The clouds rolled in as did the surf and baitfish took to the shoreline to avoid predatory fish late on Friday evening on a Dorset beach. The Tales household took up refuge after a late booking gave us a couple of nights away in small Dorset fishing port.
Our accommodation was a static home on a Holiday Park close to the sea, no more than a 5 minute walk from the beach. As I’d spent no time over Half Term with young Tales it was a great opportunity to share our passion for beach fishing. We arrived late in the evening and managed to get out with a rod just after sunset. The purple and indigo clouds gave way to a hint of amber in the distance. Baitfish danced on the waters edge and young Tales cast a rig of mackerel feathers into a darkening sea. His eagerness to hook into a fish soon turned into the reality that nothing was biting.
As first light came on Saturday young Tales stirred and quickly put his clothes on off to the West Bay Tackle Shop we went. The usual browse of the shelves and racks in order to spot a lure that took his fancy and then the questioning of the shop staff to find out where was fishing well. With lure, rigs and 200gms of fresh rag worm bagged up it was back to the holiday home to set up the rod. Rod in hand and a small bag of terminal tackle we headed off to fish tide for flatfish. At the West Bay end of Chesil which stretches for 18 miles from Portland to Abbotsbury and onwards to West Bay near Bridport joining Dorset to East Devin. From geography lessons at school some 50 years ago this is the largest tombolo. It’s made up flint and quartzite pebbles, some areas the material is pea sized and others the size of a clenched fist. The cliffs catch the early morning sun casting a reflection of the vivid terracotta across the incoming tide on calm days.
Having done a little bit of research there are many good marks along this Jurassic Coast. West Bay proved difficult to fish as a weather front came in and put a 2-3m swell to cope with, along with the surf came a blanket of weed that made the fishing laborious. We spent as much time clearing weed off the line as casting for our quarry, Plaice was the target species on this area beach, its shallow with sand bottom. Unfortunately our rag tempted nothing.
After four hours of relentless chuck and retrieve we manage to tempt young Tales away from the waves with the notion of a fresh crab sandwich at the Hive Cafe, a well known beach cafe that served great food and sublime cakes and tea.
Later in the day we moved on down the beach to Abbotsbury in order to see if fishing was any better but the beach resembled the encampment of Sangatte, a beach littered with tents and beach shelters as the rain started to sweep in. In fact in West Bexington had larger tents and a greater congrigation of fishermen littered the beach, litter they did very well as I spent 20 minutes clearing up the mess they made before the plastic bags, cans and spent line ended up back in the sea. I do wish some of the fishing fraternity would take their litter home with them and respect the sea that affords them the pleasure they seek from it.
Well our fishing exploites ended up with a blank. Also on this occasion Mrs Tales put pay to me acquiring a nice vintage beach caster that I found in a vintage shop. It was in clean condition with a beautiful cock full length handle and quality screw reel fitting but it was met with the comment ‘you don’t need anymore, I thought you were selling, not buying more’. Begrudgingly I turned away but for the 14 miles of our next journey in the car I kept thinking, that was a nice rod and what a shame to pass on it. Even in the back of the car young Tales admired the beauty of its vintage construction.
If you by chance find yourself in or around the area be sure to visit the Hive Cafe at Burton Bradstock or the Watch House Cafe at West Bay, I couldn’t recommend enough, but you may have to wait in line they get very busy.