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Catch Reports 2010

Year end 31st December
Hopefully the Christmas period was a welcome break for all. No doubt we all learned something from a family gathering, our friends or someone new. During this week fog was the debilitating factor for myself and a planned Christmas competition at the end of the river. The crew dwindled to 'a few' and the day itself was so restricted in visibility, the trip 'out and back' was literally a test trip, practicing navigating in the fog. The view, was literally, a 'white-out'. The Garmin Radar overlay on the 12" chart plotter was 'priceless'. The Navionics chart on my Samsung Galaxy Tab was a reasonable backup but not something I would recommend to replace 'proper' navigation equipment. Note my new backup mobile number is 07585 335 783.

Weekending 26th December

A Christmas Story

I went down to the boat one night this week and tipped the floating slab of ice out of the tender. After a 50m paddle, boarded White Maiden from the stern and stepped down onto the deck and went down like a sack of dogfish. The aft centre deck was an ice rink.

After opening the cab door, there was no sound from the alarm, so obviously the alarm was 'forked'. So I primed and started both engines, they both pinged into life, so I kissed the helm, what a beauty she is. No seriously I did, affairs with boats can become very passionate.

I put 'the mistress' against the ropes as I do every week, if the weather is bad, mainly to avoid a proper trip in the dark and risk sliding into the sea off the foredeck while releasing the head ropes. Note that I do this to make sure everything is ready for the next trip, whenever that will be!

While changing the batteries in the PIR of the alarm system, the starboard engine screamed and scrolled the word 'overheating' across the digital display. I switched it off. Two minutes later the port engine did the same. I was guessing they were 'iced up' too.

I finish and tested the alarm fix proving that the Chinese manual was wrong! Two sneaky 'smokes' later and a 20 minute wait, I restarted the engines and this time monitored both 'tell tales' and temperature gauges. They had both defrosted nicely, bingo but no kissing this time. Another lesson learned!

I ran White Maiden against the ropes for a bit more, giving the two starter and two house batteries a charge, and then went through my shut down routine and reset the alarm. White Maiden is all ready to go again, and I am champing at the bit.

The weather this year was as good as it has ever been compared to my first four years and so I won't complain. If the weather forecast is good enough, we go, if not, we don't. If we can get out at those fat Cod over the next four weeks that will be great. The February weather will often give us a chance to fish, if there are any fish to be caught inshore. Well that part is yet to be proven. Traditionally February / March is a hard period but I will be keeping White Maiden on the mooring until March 21st, where she comes out for about 10 days for some maintenance and three year survey.

So there will be opportunities I am sure in the next 8 weeks or so to have a go at those slippery, spiky, wet, rough, cold, tasty, hard fighting Needles winter species.

A big thank you to all those that have supported me and White Maiden throughout the year and a particular thanks to those that brought along the makings of a good breakfast and those that provided such good pictures to make my website more special to look at.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All.
Les and White Maiden

Weekending 19th December

The forecast at 2pm on Friday was enough for me to cancel the Saturday charter this weekend, so not much to report. The few boats that did get out found it hard going. Shoals of sprats are showing on the sonar now round the Needles light and so this is no doubt a pre-occupation for the majority of sought after fish in the vicinity. However if the forecast was better I would still like to have a had a good go at the really big Cod that are on on our patch from about now, to the end of January. Some real monsters are possible and it has been a good Cod season, so who knows how big they could go.

So now the chances of fishing is really up to the weather conditions and of course the favourable driving conditions for the travelling crews too.

In the meantime have a very Merry Christmas and if you get a chance some very tight-lines, 
From Les and 'White Maiden'

Weekending 12th December

Same mark, same tide, two weeks later on exactly, you might expect a good return but the Cod kept fairly quiet. It was an ideal forecast and not as many boats tested the Needles as I would have expected for this time of year.


On White Maiden, the Alan Headley crew, included the Thursday Cod Champion Tony Wells and true to form caught a well marked double figure Cod, just after the hardest part of the flood tide. We assumed this was the start of another good day. The anglers were catching some nice Whiting all through the flood on 10/0 hooks but the Cod just did not come out in numbers to brighten our day. By the end, the Whiting count, all around 1.75lb - 2lb was over 25 kept fish, so we did OK. The middle of slack water, start of the ebb, just before we up-anchored, was very quiet! The majority of the other crews had either 1, 2 or no Cod but plenty of Whiting, while Thomo on 'Major Tom' caught four Cod, with the best at 22lb and fared as well as anyone I heard of. Pick the right mark and the Congers can be fun and there is the odd double figure Pollock showing still.

Tightlines, Les

Weekending 5th December

A decision for a regular Saturday crew from Watford had to be made on Thursday evening and the snow, ice and forecast made it difficult to commit to the trip. Unfortunately this crew don't fish the Solent as a fall back, so we cancelled. As it turned out on the day, only three charter boats took their crews round the Light and so we obviously made a popular decision. I still went down to the moorings and did a couple of jobs, while running the engines against the ropes, so 'White Maiden' is primed to go.

Today was a much better day, my day off, and the small boat crew I just spoke to, could see about 40 boats just South of the Needles light. This crew did very well, with one of their best 'own boat' catches, after a move to an easier second mark that produced many Whiting over the 4lb mark plus Cod of 21lb, 18lb and 15lb. The sea was flat calm and the sun was out, so another cracking day round the Needles light.

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 28th November


Above is Norman pictured with his best ever Cod of 27lb and another picture his first two Cod. At one point, Norman was winning 4 Cod to 0,0,0,0,0,0 as there was seven on the boat! He had it all his way until Tony pictured below started to catch him up. When Dave sends the group picture back of them all on the pontoon, that will be added to this report too.

Prime Time, Full Story - Saturday was breezy NE F5, freezing cold but very Coddy. After three weeks of cancelled Needles trips, I took the Tony Lavington crew a couple of miles South and just in time for the start of the flood. Between 9am and 1pm they hauled up ten double figure Cod with the best at 27lb and the smallest a handy 11lb. The average size was 16.5lb! What a cracking day, sat at anchor, Needles Codding, round the back of the Western Wight.

Out of the seven anglers fishing Norman (69) lead the way catching five cracking Cod, including the 27lb'er, Tony caught four, his best at 18lb and Dave caught the last one at 14lb. Interestingly from slack water high and the start of the ebb we had a quieter spell, with big baits only being attacked by the small fish. The best Whiting and Pout were up near 3lb, although there were not many of them,  and there was a single Conger. The Conger was so small I think it had just been born!

Oh, and if the day wasn't good enough, we had a couple of Dolphins at the stern of the boat for six or seven 'sightings' before they moved off down the tide!

Note that before we had a Cod in the boat, Steve Davies fishing solo in the Western Solent on 'Agay', had three Cod of 13lb, 17lb and 18lb. But then failed to find a big fish after that. But the point is for an easy day and the chance of a good Cod, the Solent is still fishing too.

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 21st November

The better Cod are now round the Needles area and it was a pity the Cod champs could not benefit, after the wind pushed up a lumpy sea 'round the Light', forcing the Wed / Thurs comp down the Solent. 25 boats fished both days. The best boat was 'Challenger II' Skippered by Mike Cottingham. His crews catching the most Cod, over the two days.

On Wednesday, Vernon Everitt on 'South Today', found the best Cod at 18lb+ for one of his crew, worth £1000. Arthur Savage on 'Private Venture II' put his anglers over the Cod on Thursday, to allow Tony Wells to catch the days best Cod also worth £1000, a nice 21lb'er. Tony also added another Cod, later in day, that weighed in at 19lb. The overall winner never even fished day one, ending up with four Cod, for his £1000 prize, and the overall prize. The competition again was a success for both the skippers, the anglers, organisers and the location. There are few ports on the South coast that can boast an area that holds inshore specimen Cod and a handy sheltered fall back like the Solent when conditions are as bad as they were last week. A big 'well done' should go to Rob Thompson, skipper of 'Shogun'  and 'the Mrs' for running such a fine competition, in such appalling weather.

Before and after those two days the weather was good enough to fish the Needles. The Cod fishing off the 'Light' is on fire this week with a few good fish around the 28lb mark reported and good numbers of double figure Cod too.

I dipped out Thursday evening and Saturday as the forecasts were against both trips when the decision was required. The Thursday evening decision was made on the Wednesday evening and by Thursday morning the forecast was much better, how annoying! Similar but different the Saturday decision was made on Thursday evening forecast which was a bit worse by the Friday but turned out better on the actual day. With the wind from the North East, again annoying for me but good luck to those that went out.

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 14th November

The high winds during the week made the 12 mile inshore computer put out a Moderate to Rough sea prediction for Saturday and so with the wind forecast at a F5 in the morning I cancelled the trip. The Solent is a good option this time of year, although not guaranteed which is why some crews chose not to fish down there. I give White Maiden a test run and nipped out for a couple of hours, to the middle of the Solent at the end of the river, with a photographer friend, during the flood tide, fishing from 11:10 to 13:50. As it turned out the wind was negligible and the Solent was flat calm, no rain, a bit of sun and a few fish. It paid off with this well marked 14lb Cod, caught on wire line (again). The Solent is looking very murky after all the rain so a bit of colour helped plus the 10/0 and 8/0 hooks loaded with plenty of bait but and 'singing wire' makes the difference.

Today while I was out at rugby with our U15's Rugby team at Romsey, it was reported that the Solent fished for Cod better than the Needles with more double figure fish. Jeff Semple on 'Lazy Daze' had two doubles, one at 11lb another at 14lb. Steve on 'Agay' had one at 14lb and two at small ones 3lb-4lb plus a 4lb Bass.

Let's see what happens next week during the Cod Championship, as Wednesday and Thursday is looking very promising, so good luck to all, set out your stall and keep them baits fresh.

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 31st October

This week started off great but then it was poor weather from then really. I had a day off fishing on Monday, as a birthday treat to myself, see the report below. Wednesday was a bit too breezy against the fairly big tide to tackle the Solent at night. Yesterday was cancelled as the wind was against us with a F7 SSW in the forecast at midday plus a moderate to rough sea to boot.

However Monday’s weather was fantastic in comparison to the rest of the week. Myself and a couple of mates, that happened to be on their 'off' days,  had a good day 'round the Needles’.

We went for an easy 0915 start and got back at 1630, leaving the mark as the tide continued to run off hard. The sea was flat calm and like a mirror in the afternoon. It was very warm too, fantastic!

