Solent Fishing - Smoothound & Thornback Ray

I was lucky enough to have the Friday off so a short notice session was arranged. I met up with Andy a bit later than envisaged at around 0930. We paddled out to a favoured location only to be plagued with weed, yet again!. We moved around the bay trying a couple of more likely locations, though the weed proved to be persistent.


However, it did eventually come good and we settled down to some fishing. After a quiet spell my rod tip thumped down and I was into what I knew was a decent Smoothound. After a good tussle it came to the surface and it was a cracker!!. The drama continued on the surface for another minute of two before it came towards the yak. It was a beauty, I was guessing somewhere around 15-17lb. As I grabbed the back of its neck it flipped over backwards and threw the hook. I was rather gutted to say the least, I reckon the hook sums up the encounter!.


That's a Kamasan Uptide 3/0, rather disappointing hence I'll be going back to a fully forged hook as per last year.

Andy was enjoying himself landing a few small smuts, a first for him. He was all excited with the small ones so I really cant wait til he hooks into a double figure fish!

I just cant help getting annoyed when I see trawlers fishing so close to the shore, there's really no need. I'm a big supporter of the suggested 'Golden Mile' to restrict commercial fisherman in an effort to rebuild fish stocks.

Sat there in the kayak only 50-100m away I could clearly see the mud slick behind as the bottom was scraped clean.

The tide slackened resulting in a quiet hour where there was very little action. However, as the tide turned the bites returned. My mackerel-baited rod bent over with line streaming from the reel. After a good fight against a running tide a nice Thornback Ray came onto the yak.


They're not my favourite fish, though catching one from time to time is always a pleasing moment. A couple of photos and he was soon diving hard for the bottom.


In the meantime Andy had picked up a nice table-sized bass. Rather annoyingly the weed picked up once more so we headed in with the hope of finding some cleaner water. During this time a fresh wind picked up from the south west making the fishing a little bouncy, nothing too exciting though.

The weed continued to get worse so we decided to call it a day earlier than planned. Though we had no real complaints as we both caught fish and for the majority of the time the weather was great.

Solent Fishing - Difficult times

The smoothound season is in full swing though right now I'm not catching them in any great numbers. The reason is simple, WEED, mountains of the stuff. I really should have taken a few photos of my recent misery.

You sit there, whipping a nice big juicy peeler crab bait onto your Kamasan 3/0 chemically sharpened hook prior to flicking it 20 metres downtide. No sooner have you tightened up when the tip starts to bend over. A couple more minutes and there's a steady bend in the rod, five more minutes and it's pulling right over. Reeling in, nope, pumping in would be a far better description, reveals a ball of weed the size of a football.

Regardless of how many times you lift anchor and move to another spot there's just been no escaping the damned stuff. The weed is right through the Solent at the moment, I even drove for over an hour the other day but failed to escape it.

I fished below the New Forest yesterday, launching at the end of Tanners Lane. I've fished from the shore here many times in the past, though it the first time from the yak. I fished with two others and we tried a few different areas, the furthest a mile and a half from the launch site, though sadly we were unable to escape the weed.

We fished until it was getting dark and called it a day. Glancing at my watch showed about thirty minutes to last orders at the local pub, so de-rigging was accomplished in record time before driving like a bat out of hell. This resulted in the highlight of the evening, a cracking and much needed pint!

Peeler crab is in short supply at the moment and I'm hoping that the Spider crab will start making their annual appearance in order to replenish my rapidly depleting stocks. I reckon I can muster enough for a couple more trips before I have to delve into my wallet for some sub-standard bait. Fingers crossed the spiders show up sometime real soon.

Whilst talking about bait the mackerel are here, though they are extremely patchy to say the least. I've had a couple of goes at bagging some, the first trip resulting in four, the next trip in two. Hard times indeed!

I managed another trip mid-week in which I did a little batter managing thirteen in total.

It's frustratingly hard work, though the thought of paying almost £3 for three undersized blast frozen fish (that turn to mush once thawed) keeps me going.

I packed recently for a days bream fishing, driving over an hour into Dorset only to be greeted by a strong onshore blow. I sat there for a further hour watching it grow in strength. Before long it was white horses as far as the eye could see. Just how do the weather forecasters get it so wrong at times?!. Another failed trip.

