If January and February were about variety and chopping and changing tactics to deliver a day’s sport then March is the exact opposite. Today we had one “all or nothing” plan which Dave Pitman, skipper of Atlanta out of Weymouth, executed to perfection.
Today the weather would not only be benign but it almost felt that it was saying sorry for all the rubbish it has thrown the sea angler’s way so far this year. The winds were probably F2 or less and variable all day. With weather set so fair, the Skipper decided that we would head out to mid-Channel to chase super fit spring run Weymouth pollack.
Once you have decided on this option you are committed without the comfort of other fishing options close by. We set off from the mooring with a full complement of anglers aboard and headed out to a glassy flat sea. I was however lulled in to a false sense of security and as we rounded Portland Bill Point I stepped to the rail to shoot some video of the lighthouse only to get drenched by a wave coming across the starboard rail. Wish I had bothered to put my waterproof trousers on, still, it was not cold and I soon dried out.
Misty Start On The Bait
After clearing the Bill, we hit fog that persisted for a good 15 miles. It creates and eerie solitude on the water befitting of a 1970’s horror flick with just the odd hulking ship or sea bird suddenly appearing to remind you that you are not alone.
We cleared the fog as the sun broke through and it remained glorious all day with just a long lazy swell on the water more reminiscent of summer than late winter.
Arriving at the first wreck, a ship of some 300ft lying in 180 feet of water, at slack water I decided to have crack with a bit of bait first to see if there was anything different lurking in the depths. I baited my hook with a live hermit crab and lowered away. After a few seconds of fishing the bait along the bottom, I had a hit but as quickly as the bite hit the fish was off. At the end of the drift, I retrieved to find that the hook had broken. Was it a monster wrasse or did I just pick a duff rusty hook?
I decided to have another go with the baited rig on the next drift but with no success. A couple of other anglers who had tried mackerel and squid found the pouting and I decided it was time to get serious and concentrate on the job in hand. I retied my trace, this time loaded with a black and orange Redgill Evolution. We started our third drift of the day, travelling a bit quicker with the tide building. It was just 20 turns up from the seabed that I had a hit. The fish went solid for a minute then allowed me to start gaining. It then woke up and took a terrific run before battling all the way to the surface. I had declared that it was not that big, probably just athletic, but when it came to the boat it was nudging double figures and provided an excellent start to the day.
The Pollack Perform
Portland Mick managed another smaller pollack on the next drift but most of the rest of us just hooked the hungry wreckage and lost gear. The fishing then dried up and with just two target fish in the box Dave called for a move. We travelled another 5 miles or so to a wreck that Geraint’s I-Phone app told us may have been a World War 1 destroyer.
This time we hit the mother lode and first drift saw me in to another pollack with Dave and Dee dancing back and forth with net and gaff to make sure all the other captors saw their golden flanked fish safely in to the boat. The crew remarked at the time that you rarely saw such a consistently high average size for the fish coming aboard and we would end the day with an average of around 10lbs per fish – cracking quality. This quality would continue all day.
My father, Pops, had the touch today and gave me a fair beating in our competition that has been raging for 36 years – still, he was probably due a result.
Last time out we were joined by an angler who was only just starting out on his boat-fishing career, although he is an experienced shore and coarse angler. He showed us all up on that occasion by catching the best whiting and a very nice blonde ray. Well today he continued where he left off with a nice haul of fish including the best of the day – an excellent 14lbs 14oz specimen.
Geraint proved that he can conjure up the fish as well as fascinating facts about the wrecks we were fishing and he did not need an app to do it. At one point he could have done with a fish holding app as a slippery customer made a determined attempt to escape.
So with plenty of fish on board Dave called for lines up and it was time to start the long haul home. Good job it was a long trip though as Dee had a massive task to gut and fillet all those prime Pollack.
So today was about targeting one particular species when they are at their strongest and fittest and you can only say “Mission Accomplished”!