2018 Season is off and running thanks to Lewis Hodder and Lymebay Charters taking 23 of us out on a very wet Good Friday on three boats, Pegasus, Alice Rose and Blue Turtle. After the February trip was cancelled a lot of the Species League team were desperate to get out but the forecast all week have been changing by the hour all sorts of direction and velocity of wind predicted with sunshine, rain, fog you name it. With Chinquinta also booked from Littlehampton potentially 30 competitors were due to fish. As it turned out Littlehampton was cancelled but we went from Lyme with light variable winds expected but also a lot of rain, the forecasters got it right this time and sure enough when we arrived at Monmouth Beach Car Park it was already raining.
Waterproofs on straight away and head for The Tackle Box for the boat and position draw. Lots of the team already there looking at Darren Herbert’s new ‘Hook Up’ boat traces that include an in-line weighting system using glow-light weights check them out at http://lymetackle.com/hook-ups/ . More about those later.
Next stop is Beach House café for breakfast at 8.00 20+ anglers in their wet gear quickly steams up the place, the banter starts and everyone is in the right mood. Mega breakfast will keep me going most of the day.
I am on Pegasus along with Darren, Andy Selby, Alan Bird, Marcus Wuest, Gary Dennis, Steve Batchelor and Andy Smith, a good group of buddies to start the year off oh and they are pretty good anglers as well so competition will be tough. Also, on board is Dave Lewis from Sea Angler magazine who has booked to come on 5 of the competitions this year, let’s hope we can catch some fish and get some good photos for his first article on the Species League. So, Lewis Hodder nothing like a little pressure to find us some fish. We are already for the off, but wait one angler hasn’t turned up, who could that possibly be, obviously a novice who doesn’t understand that when we say boats leave at 9.00 you need to be on board 8.45. Pegasus’s crew is here and so are Blue Turtle’s but someone is missing on Alice Rose, we have to wait and after a few hectic phone calls our notice turns out to be Ray Barron who is lost in Lyme Regis. Pretty small town to get lost but hey that’s Barron oh and his first ever Species League competition as well, nice start Ray.
Baits are distributed, live rag worm, frozen squid and mackerel same packs for all. Tackle is being put together as we head out from port there is a sense of expectation on the start of the league season, who will get off to a good start for both the championship and the most species prizes and not to forget the Lyme Bay Cup awarded to the best scores from the three Lyme events this year.
After 40 minutes steaming all three boats arrive at the same area, actually all three are so close we can cast to each other. This mark holds good sized whiting and two days before there were loads of fish in the 2lb stamp. But we found mostly dogfish with only a few small whiting to people at the stern. The other boats were doing better with some nice keeper sized fish coming on board. Steve Batchelor started well on our boat with steady haul of fish. Next to me Darren was using his hook ups caught three dogfish in quick succession before I had had a bite, must remember to get a few of those rigs. Darren used them for almost all the day and although he didn’t win the boat he caught a good range of fish on various drifting and anchored marks.
Next, we drifted the Tennants Reef with our main target Pollock but expecting cuckoo and ballan wrasse sure enough the targets arrived. Marcus could not stop catching cuckoos, one after the other didn’t matter which rig or baits he chose.
The tide started and Alan Bird had the first Pollock on live rag a few others followed and I was getting worried I wouldn’t find one. I get tangled with Steve who after a few minutes frees our lines and says Ray you have a decent fish on and sure enough I had the biggest Pollock on the day around 7 pounds, really healthy fish and as the reef is shallower than the wrecks the fish was lively so I slipped him back to fight another day.
We then anchored the reef for bigger fish but there wasn’t that much showing so Lewis tried one further move to a slightly more sheltered reef nearer to shore. The rain had become heavy and some were finding that their wet weather gear wasn’t as waterproof as they had hoped, so we were all glad to have a little less wind and rain here. Andy Smith, next to me, had been steadily picking up fish and different species all day, but was well behind Steve and Alan at this point. He then hooked into a good fish which after a scrap turned out to be a double figure Bull Huss, followed by three more huss plus a conger and was now leading the competition. More dogfish, pouts, poor cod and a couple of congers were boated, I managed a huss and a few others also came aboard. Lewis shouts five more minutes then we are off so last drop and on ‘lines up’ Steve picks up a small conger that wins the boat.
Great day’s fishing despite the rain well done Steve and other boat winners, Richard Ferre and Perry Dack. 15 species in all caught including cod and plaice which for a cold March is pretty impressive.
Off the Weymouth in two weeks for round two can’t wait.