It's also that time of year in the Solent when the amount of recreational shipping increases dramatically. Although there are no doubt some superb sailors out there, many clearly lack basic skills, and more importantly common sense and simple observational skills. All this leads to you having dual eyeball control like an Apache helicopter pilot!, one eye on your rod tip whilst the other is doing a 360 degree scan of the surrounding water. All good stuff.

Whilst out on the water the other day a huge trimaran came sailing past with a truly amazing turn of speed, quite something. Loud mechanical clankings inside as course changes were made and sails bought about, it really was something else. Look closely and you can see a person on the far hull.

Maybe I'll upgrade my yak after all !

The fish are out there and I'm desperate to clock up some serious time on the water. Though to aid this the weed needs to ease and allied to that the weather needs to come on side. It'll come good, though whether it's soon enough to please me is another matter, sadly out of my control.

Smoothound action !

It was one of those days when I wasn't sure if I was going to make it out or not. One moment it's all go, the next moment all is cancelled However, with an hour or so to go to my planned launch time things came good, so I quickly starting throwing gear into the car.

The weather forecast seemed pretty good, forecasting light south easterly winds to continue into the early hours before picking up into a fresh wind.

I met up with Gary, a friend from work who's new to the sport but finding his feet quickly. We launched around 8pm and paddled to short distance to our chosen mark. The breeze was a little fresher than anticipated and put us in a wind over tide situation, not ideal. This resulted in us anchoring from the bow which I find far from ideal when fishing for Smoothounds. Why?, because they have a habit of going nuts when approaching the yak and will tangle with just about anything in the water!

The rig was a simple 3' running ledger baited with peeler crab. During the earlier sessions last month I'd found myself missing a lot of fish, though switching on to Kamasan 3/0 uptide hook has increased my hook-up rate dramatically.

We settled down into a routine and over the next hour I missed a couple of decent rattles, purely down to the fact that I had great difficultly in maintaining a tight line to the bait. Finally the tide turned and the yaks followed suit putting the winds on our backs and pointing downtide. This put us in a far better position, anchored from the stern with a tight line to the bait.

It wasn't too long before the rod tip bent over and I was into my first Smoothound of the evening. Nothing sizable but it gave a good account of itself.


I'd borrowed a couple of spider peelers from a friend, though on cutting them open they turned out to be 90% water, a bit of a disaster as I was limited on bait. However, more by luck than good judgment I'd packed a large bag of peeler crab legs. I sat there quite happily shelling them, tying them into bundles to use as bait. They turned out to be a cracking bait and produced a few good fish during the evening.

The weed was heavy at times, though fortunately is seemed to come and go making the session quite fishable. Rather disappointingly the wind freshened up considerably, peaking out at around 20 knots. The sea state lifted accordingly and a messy swell started to pass through the Solent.

Gary was reaching the limits of his comfort zone so headed a little further inshore in search of some calmer water, though the easterly blow was going to make that a rather difficult quest!.

The last couple of fish were of a decent stamp providing me with some cracking sport. The next couple of months provide, what's for me, the best sport that the Solent area has to offer.


The weather continued to deteriorate, as much as I had no real problem fishing it for a couple more hours it seemed sensible to call it quits. Being Gary's fourth or fifth trip there's also no point in sickening yourself by fishing in poor weather conditions.


I retrieved my gear and headed over to where Gary was fishing. As I closed in I could see he was unhooking a decent fish, his best so far. A couple of photos were duly taken before we headed back to shore.

Despite the disappointing weather conditions the fishing turned out to be pretty good. I reckon Gary's confidence is growing rapidly and he's clearly getting to grips with the sport !

The weather is looking a little grim for the next few days though hopefully I'll be back out chasing the Smoothounds later next week, cant wait !

Trying for Tope

Recent reports from Tywyn in Wales had shown the area was producing some good numbers of Tope, a little hit and miss but there were definitely being caught. The opportunity to fish the big spring tides was sadly missed due to work commitments which resulted in a quickly arranged trip the following weekend.

It's just short of 300 miles from home to this venue, the last few miles through tediously winding roads, though the fantastic scenery made up for this.

