The Jersey Open Shore Fishing Festival
So it’s that time of year again, August, my favourite month of the year to be an angler in Jersey. For me, the end of August is all about the Jersey Open Shore Angling Festival (known as JOSAF). It’s that special time of the year when the food chain is in full swing, the weather is usually great and whilst out fishing in Jersey anything is possible and anything can show up in a session. What more can an angler ask for? Perfect timing for a week long fishing festival I’d say.
What’s fishing in Jersey like?
The Island has one of the largest tidal ranges in the world, over 12m on Spring Tides. On the South-East coast the tide can recede up to 2 miles making hundreds of Sandy, weedy and reefy gullies all accessible by foot, making you feel like you’re on a completely different planet whilst you’re out there.
There are hundreds of rock marks to venture to around Jerseys stunning coastline with some being just a short stroll from parking up and others being a bit more of a challenge to get down to but often really worth that extra effort.
There are plenty of piers and beaches which are all easily accessible often producing specimen sized fish. The Piers in jersey are definitely the safest option for fishing, especially for visiting or junior anglers. Big fish coming up from the piers in Jersey is never out of the question either, so there’s not always the need for a big walk if you fancied a relaxing and easy session on the pier, with St. Catherine’s breakwater being one of the most popular of these venues.
So what is the JOSAF?
JOSAF is an annual, week long shore fishing competition around Jersey’s shoreline open to everyone, every age as a single, a pair’s team and team of four.
The competition usually runs from the bank holiday weekend towards the end of August from the Saturday to the following Saturday finishing in September.
The JOSAF was formed in 2001 by Phil Inwood, Rene Thebault and Russel Welsh who have all been committee members ever since. The original idea of the JOSAF was to bring in overseas anglers to the island and was sponsored by tourism Jersey for the first year or two. Recent entry numbers have hit 72 anglers taking part in the competition including junior entrants.
13 records have fallen during the JOSAF week since its inception, including Jersey, Channel Island and British records. The trophy table for the festival is impressive and cash prizes are on offer with four figure sums for record breaking fish not to mention the lovely shields, trophies, medals and very generous donations by JOSAF sponsors. The competition is finished off with a BBQ, drinks and prize giving.
And how is Josaf run?
On arrival at the sign in venue after entrants have paid their entry fee (£30seniors/£10Juniors) which also pays for the prize giving dinner, Anglers are given the JOSAF minimum size list with the respective sizes for both juniors and senior entrants, a list of rules, regulations and also catch and release cards (which must be photographed/videoed next to the fish on a measure).
The competition is run with a set time for all daily weigh ins am/pm.
The JOSAF encourages catch and release to all participants where possible, doing as much as it possibly can to ensure the fishes welfare and also awarding catch and release prizes for extra effort to get a fish to the scales and then returned alive.
Wrasse and Bass entered into the competition are done so on length which means anglers can photograph/video, measure and release their catch without having to attend a weigh in. Points will then be awarded based on the JOSAF committee’s weight conversion formula.
The weigh ins are usually located around the town harbour, a popular venue for large mullet, common eels, tub gurnard & many more species, which makes it easier for a catch to be returned alive after weigh in.
How it all works & what are the categories?
The 9 categories up for grabs with prizes for 1st-5th place in each section are;
Thick lipped grey mullet
Thin-lipped/Golden grey mullet
After fish have been weighed/measured and converted to weight the fish take their appropriate places upon the board, with points being awarded on percentage to the Island record. Points are awarded for the pairs and team of four with an individual anglers two best qualifying fish only adding to the team totals. There are prizes for the anglers with the most overall points at the end of the competition and also the angler occupying the most categories during the week.
My Diary of the Jersey Open
The first day is here, check in is from 10:45 and fishing may commence from 12:00 so it’s just a quick last check of the gear in the van to ensure nothings been forgotten then a drive down to the sign in.
