonde Ray to hit the deck on one of my boats. The beauty was weighed on two sets of scales and photographed before being put back over the side, where she glided away graciously. Next came another double figure Blonde Ray for Nick and a nice Tub Gurnard, plus a small eyed before we moved after the full run of the flood and no sign of the expected Bass. We went deep and rocky, inshore and found a Red Mullet of 1lb 6oz for Dave, a 10lb Bull Huss for Nick (released) and a 3lb Black Bream for Darren. There were plenty of Bream, Pout and Mackerel falling to small baits in 101' of water. Basically what was good was that we just could not call what would come up next, or how big it could be. A great day out and made the best of, by the lads.


Tuesday evening with the Pat Warne crew had a blighted beginning when we had to return to sort a fuel problem, before heading back out to sea again. I appreciate the help and patience, from the crew and apart from the loss of time (sorted) and a bad taste of petrol in my mouth, all was well in the end. By the time we got to the 'Back of the Shingles' the wind and sea had picked up and we could not find a Mackerel, before we lost the light. At Anchor we found Pout and Dogs feeding readily but after about an hour I decided that he sea was a bit too uncomfortable in the darkness and so we came back down the Solent where we found the sea flat calm. There was a bit of weed but it was fishable and the mark produced a couple of small Hounds, more dogs and a nice Bream of around 2lb 4oz for Kevin. The sausages and eggs rolls, plus the doughnuts were the highlight.

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 7th September

After a lovely week in Dartmoor playing golf in the howling wind and driving rain my first day back was Skippering a viable charter. With a F6 in the forecast, which was touched around 2pm and the big tide, this made Christchurch Bay a sensible Plan A. The day started well with most boats going out and heading in the same direction. After finding enough Mackerel. fairly easily, we fished South of the Ledge on the first mark, during the flood; and then slightly North of the Ledge, for the Ebb. The Tony Lavington crew found many, many small Bream plus a nice one of around 2.5lb for Mike. Jon weighed in with two Bull Huss, the best around 4lb; also showing were Scad and Mackerel plus a 7lb Thornback Ray, just at the turn of the tide, for Vicky. There were also a couple of Dogfish.

Moving to the North side of the Ledge the lads/lass found Bass at 2.5lb and 3.5lb with young Jamie showing his elders how to catch them. Tony caught another decent Bream while the rest shared many small Bream. Also there was a Hound for Tony and a few Dogs, plus many, many small Bream. Then a Wrasse and a Weaver fish. The species total count was 10.

Top down and then left to right is Vicky, Jamie and Mike, Jamie and Jamie again! .



Weekending 31st August

Two out of the three trips this week were honoured in breezy conditions and a variety of fish were caught in relative comfort.

The Saturday Crew from Trident SAC were concerned when we appeared to be the only boat leaving Lymington, but were heartened by 'Becky-M' coming down the river from Yarmouth and coming out from Keyhaven, 'Dulci-T' was also making the day a viable option for their crews. The rest cancelled it was one of those days. To be fair the forecast was all over the place but the small tides made the day fishable. Starting on the rough ground around 3 miles South we caught a variety of species; Tope, Mackerel, Scad, Pout, Dogs, Garfish, Poor Cod, Dogfish and Bream. The wind however picked up from around 11:30 and in the end at 13:00 I decided to up anchor and drift a small wreck before running back to the Solent. By 14:00 we were anchored inside and soon found Bream plus a couple of decent Bass at 3lb and 4lb with lines finding little weed, if any. Roy latched into the best Bass at 4lb while the wind blew hard at a low F7 from the West at times. The anchor dragged a couple of times in the snatchy waves both outside deep and inside but when we did hook up proper, the trip broke out, so happy days.

Tuesdays Tony Edwards crew came down from the Chippenham area for an Evening Trip, with his farmer colleagues. They had a great laugh as we went out in a F6 SW, and tucked up over on the Island side. The bright and sunny afternoon was cooled down by the spray as we crossed the Solent but there was no putting these outside types off, as we drifted for a couple of Mackerel and then anchored a ledge off Yarmouth. They were delighted with lots of Pout at slack water low, plus a Smoothound and an Undulate Ray. Interestingly again as it went dark the fishing seemed to go quiet too but the weed most likely picked up the beginner lines off the bottom. By the time we came back at 10pm under RADAR it was wind with tide and the Solent was flat. Thanks lads for an enjoyable evening.

Tightlines Les

Weekending 25th August

It was a little harder this week as the inshore Bassing was interfered with by lots of weed and Bassing further offshore was hampered by the lack of live baits but the weather was fantastic, so won't complain.

On Saturday the Tony Lavington crew were Bassing on White Maiden around 5.5 miles off the light in a massive tide. My boat moves nicely between drifts with the very quiet Yamaha outboards allowing me to run back over the banks at full speed, if I want to, without disturbing the fish. Some other charters are not so quiet, but like all boats it is a case of swings and roundabouts. The quiet engines are one of my real bonus points.

My crew and others all struggled to find bait easily but we eventually found enough and moved onto the bank. After 3 drifts we found our first Bass, and then 2 more soon followed all falling to Johnny X. There was the odd Tope caught on the live baits too. Tony Lavington added another before the tide eased back and allowed us to anchor. Over High Water they chose to fish the same bank and caught a couple of Bream, Dogs and Tope but nothing very exciting compared to the Bass. Back on the drift we couldn't find another Bass on our Bank so we moved to another to find two more Bass. Here is a couple of pictures of the crew. Mike is with the Tope and then again supported on the left by Jon and on the right by Tony. The Bass were all gutted and were three of the best.


On the Tuesday evening charter the Bob Knight & Sons crew were blighted by too much weed. There were plenty of Scad and Mackerel but the weed reached 2 miles offshore and destroyed our anchor mark over a wreck in the bigger tide. Still that's fishing for you. This is, by far, the worst year for weed that I can recall and it has coincided with the warmer summer. I can see this year breaking lots of records, it has been consistently warm.

Tightlines, Les

Weekending 16th August

Saturdays trip with Kiddlington SAC was another F5 Westerly, that nearly touched a F6, causing havoc to best laid plans but we still managed to fish a couple of miles South of the light until 3pm. Then I decided to try for a Hound inside and found another Bass and loads of Bream, and not one Hound! Eight species were caught including a Bass at anchor on dead bait and a Bass at anchor on live bait and a Tub Gurnard on the drift. On the anchored mark we had an extended flurry of Pout over the wreck at slack water, due to the small tide. Species also found were Scad, Mackerel, Dogs, Bream and a couple of small Tope. Altogether the 4 anglers caught 155 fish, with Stuart having a three hour rest enforced by sea sickness. Then after his rest and after the move to a sheltered mark for the last hour he resurrected his challenge landing Bream two at a time to come very close, in his points tally,  to Eric who won the day. Eric's catch included 57 pout! Pictured right is Duncan with his Bass of around 5lb that was caught on a small live scad.

Note, John Skeggs has launched and tested with his first charter on his new 8.0 Cougar Cat named ‘Last Laugh’,  John also runs out from Lymington.

Thursday evening’s Pat Warne crew had another cracking evening, with bright sunshine, a setting sun at 20:35, fireworks over Alum Bay, and fish. Having gone round the light we found five sizable Bass at the first mark, the best one around 4lb. Chris is proudly showing the best Bass caught below. The annoying weed stifled proceedings, to some extent as a bank of it, seemed to hang around the catch zone.  Any weed on the hooks equals no takes. Next and after moving out to the same mark as Wednesday, Pat Warne caught a nice Thornback Ray, a tad under 12lb. Pat can be seen below showing off the big female. The good skate glided off after the weighing / photo session, in a very powerful and graceful way; a lovely fish. 