After a little research on the internet and Google Earth a small campsite right on the shoreline was chosen. Small with basic amenities it might have been, but what a cracking location.

Arrived late afternoon and made camp, being a school half term weekend meant it was busy so the pitch wasn't ideal. Once sorted we drove around making a recce of the launch sites before settling down to a few drinks around the campfire whilst the sun went down, just perfect!!

An early start was accompanied by a fried breakfast before sandwiches, etc, were made in preparation for the first days fishing. The launch site is a small river a few hundred yards short of the beach, the last stretch picking up into a shallow run, good fun.

The surf was very light on the beach, the water clarity superb, it's just a lovely spot. We paddled out to a depression where we dropped Tope traces baited which mackerel. The skies were clear, the temperature warm, catching was going to be but a bonus!, this for me is what kayak fishing is all about.

We didn't have the reef to ourselves, there were a few other yak fisherman out there making a good half dozen.

The fish were soon showing an a multitude of Bullhuss came to the yak. Most were of the 4-6lb bracket as can be seen below, though a few made double figures. The are quite a strong fish and seem to have a habit of trying to bite you, making getting a photo rather difficult. The latter 'type' left the yak before they could be captured by the lens!

There's a multitude of jellyfish over the reef, some extremely large. The photo below shows a nice specimen, the water clarity allowing a decent photo to be taken, this one was a good 3-4m deep.
Paddling back in later that evening saw be literally paddling through a soup of jellyfish right on the surface, not something you encounter everyday!
I steady weight on one retrieve indicated weed, however, it turned out to be a good sized spider crab. Happily it was my only encounter with one over the two day trip.

The Tope failed to show at all, not even a single run. It was the same for the other anglers on the water whether in boat or yak. The packs of Tope just weren't about, frustrating, but that's fishing.
A string of baited feather produced a steady run of Bream, nothing sizeable though I'd heard they can run to 3lb on the reef. I was hoping for a few keepers for dinner though none of them made much more than a pound.

We launched around 9am and returned to shore just before 7pm, a long session, probably my longest time afloat. Again, there was little surf to speak of on the beach.

What we hadn't considered was the short trek back up the river to a point where we could paddle back to the launch site. If I was exhausted after the time afloat I certainly was after dragging the yak upstream!.

Returning to camp we chilled out whilst sorting out our gear for the following day. The campsite allowed a campfire per pitch which was a pleasant change in this 'health and safety' conscious world.
As the sun dropped down we chilled out with a few drinks hoping that the following day would bring us better fortune..
Another morning and another fried breakfast to get us going. Paddling down the river revealed a slightly different beach. The surf had risen to about 3' at times, something new to me. There are some good article on the net about tackling surf, something I've read up on in the past.
Despite hitting a couple of nice breakers on the way out it proved to be a doddle, however, I still had to come back in later that day.

The fishing was far quieter on the second day, with only a couple of nice Bullhuss and a couple of strings of mackerel. Despite starting off quite breezy is soon settled down into yet another cracking day. I can honestly say that you don't need to be catching when the days are as good as this.


I think we were still recovering from the day before, plus I don't think the late night and wine helped much either!. We called it a day after only six hours on the water.

The surf was still up, there was a yakker outside the surf zone contemplating re-entry. A couple of guys were playing in the surf on Ocean Frenzies, clearly getting flipped over onto their noses.. great!.

No point in messing about so my gear was stowed and I paddled in. The first wave picked me up and I accelerated towards the beach. Keeping my paddle behind and in the water enabled by to steer a straight course despite me leaning back as the nose went under. No great shakes and after a couple more breakers I was ashore.

Another trip up the river before making the short trip back to base camp. More drinks around the campfire and another cracking sunset.



Waking the next morning we were greeted by a strong wind so the planned final days fishing had to be canned. It wasn't too disappointing as I wasn't looking forward to a 5-6 hour drive home on completion of fishing.

So we went there in the hope of a Tope but caught none. Disappointed?, of course, but did it spoilt the trip??, not in the slightest.

The venue is stunning, the weather was cracking and there were plenty of fish being caught. The evenings were well oiled and sociable, you could hardly ask for a better few days away.

To be repeated, I might even catch a Tope next time !