Cod stocks take a battering

Hugh Skilling with his 24lb 20z cod
Hugh Skilling with his 24lb 20z cod
jpns-12-08-17 retro 2017 anglers''Anglers - Kathleen Harrison, from Milton, with her 1lb nine-and-a-half-ounce catch. She was another one of the winners in the Southsea children's sea angling competition

THIS YEAR IN 1979: Young anglers fall victims of the weather

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The Solent’s cod stock took a bit of a battering last weekend.

On Saturday, Britain’s Ambassador for Disabled Sailing, Geoff Holt MBE, caught his very first cod and more, thanks to Portsmouth charter skipper Andy Snow and crew member Mark Smythe.

Meanwhile, Waterlooville angler Hugh Skilling caught a personal best, with a cod weighing 24lb 2oz, east of the famous Nab Tower.

Holt’s achievement was made even more special, however, as his catch came when trailing his latest venture – Wet Wheels.

After breaking his neck in a diving accident as a teenager, Holt has been confined to a wheelchair.

That hasn’t stopped him taking part in his love of angling, though, and since his accident he has campaigned to help disabled people get access to the sea.

He works tirelessly for his own charity, whose patron is Princess Anne, with his latest venture being Wet Wheels sea charters.

Wet Wheels is a 10m Cheetah Catamaran built for the use of the disabled, with completely flat-level access to the cockpit and wheelhouse.

She is fitted with wheelchair anchor points and can be driven from a wheelchair using adapted controls, including a joystick for directional control.

Despite his love of fishing, Holt had never caught a cod – but that soon changed thanks to Snow and Smythe, who kindly offered to test Wet Wheels.

The party, along with Holt’s own skipper, Paul Duffield, set sail from Gunwarf Quays on Saturday at 8am and headed 12 miles south.

And with no other boats in sight, the fishing started.

After several good fish were lost, Duffield was the first in with a cod of 11lb.

That was soon followed with one of 16lb, and minutes later Holt found he had hooked a good fish.

After an age, a fine cod of 27lb was landed. It was Holt’s first ever and is believed to be a season’s best for this region.

Snow later had another of 14lb, before Duffield had one of 11.5lb. They also caught congers to 30lb, a spurdog, plus the usual scraps.

All fish fell to multiple squid baits on pennel rigs.

While Holt revelled in a personal best, another PB was set by Skilling on the same day – this time on board skipper Pete Churchill’s Moonshine.

Fishing a mark east of the Nab Tower in 80ft of water, Skilling’s pennell rigged baby cuttle bait was snaffled up by a 24lb 2oz beauty.

There was also one other cod caught on the trip – captured by Churchill – which weighed a tad over 18lb.

The party also enjoyed some great sport, with plenty of whiting and dogs boated, along with conger eels to 40lb-plus.