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…

Hounds in the fog…..

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A trip out on the kayak was long overdue and after keeping a close eye on the weather forecast all week it looked good for today and the time I had available this morning. In fact the forecast was for something of a scorcher so I was surprised when the alarm went off and I looked out into the darkness to see a bit of fog outside.

Nevertheless, with the scorcher forecast I thought it would burn off pretty quickly so headed out locally and on arrival got my self rigged out – the fog was thicker as you’d expect down at the waters edge but the sea was flat as a pancake so with GPS at the ready I paddled out into the early morning gloom. Visibility was about 100 metres at best in parts which made it very eerie and a bit surreal…

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It’s amazing how disorienting it can be to be honest as a couple of times I had to double check I hadn’t paddled in a circle! Certainly the GPS unit comes into it’s own in these circumstances.

The intention was to have a few hours fun with smooth hound so the only bait I took with me was crab. I wasn’t disappointed in terms of quantity – I think the final count was ten but the biggest was only around the 5lb mark and that was with just one rod out. It can get messy on the kayak smooth hound fishing with two rods especially if you get a double hook up. They are really good sport though from the original take to getting them yak side and that’s only the beginning of the fun really … you do have to make sure everything is tied down or there’s a fair to middling chance that a piece of kit could find it’s way to Davy Jones’ Locker! Even the smaller one’s are feisty – if I’m ever lucky enough to get a double on the kayak I can only imagine the pandemonium it would cause!

Action was pretty consistent with a bit of a lull as the tide turned when weed became a bit of a problem for a while. Here’s the first starry pup of the day…

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Another slightly bigger one coming yak side…

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And one on board…

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During all this time the fog hadn’t lifted one bit and at times it was surprisingly chilly given the forecast for blazing sun shine! Eventually it did though …… about the time I had to head in – typical!

I had the Waaycool hand line with me so on my way back in I put it out and managed to nab a couple of mackerel for lunch which was a bonus… really need to do a proper mackerel session soon if possible.

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So, all in all a pleasant little session and just nice to get out on the kayak again after the windy weather of late. I am working the next couple of weekends so I think my fishing opportunities will be curtailed somewhat but you never know.

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……

Sharks in The Solent!?

After about ten days of not getting the opportunity there was finally the chance to get out on the yak … if only for a short session. Recently there has been an annoying spell of stiffer south westerly winds which coupled with other commitments have curtailed my fishing opportunities so Saturday morning it was nice to wet a line in lovely calm conditions.

My pal Nobby was going to join me but let’s just say he may have been on the sauce a little longer than intended on Friday night and missed the starters gun completely!

Still, unperturbed, I was up with the larks again down to my now local haunt at Lee-on-Solent. I was set-up and ready to launch at around 4:30am with the first signs of light showing on the horizon – more predominately was one of the large ocean going liners destined for Southampton.

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I got to my spot and cracked on with the fishing  – a crab bait down on one rod, a bream rig on the other and a cheeky hand line loaded with feathers for the mackies just under the surface. Again, similar to last time, it was quite quiet to start with but then the old saying of “no buses for ages then two come at once” kicked in and let’s just say I had one of those ‘calamity moments’……

First of all the hand line which I had tucked under my leg, not leashed down I hasten to add, starts to go berserk so bringing that up I could see two mackies on, at this point the rod with the crab bait starts going for it so I grab that and the hand line gently slips from under my leg, mackerel and all attached, into the water …… I just managed to grab it whilst holding on to the other rod. Decision time…..I decide to get the hand line in as the mackies were just under the surface and I safely get them aboard the yak and despatch them into the cool bag. At this point the hand line is now on my lap, still unattached, and I attend to the other rod that is still going for it with what I suspect to be a smoothie pup …… and so it is. I get the feisty pup on the yak, nothing big, and it does what a smoothie does best – beats the hell out of everything on board and yes, you guessed it, it knocks the bloody hand line into the water! This time I can’t get to it – all I can do is look on as it unravels, floating away in the current. You really do need to leash everything down! Anyway, here’s the innocent looking culprit……

