Friday, 31 May 2013

22/5/13 Pollox!

I've done quite a bit of fishing recently and have been a bit slack with writing up the blog-it's almost a week since this short outing and I can't actually remember that much about it which seems to suggest that it was pretty uneventful.
I do however remember picking up some moderate sized Pollack on a mackerel feather string-at one stage three at once which gave me some fun, but apart from an odd small bream on bait and naturally, a dogfish or two , as far as I can recall, that was that.
My memory is shot!! Must be an age thing.

21/5/13 The Hunt For Stingray

I don't do a great deal of beach fishing nowadays, which is a shame, as I actually really enjoy being out on the shingle but, I suppose running a sea angling boat kinda 'spoils ya' and anyway, beach fishing can be quite hard going. I'll still have a crack at surf bassing, and when the hounds arrive locally, i'll also have a go at them too, especially as It's been a long standing 'mission' of mine to get my mate Dave a decent beach hound. One other specie that fascinates me,and continues to elude me despite having a deep yearning to tangle with, is the sting ray.
Our local beaches do have some heritage with 'stingers' so I joined seasoned beach buddies Andy and Simon this evening for a session in flat calm conditions and with a healthy wrap of ragworm-classic stinger food.
Naturally ..........................we didn't hit the target-perhaps like so many other species this year, they are a little late in appearing and they are quite a rarity in any case but it was enjoyable just 'being out there' and, although my rod tips didn't move all evening, Andy and Si scratched out a few species-dogs, pout and a flattie on peeler crab.
It might take a few years to finally trap a sting ray but I'll get there in the end.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

19/5/13 A Grand Day Out

A few months ago Neil and Mick of Littlehampton charter boat 'Spirit Of Arun' fame organised an on line auction for places on a boat trip to raise money for St. Winfred's Hospice in Chichester. The event was also held in honour of Dave Roberts-a keen tope angler and regular on 'Spirit' who lost his battle with cancer as the auction was running, and spent his last days in the hospice.
I was extremely lucky to win a place on the day, and a chance to sample some of the tope fishing that 'Spirit' is famous for.I haven't actually been out on a charter boat trip for thirty years,so the whole experience was quite new to me.My fellow 'winners' included Lucas (The Doc),Martin(Hoges on WSF), Big Paul (who's all of five feet tall in his heels) and his partner in crime, and comedy, Barry (Bazza) O'leary, and the day began with a breakfast kindly supplied by the proprietor of the 'Dinky Doo Diner'-a greasy spoon of some considerable renown, and regular haunt of L.A's, that's LittlehAmpton to the uninitiated, finest charter skippers and crews.
Once aboard  the big 'Lochin' , we travelled a considerable distance to a mark that isn't even on my paper chart for the area we usually fish, and settled the anchor in a gully approximately seventy feet in depth.To begin with the fishing was lively. I took the first tope-a fish of around 40lb, quickly followed by a smaller tope to Martin, and subsequently a second, and bigger tope again to my bait. Unfortunately, the action subsided after that and the fishing became extremely difficult with just the odd dogfish taking a shine to our mackerel baits, although Mick did manage to boat a really nice smoothound of about 15lb.
Although I was naturally, thrilled with my captures, I was a little disappointed, as were Neil and Mick, that the other members of the party couldn't have shared more in the experience. That's fishing I guess.
Mid morning and we sent off a wreath, and held a minutes silence to honour Dave- a particularly poignant moment as we watched it slowly disappear on the tide.
A short move to a nearby bank in an attempt to improve the fishing was carried out in the afternoon but, to no avail. I did however,briefly connect with something sizable that 'ran' with the bait. Another tope probably but, having felt a slightly familiar 'head banging' through the braid i felt it could have just as easily been a decent bass-who knows.
Back at the port and I was awarded a terrific prize indeed for best catch of a boat rod and reel to add to my armoury, donated to the cause by Snowbee, and the day finished with a pint in the Nelson to celebrate and toast Dave.
The day,  for me, was a fascinating insight into the running of a charter angling boat with lots learned about the tope fishing potential of the area and a revisit in Jupiter is a must.
Neil and Mick both worked extremely hard to successfully give us all a thoroughly enjoyable day afloat , the banter and humour was non-stop , the company brilliant,the boat and crew mightily impressive, and we managed to raise over £1100 on the day for a very worthy cause-Dave would no doubt have wholeheartedly approved.



