Saturday, 20 August 2011
Pompey and the Pop Art Ray
I travelled down to Portsmouth the night before as I had an early start ahead of me. My hastily booked bed and breakfast turned out to be a recently decommissioned care home complete with emergency night nurse alarms, that story will have to wait for another day!
I boarded Sea Juicer skippered by Rob Hicklin ready for a 6.45am sail. Portsmouth is an interesting place to sail from, as there is lots to see on the outward journey. There are a number of naval craft including the oldest commissioned ship in the navy, Nelson's Victory.
As well as the ships there are some interesting buildings. The Spinakker Tower at 170 metres in hight dominates the skyline as you leave Portsmouth Harbour. The Palmerston sea forts were built in the Solent to protect the eastern approaches to Portsmouth Harbour in 1859. One of these forts is apparently being developed as luxury apartments, presumably complete with helipad?
On the way out we stopped off to catch some mackerel for bait, however despite trying three marks only a handful of mackerel rewarded our efforts. I am convinced that substituting the lead weight for a shiny pirk improves the catch rate, especially when the mackerel are thin on the ground.
We drew lots for our fishing position and I drew a peg at the stern of the boat, generally considered the best spot for downtiding.
You can usually tell when a ray bites, as there are a few gentle knocks as the ray settles on top of the bait, followed by the rod pulling over as the fish moves off. As Rob predicted an hour into the flood I landed a specimen 16lb undulate ray. The markings are exquisite, indeed Trevor Housby called them the "pop art ray". Other anglers added a couple of small thornbacks to the bag.
Once the tide eased I unsuccessfully fished baited hokkais hoping for a tub gurnard. Other anglers who fished light had some black bream, scad, mackerel and a red gurnard between them. It was one happy angler that sailed back into Portsmouth Harbour that evening.
I spent a few hours fishing at Brighton Marina the following day hoping for a Red Mullet or Twaite Shad. Ideally I would have liked an evening tide rather than high tide at 4pm. I fished a two hook flapper with lugworm on one rod and floatfished mackerel strip on the other. Mackerel and garfish are great sport on light tackle, and although not numerous, I caught enough mackerel and garfish to feed the family and supplement my bait freezer. One of the problems with trying to mix styles is you do neither well and I missed a couple of bream bites on the legered bait. To avoid the wrasse I fished about twenty yards out and landed four small black bream, the angler next door asked me to ID his gurnard which turned out to be a small red mullet! With the wind strengthening I called it a day at 4pm as waves were starting to crash over the breakwater.