Bob hooked a Tope in the Dorsal fin. Now this one got us all thinking, as the fight was odd, although similar to a big bass without the head shakes but a good scrap all the same. Other species caught were Bream, Dogs, Mackerel, Scad, Pollock and Pout, so a total of 8 species on the evening. My Robert did a good job of netting and unhooking and was thankful of the tip given by the lads. 

I am still not convinced of the benefit of staying round the back in the pitch black, apart from avoiding the weed. Having to come all that way back on the RADAR is not a problem but you have to trust that nothing is floating, partly submerged, where it shouldn’t be! 

Wednesday’s Geoff Wheeler crew (The Old Codgers Top Fish Catcher Crew!) were originally aiming for Ventnor but as reports of Plaice numbers have been so low this year the plan was changed on Monday. Then due to more wind than expected, at 11:00 my plan changed again and we stayed anchored on a mark a couple of miles off the Needles Light. Once again the old fella’s came good and caught loads of fish, right through the flooding tide. It was a bit too lumpy to move about much as the wind increased to a steady 22 Knots a low end F6 by 11:30 and luckily for us stayed on the bow, so conditions were acceptable to both myself and the crew.

There were 10 species recorded which include lots of Mackerel, Scad, Bream, Dogs and Pout plus a dozen or so pack Tope and one huge Tope (or Shark) that bit through, plus a Bass, Thornback Ray, Red Gurnard and Spotted Ray. The Mackerel caught on the bottom were of a larger size just as the tide eased back and were mixed in with the Pout and Bream. So the lads had plenty of fish to take home for dinner, the freezer and friends.


Weekending 9th August

On Saturday, Trident SAC concentrated on Bassing, so with good information we set off on a calm and clear morning. Our first brief stop for bait, produced 6 Bass in 20 minutes plus loads of Mackerel, but although 3 Bass were sizable, we really wanted the bigger fish! So we moved out and eventually found some excellent small Scad live baits. Next stop our first proper Bass Bank and on the first drift we had one of around 4lb. Thinking here we go, it transpired that this was pretty much it for the day. We could find Mackerel whenever we wanted them, and many Pout at slack water while anchoring a wreck plus a reasonable Thornback Ray. Apart from the bank we drifted a couple of Wrecks and found nothing of any interest. On the way back we tested the first mark for more fresh Mackerel and found another small Bass well inshore. So only 8 Bass in the day and we all tried very hard too! In hindsight the close mark would have worked the best.

On Sunday, yesterday, the main agenda was Wreck fishing. But the Royal Berks SAC were not really interested in Conger, which I can understand. We had an even better forecast for this trip, and it stayed true to form, with nothing more than an Easterly F3 all day. The crew were not keen on small fish either or bank fishing, so I tested a couple of inshore wrecks on the way out to a couple more wrecks around 6 miles South of St Catherine’s Light. I was looking for some decent Pollock or Bass on the drift. We had an ideal amount of tide. The circuit was initially inshore of Saturdays wrecks but eventually 8 miles further on than the Saturday trip which enabled me to work a different set of wrecks.

Unlike the Saturday crew the Sunday crew managed to avoid snagging my engines all day but just like the Saturday crew they were still unable to get into any meaningful action. Three wrecks produced one Pollock each, yes a total of 3! Again the best mark was the closest wreck and this fish weighed around 8lb maybe more. At slack water again we found lots of Pout and Mackerel, but not anything very interesting. I was expecting some decent Bass on the distant wrecks but it was not to be. On the way back we bagged up on the Mackerel again and found one Bass inshore but only had time for one drift.

Here is Mike with a well deserved Pollock, the pick of the few!

So lots of miles covered and most of the fish caught close to home! This is not the case for all though as Arthur Savage on Private Venture reported the biggest Shark he had ever seen! The monster shark around 12’ long bit the body off a Cod near the surface, while drifting mid-channel, The huge fish then came up and swam alongside the boat before disappearing. Awe inspiring in these waters. I also noted a couple of boats on continuous drifts off St Catherines which I guessed may  have been sharking, very tightlines!

Tightlines, Les

Weekending 1st August

There is not too much to report except what you already know and that is the weather is not really good enough to go out very far. I have  been off this week and only managed a quick fish inside Hurst on Thursday, in a brisk F6 Westerly, while sorting out a few bits and pieces. The weed in the Solent, even on a neap tide, is still a work up, but a Bass and three small Bream said hello to the boat before being released. Two hours fishing over the bottom of the tide, was enough to scratch the itch, and all is ready to rumble when the weather improves.

I have just updated this site with a Methods and Rigs page. Crews often ask for methods and rig (traces) details so here are my basic recommendations, aimed at keeping within budget but also giving you the best fishing options too, Methods and Rigs. I wish someone had told me all this when starting off and before I bought my first set of boat fishing kit!

Tightlines, Les

Weekending 19th July

A wet and windy forecast, put paid to this Saturday’s and last Tuesday’s charter but I got out on Thursday evening with the Tony Edwards crew. At the start, I was slightly amused but disbelieving when one of the crew said that he knew someone with a boat the same as mine, mainly because there is only one other, ‘Aristocat’, and as far as I knew, she was in Eastbourne. Next, I could hear him talking on his mobile to Denis Froud, the proud owner of another 10 meter BWSeaCat. This guy was Trevor Gunning and I recognised him, most likely from the web, as he is known for successfully fly fishing for carp to 30lb, and representing England. Trevor is again, along with Denis, a current member of our international game/sports fishing team, so that’s probably why I recognised his face. I do read the web, now and again.

Anyway back to the trip, so I had a crew ranging from experienced in big game and fly fishing for carp, to raw beginners! They all had their own gear and were sensibly dressed for a summers evening, but that was NOT typical of the weather on the day. They - got - blooming - soaked! It rained at least 2.5 hours of the 5 hours fishing/deck time, yet the evening,  was warm and spookily calm, with impressive rainbows forming, skies blackening and then clearing in small patches with the odd clap of thunder and lightening thrown in too. It was a privilege to witness the sky colours and cloud formations however, the drenching was not so welcome!

The lads caught Mackerel, Bream, Dogs and the first Scad of this year in 40’ of water just out to the West. Then on the next mark they immediately found Pout, Scad, more Mackerel (at anchor) and  just as it got dark, Conger, in 80’ of water. We were over a small patch of rough ground. The lads stuck to the task well and even looked like they enjoyed themselves, and to my amazement, said that they did too! I could only put it down to their enthusiasm for fishing and getting out on the water, plus the quality the tea, coffee and sausages in a roll, he, he, he ,,,, I do spoil ‘em. Above is Tony with a deep hooked Conger, between 22lb and 24lb, that went home for tea.

The relief for me was that, partly due to the small tide, the weed was no problem at all inshore!

Denis Frouds’ Boat ‘AristoCat’ is reported to be  running well and he is still making plans to land the first 'Bill Fish' , a Marlin, Sail, or Sword fish on Rod and Line, into the UK, after leaving from and returning to a British Port. I remember reading a Trevor Housby story, when I was about 16, that reported he had hooked something in the Channel, that they fought for a couple of hours and lost but acted just like a big game fish. With this global warming who knows! Good luck for Denis and his BWSeaCat. I know he is confident of finding his fish.