Right at the start and on the very first drop, in the easing flood tide, Pat practically hit a 12lb Cod on the head. His posers ABU Suveran made it look like a very good fish too. Well it was really as the Cod was well hooked and a welcome sight in the first 8 minutes! At slack water Tim had a Conger around 20lb, released at the side of the boat. Then near the very end, during the hardest part of the ebb, I hooked a 10lb Cod on wire line and just before we had decided to go back.  I mention the wire as I am convinced this is a key factor in catching Cod, along with two 10/0 hooks, loaded with five squid!

So all in all it was a good day, as we never saw that many Dogs and Pout either, surprisingly. And although we tested the Hokkais, over the slack water, not one Whiting was boated. A very different day compared to just eight days ago, in the same area, although two Cod of exactly the same size. It had to be the high pressure system we were fishing in. Other charters found the fishing equally quiet.

Today, while I was coaching our Rugby team, I heard of a few reports of good fish. Agay found a 21lb Cod in the Western Solent along with a smaller Cod, Thornback and bits. While 'Due South' had a Cod of 18lb and a Spurr of 14lb just a couple of miles off. This is a good time of year if you can get yourself out there.


Weekending 24th October 2010

Tomorrows forecast of a F7/8 SW plus rain is far too much for me so I just cancelled. While the Wiltshire Farmers with Tony Edwards had a lovely evening on Thursday down the Solent. The fishing wasn't blistering but Richard had a nice Cod of 10lb and some large Pout up to nigh on 3lb. The biggish tide plus annoying messy weed was a pain. However the Solent is very fishable from now even in 75% spring tides.

Apologies for the picture of Richard and his 10lb Cod but my new phone camera is poor in the dark and  even this proper camera keeps ending up on the wrong setting. So here is Richard in the dark, under flash with a landscape setting! We live and learn.


PS - The British Cod Championship charter boats are filling up quickly. Lymington is hosting the event this year and the Town Hall Sailing Club is the control / venue. Take a look at this excellent new website advertising the event on behalf of the West Wight Charter Skippers.


Weekending 17th October 2010

Yesterday (Saturday) was my birthday and although I shouldn't have been 'working', it was a great day round the 'Needles Light'. The Tony Lavington crew always enjoy their fishing days and they caught lots of fish too. We started with more Pout than they could cope with but the six 5lb boxes of squid meant we could hammer them and anything else that came our way. After an hour into the Pout, a 12lb Cod found Phil's large squid bait. After a slight easing of the very small tide, luckily the Pout went off and the Whiting came on the feed. The lads did very well and caught lots of Whiting to hokkais, many between 1.5 and 2.5lb! There were a few dogs and a scad.

The flood was a bit quiet although it still felt perfect as the baits were staying on the hooks a bit longer. However the fishing remained fairly quiet, apart from the occasional but reasonable Whiting, until I started the engines at 1556. That is when our second Cod at 10lb found Mikes Hokkais and finished the day off nicely. There was a brisk Northerly for most of the day but with the sun, and plenty of fish, this made for a birthday treat. Incidentally I finished off Saturday with a a nice family diner at La Vista, Hythe Marina and then to cap off the weekend my Fawley U15's rugby team, beat Winchester B 46 - 10. So not a bad way to spend a half centaury birthday!

Here are the Long's. Dad Phil is showing off the prize catch, a 12lb Cod, then Mike with a laden set of Hokkais, the best Whiting weighed at 2lb 7oz, then finishing off with this first ever Cod at 10lb.


On Thursday evening the Andrew Swayne crew had a good forecast and an ideal tide for a Western Solent evening trip but the fish did not play along with the perfect conditions. It was not just us either, as very little was caught down the Western Solent between the two other boats that I spoke to. We couldn't blame the quality of bait or the very little weed, it was simply, 'better luck next time'! Incidentally the same area on the same tide on Friday evening gave up plenty of Pout and a 10lb Cod to John Skeggs crew on 'Last Laugh'.


Weekending 10th October 2010

Both White Maiden trips were 'cancelled' this week due to a F5-6 Easterly against a very big tide. Although yesterday we did attempt to fish, following a forecast that was similar to that lovely Friday. But it was horrible. We drifted for bait with no luck and after 90 minutes of being bashed about, there was no way, with hire rods, we could have attempted fishing the bottom in the 125% tide, 2 hours before high water. And so commonsense prevailed. One boat remained out side and had one Cod during the golden hour, mind you she is a much bigger vessel than mine.  A small boat fishing the high water also found a 10lb Cod at slack water in the Western Solent. So almost like clock work the Cod appear to be turning up on time, there are also a few Whiting too.


Weekending 3rd October 2010

Yesterday an individuals trip on White Maiden were able to get out and fish a fortunate break in a run of weather systems rolling across the South. It was comfortable, with some morning sun and it stayed dry until we up anchored. We fished a bank for most of the day but first we drifted an inshore wreck for 10 mackerel which is very useful, but no Pollock or Pout. We then tested a 114' mark, a small gulley at around four miles, to find a few dogfish and a 7lb Thornback but it was a bit quiet. So we soon moved to a bank and immediately shook off the bait robbing fish and found a reasonable Bass, five Blonde Rays to 23lb, a couple of Tope plus a Small Eyed Ray, so not too bad by the end of the trip. Here's Clive with a very nice 23lb Blonde Ray and then again below with a Bass. Phil is holding up his near 20lb Blonde Ray and a Small Eyed Ray, while Mike shows off his Thornback Ray.


On Thursday evening the Rick Godwin crew also had a lucky break in the weather that was due to deteriorate at the end of the trip. Armed with ragworm, squid and mackerel for the baits we fished the Western Solent. The Black Bream made for a hectic start and through the ebb until slack water at around 2030, with a couple more coming at the start of the flood. A hound that went about 4lb was caught at slack water but the end of the trip and mainly the flood tide didn't turn up the better fish that was hoped for / expected but just a couple more dogs. Still, it was a nice evening and the SW breeze, that was with the flooding tide, only got to a low end Southerly F5 as we came back down the river. Then it rained as I washed down the boat, which is handy. Next time lads you can bring less food, only joking, as Andy Bartram did you proud. That is the first time I have had steaks to fry for all, as well as the usual bacon, eggs. mushrooms, onions, etc! Thanks for a good evening.

Below are the photo's kindly forwarded to me by Jeff Semple who Skippers 'Lazy Daze' out from Bucklers Hard. He took his crew sole fishing last Friday evening and caught this massive stinger weighed on the boat at between 51lb and 55lb before being released. It was breezy from the North and so the measurement was the best they could see on the dial scales. The cracking Stinger was put back by the captor after being beaten on Sole gear and a size 2 black Aberdeen hook....respect!


I have now uploaded next years White Maiden Boat Diary. There are some Saturdays left and plenty of evening dates to fish on Wight Maiden in 2011, I look forward to seeing you all again. Please note that I have marginally increased the cost by £5 to £305 for a full boat at the weekend and £3 to £168 for an evening trip.


Weekending 27th September 2010

On Saturday the Trident SAC crew found a few fish plus a Mackerel and Scad early on and at slack water, although the Mackerel are now really quite scarce and there are too few to rely on for bait. We drifted for a Bass and after 6 drifts and after loosing a suspected Tope decided to get the best and easier end of the flood tide and went onto the hook closer inshore in the fairly big 3.7m range tide. We had a lot of big Pout plus a Spotted Ray, a 5lb Pollack and a 27lb Conger. The ebb started well with a couple of big fish dropped and the Conger but then seemed to go quiet. So we went back on the drift again but to no avail. Here is Bob, Chris and Roy showing off the best fish. I do like to eat the big pout as you know, so a few of them went home for filleting, skinning and putting in breadcrumbs for tea. The boat that passed us on the way back to the light, drifted the same reef that we did, and caught a 12.5lb Cod on a single squid, dragged along the bottom.


On the Tuesday evening we fished the Solent and found plenty of Bream that went up to 1.5lb. They fed well into the dark. The biggest fish caught throughout the session were five small Hounds to 4lb and there were plenty of Dogs and some Pout too. Although the fishing was lively, nothing spectacular showed up before we set off for home on a perfect still moonlit night. I cancelled the Thursday evening trip due to the wind from the SW up at 21knots with rain forecast too, so that was an easy shout for me.

Other reports are mainly of Sole, some Big Stingers and of the early Cod that are now being caught. Ray Pit on ‘Lady M’ found an early Cod for his crew at 17lb on Saturday.  On Friday night Jeff Semple on ‘Lazy Daze’ helped one of his crew when he netted and weighed a Stinger that was beaten on sole tackle and a size 2 hook. The big Stinger fought for  20 minutes before netted and dragging the scales down to between 51lb and 55lb! The fish was already minus its tail and was released after weighing. On Saturday night Gary Withers hooked another huge Stinger in the same area but this one just would not fit in the net, and after a few attempts with the landing net the massive Stinger snapped through and swam off. This one had a tail so it was definitely not the same fish.

There are 2 places on an individuals trip next Saturday at £45 each. It is a small tide and so will push out to ten miles weather permitting. I have finalised my 2011diary dates but will confirm bookings with the regular Saturday crews before publishing on the web.


Weekending 19th September 2010

Yesterday, Saturday, the Tony Lavington crew had perfect weather and tide for fishing over a bank around 5 miles off the Needles Light, targeting a variety of species. Only the fish did not show up. Fair play the lads and lass stuck at it well but the fish just did not switch on. Mackerel were very scarce and it was the Tope that made up for most of the fun plus a Thornback for John but all in all, excluding the Dogfish, it was a quiet day to say the least. Still we fished where we wanted to get to and the rest of the reports were similar. In hindsight I wished we had moved at half time.

On Thursday, the Charles Stanswood crew had a varied evening trip; after fishing the first mark, deep at West Lepe, where we had five or so Bream and a few Mackerel but then also a bit too much weed, we moved over to Newtown. Here we found too much wind for the tide, which caused White Maiden to swing around the anchor, and not much life either, so we moved back over to sheltered Sowley.  The first fish there was Andrews racing Cod at 12.5lb, then came five small Hounds plus Dogs, Bream, Pout and a Bull Huss. There seemed to be lots of fish at the end of the ebb and not a lot of weed, The crew were pleased that the fish come on the feed eventually and for the breeze to ease off. We finished off nicely on a lovely moonlit calm Solent.

I have been notified of a change of booking in December. This has freed up a Saturday on a good tide which is ideal for targeting Cod and Whiting, weather permitting. Note also that I will soon be posting next years diary.

