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Following a short session on the small stream mentioned in the previous post, I was handed a load of spare maggots by fishing buddy Steve. Well I wasn’t planning on any coarse fishing for a few days, so what to do with them?

So there are me and John down along Poole Quay with the LRF gear set up with size 14’s and 12’s on split shot rigs drowning triple and quadruple maggot in the sea. And the Corkwing Wrasse, Goldsinnys, Blennies and Gobies loved them. So don’t go throwing those maggots away. Go catch some minis on the UL gear.

A Mouthful of Maggots starring Rock Goby

A Mouthful of Maggots starring Rock Goby

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With my usual shore fishing buddy John having a few days off, and with my missus away with the girls in Tenerife, we just had to get out for a bit of bait drowning. John has fallen behind a touch with the SCSF annual species hunt (not that he is really trying), and I am seeking a few more to add to this years list. So we decided to have a daytime bash on mini-mecca Swanage Pier.

A hot, calm day with very little cloud and only a slight easterly breeze, we arrived and set up around 11am.

Glorious Calm Day on Swanage Pier

Glorious Calm Day on Swanage Pier

One small 8ft 10-40g spinning rod was set up with a 6g Chubber float rig with Sz 6 circles to 8lb F/C aimed at Mackerel, Garfish, Pollack and any other predators or pelagics floating around. The use of the Chubber floats provides that bit of extra finesse than the commonly used ‘sea floats’. I dislike those normal ‘sea floats’ you see in most tackle shops. Big, bulky, unwieldy chunks of plastic that cast like bricks and need a decent size fish to register. Not for me except in special circumstances, usually distance or bait size.

Our LRF rods were set up for bait as opposed to lures with SSG single shot rigs and Size 8 hooks for a bash at the minis. We also took along a couple of light Bass/Flattie rods just in case we decided to up the stakes a bit with hook / rig size (a brief go but basically it didn’t happen). Bait was Squid strip or thin Bluey belly strip on the floats, with Ragworm and Squid strip the prime baits on the LRF gear.

Under the Swanage Pier Main Deck

Under the Swanage Pier Main Deck

Right from the off we were hit again and again by hard fighting Corkwing and Ballan Wrasse (up to around a pound) which are always great fun on the UL set-ups, and even more so with our trying to control fish determined to wrap us around every pier snag available. It was pretty amazing that throughout the whole day we only lost one rig to a snag.

Typical Ballan Wrasse from Swanage Pier

Typical Ballan Wrasse from Swanage Pier

In addition to the main culprits we also bagged a few Sand Smelt (new species for John) which came mainly to Squid strip.

Sand Smelt

Sand Smelt

And a host of deep diving, hard hitting Pollack (largest around a pound) on the float fished strips. These proved to be some of the most entertaining fish throughout the day with some pretty challenging runs and dives through the timbers.

Swanage Pier Pollack

Swanage Pier Pollack

Bonus fish included just the one Long-Spined Scorpionfish, my first Mackerel and my first Tompot Blenny of the year. Those Tompots are always feisty little scrappers with a strong pair of nipping jaws, as my finger tip will testify. Ouch!

First Mackerel of the Year

First Mackerel of the Year

Tompot Blenny

Tompot Blenny

The Garfish didn’t show apart from one early in the session that snaffled John’s float fished squid strip and promptly shed the hook after a brief but typically spirited fight.

We decided to pack up around 7pm after a very enjoyable day. Could have stayed longer but John has an appetite to rival the two fat ladies when he is fishing and was feeling a bit low cos his larder bag was empty.

John pondering the lack of food.

John pondering the lack of food.

And then……..and then!!!

On my final trot through with the float rod I had what I thought was another decent Pollack make for Peveril Point with my Bluey Strip. A very hard fighting fish this one, and didn’t feel much like a Pollack, more like a Bass. Nope. In comes a fish I haven’t caught in many a year.

Allis Shad 1lb 1oz

Allis Shad 1lb 1oz

Over the moon with this fish. Fought like crazy and weighed in at 1lb 1oz. Quickly unhooked, weighed and returned to fight again.

A cracking day out rounded off with fish ‘n’ chips picked up on the way home. Now to prepare for tomorrows trip to the Haven Hotel at Poole Harbour entrance. Garfish please! Bass anyone!

 

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I have not caught a Dab in a lot of years. A fish that is pretty common and a staple catch for most anglers around the coastline just always seems to avoid me. So when I heard from Clive in Southampton that he was being plagued with them at Town Quay, I just had to make the trip and bag one for my 2014 species count.

Well that’s my excuse. It’s always a pleasure and a laugh to fish alongside the clown prince of sea angling. I know there are a few young’uns that read my blog so the content of the evenings banter will remain between me and Clive. However, success!! First Dab since ….. for ever.

