Angling is a diverse sport in many ways with variations even within different branches of the sport. An interclub species competition based on a boat was a first for me and I had been looking forward to the trip after finding myself stepping forth due to other club members being unable to make it. After a call for volunteers I was delighted when John Shapland offered to join me as John loves his species fishing making him the perfect team member.
The event was fished off Minehead aboard Steve Webbers ‘Osprey’ son Michaels boat ‘Teddie Boy’. We all met at the harbour at 8:15 to draw our boat and position. Rules were read out; 3 hook’s one rod, five points for the first of each species, one point thereafter for each fish with the maximum tenth fish earning 7 points. Team members would be in different boats with the results combined to give the club position.
I was pleased to draw a day on ‘Teddie Boy’ as I have fished many times on Steve’s boat and was pleased to meet his young son who is probably the youngest charter boat skipper in the UK at the age of 18. It was obvious from the start that young Michael had been well trained by his father handling the boat with an air of confidence far exceeding his years.
We started off dropping anchor at a mark in Porlock Bay just a few hundred yards off Bossington Beach. Three hook rigs were the order of the day; I had elected to fish a two up one down rig, a 3/0 Sakuma Manta on the bottom baited with squid and sandeel with a mix of king ragworm segments and squid strips on the two upper hooks consisting of size 2 and size 6 Sakuma Manta’s.
Looking around the boat at my fellow anglers it was clear that they were all geared up for this species fishing with a multitude of varied rigs and a selection of quivertip rods designed for targeting a wide range of species. Size does not matter in this game its all about catching different species in numbers.
My neighboring angler got off to a flying start bringing three fish to the boat on his first drop, a rockling, pollock and dogfish if my memory serves me right. I take note of the rig with three small hooks.
It was not long before my rod tip was nodding and I was into my first fish of the day. It was no surprise that was a dogfish, but on this occasion a welcome one as it put five points on the board. For the next hour I concentrated on catching ten dogfish. I also landed a bonus poor cod, the only other species I managed on this mark. Team members from other clubs have managed their quota of dogfish plus a few pouting, rockling, small Pollock, tiny huss and a couple of smoothound.
With the sea calm beneath a bright blue sky it was good be to out there on the water as always. Young Michael ensures we all have tea and coffee as required and we all chat amongst ourselves as anglers do with a little banter between those who know each other and friendly chat between new acquaintances.
The next mark is off Ivy Stone between Porlock and Foreland Poin.t Michael informs us it’s worth a try for bigger species using the up-tide rods. This was more like normality for me and I felt confidant casting out a pennel rig of 6/0 sakumas baited with squid and bluey. I also attached a short flyer with a size 6 hook baited with a segment of ragworm in the hope of tempting bonus species. It was not long before my rod tip nodded and a smoothound of 5lb plus gave a pleasing account on the up-tide rod. Successions of dogfish ensured that everyone’s quota for the species was maxed out times over. These fish must pave the seabed it seemed. A change to crab and prawn brought me a second hound and the flyer a miniature bull huss born just a short time ago.
As the tide turns a thornback ray is tempted by one of the competitors and was surprisingly the only one of the day. All eyes then turned to Pete Austin whose rod was bent well over as something large and powerful lunged on the end of the line. After an epic struggle a large eel surfaced and was scooped into the net. Pete’s big fish approach with big fish bait large hook and heavy trace accounted for the day’s biggest catch a fine conger that weighs 39lb 7oz. Strangely its worth the same points as my tiny bull huss.
By now it was a glorious late spring day with a blue sky and lush green trees straddling the steep cliffs of the Exmoor coast. As the tide pull increased we added a few more fish to the tally until it became uncomfortably strong as a strong westerly wind rocked the boat. A move close inshore was decided on. It was deemed time to scale down and try for those small species that could make all the difference to the final scores. I got a few more dogfish and missed a few rattles. Rockling, pouting and poor cod brought a few more points around the boat but it seemed our sport for the day was ebbing away.
17:00 was lines in and time to steam back to Minehead. The boat rode comfortably back with the wind at our back. Seagulls gathered to swoop and collect discarded bait from the day, twisting and turning, emitting a familiar cry that mingled with the chugging of the boats engine and surging of the water. Blue sky’s, fresh vivid, green woodland, white topped waves, life felt good bobbing along on the crest of the waves.