I still believe this will be the warmest summers ever, to go on record, so we should look forward to a Trigger Fish or two over the next few weeks. One looser this year is the Bass, as they appear to be thin on the ground again. Ironically, the very cold blast this winter, seems to have proved the story's, on the BASS website, correct. So we all have a duty, to look after our surviving Bass.  BE WARNED!

Tightlines Les

Weekending 13 July

Just the one evening trip with a NICE crew to report on from last week and luckily for me the crew took photo's through th eevening. Luck was also on our side as the brisk NW F5 was with the tide, kept the wet weather over Portsmouth and the sea very comfortable. A North West is 90 degrees to the Western Solent and so the sea has 'no reach' to build any waves from that direction. If you look at the pictures you can see the black band of cloud over in the East, and above the ferry on our way out. But we were blessed with brilliant sunshine. The fishing and bait was hampered by the weed, even when anchored in just 12' of water near Pennington Banks, and a small Bream and Bass was all we could manage with the very light tackle. But when we went on the drift with heavier tackle, we found the Mackerel feeding. We were drifting along at 4.5 Knots. After the sunset and by 10:15 we were back at the Bath Road pontoon, Lymington to test the curry house at the bottom of  High Street. That was pretty good too!

   The crew were mainly beginners and they really enjoyed the evening. I just wish that we could have caught more Bass on the prepared 8lb class gear. Around 30 Mackerel on the drift made up for all the weed they caught while at anchor.


Weekending 6 July

On Sunday (yesterday) we fished in a F4/F5 in the morning and a good F5 in the afternoon which was close to a F6 from the SW.

Due to the F4/5 forecast SW and a good night, for some of the crew, I decided not to stick to Plan A, so we tested a couple of local wrecks. The Solent is currently out of bounds as far as anchoring, due to the masses of weed that is suspended in the tide. The weed even stretches now to a mile off the Needles light!

Anyway after sitting right on top of a wreck during the slack which was an extended period due to the wind over tide conditions the Darren Toomer crew hammered out Pout, with some going towards a couple of pounds. After that we went on the drift and found a few Pollock to around 4lb plus more Pout!! Then for the last couple of hours we drifted a Bass mark only to find Mackerel, some of which must have been over a pound but no Bass. So all in all, it was a bouncy trip but comfortable and plenty of fish throughout, and not much weed. There were a couple of Dogs and a Bream to add to the catch list. The lads put up with the swell and beam-on chop very well, and the lovely sunshine made it an enjoyable day out.

The Saturday crew were spoilt this weekend with a smaller tide and perfect weather, that is after the rain cleared through by 10:30. The fish played along too, with the Trident SAC crew and a couple of extras catching mainly Pollock and Small Eyed Rays, but also Tope, lots of Mackerel, a few launce plus a Bass, a Turbot and a Tub Gurnard. Not one dogfish in sight! We never had a really big fish but the variety was interesting and the Pollock and Mackerel made for a feed for everyone. Here is a picture of the lads with Due South in the back ground. Note that Steve and his Turbot are missed off, to the left, and I never noticed at the time, sorry Steve.


Weekending 30th June

Last Night (Tuesday) a local crew organised by Andrew Swayne of mostly beginners had a cracking evening of fine still and very warm weather plus a few fish to go with it!

We had a middling ebbing tide all evening and after struggling to catch Mackerel inside the light, we found 3 Bass while drifting an area that found 40 plus Bass two weeks ago on the same tide, but this week a huge bank of weed near the bottom and about 100’ back from the small reef, pretty much stopped us fishing the area. We had plenty of Mackerel though. Moving out to a small wreck we managed to avoid the troublesome weed and found 2 Tope, 2 Spotted Rays, Bream, plenty of Dogs and the Pout came on the feed, as it went dark. Here is Wes with one of his 2 spotted Rays. 


On Saturday the massive tide forced my hand and I decided to fish inshore in 70’ but still avoiding weedy areas. It worked well as the weed was not a debilitating factor for us at any time. The big tide was tricky early on for some of the anglers but fishable with braid and just 10oz of lead. We had some reasonable Bream in a total, around 25, 15 Wrasse, a few Pout and Dogs plus a Bass and the occasional Mackerel falling to bare hooks on the way back up. As the tide eased back in the afternoon, we moved South, a couple more miles, in the F4 SW with Fog where we found pack Tope and one reasonable Small Eyed Ray plus more Dogs. The fishing was warmish and the breeze and fog kept the air temperature bearable too, so not a bad day.

Here is Keith Newton of the Church Crookham SAC with the best Bream. Keith also added a Bass, a Small Eyed Ray, plus he caught all the other species found on the day, to win the club species comp.

Llast Thursday I took out the Royal Berks District SAF for the first dedicated Bass trip of the season. The forecast shaped my plan for a day inshore although it turned out to be a bit better than the forecast, and I won’t complain about that. We are well protected from North Easterlies at this end of the Island. The Shingles produced a few Bass first thing, with the best around 4lb, but it was a bit shallow one hour after a very Low Water. At times we were drifting across a 5’ bank at 3 knots but sensibly, on a flooding tide. There was no swell; else we couldn’t have done it. The only successful method, casting and retrieving a shad, had to be spot on and any weed on the hook stopped the fish taking the baits, even though we were always among the fish. Feathers and other baits left to bounce the sea bed, were weeded up in no time. We finished with just 5 Bass over the whole day which was scuppered by lack of live baits and too much weed, maybe I need to consider netting some eels. It wasn’t for a lack of effort as the lads stuck to the various methods on three of the preferred inshore West Wight Bass marks but to no avail. A few Wrasse to 3lb took worm baits over the Bridge and the odd Bream and Mackerel were hooked on FW Reef!

Maybe the Best Boat 2008 award presented to me by the Club, in the morning, was the reason for the poor return, Sod’s Law!! Thanks for the plaque lad’s; it’s now proudly displayed on my helm bulkhead.

Weekending 22nd June

I am almost shocked by my own predictions. After a good Spring and early Summer on the Bream and very few incidental catches of Bass, I made the prediction last week, that as the bait fish were definitely there now, then the Bass would be too. As I do this report going backwards in time, I will explain at the end……..I just heard of a few Cod being caught inshore too, as well as down the middle of the Channel, so the fishing is really good.

This Saturday the Tony Lavington crew were able to get to where we wanted to, 8 miles from the light, on the forecast given. The tide was a little on the bigger side abd the 'Round the Island' yacht race was also going to be another factor. Anyway we kicked off in good conditions and anchored just before the start of the Ebb tide. Within 15 minutes they had a 5lb Turbot and a 12lb Blonde Ray in the boat! But 30 minutes after that the tide picked up and was a little too strong for most of the crew. So we up anchored and drifted the bank a couple of times and caught more Mackerel than we could shake a stick at! With plenty of fresh bait, we ventured inshore, where most of the sail boats were!

picked an area, clear of the ‘motorway’ of sailing boats and out of the main tide run but still in 60’ of water. Before I got the anchor down, they were pulling up Pollock. We had loads of them, often 3 at a time. Over the next couple of hours, the wind freshened to a F5 and we went ‘beam on’, which was a good thing as we presented ourselves bigger to the boats constantly approaching our Starboard side. There were as many Pollock as they wanted to catch really, all sizable and up to 2.5 – 3lb. For the last 40 minutes on that mark, they didn’t fish for them as we had enough to fillet and most were going now back. Instead they preferred to watch the boats racing while scoffing the fry-up that Mike brought along for me to make a skilful mess of.  