Tightlines Les

Weekending 12th September 2010

After filling the boat, I had to cancel yesterday, and it was a good shout, as it was horrible with 28 Knots of wind and rain in the morning. I spent most of the day on the boat and can report now that I have resolved an issue that has been getting worse since I took the boat from BW SeaCat 2.5 years ago. Basically the stern tubes / conduit going forward that carry my outboard controls and steering, was letting in water into a forward sealed section, all unknown to me but I could see the water line going over the 'boot top', of my anti-fouling. Over the last 3 weeks I have been getting to the bottom of it. I had recently sealed the stern pipes but at the start of my holidays I found and extracted a total of 465 litres (measured) from the starboard hull (sponson/canoe) and 14 litres from the port hull in the same but opposite 'sealed' section. I have 16 sealed sections of which 8 are large. It was one of these 8 large sections that was pretty much, full up.

Basically I have been carrying half a tonne of sea water! I knew there was something wrong and now after three weeks of checking, I am confident that no more water is coming in. The result is a boat that sits much higher out of the water, goes quicker if I want to, and takes the seas better when the crew come forward.

Back to fishing, as I have nothing to report this week, except that the Mackerel are really patchy now, here is an e-mail from Mike Long who went off to New Zealand during the summer for a trip of a lifetime:
Hello Skipper!
Had my first fishing trip in New Zealand and it was amazing! The scenery was lovely and even in their winter I was able to get down to a Tee-shirt and catch some sun. As for the fishing I have never caught so many fish, the action was all day long. I have caught my first Cod (Blue Cod), Snapper, Wrasse and a Kahawai. The Snapper was fun taking line, the Kahawai was exciting as it leaped from the water once I got it to the surface. Tuna and Marlin fishing is available but sadly that's not in my price range until I win Lotto.

Hopefully the pics will come through (Sun rise to Sun set) Feel free to do what you like with the pics or send to the rest of the lads if you have their e-mails.


Tightlines, Les

Weekending 5th September 2010

What a cracking holiday; with the weather at the start of my two weeks, forcing me to do some jobs on the boat. Then we had seven days in the lovely rocky cove of San Miguel in Ibiza. Then we came back to some superb weather for the boat and garden to finish off. I also skippered a reasonable charter yesterday, although the fishing was difficult all round from the reports received form the other boats; after turning the Needles Light we found Mackerel immediately and half filled a bin easily. We then bashed our way out East to a nine mile bank while many charters chose to stay inside the light and chase the Bream. With an Easterly F4-5 blowing directly down a small tide I decided to go for it. This gave us four hours fishing on the bank until slack water low, which although not as good as it can be, still produced three well marked Small Eyed Rays, a Bass and a couple of Tope and some Scad. But as this was a competition we also decided to have a go at the Bream and finished the day with a dozen of those to 1lb 4oz. Mackerel seemed to be everywhere. The Solent was a flat calm haven compared to nine miles off. Peter is showing his best Small Eyed Ray, while Paul holds up his Bass.

One report of a Plaice sortie by Bob the Plumber, found two fish of a lifetime when Bob pegged Greavsie with two cracking Plaice that went over the 6lb mark in a six Plaice catch. However others faired not so well with one Plaice between three anglers on one boat, and other boats failing to find one Plaice. The potential is massive though and that's why we like it round on the mussel beds. I would take a crew round there but they would need to have the right attitude and lots of bait!

I now have two Saturday dates 'freed up'. They can be booked either as a full day or as individuals. First there first served. Next Saturday is a big tide when we will concentrate on Bassing for most of the day, starting at 7am and trying a number of methods including, drifting a bank, floating a live bait and trolling a lure.

The second is a nice small tide in a few weeks time, ideal for anchoring a bank for Rays for half a day and a wreck for Congers the other half. See my diary page for dates and costs. If you are interested mail me on ltjones2004@yahoo.co.uk.

Tightlines, Les

Weekending 23rd August 2010

On the Tuesday we had rain and a F4 SW breeze forecast, wind over tide, for the duration of the evening. So the Solent was the ideal place to settle down for an evening session. The Alan Headley crew from the refinery fished well and are learning fast.

The lads coped with the drifting weed, in the fairly small tide, and so we tested three marks in the Western Solent, all in less than 37’ of water.  They caught best on the last mark, towards the end of the ebb, and of course, I wish we had tested that spot earlier. We were over on the North Shore of the Island. All of them caught fish, mainly Bream, plus a couple of Dogs, a Pout and a couple of Hounds. Now it is my holidays the wind and rain have conspired against me. Still this poor weather has given me plenty of time to do some of those nagging jobs.


Weekending 15th August 2010

Yesterday, Saturday, the Trident SAC caught Mackerel and Scad bait fish immediately, having shoaled up in the expected places, again. Strings of small Scad flew over the gunnels, ideal for Bassing. The first few drifts on an inshore mark didn’t produce a fish. The next two drifts alongside a wreck followed the same pattern and that was using great bait. The banks gave us a few Bass, and the other three charter boats that were working them, including a new BWSeaCat, 'Rapid Fisher' out from Poole.

Our first proper fish was a good Bass, which was lost at the surface and typically, the best fish hooked that day. The next seven Bass boated were between 2.5lb and 4lb. The weather improved from lunch time, with the rain stopping, the wind dropping and even the sun coming out towards the top of the tide. At anchor we found a Thornback, a couple of Spotted Rays, Dogs, Bream and the Tope caused havoc. So eight species in all and I reckon just the one nice Bass, added to the catch, would have made an average day, a good day, not picking on Steve, it was one of those things. Pictured left to right is John, John, Roy and Chris. John is holding his beautifully marked Spotted Ray, definitely worth a picture and one for my in progress fish identification web pages. This will be a winter project which I felt necessary, after a neighbour was convinced a 23.5lb Blonde was a Thornback Ray. This really got me going having been one of many, to fish those banks for years with the best Thornback going 17lb, until now!

On the Thursday evening the Andrew Swayne crew had the massive tides, ideal for Bass, but unfortunately not the best of seas, as the wind blew WNW and a bit more than expected. The breeze didn’t ease off at all and as it became dark, if anything, it blew a bit harder. So sod the meteor shower, we shortened the trip by about 45 minutes and ran back to the Solent and home. The Solent was flat but the huge tide and expected weed made the usual fallback marks not a viable option at that state of the tide. They caught Pout, Dogs, Macky, a Spotted Ray and a Bream.


Weekending 9th August 2010

Nothing to report, as the Tuesday evening and Saturday's day trip were cancelled due to the forecast and the prospect of uncomfortable conditions with no alternative fallback options because of the wind direction and the inshore weed that is causing havoc down the Western Solent. Both days turned out exactly as the forecast had predicted. I did get out for a practice trip yesterday and although the bait was plentiful, with Mackerel and some lovely small scad baits, most boats like ourselves, found the ebb as being particularly quiet. It was one of those heavy, oppressive, high pressure days, and the fish did not come out to play but it was very nice out there.


Weekending 1st August 2010

My Saturday crew called off due to a lack of numbers, very early in the week and although I did get calls from people interested in fishing, lots in fact, I sensibly decided to have a break from chartering White Maiden, for a week. It was most relaxing, although I was still up early and hopping about looking at the trees! On Sunday I went down to do some jobs and play with my tenders and a small outboard. It's stupid but I really enjoyed just having some time out and playing with the boat.

On Tuesday evening the Paul Johnston crew wanted a bigger bend in their rods following their early May, Sunday afternoon trip of Mackerel, Dogfish and a tiny Whiting.  The breeze at 21Knots was nearly a F6 at the start and worse than forecast, so we fished the Solent. Even there we had a swell at first, although we were sat nicely round with the wind with tide and on the bow.

Well they got a bend in their rods, with weed! Not what we wanted. A Gar and some Mackerel made a show, near the surface at anchor but the weed restricted fishing. So a second move, same depth but another ‘line’, found as much weed again plus some small Bream activity. A move across to the mainland side found a Smoothound almost immediately but the weed was just as bad there too. The evening turned out perfect weather wise but the fish did not play the game.

Even the hound we landed was lassoed around the tail with no hooks any where near it! Bream were biting but only one was landed and that was foul hooked on a 5/0 black Aberdeen, meant for a Hound. It was a difficult evening, spoilt by the weed.  I would recommend that you take lots of worm and crab if you target the Hounds now as they have given up taking squid. Pictured is Jackie and a tail wrapped hound that gave a good account of itself. The sunset was spectacular.

During the week, Dink Lemoignan, fishing inshore on ‘Due South’, weighed officially and ashore at Lymington, on club scales a nice Undulate Ray of 17lbs. The good Ray was kept in a large freezer box and kicked as she was released back into the Harbour. They also had many other species to go with it including a small Cod!  There are reports of a big 22lb Turbot and some Whiting too as a point of interest. Plus good Thornbacks, Small Eyeds, Bream and Bass. We just got to keep an eye on that weed now and the bigger tides inshore.


Weekending 24th  July 2010

On Saturday the Tony Lavington crew found Mackerel as soon as we turned on the Bridge. Next drift for a Bass, found more Mackerel. Then it was off to a bank. First fish was a small Turbot, we were set for a good day. Then came a couple of Small Eyed Rays and then a long quiet period at the end of the flood, over slack water and the start of the Ebb, that produced a couple of Goby, a Tope and a dogfish. So next we were off to find some Pollock. There were plenty of small Pollock plus lot more Mackerel inshore. 

Back out to a deep mark off Brook at the end of the ebb it was very quiet again, with only a Spotted Ray and a couple of Dogs. The trip back was a bit on the rough side but OK. It is often the way in the summer, that as the heat of the day gets to its peak we get a good breeze around 4pm which is very good for sailing boats, but not so, for an easy ride home in your motor boat. On the left is Vicky and a well marked male Small EyedRay or Painted Ray that was returned and Tony is seen returning a female, on the right.

On Tuesday evening the Nigel Bush crew, brought along a reasonable mobile bar, plus some quality worms supported by a nice 5lb box of squid, some additional fresh Mackerel would create the ideal ‘bait box’ for the trip. Over at Sconce we struggled with just two Mackerel  in the first 40 minutes, so then it was back down the Solent to fish the North side of the Island, before the ebb got away. Guess what, Mackerel were in abundance there and could be caught at anchor! How annoying, but great to find them.

At the first mark, as well as plenty of Mackerel, a dogfish and a sizable Bass were boated, before the weed and tide became too much. On the next mark, shallower at 40’ we found some Bream to 2lb plus and a Hound of 7 or 8lb plus more Mackerel. The bites kept coming until dusk then it went quiet. Right from the start the sky looked ominous and it was extremely humid, and the decision to stay in the Solent with the small and manageable tide was sound. Chris can be seen with his Bass and the best Bream, added to the Mackerel the makings of an excellent BBQ.

