Tag Archives: Ben Stockley

Chesil Beach 2020 – Early summer prospects

Ben Stockley guests on todays blog and gives us a detailed insight in to just what we can expect from Dorset’s, if not the UK’s, most popular sea angling destination this summer. Ben’s portfolio of fish landed from the shingle is second to none, so we thoroughly recommend digesting every last word….

Chesil Prospects For June 2020

With fishing currently on the back burner, let’s look forward to some early Summer sport when hopefully we will all be back out enjoying ourselves once again! For anybody new to fishing Chesil, it can be a daunting place with over 18 miles to choose from before you even consider weather conditions, tides, etc. Below I have attempted to give some basic information which might just help you to catch a few more fish.

June Species

June will see many of the Summer species starting to show with Smoothound to low double figures the most popular target. Although Chesil fish generally tend to average 3-8lb, June represents a great chance to secure one of the larger specimens.

A typical smoothhound for Ben

For the big fish angler, the other main target will be Rays and apart from a Stinger, all of the main species can be caught this month to beyond specimen size. 

From the top- Small eyed, spotted and thornback rays

For those preferring a mixed bag, Plaice will show in reasonable numbers, Red and Tub Gurnard should be present, and the odd Black Bream will start to figure in catches. Mackerel anglers should have fun during early mornings/evenings and a few Bass, Conger and Mullet can also be found. Chesil being Chesil means that even aside from these reliable regulars, pretty much anything can turn up on its day! 

A stunning plaice captured under idyllic skies

As a general rule of thumb, Abbotsbury Westwards will produce mainly Plaice, Hounds, Tub Gurnard, Mackerel, Mullet and Rays whilst marks to the East offer all of the above plus Red Gurnard, more Conger, a few Bream but less Plaice.

Tides

The great beauty of Chesil is that it can be fished on any size of tide. For visiting anglers pick a medium sized one of 1.7-2.0 metres on the Portland scale. The very largest tides often send fish off the feed for long periods due to excessive flow. Similarly, much below 1.7 metres and you will be sitting through long spells with no flow and no fish. Choose an evening or early morning session, 4 hours before high and 3 back or shorten that to 3 either side if fishing west of Abbotsbury. This will mean a continuous run of right to left flow and hopefully plenty of bites! Expect that final hour as the flow eases off a touch to be the hot period but once slack water arrives, it’s time to go!   

Weather

Long hot days in June with clear flat seas can be quite difficult for fishing. However, set the alarm clock early and fish from first light until the sun gets too intense or again in the evening and the results can be spectacular if you match it to a decent period in the tide. 

If we do get a short onshore blow to churn the sea up a bit, it can be fantastic as it doesn’t seem to produce the hordes of Dogfish and Pout that the same conditions would do in the Autumn. It also seems to really encourage the Rays, Hounds and Bass to feed like crazy!

Weather to avoid for me is a stiff onshore wind combined with gin clear water. Sometimes this can be ok for Hounds but usually most fish will still be sat out at range and the loss of 20-30 yards can have a really negative impact. These conditions on a bright sunny day are an absolute kiss of death. 

Baits & Rigs

The rig – and baits – of choice for a mixed bag

Fresh Peeler, Ragworm and fresh Mackerel would be my top baits for a mixed bag on Chesil during June with a pack of quality frozen eels also useful if targeting Rays on some marks. Some small gutted and rolled blow lug or blacks can also work well if fishing west of Abbotsbury for Plaice.

My preference at a lot of marks on Chesil in June is a multi-hook rig of some description carrying small baits such as half a crab or a small section of ragworm tipped with Mackerel on the top 2 snoods with a slightly bigger crab or fish bait on the bottom tucked in tight behind the an Impact lead.

Every angler has their own preference, but it is not uncommon to pick up a Plaice or Gurnard on the small baits and a big ray or hound on the bottom snood at the same time. The all-out big bait, big fish approach means that you can sometimes miss out on some quality smaller species that might also be present unless you employ this tactic on a 2nd rod.

A colourful combination!

In the clear summer water, smaller well-presented baits even for the bigger fish will often out catch a bigger offering due to the extra casting distance and finesse particularly in daylight. I would never go bigger than a size 2/0 for the Rays/Hounds in the summer, and a size 2 is perfect for the other general species.

 Stay safe everyone and see you on the beach soon!

Ben

 

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!

Cod Fishing On Chesil Bank

Cod Fishing On Chesil Bank

Apologies for the lack of blog post’s recently. We have a guest blogger this time around, in the form of my good friend Ben Stockley. Ben shares his thought’s on targeting our favourite fish from the UK’s premier venue this coming season…

 

This magical bank of stones stretching 17 miles from Portland through to West Bay is well known for a plethora of different species throughout the year but today I want to reveal some of its secrets for the nation’s favourite fish, Cod. For those starting out or travelling from afar, it can be an intimidating beach to fish, so where do we start?

Pristine Winter Cod

Pristine Winter Cod

In terms of location, the best catches are nearly always made in the deeper water between the sailing academy at Portland through to the Dragons Teeth at Abbotsbury. Water clarity is a big deciding factor on where I chose to fish. Abbotsbury tends to need plenty of colour from a big onshore blow to be worthy of consideration unless you decide to fish at night. The deeper Eastern end of the beach is a real breaker of the Cod rule book and can often produce incredible catches of fish in warm autumnal sunshine and flat, clear seas. This is due to the extra depth of water.

Personal ability is also a deciding factor in when or how you fish. Anyone that is capable of casting consistently over 100 metres with bait should really consider whether it is worth fishing for Cod at night unless other commitments make this a necessity. Shocked? I’ll explain why. As soon as dusk falls, Chesil’s ravenous packs of Dogfish, Pouting and all manner of other undesirables come out to feast upon your hard earned baits. Unless you are lucky enough to drop on a Cod’s nose, it could be hard work. Contrast this to a lovely autumn afternoon sat in sunshine where every bite is usually something of quality. If not a Cod maybe a plump Plaice or a tasty Bream, who knows! For those light on yards, don’t fret you will still catch at 50 metres on occasions, particularly in rough weather or at night. You will just need to wade through a bit more un-wanted by-catch to claim your prize.

 

Crab Bait Does The Business!

Crab Bait Does The Business!

Bait is a simple enough choice. My top 4 in order of effectiveness would be blow lug, peeler crab, hermit crab and fresh black lug. We all get days when we just ‘need’ to hit the beach for a short notice fix without the correct bait and although you’ll catch the odd Cod on frozen blacks or squid, it really is a very poor option compared to fresh.

 

In years like 2014 when there were incredible numbers of fish you may get away with it but even then you will be humbled by an angler next door who’s well prepared.

I am going to be controversial and say avoid tides over 2.0m on the Portland scale. They are too big and although there will be odd exceptions, 1.7-2.0 metre tides usually reign supreme. So when should you hit the beach? Chesil Cod, like most Cod enjoy some flow in the water. Based on the Portland tide times you should start fishing 3.5 hours before high and finish when you lose the right to left flow around 2.5 hours down. Invariably that last hour as the tide eases will be the hot time. You could also try over low water, get there 1 hour before and fish 3 hours back up. Again the last hour as in this case the left to right flow eases, will be key. These scenarios will vary slightly according to exact location, weather and size of the tide but will be a good starting point for most situations.

All the very best of luck for the 2015/16 season, I hope to see you on the beach someday”

Ben Stockley