It’s great to see all the other guys that have turned up to enter the competition so a lot of standing around chatting and catching up with guys from the other fishing clubs is in order. It’s great to see all the familiar faces and some new faces entered into the competition.
So I’m all signed up, C&R tag collected, a read through the rules and minimum sizes, the team is entered and fishing can shortly take place.
First off was a quick try for an early thick lipped mullet down the town harbour fishing the dropping tide. It has to be a thick lipped mullet of 3lbs or over to make the board at this beginning stage so it’s the best time to get a thick weighed in and some early points too.
So out came the drop net, mini tripod, the 2 quiver tip barbel rods and a couple loafs of bread.
With the hooks all bread flaked up and just a short lob in an open space between the moorings and that was me officially way too far out of my comfort zone. When it comes to bait fishing I find myself most comfortable sliding a live/dead bait down the line for a chance at big bass or throwing out 4-8oz of lead with fish baits off a rock mark or the beach.
So a couple of hours went by with only a few taps on the rod tip which were more than likely the piranha like tiny mullet and gilt head bream that were scoffing all the ground bait before it even had a chance to sink.
After fishing for 3 hours with no shade and my unopened bread loaf starting to look and feel more like toast then fresh bread in what must have been a 30 degree heat wave, I decided to head home, freshen up and get ready to head out ready for last light for a couple of hours and put some conger baits out.
Last light came and that was me already on the rock with time to spare, a bait bag full of Scad, mackerel, garfish and a couple of squid I’d caught the during the winter months were on the menu for the eels tonight.
A message popped up on my phone, it was my four man team mate Lee and had managed a lovely 51cm Ballan wrasse whilst fishing a hardback crab. The wrasse was photographed on the measure and then released. Great news and an early fish for the team.
My two Ron Thompson Axellerators were sat anxiously on the tripod waiting to be baited up with the tip lights now fitted all that was missing was a rotten bottom link and I was ready. It was almost dark and my fishing partner for the night, Terry, had just turned up to join me. We needed an eel of 15lbs or over to make the board at weigh in but 2hrs in and with only whips of 10-12lbs coming up we weren’t holding out much hope. The fishing seemed pretty slow to previous sessions on the mark.
Fishing with one of my baits over some really heavy rough boulder ground and one bait onto the mixed/rough ground but still only pulling up the odd whip now and then, it seemed it wasn’t going to produce a good eel on this occasion and thoughts of packing up and heading home were in mind when all of a sudden the bait I’d cast in the heavy rough starting taking some line.
Now this seems like a better bite. I grabbed the rod, clicked the reel in gear waiting for the rod to arch over. I struck it well on the pull down and the fish was on and giving me some nice big thumps too when all of a sudden nothing! What had I done wrong? Surely that fish was well hooked. On inspecting the hook and trace there was no sign of the baited whole Scad, it was completely gone, I had no signs of an eel spinning up the trace either, I was puzzled.
So I chucked out another large fish bait out to the same area. 15 minutes later the reel was singing away again and I’d struck into the fish for certain this time. Half way up I’m getting the feeling it’s swimming towards me and I’m having to wind fast to keep up. Head torch on, shinning down at the drop net it came up, it was a nice sized bull huss and a potential fish for the weigh in.
In the net it went and after a few pictures and some admiring it was almost time to pack up. We fished for another hour with Terry managing a few eels just under the minimum before heading home.
With a couple of hours sleep after the night session I headed down to the weigh in, with my Huss weighing in at 9lbs and it was now top of the board in the “other” category. Great news, a nice bonus fish that I wasn’t expecting to weigh in during the competition and a fairly hard category to tick off the list which at 9lbs was 66.67% of the Jersey record giving me the percentage in overall points.
After the weigh in I gave it a few hours down the town harbour once again trying for the thick lipped mullet. An hour or so in and another angler next to me had hooked into a mullet which looked like it could go 3lbs. I got the drop net out for him and in it went.
It looked like it could be close but unfortunately it fell just shy of the minimum weight required and the fish was released.
