Sunday, 24 October 2010

You are the Weakest Link!

I don't normally fish competitions, however the opportunity to fish the Flamer Annual Two Day Species Competition was too good to miss. I knew that it would be an opportunity to fish a variety of marks, learn from some good match anglers and hopefully add to my species list for the year. Ten points were awarded for a species on the list and up to ten fish of each species would gain extra points. On landing a fish the captor calls out their name and species to Colin the skipper. I wasn't bothered about competing and decided to concentrate on tactics which might add a new species to the challenge.

The forecast for Saturday was poor and we set sail later than planned to miss the worst of the weather. As a consequence the water had coloured up and we could only fish inshore marks. 

At anchor we fished three hook flowing traces and caught dogfish, red gurnards, starry smoothhounds, scad and for James a dragonet.

In between the sessions at anchor we fished several areas around Portland drifting for wrasse. Due to the colour in the water the wrassing was poor, although we all managed to catch some ballan and corking wrasse along with pollack and pout. Just off the end of Portland Breakwater I had battle royal with a specimen ballan weighing 5lb 4oz.

Robin suggested that we ended the day fishing for mini species in Weymouth Harbour itself! Imagine the scene, a charter boat moored up to a pontoon by the bridge with five grown men fishing off the stern of the boat, catching tiny wrasse, blennies and gobies shouting out their name and species to the scorer, with an audience on the quayside! Anyway I did catch my first black goby. Robin caught a light coloured goby, probably a sand goby. At the end of day one I was in third position.

One of the anglers, Gareth (who was the army champion) could not fish on Sunday. His place was taken by Andy's partner, Glenys. Sunday was an early start and it was still dark as we sailed out of Weymouth Harbour.

We started the day in Portland Harbour on the drift where we caught mackerel, pollack, pout and wrasse including a goldsinney to me and two cuckoo wrasse to Glenys.

A drift over the wreck of the Hood didn't produce the targeted red band fish so we went east off the Purbeck cliffs. The area just off Durdle Door is a top spot for cuckoo wrasse. Although the wrasse were not playing ball, Robin caught a rare baillons wrasse, which looks like a corkwing but with red fins.

A few drifts over a wrecked landing craft produced loads of pouting and some black bream. The day ended at anchor where once again the dogfish showed along with thornback rays, garfish and a tub gurnard.              

Over the two days I caught thirteen species including one new to the challenge and saw my first baillons wrasse, cuckoo wrasse, dragonet and tub gurnard. I learned that when species hunting, a sensitive boat quivertip style rod helps to convert more bites, especially on the drift for wrasse and that at anchor it pays to use attractor beads.

Although I came fourth, I was awarded the "weakest link" trophy as the lowest scoring angler who fished both days. The trophy currently adorns our downstairs loo.

Next year I will compete!