Sea Fishing - Langstone Harbour
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Sea Fishing Trip From Hayling Island.
The idea of a sea fishing trip had been bounced around for a couple of months or so between some of the club members, as a day out and to hopefully bring a few fish back for the table or the freezer. The plan was to take Dave & Grahams 16ft boat and trailer down to the coast somewhere and fish for mackerel, dogfish or whatever came along at the time. After looking at the calender and dismissing booked matches and working parties it was decided that a saturday would probably be best and the 11th October was just about the only date that was available.
And so, the task of finding a public slipway somewhere along the south coast began as the 11th October approached. It seemed that to avoid a really long drive, we would have to look around the Portsmouth, Southampton or Poole areas as these would the the shortest drive with the boat in tow.
Meanwhile, the boat had been out a few weeks earlier on a pike trip up the Thames from Caversham with only the small 4hp engine that was more than sufficient for the river. However, with the idea of fishing at sea in the boat and the ever present tides and currents around we wondered whether this engine would be man enough to cope. "well", said Dave, "We can take the big engine, only trouble is, its not been run for at least a year, and that was only in a barrel to see if it pumped water ok".
On that news, going to sea with an engine that hadn't been run for a year and as it turns out, not serviced yet either, put a bit of a big flaw in the plan. "Maybe we should check out the engine somwhere a little safer first", i said to Dave. "Might not be a bad idea", he replied. So its was off the the Thames again, this time with a 25hp engine, who's ability to propell a boat on water was unknown. Makings of a great trip so far. After what seemed like a dozen pulls on the starting cord the two stroke twin coughed into lifeand was held on fast tick over for a while just in case a nice slow idle would be the kiss of death. Untie the rope says Dave, with the engine running a tad better but still giving the odd cough here and there. So as I cast off, it was into forward gear and give it some wellie. The boat headed off up river with the engine still giving the odd misfire now and again, probably due to the fact it had been stood idle for so long, but quite happily settled down to a steady speed once warm.
As the back gardens of those lucky enough to own riverside properties disappeared and out of site of anyone too offical looking, it was time to give the engine a bit extra to see what it could do. Now, the boat sits pretty flat in the water, even when being pushed along with the small engine, but it came as a bit of a suprise to find the bow suddenly pointing skyward and heading off down the river with a rather decent wake behind us. After what seemed quite a long time going fast, but in reality probably only a few seconds, Dave backed off the throttle sending the engine into a sucsession of misfires that gave us the distinct feeling that we should be heading back. As it happened, all was well returning to the slipway which left us to deliberate on our next move.
As the 11th October drew ever closer it seemed that the best option would be to launch from Hayling Island somewhere. With no definate slipway in mind Graham mentioned Paiges Tackle Shop on the Island and that a bit of local knowledge might help to decide on the best place to put the boat into the water. So, with this agreed, the tide times printed off, a chart with the minimum fish sizes and the intention to take both engines, it would be a case of digging out what sea tackle was available and biting the bullet.
6.00am on the 11th October, still dark and very foggy, we arrived to pick up the boat. Being careful not to make too much noise at that time of the morning, the wheel clamps, shackles, tow hitch locks and lighting board all found their way on or off the trailer. The engines, fuel and accompanying accessories had been picked up the evening before, so little remained to load up. After about an hour and a half's drive, yes we did have a boat on the back and a 60mph limit, we found Paiges tackle shop on Hayling Island and went in to buy some odd bits of end tackle and ragworms. Dave had already managed to pick up some squid and mackeral from the fish mongers before hand. So if these didnt work then hopefully the rags would. The shop owner said that certain parts of the harbour had been fishing well although the mackerel had all but gone for the season, but still plenty to be had in the way of flat fish and maybe bass.
On that advice we headed down to Eastney where the Harbour Masters office stood next to the slipway. As we were a little early, the van was parked in the public car park in front of the harbour entrance. Now, to say Langstone Harbour is big would be an understatement, but for all of the water inside, the mouth of the harbour is very narrow in comparison. High tide was at 10.00am and the incoming tide looked fast from shore line, lets hope the anchors would hold. The harbour office opened at 9.00am and the launch fees and dues paid to the duty officer. He advised that we not go to far from the main channel as we would loose water at low tide. A bit embarressing running aground on a first trip. Dave reversed the van and trailer to the top of the slipway and all of the equipment stowed in the boat ready for the off. Launching proved to be rather easier that expected thanks to the long slipway, something we'd not had back on the Thames at Caversham. The boat was beached by the side of the slipway so that the van and trailer could be parked and secured before heading off with the tide into the harbour.
Motoring out on the water, the speed of the tide wasn't really that apparent until the anchor went down and took in the sandy bottom. I guess at high tide we must have been in about 20 to 30 feet of water. With the boat holding firm between two moored boats it was only then you noticed the speed of the incoming tide as bits of seaweed went past the boat. This was approaching high tide and the flow was starting to slow down. We would see the real tide leaving the harbour in early afternoon.
Two rods were rigged up to fish the bottom with ragworm. The first drop saw some bites within a couple of minutes, but connecting the hook to the fish was a different matter. The ragworms were coming back up with only the bodies left around the hook. Dave started to set up a second rod, I didnt really know what he though he might catch, but believe me, the multiplier reel on this 7ft boat rod wouldn't have looked out of place on the front bumber of a Land Rover, steel cable and all. The mind wandered off a bit at the site of this reell with thoughts of a Blue Marlin jumping across Langstone Harbour towing two novice sea anglers in a16ft Dory hanging on for grim death. Anyhow, less of the dreams and back to the story.
The sun soon burnt off the mornings mist that had been with us on the way down, so much so that only "T" shirts and light jumpers were needed for the morning. This was turning out to be a great day weather wise for the middle of October. Bright sunshine and the odd wisp of a cloud in the sky, its a shame the fish weren't as forthcoming. The boat started to gently turn with the outgoing tide and the biting fish also stopped. Both Dave and I had bought up a couple of small crabs making a meal of the hook baits and letting go just as they left the water. The sea bed was also giving up weed to the lead weights on our rigs which was heavy on the retrieve, so I decided to break down one rod and set up with a lure to see if any Bass might be interested.
After letting the lure sink right down on about the fourth cast it seemed that I'd managed to pick up a large lump of weed or rock from the bottom. Getting this back against a fast outgoing tide wasn't easy either. The thing is, there wasn't any weed on the line as the lure surfaced, only a piece of rope. Dave got hold and kept pulling, only to heave up a lost anchor from the bottom. Not the one holding the boat I hasten to add. "Well, no fish yet, but we've got a spare anchor" I said. "Yep, that'll clean up" Dave replied as the fishing resumed.
About half an hour into low tide, Dave started to get bites on the ragworm he'd put down. After two or three missed bite he finally connected with a fish. A small Bass was brought aboard, sadly not big enough to keep, but a welcome site none the less. This turned out to be the only fish of the day, but with the warm dry sunning day that we'd had it had been very pleasant all the same.
Getting the boat back onto the trailer proved to be a lot harder than getting it off, another pair of hands would have helped, and I guess lack of experience or practice, which ever it maybe, on my part, didnt help. But persistance paid off and the boat was back on the trailer once again and strapped down. The drive home was quiet as both of us were tired from doing not alot if this story is anything to go by, NEXT TIME!!, as they say. Another sea trip would probably be off the coast somewhere into deeper water, but thats for the future and when time permits.
A big thanks to Dave & Graham for the use of the boat, and again to Dave for the company and the driving. Hopefully if and when a next time comes everyone efforts will be more productive, still with the enjoyment of fishing.