Sunday, 31 May 2015

30/5/15 Jim's First Undie.

The annual local shingle sting ray hunt begins......none of the intended target showed but a cracking first ever undulate ray of 11lb 6oz for my mate Jim Cambell-well done dude.
Hopefully this year it will be my turn to catch a shore sting ray but at the moment, the weather has not been co-operating with the tides. Ideally, we need calmish weather and a warm day combined with an evening high water. There's still time!
Simon also joined us on this 'bash' and I enjoyed the fishing, more for the company, than the catching. I blanked!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

29/5/15 Perch and Eels

One of the freshwater venues Dave and me have been fishing recently has a bit of heritage with big perch and eels. Dave's already had a very decent sized perch from one of the lakes and it would appear, from digging around on the internet, that more could be present.
I elected to fish three methods today-two  feeder rigs with worm and prawn baits respectively and a dual purpose float outfit which would be pressed into action catching small roach and rudd, subsequently to be used as bait themselves.
Both the feeder rod baits produced a modest sized eel on each and it was excellent to watch Dave, who is a bit of an expert when it comes to handling our wriggly friends, calm the eels down so they remained still enough for a picture.
The live bait were easy enough to catch as the lake seems to literally teem with fry and I managed to convert two of these into small perch of around a pound each. Not big fish at all but catching them using this 'traditional' method was a first for me and something I shall be pursuing further in the future.

27/5/15 More Tope

Dave joined me for this one and with a 4.3m tide, which is comparatively tiny, a perfect scenario for  tope fishing. We caught twenty one tope between us mostly 'teen' fish  with the odd 'twenty  plusser' thrown in but, no monsters.
I did learn however from Neil (Spirit Of Arun) that some big tope over 60lb had been taken on previous trips by regular charter visitors and Neil himself had taken some good fish today also.
The diminutive size of the tide made a huge difference to the fishing and we rarely needed to exceed a pound of weight to keep the bait on the sea bed when fishing down tide.
 I also wanted to experiment with some up tide fishing using 7oz casting weights with big fixed wires. This proved to be equally successful though I'm unsure as to whether it gives that much of an advantage over the more direct contact afforded when fishing down tide apart from being able to use a lighter weight rod, 20lb instead of 30.
A few days ago, following a recommendation from Mick (S-O-A),  I purchased an underwater camera that could be attached to end tackle and sent down to the sea bed. I managed to successfully film a tope taking the bait and several interesting facts appeared in the footage.
Firstly, I was very surprised by the quantity of 'debris' on the sea floor at this particular mark. It was literally littered with shells, both empty and occupied, and other life forms such as starfish.
Also, despite being 100ft in depth, It was obvious that the current was still having a measured effect moving the end gear around quite considerably, and water clarity was reasonable . The camera automatically adjusts  to light levels and on this particular occasion about 10ft from the lens was clearly visible.
As can be seen in the footage, the tope drops the bait shortly after picking it up and moving with it. I suspect that this translates to what is felt as a 'bite' at the surface but its also interesting to see the tope actually chasing the moving bait before finally being hooked.
Hopefully I will be able to film more different species in the future and it will certainly provide some fascinating footage.


25/5/15-Two P.Bs For Simon.

Simon always seems to bring  good luck with him when he boards 'Jupiter' and I don't think we've ever had a trip together without catching some decent fish.
Today's initial target was tope and, with a combination of small tide and good weather forecast, the long run to the eastern solent marks was undertaken.
The tope were indeed in feeding mode and it took very little time at all to get a take-about a minute in fact. We caught steadily through the remainder of the ebbing tide bagging a dozen decent tope in total-Simon catching this new personal best fish of 41lb.


They were joined by the odd dogfish and thornback ray but things did slow down a little as the tide slackened.
Contrary to the weather forecast, the wind speed increased somewhat and, combined with a tide flow going in the same direction my anchor continually dragged making fishing the 100ft mark all but impossible.
I tried several times to reset the anchor but, with little success and it appeared that several other nearby boats were experiencing the same problem so we decided to cut the tope fishing short and try for something else.
Eventually we found some shelter on a shallow reef mark but having wasted a considerable amount of time ,by now the effect of the small flood tide had waned and we were left very much in 'dead' water catching pouting in the increasingly rough sea.
Anyone else but Simon would have been happy to 'throw in the towel' but when I suggested that the fishing would possibly improve when the tide started to move again, I could obviously see that there was no way this guy was going to give in. I was happy to continue so, continue we did.
Sure enough as soon as the ebb kicked into gear the bream, which with past experience happen to be rather good bream on this mark, also slipped into gear.
We took a dozen decent sized fish with bests of 3-10 to me, and 3-14 to Simon ...another personal best fish for my crew.
The feeding spell was however, quite short, and as soon as the initial surge of the tide lessened , which is a characteristic of this mark, the bream appeared to disappear!
No matter, we'd had an excellent trip  and by sticking it out and not giving in had amassed a good catch of fish.
As a footnote to this piece as I write, I've just learned that Simon, who is an excellent shore angler, has landed his third P.B in a week by catching a 13lb 1oz bass. Well done that man!
3lb 14oz male.

