Charter trip…..

A few months back when we heard our mad keen fishing mate Ian was coming over from his adopted home in Australia a date was put in the diary for a charter boat session primarily to have a few laughs but hopefully to land a few fish as well. A much needed day off work was booked and yesterday, for once, the weather played ball so six of us – Kee, Ian, Dee Bill, Doc and myself – headed out from Lymington on the good ship Shogun skippered by Rob Thompson.The general plan was to fish a couple of wrecks and sandbanks off the back of the Isle of Wight and see what species we could pick up.

We were shipshape and ready to go around 8:30 in the morning ……well, most of us were shipshape and ready but there was one notable exception!!

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From Lymington marina we headed out into lovely conditions in the The Solent and it did cross my mind it would have been nice out there on the kayak! We passed Hurst Castle and headed on towards The Needles…

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The engines were shut about a mile off the back of The Needles and it was feathers down to bag up on mackerel – it didn’t take long with enough to live bait, dead bait and eat pulled up in no more than 15 minutes tops……

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Tried to get a picture of them in the live tank as well but didn’t come out so good……

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Before long we were over the first wreck mark,  Dee and Ian fishing with mackerel live baits and the rest of us on soft plastics hoping for a pollack. First drift was uneventful but second time round Dee had a hit on the live mackerel and up came this nice pollack…

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A couple more drifts proved fruitless so Rob moved us on to another wreck which again was uneventful so the decision was made to head for some sand banks and try for a few bass. Four rods went down with live baits and two with soft plastics and on the first drift Dee was in again with a bass followed shortly by Bill with a slightly bigger fish…

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That was it for the bass here though Doc did have a decent bite and when the bait come up it was cut cleanly in half…… it was widely suspected a tope had nabbed it. We moved once more to a mark further round the back of the island, again over some sand banks, where we anchored up for some dead baiting using fillets of mackerel. There was a nice tide requiring over a 1lb of lead to hold bottom. With baits down and a couple of beers on the go it wasn’t long before Bill was into something a bit different that was pretty much a dead weight in the tide. A ray was suspected and we weren’t wrong, though maybe it wasn’t the species expected, when up came a rare small eyed variety…

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Kee was next off the mark – mackerel aside – with a dogfish leaving Doc and myself bringing up the rear on the fish front! The tide had slackened off by now so less weight was needed to hold bottom which was pleasing. Dee was probably having the best day so far and it was about to get better when he was in again and this time to something a lot better which was a good test for his 12lb class rod……

IMG_0644After a decent tussle he was rewarded with this beauty of a blonde ray which weighed in at 19lb – a very respectable fish…

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Nice mouth on it too…

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As I say Doc and I were not having much luck but at least Doc was getting the odd bite and for a few seconds he had a run on his mackerel but it soon went dead and on retrieval he was missing both hook and bait – the suspect again being a tope!

Kee was feeling the effects of his antics the previous night but that didn’t stop him catching and whilst he was sat recovering  he had a tentative bite on his mackerel fillet which actually resulted in the best bass of the day…

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Time was getting on and before we knew it, it was time to head back to port …… but with a stop off on the way. Rob had noticed on his trip the day before a lot of school bass activity at the back of the island where they were chasing fry and suggested a bit of fun plugging for them on the way in. Sure enough when we got to the same mark the sea was boiling with bass attacking a bait ball of fry from below and birds working at the surface. With plugs and lures at the ready we fizzed them out and as hoped we were getting hammered by them pretty much immediately and at last I saved a blank with a  steady stream of bass in the 1.5 – 2lb bracket similar to the one below…

IMG_0660It was great sport for an hour in terrific conditions and in the end we literally lost count how many we actually caught but it was a mental hour for sure. 

At near on 8 o’clock though it was finally time to head back round The Needles, through The Solent and back into Lymington harbour……

IMG_0662 A fantastic twelve hours on the water in great company as always and especially good to catch up with Ian on his trip here from Australia. The only thing appropriate to do after such a day was to finish it off with a couple of cheeky beers – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Until next time…

Nice bass but oh the one that got away….