Later that evening my mate told me he’d been getting some pretty decent Bream bites on his eel and ray baits during the first evening, so we headed out for an hour or two around midnight to see if we could get lucky at a decent black bream.
Unfortunately the dogfish were out in force. I had a couple of taps on my eel gear and nothing taking the squid strips I’d put out on my clip down paternoster. With nothing decent landed after trying an hour or so we packed up and headed home.
I’d pencilled a session in with my mate Rob, to try and tempt a golden grey mullet ledgering worm baits on the flooding tide. We headed to the town harbour again and watched as waves upon waves of decent sized goldie’s, thin lipped and thicks made their way up the harbour in the shallows with the tide.
For me, Identifying the different types of mullet whilst looking 20ft down the harbour wall was never going to happen but, Rob, who after joining him on a couple of occasions to try for the mullet, has somehow acquired mullet vision. Rob was all baited up with a blow lug and white cat, he peered over the railings and said “oh there’s a nice Goldie” a quick flick of the rod and a cast of about 20yrds and he was right in the middle of a feeding shoal of golden greys. Slowly retrieving his worm baits to try and tempt one of the feeding fish his rod bent over and he was in!
It looked like a nice sized Goldie as well so I ran down the harbour steps and had the net ready for him to manoeuvre the fish around the stationary boats and towards me waiting on the steps ready to net. After a few minutes of battling the fish was in the net. By the time I’d got to the top of the stairs Rob was ready with a sling and his scales. In the sling the fish went and hung by the scales. Unfortunately, Rob was just shy of the minimum 1lbs 12oz weigh in size with a 1lbs10oz Goldie!
We tried a few more casts and I noticed there was a good sized thin lipped perhaps around 3lbs-4lbs eyeing up my white cat mid water. After pulling my hair out for about 15 minutes the thinny had disappeared and more than likely headed up the harbour with the flooding tide. By now, most of the fish had moved past us with the flooding tide so we headed off to try something else.
The next session we were off to try for a thick lipped using bread flake and waggler float tactics with the chance of a black bream turning up too. After a good three hours with no mullet showing up for the ground bait and only a couple of good takes on the float which presumably was the bream, we decided to pack up and think of something else to try. Our luck on the thick lip mullet certainly wasn’t in.
We then hit the beach on the dropping tide fishing from one of the waste water outflow pipes which usually holds a few fish just sat off the end of the outflow. As we were wading out on the pipe we noticed a lot of surface action, Rob knew it was a few feeding thin lipped mullet straight away and was now regretting not bringing along his mepps spinner.
Whilst ledgering a couple of blow lug threaded on the hook my rod tip bent round and I was into a fish, not a huge fish but still it was an interesting way to fish for me as I rarely do it. Up came a gilt head bream, not by any means the same sort of beasty size you’d expect our neighbours over in Guernsey to be reeling in, as this was only around 1lbs4oz but, with the minimum comp size of 1lbs8oz it was only a few ounces off it.
Rob managed a small plaice and a gilt head also on the ledgered worm baits before we headed back up the beach and decided on the next plan of action. Rob mentioned we had a good chance at a thin lipped if we tried the pipe again in the morning at first light, so that evening we headed out to collect some more worm after all we were going to need it for the next day.
22:00 and we are back out with the headlamps on, digging forks and buckets at the ready.
Time to fill the buckets up. White cat and red cat were what we were after. Digging in rocky gullies for the reds and on clean sand bars for the whites. It was 20 minutes in, my back was sore, I was all hot and bothered and it felt like I was going through army selection all over again, but I’d had 10 red cat. So I yelled over to rob “how you getting on mate?” He shouted back over “ahhh not too bad I’ve got about 30”. I tell you what, it was like digging worm next to a JCB and safe to say we weren’t there long either. With our two buckets full, thanks to Rob, we were on our way home for some well earned rest before an early start in the morning back at the pipe.