It is worth remembering that an evening trip ‘outside’ round the light, interrupted by bad weather means lots of motoring and less fishing time. As the rain helped me clean the boat down and the wind at 20kts from SSW would have forced us back earlie,. I was pleased to have stayed inside. Lymington is a great location to fish from with the Solent an excellent fall back.


Weekending 11th July 2010

On Saturday the Kiddlington SAC were on Bass trip 1, with Bass trip 2 next Saturday. We had smooth seas all day but were shrouded in fog until gone 1300. We chased the Bass from an inshore mark, out around a group of banks that would be expected to produce, but they didn’t. Chris was the winner with an early 2.5lb Bass. The Mackerel are pretty much all over now, with joey’s out deep easy to find,  that box of squid would have been handy again as the fog enforced a slower drive out to the first mark and then the tide is not what you need, when you get there.  With hindsight we should have gone onto anchor out deep and then drifted inshore for the Bass during the ebb, and turned plan A on its head. 


On Thursday the Alan Headley crew of sparks from the refinery had a great time. On the way out we found 7 Bass of which 3 were sizable takers. Then alongside a small wreck the lads fought and beat two Tope that were easily over 20lb, plus 6 or 7 smaller ones. As well as a big Tope, Ryan also fought and lost a massive, assumed to be a Conger, while everyone weighed in with small Tope, loads of Dogs, Pout, Jumbo Mackerel, a Bream on a 6/0 hook, and a Star Fish! A bit of fog drifted through but the evening was perfect for the majority of these self confessed ‘raw beginners’.  Craig and Ryan are both showing off their almost identical Tope, while Craig holds up one of the Jumbo Macky, and Brian, the Star Fish. It was a good evening ‘round the light,’ with a good crew.


The Tuesday evening charter, for the Tony Edwards/Wiltshire Farmers crew had a breezy start that was due to ease off before dusk, but it never happened. A low end F5 South Westerly continued right through. However we had warm sunshine which made for a lovely session until the sun went down. As it went dark we headed for the Needles light, and then home.  Early on the Mackerel were sparse through Sconce but there are some to be caught there, with more coming when we needed them around the light, towards the drop off. Anchored alongside a small wreck they caught about  10 small Tope to 8lb, plus Dogs and Pout and an incidental Bream on an 8/0 hook, but the targeted ‘big fish’ never came on the feed.  That’s fishing! This was a most enjoyable evening and the farmers went home with a good feed of Mackerel and large Pout. I know you don’t believe me but the big Pout, gutted immediately, and then filleted and skinned at home, makes the perfect breaded fish supper. Try it, you will not be disappointed. However, leave an un-cleaned Pout overnight and you will spoil the delicate white flesh, when it smells and tastes like a gorillas armpit!


Weekending 4th July 2010

On Saturday the Trident SAC from Watford started well, near a small wreck, with a Thornback, Bass, Red Gurnard, Pout, Tope, and plenty of Dogs. Mackerel were surrounding White Maiden at about 30’ down.

After the tide had got going we went drifting for a Bass, which I thought was a good idea, using the joey Mackerel, still live and kicking, in the bait tank.

After two banks and a 'long drift', we tried another wreck but failed to boat a single fish! So for the last couple of hours we went back ‘onto the hook’ down at Brook. After a flurry of Dogs and a couple of Tope, while the breeze freshened to 20 Knots, I was considering a move. As I made my thoughts known, Chris latched into a cracking 14lb 12oz Thornback Ray, John a nice 4lb Spotted and Bob caught the Bream he was after, as they came on the feed, at the  end of the tide. So it was a good finish to the day, although a bit bouncy on the way back.

On Thursday, a crew of individuals hit the target fish immediately in the first drift with 3 Bass to 4lb followed by one more sizable Bass on the second drift but after that we tried hard, but in vain. A Mackerel hunt worked, but the Pollock areas only found a few small fish. It was a lovely and enjoyable evening, although two booked individuals, never showed, only my second experience of this, in nearly 5 years.

On Wednesday I went round to Wickor Marine to test their SPEED 11. But I have decided that to change over to the next boat up would more hassle, time and money to upgrade, during an already very busy period. I couldn’t afford a new vessel to be built exactly how I would like it to be and the next build slot is 2012. Thanks to all those that came out for the ride and served as ballast! I already have some positives over the new vessel with my White Maiden, so I have made a final decision to stick with what I have, which is a relief, to be honest.

The Tuesday trip was cancelled with a breezy evening against an ebbing tide and a tooth extraction making it, the right and only decision.

I have a neighbour who reported boating a 23lb 8oz Thornback and believed not to be a Blonde. I am keen to see the pictures before I get over excited, as I suspect it was a good Blonde but you never know. We had one earlier this year on a mark that I would not expect to see a Blonde, let alone one of 26lb.

Jeff Semple on Lazy Daze boated a 6lb Plaice for himself, which is a good fish, but the plaice fishing behind the Wight, is specialised and not all that rewarding as far as numbers is concerned, but the quality, unarguably fantastic.


Weekending 28th  June 2010

On  Sunday the Don Tucker crew from Lee On Solent, compromised on a 0600 start, to take in the footy. The fishing was far better than the footy! They started with 3 Bass, the best at 6lb, after a few shorts drifts. We then found a bit of rough ground that could be a small unmarked wreck. Here they pulled out masses of big Pout, plus Dogs, Poor Cod, Mackerel and a Bream.  A Tope came to the surface after following up another brace of Pout and decided to play with them, until spooked.  At slack water Ryan fought and beat a 35lb Conger confirmed and weighed in the net, before being released. We moved away from the Pout just before the start of the ebb but that was not a success with just Dogs, a small Tope and too much sun, wearing the majority, non-regular, anglers out. It was a good day for all, right up until we saw England and the worlds the most expensive group of players gift at least 3 goals. I did loose my voice, shouting at a ref, who couldn’t hear me, while I was spinning the boat onto her moorings! After the game, and still on the boat, a couple beers and then some time relaxing in the sun, fixed everything. Richard is showing the best Bass and Ryan his Conger.

On Saturday the PAR Builders / Paul 'the Tope' Bisgrove crew, from Hythe, found a few Pollock although the drifts were restricted by the lack of wind and tide. Out deeper they caught a couple of Tope, the best a tad under 20lb. It was hot, with very little breeze. Along with Dogs and Pout there were some BBQ Bream plus lots of Mackerel which were a distraction for half the crew, that  may have limited the bigger fish count, but then, may not. It was a good day out, and one of those rare ’almost too hot days’ on the English Channel!

On Thursday the Pat Warne Crew, from the Waterside area, found a few more Pollock, and a cracking Wrasse that was over 4lb, caught by Pete. Unfortunately I missed the picture after it was dropped on the deck and then lobbed over the side. To be fair I was trying to get the best picture instead of just a picture, so a lesson learned there. The markings were superb, take my word for it. Out and deep again, we found more Tope, although not so many as the evening before, to about 9lb, plus Pout and Dogs and Bream. With the Wrasse and Gar I made it 8 species for the evening.


On Wednesday after the England v Slovinia match the Hoxtons Occasionals, organised by Bryn, turned up in good spirits and ‘well up’ for the fishing on a cracking evening.  A drift for Mackerel and Pollock found a few, but anchoring deep near a wreck turned up Bream and Tope (Paul and Ian), plus Pout and Dogs, and Mackerel if we needed them. The Tope were not big but they were serious fun, as explained to me, ‘when you live in Hackney’! The lads fished well and we saw 7 species over the evening with plenty to go on the BBQ, the following day at a beach near Shorefields.



Weekending 20thJune 2010

On Saturday the Church Crookham SAC had one thing in mind, that was Cod. So we headed offshore at 0630, after doing the slalom through the leading field, of the 'Round the Island' Racers. Between Hurst and the Needles Light we hurtled along, at nearly 20 Knots with the ebbing tide. We concentrated on an area that gave us three good Cod to 14lb at the end of our very first drift. I thought this wass going to be a good day. Slack water came and went and included a few Pout, Mackerel  and onlyone big fish lost, suspected to be another cod that took baited Muppets, when a knot went.  At the start of the flood working the same mark we found one more double figure Cod but that was it. The wind never really eased off, as promised by the forecast, so we had to punch into a low end F5 Northerly all the way back to 'The Light'. A stop at a wreck, just over half way back, 'turned up' a single, 10lb Pollock for Roy and a couple of 'hits, that were missed. It was a fairly ‘hard’ day for all but not as bad when compared to the other reports, from boats posted to all areas.  The fishing had been poor all round, all day, I reckon that cold front and pressure change that came through in the early hours must have put the fish off their dinner!  Pictured left to right is Keith, Roy and Richard with some good fish.


During the week White Maiden was lifted, scrubbed, re-anti-fouled, cleaned and re-launched, after a great job by all; elbow grease by yours truly ably supported by Alison, LYH, Rope Walk, and BHG. Here is White Maiden on the maintenance pontoon ready to go for a test drive which proved 'all ready' for the mid-channel sortie, the following day.

Tuesday evening Bassing was cancelled with a huge tide against the F5 most of the evening that would have made it uncomfortable for the inexperienced crew. Not bad in itself but the slightly early date on the Bass this season, due to the cold seas, possibly avoided, a waste of all our time.

Weekending 13thJune 2010

On Sunday the Tony Lavington crew followed a similar plan as the Saturday crew but it is always amazing how two days on the same marks can vary. We couldn’t find a Mackerel where we had plenty the day before. But the Pollock were there again, with a couple of Mackerel too, this time mixed in with them. At the same deep mark during the flood the crew found a comfortable tide and proceeded to catch two Spotted Rays, a Thornback, a tiny 2lb Conger, a 7lb Hound, Pout, Dogs, Bream to 1.25lb and many Tope up to 10lb. At slack water high, we had Bream and Pout plus more Tope and of course the Dogs. At the start of the ebb there were more Bream to 1.75lb and more Tope and Dogs plus a Whiting. Then it went a bit quiet, which was exactly the same as yesterday but also coincided with a big noisy boat moving back onto its drift start,  too close to us, to save spoiling his own drift lines. Work that one out! Anyway we moved off, and back at an inshore mark with the SSW breeze now at 18 knots, we found two small sizable Bass, plus a Garfish. The food was again quality, supplied by Mike, burnt by me, eaten by all, once again. The best specimen was Vicky’s Thornback or Normans Hound or Bream but although nothing spectacular, I counted 12 different species. It was a great weekend to be out on the boat. Clockwise is Robin with one of his Pollock that preferred real feathers, Norman with a Bream, John and Vicky and lastly a picture of the makings of a good brunch!



