Decided yesterday to give Lee-On-Solent a bash. There were some reports on the Solent Fishing Guide of some rays, bass and smoothies being caught. It was a hot, still day with high tide at 11pm. Perfect.
I finished work early and loaded the car up at about 3pm. This was my first fishing trip in my new toy, and the big test was how well the fishing gear would go in. With the ski hatch open, the rods fitted nicely, actually less inconveniently than in the Civic, and by removing the lid and then refitting it once in the boot I managed to get my seat box in nicely. Result! Practical sports car!
I bought some frozen bait from the local tackle shop, but was hoping to get some live rag from the tackle shop in Lee. Unfortunately, when I got there it had closed down. So, I had frozen lug, crab, squid and mackerel. I always end up taking too much squid and mackerel, but I know the one time I don't bother I'll run out of bait.
I was at the beach for about 5pm. Plan A had been to get there before the traffic and then kill time doing something else, but I was impatient and thought I might as well get set up. I parked up at Stokes Bay and started walking towards Browndown. There were a few people milling about and I wanted to be far enough away from the car park to get some peace and quiet. I settled near to the communications tower and set up. Two rods, one to fish a big bait at range on a pulley rig, another to fish a three hook paternoster ('flapper') rig at short range. I baited the pulley with crab and the other with lug and sat down to watch the rods.
As the evening came, what little wind there had been dropped, and a hazy sunset developed. It would have been perfectly tranquil apart from two things; some tosser with a speedboat was tearing up and down the beach and a couple with four small kids decided that with a featureless shingle beach stretching into the far distance in either direction the best place to sit and throw stones at the sea was 30 yeards from where I was fishing. It's not that the boat or the kids were likely to affect the fishing, rather that they were impinging on my peace, quiet and solitude.
Eventually, the sun set and the moon rose, the couple with the noisy brood and the speedboat owner went home and I got my quiet calm. At about 9:30, I started to see rattles on the flapper rod, but struck at nothing every time. A change from size #2 to #2/0 brought no improvement. Then, a violent jerk on the pulley rig, but nothing on the end. I missed two of these before a gentle tapping turned gradually into a strong pull, and I set the hook into something fishy. The something turned out to be a small smoothhound of about three pounds, my first ever. I was delighted. I eventually hit one of the rattles on the other rod, and landed a hand-sized pouting. I think I should have had the courage of my convictions to fish big baits on both rods. Next time I will. In any case, I went home happy. 50 quid in bait and petrol to catch and return a small inedible shark, and worth every penny.