After a number of loud blasts on my new twin horn, and after one polite but strict and serious exchange of words with a crew of WAFI’s, lunch eaten and the tide easing, we went out to the deep mark again. But the fish just didn’t want to play, except for a good Bream. Steve Davies nearby caught and released a 14lb Undulate. Anyway the Pollock made up for the lack of more big fish. The bonus Turbot for Tony, who with fish, is pictured above and Vicky, holding the first string of Pollock. The ground was too snaggy to fish the bottom as any sideways movement pulled the lead into a rock.

I have included a few pictures of sailing boats, and you can see that out deep we saw the largest Racers but when we moved inshore, that was when we could see the real race. There was only 1632 of them go by, I know, I counted them J. In the first picture, the small boat in front of IDEC was Steve Davies fishing solo! I think they made up their mind to turn on him from 2 miles away.


Annual Scrub for White Maiden

From Wednesday through to Friday last week, White Maiden was lifted, scrubbed, anti-fouled, engines serviced by BHG and re-launched, all ready for  Tony Lavington Crew. The difference on the helm was incredible as it felt like the brakes had been taken off.


Tuesday evening Crew and Bass

Last Tuesday we ventured round the light on a lovely summers evening to try a spot of Mackerel and Pollock fishing, to begin with. After two hours and literally only a few mackerel I had to show them how to catch a Pollock. The six anglers had been feathering for an hour solid and not one Pollock had showed up, where I was expecting them to be. So I came out and caught 3 Pollock in quick succession, to their absolute amazement.

There was a fair bit of weed in the water and if weed gets on a hook then you are unlikely to catch, so keep checking for weed and your hook presentation but after these 3 Pollock and after another 15 Pollockless minutes, we moved off.

This time we found some Bass. On the way to anchoring a mark, we spotted Birds working including Gannets, a good sign, and decided to feather through them too. From then to the end of the evening trip, we drifted the same mark. The lads caught and returned most of the 40 to 50 Bass that they landed. The best was up around 5lb and often there were two sizable Bass on at a time. Without doubt some much bigger fish were lost too! Mike Callus on the left shows how his large Hokkais were a killer rig on the night.

I think a change of tactics would have worked for the bigger fish that were there and we would have avoided most of the incidental Mackerel. However, being on the drift, making the tea, untangling lines, netting, cooking 2lb of Sausages, 2 packs of Bacon and 8 eggs, I didn’t have the energy to show them how to setup for live mackerel!!! It was only near the end of the trip that we found those ideal Joey baits. A good trip if not hard work and proof that the Bass can definitely be found in numbers.

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 14th June

White Maiden is now one year old. In that time I have done nearly 1750 miles, around 60 trips and 225 hours on the engines. So far, so good as she has been a joy to run, own and fish from.

Back to the fishing; this is definitely summer now and let's hope this fine weather continues. The mackerel are patchy in some places in the vicinity of the light and down the Solent but can be caught again in numbers once offshore or out in Christchurch Bay by a couple of miles.

We had some superb live baits Saturday and Sunday this weekend and so the Bass will be right in amongst them too now. The Saturday crew caught some of the best Launce I have ever seen on this side of the Channel. There is a pod of Porpoises in Christchurch Bay and you may soon see the odd Sunfish flopping on the surface, or if very lucky the sighting of a Basking Shark. You need to keep your eyes skinned.

On Saturday the Trident SAC crew plus a few individuals caught Bream, Dogs, Small Eyed Ray, Blonde Ray, Brill, Mackerel and Launce. In the morning we found plenty of Bream falling to worm baits where squid and mackerel failed to catch. When we searched for a Pollock, the lads tried, lost some gear and failed so we ended up on a Sand Bank where there were lots of Launce and Joey mackerel. The Brill was a bonus for us but the other boats nearby had small Brill plus Turbot too. Above is a picture of John of the Trident SAC with a nice Brill of around 3.5lb and Bob with the best Blonde of around 12lb.

Nearby, Due South boated a huge 17lb Thornback Ray and a 10lb Turbot plus between 15 and 20 double figure Rays and at least 5 Bass, what a day.

The Sunday charter was a short trip with three beginners having the boat to themselves and they caught Mackerel and Dogfish but surprisingly we could not find a Bream in the 2 hours at anchor, but the short session coincided with the other boats having a quiet period too. Lovely weather though.

Tomorrow evening is a small tide so that is interesting, and Saturday is a reasonable tide before the next set of big springs where I am looking forward to some serious Bassing with live baits and lures so let's hope the weather is good enough.

There are no individual spaces available for now, so thanks for supporting the crews that did have some free space last week.

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 7th June

This Saturday we collectively decided not to go after a discussion on the pontoon, as the wind was at a F6 South Easterly already and forecast to worsen, some more. Three boats called off on the pontoon and three boats still went. It was ideal for a comp but not for getting round the light and onto the wrecks. The Solent was fine and we could have gone and caught some fish but I was easy either way as I had plenty to do. I went back to the moorings and fitted my warranty replacement Lewmar Windlass and a Twin Trumpet Ships Horn.

Midweek was great again weather wise, when I managed an auctioned evening trip for the Rugby Club and an 'Individuals' evening trip. The Rugby boys caught a few Bream in the Solent and a Hound at about 9lb then we went for the Mackerel at Yarmouth on a cracking evening, where they were there and then gone, very patchy, but enough. The Rugby club raised £190 and the boys had a good time in excellent conditions. The weed on the North side of the Solent is best termed annoying but easily fishable if prepared to cast well uptide for the Hounds in shallow water, with crab or a fish of worm.

Here are a couple of good fish; Chris Wilson, Fawley RFC, who eventually reeled in this Hound, weighing a tad under 10lb and then this monster at 28lb 10oz caught from the shore on the night before at Sandy Point/Beach at the Eastern end of the Solent.


Then on the Thursday night the Individuals crew found some Bream, not big but sizable, lots of Dogs a couple of Thornbacks and a small Hound on another cracking evening. Below is Paul Humphriss, and on the right, Anthony with a matching pair of Skate, a male and a female, caught within 5 minutes of each other at the start of the ebb. Both fish survived to tell their tale.


The new BWSeaCat 'Speed Eleven'

BWSeaCat have just launched their brand new Mark 2 displacement Catamaran at 11 Meters long with a 4.2 Meter beam. She is pushed along by twin 175Hp 4 Stroke Suzukis. The boat is on sale at just under £100,000 inc VAT as she is and achieves 30 Knots at around 2.6 ltrs/mile. She needs fully fitting out yet, so the additional weight, some growth on the hull, and a full crew will slow her down and change the economy figures too but this is a competitive and sensibly priced, fishing platform. If you want a good look at her and a test drive go to the SesaWork 2009 show in Southampton in 2 weeks time and test her out. I will be!

Weekending 31st May

Pictures paint a thousand words, so here are more pictures than words for a change. What a scorcher, clear skies and blue seas. Everyone was at it, below left is an Arvor 25 and right an Offshore 105, both heading out to find some fish. These pictures were kindly sent in by Jon Richards.


