Sunday, 31 July 2011

31/7/11 Big Ray..........#5

Alex  inspired me by taking a few good bass on simple mackerel fillet and head baits yesterday breaking the trend of generally lean fishing recently. I've promised him that I won't publicise the location, so it'll simply be known as #5.....which is how it's labelled on my chart at home......not that it makes much difference to me as I didn't get a sniff of a bass here, today.
It was to be a carefully orchestrated trip maximising the time I had available. Off the mooring at 1030, catch some bait, anchor up just as the ebb sets in at 1130 , fish the tide down(the optimum time) for four hours until 1530, nip in, nip home, and nip to work.
On the way out Steve, with Ann and Lauren aboard was at the slipway with his boat for its Inaugural trip out to sea.
With the big tide the water in the channel was a bit 'chaotic' to say the least, so I agreed to lead him out, and meet him just west of the entrance whereupon his engine died. Not wishing to leave my mate alone I kept him company, towed him out a few times to prevent him from ending up on Clymping beach, and spent an hour or so with him until he eventually managed to fire up the engine. The cause of malfunction?....dirt in the float bowl.
I then led Steve back to the slipway and safety and returning to the open ocean eventually dropped my feathers around midday struggling to actually find any bait at all. Half an hour , and half a dozen mackerel later I was finally anchored up in the middle of the reef.
One sail away bite on the big circle resulted in an empty hook, three dogfish on both mackerel fillet and head ,pouting,and a move to the down tide edge of the reef ensued which quickly resulted in the anchor losing it's hold........Not my best session so far.
I moved back on to the reef proper with half and hours fishing time left and then the light rod baited with mackerel head on a 6/0 nodded  and up came this big undulate at 15 1/2lb to literally save the day at last knockings.
The ray, and a phone call from Andy delayed me just enough to miss the mooring so I sneaked it on to a 'full time' spot and cleared it with Darren at the marina before just making it home in time to go to 'the office'.
The bass will have to wait.

28/7/11 A Mixed Bag..... Half Way....The Stick

Fishing from my little boat is a seriously enjoyable experience even if sometimes, the fishing isn't that productive. Just 'being out there' is fun and there is a huge amount to learn with endless variables of tide, weather ,sea state, time of year etc etc.
The recent calm weather has meant that there have been ample opportunities to go out, but the small tides and lack of water movement have resulted in some pretty lean fishing. Everyone I speak to seems to be in the same boat. I've also  learned, that things generally slow down a bit at this time of year, though recent news from Alex may prove this to be incorrect if you know where to go.
The problem with owning the boat is however, that other fishing is not really firing me up at the moment. I had a quick mullet session yesterday but my heart wasn't really in it although Andy, fishing separately, did bag a couple of fish. I'm sure the enthusiasm for mullet will return but , at the moment, the 'novelty' of the boat doesn't appear to be waning.
I've just fitted a second battery and switch mechanism to power the live bait tank, and night electrics separately.
This will give me the confidence to use all this gear without the nagging feeling that the battery will not restart the main engine. I'd intended to complete the installation yesterday, but a faulty switch meant a return journey to Force 4 this morning, and I didn't finish wiring up until midday when I took it out to sea to test everything was working properly....which it was. The only downside being that the weight of the second leisure battery slows the boat by a knot or two....we'll see how it goes.
I had rods, bait and scram with me so decided to spend the rest of the day fishing anyway.
First stop was Half Way where three pack tope showed up on mackerel heads and squid, and small bream demolished squid baits in seconds although one nice two pounder was taken for the pot. New acquaintance Tom, in Pilot House 'Dragons' was also in the area and fared similarly.
Jan had texted me that she was out in her kayak so I decided to motor in to see her, passing Neil half a mile south of 'The Stick' on the way  for a quick chat. He was doing well with general mixed specie fishing and seemed pleased with his results, so I planned to return to the general area later on.

