Monday, 20 December 2010

Reflections on 2010

It looks like 2010 is going to end like it began with snow lying on the ground and sub zero temperatures. In the run up to Christmas I like to take a break from fishing and spend time with the family. It is an ideal time to reflect on the years fishing, sort out the tackle and make plans for the year ahead.

During 2010 I fished on 71 days, most but not all of which are written up in this blog. Nine days were spent game fishing with the remainder evenly split between coarse and sea fishing. I failed to catch a fish on six occasions, mainly due to making poor decisions. I only bivvied up once whilst after catfish and the shortest session after a shanny lasted all of 15 minutes! Frankly I prefer short focussed sessions, lacking both the time and inclination to spend several days camping just to catch a fish.

 I travelled more than usual and fished in 17 counties during the year (Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Sussex, Gloucestershire, Surrey, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Rutland, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire and Anglesey). The most trips I had to any single water was three and I fished a number of new venues.

My favourite saltwater location is Weymouth,
due to the wide variety of fishing available from both boat and shore. Surprisingly I even enjoyed my trips to commercial coarse fisheries, not all of them are overstocked muddy holes!

At the start of this challenge my target was to catch 50 species during 2010, so I am pleased to end the year on 61. I caught 29 species for the first time. Only five species of fish that I had previously caught in British waters eluded me during 2010, these were blue shark, coalfish, stone loach, sea trout and zander.

In addition to the species I caught, I witnessed and missed out on a further eleven species: bull huss, common dragonet , tub gurnard, plaice, blonde ray,  blue shark, common smoothhound, tope, sea trout, baillions and cuckoo wrasse.

The sheer variety of fish to be found in British waters is staggering, some like the leopard spotted goby would not be out of place on a coral reef! The largest fish I caught during 2010 was a 20 pound plus catfish, the smallest a two inch three spined stickleback. Ironically it was catching some of the smallest species that gave me the biggest headaches, especially the bitterling and pumpkinseed.

I employed a wider range of techniques in 2010 than in any year previously. Less time was spent bolt-rigging in freshwater, a high proportion of the time saw me either trotting a float down a river or fishing a waggler or pole float on a stillwater. I fly fished on both stillwater and rivers for game fish and fished lures in the sea, as well as the more traditional float and leger rigs. I discovered that sea fishing can be sporting if you are able to use light tackle. Indeed after this challenge is over I intend to explore sport fishing in our seas, the last remaining truly wild fishing in our overcrowded island.

The highlight of 2010 for me was the 5lb 4oz ballan wrasse that I caught off Weymouth in October.

With only eight freshwater species left to catch, inevitably 2011 will be biased towards sea fishing. I hope to fish on 100 days during 2011 but as there are only four species that I can target locally, I will return to my specimen hunting roots for my midweek sessions. Weekends and days off will be spent at the coast and I hope to get out on the charter boats at least once a month.

I have drawn up a list of nearly forty saltwater species that I hope to target during 2011 which will take me to the west coast of Scotland, the coast of Wales and the south and south west coasts of England. I expect my species list to grow slowly during the first quarter of 2011, becoming more and more prolific as the year progresses through to the end of October. If I can reach 90+ species by  this time next year, then maybe achieving 100 species from British waters in three years will be within reach.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my fishing during 2010, have you? Join me in 2011 for another year of species hunting in British waters.