On Thursday Evening the Duncan Easton 'all hire rod' crew had one of the best trips weather wise, that I can remember, with some reasonable fishing too. Wrasse, Pollock and a few Mackerel round the light with a good Bream and a Hound on the inside, with plenty of Dogs too. Pick of the fish was the Hen Bream, that was over 3lb and went back to fight another day and to drop her row. Here are some of the crew with interesting fish; a 3lb wrasse hooked in the top of the head by an un-baited mackerel feather, a couple of Pollock caught while the rod was slung over the shoulder and a nice fat (pink hen) Black Bream. They got back for last orders and after that the crew were off to a Curry house! Now that's the way to do it. All had taxis home and it was just as well as afterwards I dumped 3 bags full of beer cans into the skip!


I spent Friday with the Simon Booth Crew, that included 5 hire Rods; they caught Bream on the drift, Pollock over a Wreck and a Hound to take the money, in the Solent. Plus lots of Dogs and a few Mackerel too. John posing with his rod and drinking his tea, kindly provided the pictures.


On Saturday the Church Crookham Crew struggled to catch at first, with the Fresh Easterlies and high pressure seemingly making it very difficult. I had no photo opportunities in the first 4 hours and we were really struggling, even after groundbaiting. But then, in the last 2 hours I was too busy on the competition score sheet to take any photos, as on my l fourth and last mark, we caught 55 Bream to 2lb 12oz, lots of Dogs, a Hound plus a Gar and a number of Mackerel on the drop. The move to the last mark found fish at the end of the same flooding tide, over slack HW and after the wind eased off, what a great finish!

On Sunday the Darren Toomer crew caught plenty of Bream, a Whiting, a Tope, a couple of Congers, Pout, Pollock, Dogs and Mackerel. Here, on the left, is Darren with his two Pollock.
Below is a mug shot of the Skipper, Cook, Tea Boy, Gillie and cleaner; yes, yours truly! Thanks again for your pictures John.





Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 24th May

What a super weekend. The weather was nearly too good for the Tony Lavington crew and the Bream we were chasing but of course that is a mad thing to begin to think, I will explain later.

Judging by other inshore reports on the day it sounded like we did the right thing. The sea was flat and the sun was warm, nearly like summer. Many other inshore reports were of a slow day but littered with dogfish practically every where. Meanwhile back at the Ledge some super smelly ground bait brought round the Huss, we had five of them, and the Bream were still of a decent size but again you had to fish for them. On the easier mark to the West we all caught Bream although smaller, the consistent numbers meant the extra few miles were worth it. Robin was the Wrasse king of the day and found a small Bully for himself. On the left is Jon and Mike and on the right is Robin with a Huss. All the Hen Bream and the small Huss went back to fight another day.


Anyway the Saturday evening was just as nice as the day and after a good boat clean I took my girls for a test run, out into the Solent before we enjoyed a drink and some tea while sat on the moorings. The nice bank holiday weather certainly makes a change.

14th May - Two Thursdays ago I took the Pat Warne crew to the Ledge and we fished into darkness. On one of the favoured Bream marks we found Bream and Wrasse in the light with the best Bream a couple of pounds before the tide eased to nothing. We moved deeper off the end of the Ledge, to find 15 or so Mackerel and then settled down for the flood. There were plenty of Dogs, Pout, a few wrasse and a hound but as darkness fell proper the fishing went very quiet. Amazingly the evening stayed dry but it was very dark for the return trip and I needed to rely on the RADAR to avoid bumping anything and the overlay chart to mind the Shingles. We could not see anything bar the Needles light but I knew there were no pot buoys on our track back, so it was worth concentrating on this on the way out.

Tightlines Les.

Weekending 10th May

This is the last two weeks White Maiden updates posted together as I have been a tad busy. The Trident SAC HMP Somewhere grapnel anchor is working very well so far. Those inmates certainly know how to hone a grapnel!

The Mackerel are in, but sporadic, and the pack Tope are closing in behind them. Black Bream are good quality but tricky to catch and on the right tides. The Hounds are moving into the Solent with the odd big Stinger. Cuttle are being landed by the potters and netters, proper fisherman, meanwhile us Leisure Anglers and Skippers are enjoying some reasonable weather too.

Here are two good Bream taken yesterday by Rick but more to the point the pictures show up the differences nicely between Cock and Hen Black Bream. The Hen Bream (right) are generally pink and bigger but should be returned alive to let go of their row. The Cock Bream (left) has that beautiful blue colouring along the back and on the head and black band over the nose.


Sunday 10th May
The Royal Berkshire SAC were keen to test the Bass and so we did the Shingles and the Bridge on the flood, in good conditions, but with no joy, so we are still a bit early. So next, we were off to find some mackerel and then, on to the Bream mark. The Mackerel were scratchy but we found enough and the ground bait provided by ‘Boat Commodore Tony’ was good stuff. It certainly helped clear my cold anyway. The rest was up to them and they got down to some serious Bream fishing, winkling out 25 quality Black Bream with the best one at 3-12 falling to Kevin, who followed up the big hen fish with a 3-4 cock fish. There were a few Personal Bests so that is pleasing. Others to catch their fair share were Rick, Bob and Paul. Guess what, the bloke who booked the trip and did all the hard work including preparing the ground bait, missed out on the Bream! This is the second time in three trips that I have seen this and both were using very similar techniques to the rest but the force was not with them, on the day. Other fish caught today were Dogs, Pout, Gars and Wrasse. Again the flood tide was very quiet. Kevin, below left with the best and biggest Black Bream weighed at 3-12.

I have received a report of pack Tope now quite close inshore with one biggun easily over the 50lb mark, at 6’ long and settled alongside the boat for measuring, before biting through. Cuttle are being landed too by the fisherman so expect to net some of these early in the morning as they get pecked at by two, usually, Herring Gulls.

Saturday 9th May
Kiddlington SAC tried very hard for Mackerel, as we felt that we needed the fresh bait. We only managed one in the first hour, plus a Herring! After settling on the first mark they found a few dogs as we lost the tide, so to save them casting J, we moved West and deeper only to find a kennel of dogs. So the next move, with the tide, was down to Southbourne. We found lots of fish in the short time we were there including one better Bream of 2lb but the ravenous Pout snaffled all bait that was sent down. In the end we managed 8 Bream but it was hard working through all the Pout they were swimming with. Breaming elsewhere was reportedly not easy today.

Saturday 2nd May
Organised by John Halley, John brought a crew of beginner mates down from London, hence the 11:00 start when all were finally present and correct! Again we had another nice day with bright sunshine but finished in a brisk F5 South Westerly, which cooled things down, specially for the boys with shorts on all day! The plan was to find some mixed species but we were plagued by dogfish when anchored and struggled to find the Macky on the drift. Basically we were dog fished out but the flood was not remarkable anywhere by the sound of it. Drifting FW reef only found us a Herring or Shad. The swell was quite large on occasions and not ideal, so we came back into the Solent, and continued drifting with feathers. It was more comfortable inside and we found a few mackerel, then anchored again. The weed was fine in the smaller tide at Yarmouth in 55’, but all we caught were more dogs! I had a report from a fishy grapevine reader and occasional crew member, Phil Balson, who was in a mates dory, fishing around 2 miles South in 87’. During a great morning they had 5lb and 9lb Cod and 10 Hounds to 15lb, all on the ebbing tide. Unfortunately we only got out there and started fishing at mid-day and for the whole of the flood! Amazing how a change in tide direction can switch the better fish, on and off feeding.

Just as a note that when we approached the Bridge on the way out a huge wave smashed over and I thought, here we go this could be fun! But from that wave and during my approach to the Bridge, for the next 5 minutes and until we crossed over, the sea was pretty flat. It just goes to show that it would be worth taking a look before charging through, just in case a biggun is coming and you have the option, to wait. Note too for all small boat Bridge drifters, keep your eye on that swell.