A couple of quick snaps of the Missus on the yak , and I headed out again to Charlie's where i was literally mullered by tiny bream.I can't say I didn't enjoy catching the little devils but a few dogfish and a nice smoothound were also very welcome.
A last move to fish into the evening was made south of the Stick to 'Neil's ground' and I contented myself once again with an endless stream of small bream until the light began to fade and I returned to the mooring at about nine p.m.............the van being the last vehicle in the marina car park.

Friday, 29 July 2011

25/7/11 Eastborough!

As the tides were very small today, I decided to travel down to the Eastborough Bank in search of tope.Mackerel are now showing everywhere and it was easy to quickly pick up enough bait but the same cannot be said for the target specie,or indeed any other specie for that matter.
Listening to the other boats, it would appear that it was the same story everywhere, although i did hear of a small boat that was anchored up taking plaice through the day.
I saw Neil drifting in the distance so decided to pop over for a chat which resulted in being invited to join him at a mark on the west edge of the bank.I did pick up a doggie here ' and appreciated the help, but it was a tough day all round.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

19/7/11 Slow Fishing-Half Way

I suppose it had to happen sometime. Fishing in the new boat has, so far, been quite successful with plenty of action on each trip out, but today was a  little different.
 I took Andy out with the intention of getting him a tope from the Half Way Mark.On arrival we drifted for a mile and stocked up with some nice mackerel before returning to the mark to anchor up.
Disappointingly,the fishing was very slow .Only one small tope each was caught and ,apart from a few tentative bites, that was that.The weather again, was not quite as forecast,and initial calm conditions gave way to a building wind and some light rain.
I think I've given this mark a fair crack and it might be time to move on to other things.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

17/7/11 Mulletting With Dave.


Got together with Dave today for a mullet session at the Tesco's stretch. I arrived just as the tide was beginning to flood and, in extremely windy conditions, It was impossible to spot any fish to target. Dave joined me and after a quick try on the lower flats we both decided to seek a bit of shelter, and fish the upper area.
We sat down , chatted and consumed a box of Bakewells whilst waiting for the tide to fill in the corner, then eventually decided to give it a go for a few minutes as the weather conditions hadn't really improved.
Dave scored the only fish- a beautifully conditioned three pounder and minutes later we'd had enough and called it a day. Nice one mate.

Friday, 15 July 2011

15/7/11 Chasing Tope...Half Way Mark...and....Happy Birthday Blog.

0900-1400  HW 1226
I'm trying hard to get another big tope at the moment and returned today to the half way mark for another go.Spur of the moment decision to go as the forecast for the next few days is not looking good so I thought I'd better make the most of it.
I wasted too much time trying to catch mackerel at three marks on the way out , as there were plenty at the final destination.Didn't get to fish much of the flood before the tide turned and faced me into an increasing wind making things more and more uncomfortable.
I did catch plenty of pack tope, a solitary bream which took a strip on the light rod, and a couple of flicks with the baitcaster loaded with a 40g Dexter produced a nice mackerel which I had for lunch.The small tope are voracious feeders and seem to be quite common on several marks at the moment.Quite how you can select the larger specimens is beyond me. I'm using a huge bait-half mackerel flapper, on a huge hook, and I'm still bringing up the little devils pretty much every drop.
Eventually the wind did get the better of me so I called it a day, though I probably left it a little too late as the trip home was quite rough.
Changing tack a little,the blog is now one year old-Happy Birthday Blog!!
Looking back over the year,I was surprised to learn that I'd actually fished on 116 days, roughly one-in -three and I'm not sure whether to feel guilty, or pleased.Guess I should just feel privileged.
As is the norm with fishing, particularly for 'wild' fish there have been many ups and downs.Sometimes the going has been tough-the long series of pike blanks immediately spring to mind, the torture that was the Broads trip,and the failure to get a river carp, but there have also been some distinctly 'above average' moments.The double figure surf bass last autumn, January's mid 'twenty' pike,and more recently ,the first 'proper' tope I've ever caught-definitely the highlight of my Inshore boat fishing thus far.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

11/7/11 Small Tope and Big Rays.....Eastborough Bank, Half Way Mark.

