The weather had been very changeable over the preceding week and the forecast had been terrible for the Thursday, but all week they were predicting a small weather window for the Friday. We were due to go out from Minehead on Teddie Boy with 8 of us in team with two other boats Ocean Runner and Strongbow booked for Poole on same day.
Just great my car brakes down on the Thursday and I have to beg a lift, Brian Moss is kind enough to come from Chard to Bridport to pick me up. Brian has in his van our bait supplied by The Tackle Box, Lyme Regis. A pound of squid and three packs of frozen mackerel each recommended by Michael Webber Griffiths our skipper ‘worm waste of money in March was his advice, lots of fish baits for the rays, conger and spur dogs we were targeting’
We get to Minehead and meet for breakfast at the Echo Beach Café – great breakfast sets us all up for the day. The rest of the crew Keith ‘Wiggy’ Wigglesworth – his first all day trip since his illness, lovely to see him back. Graham Stevens from north Devon, Bill Cann off Exmoor, Paul Milkins his first trip to Minehead in 20 years, the two Welsh boyos Mike Davies and Alan Jones. Most are very used to fishing the Bristol Channel so will be a challenge for me.
The weather turns out nice again, fairly light south westerly expected to increase later. Due to tides we start late – 9.30 and due to return at 5.30. First mark is in Porlock Bay, there is a little initial disappointment as is unlikely due to the swell and forecast that we can for very far west for the spurdogs. But after only 10 minutes we start to get a few fish. First up a small bull huss for Bill. Then on the other side of boat Wiggy brings up yes a small cod. Dogfish follow then pouts, whiting. Lots of fish and variety for all except Brian and Paul on the stern who seem just to bring up dogfish. The rest were catching lots of codling and bull huss. Great sport was had on smallish baits the cod seem to prefer the squid and the buss the mackerel and Wiggy using 1 up and 1 down with alternate baits was bringing in double shots of cod and huss. Some of the fish I have to admit were on the small side, with a few bull huss being no more than 100-150mm but hey they all count in this competition.
The tide eases, time to move into deeper water and more tide after congers, rays and bigger huss. Sure enough they oblige, I hook into something decent which turns into a nice bull huss of 7lbs. time for a photo but this fish is strong and wants to bite me. Next Mike hooks into an even stronger fish a large blonde ray, Graham has a thornback followed by another. More huss and rays are boated plus lots of our doggie friends, Bill then picks up a nice smooth hound and so does Graham and a couple of congers are also boated.
Time for another move inshore, I had started the day well but on the bigger fish mark only had huss and dogfish while others had picked up the other species. I was behind and needed to catch something different. I go small with little strips of mackerel on size 8 hooks, and it worked first a lovely little spotted ray, next drop bang a small conger, next drop bigger bang and a 4lb keeper cod. We have a tot up of the scores and I had caught up, there are now six of us in contention with an hour to go. Most have 7 or 8 species but poor Brian and Paul still struggling with 3 species each.
Off to our final mark again in Porlock Bay but at a place where small rays are expected. Bill and Graham then have a good session with more huss, codling and spotted rays. The wind does finally start to blow as expected and we pack up and run for the shelter of Minehead Harbour. On adding up the scores Bill wins on 231 points, great score for March, Graham on 221 and I came third with 211.
Over 40 Cod, 60 huss and a dozen rays, smooth hound, congers in the 11 species caught by the 8 of us (well 6 of us really). Minehead is a wonderful venue for an early year species hunt.
The crews in Poole faired less well with the winds being much stronger there, Brett Lomas and Andy Wells winning their boats respectively.
Off to Lyme Regis and Littlehampton on 19 April for the next round of the Species League, looking forward to it already.
Thanks to Michael Webber Griffiths on Teddie Boy, Ryan Jones on Ocean Runner and Dick Peckham on Strongbow for putting us over the fish. Thanks also to Luke Allen for organising things in Poole and to Sea fishing Poole for supplying bait from the kiosk.