So the day started with a plan, head to Chesil, catch loads of mackerel for an upcoming boat trip and spend a few hours targeting bream in daylight, then maybe an eel, undulate or bass after dark.
This plan still seemed reasonable despite a stiffening southwesterly, as I parked up, unpacked the car and began the trek across the shingle. Upon reaching the top of the bank however, large rafts of weed and a growing swell suggested perhaps I had made an error.
Regardless, I picked my gap, having walked past a couple of people unsuccessfully feathering for mackerel and set one rod up with a bream rig and one with feathers…
Despite shoals of small mackerel smashing the surface intermittently they weren’t particularly obliging to feathers, and it took me 2 hours to feather up only a dozen or so mackerel, along with 2 school bass which also took a liking to the feathers. In this time the baits had been totally ignored and I had wrestled with more than one enormous lump of weed in the growing swell!
As the sun began to set, with high tide still several hours away, a seemingly ever increasing number of weed rafts, and a breeze which was now a steady 25/30mph south westerly, I figured enough was enough, time for a plan B.
Back to the car and straight on my phone, checking tides for a couple of spots which I knew would offer me a little more shelter and perhaps the chance of a decent fish or two. While there are no doubts negatives to technology, the ability to check tides on the fly is certainly one big advantage in my book!!
Somewhat disheartened by the Chesil failure, I messaged a mate, saying I couldn’t decide between fishing a Purbeck mark or admitting defeat and heading for a beer and an early night. He came up with the wise words, “you won’t catch if you are in bed,” which to be honest, was just the kick in the arse I needed and off I went.
After a quiet drive and quickly dumping half the contents of my bag into my car to reduce gear to a bare minimum I was off on the 40 minute walk to the mark. The first fresh mackerel bait went out bang on 11pm, half an hour before high and already well into prime time for the chosen spot.
Whilst setting the 2nd rod up I noticed an aggressive bite, then a little slack.
As is imperative on a lot of rock marks to avoid the fish finding the closest snag, I was quickly on the rod, persuading the fish up off the sea bed. A solid resistance with heavy lunges convinced me that it was a ray, and I soon landed a respectable, if skinny, spotted ray of 3lb 10. They certainly fight well above their weight, if only they reached double figures!
Just the confidence boost I needed and after only 10 minutes fishing.
Back out again, this time with the front half of the joey, and I didn’t have to wait long. A very bass like bite produced a huss around the 4lb mark.
As I hadn’t even managed to get the 2nd rod fishing yet the decision was made to just fish one rod and fish it well, rather than mess around with 2 in the heavy side wind.
10 Minutes into my 3rd cast I saw a big bow of slack line blowing in the wind. Tightening the drag and winding down saw me connect to a heavier fish which had kited to my left with very aggressive lunges. I love the sensation of fighting a fish on braid as you feel everything, and the t900s tip really lets you both enjoy the fight and bully the fish when required. Hoping beyond hope that a double bass was about to reveal itself, I scanned over the rocks in front of me with my torch, only to see the telltale flapping of a wing belonging to an undulate ray just under 11lb.
Some of these fish come in with all the fight of a wet paper bag, while just occasionally one really kicks off! While I’m not sure I’ll ever work out why, I wonder if, like people, some of them just have a bit more attitude! A quick pic, weigh and release before sending another bait back out and sitting down for a breather and a drink. Three casts, three species and I was sweating at just gone midnight!
After 20 minutes of inactivity the rod tip sat back upright, and as I held the rod it aggressively slammed down. After a spirited scrap I was sliding a long and lean bass up on the rocks. At over 75cm I was expecting her to be at least 8lb, maybe even close to a double, but in the end she only went a shade over 6lb on the scales, due to being built more like a thin lip mullet than a bass! She had taken a mackerel tail and had been well and truly nailed with a 5/0 lodged in each scissor.
A spell of complete inactivity followed, and with the tide dropping fast my self imposed curfew of 02:30 approached. One last cast was in order. A squid and mackerel wrap was sent into the darkness and I began to pack away for the trek back to the car.
As line clicked slowly from the spool I first suspected weed, but then it all dropped slack. From my position on the high tide line I tried to steer the fish through the rocks, and failed miserably, beaching a modest undulate some 30 yards away on a boulder. Rather than risk damaging or losing the fish I released the drag and placed the rod in the tripod, before quickly and carefully rock hopping over, unclipping the rig and carrying it to safety.
I unhooked her quickly and placed her in a rock pool. The bait looked immaculate still so one final last cast couldn’t hurt. I noticed the rod tip tapping away while taking pictures of and releasing the undulate, which though only around 8lb had cracking markings.
By leaving the bite too long, I almost inevitably found myself locked up; but with steady pressure I was fortunate to drag the small dark Huss from its lair, and wrap up what had been a successful 4 hours fishing!
Maybe I would have landed a big bass or eel on Chesil, but I know that this time at least I’m glad I chose to look for a plan B.