In part two of our new series, Getting Hooked Up, Jansen Teakle catches up with possibly one of the most successful Chesil Beach anglers of all time, Ben Stockley. Jansen has fished with Ben on numerous occasions over the years, but was keen to probe this thinking anglers mind and perhaps find out what his secret is when it comes to consistently putting fish on the beach and, on the face of it, rarely blanking.

JT: So Ben, ready for some interrogation?

BS: Quietly laughing Go on then…

JT: How long have you been fishing?

BS: 33 Years.

A sight many will be familiar with, Ben Stockley with an impressive Chesil beach ray

JT: How did you start your fishing exploits and who is responsible for inspiring you?

BS: It all began on Weymouth’s Stone Pier one day back in 1987 and I’ve been obsessed ever since. My Stepdad introduced me and had a big influence in setting a lot of the principles I still fish by today. My fondest memories were some fantastic catches of plaice & dabs from my local Chesil beach in the late 1980’s. He used to cast for me, but I’d do all my own rig tying, baiting up, etc.

JT: Who do you look up to within the fishing community, either in the past or the present?

BS: I’ve looked up to many incredibly talented anglers over the years. Joe Arch was a huge inspiration growing up for his sheer domination of the match circuit at that time. Lee Cullen who I travelled to many matches with was another. We learnt so much together and pushed ourselves to be the best we could be. Finally, local angler Dave Chidzoy who is one of the most naturally talented all-round anglers I have ever seen. Formidable on his local Chesil Beach.

One of many incredible catches Ben has experienced over the years

JT: I know match fishing was a big draw for you some time back, tell me a bit more about that?

BS: I did a lot until about 2010, travelling the length and breadth of the country in search of results. I was a member of the England Shore Squad for several years and was selected as reserve for the World Championship team in Montenegro during 2008. I did not eventually travel, but learnt a lot from being around many incredible anglers.

I was fortunate enough to win or gain top 3 placings in dozens of matches all over England & Wales. I managed victories in 3 of the old ISAC matches, was runner up in the Fountain Open in Kent, runner up in the Chesil Flattie open twice and won the Samalite League on Chesil in 2015 after being talked out of retirement for that year. I qualified for the Penn final several times with my best haul of points being 53.

Not a bad return from retirement to match angling...

JT: That’s an impressive record. Is there anyone else you would say influenced you?

BS: There’s so many anglers! Aside from the ones mentioned earlier, local angler Josh Simmonds was as good as anyone I’ve ever seen in Chesil matches. In the early 2000’s I witnessed him win nearly every major open on Chesil over a 4–5-year period. He was in a different league, winning the Dorset Echo open with 84lbs of fish in a 5-hour comp! I took a lot of what he did and tried to apply it to my own fishing.

JT: What was the first fish you caught?

BS: A Pout of around 8oz on a float from that first session on Weymouth’s Stone Pier. At age 7, I insisted my Mum cooked it for me and it wasn’t until I was about 14 that I had the appetite for eating fish again! It’s a great venue for the youngsters to learn from. I take my own Son Zak who is 4 and Stepdaughter Poppy who is 11 and they love catching small fish on a float down the size of the wall. I always have a sneaky cast too if I can as it brings back lots of fantastic nostalgia!

Ben with a cracking black bream. We suspect this would make better eating than the 8oz pout...

JT: So what motivates you to fish now?

BS: I’m motivated by making fishing memories to look back on over the years. I’m not necessarily driven by catching huge fish, I like picking a spot and seeing how much of it’s potential I can unlock in a few hours fishing. If that’s a couple of modest Plaice at a tough time of year or a huge catch of rays, I always go home happy if I’ve fished my best and feel like I’ve maximised what was available on the day.

JT: Where is your favourite place to fish?

BS: Anywhere on the Dorset coast. I love the variety in terms of both marks and fish. I don’t target numbers of different species but last year I was surprised to learn that Dorset had provided me with 33 different fish showing just how diverse it can be. Chesil is my big passion, but I enjoy my rock fishing, away trips or wherever I can have a fun day’s sport.

With Ben being so heavily associated to Chesil Beach, it's no surprise he ranks it as his favourite angling location

JT: From your portfolio of catches, which fish do you feel are your biggest achievements? 

BS: That’s a hard question as there’s a lot of special ones for hugely different reasons. I don’t always look upon my biggest or best fish as my biggest achievement. For example, I recall a Chesil session where I had 16 Trigger Fish, 13 Codling and 3 whopping great Red Mullet to over 2lbs. Is that better than a one-off big fish, I can’t decide!

I asked Ben for his PB list and he duly obliged- what a selection! Note that they are all shore-caught from Dorset except 2:

Blonde Ray 22-5 / Trigger Fish 4-6 / Plaice 4-9 / Undulate 16-2

Thornback 15-12 / Spotted Ray 5-7 / Small Eyed 11-7

Smoothound 16-3 / Black Bream 3-12 / Thick Lip Mullet 5-2

Bull Huss 11-10 / Dab 1-6 / Thin Lip 3-4 / Red Mullet 2-1

Red Gurnard 1-14 / Sole 2-5 / Pout 3-1 / Whiting 2-1

Flounder 2-15 / Golden Grey 2-4 / Silver Eel 2-13 / Mackerel 1-11

Some impressive catches see Ben hold a PB list the majority only dream of

JT: What is your current choice of tackle?

BS: AFAW Tournament Match Pro or Big Beach Remastered with a 7ht Mag or Saltist 20 (mono magged) depending on location. I also use a whole plethora of other rods and reels according to what I’m doing.

JT: If you could only fish with one bait, what would it be?

BS: Laughing That would ruin my life! Let’s say Peeler Crab as it’ll catch almost anything.

Ben with a lovely Chesil blonde ray

JT: What are your thoughts on social media?

BS: I like that it gives me a chance to share what I love doing with other like-minded people. It has shortened the learning curve for many new anglers but has also provided a platform for idiots to spread negativity and hatred.

JT: What are your pet hates in fishing?

BS: Selfish people. Those who show no regard to others whatsoever. For example, the guy who sets up right next to you in a fierce tide on Chesil or the swimmer who decides that despite having an empty beach, he’ll take a dip right under your lines! I also hate anglers with massive egos who judge anyone who’s less able or wants to ask a question that might seem silly to them. 

A beautiful spotted ray for Ben.

JT: So, every angler has a tale to tell. What’s yours?

BS: Around 15 years ago, I’d walked to one of the most remote spots on Chesil with my good mate Lee Cullen. It was bitter, below freezing with a 30mph plus Easterly wind howling. The walk was a good 45 minutes along loose shingle and after a rubbish session we decided to head back. It was hard to make any head way without being buffeted all over the place but eventually we reached the car. 

It was at that moment that I learnt I’d be doing another 1-and-a-half-hour round trip against the elements to retrieve my car keys from the patch of beach where I’d had a little tackle box sort out some 45 minutes earlier!

JT: Thanks for your time mate, consider yourself interrogated.

BS: Any time Janse quiet laughter 

A cracking undulate for Ben from the Dorset rocks
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