Tight Lines, Les.

26th April


We had two trips this week on 'White Maiden' that were both, in complete contrast. The Wednesday trip was just about perfect when the Geoff Wheeler crew went Breaming. We were targeting the big but difficult to catch early spawning fish, hoping for a monster. The best Black Bream on the day fell to Tom Ennion, above left, with a good one of 3-4, his tactics accounted for 4 big bream. John Blake, above right, caught another good Bream over the 3-0 mark. In the end the old codgers managed to lure a dozen plus Bream plus Pout, Ballan Wrasse, Garfish, Dogfish and Corkwing Wrasse. If you add the first Mackerel of the year caught on the bow by yours truly, that made for a total of  seven species. Below pictured left to right is Norm, Geoff and Peter. Alongside on the same mark, on the charter boat 'Challenger', Mike Cottingham reported that his best two Bream went 4lb.


In comparison and contrast, yesterdays trip was fished with 22Knts of persistent SW - SSW wind all day and so was completely different. The Solent was very dirty and coloured in the shallow parts and we had 3+ knots of tide down the middle. Add some huge clumps of weed,  which worse on the North side, and a definite lack of fish and you may start to imagine what it was like. But the crew had a comfortable boat, hot drinks, sausage and bacon baps, sunshine all day and some good banter, to keep them going. As fishless as we were, with just a few dogs and a 1.5lb Bream on the deeper mark,  it was an enjoyable day out. Thanks for staying so positive lads, you deserve a better forecast next time that's for sure and more fish! Thanks also to Steve and the boys at 'HMP somewhere', for the new grapnel anchor. I hope to test her out soon, it looks ideal though.

Tightlines Les.

18th April

A late post this one but I was very busy yesterday with the last Fawley U13's Rugby match of the season in the morning and finishing off the bathroom in the afternoon.

On Saturday the Tony Lavington crew were again blessed with some excellent weather and had a very comfortable if chilly day out. We hedged our bets in the very small tide and fished in plenty of water but it was fairly quiet if you take out the Pout and Dogs. In the afternoon we  tried a wreck at 5.5 miles, and gave it plenty of time, and although there was a slight improvement we still found nothing special, although we had plenty of small fish. Norman was the star man with a Thornback of about 7lb and a Hound plus one of the biggest Pout I have ever seen although not in the best condition. Here he is pictured with a his Starry Smoothound at around 8lb. Jon Richards also found an early hound, just for the records.  Just two Pout went home for my dinner the rest all went back to fight another day. Other boat reports were very similar (identical almost!) but with the odd Bream too.

The bigger tides this week should wake up a few more Bass, Black Bream and Rays on the inshore banks. I will not be surprised to see our first Mackerel plus the odd cuttle fish on the surface being pecked at. Some fresh bait will be a welcome boost, after the long winter. I am sure we saw small shoals of Macky on the Garmin on Saturday and we tried for them but with no luck. Maybe they were smaller baitfish.

Tightlines, Les.

11th April

Here is the first Bream of the season to be caught on White Maiden, successfully hooked and landed by Phil Balson. The Bream weighed in at tad under 2lb. The cock fish was well marked and is a good sign of things to come. They are tricky blighters to catch early on as they tend to keep their minds on spawning duties, where their brains are nearer their tails and so they do not give themselves up easily but they can be huge over the next 4 weeks, up to 5lbs.

After a few Pout, a Dog or two and a few Wrasse we moved to test another Bream mark which was very quiet before moving out to a Ray mark to find a couple of reasonable sized Small Eyed Rays and the ever ready dogfish. Below right is Pete Brooks with a Typical Wrasse.

We were blessed for the whole day with some ideal weather. And I even got to have a fish from the bow myself, keeping  out of the crews way.

Regular anglers on White Maiden will be pleased to know that my anchor retrieval roller is now being considered by Stainless Steve after receiving a custom drawing. But typically, since giving Steve that drawing I have seen exactly what I want and need on an Osprey in the Haven, typical!

Below is Phil again with his first Small Eyed Ray, a male fish, that was followed by Ray number 2 a female, that went back to drop her purses.


So for the record we took one Ray, two Dogs and a Bream. I am sure you don't need to know this but I am sure that the EEC don't need to bother, if they were to believe and trusted Professional Boatmen.

Next week we are back to small tides, so weather permitting there are plenty of options, for us.
Tightlines Les.

4th April

We went and had 4/5ths of a good day before the wind that was by then a F5 got up to a low end F6 from the SW at 15:00. I guess there was a bit of sea breeze causing it to increase from the max forecasted F5. The morning was almost perfect, as the rain had cleared through by 07:30 and with the sea becoming slight soon after we started fishing. The sun was out and the wind was almost completely gone by 10:30. We were poised and ready to catch some decent fish in ideal conditions but the dogs were ravenous. The odd very large Pout, then a Smooth Hound, a Conger and a specimen Spotted Ray made for some interest but generally the fishing was mainly dominated by the humble Dogfish

Here is Peter with the Spotted Ray.

When the sea got up at 13:45 we dragged anchor. I assumed the anchor trip had gone, so at that point we decided to have a go for a Ray on the Dolphins for the last hour and a half. This was a good idea, as on the way back I realised how much the sea had got up. However as soon as we had settled down nicely at the next mark the anchor buoy bounced off and floated away. So an emergency buoy was attached, and the anchor recovered. Unfortunately the main buoy was now sat in the nasty choppy stuff right on top of the Shingles Shallows. So I watched for a bit and let it drift over, before going after it again. I didn't want anyone to get a wave over them while we were getting the buoy back aboard. After we got it back in, we cut back across the choppy Shingles again and tried another mark. This time my anchor retrieval roller went over but this floats too by design, however the strong wind soon took us away from that, so it was back up with 45' of chain and anchor, and we were off again on our second item recovery!

At the last mark, behind the Shingles, the sea was getting bigger and the bottom was so flat and hard, we started dragging anchor again and we were soon out of position, so back up with the anchor. By this time it was 15:30. I'd had enough and we only had 30 minutes or so left, so I offered an early retreat to the River which was  accepted by the crew. And it made sense. Unbeknown to me, on our return from our '3 mile mark', one larger wave caused one of the crew to fall against a £180 rod that was leant against the gunwhale, and yes, that snapped in half!

For the EEC fish recording committee we killed and filleted two large Pouting, all the rest were returned to fight another day or get caught up in a trawl net!

From other boat reports there were a couple more Rays caught but by all accounts the trawlers had been working hard during the week. There was an early 30lb Tope aboard Due South plus a nice Blonde and a few Small Eyeds. While on an inshore dinghy there were one or two Bream to 1.5lb, so everything is starting to liven up.

Next weekend is back to big tides, so weather permitting, I suspect we will target the first Black Bream, inshore Pollock and Wrasse before having a go for a Small Eyed Ray and a Bass or two. The trip is now full.

Tightlines, Les.

29th March

Inshore fishing is just starting to pick up a little. Today we registered a Cod, Wrasse, a Bass, Pout, Dogs and a Hound. Nothing too exciting here and we did catch far too many dogs but there is certainly some life inshore now. The main disappointment was not finding a Ray and it was a pity we could not find a Plaice either even though we did have a short drifting session for them. Again the shop worm bait was not too clever.

A couple more Cod were caught today again on the 3 mile marks but 2lb of lead was required, at times. There were only a few boats out today due to the huge tide and the time of year but we did find a lovely bit of sunshine. Most boats yesterday chose not to expose their Saturday crews to the cold F6+ at the quiet time.

