With my sea angling now in the fullest of swings a 03:30 Sunday morning alarm call was not as bad as it may sound. The thought of casting some plastics around from the boat on a mirror calm morning as the sun comes up is enough for me (anyone) to get out up early.
The sight that welcomed us was not as hoped. In fact it was a bit damp, cold and altogether unwelcoming, but, it was nice and calm so with we escaped Portsmouth Harbour at 04:30 and made the 12mile journey to our first spot.
Spring tides at low water on the shallow reefs can be iffy but equally rewarding. We creep in slow and start our drifts in 6ft of water just as the tide slackens off. The drift takes us into deeper water and we hope to find Bass in the shallow water and the Ballans in the slight drop-offs where they gather at low tide. A seal in the distance doesn’t help a slow start and while we get a couple of 30-35cm Ballans early on we don’t get the real big fish (or the Bass) as we did a week previous. We see a few Gannets and Terns mooching around looking fairly bored and for a while we felt their pain. Adam and Chris then manage a decent Bass and a Ballan between them and we get buzzed only for the fishing to slow again. Time to move.
Thankfully the area we are fishing has plenty of alternatives so we head south a mile or so to some deeper water and the bites are quick to show. A cracking Ballan for Ad is followed by an aggressive take for me on a Punch CrawZ. (I’d made the switch to a creature bait to try and make something work after a slow start, all my best Wrasse in the previous trips had been on Shads. I was fishing the bait on a TT HeadlockZ and just inching it across the bottom as slow as the drift allowed). The aggressive take was followed by some erratic dives and I knew it was something different. To be honest I was hoping for a Gurnard but to my surprise it was a lovely Plaice! I shouldn’t have been surprised as I’ve had several of these flatfish over the years while Wrasse fishing but it’s still a nice sight to see these fish come to the surface with a plastic in its mouth. Plaice are super inquisitive and I wonder how often those little taps on big plastics that don’t result in a hook-up are flatfish having a little taste.
It’s 8am and tea-time. As the throng of local charter boats arrive at a nearby well known Smoothound and Bream mark we decide to go freestyle and see what we can find. A rapid 6mile journey clears the cobwebs and we’re again fishing shallow water that drops of almost sheer into 70ft. We get some strange bites that don’t connect and after several lure changes I manage to hook into some Pollack. Adam had already cracked the code with metals a few minutes previous but I stuck it out with Texas rigged Shads and got my reward. The Black Flagg Slikk Shads were a bit of a hero on the day and accounted for lots of fish. Our inshore Pollack fishing is very limited so the 40-50cm range fish we encountered were a nice find. (These numbers went straight into plotter!)
This particular mark has ‘funk’ written all over it. I just know a Tompot Blenny of a lifetime is there somewhere or a Baillons or a Topknot etc etc etc . So I get the light gear out with the old Isome on a drop-shot to see what’s around and predictable get smashed by a Pollack very quick. After that I hook several small Ballans but no oddities. I will return. Being able to fish in 70ft with 5g is a novelty that I cannot pass up. The current here does funny things. Not half a mile away I’d have to use 2oz to get anywhere near the bottom!
It’s late morning and my pass for the day is about to expire so we make the long journey back home. We can’t believe we haven’t seen any birds working through the morning and this is matched by some talk on the VHF from anglers struggling to find Bass. We did expect more surface action to be honest so when we see a few lazy gulls sat in a tight patch we sneak in and are welcomed by a freak load of Bass pushing baitfish up to the surface. Very aware I’m on borrowed time my conscious brain says to keep on motoring home to keep the boss lady happy. All the while my unconscious brain had picked up a rod and started to cast feverishly at the fish.
We all get Bass although they’re not as suicidal as Bass can often be. Metals were the real killer here as they replicated the baitfish size perfectly. I stuck with plastic hoping to find a better fish and had a 42cm Bass which was marginally better than the others landed. What’s gets me really fired up though is the other fish that get drawn into the commotion. A mid-water Ballan got involved as did Mackerel and Garfish. We could’ve hung around there all afternoon but we reluctantly had to leave them alone.
Not a bad day then. The Pollack, Bass and Ballan Wrasse grand slam on lures was achieved. A mega bonus Plaice on a creature stole the show though. Way more impressive than it’s current 66 ‘likes’ on Facebook depict and species #22 for the year.
My most played lures of the day are below shown rigged how they were fished in the day.
The Black Flagg Slikk Shads 3.75″ in Forage Shad and Chart Shad.
Z-Man Punch Crawz in Okeechobee Craw
Z-Man Scented Paddlerz in Nuked Pilchard.