Friday, 2 December 2011

Review of 2011

I can't believe that another year is nearly over. In the run up to Christmas I like to take a break from fishing and spend time with the family.

I suppose I miss the "closed seasons" that used to be a part of the coarse and game angling year. I think that this field sport our ours is all the poorer for it. An enforced break is the ideal time to reflect on the years fishing, sort out the tackle and make plans for the year ahead. Newbies will never know the excitement that came with those first casts of a new season.

During 2011 I fished on 47 days, most but not all of which are written up in this blog. Six days were spent game fishing with seven days coarse fishing. 2011 was totally dominated by the call of the sea. I failed to catch a fish on only three occasions. 

Although I had intended to do some midweek coarse specimen hunting during 2011, I had not realised just how much time is needed in planning trips and preparing one's equipment when almost every trip is targeting a different species.


I fished in 16 counties during the year (Cornwall, Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex, Kent, Essex, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Argyl, Wrexham, Carmarthenshire, Gwynedd and Anglesey). 

At the start of this year my target was to reach 90 species during 2011, so I am pleased to end the year on 98. The weather frustrated my plans with at least half of all the charter boat trips I booked, being cancelled due to strong winds. I suspect that if the weather had been kinder on my October holiday that I may well have reached the 100 a year early.

If the windy weather was the low point,  some of the fishy highlights are pictured on this page. I must take the opportunity to thank the charter skippers, fishery owners and tackle dealers that have helped put me on fish. One of the nice things about fishing is the "brotherhood of the angle" and I have met loads of great lads (and lasses) who have added greatly to the enjoyment of my fishing trips.

I was so focussed on the 100 that I surprised myself when I counted up my species count for the year. I managed 73 species of which 54 were saltwater species. I was not aiming for a high species count, merely looking to add new species. It has made me think about just how many species it might be possible to catch in 12 months.  

 Only two species of fish that I had previously caught in British waters have eluded me so far in this challenge, the blue shark and stone loach.

In addition to the species I caught, I witnessed and missed out on a further six species: brill, common dragonet , butterfly blenny, greater weever, red mullet and trigger fish.

The largest fish I caught during 2011 was a "back breaking" common skate of 202lb, the smallest a two inch motherless minnow.

I have drawn up a list of over twenty species that I hope to target during 2012 which will take me to the West coast of Scotland, Wales and the Southern coast of England. I suspect that I may make several trips down to explore the species rich waters off the beautiful and rugged cornish coastline. Hopefully in 2012 I will get out a couple of times on average each week, life really is too short to let work get in the way of your fishing.

My hitlist for 2012 comprises of porbeagle shark, blue shark, black mouthed dogfish, small eyed ray, stingray, three bearded rockling, tadpole fish, brill, megrim, streaked gurnard, greater weever, butter fish, viparious blenny, pilchard, canary goby, butterfly blenny, yarrells blenny, smelt, shad, red mullet, trigger fish, powan, gilthead bream, red bream and stone loach.

I like to set targets each year and have set myself two for 2012. Firstly I hope to reach my challenge total of 100 species from British waters in three years during the first half of the year, and add a few more as the year progresses. Secondly to make life interesting I am also going to see whether I can beat my 2011 total of 73 species. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed my fishing during 2011, have you? Join me in 2012 to see whether I finally reach my target of catching 100 species of fish from British waters, and find out just how many species is it possible to catch in just 12 months?