After a good 6 hrs sleep and with the sore back well rested it was time to venture out again. So it was off to the beach to fish the waste water pipe again with the chance of those thin lipped mullet being there in force again.
So both rigged up with mepps spinners and a wading pot full of white cat we made our way down the beach to the outflow. Sod’s law there were no thins in the area, so after a couple of casts with the mepps we switched to light ledgering rigs for the remainder of our time on the pipe. An hour or so had gone by with the tide on the drop and just a few schoolie bass to show for our efforts when we decided it wasn’t worth staying and instead got ourselves ready for the next session.
A trip out to St. Aubin’s fort was on the cards which was going to be a long session. You drive down the beach a couple of hours before the low to get on the fort, get yourself setup, dig more worm if needed and then stay on the fort for the flood and the drop again until your able to safely leave by driving back up the beach.
This was definitely going to be a hit or miss session but with the fort having the potential to throw up the mullet, flatties, bream, bass and rays there was a chance of something decent turning up.We got started by ground baiting up a couple of areas with a chance that some thick lipped mullet could move in on the feed whilst fishing some worm baits in the shallows for the golden greys.
By the time the tide had surrounded us it was all systems go with gilt heads coming up every other cast up to around 1lbs5oz and the occasional small black bream. It seemed the fish were surely on the feed.Rob managed a couple of nice plaice too in the mix of bream but sadly none of which were over the minimum comp weight.
High tide was near and there was still no sign of any thicko’s in the ground baited areas.
Rob decided with the amount of plaice he was catching on his light ledgering rig it was a good idea to change tactics and put out a plaice rig. So with all the coloured beads and different types of bling on his rig he lobbed out some nice worm baits.
A few moments later his rod intended for plaice was arched over in the tripod, he ran over and hit into the fish. He was into something decent but not the plaice he was after. Rob had hooked into a nice golden grey mullet. The drop net went over the the wall and in it went. Great stuff and one for the weigh in for Rob. We both re-baited and re-cast in the area of Robs recent golden grey hoping for another nice fish.
An hour or so had passed since the golden grey and baits were coming back untouched or the crabs had been at them. I was bringing in rigs with no sign of my 6lbs hook length and just evidence of the crabs snipping away at my snoods.
It had all seemed to suddenly go quiet and whilst sorting out a few bits in the back of my van, my rod slammed over, a black bream came up but it wasn’t over the weight yet again.
Then Rob’s rod decided to remove itself from the tripod and was on its way over the wall.
Rob grabbed it just in time and our first suspicions was Rob might have hooked a good sized smooth hound. The way it just took the rod out the tripod was incredible.
Two minutes into the battle and Rob was just holding on to his mullet rod and reel loaded with 8lbs line for dear life. There wasn’t much he could do at this point but just keep hold of the rod. Rob managed to turn the fish after about 5 minutes of no give, with it still staying deep and the drop net at the ready next to me.
The fish then started kiting across the bay towards us. At last a bit of luck. Rob managed to get a few yards back on the reel and the fish within a couple of meters of the pier.
But still no sign of any colour showing and the fish still holding deep. Up and down the pier we went following this fish as it pushed Rob’s setup to the limit. Suddenly the fish started to tire and we could now see it was a stingray and not a bad size either to get in on mullet gear!
Up it came and after one or two attempts at the drop net it was in! We couldn’t believe how it had stayed on throughout the whole battle, it was brilliant. Noticing that the fish was completely knackered we wanted to get it weighed photographed and returned as quickly as possible. 9lbs13oz the stingray weighed and at such a close weight to the minimum weigh in too being 10lbs, but Rob had no intentions of keeping such a marvellous fish regardless if it was a weighing fish, the memory was all he wanted.
A few quick photographs and the fish was returned and before we knew it, it was time to leave. So with Rob leaving with a nice goldie of 1lbs14oz and myself nothing to show for the session but some great memories I knew it was time to step my game up.