First Dab in a Long Time

First Dab in a Long Time

As you can clearly see, it was a monster. I don’t care. It all counts.

A very quiet Town Quay last night. Probably the longest, quietest spell I have ever experienced on there. We did however have a few leading up to the dry spell, with Bass, Dabs, Pout, Whiting, Tub Gurnard, Plaice, Dogfish and Silver Eels all making an appearance. And apparently soon after I left the Smoothhounds started showing.

That’s to be my last sea fishing session for a couple of weeks. Saturday sees my Dad and me returning to Kingslake for our annual pilgrimage. Carp and Tench gear at the ready.

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Popped down to Solent Beach again last night to escape the furore and anticipation of the footie. Don’t mind football, but the expectations on England drive me mad. I’m as patriotic as the rest, but I really am not worried who wins the tournament. I have my favourites and dreams like everybody (England and Holland if anyone is interested), but ultimately it is just a game people. I just want to see a good match regardless of team.

Rummaged through the freezer and dug out some Sandeel, Mackerel and a handful of whole mini Squid. Also found some leftover Black Lug down the bottom that I think was put there when Moses was around. Whatever I thought, it’ll do.

I think there must have been a lot of people with the same ‘escape the football’ idea as me, cos the beach was pretty busy. I had to walk an additional five groynes towards Double Dykes than normal, putting me in uncharted waters for this year (lot of changes on this beach cos of all the storms).

Three rods out, two for the rays and one dirty rod close in alternating between a pop up flapper and a ‘down hard’ Sole rig. The ray rods only produced one small Turbot and a couple of Smut pups all evening, but the dirty rod produced another small Sole (on the 3000 year old lug) and for about a 45 minutes period whatever bait or rig I chucked out into the hollow near a rock groyne (20 yards max) saw me bringing in double shots of Scad. Had around a dozen before leaving them to disappear with the tide and light.

Typical!!! The one time I didn’t pack the LRF gear and a fun fish like the Scad turn up. Great fun on a 5g rod. That’ll teach me. Still, one more species for the year. I did try moving a float around the ends of the rock groyne for any Garfish. Good spot for them but not tonight.

One of at least a Dozen Scad.

One of at least a Dozen Scad.

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Lesson time on the beach again last night with No. 2 son. A few hours spent on Solent Beach close to the relatively new rock groynes. Michael has taken to the various methods of baiting up with Mackerel, Sandeel, Ragworm and Squid well, and his presentation is pretty damn good already. I’ve known people take a very long time to present a bait correctly, neatly and securely. Just got to work on that OTG cast mate.

A touch of colour in the water for the first 20 yards or so but a lot clearer than the previous night. Seems to be settling down nicely after a couple of days SW winds.

Looking for the Rays, but in Michael’s case anything to open his beach account. Not a great night size wise with the fish but Michael finally has a beach fish, even if only a smut pup. I managed a couple of puppies plus a large(ish) Whiting, plus two new species for this year in a small Sole and a chunky little Blonde Ray of around 1.5-2lb. Very pleased with the Blonde as this is my first from the shore. Sandeel accounted for everything but the Sole, which was on good old Rag. Incidentally, all the pups had mouthfuls of very small red crabs.

My First Shore Caught Blonde Ray (Solent Beach)

My First Shore Caught Blonde Ray (Solent Beach)

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No fish landed in this report people. Tonight there were several of us down between the Sandbanks rock groynes and the Haven Hotel by the ferry. Some like Jez and I were out with the lures, a few with the smelly bits of flesh. For us, other than the occasional tentative hit, no fish were interested. Even the LRF blanked which is most unusual down there. Only aware of one of the fleshers catching a small Pollack.

However, I’m putting this up mainly to say there were a LOT of near surface feeding Bass down there last night during the last hour and a half or so of daylight. Most appeared to be in the 1lb – 3lb range, and all of them where chasing after bait fish that we could not see. They were concentrated in a relatively narrow band running for about 200 yards in length just outside the harbour entrance. This was, at its furthest from the shore, about 100 yards distant, coming in as close as 20 yards. I lost count of the Bass jumping clear of the water while chasing their prey, whatever it was. I’d like to say that this was caused by a concentration of baitfish due to the normal strong run, but there was no run, the state of tide being just shy of high on a weak neap.

Several different lures were tried, from good old Savagear sandeels, to whitebait metals. The only thing I didn’t try was a surface popper or walker, mainly cos they had been left at home. Doh! I won’t forget to include a couple of them next time.

There were a few guys bait fishing this same area, including a couple that appeared to be drifting sandeel on a float through the same area. Nothing. Talk about the fish being pre-occupied.