Friday, 17 May 2013

16/5/13 Too Soon.....

after a prolonged spell of rough weather to score on the reefs with lures. However, I had to find that out for myself really.
I took Andy along for the ride on this one , an afternoon experimental session, and his first run out in 'Jupiter'.
Starting off with jigged soft plastic lures on my newly found and favourite reef mark, there was a bit of 'fishy' presence on the finder and Andy immediately picked up a bass on the first drop which served to increase my confidence levels.
However, after that, things got more difficult.
Water clarity wasn't brilliant,and  although a couple more bass showed,along with some wrasse(ballan and cuckoo) and pollack on lures , it was hard going.
Moving to an alternative mark which i'd been kindly donated and was in need of investigation and again, it was obvious that fish were present but not interested in our plastic. I suspected bream so we anchored up and this indeed proved to be the case with three reasonably sized fish to 2lb hitting my squid baits on consecutive drops.It wasn't set to last and as the tide slowed to nothing the bites turned from bream to dogs and didn't improve when i repositioned the boat and the tide started to run off. However it was a useful exercise to scan the mark and make a few notes for future trips.
We finished up with another spot of drifting and a few more small ballans to end a pleasent afternoon in the sunshine.Not exactly blistering fishing but crew was happy with his first reasonable bass of the year which put a smile on my face.
One of the bass had regurgitated what appeared to be ragworm and i was to later find out from Neil that during periods of rough weather the bass move off the reefs and feed on open ground on ragworm and that they will return to the reef  after two or three calm days.I was a bit premature!!

15/5/13 Terrific Tench Fishing.

I decided to have another run up to the pits for a  trip this evening after work to see if i could make some progress with the tench fishing.I'd been tipped off by a youngster,  on the previous outing, that the tench fed keenly, during the lower light levels of evening, and that his Mum,a pit regular, had once taken a nine pounder from the water.
Armed with only a pint of red maggots the usual two rod feeder tactics were employed targetting  seperate emerging lily pads about fifteen yards apart in the swim.
Within minutes of the first cast settling I'd had a run and a (4-13) was in the net.Shortly after, another run followed and ,whilst fish number two(5-08) was still in the net awaiting unhooking , the other rod almost leapt of the pod caused by another blistering run(4-08).This gave me the rare opportunity to get the 'double' shot in the photograph.
The action was hectic for a couple of hours with ten takes in all, eight landed, and two that managed to slip the hook.The bailiff's ticket was used as the scorecard to put together my most impressive tench haul ever including two more 'fives'.
Prize of the evening however was the biggest at 7lb 15oz accurately weighed on my new set of digital scales. A lovely fish that smashed my previous Burton Mill personal best fish by almost two pounds and managed ,during the fight, to temporarily snag me in both lily pads in the swim.As the temperature dropped the feeding spell  abated a little but, by then, i used up my pint of reds anyway.
According to Owen the bailiff, several of the pits in the complex have produced double figure tench  so, you never know, that p.b might have a limited shelf life.
Actually my previous P.B was a fish of 6-03 from Burton Mill but caught in January 2008 on a sardine!!!!! whilst pike fishing.It wasn't alone either as another similar fish took a liking to my pike deadbait on the same day. Centre pic below.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

