Does Chesil Beach fish in a NW wind? Is the Mackerel season over? Where can I catch Undulate Rays on Chesil? These are just some of the questions I have been asked this week. I get sent hundreds of emails everyday asking various questions, unfortunately I do not have enough hours in the day to answer most of them. However I will answer the three above, as they seem to be the most common ones this week.
Chesil will fish in any wind condition that is below 20 mph. Once it gets to 18-20mph and the wind has any Westerly direction in it (NW, SW, W) it starts to become uncomfortable, but still reasonably safe as long as you stay well back from the waters edge. It may be uncomfortable, but that is often the best conditions for Bass and Cod. It is still possible to fish in winds that are slightly higher than 20mph, but it then becomes dangerous. It is certainly not a beach for novice anglers in those conditions.
When the wind is blowing from an Easterly direction, Chesil can be fished in much higher winds. You may have heard the saying “When the winds in the East, the fish bite the least”. That is not true of Chesil. An Easterly wind flattens out the sea and will allow you to get your casts out much further than normal. This can be essential, especially in the early part of the season when the Plaice start to show.
Mackerel fishing on Chesil normally starts in early April, but you will get fish from mid March. The Mackerel will remain around in large numbers until October. You can still catch Mackerel in early December, but they are in far fewer numbers. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, if the water is coloured you will really struggle to catch them. Mackerel are sight feeders, so rely on clear water to find their prey. If you cast out and you get your feathers or lure right in front of a Mackerel, then the chances are it will take it. If it lands 3m away and the visibility is less than 3m, then their is no chance that it will see them and you wont catch. If the water clarity is anything worse than lightly coloured, I wont even bother trying for them.
Where can I catch an Undulate Ray? To be honest I am probably not the best person to ask, as I have never caught an Undulate from the shore or boat. However I am going to make that my mission over the next week. I want to try and get one from the Shore and the Boat. I will be starting my search with a trip out on Snapper on Sunday, followed by a shore session early next week, to a couple of marks that I know have been producing Rays for a couple of my friends.
As I have said many times in the past, Chesil can be very mark specific for certain species. It may look like a flat featureless beach, but under those waves it is far from it. If you are 50m away from a mark, you may as well be 50 miles away. I wont give specific marks, as I have worked hard to find them over the years and I reserve that information for those that want me to take them guiding. I will however give you pointers, and once you have found your own marks, make sure you note exactly how to find it again.
Undulates seem to like areas that are slightly deeper than the surrounding areas. These are normally only a few feet deeper, but they may contain more food than the surrounding sea bed, or it may be that the rays use these hollows to ambush unsuspecting prey. There are many such hollows along Chesil, all the way from Portland to Cogden. The clay beds at West Bexington and Cogden are good examples.
Rays like fish and squid baits. Often the bigger the better. Half a Mackerel or a whole Squid will often tempt a Ray, as do Sandeels. I like to use a Pulley Pennel rig with 5/0 hooks when targeting the larger species. You wont be able to cast a large bait too far, but if you use bait elastic and clip it down, to make it as streamlined as possible, it will help to get you a few more yards.
I know Portsmouth is not normally featured in the West Dorset forecast, but I wanted to share James Prittchett’s record beating Tompot Blenny. James fished with very light tackle and baited up with a Ragworm to catch the Blenny weighing 7 1/2oz, in Portsmouth Harbour.
The current record for the Tompot Blenny is 5oz8drams. After taking a couple of pictures James released the fish. He told me that he was not prepared to kill a fish just to claim a record. I am with you all the way on that one James, well done.
Sea Conditions: Water temperature 16.7°c
Chesil Beach: Calm with lightly coloured water
Portland: Calm and clear water
Portland Harbour: Calm and clear water
Weymouth Bay: Calm and clear water
Chesil Beach forecast: Despite heavy rain forecast for all day today, this should not effect the fishing on Chesil. Expect the mackerel to be around again, now that the water is clear. There is a very good chance of Gurnard all along the beach, as well as Rays. Most of the Rays seem to be coming at night. You will need to battle through the Dogfish and Pout, if you do fish at night.
Plaice and Dabs should feature in catches from Cogden to Abbotsbury, with a few coming from Ferrybridge as well. Now is the time to target Sole from West Bexington and Cogden. They can be caught during the day, but night tides normally produce better results. Lugworm is their prefered bait on those marks.
Bream are starting to turn up more regularly from Ferrybridge and Portland end of the beach. Cod continue to be caught down that end of the beach and into the deeper water at Bridging Camp and Langton Herring. My friend Paul Black had several during the day on Wednesday.
Portland: The Wrasse are back on the feed again, with plenty of fish up to 5lb being caught. The Pollock do not seem to be around in any numbers, even at the peak times of dawn and dusk.
Portland Harbour: The harbour produced some nice Bass this week to bait. Paul D’Arcy caught several Bass on whole Calamari squid, free-lined on a 5/0 Pennel Rig, cast only 10yds. from the shore. Fishing in complete darkness with a light rod he topped the night off with this 9lb 9oz. beauty.
I would expect to see a few more this weekend with the large tides. I am hoping to try out a new lure rod, so the harbour may be the best place to try and christen it.
Weymouth Bay: If you want a safe place to get your kids interested in fishing, then head for Weymouth Stone or Pleasure pier. Both piers will produce lots of fish. Most of them are small, but Mackerel, Pollock, Wrasse and Garfish can all be caught there.
With a lot of coloured water coming into the harbour from Radipole Lake, Mullet fishing will be very difficult in the harbour.
Preston Beach and Bowleaze Cove could well produce some Bass this weekend. Best bait would be a whole Squid or live Peeler Crab fished close in.
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]