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For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).
Yes they are!!!!
After the depressingly fishless early summer my last blog page ended with the following comments - "Perhaps I can end on a brighter note? On the eighth of August I had reports from two pals, Nigel and Richard, that there was a big shoal of mackerel on the Chesil and Nigel just back from Cornwall had seen a huge shoal of these fish feeding close inshore while he was away. Together with my recent catch from the mark that started me thinking in the first place it seems that things may be looking up. As a matter of interest the mackerel which I caught had all been feeding on tiny 5-7cm sprats so perhaps it won’t be long until other predatory fish follow and give us a good autumn."
It looks as though it was right at least for my local patch. Here are accounts of recent catches by my pals just to confirm what I'm saying.
Rob and Mike went to a deeper rock mark (which has been fishless for months) where I caught some mackerel the other morning and fished for just over an hour and a half with a variety of lures and tackle ranging from flies to wedges and Code Slims to Redgills. They landed 27 Mackerel, a pollack, five scad and a garfish. Not bad I'd say considering the number of blank trips previously.
On the recent big spring tides Phil, Bill, Nigel and Richard tried the weed middens and ledges for bass and mullet and they all caught fish using flies, weedless soft plastics and other lures. The bass were generally small but - like the mackerel some of them had been eating whitebait.
To add to this picture the local news is, today, reporting the biggest shoals of whitebait in the Weymouth area for years. Not a coincidence! The question now is Where did they come from? Have they (and their predators) been offshore? in deeper water? or is it possible that they have been dispersed and are just now shoaling up? Certainly the lack of fish has been unusual. The transformation is very sudden and appears to have progressed like a rapidly moving wave from the south west approaches. Has it happened everywhere? I'd really like to know.
Just one last comment. My epal Colin, fishing a bit further east than me, also expressed concerns about the potential quality of fishing. He said that his worries began in March when he visited some of his local marks on a 0.2m low. He said that the full extent of changes following the winter storms was laid out before him. Marks had changed beyond all recognition and the ‘hot spots’ discovered over years of patient exploration were wiped from the map or buried under feet of gravel. Certain areas still retained a ‘fishy’ look but the thought that entered his mind was that this fishiness depended on the shoals (mullet in his case) coming inshore. There was no reason to doubt that they would at this point, considering the elevated water temperature but he says he had a nagging concern, perhaps as a result of the massive shifts in the sea bed.
Unfortunately, his fears proved to be correct. Up to last week he had not encountered a single shoal of thick lips. Lone fish were present and visible in shallow water but their numbers were reduced. In addition the normal plagues of bass in the 3” to 1/2lb range which relentlessly snatch a passing nymph were also conspicuous by their absence (the latter fits in better with the picture elsewhere but mullet which aren't really predators were clearly affected in some way). Anyway, I hope that our experiences here in Dorset are repeated for Colin. Along with the bass, mackerel etc. our thicklips seem to have arrived and shoaled up on the current set of springs, probably because of weed cast up on a recent blow and the vast number of maggots generated. Fingers crossed. If so where were the mullet? Offshore? Deep water? or simply dispersed? Usually the answer to questions like these turns out to be a combination of several factors.
Thanks to Bill Fagg for the pictures.
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