Later that evening I checked out my bait situation in the freezer. I had garfish, garfish and more garfish with the remainder of my bait stock of mackerel and winter caught squid at my mums house in the deep freeze and it seemed too late to take a drive to go and grab it, so I thought I may as well use up some of the garfish. So off I headed out for a couple of hours for a bass, armed only with chunks of garfish to get a line in the water before the heavy rain was due to arrive.
I arrived at the mark with the tide an hour before low, the gear was out the car and with not a minute to spare first baits were out on the AFAW tournament G.Ps. Two nice 6-7” on a running ledger using Remi Naftel’s recent Hook Point magazine top tip for bass fishing with a circle hook added on the business end for extra hook up rate. I thought I’d have to wait a couple of hours for the first bit of any action which was more than likely due to occur on the flooding tide. How wrong was I?
With the bait in only a few minutes I heard a few clicks on the reel, but nothing that would have me springing up in excitement believing there was a nice bass on the end. More of a feisty conger bite taking a yard or so of line or almost like that dreaded squid take you get when it grabs your bait.
I tightened up the slight bow of slack I’d been left with after those small takes and just thought I’d give it a couple more minutes before reeling up for a bait change. Not long after the rod started bouncing away again in the tripod with the odd bit of line taken, but no more then a yard or two then slack line again. So I wound in the slack and felt there was something still having a go at the bait. After feeling a few subtle pull downs on the rod tip I got a slightly better bite which I struck into and at first I thought I’d missed it, then after hearing a couple of splashes I thought this could be the bass I was after!
Before I knew it and without much of a battle I had it beached. A nice bass of around 4lbs-5lbs. It was a good start to the session and it was such a good feeling knowing that trying something different with the choice of bait and the current state of tide meant there had to be some more fish there.
In all the excitement and wanting to share the news with Remi that the garfish had worked I’d forgotten to measure the fish. It would have been close too. I’d say it would have probably measured between 58cm-62cm. About an hour later the heavens opened up and I really wasn’t in the mood to get soaked. With the tides and weather the following evening looking better for a bass session I decided to pack up quickly before I got drenched.
I was back out for a session with Rob and with not even a breath of wind in the forecast and a low tide at 1pm we decided to try St Catherine’s breakwater for a few hours for a thick lipped mullet. (We didn’t know when to give up!)
With the competition board starting to fill up by this point with thick lipped mullet the minimum size was now at 3lbs8oz just to take bottom spot. We knew we had to get one in whilst it was still a fairly reasonable minimum size to get on the board. We met down the breakwater and started getting the ground bait chucked in. We had a few feeding on the turn of the tide but they all looked around 2lbs.
After around 30mins or so of baiting up the area and a couple of sightings of slightly larger mullet on the feed out came the wagglers. The tide had now picked up slightly so we were now lobbing our floats up tide slightly and just trotting them through the baited area with a few aggressive bites coming from a plague of small wrasse no bigger than 1lbs.
It was clear now that this was going to be hard getting through these small wrasse to hit into some of the feeding greys or a chance at a black bream possibly in the mix.
A few more spoons of bait went in as the wrasse started to vacate with the increasing pull of the tide. With the tide now really ripping past and with us finding it difficult to spot a bit of slack water between the boulders, we decided to move to the end of the breakwater and get some ground bait flicked in again with hope they might come on the feed once more.
Since we had been on the break water with a handful of other anglers fishing it seemed nothing spectacular was coming up with the exception of some rather large spider crabs which looked like they could cause a problem for anyone looking to put a nice ray or eel bait out.
With some generous flicks of ground bait getting tossed into the slack water it seemed a last ditch effort and Rob and I now trying a larger float on his other setup hoping for the Garfish of over 1lbs to make the board but it just seemed so quiet. Not what we wanted at all. We had high hopes for the chance at a decent thick lipped mullet turning up but it just wasn’t to be.
I guess that’s why it’s called fishing and not called catching. It just wasn’t going our way today the only other thing that was worth a mention was a few tuna hitting the surface a few yards off the breakwater in the tide as we were packing up. Only a few big splashes and it was over in seconds.