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When you talk to fellow anglers a story that often crops up is about the one that got away and we all listen and say “yeah, yeah, sure it was a big fish!”. Well, yesterday I had that moment and as I write this I am still sickeningly picturing the nano second when the line went slack as the lure pinged out of the fish’s mouth. My only consolation was I managed to nab it’s younger brother a bit later.

I’d been keeping an eye on the weather predictions all the weekend and there looked like there might be an opportunity for a 2 – 3 hour lure session on Sunday late afternoon/early evening – no chance of getting out on the kayak with the incessant windy conditions of late. For once the forecasts held true and I made my way down to Dorset. Conditions from the car park looked good with a bit of a chop and plenty of colour in the water on a rising tide. I trudged off and about half an hour later I was at the start of my favoured length of coast. Here’s a taster of the type of conditions I was going to be  fishing in…

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For the first hour there was not a lot of response to any of the lures I was sending out there whether it be shallow divers, surface poppers or soft plastics but eventually I settled on the Tackle House Feed Shallow 18g lure I started the session with and after a further 20 minutes as the tide really started to push in I saw a fish follow the lure in … encouraging. I was fanning my casting out to cover as much ground as possible and from the next but one cast, which was more or less parallel to the shoreline I had a really strong take – fish on! With the clutch set line was coming off the reel at a decent rate and I leant gently into the fish as I let it move off into open water – it felt decent and gradually I managed to get it back in towards the net… then I saw it and it was easily the biggest bass I’d hooked on a lure, broad across the back and a visibly big head… it was also the point the fish saw me and with this it made one last desperate bid for freedom – it succeeded – the lure pinged out and fizzed past my ear. I don’t mind admitting I was gutted and the air turned blue for a few seconds as the disappointment dawned on me. There’s a fine line between the adrenalin rush of having a decent fish on and then the agony as in a split second it disappears. I’ll never know how big this bass was but I’d estimate it was double the size of what followed based on the fight, the bend in the rod, the swirls on the  surface and not least the visuals I had of it.

It sounds stupid but it took me a few minutes to regroup and put it behind me but it’s what you have to do and it wasn’t long before I picked up my consolation prize from a mark 50 yards further along the shore. Again, it was the Tackle House Feed Shallow that came up trumps with the fish hitting the lure hard, just as I started a slow retrieve, within seconds of hitting the surface. It put up a nice scrap but was nowhere near as strong as the previous take and thankfully I managed to successfully slip the net under it – a fish in perfect condition of 4lb which, as I say, was a nice consolation prize to what had gone on before and a nice way to christen my new rubberised mesh landing net at least!

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Time was getting on so I fished my way all the way back to the car but there was no further action and after de-rigging I was left to reflect  about the one that got away and also on the lovely fish I did land.

I love this stretch of coast and hopefully it will remain fruitful in the coming months and maybe, just maybe I’ll get to hook that bigger fish again. Fingers crossed.

Until next time…

Bass on the rocks

After the long weekend in Cornwall, and with the rest of the week off work, I had hoped to get a day out on the kayak but the wind was not very favourable so that was a complete non starter. However, conditions were perfect for a lure fishing session and when my mate  Nobby called it was too good an opportunity to pass by so we headed down to Dorset early afternoon ready to fish the rising tide.

There was a bit of a trudge to get to our chosen spot where we’d had a bit of success in years gone by but it turned out to be well, well worth it. The slog to the spot was not without incident though as we had to head down a steep slope which is never the best in waders and it was only when I was almost at the bottom I realised I’d lost my polarised glasses on the way down – a real pain in the backside as they are vital in my book when lure fishing. It was too much of a hike to go and search them out and they were relatively cheap one’s so I made the decision to just get fishing. It may have been the  wrong decision as it turned out but  you live and learn.

Conditions were near on perfect with a nice amount of movement and a bit of colour in the water with bright conditions overhead. We split up about 100 yards apart along the rocks and began working our lures in the water. It wasn’t long before Nobby was into a decent fish and pulled in a bass of around 6lb – a cracking start. He had managed to spot a decent gully in the rocks and bagged a further two smaller fish around the 3.5-4lb mark from the same location – superb! It shows the benefit of the polarised glasses that he could see the gully and he worked it really well.

