Saltwater catches and tackle updates

Weymouth Plaice Trip…….by Owen Popplett

Annual Weymouth Plaice Trip
The evening of Tuesday 1st May saw fourteen of us meet up in Weymouth for our annual two day plaice fishing trip with Bonwey skippered by Ken Leicester and Flamer IV skippered by Colin Penny. Both excellent skippers who always mange to find the fish. The forecast for the Wednesday and Thursday was not looking good but the excited conversation still centred around whether we’d be catching Plaice or Turbot the other species that can be hunted on the famous Shambles banks off Weymouth.
Dawn broke on the Wednesday, the wind was howling round the buildings on the harbour front of Weymouth and the waves were crashing over the harbour arm. The boats wouldn’t even be able to get us into Portland Harbour for a species hunt! The day was spent sightseeing in nearby West Bay with regular checks of the weather forecast.
Thursday, dawn broke and I went out to see the state of the sea. It was unbelievably flat, not even a sign of any swell. We had drawn for boats and I had drawn Flamer IV. Colin and Ken always work hard to put us on the fish and this day proved to be no different.
The water was rather coloured and not ideal for drifting for Plaice as they feed by sight. We went out to the Shambles banks and anchored, this was a novel experience as we normally drifted them for Plaice or Turbot. The seven of us on Flamer IV dropped our carefully prepared baits to the shell and sand bottom anticipating the knock of a big Plaice, unfortunately we ended up catching lesser spotted dogfish. Without warning one of the rods bent double, after a long fight a decent size conger was brought to the surface. This was a first for us, a Conger eel caught swimming on the Shambles, they’re normally caught in wrecks and reefs. Colin retrieved the anchor and went in search of a better mark to fish. We didn’t have to motor far and he reset the anchor. This spot we hit at just the right point of the tide, fishing was great with Spurdogs, smoothounds, a tope and an undulate ray, all in double figures, a large whiting was also caught. Of the several Spurdogs caught I managed the biggest at 17lb.

There was another of about 15lb and several over 10lb. Ken came out to join us with Bonwey, they had managed to catch a Turbot at the first mark but like us had been plagued by dogfish. They too had better fishing at the second mark with Spurdogs, Smoothounds and a conger, all in double figures.
As the tide eased Colin moved us to a third mark, here on my second drop down I caught a nice Plaice of about 3lb, this was followed up by a slightly smaller Plaice by one of the others.

As the tide picked up on the flood Colin lifted the hook and we drifted down the banks, a long drift proved unproductive so we dropped the anchor again. Here we were plagued by the ever hungry dogfish but still managed another Plaice, a fine small eyed ray, a flounder and a dab.
A day when the banks shouldn’t have fished well due to the cloudy water Colin and Ken gave us another great days fishing with all of us catching plenty of good fish. All were returned unharmed save for the Plaice and the whiting which taken home and turned into meals which tasted even better for having been caught by us.

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