Two Venues for the first time in the history of the Species League will this actually work? 19 anglers going from Weymouth on two big cats Supanova and Meerkat and another 7 going from Sheerness on Dentex.
Big fish day from Weymouth going out deep for Spur-dogs and Blonde Rays, a pound of squid and 9 frozen Mackerel for each competitor. Brett Lomas comments ‘never had so much bait for a boat trip’ but then he is used to scratching with small hooks and 4m rods. Today was going to be different size 4/Os and above with whole squid or side of mackerel or whole head, for these big fish and using long rods here isn’t really an advantage.
I am on the back, no 6 on Supanova, so a good draw, well in theory, but this means I am only really going to be able to drop back my baits from the stern not really possible to cast around.
A few dogfish are caught around the boat and then I get a really good bite, I reel into a heavy fish hoping it’s a Spur but it isn’t fighting like one. After a reasonable scrap on my 30lb class outfit, a conger of around 30lb comes to the boat. Lyle on the way out told us all that we were only likely to catch Spur-dogs and may be a Tope. After about 30 minutes and a string of congers being boated Lyle is left scratching his head, ‘there is a wreck about quarter of a mile away perhaps they came out because they were hungry and left the wreck for a feed.
Meerkat seemed to be having more luck, we could see them landing some decent fish only 50 meters away. Then Darren Phillips hooked into something a bit livelier and the first spur-dog was boated, nice fish 15lb plus and very healthy looking. More congers, dogs, pouts and occasional whiting came aboard. Darren had another take this time a small turbot which he returns but is good points in today’s competition. Then he has another spur-dog. Bill Can had similar fun we a spirited fish that as it came near the net turns out to be a small tope. Darren was at this stage leading the boat. Lyle suggests a move, ‘give it 15 mins and we go a little deeper’. At this point, a few more spurs turn up with Paul Hollyoake catching a nice one just short of 20lbs.
Weather is flat calm but misty and this stays all day much to the confusion of a small bird that seems to be lost and lands on Supanova, someone says is a warbler but think it’s a fly-catcher. Poor thing flies between the two boats lost and lands on a few rods and roof of the boats. Eventually he is so tired he sits on the bait tray inches away from me and lets me pick him up without even trying to escape. I put the tiny creature in the cabin hoping it will rest and then find its way to shore, but with the fog now denser than before, I am afraid the little one may well have been lost at sea.
We move to a deeper mark more dogs and then Brett comes alive, he catches the first blonde ray using his 4m rod, all have a laugh, but with a steady retrieve he brings in a double figure ray to the side of the boat. Then a tope, then another ray, then a tope. We now move to the kidney back, Brett keeps going another 3 blonde rays while most of us are catching dogfish. I do manage a smallish Blonde as does Gary Dennis but Brett is now on 5 with no one else on the boat catching any.
Another move to a reef that normally holds small congers and bull huss. Luke Allen is first to catch a small conger and Richard Ferre a huss but other than that there were just more LSDs. Lyle isn’t happy, ‘this reef should fish better than this’. One final move to a shallower area, ‘I give up’ he says, ‘put your small stuff on let’s catch some poor cod and pouts for the last half hour’. My first drop earns a nice bite and a female cuckoo wrasse surfaces. Oh, and guess what, seconds after Brett catches a much bigger beautiful coloured male of the same species, Paul gets a goldsinney and that’s about that. Brett beats us all convincingly his use of a 4m rod and fixed spool worked, oh and he almost ran out of bait.
Ray Barron wins on Meerkat and Matt Osborne wins on Dentex and yes, the two venues idea has worked meaning that some of the Kent boys can join the league and fish near to home.
We get back to port by 5.00 and head for the Weymouth Angling Society for our prize presentations for 2017 which has been cancelled twice due to weather. More about on another day.