On Saturday the Darren Toomer crew had a breezy start with 17knts from the North in the morning but a great forecast for the rest of the day which fished as follows. First the Mackerel were obliging enough for a good 25 or so fresh bait fish but still not that easy, as other boats struggled.  The next drift was for a Pollock where we had 40 odd small but sizable fish to about 2lb, big enough for a feed so we kept some and released the rest.  The next stop for a Bream failed to produce a bite in 40 minutes of fishing, so with the tide easing all the time we moved out and anchored on a deep mark. The end of the flood produced a Thornback and around 6 small Tope to 10lb plus dogs. At the end of the ebb and slack water the Bream started and went to a tad under 2lb. A big Horse Mackerel, the first this year on White Maiden came next plus another Thornback, a Tope and more Dogs. The Ebb produced a BBQ Bass for Dave and more Bream, and more Dogs plus the odd Tope. Then it went quite. We decided to move off and drift a small wreck that fished OK last week but that failed with just a few Pout and Mackerel finding the hooks The last inshore drift produced 4 small Bass and a few more Mackerel. There was hardly a breath of wind at the end of the day. Again the crew provided the Bacon, Sausages and Eggs, which after some skilled burning, went down a treat. Thanks for a good day out. I reckon the best specimen was Dave’s 1.25lb Scad (Horse Mackerel) and we had 9 species in total.

On Thursday the F4 to 5 NE wind over a SW flooding tide with forecasted persistent rain for the entire evening trip put us right off and common sense prevailed. As it happened we had no rain, but a  good F6 so a sensible shout.

On Tuesday evening the Balmer Lawn Honda crew had a competition where they were fishing for the ‘first non Mackerel, Dog or Pout’, the ‘most fish’ and ‘biggest fish’ prizes. All three prizes were a tank of fuel! We went to find some fresh Mackerel  and Sconce produced enough for  the first time this season. We then went down with the tide deep off Sowley where Jeff Semple on ‘Lazy Daze’ had already reported less weed than when fishing shallow, which was handy. Leon had the first ‘non-dog-pout-macky’, a BBQ Bream, so that was a Tank of fuel in the bag for Leon. Then the Hounds came on the feed and were being taken on squid or mackerel.  They increased in size, first Bens at 7lb, then Pauls at 8lb and then at slack water Richard had the best Hound at 11lb, out of a total of about a dozen Smoothies. I never did find out who or how they counted the most fish, but they did catch a lot of dogfish too. The evening was dry, not cold and the breeze dropped too, so a good evening all round. Thanks to Paul for the sausages, bacon and soft drinks and for setting up the lads with a good competition.  Pictured left to right is Ben, Paul and Richard.



I will happily cook and probably eat some of yours but in a vain attempt at limiting my calorie intake, I won't be bringing any along. This does not affect my next four crews as they already bring their own. As for the rest, if you would like me to fry (or burn, as I say) your sausages, bacon and eggs, then that is not a problem as I will cook it for you.  The main reason is that I am eating too many sausages, so will have to show some control, maybe it is just a summer thing, we will see.

World Cup - England
I have fitted a small Freeview flat screen TV, and it works fine, so we won't be missing any important games. I have Rugby written through me like a stick of rock but I am also very patriotic, so the footy must be watched!

Weekending 6th June 2010


Yesterday the Trident SAC had their work cut out, as there was very little tide, little wind and a high pressure. I had to put my thinking cap on too. We did alright, after persevering to find the Mackerel, found eventually, below a gathering of Gulls and Guillemots, sat clustered on the surface. Macky are hard to find this week which is a pain but all part of fishing, so you must take that 5lb box of squid, as a backup. We then drifted a wreck for lsome big Pout plus a few Pollock to 4lb and one big fish lost, assumed to be a much better Pollock. The next and last move to a bank worked well where we found Thornbacks, Blondes, Tope and the ever present Dogs. Chris was wary of the the teeth on his Tope, holding it out worked :-). A lovely day and a well deserved return for the Trident club.


On Thursday the three man crew of Richard, David and Alexander had the best weather so far this year of an evening. It was a bit breezy but clear blue skies and very warm. The Easterly breeze with the tide and high pressure may have had a bearing on the fishing. Basically we tried 3 marks including the one on Tuesday evening and found very little movement or excitement. A few Dogs and tiny Pout were caught, plus a few Mackerel, 2 small Bream and a tiny Tope and that was it. The photo is of Alexander with the smallest shark ever caught anywhere in the world!

Last Tuesday a crew made up of Matthew Simpson plus Jerry and the two lads, Toby and Luke, plus Mick and then my Robert and my Anna’s BF, Matt, had a flat and calm evening although drizzly to start with. The last of the ebb, slack water low, and the start of the flood on a mark out in Christchurch bay found too many Pout and Dogs. In fact the only other fish to find the hooks were two small Bull Huss and a Pollock. A few Mackerel made a show by the end of the evening but not as many as we needed at the start of the trip, The crew that included three parent and child pairs and one other pulled up as many fish as we could have wanted and some of them very large Pout. Some larger fish would have gone down well.

There are some huge Tope to be caught, and St Catherine’s Deeps are starting to fish this week for the real whoppers. Bream are on the usual marks but spreading around now too. Hounds and Bream are down the Solent and Bass should become more prolific in the coming weeks. A good time to have your boat or your trips lined up and ready to go! See my web diary for places on White Maiden there are a few opportunities if you fancy a go. If I am busy, try the West Wight Charter Skippers website WestWightCharterSkippers  for more telephone numbers.

Tightlines, Les

Weekending Sunday 31st May 2010

Today, the Jon Haley crew had a short and breezy afternoon trip. Hurst was showing 22knts, a F6 from the West/North West, which unfortunately, was against the ebbing big tide. So a sortie up the Solent found 11 reasonable Bream to 1.5lb. The next trick failed, as we chased the Mackerel and Bass, off Yarmouth and Sconce. So a test of the mainland side, and down the middle of the race was tried, which also failed, so no Macky for the BBQ here yet. Note some lads reported there were a lot of Bass last weekend off Sconce, full of peelers. This was after the very short burst of hot weather that got the crabs peeling-off, all at the same time.  It was alright, although a couple did get wet from the spray! It was an enjoyable afternoon and fortunately the first mark worked but the second half of the afternoon was a challenge finding the fish.

Saturdays Trident SAC trip fell afoul of the strong winds; Hurst showed 39 knots at one point around 13:00, so really I was pleased not to have gone out there.

On Thursday evening the Duncan Easton crew managed to drink their mobile bar, nearly dry. The 17Knts F4/5 Westerly breeze persisted for most of the evening making it a bit bouncy but with the wind in the same direction of the tide, we had another cool and comfortable evening. The big spring tide was hard to push against, on the way out to the spot and also meant that the inshore weed collected on their lines, a pain. The crew started with the first Tub Gurnard of the year, then a Small Eyed Ray. By the end, five more species, Mackerel, Bream, Dogs, Bass, and a couple of Spotted Rays found their baits, so 7 species in all, making 12 species for the week. Duncan is standing behind Matthew holding his Small Eyed Ray, while Warwick is showing off his released Tub Gurnard.

On Tuesday evening the Lee Price crew all from Balmer Lawn Honda, had a lovely flat sea that defied the forecast. Lee and Phil looked after the others with the fishing and baiting-up, while right until the end, the sea remained calm with a nice tide and a good few fish. Although nothing spectacular was caught, the ever present dogfish were the first to oblige followed by a number of large Pout,  plus returned female Black Bream, a Pollock and a Bull Huss. Mackerel were scarce with just 4 found while at anchor. As the tide turned West at 21:30 the wind picked up to a F5 from the East and never really troubled us apart from the short leg from Hurst to the River entrance, where we had the odd crash bang.


Weekending Sunday 23rd May 2010

Yesterday the Tony Lavington crew had lots of options and so we went for it, by targeting the Chale and Atherfield Banks area. Catching Mackerel was not easy, but necessary for these banks, and during the 'Macky chase' we found enough Mackerel, a Pollock and a few Pout. By the end of an extended bait hunt hit the banks following the hardest flow, of ebb tide. Set nicely, the fog rolled in from the East, giving a 200m vis for the next 4 hours. It was cold enough to put your hat and coat on, even in the sunshine. Apart from the Hound, pictured with Norman,  all we found were dogfish, after dogfish, which is really unusual on these banks. We didn’t fare well but the crew worked hard. A move back inshore towards Chale, never accounted for much, so not the best of day but Mackerel, Garfish, Pout, Dogs, Pollock, Whiting and Smoothhound all made a show.  I think we found the coldest and breeziest place in the South! By the time we turned for home, the fog and breeze had gone, and it was just like summer! Meanwhile 'Due South' stayed on, after faring as badly as us on the ebb. Andy finished the day with some good Blondes and Small Eyed Rays, while Dink trumped Andy at the very end of the tide with a cracking Brill of 5lb 15oz!


On Thursday evening the PW crew wanted to go to the ‘same spot as last time’ and as it was a superb evening and we could do what we liked, I agreed. It looked like we were going to struggle as the Tuesday crew did with Pout, Dogs and Mackerel the bulk catch up until dusk. However after the sun set onto a dark and crimson mirror like sea, Kevin got into something very decent. After a struggle to the surface a large Blonde literally hit the net but flapped and dived away, nearly all the way down to the bottom! Meanwhile, I had plenty of time to get the bigger net. To be fair Kevin took his time and coaxed her back up to the surface well, where I still had trouble getting it in the big net. It was only when I went to lift her up over the side that I realised that this ray was huge. The scales with the net went down to 30lb and a bit and so it was around the 26lb mark and obviously lost, as I would never have expected a Blonde Ray to show up where we were, let alone a Blonde of this size! The beautiful Blonde swam off slowly no worse for the experience I am sure. So nearly running out of time I started the engines, when another big fish found bait. This time it was Stu having to hold on tight as he played a 40lb Conger to the surface where we netted it, weighed it, photographed and released it. It turned out to be a real good evening for weather and fish too.

On Tuesday evening the Nigel Bush crew had a good enough evening to get round the light although it was a bit chilly in the F4 breeze. Still it was dry and comfortable. While searching for the Mackerel, Nigel found a reasonable Herring among the few Mackerel caught  on the drift. There were more over the mark but still not many. Dogs were a nuisance through the evening and the odd hound or Tope wrecked a set of baited feathers but generally the fishing was quite and the best specimen on the night was a huge Pout for Nick.  It was an enjoyable night though.