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This Friday I returned to Bedford Beach at Southbourne to try once again for a decent Ray as a points entry to the week long SCSF competition. With my usual Friday fishing buddy unavailable I had contacted No.1 son Robert to see if he would like to come down for a few hours dangling and a bit more tuition.

Bucket full of bait at the ready (Sand Eel, Mackerel, Squid and Ragworm) and Pulley and Pompey rigs at the ready, I began the hunt at about 7pm, with No.1 arriving around 7:30. Started with the tuition for a bit and we were off. SCSF buddy Gazza turned up shortly afterwards and with six rods fishing between us, good bait and a good tide we were very hopeful.

And then it started. No.1 spent the next couple of hours showing the long time guys how to do it. Nothing big, but consistent. First in was a target I have yet to get this year, a small Undulate Ray, this was quickly followed by a small Turbot, a pin Whiting (very strange pinkish colouring), another Turbot, a Starry Smoothhound pup and then finally just prior to his leaving at just after ten, a Dogfish.

First Ray (Undulate) for Robert

First Ray (Undulate) for Robert

Undulate Ray

Undulate Ray

Pin Whiting (Strange Pink Hue)

Pin Whiting (Strange Pink Hue)

One of Robert's Turbots

One of Robert’s Turbots

Grinning Idiot with Dogfish

Grinning Idiot with Dogfish

Did I catch anything?

Well I did drag out a small Turbot while Robert was on the beach, and followed that up with a palm sized Plaice and a small Dogfish after Robert had left. Gazza unfortunately blanked.

More importantly I think that Robert is even more hooked into shore fishing, especially judging by the grin on his face. All he wants now is something to eat!

Me? I can definitely feel my wallet getting lighter.

Footnote: Myself and Gazza gave it another go on the following day at Branksome Chine. Result? One small Smut pup for me and another blank for Gazza. Hmmmm!!

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I’m finally back fishing on a regular basis after such a long time with health and other problems. I am currently managing to get out at least twice a week, so hopefully I can now start posting a few new entries here on the blog.

This last week I have been approached by both my lads (26 and 28 – so not exactly boys anymore) to take them shore fishing a bit more as they are both keen on learning and experiencing the joys of sea angling. Both of the guys have coarse fished on and off for a few years, especially the youngest, and both of them have taken to spinning for Bass and Mackerel, but now they want to go further into both lure and bait fishing.

So, Friday last evening found me down on Southbourne beach with spare beachcasting gear and a bucket of bait teaching the basics to my eldest Robert. This area of Bournemouth bay has been producing some reasonable Rays, Turbot and various rounds and flats recently so I was hopeful he would start off with at least something. That proved to be a bit harder than my previous few sessions down there, but Robert did manage to open his account with a feisty Dogfish and a small Starry Smoothhound pup. I have little doubt he will be back on the beach shortly, and I’m also thinking my spare gear may disappear and my bank balance may be reduced a bit.

Tuesday evening was my youngest lads turn. Not quite so good with the tides that night, but he opened his account as well, even if it was only a small Sole. I think you can tell by the photo he was well chuffed.

Michael's First Bait Caught Shore Fish

Michael’s First Bait Caught Shore Fish (occasional use of a razor required mate)

I can truthfully say they will be dragging me back to the beach a lot now. Not that I’m complaining.

Did I catch? Despite spending most of my time watching the lads I did manage a Small-Eyed Ray, a Smoothhound pup and a Turbot for myself. I was aiming mainly for the Rays but not these times.

Fat Little Turbot

Fat Little Turbot

 

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The previous week has been a right old mix of fortunes with the fishing proving yet again that nothing can be taken for granted in this game.

Beginning on the Friday with a group of us guys and gals lining the groynes at Sandbanks with our LRF (and MRF) gear hoping to do battle with the Mackerel and Scad shoals. These shoals have been around pretty consistently for the past two weeks. But not tonight. Total haul for the four of us was one small Pollack to me. So no fish for supper that night, and I had to make do with a box of cholesterol and chips.

Monday afternoon and evening saw myself, Dad and Number Two son head down to a club water we have not fished before. We knew prior to going that this small lake was very popular as a ‘bagging’ venue, but was also home to Carp in the twenties plus a good head of Roach, Rudd, Bream, etc. Well as it turned out they weren’t kidding. It was pretty damn hard to get the bait in the water long enough to allow for the better fish to home in on them. We probably had 25-30 fish each up to around 5lb and could have caught many more with a slight change of tactics.

Typical Small Carp from Cranborne. Loads of fun on the light gear.

Typical Small Carp from Cranborne. Loads of fun on the light gear.