3lb 10oz female.

23/5/15 Experimentation

An invitation today from my good mate Brian Norman to join him on his Orkney Fastliner 19 'Marruig'
The (loose) plan for the trip was basically to experiment on a series of marks both with lures and bait.
First stop was on a reef #2 where our lures picked up a succession of ballan, and colourful cuckoo wrasse along with some black bream on 'herring' sabikis.


We seem to be finding some alternative methods of late for snagging these bream and its making for some entertaining fishing.
Next in line was to anchor up on a wreck # 15 and fish for conger with bait but, shortly after settling, the a pair charmless 'nerks' in a dive boat arrived and proceeded to 'bully' us  so ,we elected to move another wreck.
 Being a bank holiday the channel was rather busy, at least it was where we were because much to our amusement (read frustration but, you've got  to laugh sometimes), another dive boat turned up on the 'new' wreck.
 It was obvious that they were going to proceed with their dive and I suspect that they actually have little idea of how their actions would effect our fishing so in the end, we decided to give up the idea of wreck 'congering' and move somewhere a bit more peaceful.
To be fair, they had a little more manners than the characters we'd met on the previous wreck but it seems that there is no 'first come' rule at sea. We 'd also managed to accidentally cross a pot line (unmarked) with our anchor, but the commercial crew who were hauling their gear and discovered this didn't seem to think it was much of a problem and were indeed very friendly and helpful in sorting out the situation.
Actually the divers did us a favour because we ended exploring a mark neither of us had fished before #17 but one that I'd made a note of when first starting out in this boat fishing 'game'.
The small reef produced a succession of wrasse to our 'soft plastics' along with a couple of small  bass and I suspect that it will be well worth a revisit when the bass are more 'up for it'.
Finally a last point of call was to an old favourite mark #9 where, along with a handful of good wrasse, Brian 's lure was seized by this seven pound bass to finish the day on a 'high note'.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

15 and 17/5/15.. Difficult Fishing.

Bass have recently been relatively easy to find often showing up in quite large shoals although, they still need some serious searching to find them. Al joined me on Friday and the plan was to catch some live pouting for bait over slack water, then drift the ebb tide on the same mark, one of our large well known reefs, for bass.
The pouting were easy........the bass much less so. In fact we couldn't find a single fish to take our baits despite continually drifting and searching. A few small bass to 2lb were found on lures, along with some wrasse, but the target fish remained elusive.
As the winds built making drifting a little uncomfortable, I elected to anchor up on the same reef and we fished for bream with bait taking some nice fish on the remainder of the ebb in the process.

The flood tide produced far less action, although the obligatory dogfish put in an appearance.
Rather annoyingly, I managed to leave my superb  grapnel that 'Stainless Steve Engineering' had made for me about four years ago, on the sea bed. The cause was a frayed  rope which had probably got wrapped around a rock due to the boats motion in the, quite rough, conditions.
Needless to say, a new one has been ordered but in the meantime, my good mate Pete Cook has come to the rescue with the donation of a spare grapnel that he had lying around in his garage-cheers mate.
Sunday, and I had Brian with me. The plan initially was to just settle down on the 'pick' and fish for bream but this was soon quashed and the lures and live bait rigs were set up once again.
We started by drifting the remainder of the flood with lures picking up some wrasse and, a first for me- a black bream of a couple of pounds on a lure, in this case a small white shad on a drop shot rig.
As the tide died we filled the bait tank with pout, along with some more bream on the baited feathers, in readiness for the ebb but, the wind picked up.......big time. We had expected it to reach 10-12kts which would have been manageable, but it was far in excess of this making drifting very tricky. We failed miserably to find any bass at all, but were consoled with a few more feisty ballans, and some Pollack on the lures. All the pout were released back to the sea. You can't win them all.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

13/5/15 Toping.