Inshore the Black Bream are now showing in more numbers in all the traditional marks with a few Bass now making a show too.  As everything is 3 weeks late this year, I see it that we still have May to come yet, so I really  looking forward to the next four weeks plus, and then the summer!

Thanks to Mick Ketley for the new picture now on the front page, taken while out on the ‘Pirking Patch’ last Saturday.

Tightlines, Les

Weekending Sunday 16th May 2010

Yesterday (Saturday) the Darren Toomer crew plus Tony and Roy, went in search of a Cod and were relatively successful, although the lads had to fish quite hard for them as we needed to do a fair bit of searching. Their return of 14 good conditioned Cod, all around the 10lb mark was acceptable for the effort, cost and time put in. As a distraction, during a quiet spell, a small wreck provided a few Pollock to 4lb to add to their tally. 

We set off at 0600 and the steam out was great, although against the tide down to the light. It took us 2hrs 15mins from the pontoon to the mark and was good enough for tea, and coffee plus the obligatory bacon rolls. We certainly had the best of the weather in the morning but along with the ebb tide at 1300 came the inevitable and forecasted breeze. On the way back it was up to a F5. The return trip was OK but where White Maiden needs a good scrub off and re-anitfoul, and we were slightly against the tide, with a following sea, at 2hrs 45mins, it felt like a very long steam home. She will need a scrub-off before the next long range, 90 mile trip, so I have now planned that in for June. Above, each holding 2 cod, from left to right, is Nick, Darren, Rob and Dave.


On Tuesday evening, last week, the freezing cold NE breeze stayed at a F4 until dusk, which meant it was not the best May evening, wind over tide experience, for the John and Charles crew.  We aimed into the tide for an hour heading West, to search for, and winkle out the bigger Bream. It wasn’t rough, or uncomfortable but there was no shelter for the anglers, from the icy breeze.

There were just four decent Bream caught, the best a tad under 2.5lb and in spawn. Peter (right) can be seen holding his first ever sea fish, a good Bream. Three were released and one went for the pot. John is pictured (left) with one of his two Bream.  We also found a couple of small Bull Huss, Wrasse, Pout and Dogfish but it was fairly slow. So a move to Milford, where just last week, the same mark gave up plenty of fish, on two separate visits, now seemed devoid of all life, bar a couple of dogs! So another quick move to a shallower mark, found a couple of Hounds, a few more Dogs and a Pout in the last 40 minutes.

It was a good evening but very cold and the distance travelled against the tide limited our fishing time. As usual, when a plan semi-fails, some hindsight options may have found the Bream feeding better, on closer marks.  We need to track the Bream down as they are a ‘highly mobile species’ but they have their favourite places still. This and new terms like 'Marine Conservation Zone’s' or 'MCZ’s' will become more familiar to all, over the next 12 months, I am sure!

Tighlines, Les.

Weekending 9th May 2010

Yesterday the Paul Johnson family crew had a cold but comfortable few hours fishing round the light. The Mackerel are definitely in now with reports from all over, although it took a few stops and some ‘sonar work’ to find ours. Paul and his crew managed to fill a box with large Mackerel in about 10 minutes before finding a kennel of Dogfish at anchor, plus a single pin Whiting. The interesting thing was the lack of quality fish. We were in 90’ of water, fishing easy, and were baited with fresh mackerel, plus squid and worms and crabs, presented on a variety of rigs over slack water low and the start of the flood. Basically although steady, there was nothing spectacular. Thanks for an enjoyable afternoon, and I think the ‘men v ladies’ thing was a dead heat! I am sure the ladies on this trip would have wanted a photo with a decent fish but the Mackerel and skinned dogfish didn't count. Why the Blackheaded Gull? Well unusually this young lady helped me and Rob clean up at the end of the trip, by pecking over the bait board!

On the Saturday the Darren Toomer crew were also blessed with a comfortable day, nine miles off, although still bloody cold, for this time of year. The sea temperature is well down on normal, at 11 degrees C!  But that did not stop us hooking some good fish. With a 4lb Brill and three Blonde Rays between 17.5lb and 15lb being the best specimens on the days. Plus they boated two Thornbacks, a Hound, a Bream, Mackerel at slack water and 6 more dogs than expected. All the fish were returned except for the one Bream and the one Brill.


As a note; I bit the bullet and updated the software on my Garmin Navigation System. It was a bit painful and time consuming but sparing the detail, one or two things that did not work, now miraculously, do work! The new features are superb and stuff that didn’t make sense before, now does! Thanks to Garmin for the free upgrade.

Tightlines, Les

Update Thursday  6th May

Yesterday at 5:30pm I picked up my first evening crew of the season. The PW crew had a very small tide and perfect weather conditions, so we shot down with the tide and round the light to fish a small wreck in 90’ of water, until just before 9:45pm. Many large Pout, spaced out by occasional dogs kept them all busy, all evening. A Hound of around 7lb made us think we had found a good Bass, it wasn’t.  Another, smaller hound followed that one. A shoal of Mackerel was also over the wreck and we had our fill of those. They were big Mackerel mind you, like the ones we found earlier in the day. Here’s a picture of John Bellamy with his Hound, which put up a good scrap on light tackle.  We never had a Pollock or a Conger, it is time of year. But we never had a Ray either, which was more surprising.

During the day yesterday, the Geoff Wheeler crew fished the Ledge and we found some reasonable Bream and lots of Pout but it was ‘quiet’ so we moved to Southbourne Rough where it was absolutely ‘dead’ on two marks. Another move back to Milford found a few more Bream for (Deputy Dog) Rob and a load of large Mackerel, plus the usual kennel of Dogs. Rob is shown with one of his 5 Bream.


On Bank Holiday Monday the ‘Wiltshire Farmers’, corralled by Tony Edwards, had a cold and very blustery but comfortable day. We found fish in close, in the Bay, with some reasonable Bream, the odd Dog and a small Hound plus a big Mackerel. It was not that easy to catch fish. A little further out in the Bay on our second mark we found the fishing was extremely quiet for the last 2 hours. Let’s hope for some better weather next time.


On Saturday the Tony Lavington crew targeted Black Bream and were moderately successful with 8 Bream boated, one near to 3lb. Mind you that was caught while the rod owner was in the heads! Jon Richards shows off the best Bream landed on ‘White Maiden’ after he grabbed Johns rod while he was otherwise engaged. The mark also produced lots of Pout, a number of Wrasse plus a couple of Gars and our first inshore Mackerel of the season. Dink and Andy on ‘Due South’ fishing alongside us had 7 Bream all over 3lb, and the best  weighed-in at just under 4lb.

We had a move at slack water, to avoid snags and losing gear, to a small bank. Meanwhile the wind built to a F5 Westerly, but that didn’t stop the fishing, as a reasonable Small Eyed Ray, a Gar and a number of dogs put the species count up to 6 for the day. Not bad really as the water is still down at only 11 degrees. It was great to see Robin doing so well and catching fish again, middle below.


The Black Bream are definitely there now, some spawned already, but about 2.5 weeks later than last year.  Most of the hen fish we had Saturday had already released their eggs. But more will turn up over the next few weeks to spawn too. Most hens were still returned, though we kept a couple for the pot. I noted too that with the first of this season’s foals and calves have appeared out on the forest. I doubt that’s a coincidence either. There are reports of Cod showing down the middle.

Tightlines, Les

Weekending 25th April 2010

Struggling with the good weather! Who would have known this last September when these trips were planned! Unfortunately this lovely sun is not warming the sea up as the nights have been so cold. A cold winter, low sea temps, Easterlies plus high pressure is putting the fish off their dinner, that's for sure. The 'White Maiden' crew, Church Crookham SAC, found a few Gars, nice to see mind, plus a dozen wrasse and half a dozen dogs, but no Bream. It wasn't for trying, as rigs and bait looked good and we tested 3 marks. They just didn't want to know or are not there in numbers yet. Keith, left, and Paul, right, show their early Gars. Nearby 'Wight Rebel' and 'Our Mary' found a couple of Bream but they are hard work still. The water is clearing all the time and the best fish could be there any time now.  

We had lots of options open to us and boats went off in all directions but reports were very similar, lots of effort and little return. Andy Stevens on 'Make My Day' caught a nice 11lb Small Eyed Ray, Roy Davies on 'Agay' a 15lb Cod. One of Kev's crew aboard 'Voyager' caught a 12.5lb Pollock, these were all good but occasional fish with the conditions as they are. Everything could change, any day now, and those first Mackerel will be followed keenly but the rest of the sought after species.

By the way today (Sunday) was very cold with more breeze than yesterday and a horrible sea fog that would have made it more of a challenge for all, lets hope they found a few more fish than yesterday. As I walked Hurst Shingle Bank and then had a pint and a ploughmans lunch in 'The Gun' at Keyhaven, I thought I should call a few of the skippers to find out what was occuring, and then I realised, what I may have thought myself, receiving the same call, while sat out in thick fog! So I didn't dare make the calls.

Note all rigs are now priced at only £1.30 each or 4 rigs for £5.00 but no more than 2 rigs of any one type per order and only small qualities are available when bought on the boat.


Update Wednesday 21st April 2010

As our weather continues to be dominated by a high pressure system, cold at night and still/bright at day, the fishing is a bit ‘slow’ all round, unless you are looking for dogs! The first Black Bream are making a show now. These early Bream, potentially the biggest of the season, are difficult to catch in the murky waters, but they are there, as the Geoff Wheeler crew minus Geoff  (laid up with a bad back) caught our first of the season. Tom on the left is showing the returned hen fish.  However, the fishing was slow and a move only found more dogs. The water is still down at 10 degrees.  On Sunday one boat landed more than nine Bream all good fish, so they are there.

On Saturday, unfortunately, White Maiden didn’t catch a Bream but found a couple of Edible crabs, a small Bull Huss, inevitable dogs and Pout plus a few Wrasse, for the Steve Forster crew. The day was very calm and quiet apart from a cold breeze for an hour on the change of tide.

Wight Rebel of Lymington, fishing near to White Maiden, caught two good Bream and lost two, one thought to be a very big Bream. The other boats in the vicinity that did connect, found one or two fish, around the 3lb mark.

The sea is gradually warming up but is cold still, too cold, maybe? Hounds are deep and falling to squid as they do this time of year. Some Rays are being caught on the banks with Blondes, Small Eyeds and Thornbacks showing. Pollock are being caught well out on the mid-channel wrecks. Kevin Duell, out from Lymington, on Voyager, found 48 for his crew last week to 15lb.