10/5/13 tinca tinca

Although my angling career started in coarse fishing, mostly on the River Thames and Surrey lakes, I rarely, pike fishing excepted, fish in freshwater nowadays. But with strong winds preventing me from getting afloat and wanting to wet a line, it was the right time of year to have a tench 'bash'.
Chichester Lakeside complex is a very old collection of gravel pits that i visited for the first time in the mid 1970's as a spotty teenager.  It's changed character somewhat over the years from its heyday as a very pleasant coarse and trout fishing venue, descending in the late nineties and 'noughties' to a litter strewn dump and finally coming full circle in recent years and recovering something of its former status as a quality coarse fishery.
Nowadays the spring fed pits are sympathetically managed and bear little resemblance to the heavily stocked 'commercial' fisheries that have become so popular in the coarse angling world.
The trout lake-'Peckham's Copse', is long gone and most of the waters are now inhabited throughout the year by bivvy dwelling carp anglers however, some of the pits, those left alone by carpers and relatively lightly fished, are now recognised as some of the best tench waters in the south of England, particularly with the 'Tenchfishers' society, and have double figure plus specimens present.
Whatever, they are very pleasant lakes to fish and for me,  as 'natural' a still water environment to be found in this part of the country.
Last year i had some success on Deep Lake so decided to return again for a few hours this afternoon to commence this year's spring campaign .It still feels strange , after all these years, to be fishing for coarse fish outside of the traditional season but, those in the know tell me that spring is the best time for these tench and once they start to spawn, usually sometime in June, the prime sport has passed by.
Tactics were simply semi-bolt maggot feeders with a short hook length, size 12 hook with two red or whites as hook bait and an imitation maggot to make the hook rig neutrally buoyant.  Scientific stuff but, its actually very simple and works a treat especially as there appears to be few small silver fish present. Emerging lily beds were targeted with the feeders, refills going out every twenty or so minutes.
Things were quiet at first but as the afternoon light faded slightly, the swims switched on, though with very few 'liners' to give away fishes' presence. I landed three tench, 4-00,4-06, and 5-08.A couple more slipped the hook, one broke a hook!, and a scale perfect common carp of about 10lb also let go at the net, but not after I'd got a good look at him in the gin clear water.
I chose to use a 15lb fine braid mainline and this proved to be a wise choice as , modest in size these tench may be, they still have the ability to fight hard, and all took me straight into nearby snags-hence the multiple losses. A double figure fish would be interesting.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

7/5/13..Lure Only

I took my mate 'Bass Junkie' Pete out with me in Jupiter this evening for a long talked about, but never before realised 'lure only' run .
Pete's currently 'boatless' having recently sold his trusty Regis, he is awaiting delivery of a newly designed Orkney which should broaden his horizons on the fishing front.I've had a sneaky look at it behiond the Orkney factory gates and it certainly looks the part.
Pete's a plastic guru, very skilled in their use and does very well with catches on his own local patch which he knows like the back of his hand.
However, I wanted to see what he thought of one of my own recent finds so called the shots when it came to choice of venue.
The river bar has recently been dredged causing a considerable drop in water level at low tide and providing the marina staff with plenty of dredging to get the inner pontoons floating again at a safe angle.My boat has been moved to an outer pontoon in the process which I'm not complaining about.
It'll take a bit of getting used to the new river level and this evening I gingerly crawled across the 'bar' at a snails pace despite our chosen departure being well within the time limits.
I needn't have worried, there was enough water but i had to be sure.
On reaching the mark it didn't take long to find fishy movement on the screen, and it was reassuring to hear Pete's interpretation of the information was similar to my own. Confirmation that I'm beginning to learn how to use the equipment properly.Pete's sounder is identical to mine.A couple of 'new' lumps revealed themselves during the session and i was rather flattered when Pete excitedly copied the numbers into his mobile phone.
Jigged soft plastic baits was the chosen method and it was very interesting to see how delicately Pete works his lures.I picked up some really useful information on patterns and rigging and on an evening like this, when you had to work for your fish, it paid dividends,
As well as plenty of attention from cuckoo wrasse, some of which were boated, we had good sport with about a dozen plus ballan wrasse around the 2lb mark including a nice 4-04 to my Fiiish Minnow.Pete also pulled up a small pollack .
We're both convinced bass were present, although nothing like the numbers as on my previous trips. A mass of 'green' momentarily showed but perhaps they just didn't want to know . As darkness approached we had to call it a night as there were more than enough pot lines out on the route home to be an issue.
An excellent couple of hours fishing.
A day later I was to learn that on both these last two trips I had very likely been within yards of  that same bass shoal that gave me such great sport last week.Of course, I'll never really know as the sea is not a small place. The learning process continues but MASSIVE thanks must go out to Pete and others(you know who you are) who are helping me build up an intricate picture of the reef marks that we fish.I WILL find those bass again.