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That wasn’t the only reason for his success though… he seemed to have the killer lure on and was twitching and retrieving it to good effect. So much so that as we made our way round the mark he picked up a further two fish and I was still not off the mark!! The lure was a Tackle House Feed Shallow and luckily he had a spare one on him and was kind enough to share it with me! It did the trick within a few casts and in fact we were both hooked up at the same time! It was my solitary fish of the day around the 3.5lb mark but a nice fish all the same. Unfortunately, unhooking the fish proved a bit calamitous and deprived me of a photo opportunity as it flipped out of the net, freed itself and left one of the treble hooks to rip into my finger… ouch!  After a minor clear up of my claret we fished our way back to base without further success – but what a day – some fantastic daytime fishing with 7 decent bass in total, a few miles of shoreline covered and with the added bonus of seeing a pair of peregrine falcons high up on a cliff ledge to top the day off.

Here’s another one of Nobby’s bass caught on the Tackle House lure…

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So, whilst there have been limited opportunities to get out on the kayak of late it doesn’t mean the opportunity to fish is not there and sometimes the results are even more pleasing… it’s certainly a great way to catch bass that’s for sure.

Until next time…

On the water at last….

Well at long last I got myself on the water again – first trip of the year and long overdue at that. In fact it turned out to be quite a pleasant few hours and I certainly exceeded my expectations on the catch front bearing in mind the time of year. I was pleasantly surprised. The launch site was the Elmore slipway at Lee-on-Solent – a familiar venue and not too adventurous for my first paddle of 2011!

I was ready to go at 7am and conditions were excellent with a light south easterly blowing. Here’s the yak pre-launch:

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I reached my mark about a kilometre off shore in good time and sent my baits to the sea bed – a strip of mackerel on one rod and good old ragworm on a wishbone rig on the the other. I really wasn’t expecting much action, it was just nice to be back fishing again to be honest.

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It was half an hour before I had my first bite and it was on the ragworm. It was a bite that was slow to develop but when I eventually struck into it and felt the dead weight I knew it was likely to be only one thing – a ray. It felt heavy in the tide and it was indeed a thornback ray that surfaced by the side of the kayak. I was a little surprised to catch it on the ragworm but was pleased with the result – it was probably around 6lb in weight so a good start to the year.

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After the quick picture I baited up again and sat back contemplating what a relative surprise the ray had been and waited for my next bite – it didn’t take long and this time it was a small but pristine bass.

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Several more schoolies followed which kept me busy – all caught on the ragworm.

Conditions remained excellent, in fact the Solent was something of a millpond for a while.

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Not a lot was happening with the fish baits I was putting down but the worm was still producing as the infamous Solent pout came on the feed. They were all tiny and hammering the worm baits that I was putting down, even had them on a double hook up on the wishbone rig! The thought did occur to me they’d be excellent live bait size for bass so maybe something to try later in the year.

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All in all a pleasant first trip of the year, good to get back into it and even better not to blank. Hopefully it’s a sign of a good year on the fishing front….. and dare I say it no red Solent weed to contend with either. Got the bug again now and already looking forward to the next trip.

Until next time……

A ray of hope…..

Have been off work this week primarily for a camping trip to Wales later today with my son but yesterday morning did present me with a fishing opportunity. The weather looked favourable according to the forecasts so I loaded the car up Monday night ready for an early start on Tuesday at the local haunt at Lee-on-Solent.

The yak was rigged and ready to go by about 5:15am but when I got to the launch point there was a fair old lump to the sea and a bit of a blow coming from the west – certainly not as flat as previous outings but it was do-able.

Got out to my favoured spot and set up with a good sized crab bait on one rod and a lash of mackerel on the other trying to avoid the pin bream that can strip the baits if you’re not careful here. This is a picture of the sea state which probably doesn’t do justice to how bumpy the conditions were.

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In addition to my rods I was hand lining for mackerel and almost instantly I was into a couple of them which were despatched to the cool bag.