On Saturday, inshore, Steve Davies fishing solo on ‘Agay’, baited worm to a size 2 and struck into what he thought to be a decent  Hound (Smoothie).  After carefully coaxing the nodder to the surface, after more than 10 minutes, through the 50’ of water he was in, he netted a Cod of 13lb. Maybe we should be fishing for them still!

Good fish! Above is Richard Burgoyne with a cracking 21.5lb Spur caught two weeks ago now. White Maiden is the white mark near his thumb!


Weekending 11th April 2010

A great forecast meant we had plenty of scope and so we comfortably fished the banks well South of the Light, all day. The tidal range was kind at just 2.2 meters but this still required 1.5lb of lead in the hardest run of the Ebb.

Trident SAC crew caught six double figure Spur Dogs with two of them at specimen size, just over 13lb. All fish were weighed and released. All but one angler had a double figure fish, so they were reasonably well shared around.



During the same trip I recon the best Blonde Ray ever hooked on one of my boats was lost after a 30 minute struggle. Ken hooked the fish at the end of the Ebb and it eventually came to a stalemate. I took over and got the big fish off the bottom and moving again and demonstrated how to use the back, the legs and the deck to pump the big fish to the surface but I gave the rod up, as it wasn’t my day out. Bob continued to pump up the big fish, which was directly below the boat. Unfortunately the big Blonde ‘bit through’ a trace, that did not account heavy weights, about 20’ from the surface.

This is frustrating for both Anglers and Skippers as we will never know how big she was, but she was big.  As a note this time of year there is nothing to lose when using at least 150lb nylon traces. An added bit of 'colour' helps too when the water is deep and cloudy.  As for the day itself it was ‘fairly quiet’ with the odd Pout and a number of LSD's showing too.


Not far away from us and on the same banks, a small boat landed a monster 21lb Spur, caught a 14lb Cod and lost another , estimated at 20lb Cod on the surface.

There were Spurs caught on most boats when 5 miles out or further. With a number of Cod showing plus a few Hounds and the odd Bass there’s some reasonable fishing to be had. Whiting are also being caught still on the right spots.

Early Bream are making a show and during this week we should see some of the biggest fish making their way back to their usual breeding spots. We should all make a special effort to release the hen fish. The early Big Bream seem to be on a few agendas next weekend. An alternative target fish could be a spring Plaice.




Weekending 4th April Easter 2010

Easter is early this year and my original plan fell victim to the weather when both my fishing days got blown off!

During the week prior to Easter I went to see the new BWSeaCat vessel at Wicor Marine. Their new inboard diesel 'SPEED 11' is launched and was off to a new home on the Wednesday after her successful MCA Coding on the Monday. Here she is on the right.

The new vessel is bigger, heavier and costs twice as much as White Maiden but the principles are the same. It is based on displacement hulls with fine entry bow’s but the new vessel has much more power as she is pushed along by two 260HP inboards. She weighs in at 8.3 Tonnes and will hit 26 Knots .The version shown will cost around £170K. This boat is purchased as a workboat, a gunnery patrol vessel , working off of Portland.  Another bespoke SPEED 11 also fitted with inboards is being finished off for Graham Knott, for diving. The next build slot is now the middle of 2011 and they are well set with this boat as the ride and economy combination is hard to beat. My guess is the name BWSeaCat will become more familiar to sea anglers as time goes by.

My crews need not worry though as White Maiden has fitted our purpose really well. She still feels new and is very stable, roomy, quiet, clean and extremely economical. I couldn’t afford to run  a bigger boat than White Maiden part time as I do now, plus I love the boat now anyway. However if I were to go full time, I could be forced into a larger mid channel vessel. We will see what happens.

Back at the ranch I have a problem with a garage shelf stacked with very old flares. I need to get rid of them and discovered that old flares or Expired Pyrotechnics (PTs) can now be disposed of, more easily again. Call Solent Coastguard on VHF CH67 or 02392 552 100 and they will give a date when they can be dropped off at Lee on Solent. If it was any other European Country we would just let them off on November 5th,  Christmas or New Year and no one would give a toss!

Tightlines and Happy Easter,


Weekending 28th March

Hello again, sorry for the lack of updates, but I have been away on our ‘silver wedding anniversary treat’. In date order a Mexico / Cruise short fishing story can be found below.

Back to this weekend, on Saturday the weather was ideal and so I tested a few marks. We started on an inshore sand bank moved to a reef and then drifted the Shingles.  We found some fish but this was at best referred to as ‘scratching’. 

I scratched both ‘the itch’, having not caught a fish for a few weeks, and scratched a few ‘competition fish’ too.  The sand bank was very quiet with nothing showing at all in the first 1.5 hours that we put in there, while at anchor. We fished the preferred time of the tide, the start of the ebb, following a 7am start.

After a move to the second mark, bites were immediate and the Dogs and Pout came thick and fast, with the competition scratching rigs working well (My Shop SFN Rig 4) and returning a ‘full house’ on a couple of occasions. But as we were after a flatfish, ideally, the scavengers would never give them a chance to get to the bait, so in the remaining time we tried drifting for a Bass. One suspected Bass was hooked but lost. It felt like a reasonable fish fighting with only 2 ozs of lead to drag around so there’s some life, already.

The early run out was interesting as a South Westerly running swell was hitting ‘the shallows’ at the end of the Shingles, where we got some breaking surf waves up to round 8’. We traversed the shallows without issues, after seeing a big gap of safe water, but I wouldn’t do this with a crew, just in case, but it was fun though.

Meanwhile, the only other charter boat that went out on Saturday, John Skeggs on ‘Last Laugh’ went mid-channel and found some nice Pollock, the best, a good specimen of 17lb. Their catch of 40 odd Pollock averaged 7lb that included 5 doubles. John also reported that he spotted plenty of Gannets hitting the water on the way out and on the way back, this bodes well. The Exbury club dinghies found a few Plaice at 'The Blocks' but they didn't go loopy-loo, but they are always worth another try.

Let’s see how the weather goes for next weekend.  Spring is in the air and Easter will be upon us.

Weekending 21st March – Holiday Story

Well our holiday has gone, and is now a distant memory.  We did have a very nice time though. Mind you we have discovered since returning, that we are both properly allergic to work! Confined to a ship for 14 days meant that we met lots of interesting people from all walks of life, including Captain Bill, a Lobsterman, who runs out from Boston, and Captain Ray, who runs a sports fishing operation out from Kona, in Hawaii. That is what holidays are all about, a good yarn, some fishing and the odd drink, all in warm sunshine and seas.

Mind you, I guessed correctly what would happen with the fishing. The day we went out in search of a big fish from a small Mexican Port called Huatulco, we only found one Skip Jack Tuna falling to our one and only small lure. The rest of the rods were working big hooks, with big baits or lures as we were not mucking about. Guess who retrieved then only fish, a small Skip Jack, yes Mrs Jones!

So, 5 hours of trolling, produced a 4lb Tuna.  That’s why they call it fishing in Mexico too and not catching J.  We were working on the same line as three commercial trawlers and there were Dolphins and Turtles everywhere. As for Marlin and Sailfish, well we did see a Marlin jumping but we couldn’t hook one. The next Day Captain Ray and his wife Vicky both caught a Sailfish each, out from Acapulco, fantastic!

My second fishing trip out from Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, was cancelled, as there was only myself and Captain Bill booked on it. Unknown to each other, we would have been happy paying double, but the communications just never happened. Just as well really, as the ship struggled with a faulty generator over night, and we were late into the dock anyway. So it was just as well we never ‘forced it’ at Cabo but I will be back, that’s for sure. It is a sea anglers heaven.

Following our return my son helped me run White Maiden on a reasonable Sunday, and all was well down at the moorings, so I decided to fish the coming weekend, if the weather was kind.  As you can see above it was.

Tighlines, Les

Weekending 28th February

Nothing to report this week but here's some pictures taken on the way home at the end of last weeks trip. No need to add many words here as you can see for yourself that it was a good day off the famous Needles Lighthouse. You can see why we call it is Sun Corner!

Weekending 21st February

On Saturday, the South of the Needles light, was shared between just two charter boats and two private boats. We had one of the best days of the winter. It started frosty with slight seas, hardly any wind, dry, mostly sunny, low pressure, a middling tide and a few fish too.

The Tony Lavington crew on 'White Maiden' recorded 6 species, fishing near a bank in 120' of water. The flood was mostly quiet, however a nice 5lb Bass for Tony plus another, rattled the rods in the strongest part of the run. Towards the end of the flooding tide small but sizable Whiting, the odd dogfish and Pout was the source of some amusement but the ebb was anticipated. On the right is a very pleased Mike Long having christened his new rod, reels and survival suit and fancy flashing rubber squid.

Two better fish, a Thornback Ray and a Conger of around 25lb allowed the fishing day to go out on a high but we missed out on the 'hoped for Cod'. Guess who caught the Thornback and Cod? You guessed, it was Mike and his flashing, bloody squid. He deserved it, after supplying the fry up once again. The sunset was spectacular.

The Cod are still there, as Steve Davies fishing solo, inshore of us, on 'Agay' found a Cod of 9lb and a clunker at 17lb at the end of the flood, his only other fish, was a Dogfish. John Skegg's crew on 'Last Laugh' also found two Cod one of 8lb and another at 9lb plus a Conger.

Note that in mid-April I have a free Saturday, ideal for the early and hopefully biggest Bream again.  Also I just made the Easter Bank Holiday Monday available plus a few half days of a few Sundays, throughout the summer. That's it for me now, until Easter, as I have a few maintenance jobs to be getting on with. During this time I will also be updating my small shop with my own, modified rigs.


Tightlines, Les.


Weekending 14th February

There were only four charter boats South of the Needles on Saturday, with no dinghies venturing round by the look of it. Three chose the one mile line, while we went to three. The F5 NE made it a little bit uncomfortable at first and the wind was very cold but the crew were well wrapped up and had plenty of bait, tea, coffee, bacon, sausages, eggs and even mushrooms. However the fishing was very quiet for all of us. We only found three Pout at slack water and only two fish lost, probably Congers, during the Ebb. We had nothing at the end of the ebb! The crew fished well, stuck to their cause, and weren't too hard on the Skipper, well for  most of the day. Thanks for a good day out lads and at least we can say for sure, that they weren't there, rather than just assume they wouldn't be!

The water temp is now down at 4 degrees C and the inshore marks appear to have gone into hibernation mode. If we can test 10 miles next week then there is still a chance for the last trip of the winter season.