Monday, 6 May 2013

6/5/13 The Pig Farm

 New P.B at 5lb 8oz on S.P lure.

  • Another run out with Dave and brimming with confidence from the last bass trip I headed straight for the same mark and disappointingly there wasn't a bass to be found, in fact there was very little at all showing on the sounder in the vicinity.Despite persevering for some considerable time with the drifts, i felt i needed to get some fish for Dave so taking another gamble, we anchored up just off the mark and sent baits solitary dogfish!!!
  • Brian meanwhile, had been picking up a few bream on the Kingmere amongst probably every other boat from the port that was out on the bank holiday.I decided on a move to join in, just to pick up a fish or two but , couldn't resist a final scan back on the reef before we left.
  • Bits and pieces of 'green 'were showing and before long a 2lb ballan had taken a shine to my Fiiish Black Minnow. Two more quickly followed on the same lure including the above stunner at 5-08 which is a p.b for me .
  • Hindsight has taught me that i should have remained on the mark and continued with my search but instead we motored over to the rest of the fleet and at anchor, picked up a bream for Dave to take home for tea,dogs,and a couple of spotted rays to save the day.
  • I've now decided that i rather enjoy the vertical soft plastic fishing and that the ballans are a worthy fish to target and there are some fine specimens on our local reefs.Interesting fish these.They are hermaphrodites born as females, changing sex after about seven years and very long lived indeed. Mine could well have been in his early twenties.


    Saturday, 4 May 2013

    2/5/13 Hitting The Bass..........Hard.............On Soft.

    I managed to get away from work at ten past five, and by six my Fiiish Black Minnow lure was sinking through the depths- the Warrior speeding me to the mark very quickly.Although the tide was still flooding at the pontoon, 'out there' it had already begun its ebb.
    With water temperatures over the magic 10 celcius(check out the sounder) there just had to be bass about.Last year I had a double in early April.
    Some gannets were milling around the locality so, thinking they must be there for a reason, i decided to use them as a target.
    The first few drifts were quiet and then suddenly a mass of green with squiggly bits around the edges, appeared on the sounder and the action began-the first bass of the year-the modestly sized one in the middle pic.......and then along came another.......and another......and another....almost a fish a drop.
    Drift speed was no more than half a knot and the shoal showed up for only a few minutes I assume being extremely tightly packed.Once the 'green had gone, the bites stopped immediately.
    By altering the drifts laterally and giving the shoal what i judged to be a wide berth on each return run,i managed to stay in touch with them but it all took a bit of tweaking.A couple of times I lost them and it would be very easy to be deceived into thinking that no fish were about.Luckily i was the only boat for miles and i'm convinced this helped as there was minimal disturbance.
    Each time the 'green ' was relocated it was hectic fishing with sometimes two or three fish per run through.
    In the end i had 28 bass in exactly two hours,most sub 3lb but with half a dozen in the 5lb range and three exceptional fish of 7-02, 8-04, 8-06.I think these better fish were caught on the edge of the shoal and they certainly gave a terrific scrap on the light baitcaster outfit which is perfect for this kind of fishing. I didn't want to waste time setting up self take photos so the deck shots had to do and ALL the bass went back safe and sound.
    In one of the bass' mouth I spied a 4 inch sprat so the Minnow certainly matched the hatch and was very effective with its shrouded hook. That said i did try out a white stinger and , although it worked, i felt the Minnow was better.
    Two very plump mackerel (also with sprat inside)took the lures and these were taken for the evening meal.
    I still had the shoal within range when I had to call it a day at 8pm and could have carried on. The minnow body was mullered with all the action and had lost its tail-probably to a wrasse.
    Fantastic fishing and probably the best inshore boat session i've had so far.Will i be able to find them again I wonder.

    30/4/13 .Boating With Dave.

