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African Queen
8 Chestnut Grove
South Devon

2008 Monthly Report

For anyone who is interested, you can find the previous years diary's here.
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January 2008.
Another quite start to the year, we had a couple of trips booked for the Christmas/New year holidays and lost both of them to the weather again. We look forward to seeing our old customers again this year. If you fish regularly with us it is important to book your trip early before all the best tides have gone. We are taking bookings for this season and the best weekends are filling fast. Roll on March when we hope to see the Plaice back on the Banks again. Last year was the best Plaice fishing we have had for a few years, we live in hope that this year shows the same improvement. We seem to start every new year with a potential bit of Government legislation that will have a serious impact on our business, this years fear is the proposal that all sea anglers will have to pay an annual licence fee to allow them to fish. This will probably not be a problem to the regular sea anglers who will pay their £25/30 per year and just get on with it, just as all fresh water anglers currently do. My problem is understanding what will happen to the majority of our business, which is the holiday anglers who only fish once or twice a year when they are on holiday, and the groups who book a once a year fun day out with work colleges or for birthdays, stag days etc. If the Government want to take £25 off of each of them to allow them to go fishing with us, I think they will find something else to do. We will have to wait and see. Saturday/Sunday/12/13th. As I often do when there is nothing to report, I will put up a copy of the wind report from our local weather monitoring site. Here it is for this weekend, nuff said! This was the weather at Rickham, last measured at 13 Jan 2008 15:15 GMT
In the previous 15 minutes the wind averaged South, at Gale Force 8, gusting to Storm Force 10. More properly, in the previous 15 minutes the wind was mainly from 170 degrees true, at an average wind speed of 40 Knots. It gusted to a maximum of 55 Knots. The maximum wind speed recorded in the last 12 hours was 64 Knots (Hurricane Force 12) at 14:44 GMT January 27th. Trip out in good conditions for a change. Only had 3 anglers, but took advantage of a days calm, even the Sun shone. Not a huge amount of Fish on the wrecks we tried, but had pollack to 10 1/2 lbs. February 3rd. This was the weather at Rickham, last measured at 03 Feb 2008 17:00 GMT.
The maximum wind speed recorded in the last 12 hours was 64 Knots (Hurricane Force 12) at 15:22 GMT. March 10th. This was the weather at Rickham, last measured at 10 Mar 2008 11:00 GMT In the previous 15 minutes the wind averaged WSW at Strong Gale Force 9, gusting to Hurricane Force 12. More properly, in the previous 15 minutes the wind was mainly from 258 degrees true at an average wind speed of 41Knots. It gusted to a maximum of 69 Knots, with a minimum of 30 Knots. The maximum wind speed recorded in the last 12 hours was 69 Knots (Hurricane Force 12) at 11:10 GMT The African Queen has been out of the water for the last 4 weeks for a long overdue refit, work has included the fitting of a new false keel, re fixing of her garboard planks ad re caulking of her garboard seam. The re fixing has required some 470 silicone bronze screws (235 each side) @ 71p each. I have also had to take out 10 tons of ballast, clean, paint and re stow every single piece. The ballast is made up of 50-150lb blocks of pig iron. 3 coat's of anti foul under the water, 2 coats of gloss on the hull, service 100 other bit's of kit and we are ready for the new season, woe betide anyone who bangs their lead weight on the side of the boat. If you are interested click on this link for some pics of our re-fit. Refit 2008 3rd. April First day out on the Plaice, all our previous booked trips have been cancelled because of the weather, and what a cracking start it was too, 7 anglers, 74 Plaice caught. Best fish were 2 at 3 1/2 lbs 2 at 2 1/2lbs several around the 2lb mark and the best of the rest 1- 1 1/2lbs. A few smaller fish were returned to come another day. See piccys on left, click to enlarge. 5th. April Another day on the Banks, after Thursdays bonanza every one was looking forward to another great day on the Plaice. We left with the promise of a blustery day with strong and cold Northerly winds, these coupled with a big tide meant we only ended the day with 25 Plaice, the best another cracker at 3 1/2 lbs. We had our first Mackerel of the year.

13/14/15th April Got out for 3 days on the trot with the Brighton Lads who come twice a year for a week at a time. In the Spring, and then again for the Autumn run of Plaice. We had 3 good days weather before the East winds hit with a vengeance and stopped some of the best Plaice fishing we have had in many years. Sunday saw 64 Plaice boated, Monday we had 50 and Tuesday 111 yep that reads 111, a Boat record for us. Not many big fish but enough over 2lb to keep interest up. We do not really expect to see many big fish at this time of the year, they normally show with the Autumn run of fish. Still, we had plenty of decent size Plaice which on the right tackle will give good sport. The Lads had to cut short their Spring holiday as the winds got up to 6/8 from the East and kept us confined to harbour. We will have to see if the fish are still there when we can next get out. 25/26/27th.April Still getting good fishing, a day with only 3 anglers on board saw 45 Plaice boated on Friday, Saturday we had 58 with a crew of 9. Sunday was a day out with inexperienced anglers who still got 14 Plaice between them in just a few hours fishing on a very small tide. We spent half the day over a wreck with them all catching some nice Pollack. Half the crew were young ladies who showed the men how it should be done. Well done Girls. May Plaice fishing still excellent, Thursday 1st. we had 56, Friday 64. then a run of what we dread, East Winds. Trips cancelled, and when we can get out we get rolled around and the fish don't want to feed. 10th/11th. Only 29 on Saturday, will have to wait and see if they are still there when these Easterly's have gone. Sunday we decided to anchor a wreck and take advantage of the neap tides, 5 Conger with several big fish lost, 3 Ling to 16 1/2lbs, and 25 Pollack. 16th, Plenty of Mackerel and some Herring around, still finding some Plaice, but they are hard work with the E winds, 22 Plaice on Saturday and our first Bass of the year, it never stopped raining all day.