The next 6 weeks or so are going to be hard but on a good forecast, I would test the Plaice marks inshore and if perfect weather, you could test the 10 mile banks for a Blonde, Spur or Conger etc or maybe a deeper wreck for a Pollock. One thing you can't do is waste a good forecast when there is always a chance of a fish or even practicing your techniques.  If the weather is poor then you can't beat getting your reels serviced and ready to go. Sorting out rigs and getting prepared for the Spring season is the key to success.

Tighlines, Les.

Weekending 7th February

Yesterday, Saturday, a big SW swell and a NE F4 in bright sunshine made for a strange day. The fishing was best described as 'quiet', although the Congers showed up at the end of the tide.

On White Maiden the Trident SAC crew found a few Pout at Slack Water low, first thing in 112' of water, plus a Conger released and a Conger lost. This was the start of a very quiet flood tide. Towards the top of the flood, the Congers fed a bit better and another 3 up to 20lb were 'T-barred off' and four more were lost. This made a total of 4 eels caught and 5 lost. All day it felt as though a Cod was soon to go on the score sheet but it never happened. Yet today, Steve on 'Agay', fishing Solo, on a similar line, found a nice Cod of 18lb, along with 5 Congers. Skeggsy found a 12lb Cod yesterday and all boats found the Congers, although not as many as in previous weeks. The Whiting appear to have moved off now.

Next week is a perfect tide at 3.1m range, for the Cod, and so with a perfect forecast, I will organise a crew at £45 a head. Like yesterdays crew said, it was a quiet but enjoyable and if the chance for a big Cod is there, we should go. I will keep an eye on the forecast and get a message out on Wednesday to give some notice.

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 31st January

'Getting harder' is the best description for this time of year. But if the weather is as good as yesterday, then it is difficult not to test the waters and see if you can beat one of those lunker Cod. Yesterday the Kiddlington SAC fished on White Maiden in a big tide around 4.3 meters in RANGE; that's a 4.7 HW down to a 0.4 LW tide. The 1.5lb and 2lb leads came in handy, and the lads fished well, right through hardest part of the tide, supported by Tea and Coffee plus the mandatory bacon and sausage bread rolls but we couldn't find a Cod.

Duncans TBR had us all going in the strongest part of the ebb tide until it came up from the bottom and 'went back' and the line began to draw small circles where it broke the surface. A 'skate on' giveaway. Apart from the returned 9lb female Thornback we found 5 dogs, a Whiting and 8 Pout; that was it.

Only one other boat could be seen off the light yesterday, while today, a couple of Merry Fishers found the going tough too. Each boat, skippered solo, went out a little further and one coaxed a 14lb Cod while the other found a 20lb Conger and that was all their large hooks and baits could find. I am not sure how the charter boats on the mile line did today.

Next weekend, is a smaller tide and so this will mean the 9-10 mile banks for Plan A, on a cracking forecast, or if a reasonable forecast then half way may be good enough. Plan C will be floundering around for a flatty in the harbour for those more desperate for a bit of daylight and sanctuary from the rat race. That'll be me then.

Saturday 13th February is a 3.1m tide that has fished well this winter, so if the weather is very kind to us we will go and chase the Congers again with the chance of a Cod and a few Whiting still but only on a really good forecast again. I have a couple of individuals interested and so will make up a crew at £45 per angler.

Tightlines Les

Weekending 24th January

Yesterday was a cracking day for winter fishing. The fog held off and the sea went flat and was a heady 7 degrees C. As it happened, Congers were the main feeding fish, and it was just as well, as it could have been a quiet day otherwise.

On White Maiden, Dave had the quality fish, a 38lb Conger and a specimen Whiting that went 3lb 8ozs. Darren and Dave caught seven of the ten Congers and lost about the same number, through bitten off hooks and busted knots. Jason and Derek gave up working their 'specially prepared bait', 30 minutes from the end, to catch a Conger too. The biggest Conger, was fought and beaten, by both Dave and Darren when the biggish fish scooped up two baits at once. A third rig in it's throat belonged to Derek, with the specially prepared bait, so the possibly 'dodgy' bait, sort of worked. One internet bought rig suffered a busted barrel swivel! I would be very wary of the rest! Jason provided the sausages, bacon and eggs, which went down a treat and was greatly appreciated.

So this was a good day for deep sea fishing in January and for testing gear on some hard fighting eels. They deserved to go back and fight another day. So two lessons learned; when taking on the bigger fish, prepare your own rigs. You need rigs made-up with 130lb or bigger, nylon. Also big hooks can take plenty of bait. The best squid bait has never been defrosted before, so new, large 'snow white', 5lb boxes of calamari squid is a must. What's the difference between an egg and a cuttle fish? You can beat an egg, you can't beat a good cuttle fish. By the way, most believe you can re-freeze cuttle fish without changing it's effectiveness as a good bait.

The best fish reported on Saturday was a Cod of around 28lb on Mike Cottingham's 'Challenger 2'. Mike was on the same line as the three Merry Fisher skippers that bashed the Cod on White Maiden before Christmas. They are private boats, and all caught Cod yesterday too. Andy Stevens on 'Make My Day' caught Cod of 12lb, 11lb and 9lb.

The Exbury Cod comp was won by 'Bob the Plumber' with a 12lb Cod and Steve on 'Agay' was second with an 8lb Cod, there was no third!

The Poole Cod Comp today had a few Cod weighed in too with the best around 18lb. So the Cod are still there. I went too far out for them on Saturday, so will stay in closer next week, in the spring tide. I saw plenty of bait fish on our bank showing on the sonar, so I suspect sprats are filling up the Cod and Whiting. Some fish were reported as coughing sprats up when they hit the deck.

John Skeggs on 'Last Laugh' went 10 miles and found Congers and few Whiting plus a 7lb Bass and an 18lb Blonde Ray.

I did manage to test my Christmas present, a new Shimano Torium 20 reel, on my Conoflex Trilogy 20 rod. What a cracking reel and ideally matched to the rod. It beat the Conger so well, I should really get another. A combination of a shop bought soft 100lb trace and a non-practiced star drag caused me to loose a biggish looking fish while making the tea. The day glow beads and muppets lured the big fish within minutes of propping the rod, the trace however let the rig down. The rod tip was bent to the gunnels three times before being bitten through.

Saturday 13th February is a nice 3.1m tide that has fished well this winter, so if the weather is kind to us we will go and chase the Congers again with the chance of a Cod and a few Whiting still. The whole boat is £300 for the day but if I get a few individuals interested I will make up a crew at £45 per angler. First there first served.

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 16th January

This time of year can be frustrating, as some quality fish tend to show mid-January, if you can get to them. So far, the New Year has been very frustrating, as we can't test the Needles this week with the forecast against us again. Tomorrow I have a Rugby team to manage, but will have a quick fish in the afternoon, else I might go a bit stir crazy. I am sure a couple of mid-week charters went and sampled the snow, sleet or fog but I didn't ask around to find out, so apologise for that. Steve and Andy, both of Merry Fisher owners took 'Agay' and 'Make My Day' out last Sunday. They only spotted one charter boat. Their hardy session found mainly Dogs but a couple of Cod too, 'in close', to the Light.

Today, among other things, I improved my online 'Shop' pages. It is mainly for the Bait and Rigs that are available to White Maiden crews. If you need anything please list what you would like in an e-mail, before your trip, so that I can confirm and take your bait and traces down to the boat for you.

My 2010 evening trips are being taken up nicely, so while the days are starting to get longer, I guess that you are now thinking about the Spring and Summer. With the lack of boats out there, the fish will have more time to spawn and gorge on the Sprats too, so not all bad.

I hope to get a day round the Light, next weekend with the DT Crew, we will wait and see

Tightlines, Les

Weekending 10th January







Snow, ice and boats, not the best of mixes. The ice is a pain and very heavy, adding extra weigh (payload), jamming knots, blocking letting ports, turning warps into rigid works of art, sticking down hatches and making fuel caps impossible to use. Not a day to be taken lightly, particularly when the car shows an outside temp of -1 degrees at 2pm in the afternoon, and the wind is blowing 22 Knots at Hurst! This is a rare weather event for us down on the South coast that's for sure. Let's hope it will not become the norm.

You should have guessed by now that we didn't entertain going out today. Some boats in the Marina were surrounded by sea ice, while 'White Maiden', was not iced-in but more, iced-over.

I got down to the moorings at midday and was glad to see her looking so clean, safe and stable. The wheelhouse was warmish and the windows clean and clear. I spent an hour loosening and brushing off 70% of the ice build-up, as we are due for a lot more snow yet. Hopefully with a bit of luck next week the conditions will be a fishable but if it stays like this, well, I will be surprised if this can be considered 'favourable weather'. Maybe it's different in Norway and no doubt the boats are better prepared for ice up there.

I have no pictures of 'White Maiden' as I was working hard smashing and brushing the ice off, but the Seaward 29 and the Orkney 26 above, were too good to walk past on the way back, without taking a quick shot. It was a beautiful, if not fishable day, down by the sea and driving across the forest was a privilege, for sure.

If, next week, everyone turns up in the correct cold weather gear, and the warps, hatches and caps aren't stuck solid with ice, we could go. Today though, would have been impossible.

Tightlines, Les.

Weekending 3rd January

Happy New Year. I hope all is well with you and your families and the holidays were long and enjoyable. Yesterday, On White Maiden we had our first sortie of 2010 and were again chasing the Cod. This trip was up for grabs until 3 weeks ago. If I do get a charter date without a booking, I text one of three groups with times, cost, bait and the target species. This was one of those called 'serious locals' as it was a big tide and the day would include some 2lb lead work, in the hardest part of the run, so not everyone's cup of tea. But it can pay off, as it did for us on this trip. We found 6 good Cod mostly during the Ebb again in the very big 4.4m range tide. Tony Lavington weighed in with 3 Cod with his best over 15lb.The best Cod on the day at 16lb fell to Mike Callus, who also bagged another good one of 14.5lb plus a 3lb Whiting and a 4lb Spotted Ray. Norman got on the scoreboard too with a Cod about 10lb. The rest worked hard too.



For those that need to see what we do round here, this is a reminder, basically at times they fished with 1.5lb to 2lb of lead, mainly on braid, with 8/0 - 10/0 hooks to 130lb Nylon and 4 or 5 Squid or a Cuttle fish and 2 or 3 squid.

The picture on the left is Tony showing you his big Cod bait, then the result of that particular bait, his smallest Cod! Tony had 3 of the 6 Cod landed, so it works well! There were a few more reasonable Whiting and some big Pout plus dogs so all in all, on a lovely bright breezy cold day, it was a blummin good day out.

Tightlines and Happy New Year

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