Can a tide be too big?

Sean McSeveny
  · Sean McSeveny  · October 5, 2015

Are spring tides the best tides to fish? We are just coming off the back of a set of very big spring tides ,that have left me wondering if such big tides are that good for fishing. Don’t get me wrong, I have had a good week guiding and fishing and I have had a good number of species, but to be honest I expected it to be better.

Reports from last weekend and on Monday suggested that Cogden and Abbotsbury have been fishing very well. I took my own advice and headed to Cogden with a client in search of Plaice. Conditions were pleasant with bright sunshine and an easterly wind that made the beach flat calm. The tide was a 2.3m tide (Portland) which is a fairly large tide and one that I know often causes problems with Plaice fishing. I wasn’t overly worried, as my guest Patrick also wanted to catch other species such as Garfish, which are happy to feed at any stage of the tide. We were only doing a half day session. I opted to go for an ebbing tide, to catch low water. I always think that many Chesil marks fish better over low water.


When we arrived another angler came over to chat. He told us that him and his friend had been there since 8am and had only managed a small Smoothound and a Flounder. Not great, I thought, but I was soon a bit more positive, as they guy we had just been talking to had a good bite, that turned out to be a Cod.

We fished for well over an hour with not as much as a rattle on the rod tips. The tide was running very hard. This normally causes the Plaice to sit tight until the tide drops off a bit. We got a rod set up with a bubble float for Garfish and had a go for them. Again nothing for almost an hour, then it was as if someone had flicked a switch.

I noticed Patricks rod had a decent bite, so he quickly handed me the float rod and ran to his rod. At the same time the rod in my hand started bouncing, as a Garfish took the strip of Mackerel right in at the edge. I reeled that in and then went to help Patrick, with what looked like a decent fish. Unfortunately his clutch was set too loose and he managed to lose what looked like a nice Cod. As he wound in the rig he picked up a bonus Mackerel.

The rods were cast out again, with one being in close. Almost straight away Patrick was into another Garfish, and the rod in close gave a few short knocks.

Garfish Patrick

The knocks turned out to be a Whiting, which is pretty early in the season for a daytime session.


With the other rod out with a big bait in the hope of a Cod, we were a bit surprised to wind in a number of Plaice and a bonus Red Mullet.

Red Mullet and Plaice

Not bad for an afternoon session, but at this time of the year, I would expect a lot more. The fishing only lasted for around 2 hours. As soon as the tide picked up again the fishing went dead.

So what can we expect this week? The tides have dropped back and the weather is going to be very changeable. The wind for the early part of the week will be switching between southerly to South East, then South West. This will stir Chesil up nicely and hopefully bring back the Cod. Chesil regular Robert Raybould did well last night with a number of nice Cod from Abbotsbury and a Thornback Ray.

Cod RObert2

I forecast that conditions should be really good on Wednesday for the chance of a Cod and Bass from Chesil. I will try and keep as close to a live report going as I can. I will do updates from the beach via Facebook.

Sea Conditions: Water temperature 15.7°c

Chesil Beach: waves in excess of 2m with good water clarity that will colour up by this afternoon.

Portland: 2m swell with slightly coloured water.

Portland Harbour: Wavelets with clear water

Weymouth Bay: Wavelets with lightly coloured water

Chesil Beach forecast: If you have a chance in the next couple of hours (Monday 9am) it is worth getting on to Chesil for a Bass. Conditions are near perfect at the moment. The waves are building and the water is still clear. Very short casts will get you fish.

Once the water starts to colour up the Cod will move in with the Bass. It should be a very good early part of the week for both of those species. The current forecast is for calm weather on Thursday and Friday. This will be excellent for Bream and Plaice fishing.

A lot of people ask me if there are still Mackerel on the beach. The answer is yes. They are not as easy to find as they were at the height of summer but there are still plenty around.

One fish that is almost a guarantee at the moment are Garfish. I had several on lures over the weekend, Best method is a bubble float and a small strip of Mackerel.

Portland: I had loads of of Wrasse on lures from all around the Island yesterday afternoon. They were taking small paddle tail soft plastics. The Pollock are once again absent, with the exception of a few small ones.

Portland Harbour: There are lots of baitfish in the harbour, which means that Mackerel and Bass will be chasing them. The number of Flounder is steadily increasing and the Mullet are still around.

Weymouth Bay: I did hear that some good catches of Squid were taken from the Pier at the weekend, but so far I have not seen any proof in the way of pictures. I know that they have been catching them in very good numbers from Bournemouth.

Both piers will produce fish during the day and at night. Garfish and Wrasse are in good numbers.

Regular contributor Fraser Monro fished Preston Beach last week in search of Bass. He was surprised to catch this nice Plaice. It just goes to show, you never know what will turn up there.

Preston PLaice


Due to a large number of requests I have freed up a number of additional dates for shore based guiding in the coming 3 months. August to November are by far the best months for fishing, and are normally my busiest times. I will be offering lure and bait fishing for a whole range of species including Bass, Pollock, Rays, Bream, Trigger Fish and Codling.

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 > Can a tide be too big?


5 Responses to "Can a tide be too big?"
  1. Avatar Will says:

    Hi Sean, its my final weekend to do some beach fishing before our new addition to the family arrives. Wont be able to go out again for the next 6 months or so. Any idea on where to go to make the most of Saturday? Abbotsbury or Portland. Will be using black lug, cuttlefish and mackerel.

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      Abbotsbury if you are after a Plaice, or Portland if you want Bream. I think the Cod will be hard to find this weekend, unless you have access to a boat to get to the deeper water marks such as Mooonfleet. Otherwise it is a long walk to Dragons Teeth or Bridging Camp.

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      Head to Cogden Will.

  2. Avatar Mr brown says:

    Hi Shaun
    Been looking to get out onto abbotsbury for a codlin or two but due to work times I can’t manage to get out this week on a high tide? Would the cod still be about on a low tide after this horrible weather!!?

    Thanks Shaun
    Mr brown

  3. Avatar gordon says:

    hi sean, interesting i found your thoughts on big tides, a few times over the years i’ve fished at abbotsbury and found the tide pull to be really strong, it seemed strong enough to match what we get at hurst, but less weed:-) . i never caught in these conditions . just ruminateing on why, ( probably my poor angling skills) but i got to think about how fish behave in strong tiides. i’ve not studdied this but i thought about some species that hug one mark/area and sit tight till the conditions suit for feeding may well keep their heads down out of the tide and not feed conserving enery till the tide slackens and they can patrol their patch. while others actively feed by positioning themselves imeadiately uptide from structure useing the structure as a dolphin uses the bow wave on a ship to hold position with less effort while in this case food items get swept towards them by the tide. thirdly fish that migrate along the beach with the tide between feeding areas yet hunting on the way. i saw an article on cod feeding this way, running with the tide getting the scent of food and turning back into the tide to find it having found it hoovering it up then letting the tide sweep them away again. this would give the big pull down ,or slackline bites we associate with cod. perhaps when the tide is really strong the fish that hunt in this way cannot swim back against the tide and take the lottery on what ends up on their nose, hence less chance of a bite. while the ones with their heads down won’t be feeding anyway and the ones that position themselves around structure need a bait to be positioned extremely accurately ( repeat casts, lures, pirks, norway shore coalies, static baits less likely to find them) because they’re not going to chase it yards in a strong tide and loose position. the two codling i caught last month were, i think, taken on a neap tide and gave small finicky bites . i guess they had more time over the baits without fighting the tide the tide so much and could afford to be fussy. possibly happy to stay in a food rich localised area without having to fight the tide so much.–just some of my rambleing thoughts most likely nonsense.

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