Later that evening, with the bait bag now full of frozen mackerel and garfish chunks I headed down to a bass mark to fish the last few hours of the drop and weather permitting an all-out session on the flood through until first light. Arriving at the mark it looked perfect from the top so I was quick to grab the gear and head down. Once again the trusty AFAW tournament Gp’s were out with a chunk of gar on each, running ledger and Remi’s recommendation again with a 4/0 BMX and 2/0 circle hook.
Team mate Adrian was reporting via texts a couple of undulates from the breakwater but unfortunately just shy of the JOSAF minimum size, also a huge spider crab but with the spiders causing havoc stripping the baits. Terry had now joined Adrian on the breakwater and was hitting into the black bream but with no sign of any over the minimum comp size. The limits were proving particularly tough this week but it restricts the number of fish needing to be bought to scales.
A few taps on the rod tip so far for me with the ratchet still completely silent and the tide almost at low it was time for a re-bait. The first bait was brought in with no evidence of any crab trouble and completely intact as though I’d just cast it out only moments earlier.
Whilst deciding the next bait, will it be a mackerel fillet or another chunk of the recently successful garfish, the other rod slammed over and the ratchet sounded off. The garfish had done it again!
Fish on, another bass. It felt like a similar size one to previous evening and it came in nice and easy on the beach with no need for the net. Up on the beach it was apparent it was a nice bass and definite 60cm or slightly bigger on first impressions. On the measure it went 62cm and it was one for the board. A few pictures and off it went. So far, as far as I knew this was now joint first place with another angler who had also measured in a 62cm and by this time it was coming up to midnight so the bass session was going to be continuing into Thursday morning.
With a 62cm under my belt for the night but still with time, bait and a chance for an improved fish I decided to stay put and enjoy an evening on the bass. It had been around about an hour since the 62cm had made its way to the measure and the tide now was pushing in nicely. Fresh baits out once again. This time mackerel fillet on one and another lucky garfish chunk on the other. The mackerel fillet must have been out less then 10 minutes when the reel started screaming off again. As I picked up the rod the reel was still going off in my hands. I let it take a few more yards of line before I clicked the reel into gear and struck into the fish.
I knew it was a good fish, it felt much better then the first one as when I went to strike the fish the rod just stopped half way into the strike and the feeling of a good sized fish giving plenty of head shakes was on. I managed to keep the fish away from my other line as it got closer and closer to the beach. I could see it was trying to make its way to a big clump of surface weed so I needed to bully it the other way and back towards the beach.
This was the one I was after for sure.
I had the net by my side and wasn’t taking any chances, this fish was going absolutely berserk on the surface but after a few big final head shakes and splashes on the surface it appeared I’d won the battle and had that amazing feeling when the silver slab was in the bottom of the landing net. It looked a good size, possibly a 7lbs-8lbs fish but I wasn’t too sure without a getting a proper look it could it be bigger.
When I laid the fish down and saw how much longer it was compared to the previous bass I was thrilled, at 73cm and weighing 7lbs2oz there was a high chance of it making the top 3 of the bass category, however, It was such an empty fish and I wondered what it would have been on the scales with its belly full? Perhaps an 8lbs-9lbs fish? At 73cm I was happy to call it a night at that and head back out for first light.
First light arrived and I had black bream on my mind and the board currently with only one black to show for it there was a chance if I got a good one I could take top spot in the bream category. A quick session on the bream was on the cards before heading to the weigh in to show my bass on measure video. Out came the rods, my two lighter setups comprising of my 11ft Daiwa Sandstorm bass rods accompanied with a pair of Abu 6500’s.
I clipped on a 1up 1down rig on each with a few strips of squid and a small piece of mackerel on the hook. It didn’t take long the rods both getting the typical small bream bite and the rod tips tapping away with the odd slightly better bite between a few taps.
