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What a strange, strange mackerel fishing year it has been!

This summer of 2014 the weather has been the best for many, many years. People have said it’s like 1976 in terms of the hours and hours of sunshine. Working on my mackerel fishing boat from Lyme Regis harbour has been an absolute pleasure.

Mackerel fishing with Harry MayBut the mackerel haven't always wanted to play ball. In July the water was very murky and the water temperature was up around 19 degrees. This is much warmer than usual, warmer than I have ever known it at that time of year and the mackerel were nowhere to be seen! In a normal July there are plenty of mackerel and lots of people keen to go out and try their luck. This year, however, things didn't go according to plan.

For at least three weeks in July, all the mackerel fishing boats had a real struggle finding fish for our passengers and their barbecues and suppers. We expect that in April but not in sunny July. I phoned round Lyme Bay; no fish anywhere; none round the Channel Isles, Isle of Wight or anywhere in the South West Approaches. In July lobsters were cheaper per kilo on Brixham fish market than mackerel! Mark Hix had to pay over the odds on the market for mackerel for his cooking demos during Lyme Regis Mackerel Week.

Great mackerel fishing with HarryAnd then suddenly wham bang, they arrived in huge numbers in August. One report I read came from a man fishing on Chesil Beach. He described watching a shoal of mackerel he estimated to be a mile long approaching him at speed, with the water appearing to be boiling as these fish gorged themselves on whitebait. Such was the fury of the action under the surface that the whitebait were forced out of the sea in various places where he was sitting. They landed up amongst the pebbles where the seagulls soon discovered them.

This seems to have been the advance party because, in no time, Lyme Bay and all around were full of fish in a feeding frenzy. Such was the spectacle that if  the waters had been as clear as gin, David Attenborough and his team would have come running.

Needless to say, Harry May’s Lyme Regis mackerel fishing trips have been very, very busy. The Lyme Regis deep sea fishing trips have also been busy with whiting, bream, skate, gurnards and mackerel being amongst the fish caught regularly.

Published on 02/09/2014.

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