EFSA England Species (Smoothound) Festival
19th & 20th May 2012.
Most of the 28 Anglers arrived at the Eastney Cruising Association on Friday night to register, catch up with friends and acquaintances and perhaps have a drink or two. The forecast for Saturday look pretty good with light wind and sunshine, the catch reports were not quite as optimistic as 3 weeks earlier when many hounds were caught as a by catch whilst Bream fishing, still there are hounds to be caught. The scoring system is 10 points for any hounds over 70cm and 5 points for any that are less than 70cm.
27 of the 28 anglers arrived at Eastney however 1 local angler ended up in Southsea, still at least he said “sorry” for being slightly late. The weather forecast was spot on and the four boats left the harbour in search of the fish the chosen area to start was the hard ground east of the nab Tower (a strange structure that resembles a floating hotel from afar) It was a bit of a slow start in the shallow area so the boats moved into slightly deeper water to try to find the quarry.
Paul Milkins struggled to find a way of mounting the peeler crab to his hook, Ray Barron offered his considerably expertise by showing Paul his preferred method, this proved to be more than successful as Paul matched Ray fish for fish throughout the day. I did not quite see the detail but it looked as though the crab was mounted sideways through the rear leg sockets, and then whipped in place by its remaining legs with the claws left loose, some anglers also cut the body to allow the juices to flow. Hook lengths were kept quite short with 3-4 ft of 50-80lb mono the norm.
There were a total of 90 Smoothound briefly detained to measure and record, all were returned to sea. Measuring the larger specimens for the count back system proved to be quite challenging, try laying a 90cm hound in a length of gutter and keep it straight for long enough to record the length ! Over 100cm and a tape measure was required to record the total length.
Ray Barron captured 9 hounds to secure the 1st day’s top spot closely followed by Paul Milkins and Colin Searles on 8 each.
Longest specimen was 114cm caught by Martin Bobbett onboard Dawn Venture; the top two positions for day one also came aboard Dawn Venture.
The weather looked completely different from day one, the wind had changed direction and increased to force 4 with 6-7 forecast for late afternoon, no laying back enjoying the sunshine today.
The boats headed the Selsey Bank (around 20-25 minutes from port) the water was quite shallow (around 36-38ft) the tide was none too fierce with 6-8 ounces of lead more than capable of holding bottom. Ian Mclean boated one of the smallest hounds I’ve seen for many years a fine young specimen of around 250-300mm long, still it added 5 points to his score.
Not too many hounds were recorded in the 1st hour so the decision was made to move the boats further offshore, the deeper water around Utopia proved a good move as most boats soon reported fish captures most of which were 10 pointers.
Other species were also boated including Thornback Ray, Bass, Pout, Bream and Star fish. Several Whelks managed to find the crab baits, some of which done a fine job of masking the hook point, this could have added to the number of fish dropped early in the fight.
Fight is a good description for these superb sporting fish, the larger specimens hugged the bottom, swam directly at you, kited off to either side of the boat, headed under the boat, took line or a combination of all, a few even swam out of the net just as the skippers tried to lift it, Ash Currier lost an estimated 18-20lb specimen when it powered out of the net, tangled the lines then headed for freedom.
1st Paul Milkins – 200 points
2nd Ash Currier – 170 points
3rd Ray Barron – 165 points
Two man open
1st Neil Bryant / Ray Barron – 260 points
2nd Ash Currier / Martin Bobbett – 250 points
3rd Simon Norman / Paul Milkins – 250 points (count back to largest specimen)
Four man open
1st Ash Currier / Martin Bobbett / Gary Galbraith / Matt Osborne – 475 points
2nd Perry Dack / Andy Selby / Neil Bryant / Ray Barron – 440 points
3rd Barrie senior / Peter Bailey / David Mann / Colin Searles
Longest hound 121cm – Matt Osborne
Top Boat – Wight Huntress
Glen Milligan (the boat commodore) managed to find plenty of fish to secure top boat with an average of 111.71 points per angler.
Many thanks to Matt & Ray for securing the superb bait plus all those who helped keep them, separate them freeze them and count them.
Thanks to Eastney Cruising Association for the use of the facilities, the skippers for the tea, coffee and finding the fish.
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