One of the rods just doubled over and I reeled up the first bream of the session. With the minimum size of 1lbs8oz enforced this wasn’t far off bouncing 1lbs7oz. Whilst baiting up the rod to get it back out again the other rod was pulled down by another bream
This one going 1lbs5oz. It was so much easier hooking up whilst holding the rod. So I brought in one of the rods and just fished with one.
I managed a few more bream with another bouncing around 1lbs7oz.
This spot was looking good for producing a good size bream during the week and running out of time I had to make my way to the weigh in. When I arrived at the weigh in there was a few fish waiting for the scales. A couple of nice thick lipped mullet with a nice one being caught over 5lbs, a golden grey mullet turned up too for the scales and it seemed the comp was now starting to fill the board up nicely.
Daniel, who had managed the big thicko of 5lbs14oz, told me he had a big bass as well but not letting on much about the length though. He showed his bass on measure video to the weigh master and turns out he had a lovely bass of 69cm. With my bass of 62cm measured in for points and 73cm measured in taking top spot on the bass category things were starting to look up. On the way back to the van team mate lee pulls up with a nice Huss in a bongo for the weigh in which went 9lbs4oz.
I was out again for the high tide on the bream in the afternoon. I decided to just take the one rod with me this time hoping it would be more effective then two rods sat on the tripod rattling away and me missing lots of bites. Squid and mackerel cocktail baits out again on the 1up 1down rig exactly as before. It took a while for me to see any action but soon the bites were on and I was into a fish it felt a real good one too, up it came and straight in the bucket a potential fish for the weigh in.
Reeling in again just to check the bait thinking it was all gone but nope I was left with the squid strips every time. Perhaps they fancied the mackerel? So I lobbed one out with just mackerel and as soon as it hit the bottom a fish was hooked! Not a bad size either around 1lbs7oz again.
Rob had just arrived to see how I was getting on and of course had a rod with him too.
The bites had started to slow down during the dropping tide so I just placed the rod down on the tripod to sort a few bits to get ready to leave when rob shouted “ your rod!”. I turned around and it was just bent right over with the fish on. Reeling it up this felt better then the first one I’d had for sure. When it came up without any hesitation it went straight in the bucket. It was defiantly over 1lbs8oz this time, I didn’t even need to weigh it. Its nose and tail were touching either end on the inside of my tarmac bucket. I packed my gear up and let rob carry on. Unfortunately the bream had gone quiet so we headed off home. I’d missed the evening weigh in whilst fishing for bream so my potential weigher would have to wait until morning.
Waking up just after first light with a couple of hours to kill I decided to go and try for another bream before the morning weigh in. Mackerel being the choice of bait as the day before it seemed irresistible to the bream. There was less action to report for this session with only a few bream being landed with some smaller black bream coming up around the 1lbs 2oz with the best at 1lbs 5oz.
Time was running out so I headed to weigh my bream in. When I turned up I could see Rob had arrived and I wondered what he had. I knew he was going to fish the harbour through the night for a mullet but with the thick lipped minimum size on the board now at 4lbs7oz he would have had to of caught a cracker to get on the board. I weighed my bream in as soon as I could and it went 1lbs9oz taking top spot on the bream board! Then Rob whipped out a cracking thick lipped mullet which ended up going 5lbs12oz taking second place on the thick lipped section!
I now needed another category. It was off for a late afternoon session to try for a garfish on the float gear. If I was to get a decent sized garfish that should more or less put me in top spot for the angler with most categories. So with the left over bread from the unsuccessful mullet sessions and some old bits of bait, I made up a quick ground bait and headed out. The wind was behind me but there was a bigger swell then I expected but still easily fishable.
I lobbed out some ground bait prior to setting up the float. On went the small cigar float, set at around 6ft and a strip of garfish for bait. The tide was passing through nicely with my float just off to the side of the run. Out of nowhere a garfish leaped clean out the water next to my float. The first one was only a few ounces but worth keeping for bait.