I've been wanting to do a return visit to Eastborough bank for some time and with the tides being small, and a full day of light winds forecasted today was my chance. A smaller tide is preferable here because of the shallow 35ft of water depth over the bank. Surrounding areas go down to 50ft. A few boats were drifting in the distance, and one or two were anchored up with me on the bank but the fishing , with mackerel flappers targeting tope, was generally pretty slow. Only two pack tope showed up but I also had a 12lb undulate, and a small 5lb small eyed ray, but surprisingly no lesser species, and no nipping bites.
Alex was out too and intending to head for the half way mark as I'd given him the numbers. He called me on the phone around midday and I decided to make the five mile trek east and join him for the afternoon.
Plenty of mackerel were showing to feathers when I arrived on the drift , and also a new specie for the boat in the shape of this pretty little gurnard taken hard on the bottom on the lowest feather.
Anchoring up, things were quiet until the tide started to flood and then I had a succession of pack tope (eight), most in the 7-10lb range with maybe a couple of doubles and this little critter of about a 1lb. Even sharks can look cute.
By 5p.m I'd run out of  bait , but a big mackerel picked up my last lask on a retrieve so his front end went back down on the circle hook and produced this nice 14 1/2lb undulate, whilst the rear end was taken home to eat.
I packed up around six leaving Alex and crew still out there enjoying the evening sun whilst I headed for home. Alex later reported a similar catch to mine- a mix of tope and big undulates. As usual everything apart from the mackerel went back.
No more of the, hoped for, big tope but, this is a good mark and I will return here a few more times before the end of the season regardless of the size of the tide. The Eastborough Bank did prove a little disappointing but is worth more investigation especially as It's one of Neil's favoured areas.
Food for thought-A couple of decent conger were taken on a night trip out in a small boat to Waldrens by Andy's mate Phil on the same evening..........................

0900-1800  HW 0820 4.7m

9/7/11 Another Carp Blank.

Two days of pre-baiting with 8kg Vitalin couldn't produce a daylight run for Dave and Me on the third day on the Adur upstream of Bramber...but it was worth a try. Still at the drawing board stage with these tidal river carp.

7/7/11 Bass Popping

One of my ambitions this summer is to get a bass from the river on a surface lure. Joined Andy and his mate Phil up at Ford for a try this evening but unfortunately, no takes for me although Andy did get a two pounder at last knockings. He's been getting one or two on the method recently which is giving me the confidence to keep trying so won't be long.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

3/7/11...A Proper Tope....Half Way Mark.

HW 1339  5.8m

Every now and again in fishing, something really special turns up.
Roger is another very friendly and helpful boat owner at the marina and it was his recommendation that I try an area which shall be known as 'Half Way' mark. Interestingly, he sold it as a hound mark but did mention that if mackerel were available, a tope or two might happen along.
No numbers were provided and it was just a case of checking the chart out at home, and getting a rough idea of where to put the boat on the plotter.
I got the fresh mackerel I needed on the way out, but it took three stops and 50ft of water to find them. Everybody seems to be in the same boat regarding catching mackerel at the moment as they're proving tricky to locate.
Tide was still pretty slack when I arrived at the mark and the sounder showed nothing of any interest just 65ft of depth and a flat, featureless sea bed so I randomly dropped the pin. Mackerel flapper barbless10/0 circle to 200lb mono trace on the heavy, and whole squid 2/0 on the light and within minutes of getting myself sorted and before I'd even had time for a coffee, off went the ratchet on the mackerel and up came a double figure tope. Good start.
Next drop the mackerel kicked off again and up came another pack tope and, just as I was unhooking the fish(in the boat this time), the squid bait tore off way up tide causing mayhem.
Once I'd sorted the third tope out I binned the second rod and stuck to the light outfit but with the mackerel rig. Three more tope came up , but with the tide increasing in strength, more lead was needed and eventually it took 10oz of lead to hold bottom and a switch to the heavy outfit. One missed take saw fit to chase the retrieved mackerel all the way up to the boat before peeling off at the last moment. I wonder if these fish can be taken on lures
Things quietened down a bit so, I occupied myself with a bit of much needed tackle tidying , general boat sorting, and relaxing enjoying the sun and just 'being out there'. There was plenty to watch however, as a procession of yachts sailed past, and an inconsiderate pillock in a dive boat ploughed right over my baits. Why do they do that!
Eventually the ratchet on the 7001 screamed into action and I tightened up, this time, to something a bit special which kept on running south even under quite heavy drag pressure. An exiting 20 minute fight ensued hampered no-end by the speed of the tide. A sailing yacht came close to get a better look at proceedings, gesturing with a questioning arm stretch to which, at that time, I had no reply as I'd not yet seen the fish.