It didn’t take long either for the first knock on the crab either and I connected…… you can tell pretty much straight away if it’s a smoothie and that’s exactly what surfaced. This one being of the starry flavour and as with all smuts he wasn’t too pleased to be aboard the yak! They really do go berserk when they’re out of the water but eventually he calmed down to have his picture taken before being returned…

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A good start I thought but then, save for intermittent mackies on the hand line, things went decidedly quiet with no more sniffs on the crab bait and not a squeak out of the mackerel strips I was putting down. Still, the wind had swung round to a north westerly and the sea flattened off a bit which was nice – nothing worse than trying to have a coffee in a lumpy sea! Here’s a picture of the sun on it’s way up……

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After a good hour or so I finally managed another bite on the crab again and was really pleased to see this bass come up – not a keeper but a bass is a bass all the same… they are such beautiful fish.

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By now it was 9:30am, the first of the Cowes week yachts were beginning to gather and The Solent was beginning to get busy so I was contemplating calling it a day when I had my one and only bite on the mackerel bait. It was a strange bite and when I struck into it all I could feel was a dead weight but when it got to near the surface I saw why… it was a thornback ray – not big but my first from the yak so pleasing. A couple of pictures and he was put back to fight another day.

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Stuck at it for another hour or so but it had gone quiet again which probably wasn’t helped by the hive of activity on the water with yacht after yacht skimming through. It’s an impressive sight even if puts an end to the fishing!

I paddled in and gutted a few of the mackerel ready for the smoker and the rest that were left I kept for bait – probably had a dozen or so in total, not bad for fishing anchored up using a hand line just underneath the yak…

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So, another nice little session but I really must try a different venue next time!

As I say, leaving the wife and dog at home and off to Wales later today with my son camping for a few days, and hopefully, there will be a bit of fishing to be had from a couple of rock marks I’ve been told about… we’ll see.

Until next time……

A better session….

Managed to get myself out on the water on Saturday morning for what proved to be a hectic little session. The venue was once again Lee-on-Solent launching from the Elmore slipway. I like to catch first light which mid-June means a very early start. The alarm was set for 3 a.m. and I was on the road, rigged and ready to fish by 4:15 a.m. just as the sun was coming up. Conditions were near on perfect…

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I fished in the same vicinity as my last trip off Browndown and to begin with the results were the same …… dogfish greedily taking any of the baits I was putting down there namely mackerel strips, squid and ragworm.

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So I switched bait to the limited crab I had and it brought an instant change in fortune with the more definitive bite of a smoothound – nothing huge, still a pup, but a hound nonetheless.

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Another followed shortly after much the same size. One thing about catching smoothound on the yak you really must make sure you have your kit tied down as even these smaller one’s go nuts when they’re on board and it would be easy to loose bait, tackle or worse overboard in the pandemonium of trying to get the hook out!

As I say, I only had limited crab so had to switch back to squid, ragworm and mackerel and inevitably the dogfish returned to readily take my offering. However, I then had the tell-tale bite of something different – fast knocks that were hard to connect with so I scaled down my hooks and that did the trick as I was in to some bream – none particularly big but they’re good sport nonetheless.

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These were my first bream of the year and very welcome they were too…… as was the next fish to land on my lap – a nice bass – only a couple of pound but a beautiful fish nonetheless taken a on a ragworm/squid cocktail. This one put up a great scrap before I was able to get it on board…

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Very satisfying but shortly after the tide changed and the bites dropped right off with weed becoming more of a problem. It was still lovely out there though……

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By 9:30 I decided to call it a day and pulled the rods in and began my paddle back but as I reached about half way point I noticed fish jumping on the surface…… mackerel! I didn’t have time to set the rod up with feathers but luckily I’d brought a hand line along loaded with a 6 hook hokkai rig for just such an eventuality. The minute I lobbed the line in I had one on, then another and another and another all just under the surface…… four in about 2 minutes before they moved on again.

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I paddled the rest of the way in very contented with my early morning session. Compared to the fishing a month ago when all I could muster was a couple of pups and a bucket of dogfish it was nice to add the bream, bass and mackerel to the bag – amazing what a difference a bit of warm weather can make.

Until next time……