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Still, I managed a chuckle and carried on but that was the one and only smoothie which was a shame. After all that excitement the bream then started to come on the feed – nailed 4 or 5 in total all on squid strips……

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It was only a short session as I say so for the last hour I switched the bream rig for feathers and managed three more mackies, two of which I experimented with live baiting for bass but to no avail. I was nearing the end of my session and decided to chuck down a whole squid while I de-rigged the feathers and just as I’d finished doing that I had a cracking bite which I connected with and what felt like a smoothie snatch and grab but I was wrong…….

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…… a small Solent tope! Not exactly Jaws at around the 3lb – 4lb mark but a first for me so I was well chuffed. Then to top my morning off, as the tide had turned, what came floating right towards me – yep the hand line – fully intact! Picked it out of the water and paddled in after that as I had to be back by 11 a.m. When I got to the shore I got chatting with a chap who I’d seen out there in his boat and he’d also had a tope in the same weight bracket so the smaller ones must be about at this time of the year.

A pleasant session again and a few mackerel smoked for tea – delicious!

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Happy days… until next time……

Dawn raid lands bream

Some people enjoy their fishing in the evenings as the sun is heading down but for me the best time to fish is at the opposite end of the day watching the light change before the sun appears above the horizon. This is the sunrise I experienced on the water this Friday just gone – a real corker of a dawn with mist just lifting from the coast:

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I had a welcome few hours to try and stock up on some mackerel which I know were now showing and, buoyed by my last trip down to Lee-on-Solent, to try for some black bream… on one count I was successful but on the other strangely disappointed… and it’s not necessarily the way round you would think. As usual I was fishing two rods, one was set up initially with feathers and the other with a baited hokkai rig. Despite near perfect conditions and being on the water by 4:30 a.m. it was strangely quiet out there and it wasn’t for a good hour before the welcome rat-a-tat-tat bite of a bream was felt on the hokkai rig and even that I missed! Eventually I managed to hook into one though, nothing big but I had broken my duck for the day:

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After a couple more bream came aboard I up anchored and deployed the recently purchased drogue for a slow drift in the current but there was still no sign of mackerel which was strange so I reverted to anchoring up again and switched the feathers on rod two for a Pennell rig a with a whole squid on to see if there was anything a bit more decent down there that could be tempted. Within minutes I had a nice knock and connected with something a bit better which turned out to be a feisty smoothie pup that had greedily gobbled up the whole squid.

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Meanwhile, on the other rod the bream were beginning to hit the baited hokkais again at a regular rate of knots, so quick in fact were their bites that I was probably only connecting with one in three – next time I’ll try with an even smaller hooked hokkai rig I think! Still, I did manage one keeper of about 1.5lb in the end out of the ten that came aboard the yak.

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The wind got up around 10 a.m. and chopped the water up so I decided to have another few drifts with the feathers before heading in and bingo………at last I broke my mackerel duck for the day with a  solitary fish which was destined for the smoker when I got home (sorry no picture!).

My final picture on this report is of the recently acquired fishing drogue in action, and it’s something I will definitely be making good use of – really did help slow down the drift in the current – great bit of kit that I need to play with a bit more yet to get the best out of it.

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Another pleasant few hours on the water in smashing early morning conditions and good sport on light gear with the bream. The lone mackerel aside the other surprise was the lack of dogfish which made a pleasant change if I’m honest – I’ve certainly had my quota of these in the last couple of months so I can’t say I missed them on this trip.  I later learned where all the mackerel were when I got a call from my pal Nobby on his way to work who kindly informed me there were birds working huge shoals of them in close to the shore – typical eh?! Oh well…….

Might have to have a local evening session for the mackies after work this week (weather permitting) and hopefully a trip to a different venue could be on the cards in the next week or so.

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……