A couple of days ago I decided to drag 'Jupiter' out on her trailer to inspect her bottom, and clean off any unwanted vegetation. She'd not been out of the water since the last shark trip in October and, I'd noticed that there appeared to be quite a bit of growth around the tilt hydraulics. Also,  my boarding ladder was beginning to look like a garden despite attacking it regularly with a stiff brush, and similarly my transducer also looked a bit fluffy around the edges..
In reality, the quantity of weed growth wasn't drastic, but there was a thin coating of slime on the hull which was easily removed with a pressure washer. I doubt very much whether it would have affected the efficiency of the boat, and haven't really noticed any reduction in performance, but it was a worthwhile exercise to perform especially as it was so quickly and easily carried out.
Whilst she was on dry land , I gave her yet another coat of polish to keep her looking 'sweet' before re-launching her at the public slipway virtually single handed.-my long suffering wife being pressed into service to drive the 'rig' back round to the marina.
In truth she hates the job usually because there's always some gawping onlooker ,  hoping that something will go wrong with a launch. To be fair, the public slipway can be an interesting place to be at times, especially summer week-ends but, on this occasion, I'm pleased to say that I failed to entertain........unless of course you find the sight of a 1 ton boat glide off a trailer , fire up its engine, and motor off in one smooth movement appealing.
Bragging I may be, but it has taken a bit of forethought, and practice to get it this good- I really must film it sometime.
Tope are one of my favourite species and, at this time of year, can be found in the deep gullies that abound in the eastern Solent. I understand that they can appear as early as April, and indeed have recently learned that , in the past, this was the case- perceived opinion being that the big females appear first to drop their pups. My good friend Neil French introduced me to this superb fishing and I have everything to thank him for.
Tope are one of the few proper 'sporting' species that we have in the U.K (sharks excepted) that can really 'pull your string' often displaying some pretty fast line stealing manoeuvres . If possible they should be tackled with light gear and 12 to 20lb class U.K rods can be used in shallow water.
On my chosen marks, small tides are needed as the currents and depths fished  often require very heavy leads to get the baits down to the feeding zone on the sea bed and yesterday's 5.1 metre, was practically on the limit.  With single figure wind speeds forecast for most of the day, I just had to take the opportunity even though, failing to find crew, I had to go solo.
Mackerel haven't yet arrived in any numbers to provide fresh bait but, as I've never really had an issue using frozen, and the tope don't ever seem too fussy, the freezer was raided.
Half baits, heads or tails work equally well, are generally used mounted on a circle hook but I've tweaked my end rig a little for this season.
 A tip I picked up from a bass angling buddy is to snell the circle hook to the trace, in my case I favour the use of heavy commercial mono rather than wire which I find a little harsh.
Tying the hook in this way angles the 'circle' back towards the trace making it more efficient at hooking up and, I must say, that I connected with every run today, yet each fish was cleanly attached  in the scissors making hook removal a 'breeze'.
Seven tope came to the boat and all of a good size with the best approaching 40lb on the scales. A few 'doggies' and a welcome thornback ray added some variety. Most of the tope were T  barred at the side, but a couple were brought on board for weighing and  photographing which I managed to achieve using the time lapse facility on the 'Go-Pro'.
Tope require careful , but firm handling if bringing on board in order to facilitate a successful return without harming fish, or angler, especially if going solo. Don't forget tope are protected and MUST be returned.
The drill is this; Once the fish is on the surface and played out , I tend to firmly grab the trace, slacken off the reel drag then place the rod  securely in a holder- its not sufficient simply to rest the rod against the gunwale-if the tope wants to dive it can easily take the rod with it. Failing to slacken off the drag can also result in a broken rod tip as I've found out to my expense. Of course, if you've got crew, they can simply control the rod and reel themselves.
I ALWAYS remove the lead from its clip and set it aside. As a boat owner there is nothing worse than having up to a pound of metal 'dinging' your precious gel coat-believe me.
 If you're going for a water release then now is the time to get busy with the T bar but, If you're going to bring the tope on board it should be grabbed by the wrist of the tail with your free hand,  supported under the main body with the other which you sharply switch from holding the trace, and lifted on to the deck in one swift movement. A deck completely clear of loose objects is absolutely essential.
 Once inside the boat, you need to get down on yer' knees, and straddle the fish with, for obvious reasons, the head facing away from you, and your legs firmly gripping the body to prevent it from thrashing about and harming itself.
 I wouldn't recommended carrying out this manoeuvre whilst wearing shorts as you might find you end up with a 'nasty rash'. Tope have skin like sandpaper.
With one hand firmly gripping the top of the snout to open the mouth , I tend to lay my forearm along the fishes' back, the hook can be removed using pliers with the free hand, and then the fish is quickly slipped head first into a weigh sling.
 I use a huge version with a hood that is designed for sharks but any decent sized sling that supports the full length of the body, and covers the head will suffice.
 Once the eyes are covered the tope usually settles down and can be weighed or measured although sometimes, the scales bounce around so much with the rocking of the boat that an estimated weight has to suffice.
If a photograph is to be taken the same firm tail grip and body support is used as when bringing the fish on board and on bigger fish , say 40lb plus, I find it much better to sit down on a seat or box, and drape the tope across the knees.
The return should be carried out 'head first' and I find it does no harm at all if you actually 'fire' the fish downwards into the sea, rather like throwing a big dart.
 I'm pleased to say that every tope I've ever caught has been successfully unhooked, and released safely though I'll admit, it helps no end if you can practise on 'pack' sized fish before tackling the big girls.