Small tides next week will give us more options again, weather permitting.  I have 3 spaces free next Saturday, and 4 spaces the following Easter Saturday, to make up a couple of short handed crews. If anyone is interested, just give me a call.

Here is Darren Toomer and myself with Cod, Wrasse and Wrasse.


21st March 2009

On Saturday White Maiden fished a Bank in the morning. Apart from a couple of Dogs it was very quiet on the first Bank, with only the one Ray at ‘prime time’, so we headed off to a nearby wreck. We tested this by heading out to it through the mist but we found that this first wreck already had a boat sat right on it. They reeled in a Conger while I went round him considering a safe anchorage but that very small tide was too slack over low water to anchor anywhere safe nearby them. As I came back on myself all the wrecks appeared to have a boat sat on them. It would have been sensible to have put the RADAR on and overlay my chart to see if there was a boat on my wreck numbers but head further East.

In the end we settled on trying two more Banks that did not hold much more than a Dog or a small Pout. I wish I had tried harder to find another wreck now, hindsight and all that….but the crew were happy for a nice day out, and they did well on Congers the last time out. Just for the record; we got through 2 packs of Sausages, 2 packs of Bacon, 6 eggs, and 400g of Mushrooms and about 20 Rolls, plus 32 Cups of Tea and Coffee :-)…all we caught by the end of the day was a Small Eyed Ray, a few Dogs and a few small Pout. It is Mid-March and we were there to find all that out AND Norman had an opportunity to put his sponsorship form round the lads for a ‘Climb’ charity event, and Robin had a nice flat calm day out on the boat, for a change! Note that Jon's Ray just didn't want to open up for the camera. The Ray lived to fight another day.

The inshore marks will start to fish better on the bigger tides over the next two sets of Springers while the sea temperature warms up; note the Solent is still only at 8.4 degrees C.

15th March 2009

I cancelled Saturday’s charter on Thursday, purely going on the advertised forecast, rain in a F6-F7 Westerly. The rain never came and so my crew could have gone, as the wind on Saturday only reached a very low end F5 for a time, which is fine inshore! After the corrected forecast was given out on Friday I did get some bait as the Sunday forecast was a cracker. It was poor bait mind and I won’t say where it came from but be careful and take a look before you leave the shop!

I stopped at the end of the river on my test run and anchored for an hour.

It’s that time of year when the water is freezing and any breeze that picks up is at that temperature too. One charter boat reported 6 species including a Cod and a Thornback but only a small total of just 6-8 fish. It was a massive tide anywhere in the Solent or 'Round the Light'. Many local dinghy anglers hit the Blocks at Portsmouth HARD.

There were 90 boats at the Blocks on Sunday! Yes NINETY boats in one square mile just off Portsmouth . Most Exbury Club boats reported 3 Plaice over their 9 hours of fishing, yet others I heard caught none! The best report was 9 Plaice for Steve Davies on his boat 'Agay'. This shallow inshore mark is fine for local dinghy fishing, but not ideal for a full paying charter crew, in my opinion. The cracking weather made it all worth while for them though and any Plaice was a bonus. I would have gone Saturday if the forecast was correct but purchasing £60 of worms and not being able to use them is not something you do lightly. Interestingly when I dig local ragworm they last a couple of weeks during the winter just in a bit of sand and weed  yet the ones you buy only seem to last just a couple of days.

I am now looking forward to next Saturday’s very small tides and hopefully get to a mark holding a Spring Cod or two and maybe a Blonde Ray and a Spurr Dog.

Tightlines, Les Jones.

8th March 2009

Last week was a massive tide and so I didn't expect to be able to fish the banks where the fish are, so no trip was even planned but some good reports of Plaice on usual marks are genuine.

Yesterday however was on the cusp and the time of year caused me to cancel due to the lack of plan B options in the small tide. I wanted to get out on the 9 mile Banks again, but the F5 going F6-F7 Westerly (which it did) promised from mid-day stopped that and the neap tide and lack of quality and sensible priced bait, stopped me trying to chase the Plaice all day.

Still next week is a nice big spring tide and so I will be after the Plaice that are showing up in reasonable numbers and size. This is a bit early still and so a little experimental and so I have decided that this trip will be an individuals based trip at £42 per person, that price will include about a 1lb of worms for each angler. You need to give me a shout if you are interested. I will be fishing for the Plaice all day but I am not sure if I will be going to test my Eastern Solent or my Christchurch Bay marks yet.

Tightlines Les

22nd February 2009

It is great that this weather continues to be settled and quite warm for mid-Feb at 11 degrees. This enabled us to get out to the 9 mile banks, on these smaller tides, and fish all day in comfort. The fishing was great for one Solo angler on the Friday, as Andy Stevens found Conger to 50lb and Bass to 8.5lb plus a good Spurr. Whereas on the Saturday the same mark was slow for a fellow club angler, but they still found a Ray and a Spurr before returning closer to shore.

We were a short distance further South and found a Spurr, Blonde Ray, Thornback Ray, Whiting, a couple of Congers and a couple of Dogs. So yes, that is 6 species, which isn't bad for February, but it was slow paced with the total at just 8. There was a couple of dropped fish and one or two missed bites. So for the record and any  pending regulations that the EU could introduce we landed a small male TBR seen here being held by Steve. This was the only fish to go home for the pot. The rest were returned alive.




The catch above was Roy's Stickleback. It had to happen didn't it as we were sat on Barclay's Bank, so no doubt just another Branch!

My Spurrdog, right, a good fish, was ready to drop her young which apparently take 22 months to gestate, so I was pleased to get her back in one piece safe and sound. Roy's immediate Blonde was assumed to be the first of many and so I never bothered with a picture but the mark never really switched on. Still we were blessed with near perfect weather and had a good day out there.

Tightlines, Les.



15th February 2009

   Not the biggest Cod but this proves they are still there. We had a cracking forecast on a biggish tide but the crew were happy to fish heavy and wait for the slack water. We targeted the 3.25 line but only found a Spotted Ray for Tony Lavington plus a couple of Pout, and a dropped suspect Conger. After the hardest part of the flood we left the comfort of 108' to go another 3 miles South to a mark in 130' of water at the end of the Flood.

Malcolm Gerrish reeled in the 4.5lb Cod pictured, before the Congers came on the feed. In all they hooked, fought, and pacified 10 Congers with around 7 or 8 lost on the way up. Interestingly these big Eels mainly came two at a time. The two best ones were easily over the 50lb mark and both 'T-barred' off within a minute of each another. They were specimen fish.

Tony Lavington's was slightly bigger and towards 55lb (estimated) but with the Conger hooked nicely in the top lip there was no point causing the fish serious damage and stress just to weigh it. Like I say within a minute, Robbo had his Eel around the 50lb mark, alongside and that was just as nicely hooked, so again the fish was 'T-barred' off to fight another day.

It is nice to get these big eels although we could have done with some more variety of species. Roll on Spring. It was a cracking day for February, mind.

One private boat, Andy Stevens on 'Make My Day' who stayed on the 3 mile marks caught 4 Cod between 3lb and 5lb plus a few Congers. Another, Steve Davies on 'Agay' had 2 Cod between 4lb and 8lb plus a couple of Congers. And one Charter found a small Cod on the mile mark so the Cod are still there, but small and well spread.

