The skipper had a battle worthy of a Hemingway novella, before we agreed the hook was probably snagged in a lobster pot. This ray-mark had only given dogfish today (which, in some ways, was an improvement over yesterday). Time to try somewhere new.

Lesser Spotted Dogfish, Scyliorhinus canicula, often curl up into a knot when caught.

Trolling a rapala down the haven provoked no interest, so we decided to try our luck back out at ‘the Heads’. With the same technique as yesterday (feathers with small hooks) it didn’t take long to connect with the mackerel. Today’s fish were of a much bigger size than before; the largest being 38cm. Probably the largest mackerel I’ve ever caught. On the next drop, a sandeel connected with the hook. I’ve caught some similar sandeels before and I believe they are Corbin’s Sandeel. This fish lacks the dark spot on the snout of the Greater Sandeel or Launce, and has a black tip to its ‘chin’. This sandeel and another were dropped into a bucket of seawater to use later as bait.

Corbin’s Sandeel, Hyperoplus immaculatus
No dark spot on the snout and a dark tip to the ‘chin’ leads me to identify this fish as Corbin’s Sandeel, Hyperoplus immaculatus

Despite never catching a bass over the reefs here, I felt that the live sandeel would tempt any that were present. I rigged up the sandeel on a Sakuma 440 circle hook (size 2/0). This was attached to a fluorocarbon trace of about six feet long. I slowly let the weighted rig down to the bottom. Within a few minutes, a hefty thump on the line indicated a good fish. The over-heavy boat rod I was using made easy work of bringing the catch to the surface – where I excitedly realised that it was indeed a good bass. The fish was safely netted and brought aboard. It weighed in at 2lb 5oz (49cm). Not as heavy as I’d first thought, but they always look bigger in the water with gills plates puffed out and spines erect, don’t they?

Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax 2lb 5oz (49cm)

I’m delighted to get the first bass of the year. When all the sandeels were used up (and a Berkeley Ripple Shad fished on the same rig generating no bites) I was happy to call it a day.

Total Catch:

  • 6 Lesser Spotted Dogfish
  • 8 Mackerel
  • 2 Corbin’s Sandeel
  • 1 Bass