    Once again , taking advantage of an, all too rare of late,window in the weather,I took Dave out in the boat with me today.
    We could have tried for the plaice and there have been a few, very few,bream showing on the reefs but i wanted to try for something a bit more exiting....bass on livebaits.
    We started at #6 feathering and sabikiing for bait.First take was for me,a garfish -a welcome spring sight. Apart from that we only managed to attract small pout but, in the bait tank they went.
    I then proceeded to show Dave how the float livebait method worked.........or indeed,didn't work.We failed to attract any bass at all. If they were there, then i'm sure we'd have made contact.
    we thoroughly drifted the whole reef but to no avail and i decided that a run to the 'smoothound bank'with baits at anchor would be worth a go.
    Doggies, some of a reasonable size were the only willing takers so it may be a little too early for the hounds to show.
    Finally we visited #9 to try drifting with soft plastic baits.A very plump and hard tugging wrasse of a couple of pounds saved the day for me and Dave nicked a small pollack before we decided that the sea was bumpy enough to call it a day.
    Running home in the building sea we heard Dick on Lynander telling Steve over the radio that his battery had gone flat and that his jump pack was in his truck back at port. I stepped in to offer some assistance by running home and picking up Dick's jump pack, though it was a very bumpy return ride out. Nice to be able to return a favour though!

    March/April....Lean times.

    Apologies to regular readers (who am i kidding) but i've rather neglected the blog of late.Actually, my fishing has not been  particularly successful and not for the want of trying.
    On the pike scene, i had two or three more trips to one of my regular spots(one in March snow!) and , apart from a couple of smallish pike, caught very little of note.
    Piking buddy Dave had better results on seperate trips with a new p.b from our favourite stretch of 27lb-a superb pike.Still on to the subject of coarse fishing i had a totally unproductive day trying to catch perch from a local commercial fishery-bit too crowded for comfort for me this one but at least i was fishing.
    On the boat fishing front, I had a couple of trips east  to Shoreham marks chasing plaice,one of which produced a few fish but could have been better had i moved slightly further south where one of our local charters was doing better.The other outing, in a horrible easterly wind actually resulted in a complete blank and the consumption of a full tank of fuel for about an hours fishing.Thankfully, complete blanks are rare in the boat.
    I took my mate Brian, a neighbour at the marina, on a wrecking trip on a day when the weather co-operated and, although it was extremely enjoyable and interesting scanning and drifting various medium distance wrecks, apart from a few plump pouting only one fairly decent pollack turned up to Brian's lure.
    A few boats , mostly charter, were having some success with local plaice and, when i eventually stumbled across the mark discovered it was an old favourite of mine at #13. I had no idea of the marks heritage as a plaice venue and learned later that it had been trawled in recent years and only just returned to its former potential.I had one fairly successful outing,but generally missed most of the action due to being unable to get out on the better weather days . My biggest mistake was turning back one day due to a bumpy sea, which soon turned to a flat calm. By then i was back home in my living room,watching the conditions improve by the minute.
    Generally the weather conditions have been 'difficult' and with lower than average sea temperatures, the species are turning. up a little later than usual this year.
    So although the fishing has been rather lacklustre, i haven't been idol.As well as being allowed by SWMBO to convert the spare bedroom into my fishing room, I've been furthering my research into the possibility of catching a shark from my own boat.
    I had a very productive meet with Wayne Comben-captor of probably the biggest ever porbeagle shark caught from British waters , and taken last year from a 17ft Wilson Flyer belonging to Graeme Pullen. Wayne and I have agreed to do some fishing together this season, possibly an attempt at some local shark.
    I also had a short trip out from Ilfracombe in a 27ft boat owned by mate Nick (Mr. Pix on WSF) . Nick was kind enough to show me some local marks and we also looked at the prospects of a run down the coast to some shark marks in North Cornwall.
    One minor glitch with 'Jupiter' has been a split fuel line caused by some pretty bad design and routing under the Suzuki engine cowling. Luckily i spotted the problem at the pontoon but had to drag her out on to dry land to remedy the situation safely with a completely new, and more robust fuel line fitted. I could have kicked up a fuss with Suzuki or indeed Warrior as its all warrantied but to be honest, i couldn't be bothered and just wanted the boat back in and working as soon as possible.
    At least it gave me the valuable opportunity to familiarise myself with my engine.It was an easy fix but I'll be keeping a close eye on that fuel line in the future.