Back on the kayak at last…

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Finally managed to get some time on the kayak today albeit with an early start to fit it in around work commitments. Window of opportunity was from dawn until around 10 o’clock in the morning and with the weather forecast set fair it was too good an opportunity to pass up. I can’t remember the last time I went out fishing on the kayak – it’s certainly been a while – too long if I’m perfectly honest!

Anyhow, my thoughts were to get on the water by 5 o’clock to give me about five hours fishing time. Venue was one fairly local to me in The Solent and I was hoping to have a bit of sport with the smooth hounds and  pick up some mackerel if they’ve made there way to The Solent yet! Conditions at launch were idyllic – flat calm with only a very slight breeze…

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Fished two rods, one with hermit crab and one I took a chance on using squid… the smuts do like it but so do the damn dogfish and you can guess what was the first fish to come aboard the yak this morning…

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There was a bit of low cloud and mist hugging the coast and it was cool for the first hour but nice to see the sun rising nonetheless…

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It wasn’t long before the smuts made an appearance – not big at all but good fun all the same. Both the starry and original flavour made an appearance – three in total in fairly quick succession interspersed with a couple more pesky dogfish. Here’s a couple of the smuts…

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I rarely use a rod to catch mackerel from the kayak and just use a hand line that I attach and leave out under the kayak. Things were pretty slow on that front though but I did eventually pull up a single very small mackerel which I decided to use as a live bait to see if I could tempt a bass – it didn’t work and the live bait soon became a dead bait! Undeterred, I wasn’t going to waste the mackerel but guessed a fillet would only attract the dogfish so opted to try the head and guts and that did pay dividends when up came a 50cm bass of probably 2.5lb… dinner sorted!

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Encouraged by this I concentrated on the trying to get another mackerel on board but they were not playing ball at all with the feathers. Time was getting on by now and I had packed one rod up when the crab rod started to rattle – definitely not a smooth hound bite and it didn’t seem to be a bass bite either… irrespective, I connected but was gobsmacked to find a greedy mackerel had taken the crab! That’s a first for me without  a doubt! This one I decided to keep for another day but as it happened it ended up in the smoker tonight and damn good it was too!

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So there you have it, nice to get back out on the yak even if only for a short foray on local waters. Final fish count was four doggies, three smuts, two mackies and a bass! Hopefully, can get out a bit more over the summer and for a bit longer all being well… definitely will if this week’s weather continues. Off to Cornwall for a family break in a weeks time so that will probably be my next chance to fish though that will be back on the lures from the shore – looking forward to it though!

Until next time…

No doggie style for me!

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It’s getting to that time of year when dogfish start to make an appearance in The Solent…..and if last year is anything to go by they will be there in plague-like numbers. Like wild dogs they seem to roam in packs, eat anything thrown their way and quite frankly they become nothing but a pain in the proverbial backside. The only plus side, as I see it, is they can save a ‘blank’ session but other than that , rightly or wrongly, I consider them a pest.

It doesn’t matter what bait I try …..squid, mackerel, crab, worm – I’ve caught them on the lot. Big baits, small baits, big hooks, little hooks – makes no difference to the gluttonous dogfish. It wouldn’t be a problem if you set your stall at the start of a session to catch a dogfish but how often do you hear an angler say “I’ll be targeting the lesser spotted dogfish today?”….. hmmm…….thought not! The frustrating bit is every time you send a line down the doggies are there gobbling up your well prepared bait intended for a bass, smooth hound or ray ……….and that’s what really get’s my goat! For fish like bass you can change the method of fishing to stop the dogfish onslaught but for bottom feeders like the rays it’s difficult to discourage them from your bait.

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It wouldn’t be so bad if they put up a decent fight but a sport fish they are not – certainly when you compare them to it’s relative the feisty smooth hound which puts up one of the best fights an angler can get from a fish in UK waters…. especially from a kayak . With the dogfish they’re content to amble up to the surface and then usually curl up in a ball, just like a dog sleeping in a favourite chair, waiting for you to unhook them. The smooth hound on the other hand will put up a decent fight in the water before knocking seven bells out of you and your kit before it’s eventual surrender.

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Another problem with dogfish is rarely do they grow to any decent size, well, not the one’s I seem to catch anyway! The majority are usually up to a couple of foot long at best, in the 2-3lb bracket, and really something of nothing. Compared this to the smooth hound once again and it’s pretty poor…….after all it could be quite feasible to catch a 10lb plus smooth hound which would be a proper good fish in any anglers book.

My final piece of evidence for the prosecution is they’re not even very good to eat by all accounts. It’s a bit of a drag preparing them for the plate and there are mixed reviews at best on whether they’re actually worth the effort! Personally, I can’t say I fancy dogfish and chips for my tea.

So, there you have it, if you were in any doubt I’m not fond of the dogfish and  if anyone has any ideas on how to avoid them when bait fishing I’m all ears.

On the other hand maybe it’s my attitude to them that needs to change!

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……

A window of opportunity…

Ok, I know…. my last blog entry said I’d be talking about the kayak choices I explored before buying but as I warned you in my ‘Welcome’ spiel my blog could be a bit of a mish mash of articles and so it is! The reason being is a window of opportunity to get myself on the water presented itself on Monday and I grabbed it with both hands. It wasn’t a huge window but certainly enough time for me to make a trip to one of my local Solent haunts.

The venue I went to was Lee-on-Solent and to be more specific launching from the Elmore slipway at the southern end of the main promenade. It’s a good spot to launch with a quiet car park and a short distance to the shore.

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Launch site from the slipway

I was at the launch site at 5:30am and it was absolutely perfect conditions with no wind and the sea almost glass like – ideal for ‘yakking’.

The launch site is very shallow but approximately 300 metres out the seabed starts to drop off and deepens to roughly 6 to 7 metres. The mark I was heading to is just under a kilometre off shore where there are a couple of troughs in the seabed of around 11 metres in depth.

I’ve fished here a couple of times in the last month or so and have had limited success with an abundance of dogfish interspersed with a few smoothound pups which are now showing along this part of the coast. With only squid and mackerel as bait I wasn’t expecting anything other than these two species and neither let me down in this respect.

Soon enough I had my first bait down in idyllic conditions…

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And it wasn’t long before that first bait yielded the first fish of the day either in the form of a starry smoothound pup – no more than about the 3lb mark but a beautifully marked fish all the same. Even the pups put up a decent scrap so when the bigger one’s arrive soon it will be excellent sport on the kayak!

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Despite a couple more smaller smoothounds I’m afraid after that I was plagued with the inevitable dogfish that appear to be carpeting The Solent seabed at the moment. The greedy dogs were all too readily feasting on the mackerel and squid baits I was putting down. Here’s a couple of the offenders…

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After the tide turned even the dogfish bites slackened off to nothing and for a while I found myself just enjoying being on the water watching the world go by in peace and quiet.

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On The Solent you can see no end of different watercraft on the water from windsurfers to cruise liners but today, shattering my peace and quiet, were the army with all their kit on manoeuvres on a very noisy barge!

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This must have awoken the dogfish as well as not long after they were on the feed again and I finished off my bait with a few more. This time I thought I’d take the opportunity to picture one in the water… a small price to pay for their greedy antics!

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A pleasant morning on the water in the best conditions on The Solent I’ve experienced. I was back on dry land by 11:30am de-rigging and ready to head home… to work in the afternoon.

Until next time……