I now have a free date next Saturday as the majority of the booked in crew are now out of work and had to cancel. So if the weather is kind, the very small tide lends itself well to a bit of Blonde Ray fishing at the Atherfield Banks, or anywhere along those banks, lined up 9 miles on a Radius from the Light. If the forecast looks really good again I will muster a crew on Thursday, if not, I may try a scrub and an anti-foul session on the Lepe foreshore.


8th February 2009
Another one cancelled. With temperatures around 2 degrees at best, with a breezy F4-F5 forecast, the cold would have been the enemy yesterday. Plus with a crew coming down from Watford, common sense prevailed. As a commercial Skipper I have to consider all of these factors and in particular the term 'favourable weather' too as it is all part of the Codes of Practice. No one else was out there, as far as I could see from Lymington, and Channel 6 was void of any traffic for the two hours I was on the boat. We also had the bigger tides working against us. A consideration, particularly when we need to fish at least 3 miles off, to find the feeding fish.

Still the boat ran well even though she was still iced-up at 10:30 and hadn't been used for two weeks. I gave her a a little winter test run and I am always impressed that both these engines start so well with just a half turn of an engine ignition key, on both sides, and we are away. On days like this, I test areas for access and depth around the Lymington Marshes and down towards Sowley in preparation for a couple of summer sorties. There are good Hounds, Stingers and Bass in around these banks but the crews must be able to cast 50-70 yards from the boat to reap the rewards. Uptide casting, is a bit of a skill but once mastered, the fishing tends to be better. When I am out there on my own, it is always one up and one down the tide, and as far from the boat as you can get, without wrecking the baits.

Let's see what next weekend brings, we know it is a biggish tide still but she is all prep'd up and ready to go.

31st January 2009
Today was an easy decision to cancel, as the Saturday crew were never going to get round the light on the Friday forecast, which turned out a little worse than predicted. Close inshore is still hard going so there is not a sheltered plan B yet for a fee paying crew.

However, for the fishing diehards a local Club comp went ahead, and I got an invite on another boat, flounder fishing out from my old moorings. I fished with Steve Davies on his 20' Merry Fisher, 'Agay'. We fished, wind with tide, else we wouldn't have gone, from 12:30 to 16:30 in a F7 (27 - 33 Knots of wind) at it's worst, just off the Lepe foreshore. When I caught a small flounder more than half way through, we sort of thought that it could be the winning fish as the other three boats in our area, ran for shelter down the river. Well it was the only Flounder, and I found out for sure, at the postponed 'weigh-in' and the start of the Exbury Club Annual Fisherman's Ball. It was a great evening, with plenty of food and sensible priced beer, and a disco set up for all the Exbury Club members.

So there you go, that is how it is right now, close inshore, painfully quiet. However just for the records there was one 4lb Bass caught too, which wasn't flat or brown enough to count!

Apologies to my Saturday charter crew, last weekend, as I, like many others, called off, after checking the Inshore Shipping forecast. And sods law, instead of getting worse, the day turned out much better, right up to 1600. I wanted to test a couple of local flounder marks and found myself fishing with a mate around Lymington/Keyhaven Banks, which was interesting, if not just to confirm that nothing at all, is moving in the shallows! There are no crabs either, so we can’t blame the newly settled seals entirely. Anyway, as I told my mate, once I make a decision now, it is not an issue but as we never caught a fish either then getting out and amongst some life on the 3 mile marks would have been much preferable on the day and in hindsight. Still, we found out how to dismantle my Lewmar Profish 1000 windlass that eats rope, and jams. That lesson learned; I know I need a bit more chain so that it is all chain on the windlass gypsy. I still prefer to buoy-out in deeper water as it is easy. The windlass gives me a second option and in shallow water, is fantastic, although a bit noisy when putting down. Buoying out can be tricky in 5’ of water and not recommended as if there is any wind, pulling a 33’ boat, beam on against wind and tide is out of the question. The thing is, when in shallow water with a mud and clay bottom, the anchor just keeps ploughing down deeper and deeper, so be warned. 

Back to fishing, three boats did get out there last Saturday on 3 miles, after calling it spot-on. They reported slow during the main part of the ebb tide, but with a few good fish at the end of the tide including Cod and Conger! So it is still fishing, which is what we like to hear.

The nine mile Banks are turning up Blonde Rays on the smaller tides plus a few Spurrs!

Tightlines Les.

18th January 2009

Much warmer this week, but most trips, mine and others, judging by the boats that stayed in harbour, were blown off for both days this weekend, as is tomorrows mid-week trip. The longer range forecast does not look very good from now, right up to the end of the month. We will see how it goes.

More reports of Floundering sorties up Southampton water is that the fishing is dead there still so if there is a chance to get out, in the quieter spells between the fronts rolling through, then it is best to concentrate your Flounder fishing between Lepe and Keyhaven if a 'mainlander' in the Western Solent. No doubt the Island anglers will fish the Medina River or Newtown Creek.

I reckon that if I can't get out next weekend, to the 3-4 mile line with my charter crew, to chase those Congers, Whiting and Cod that are in the deeper water, then I will fish myself  for the prime few hours in the Pennington and Keyhaven areas in 8' of water from the top of the tide until I have to move. Then go to the club and watch some Rugby.


10th January 2009

Last Saturday, the Tony Lavington Crew fished well in a very cold wind that blew, wind against tide for the whole day. The flood tide against the F4-F5 North Easterly on 2.5 miles was not ideal but we were fishing. We had every chance due to the time of year of catching a lunker Cod but it never happened. Mike here is showing a Whiting of which we had plenty on the top of the tide and at the start of the ebb, unfortunately right at the end of the day. During the flood, John boated a Conger of about 20lb and apart from a dog and a few Pout the flood was very quiet. Exbury Club had 18 blokes fishing in 8 boats and they only weighed-in 5 small Cod, and these are all locals with their preferred Cod Marks. It was one of those High Pressure days with a Cold Easterly, it just never fished well.

Today found me smashing through ice at 07:15 and that was just to get to my boat. The sea had about 2" of sea ice in the Marina! At one point I had real trouble making progress without smashing the ice with the paddle in front of the dinghy to then just be able to drag the dinghy forward against an ice hold with the paddle. It took me 20 minutes to break across 50 meters of ice! I have never experienced this before. Today was the Royal Berks annual flounder comp and I had decided to pick them up at Hythe Marina. Last year they had an awful trip, with no flounders, so this year I went for the 40 mile round trip up to Marchwood and Ealing.  What a waste of time. We had just the one fish!

We could blame the seals, we saw one of the beggars but I was amazed and a little peeved that we only saw one fish. It wasn't for the lack of effort, I can tell you, with the tide running off to just 1.5' under the boat on 3 marks.

Meanwhile at the same time down in Poole, Dink found 4 Flounders with the best going 2lb 13oz. I really regret going to Hythe now and wish that I had spent the day fishing the Lymington River and Keyhaven area. Still once you are committed this sort of thing does happen.

On the deep marks the Cod fishing is still viable with one or two to a boat, plus 'lots of life' reported and some good Channels still. Although inshore was quiet with the Solent now termed 'difficult'. A trawler man reported a couple of Anglerfish from the Freshwater area, but the Solent difficult too.

When I got back to the moorings lastnight at 17:30, I had to smash my way through the ice to get the Dinghy back to the pontoon. That's global warming for you! Tomorrow I have to clean her up as I managed to drag half the mud up from Marchwood and everything was frozen up again when I got back. She wont be a pretty sight :-).

Tightlines, Les

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