After a hearty breakfast at the Fisherman’s Café we draw lots for boats and places, I have a good draw no 3 on Piscary, but there are some very strong anglers on my boat so will be a big battle today. Matt Rowe our skipper has joined us with Trevor Small skipper of our other boat Rocket.
We load for departure at 8.00 sharp. Wonderful weather for November, virtually no wind, sunny but chilly.
Strongish tides today see the two cats head east towards our first stop Christchurch Ledge. The crews are given their baits, ragworm, frozen squid and mackerel. On the journey out all the team are busy preparing their baits and selecting their two hook rigs.
Following a half hour’s steaming we reach the ledge, Matt looked out to see signs of gulls feeding and sure enough, after a short drive we meet up with the birds and the competition starts. We fish here on the drift, with most selecting either feathers of two up rigs baited with rag on bottom hook. I had a different plan, I was not doing that well in the championship this year but in the Species League there are two major trophies and the second one is for the most species caught during the year. I was lying second in the running for this one with 27 species only one behind Perry Dack (who wasn’t able to make this match). I wanted to get some species I had not already caught, one of which was a garfish. So my rig was a 50g pirk a snood above and short length of 15lb flouro below, 2 size 6’s really sharp short shank hooks baited with thin belly strips of mackerel. I was expecting to fish this rig for quite a while to get my target, but first drop and 2 minutes into comp bang and a bite that lead to my gar on board before anyone else had had a bite. Nice start for me. Colin Searles then had a small bass, Steve Batchelor also had a gar, we then had a steady catch of bass, gars, ballan wrasse, mackerel and pollock. Matt’s plan was working and the score sheet was ticking away nicely. After about 2 hours of drifting, we move to a rough ground mark and anchor for some bottom loving fish. Some bigger rigs here with heavier line flowing traces with fish and squid baits. Again the plan works with lots of dogfish, bull huss, small congers, pouts and more mackerel are boarded.
A further move to some ground that often holds rays. Sure enough, they obligue and John Bellamy is very quickly into a nice small eyed, after a short scrap the fish is weighed about 8 lbs and is returned, four more of the team catch rays of similar stamp. I have struggled on this mark probably because I was using hooks and baits that were too big. I then change to smaller hooks and after a while hook into what seems a heavy fish, steady pressure here as the rig I am now using is fairly light with 20lb line. After about 10 minutes I bring on board with help of the landing net similar sized small eyed, this time foul hooked under the wing.
The lead on the day is now clearly with Steve who is fishing at no 9 and being challenged by Colin at no 1. The next mark and our last of the day is Poole Patch where various wrasse and mini species are hoped for. Yet again the targets arrive I am fortunate to pick up a double shot of Baillons and Goldsinney wrasse and that’s another specie for my list.
Wonderful day saw Steve Batchelor win on Piscary with 13 species and 261 points that is an awesome score for November. Darren Phillips wins on Rocket.
Here is the latest Species League Table with standings for both trophies being so close the final event on 15 December in Weymouth should be a humdinger.