Monday, 11 May 2015

10/5/15- Breaming

On the 7th Dave and me had our first bash at the gravel pit tench and blanked.........completely......not even a sniff....enough said.

The bream season is in full flow in Littlehampton and some very good catches of fish have already been taken.  As the tide was smallish, and the previous few days had seen some rough weather both of which would hamper the reef bass fishing, I decided it was time I sampled some of these feisty little fighters.

Initially, we dropped the anchor (something I rarely do nowadays) on Brian's mark but the going was actually quite hard despite thoroughly ground baiting the 'swim' just as the tide  started to move.
We took eleven bream in total , two pounders mostly with the best  my crew Wayne at 3lb 2oz-his biggest of the specie for several years and one that will be entered into his club specie competition and apparently stand quite a good chance.
 A move to a mark on the Spur did produce a small flurry of four bream but in general I was actually quite disappointed not to be able to show my mate some more fish on the day. Certainly compared to past form, the bites were relatively slow in materialising.
At slack tide I decided to show Wayne how I fish  soft plastic lures and hoped  for a ballan or two. My crew hit first with a pollack, then I followed one for myself, and a brace of modest bass . The expected wrasse didn't show but, it was a pleasant way to end what had been a challenging day.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

4/5/15- A Brace Of 'Doubles'

With a particularly narrow window of reasonable weather, I felt it too good an opportunity to miss today and seized the chance to get out however, the bass seem to have been dispersed by the recent weather conditions and proved to be very hard work to find. I definitely spent more time searching, than actually fishing. But, the rewards were worth the effort.
The tide was still flooding, just, as we arrived at the first mark and literally within seconds of dropping my swat shad to the sea bed, this 7-08 snatched the lure- the only 'easy' fish of the day. This mark is showing some true potential on the flooding tide which goes against the grain compared to neighbouring marks when it comes to bass fishing however, that was unfortunately the only take although I suspect that the lack of tide may not have helped proceedings.
I had been concerned that clarity might be an issue with the recent 'rough' weather, but this proved not to be the case, although the water was hardly 'crystal clear'. A decision was made to change tactics and set up the float rods for a spot of live bait fishing.

As the tide slackened, it was the ideal time to catch some 'livies', and slow drifting the reef with tiny squid baits soon saw the bait tank well stocked with pouting.
Moving to an alternative mark and the extensive shoals that I've been seeing on my recent outings were conspicuous by their absence however, I was hoping that a few 'big girls' remained.
My crew mate Simon a.k.a 'Nightwatchmen' on the W.S.F forum is an accomplished shore bass angler, but had caught relatively little afloat.After much searching ,and following  a couple of three pounders, this rather battered old war horse of 11-04 snaffled his bait.
Actually the fish was in quite reasonable condition generally but may have had an encounter with a seal.............or perhaps a shark!!!

On the very next drift my own bait was rather savagely demolished by this one at 10-02....a much prettier fish it has to be said (apologies Simon) and the first time I've ever seen a brace of 'doubles' in 'Jupiter's Moon' in a day.
Brian had been fishing nearby with similar tactics and he'd also a 'double'-his first ever. Well done mate

Brimming with enthusiasm we elected to remain at sea over the low tide 'lock out' period for another four hours, and continue fishing in the rain, but the bass remained elusive with just a couple of smaller fish hitting our pout baits, and some welcome 'chunky' wrasse to 4lb sampling our lures.
So, not a particularly prolific day numbers wise but what it lacked in quantity, it made up for in quality.
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