Weymouth report by Paul Whittall
There was an air of definite jubilation when the first charter trips took place out of Weymouth and Portland at the end of March. Prior to that there had been the occasional ‘jolly’ when skippers couldn’t resist having a quick trip to sea and sampling the fishing with inshore marks producing a very good variety of species including bream.
Summing up the skippers’ reports from these opening days shows undulate rays to 15lb, spurdogs to an impressive 19lb along with smoothhounds, blonde and small-eyed rays from the banks close to Weymouth. The Shambles produced a sprinkling of turbot to 14lb and a couple of very early season brill plus small rays and dogfish.
Wrecking in March and April is all about pollack fishing with the temporary but very welcome flat calm conditions producing good catches of pollock, between 30 to 60, from mid-channel wrecks with the fish mainly weighing in between 8lb to 15lb. Although the final tides of March were massive with high speed drifts, skippers were very pleased to have the chance to ‘get out there’ and anglers were openly expressing their joy at being able at last to go fishing.
At the time of reporting, boats are limited to carrying 6 people which means that the price person is considerably higher than when there are 10 anglers on the boat but comments suggest that not only are these customers very willing to pay this extra charter fee but would prefer to keep smaller numbers wit all the benefits this provides. The individual catch rate definitely increases and anglers have known for years that the UK Charter Boat fishing is under-priced for the service and standard of boats offered compared to many other countries. The next phase of extending the numbers will take place in April which will be nicely in time for the arrival of the cod….should they choose to appear.
With such little angling effort taking place for months now and, in the case of Weymouth/Portland, considerably reduced commercial fishing effort, there are high hopes that when the weather and ferocious spring tides settle down the fishing will be very productive. This will indeed be a fascinating year as regards the catch rates.
May (and June) have always been regarded as the Dorset area’s best cod months. There will still be pollack scattered around the many wrecks plus a few ling. The Channel Island trips used to be in full swing by May but that still remains unlikely. Perhaps restrictions will ease later in the season but as we all now know, it is useless trying to predict what will happen….all we can do is hope for the best.
This has been a massively difficult time for everyone and there is still some way to go before things return to ‘normal’. The support of anglers right throughout this long winter with positive measures and understanding comments shows what a strong bond we all share beneath all the banter and joking associated with sea angling.
On behalf of the Weymouth and Portland Charter skippers, a big thank you goes out to all our customers and friends. It is a great feeling to welcome you back to the first tentative steps of recovery.