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The first Friday of the New Year and a deep sea trip to remember

On the first Friday of 2013 seven friends set sail with me in Marie F. for a six hour deep sea fishing trip. None of us could guess how memorable the outing would turn out to be. The day was overcast and dull with no wind. We headed out to a favourite spot five and a half miles south west of Lyme Regis harbour where we hoped the channel whiting would be feeding. We were not to be disappointed.

Man with whitingAs soon as the baits hit the bottom 25 metres down, the fish started biting. The fun was on. Fishing for channels is unlike other kinds of fishing because once they start to feed they just keep on going, non-stop, hour after hour. It’s wonderful if you want to fill the freezer but it’s not everyone’s idea of fishing.

The fish were coming in fast and furious but suddenly after only fifteen minutes the two men in the stern stepped back quickly, visibly shaken. They had both seen something very large and grey swirling around just beneath the surface. I was in the wrong place on the boat and missed it. When I leaned over the stern whatever it was had gone - but not for long.

It surfaced a few yards away from the boat and turned out to be a very big seal, five or six feet long and grey and black in colour, the largest I have ever seen. It disappeared beneath the surface and although we kept a lookout it didn’t come back.

That should really have been enough excitement for one day along with the constant arrival of whiting but no, more was to follow. Two hours later three porpoises came up without any warning right alongside, played around for three minutes and dived. It was wonderful to see them so close.

Harry gutting whitingThe photos were taken on the return journey while I was gutting about 300 fish. The seagulls had a feast on the guts and the lobster pot boys had loads of heads for bait.

You can always tell how successful a Lyme Regis deep sea fishing trip has been by the amount of time the fishermen spend on board after the boat returns to the harbour saying goodbye to each other. In the end I had to say "Come on fellas! Time to get back to the real world. Goodbye, thank you and see you again!"

Published on 07/01/2013.

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