Fishing Chesil beach is a bucket list activity for those not local to the area. It simply has to be ticked off. Steeped in legendary stories of big fish and surreal sessions, the appeal will likely always persist. The doubters will point to the amount of rod hours invested into fishing Chesil, suggesting anywhere would throw up the same results with as many rods so frequently fishing it. Meanwhile, the devoted fans will point to the abundant diversity of species, regularity of specimens caught and the favourable SSW facing beach, easily accessible deep water and a proven record of throwing up even the most unexpected of species.
So, if you’ve yet to fish the beach, or even experience the best of it, we hope this page will act as your resource to start learning a little more about it. We can’t possibly put everything into one page, so consider this the starting point from which we will build upon, with future guides breaking down each of the locations you will find mentioned here in to far more detail.
Within this page you will be given a breakdown of the main parts of the beach, an idea of what to expect from each mark and parking directions.
Whilst the full stretch of Chesil beach is fishing from shingle (of varying sizes east to west), the beach can be split into a number of marks that fish considerably differently and produce some variations in target species. It becomes much easier to digest when you consider the beach as the following ‘zones’ from east (the Portland end) to west (aptly, West Bay): The Cove, Masonic, Ferrybridge, Moonfleet, Langton Herring, Dragons Teeth, Abbotsbury, West Bexington, Cogden, Burton Bradstock, Freshwater and West Bay.
We’ll cover each in turn.
Fishing Chesil Cove needs careful consideration of the ground upon which you will be casting, as in the wrong spots, you will inevitably lose any gear fished on the bottom. The many dive videos from this location show clearly the rough nature of the seabed at this far end of the beach.
However, the massive array of species holed up in the cove, which is formed via an angling of the beach as it approaches the headland, will attract many anglers and divers alike. Lure and float fishing proves very popular in this spot, offering the opportunity to fish above the snags which will lie below.
Many John Dory are spotted here during dives, but tempting one on bait or lure is a wholly different proposition!
To get to the Cove, head towards Portland on the A354 where you;ll eventually cross the causeway with Chesil Beach on your right. Now bear right to Chiswell and if you’re lucky you can park for free on Brandy Row. DT5 1LN in your SatNav will take you to Quiddles Cafe, on the right road. If you can’t find a parking space there, head back to one of the other nearby car parking spaces.
As you come slightly round from the cove towards the Masonic lodge, the rough ground breaks up a bit, offering some better bottom fishing options – though rotten bottoms remain a good idea here!
The deep water over mixed ground makes this a favoured mark for those looking to target huss and conger, whilst the openings of sandy patches along parts of this stretch make it one of the chosen spots to target a blonde ray, particularly in the winter months.
The Masonic car park can be located on your SatNav with the postcode DT5 1AP.
Famed for the location of the Royal Adelaide wreck some 150 metres offshore, which to anglers means a known holding spot for trigger fish in the summer months. It equally proves a popular spot for black bream.
The downside to this spot, for the serious angler, is it is easily accessible to the seasonal mackerel anglers and can get very busy, very quickly during hot summer days, with strings of feathers flying everywhere, some even with a bit of shockleader attached (but don’t bank on it!).
The reason it gets inundated with the mackerel anglers is the fact that the car park is right on the beach, with just a walk across the bridge, up and over the bank to be fishing. (Though serious anglers will walk a bit to find space… or the wreck).
The car park is the Chesil Centre car park, and can be found by putting postcode DT4 9XE into your SatNav.
Unless you fancy quite the walk along the shingle from either Abbotsbury or Ferrybridge, these three marks should be forgotten about until such time as you have adequately befriended someone with a moored boat to cross the fleet (the body of water sat behind the Chesil shingle bank at this part of the beach).
There is a serious danger of upsetting landowners if people start showing up with their own inflatables, or attempting to add additional moorings. Simply avoid these spots if you are not local and do not know the right people to achieve access. The beach is big enough with enough variety in the accessible spots.
