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Monday, October 29, 2012

2 days charter fishing at the Weymouth species competition

As a shore angler, my experience of boat fishing is very limited, having only fished from a boat a handful of times in the last decade. It really takes me back to the time when I used to go out on my grandads boat, targeting flatfish in the kingsbridge estuary and is a form of fishing I ought to do more often when you consider I have a kayak.
Anyway, the time came on the Wednesday to make my 6 hour journey from North Wales down to the South Coast and unfortunately the forecast was not looking to friendly. The Thursday predicted 25mph E's and the Friday predicting 30mph NE's. After spending the Weds night gaining my bearings around Weymouth the morning of Day 1 came round, I was well prepared having made up around 50 different rigs to cater for any form of fishing we would be doing. The rigs I had made up were a variety that I had been advised to make by one of the skippers down in Weymouth, Lyle Stantiford and also by England International Colin Searles, both of whom I'd been put onto by Gethyn. I should also mention that Gethyn had very kindly allowed me to borrow a few of his rods for the comp for which I am very grateful.

Day 1 : I had been drawn on Meridian Express skippered by Pat Carlin for the first day along with 8 top boat anglers, including England International and European boat angling champion 2011 Ray Barron. To say I was a little out of my league is an understatement but at the end of the day I was there to enjoy myself and pick up some tips from some of the best. The sea was choppy as expected and it took my stomach a while to settle but after an hour or so I was feeling much better. The fishing started over a wreck where all of us managed a good number of pout with the odd poor cod thrown in as well. We did a few drifts and then headed out to a mark where we would anchor up. The better anglers on the boat were catching fairly regularly and I was keeping an eye on what they were doing all the time. Steve and Ray were outfishing everyone else on the boat by a good margin, pulling in doggies, a few rays and the odd smoothhound. I meanwhile was getting the odd doggie but struggling to get into a rythym. With 5 minutes left at anchor, I started getting a couple of small finicky taps. I gave some slack and left it to develop. Before I knew it the skipper was calling for all lines to be brought in. Winding down the slack, there was definitely something still playing with my bait so I struck. It was solid, feeling like I'd got a snag until whatever was on the end decided it didn't like being hooked. The rod bent over nicely and the drag started going a little. The skipper called his prediction straight away 'Conger.' By now everyone else was out of the water so I made my way to the front of the boat to play it properly. It was such a powerful fish I just had to pull when I could and eventually the fish started coming up in the water. Surfacing  few metres from the boat, it was as the skipper had rightly called a conger and a good sized one at that. The rules of the comp stated that the skipper must only touch the leader for it to count so I was relieved when he took hold of my snood. For obvious safety reasons though the fish was unhooked in the water. At a skippers estimate of 35lb+ it smashes my current PB conger by just shy of 10lb's so a great result. We had one last stop just off the harbour walls where I managed to land my only new species of the comp. Species 63 : Jeffreys Goby. Due to the condtions and the fierce competition I wasn't able to get any photos but here is a photo of a jeffreys goby I found on the net so you can see what one looks like. At the end of day one it was Ray Barron who had triumphed on our boat with Steve coming a close second. I was more than happy to take 4th place and was already looking forward to day 2.

Day 2 : The morning was a lot colder than the previous day and the sea was a lot rougher as well. This time round I had been drawn on charter boat Flamer IV skippered by Colin Penny, a boat that I had been looking at online before I made the trip down. It was set to be another tough days fishing but with the tips I'd been given by Ray and the other on day 1, I was feeling a lot more confident. This time we started at anchor fishing for rays, dogs and smoothies. The dogfish were out in force and a lot of the anglers on the boat were bagging up to reach there limit. I was really struggling having been drawn at the cabin end again but finally got my first fish of the day in the form of a small thornback ray, a handy fish to tick off. I then after a good hour of trying managed to get my first doggie and in honesty it was a little bit of a relief. The others were getting the odd different species as well with a few small smoothies and a couple of whiting coming up. My next fish however was again far more substantial. The skipper once again moved me to the front of the boat where I could get a good spot to pull it in. It surfaced after a good fight and revealed itself as a lovely undulate ray. The leader was touched so it counted in the comp but unfortunately as the skipper was pulling the remaining few feet of line to the net, the snood gave way, so once again I couldn't get a photo :( The skippers estimate was around 14lb+, smashing my PB of 8lb 3oz and finally giving me a ray of double figures, very happy indeed. The call then came in to say we were allowed to fish in Portland harbour, a species meccah. This was my time to shine. Almost instantly we were all into pout, poor cod and wrasse but occasionally something interesting would come up. Firstly a baillions wrasse, shortly follwed by a butterfly blenny and then one of the guys had a fish I'm dying to catch, a red band fish. (Here are a few pics of what they look like) Really stunning fish and bit gutted I didn't get one myself but thats the way it goes sometimes. As day 2 came to an end, I had a much better total score, beating my day 1 total by nearly 30 points. Just goes to show the difference a few small differences in the rigs can make. All that was left was the raffle and presentations. I new I hadn't won anything but I did have a good chat with Colin which was very useful. 3 way beads are the way forward for my new rigs ;)

So at the end of the 2 days, I'd managed to smash two of my PB's, catch 1 new species and pick up tips from some of the best boat anglers in the country. I'd say that it was a well worthwhile trip.

Thanks for reading,
Tight Lines,