Where are the bait fish?

Sean McSeveny
  · Sean McSeveny  · April 29, 2016

Normally by this time of year, I would expect to see quite a bit of bait fish activity around the harbours. Especially around places like Ferrybridge in Portland Harbour. So far I have seen no sign of any bait fish or small sandeels.

This has me a bit worried as I normally start my fishing season in earnest, from the first set of Spring tides in May. Those tides will occur next weekend. The harbour normally fills with Bass and I start to target them on lures. I can only hope that the bait fish, which brings them in, turn up this weekend.

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So what does this bank holiday weekend look like for those of us lucky enough to be going fishing? With not too many anglers on the beach this week, reports have been thin on the ground. The ones I have had tell me that the Plaice are concentrated at Abbotsbury, with Cogden and West Bexington not producing very many. West Bexington has been producing Ray’s and even a few Sole.

One fish that is around in good numbers at the moment are Wrasse. These are much underrated by many anglers. I think the main reason for this is that they are not regarded as good eating fish. Having never eaten one, I can’t say for sure. What I do know is that they are excellent fighters, especially on light tackle. A couple of mates, Dan Hollins and Craig Allington had a session on Portland recently. Both anglers did well, with them having round 10 Wrasse in an hour including this stunning looking one for Dan.

Ballan Wrasse

I was impressed by the method that they used to catch the fish and it goes to prove, no matter how experienced an angler you are, there is always something new to learn. Craig used his knowledge of lure fishing and created a hybrid rig that is similar to a Texas rig. He used a cone shaped weight of around 7g and added a couple of floating beads in front of the weight. The cone shaped weight helps to prevent the lead getting caught in the rocks. The beads keep the bait above the weed and in perfect view of the Wrasse. Ragworm is without a doubt the best bait for this rig. They fished it using 10-30g lure rods, which will happily flick out a 7g weight, far enough to reach the Wrasse.

Wrasse rig

 

Chesil Beach: 1.5 to 2m swell with lightly coloured water

Portland: Small swell and lightly coloured water. The swell on the West side is much larger

Portland harbour: calm and clear water

Weymouth Bay: Calm with lightly coloured water

Chesil Beach forecast: With the water being stirred up a bit and a decent sized waves hitting the beach, there is a good chance of an early Bass in very close. Use a Mackerel head no further than 15yds out. If you are targeting Plaice it is a good idea to fish with two rods and keep one close. The water is still clear enough for plaice to be caught. Rays will like the slight colour in the water and will be looking for Sandeels. Seems like a good idea to use them as bait. If you don’t have any then Squid and Mackerel are good alternatives. However there have been a lot of Dogfish around and they will home in on the Mackerel very quickly.

Portland: As I mentioned earlier, Wrasse fishing on the rock marks is excellent at the moment. You could try the rig that Dan and Craig have been using, or fish hard on the bottom and risk losing a lot of tackle. Float fishing is a better method to avoid tackle losses, but it tends to catch smaller fish. My favourite is to use soft plastic lures, such as small paddle tails of around 4 inches fished Texas Style.

Portland Harbour: Still not much happening in the harbour, but Wrasse and Pollock are showing off the reefs at Sandsfoot and now in Castle Cove.

Weymouth Bay: The water clarity in the harbour was good this week, but I didn’t see too many Mullet. If you fancy catching lots of species then the piers will give you that option. They are a lot of fun especially on LRF tactics.

There are good numbers of Squid being caught from Brighton and a few from Plymouth. There is no reason for them not to come from the piers at Weymouth.

Guiding on lures and bait: now the the weather is starting to improve I will be concentrating on Lure fishing again. Although we can’t take any Bass we can still fish for them. I am limiting my guides to 100 this year, which is a 30% drop from last year. I want to concentrate more on creating videos. However we can offer guided services in Poole and Plymouth, as well as the North East of England. If you would like to be a Fishing Tails guide then please contact us for more details.

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4 Responses to "Where are the bait fish?"
  1. Michael says:

    The rig’s a good idea! If you changed to a weedless hook and isome worm then you could mix up the speed of the retrieve without getting caught in kelp.

  2. Gerry anderson says:

    The Mackerel are on chesil had 7 yesterday near cove inn largest was 40 cms

  3. KK says:

    Im hoping to get down to Oxwich in a couple of weeks, and was looking for a few mackerel and hopefully an early Bass. I wont be using live bait for this outing, but am going to try my hand at some feathers and Bass spinners, as ive not put in a lot of time with either (i usually stick with rag worm). Any thoughts or advice would be welcome.

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      Using lures and feathers is by far the most effective method for catching Mackerel. I catch almost all my Bass on lures. I prefer to use surface lures such as a Patchinko, Savage Gear Panick Prey, or a Seaspin Pro-q. In the early part of the season use the smaller sized versions.Savage Gear sandeels also work well, as do Fiiish Black Minnows.

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