We won’t give parking details for these spots for the above reasons.
Roughly halfway along the beach, and at the western end of the fleet sits the village of Abbotsbury and a point of Chesil beach famed far and wide for its cod fishing. In particular, a reasonable walk to the left from the car park will take you to ‘The Dragon’s Teeth’ – a spot many will insist is the one to get on for the cod, though anywhere along the stretch can and will produce on its day.
With cod come whiting, and you can expect a barrage of these in the winter months too. The reasonably deep water at this part of the beach means practically anything can turn up and a massively abundant range of species come out along this stretch year after year.
Whilst greater numbers of plaice can be found further along on the shallower stretches of Cogden and further west, Abbotsbury will produce a number of specimens each year.
The car park is easily found by using postcode DT3 4LA. The car park is at the bottom of the road on the left hand side, right on the beach.
Please note that access along the road that leads right along the beach towards Bexington is restricted at time of publication and in any event should never be parked on, in any lay-bys.
West Bexington starts to shallow up from the deeper water at Abbotsbury, but still holds a bit more depth than those beaches further west. Like its adjacent beach, Cogden, it is known for plaice and sole, though also produces gurnard, red mullet, undulate rays, bass, cod and many more species besides.
It is also a location where large shoals of mackerel seem to congregate on occasion, often chasing shoals of whitebait right up onto the shingle. On rarer occasions, larger predators, be they bass, tope, or even the occasional larger shark species can drive the mackerel up onto the beach too.
Having started with rough ground to the east of chesil and it cleaning up into sand and deeper water in the middle stretches, West Bexington sees the start of substantial clay patches. There’s a slight threat to plugging of leads in this ground, so one should be inclined to ease their lead out under steady pressure if it appears stuck. It will be very rare it won’t eventually come back to you this way, whereas a forced pull for a break will more than likely part the line.
West Bexington car park can be found by putting DT2 9DG into your SatNav. It’s right on the beach and offers 24 hour parking, with 6pm to 8am being free 7 days a week.
Cogden, at the shallower end of the beach, is renowned for its flatfish fishing. Though whilst producing numbers of plaice, it doesn’t tend to throw up the bigger specimens that show themselves at Abbotsbury and Bexington.
Alongside the plaice, which this spot is perhaps best known for, many good sized dover sole can be caught as well as occasional dabs. To read more about the sole fishing, be sure to check out this awesome piece on Chesil Beach Sole Fishing by Ben Conway. Like almost anywhere along the beach, bass, undulates, and large shoals of mackerel will also show, along with codling and whiting in the winter. There’s no avoiding the dogfish and strap conger and each of these will happily ruin a session after other intended species.
Cogden involves a bit of a walk down from a National Trust car park at the top of the hill. The benefit for some here is that with National Trust memberhip the car park will be free. (Top tip, consider the membership just for the annual parking costs. The trust owns a lot of coastal car parks).
You can find the car park by putting postcode DT6 4RL into your SatNav (then keeping a peeled eye before you drive straight past the sometimes all too concealed gap in the hedge!)
The final 3 beaches are perhaps fished a little less frequently than the rest of the aforementioned marks, possibly owing to the water shallowing up at the Western end of the beach. Though equally it could be to do with all three marks being below cliffs with a questionable timeline till their next erosion.
That’s not to say these marks should be dismissed though. Rays, bass and flats can all be caught along these spots, and given the curvature of the beach, they can often offer some water clarity when marks further along have coloured up. This is usually when the marks will start producing good numbers of plaice. They are also locations known for producing the occasional good sized Turbot, rarely seen in such sizes from the shore.
The most important part of this end of the beach is the tackle shop, West Bay angling centre. We’ve linked their Facebook page below.
Parking can be found for all three but one must bear in mind that Freshwater is technically a private beach
For Burton Bradstock (Hive) follow DT6 4RG.
For West Bay follow DT6 4EL. This will take you straight to the tackle shop, from where you can gain the most up to date advise.