Where are the Mackerel?

Sean McSeveny
  · Sean McSeveny  · July 7, 2015

There seems to more Bass on Chesil than Mackerel at the moment. I know it is a similar story along the South Coast and I would love to know why. Don’t get me wrong, there are Mackerel being caught, but certainly not in the numbers we normally expect. Reports from further North suggest that the Mackerel  have arrived and are plentiful in numbers.

Roker Pier Mackerel Jun 20th 2015 009

One theory that I have is that bait fish numbers seem down this year, especially Sandeel. The shoals of Mackerel live of these huge shoals of baitfish. Intense commercial fishing for Sandeel has badly effected the numbers that are being landed. The Dutch boats, which make up one of the largest Sandeel fishing fleets in Europe are not even catching half the numbers of Sandeel that their quota allow. Sandeel are often used to make up feed pellets for farmed fish.

Talking of Bass on Chesil, I have heard of quite a few being caught last weekend, and the rough conditions forecast over the next few days are almost ideal for Bass. Whilst running the River Cottage Shoreline course yesterday I witnessed quite a few different species caught including this School Bass.

Small Bass

I know that yesterday Adrian mentioned some of the changes that we are making on the website. One of the additions that we are striving towards is a lot more tackle reviews. We are starting this with a look at the ReelTidy  from Damiltech Solutions, as well as a cracking report from Leo in the Poole area, so make sure you check back regularly this week.

Sea Conditions: Water temperature 16°c

Chesil Beach:  medium swell with occasional 2m waves and coloured water

Portland: A dangerous swell on the rocks with lightly coloured clear water

Portland Harbour:Wavelets and clear

Weymouth Bay: Calm and clear

Chesil Beach forecast: The water clarity, or rather the lack of it, is certainly not helping with the Mackerel, however it has not been deterring the Gurnard and even the Pout during the day. As I mentioned earlier there has been a steady stream of Bass being caught all along the beach.

Bream are making more of an appearance towards the Portland end, as are a number of Plaice. I have heard of a few Undulates being landed around Bridging Camp.

Portland: Despite a bit of a swell, Portland has continued to fish well for Wrasse. As with Chesil the lack of water clarity means that my favourite method of lure fishing, is less effective. Ragworm is an excellent alternative, and can be float fished, or if you don’t mind losing some tackle and want to try for a bigger Wrasse, then try fishing hard on the bottom. Make sure you use a rotten bottom rig.

Portland Bill swell

Pollock fishing has been very poor for the past week, but night fishing for COnger has improved.

Portland Harbour: Quite a few small Bass are being caught (and released) all around the harbour.

Weymouth Bay: Some good catches have been reported from Stone Pier, with Pollock up to 2lb and some nice Garfish. There are lots of Mullet further up in the harbour, with some monster sized fish amongst the shoals.


I am now taking bookings for plaice trips as well as some basic fishing workshops for the next month. In the workshops I teach all sorts of skills, that will give you a good grounding for your fishing adventures for the rest of the year. I am happy to do lure or bait sessions and the workshops are 2 hours long and limitied to 3 people. If you are thinking about booking a guided lure or bait session for the later on in the year, then now is the best time to do it, to grab the best tides.

This year we will be offering boat guiding sessions from your own boat, from Weymouth and Portland and shore guiding in the Poole and Purbeck area. If you want more details then drop me an email to [email protected]

Fishing Tails > All Articles > Reports > Chesil Beach > Where are the Mackerel?


12 Responses to "Where are the Mackerel?"
  1. Avatar Bennybluebag says:

    Hi what page on this site can I find your tide icon please?

    • Each area we cover now has its own page with tides, weather and live cameras at the top and relevant articles below.
      So goto REPORTS on the main menu and then pick the area you are interested in. We recently removed Weymouth’s details from the ALL ARTICLES option as it doesn’t make sense to have it there any more

  2. Avatar jono says:

    Do you think this murky coloured water will move off by the weekend. Me and a few mates are coming down for a few days. We have spent a lot of time and money planning this and wouldn’t like to come down all way from Yorkshire to be treated with a cloud of green lol. If you think it is still gonna be bad any suggestions on where to catch a few. As I want to give my best pals the best chance.

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      Jono, looking at the wind forecast it looks like the water should have almost cleared by then. Not sure what you are hoping to catch, but I hope you have a great weekend.

  3. Avatar kevin buckler says:

    Hi Shaun,we have just the same problem around the Isle of Wight,and have done for the past three years.Mackerel have almost completely vanished,even the boats are struggling to catch them.There have been no whitebait,no sandeels,mackerel or bass.
    Obviously the article you put up shows there is no deterent for the commercials to stop illeaglly fishing.I also seem to recall Iceland being given a large quota a couple of years ago,which must be denting the stocks.

  4. Avatar Jim Bartram says:

    Do you think the Barrel Jellyfish that have been present in large numbers for a couple of months from Chesil all the way to Cornwall for the last few months until recently may have anything to do with it?

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      I had not thought of that possible cause Jim.
      I wouldn’t have thought it would have been a factor, but they are around in large numbers, so you never know.

  5. Avatar gordon says:

    just a quick thought ;- are water temps average for time of year? what is the upper limmit for sandeel to tolerate? perhaps the majority of the bait fish have headed north for cooler water, north atlantic drift running further north this year?

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      Temperatures did hit a high spot with them being slightly above average for a few days, but they have settled down again and are average for the time of year

  6. Avatar Rick says:

    Just got back from a week in St Ives. I fished it hard spinning looking for bass from lots of rock marks with deep water and all I caught was Launce and few sand eels that I mounted up as bait. The commercial line fish boys were finding a few mackerel – but not many.
    Where are the summers of yesteryear?
    Just how many tonnes of sandeels, sprats and whitebait are being hoovered from the sea to make unloved farmed salmon and fertiliser?

  7. Avatar john says:

    I fish off th lizard cornwall, five timed in June. Not one mackerel. Fishing match with 15 rods still no mackerel . Tried this week Penzance harbour,nothing. Met old guy who lived on Penzance walking off harbour he said he was selling all his tackle


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