May/June Plenty of nice Whiting about, Bass are now starting to show but lots of small ones. We had 30 in a couple of hours the first time we went out with live Sandeel's but only 3 were over the size limit, with one good un at 4 1/2lbs. (Most were in the 13-15" bracket) Good fun to catch but not what we wanted, or what we used to get. We left the little ones alone to fish elsewhere, but left an armada of private and commercial rod and line boats hammering them. I did not see one other Bass returned to the water on that mark.

16 1/2lb Ling for niel

We are getting some reasonable fishing on the wrecks. Good numbers of Pollack, Ling to 16 1/2 lbs and a few Conger. The water is still quite cold at only 12 degrees, it was 15 degrees at this time last year, I don't think the Conger have woken up properly yet. We have been catching quite a few Plaice that have been minus their tails this year, all healed up and still getting about, I suspected small Tope were the culprits, but we do not get them on our bit of coast generally. We fished a 5 Boat competition recently when one of the Guys caught a Plaice with a chunk bitten out of its side, again all healed up (see piccy above) then lo and behold we had a small Tope on the hook, the first ever in our experience in this area. We managed to win 'Best specimen fish (Gar fish) and 'Best flatfish' (Plaice) for 2 of the lads fishing on our boat. The Ray are starting to show with a nice one at 10 1/2lbs for Paul Lingham. 18th.- 26th. June, We have lost every trip during this period. Gale force winds have been battering us and stopping us getting out. Friday 27th. Still got plenty of wind but the forecast is improving for the next week. This morning we went and fished in the river mouth, in frustration at not getting out more than anything else. We thought we would have a go at the Thornback Rays, we had 6, none huge, the best at 6 1/2lbs. (all returned) Loads of Mackerel, small Pollack and the requisite shed load of Doggies, Sand Sharks as they are politely known down here. So, enjoyable fishing to be had, even if we can't get to the offshore grounds.

28/29th. Well, so much for the weather improving. Still got plenty of wind and having to find shelter to be able to fish. Had a group of lads down from Yorkshire, fished for Ray and managed some nice Small-eyed and a cracking Thornback at 13 1/2lb. Plenty of Gurnard and other stuff to keep things interesting. They put every fish they caught back in the water, except for a few Mackerel that were used for bait. Well done lads, very commendable. July 1st/7th. South or SW Gale 8 going on 10, another week and another weekend lost, when will summer be here?

Big Whiting
A few nice Cod
A Small-eyed for 'Miss'

8/11th. All trips cancelled, still blowing like mad. 14/18th July. Dartmoor College kids for 4 days, had some fun with plenty of Skate, Plaice, Whiting, Mackerel etc. This is an annual event now for us, and one we really look forward to. The youngsters are all well behaved and respectful, a credit to their teachers.

Blonde Ray

August. Only managing the odd trips between the winds. When we can find some calm conditions we are managing to find a few decent fish. Conger, Pollack, Cod on the wrecks, plenty of Whiting on the banks with the odd Plaice coming up.

Pollack, inshore wreck
Happy with this littl-un

August summer Holidays. Our annual run of half day Mackerel trips for the holiday makers. We can normally expect to work for weeks at a time without a break at this time of the year, 3 years ago our record without a break was 32 days straight, this year we have been lucky to get 3 days in a run, the strength of wind and its persistence are something I have never experienced before, climate change ? I'm not sure, I hope not.

Another Small-eyed for Adrian
Small-eyed Ray

Dartmouth Regatta. We always look forward to Regatta week in Dartmouth, it usually comes at the end of a long spell of work for us and gives us a welcome break from Mackerel bashing with the kids, well this year we have had no long spells of work but the Yacht racing is still good fun. Plenty of wind about eh ? you've guessed it, The first 2 days we had light breezes, Third day, Saturday, flat calm, and I mean calm, not a breath. All racing cancelled for the first time ever. 164 years they have been running Regattas in Dartmouth apparently, and this is the fist year ever that anyone can remember a whole days racing abandoned because of no wind. Sunday saw us cancel the first 2 races but they had a go in the afternoon with a light breeze. The Red Arrows were cancelled on the Saturday night because of thick fog in Dartmouth, and the fireworks a disaster for the same reason. Monday we had anglers coming to stay on the boat for the whole week, you guessed it, cancelled because of high winds. We never got out at all. You couldn't make it up. September. Started to see a few more Plaice on the Skerries at last, last trip out we managed 26, not as many yet as we were picking up in the Spring, but better quality fish, which is what we expect in the Autumn run. We are still struggling with these high winds, losing more trips than we are getting out on. Click this link if you want to add your vote to a worldwide protest petition against Inhuman Japanese fishermen killer scum, who insist on massacring thousands of Dolphins every year because they say the Dolphins are eating too much of THEIR fish. I advise caution if you want to click on the appalling video evidence that is on this link page. Dolphin Massacre in Japan If you haven't got a strong stomach, then bypass the video and go to the petition page link directly to register your disgust. Think of this lot before you buy your next Japanese gadget or car. Oh! bye the way 15 of these Dolphins will be 'spared' to be taken alive to various 'Marine' parks around the world. Think on that the next time the kids want to go and see 'Dolphin World'