Chesil – the year so far – part 1

Today we welcome Ben Stockley to the blog. Ben enjoys regular success on Chesil and we knew that his year so far would make for a good read. Look our for part 2 coming soon…

Chesil – the year so far – part 1

Wow, where is 2016 going, already we are into July, the longest day has passed and the nights are drawing in a little earlier every day. I have packed in a lot of fishing so far this year, many of you will already know that I am expecting the arrival of Stockley Junior in early August and I have made it my mission to do as much fishing as possible ahead of a very busy end to the year!

Samalite league champion 2015

Samalite league champion 2015

January Prolonged bad weather and the usual post Xmas fish famine on the Dorset Coast meant I only managed a couple of pretty slow trips out. The 1st round of the new Samalite League season was held at West Bexington in heavy rain and a strong Southerly wind. A limited bag of Dogs, Pollack, Whiting and Poor Cod helped me limp home to a 4th in zone but I was pleased as it meant I’d made the prize table and started the defence of last year’s league title in a positive manner.

A plump cod from a cold Chesil

A plump cod from a cold Chesil

February More wet and windy weather did nothing to improve the prospects of what promised to be another challenging month although I did manage a few more sessions, albeit mostly honing my match fishing skills catching dogs and whiting, generally making the best of what lean pickings were on offer. One particularly pleasant sunny day was spent at the end of the month hoping for an early red spot on Chesil. The water colour meant that I had to be entertained by a steady stream of dogs and Whiting until a late season Cod of 7lb 2oz put a big smile on my face and sent me back home happy. He’d picked up a small rag bait on a size 2 hook intended for flatter, spottier customers. I also enjoyed a couple of trips to Jerry’s Point in Poole Harbour , the best of these trips resulting in 6 plump flounders to 1-12 and a few school Bass which was fun on the light continental gear I had used. With 2 days of the month remaining, I decided not to follow rumours of sporadic Plaice reports from the western fringes of Chesil and try a mark at the Eastern end of the bank for an early ray. It proved a reasonable decision and although the quality was not up to later in the season, I recorded 2 Small Eyed’s and a Blonde  along with the usual dogs, whiting and a bonus Dab all in daylight. Round 2 of the Samalite saw it moved from Chesil to the backup venue of Preston Beach. Fished to measure and release rules, I recorded a comfortable zone and outright match win by fishing lug, white rag and maddies to bag 1 small thornback and 8 whiting for 228cm. This was my 3rd zone win in a row on this venue which has been kind to me of late!

A small ray. Very welcome in February!

A small ray. Very welcome in February!

A match double shot...

A match double shot…

March The continued poor fishing locally saw myself and a mate venture over to Witches Point in South Wales for the 1st time. A beautiful spot but sadly it did not fish well and amongst a handful of locals I managed the only ray, a modest Small Eyed of just under 7lb. On the 12th, I gambled on an unfashionable area for Plaice fishing at the extreme Eastern end of Chesil although it had been consistent for me in recent years. I hoped the better water clarity at this end would fish better. I managed a couple of beautifully marked flatties and 3 small rays on the sandeel rod which promised better fishing to come. I had a great day out at West Bexington on the 20th. A slow start burst into life as the flood tide eased and I managed 5 nice Plaice the best weighing 1-15, 1-7 and 1-4 plus 3 Thornback’s up to 6-2, again all in daylight. The best 2 Plaice arrived as a double shot which was a nice moment after a few weeks difficult fishing. The month ended with a nice Spotted ray of 3-10 in Chesil Cove after a last minute response to perfect weather conditions and an unplanned session.

Perfect spring plaice

Perfect spring plaice

April The month came alive for me on the 5th, despite the murky water Chesil provided me with a cracking Small Eyed Ray of 10lb 3oz, a plump Dab and 11 prime Plaice. My decision to fish a Ray bait on a 2nd rod due to the conditions had paid off nicely.

10lb 3oz small eyed ray

10lb 3oz small eyed ray

3 Days later, I fished the exact same spot, the water was much more coloured and ruled out Plaice fishing so both rods carried fish baits hoping for more rays. To say I was battered by dogfish would be an understatement and eventually I switched to a 3 hook rig with stronger Varivas Aberdeen’s and 25lb snoods to give me 3 chances and the opportunity to sit down for 5 minutes!! This paid off handsomely and the result was another fine Small Eyed of 9-12 and 2 Thornies of 6-5 and 5-9, happy days!

A Thornback ray adds to the variety

A Thornback ray adds to the variety

The following week I decided to fish a Purbeck rock mark with my friend Simon. A horrible ground swell was present and as we were 50+ feet above the waterline, anything large that we hooked was going to provide us with a netting nightmare! I gave Simon’s netting prowess a thorough examination as a beautiful PB Bass of 13-6 graced me with its presence before a smaller sample of 4-10 also showed up. Pollack to 2-8, Huss and some nice 3 Beard’s iced the cake on a night to remember!  The rest of the month was filled with some reasonably good Plaice fishing on Chesil with some nice settled, sunny days to enjoy.

13lb 6oz of prime bass

13lb 6oz of prime bass- OK, that isn’t Chesil, but what a fish!

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