An hour in and I’d had a few garfish but nothing of a decent size. There was however one fish which I thought was a good one but was only 14oz. A better fish then grabbed the bait and sent the float under, I waited a couple of seconds before striking as I’d missed a few by being too quick to react to the takes.
Another garfish hooked on this was the one, I wanted the biggest of the bunch so far, timing it with the swell as I tried to bring him up the rock.
It was a nice chunky gar and quite a long one too. Without wanting to handle it too much I quickly snipped the trace and put him in the bucket.
By now it was head torch time so I headed back up to the car and got a weight of the garfish. It was bouncing just over1lbs-1lbs1oz which was also the minimum weight, so it would be close.
If I was minutes away from the weigh in I reckon it would have probably made the cut.
Knowing that I’d have to now wait until the morning weigh in to get it weighed I wasn’t convinced that it would hold its weight during the night. So in the freezer it went.
I sent a text to Rob to see what he was up to, he was down the town harbour trying yet again for another mullet he said he’d lost a couple of bigger fish then his 5lbs12oz thicko.
For him to be able to weigh another thick lipped he’d have to beat his previous one for it to count. He told me to pop down and give it a try. I’d need a mullet of 4lbs7oz or bigger to make the board.
The mullet rods were out and now it was time to sit back and wait. It was such a still night in the harbour usually the sound of bass and mackerel hitting white bait could be heard from opposite pier heads but not on this evening it was really quiet.
Rob noticed a couple of taps on one of his rod tips.
I thought with the size of the mullet that were in the harbour it would be pretty obvious when one was trying to hoover up your bread flake. Rob insisted it was a mullet bite. it was so subtle I was having to squint my eyes to notice any bite indication. It just looked like a small pout bite perhaps or not even that hard.
Rob picked up his rod and waited for another bite. It didn’t take long before he quickly hit into what I was adamant was going to be a 3oz pouting. After he hit into the fish I quickly shut up with the pouting jokes. His rod was bent over, line was coming off the reel and it seemed he’d hooked into a good fish again. His team mate Ross got the drop net ready and the fish seemed to be playing ball unlike the other two he’d lost the night before which took his line round the pier head before he had a chance to stop them.
The drop net went down the wall and the fish was in.
The mullet came up but unfortunately it wasn’t bigger then his 5lbs12oz which he needed to better for another weighing thicko. The mullet was 4lbs8oz and would have done me nicely for another category had it fancied Warburton’s over some thick sliced Hovis!
Rob and Ross fancied trying for a bream over the high tide and I was tempted to try my luck for a bream improver, so we packed up the gear and went to see if there were any biting. Ross managed to get a few nice ones up to 1lbs7oz and Rob hooking into a golden grey of 1lbs11oz, but with it being smaller then his one he had on the fort earlier in the week he couldn’t weigh it in for the comp. The bream action started to slow right down and there was only a few hours left of the comp.
Off out for a last ditch effort for a desperate garfish I went down to the place I’d tried the evening before. It was really windy when I got there but I had no time to loose and with only a couple of hours till the comp was over. With that force 4 wind giving me grief but some fish biting I managed the first fish on the float, a small mackerel. A few snipe followed and I ended up with 4 or 5 with nothing over the comp minimum. Now I was really regretting not trying the previous sessions 1lbs Garfish at weigh in.
Quick check of the watch and that was it the JOSAF was over. After a hard week of fishing the team managed to come away with a few prizes for our efforts.
2nd Other category (Bull Huss 9lbs 4oz)
4th Ballan Wrasse (51cm Est 5lbs)
4th Thick lipped mullet (5lbs 2oz)
1st Bass (70cm Est 8lbs 11oz) & (62cm Est 5lbs 5oz) Beaten by Improver
1st Black Bream (1lbs 9oz)
3rd Other category (Bull Huss 9lbs)
Looking forward to JOSAF 2020 already and thoroughly recommend it to any anglers wishing to fish a competition in Jersey.