 Thank goodness I only had one rod out as the tope took me all over the shop before I managed  finally to steer her alongside, get a rough measurement, and take a couple of one handed snaps.
Stupidly I hadn't previously got my gloves ready , but the trace is thick soft stuff so grabbing it with one hand, slackening off the reel drag in case the inevitable happened, I managed to cleanly T-bar the fish free in one swift movement and watch her disappear into the depths. Classic fishing moment-my first 'proper' tope to the boat and, at 150cm length ,snout to fork ,a fish of about 35lb.
To give some idea of the size of her mouth, that circle hook has a gape of about 4cm.
Another couple of pack fish came up later bringing the total to nine for the trip and no other species showing up at all.
Every fish bar one, was unhooked at the side of the boat with the big T-bar and this is how I'm going to continue to deal with these tope for the sake of their health, and mine. Of course it would be nice to accurately weigh the big ones but, It's not that important to me, and a rough idea of their length will suffice.
The circle hooks continue to work well when I remember not to strike and instead, gently tighten up. I did miss a couple of takes but I suspect that they were pack fish mouthing the bait as they didn't develop into proper runs.

2/7/11...Hounds Save The Day...Shelley,Luff Bu, Waldrens, Charlie's.

I really gave the boat the runaround today searching, sounding and trying to familiarise myself with marks that I've not yet visited in my travels. First stop was Shelley Rocks where a couple of Orkney Spinners were fishing around loads of pot markers and a small commercial. Plenty of small pollack and a few mackerel took the feathers and it was interesting to see this shallow , rugged reef on the sounder. If it hadn't have been so crowded I might have stayed but i've a feeling a revisit with either plugs, or drifted live mackerel, would be worth a go.
Eavesdropping on one of the 'spinners' in conversation, I did hear mention of a 12lb bass. Could it have come from here, I wonder.
Moving west to Luff Bu I set up the keepnet for the mackerel that I'd boxed up from Shelley. It all seemed to work quite well until the tide picked up causing the net to drag too much almost tearing it apart. The mackerel stayed healthy and it was worth a crack, but I think a tank is the only answer and I've got enough space on deck if I'm going solo. Two up might be a different matter.
Things were pretty quiet, think I had a doggie, and it was the same when I moved to Waldrens-no takers to the live mackerel.Listening to the other boats on channel 8 revealed a similar situation -nobody was getting much.
In the end I decided on a move back east to Charlie's to fish for smoothound as quite a few have been showing up locally on the beaches. Being so close to shore the weed was a real nuisance and the whole squid were being ripped apart by what I later found out were tiny bream, having tested the water with a size 4 double pat to find out who the culprits were. See the pesky critters in the picture. They're capable of destroying a whole squid in seconds.
Two good sized (double figure)hounds did prevail, and another lost, to save the day on squid, along with the Inevitable dogfish just to pass time . I love hounds, especially from the boat where, with all that free space, they fight like tigers even on the heavy outfit.

Friday, 1 July 2011

30/6/11 Bumpety Bump--East Ditch

Bit of a short report on this one as there's not really much I can say. Tried live mackerel on the ditch but without success . I did get a nice bream on a small bait, and lost a fish that could possibly have been a bass, as it felt just like Tuesday's fish, but that was that. The wind really picked up (18mph)sooner than I expected, and I had to head back home in a very lumpy sea(wind over tide).
I probably should have studied 'windguru' in a bit more detail as the strengthening winds were forecast.