Thursday, 11 March 2010


Just in case this blog makes me look vaguely successful my plans don't always work out.

Floundering in Poole Harbour

During my holiday I had decided to try and catch a big flounder from Poole Harbour which is famous for specimen flounder producing fish to over 4lb most years. It is also possible to fish with carp tackle rather than traditional beachcasting gear which appeals to my sport-fishing tendencies. I fished two sessions, the first on a night tide and the second on a daytime tide and on both occasions my ragworm baits remained untouched.

It was not until I visited the Wessex Angling Centre later in my holiday that I found out that the flounders arrive in September, the fishing peaks in December and January and by mid February they migrate to deeper water to spawn. Not surprisingly I blanked both times!

I wouldn't have missed the first visit however as the night drive back along studland was a real wildlife safari, I saw a badger, a fox, a tawny owl, several groups of sika deer and loads of rabbits. Maybe it was the bright moonlight that brought them all out to play?

Stour Chubbing

Once the Dorset Stour had fined down and some clarity had returned to the river I decided to spend a day chubbing on a free stretch, not suprisingly I opted to fish the swim that produced my personal best of 7lb 1oz (see photo) this time last year. Several hours and pints of maggots later I had acounted for just a minnow and a bullhead!

Boat Fishing off Weymouth

The last day of my holiday saw me joining a party of 6 anglers on board Flamer III out of Weymouth. We fished five marks during the day (banks and reefs) with  squid and mackerel cocktails on a pennell rig targetting Blonde Rays, Conger Eels, Bullhuss and other big fish. Colin Penny, the skipper is one of the UKs top charter skippers and in fifteen years has only ever experienced two completely blank days. This was almost the third the boat blank being saved by a single lesser spotted dogfish to one of the other anglers.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

A brace of two's

The River Frome at Wareham is famous for big roach having produced several in excess of three pounds in recent years. This stretch of river is tidal and is particularly unusual in that it has four high tides a day, something to do with the position of Poole Harbour in relation to that of the Isle of Wight.

At last some cloud cover, although still cold I decided to try for a big roach with the possibility of a sea trout for the species hunt. Luckily the river was back within it's banks, heavy rains at the start of my holiday combined with a spring tide meant that the water had been in the car park.

There were a number of anglers already fishing so I opted for the far end of the quay. I arrived at 1pm with the first high tide expected at 3.42pm. There was a distinct crease with a slacker area downstream of me on the inside.

I set up a pair of light quivertip rods to fish blockend feeders. A couple of maggots on a size 18 hook to a 3lb co-polymer hooklength completed the rig.

Before I had even cast out my second rod my inside rod was away. I am always nervous playing big roach as they have a tendency to come off! Like many roach this fish which weighed 2lb 1oz showed evidence of an earlier encounter with a cormorant. Just after 3pm the quivertip on the outside rod pulled round and again I felt the distinct nodding of a big roach. This one went 2lb 2oz on the scales, only the second time I have caught a brace of two pound roach in a single session.

I must take this opportunity to recommend two new drennan products that I have been using recently. Firstly the new vari-weight blockend feeders which are flattened at the bottom and enable you to balance the feeder to the flow, just perfect for river fishing. I can also recommend the new drennan red maggot hooks to nylon which are tied  to a co-polymer line, these offer great presentation and I particularly like the fact that the hooks are fairly fine in the wire and have fish friendly micro-barbs.

Although I fished until half past eight I only added a salmon parr and a decent dace to the bag.

I returned the following day, however the bright sunshine was back. I fished for several hours and blanked.

Friday, 5 March 2010

A date with Colin!

Lyle Stantiford is the youngest skipper in the Weymouth Charter Fleet and has recently taken charge of Supernova, a catamaran.

We sailed from Weymouth out into the English Channel and then westwards, a journey time of two hours with a distance covered of 30 miles. An interesting fact I discovered is that land disappears after 14 miles due to the curvature of the earth. We were in search of pollack from the wrecks, most of which date from the second world war and which lay in two hundred feet of water.

Pollack are a member of the cod family and renowned as a sporting fish. Twenty pound class tackle is used with an eight foot 30lb fluorocarbon trace and either a shad, jellyworm, redgill or sidewinder lure at the sharp end. To avoid tangles a boom is used carrying a 10oz lead to a rotten bottom. You do lose tackle in the wreckage so keep it simple.

The skipper aims to drift the boat downtide over the wreck motoring back to the start of the drift once the wreck has been covered. On the skippers instruction you lower your lure down to the bottom before retrieving steadily for 40 turns, lowering back down and starting again. When a pollack takes you feel a series of taps, do not strike, keep retrieving at the same speed until the pollack dives for the wreck and hooks itself. At the end of each drift you pull out whilst the skipper repositions the boat. By changing the lure type, size, colour and the speed of retrieve you hope to find the magic combination.

Lyle tried desperately hard to put us on pollack, moving between six wrecks during the course of the day. On wreck two I took a small pollack of around two or three pounds on a six inch black and red tail sidewinder eel fished slowly. The third wreck produced a lovely pollack of 11lb (precise weighing is difficult on a rocking boat) to the same tactics. The fifth wreck produced another slightly smaller pollack to a fast retrieve on Lyles advice. Between the eight of us we accounted for five pollack which was I am told a poor day.

The marketing people are promoting pollack as a sustainable eating fish, renaming the fish "colin". I can vouch that pollack are good eating, one fillet from my eleven pounder provided three meals.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Testing times

I sometimes wish this winter would just end! Temperatures are once again below normal (max 6 degrees) with hard frosts followed by bright days with a chilly north easterly winds, hardly conducive to good sport.

I decided to visit the River Test at Timsbury, where  three miles of main river and carriers are available on a day ticket. As this was my first visit I planned to travel light and explore the  fishery hoping for some decent grayling and maybe a bonus sea trout for the species hunt.

The Test normally runs clear but today the water had a distinct green tinge to it. By late afternoon I had walked the entire fishery and along with the other anglers present struggled talking a 3lb 5oz chub, a couple of brown trout and  a small grayling on my trotted maggots. One angler fishing the block-end feeder managed a number of fish including a magnificent 7lb sea trout.

I had learnt a lot from my maiden visit to the River Test and booked a return visit on Thursday.

On Thursday once again I had to de-ice the car before setting off for Timsbury. I decided to set out my stall for a sea trout and fished the swim that produced the big sea trout earlier in the week. I set up two light quivertip rods with the new Drennan vari-weight block end feeders and two foot fluorocarbon hooklengths to a size 14 barbless hook. I planned to draw fish to me. One rod was fished about a rod length out well downstream and the other slightly further out. Despite the bright sunshine during the morning I had half a dozen small grayling and a couple of brown trout to about four pounds. Then it went dead until late afternoon where in a five minute spell I missed three bites. It must have been a difficult day because everyone else had gone home. These were indeed testing times, however I was lucky enough to see a water rail emerge from the bankside reeds, these are extremely shy birds!