But being the greedy people that we are, we persisted with baits and methods aimed at attracting the larger specimens. An enjoyable session and one of those places to go to if you just want a bit of fun (or a confidence boost). I was very impressed with the size and quality of Roach here.

Tuesday afternoon and evening – I took friend John along to Crooked Willows lake for his first coarse fishing session in 30 years or more. We blanked. And this on a lake that I very rarely blank on. Loads of good fish taking surface baits, as long as they didn’t have a hook hidden in them. C’est la vie, but it at least gave me a chance to get John back in the fold and show him a few rigs and things.

Thursday PM was the planned river session with Dad, still searching for those elusive big Chub and Barbel along some of our favourite Dorset Stour stretches at Throop Fishery. Low, fine and clear water and a bright sky was not good, though we could see plenty of fish moving around amongst the streamers and along the gravel glides. A few very quick bites which were probably small Chub or Dace, and one missed barbel bite (how did I miss that one!!!) was all we had for our efforts and we blanked for the second time in a row at this location. We need some rain to improve the height, flow and colour of the water here.

Friday PM and I took John back to Crooked Willow for a session. We were met down there by Dad and Number Two son again. Another frustrating session with many good Carp cruising around on the surface, scooping up the free offerings, but ignoring any hooked baits. John managed a couple of Bream, Number Two had the one Bream and a few missed runs in the margins, Dad snuck out a 5lb Carp with a floater tight to a lily, and I had the one Common Carp as a saver with a chunk of luncheon meat fished six inches from the bank virtually at my feet. Put up a very commendable scrap swinging back and forth between the various lily patches and refused for quite a while to be netted. Eventually bagged and out came a beautifully conditioned fish of 9lb 12oz (I’ll add the pic later).

9lb 12oz Common from Crooked Willows

9lb 12oz Common from Crooked Willows (plus a shocked looking me)

The only downside to this last session was owner Richard informing me (rubbing it in really) of a large Perch being caught during the week. I have been after the large stripeys in here for a while now and still haven’t managed to connect with one. Guess where I’ll be soon.

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I ended my last post with the following; “… so very good to be back and running again. Now bring on the better weather … Bass … Rays … Smuts … Sole …”. Hah! So much for that!

Soon after following my last post the sea fishing around here ebbed rapidly away as the temperatures soared. The sea clarity approached gin and the fish opted for cooler and deeper waters. I managed to keep busy with the odd LRF session along Poole Quay, but even that was producing little fish (pun intended).

All change three weeks ago. The weather settled back to something approaching normal and the fish started to return thankfully. With my current preference for all things lure, it has been great sport to hit the Bass, Mackerel and Scad shoals recently using the LRF and near-LRF gear and a selection of the wonderful little metals out there. This has also included taking my two lads along for their first fishing trips in a few years. A few refresher lessons, an introduction to all things light and lure, and away they went.

LRF and other small Metals. Great fun, give 'em a try.

LRF and other small Metals. Great fun, give ’em a try.

In addition to the sea prospects improving, I have been giving the coarse gear a good workout for the previous four weeks, including the annual weeks trip to Kingslake in Devon with the old man. Kingslake once again failed to disappoint with crazy sessions battling with fast / hard fighting Carp in the 7-10lb range. A week of that and we both came away with arms like Popeye and a vow to ‘never again grace these shores”. Yeah right.

My youngest lad has also returned to the coarse fishing fold, and combined with our rediscovery of a local (and vastly improved) lake, has been accompanying my self and the old man on a few trips after the resident Carp, Roach, Bream and Perch. When I consider the fact that my lad has not really fished since he was about 12 years old (now 25), I have been very impressed with the speed that he has re-learned and put into effect those skills necessary to fully enjoy the sport.

Michael demonstrating the classic angling pose(r).

Michael demonstrating the classic angling pose(r).

Michael with typical 6lb Common from Crooked Willows Lake.

Michael with typical 6lb Common from Crooked Willows Lake.

I am also pleased to say that the old man has been enjoying his fishing tremendously the past five weeks or so following his eight month battle and treatment for the big C. It’s all looking good at the moment and having seen what he has gone through the past year puts my own recent health difficulties to shame (in other words I’m a wimp).

The old man with another Crooked Willows Carp. Keep 'em coming Dad!

The old man with another Crooked Willows Carp. Keep ’em coming Dad!

I have been trying out the LRF gear and techniques at the lake to try and tempt the resident Perch (some Jurassic sized lunkers in these here waters). So far no fish, but I will persist.

Well that’s bought you all roughly up to date. I do have a monumental post (for me) to put up but it’s the middle of the night and it’ll have to wait. Tight lines.

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