Catching up but not catching a lot!

This time last week I had just arrived at Tom’s Field campsite in Dorset for a couple of days leisurely fishing and with the primary purpose of catching up with my brother Paul which was long overdue.  I say leisurely in the loosest sense as we did manage to get a few miles of coast under our belts… in waders, over rocks and up hills – no mean feat in the sunshine.

Tom’s Field campsite is tucked away in Langton Matravers, not far from Swanage, and is a smashing little site which was quiet for the couple of nights we were there – probably due to our stay being during the week – I imagine things would be different high season. Facilities are spot on though, flat pitches, plenty of reasonable showers and a small shop in great surroundings with the added bonus of a  couple of pubs within walking/staggering distance. Yes, there’s lots of bleating sheep in adjoining fields that wake you early but there are also enough rabbits here for many a stew if the fancy took you!

First night we set up camp and had a couple of beers to send us to our beds. The plan was for a fairly early start and to get ourselves down to Chapman’s Pool for a spot of plugging for bass. It wasn’t the preferred venue but we weren’t going to argue with the MOD who were firing along the favoured stretch of coast.

It’s  a big hike down to Chapman’s from the car park but nothing compared to the even more strenuous hike back up at the end of the day…… more of that later! We headed west once we were down to sea level towards the rocky marks and little bays that are at the foot of Houns Tout Cliff. The tide was low and we noticed the weed was heavy but the water was a nice colour and there was fair chop on the sea which boded well particularly for later in the day as the tide came in… or so I thought anyway. As it turned out it was very slow and the tides being neaps there was not much of a range between low and high water. Despite similar conditions to those where there had been success in my previous report Bass on the rocks there was nothing happening for either of us on surface lures, poppers or soft plastics. Whatever we tried it was just one of those days. I did get to take some photos though which show the terrain and Paul doing his best to entice a fish…

After a hard days slog along the shore we drew breath for the climb back up the hill to the car park. Now, my brother lives in Evesham so he rarely gets to fish the coast and usually has to settle for plonking himself by the side of a lake trying to tempt a fat carp to his net…… this fishing on the move and the health benefits it can give you may have come as a shock to Paul! I did warn him the climb back up was a bit gruesome but I don’t think he’ll mind admitting he didn’t expect it to be as tough as it was – I saw his spirits fall further when half way up he was overtaken by a spritely pensioner!! In fairness, climbing it normally is no fun but in waders, carrying kit, it’s a beast of a climb. Anyhow, he made it and was only too pleased to removed the cursed waders! When I checked the GPS we’d walked, hiked and scrambled well over 5 miles during the day so not bad going really.

Back at camp we flaked out for a bit, freshened up and then headed to one of the local pubs for food and a pint – The Ship Inn – food was good pub scran and the Purbecks Brewery beer was even better. We had four or five pints and slept well that night in our respective tents!

Unsurprisingly, we didn’t wake quite so early next morning and after a leisurely breakfast decided to have a less strenuous day so headed to Seacombe near Worth Matravers. It’s about a mile’s walk from the village and well worth the effort. It’s a flat rocky outcrop with deep, crystal clear water off the edge.

As the pictures show it was relatively calm when we go there and not a soul in sight. We started with more plugging with some deeper diving lures this time but again not a lot was happening aside from one species… wrasse. Whilst they weren’t taking the lure they would chase it right in to the ledge or come up for it from their rocky haunt below before turning at the last second. With the water being so clear you could see them like you were looking at them through glass. To give you some idea of water clarity here’s a picture I took with the camera submerged in a rock pool which was being filled by the incoming tide…

With the plugs and lures not yielding us a bass or even a small pollack it called for a bit of improvisation. There were plenty of limpets around so we decided to try free lining them off the ledges for a bit of fun with the resident wrasse and it worked! The fish weren’t of any size but good fighters nonetheless on light gear. They were all around this size and of similar markings…

However, most unusual limpet catch of the day went to Paul – a spider crab!

The weather was on the change as the seas became heavier and sooner rather than later it was time to head back the mile or so to the cars and make our separate ways home. A very pleasant couple of days catching up with Paul even though the bass didn’t play ball for us – as the saying goes ‘a bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work’ and that was very true. We mustn’t leave it so long in future.

Until next time…

Bass on the rocks

After the long weekend in Cornwall, and with the rest of the week off work, I had hoped to get a day out on the kayak but the wind was not very favourable so that was a complete non starter. However, conditions were perfect for a lure fishing session and when my mate  Nobby called it was too good an opportunity to pass by so we headed down to Dorset early afternoon ready to fish the rising tide.

There was a bit of a trudge to get to our chosen spot where we’d had a bit of success in years gone by but it turned out to be well, well worth it. The slog to the spot was not without incident though as we had to head down a steep slope which is never the best in waders and it was only when I was almost at the bottom I realised I’d lost my polarised glasses on the way down – a real pain in the backside as they are vital in my book when lure fishing. It was too much of a hike to go and search them out and they were relatively cheap one’s so I made the decision to just get fishing. It may have been the  wrong decision as it turned out but  you live and learn.

Conditions were near on perfect with a nice amount of movement and a bit of colour in the water with bright conditions overhead. We split up about 100 yards apart along the rocks and began working our lures in the water. It wasn’t long before Nobby was into a decent fish and pulled in a bass of around 6lb – a cracking start. He had managed to spot a decent gully in the rocks and bagged a further two smaller fish around the 3.5-4lb mark from the same location – superb! It shows the benefit of the polarised glasses that he could see the gully and he worked it really well.

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That wasn’t the only reason for his success though… he seemed to have the killer lure on and was twitching and retrieving it to good effect. So much so that as we made our way round the mark he picked up a further two fish and I was still not off the mark!! The lure was a Tackle House Feed Shallow and luckily he had a spare one on him and was kind enough to share it with me! It did the trick within a few casts and in fact we were both hooked up at the same time! It was my solitary fish of the day around the 3.5lb mark but a nice fish all the same. Unfortunately, unhooking the fish proved a bit calamitous and deprived me of a photo opportunity as it flipped out of the net, freed itself and left one of the treble hooks to rip into my finger… ouch!  After a minor clear up of my claret we fished our way back to base without further success – but what a day – some fantastic daytime fishing with 7 decent bass in total, a few miles of shoreline covered and with the added bonus of seeing a pair of peregrine falcons high up on a cliff ledge to top the day off.

Here’s another one of Nobby’s bass caught on the Tackle House lure…

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So, whilst there have been limited opportunities to get out on the kayak of late it doesn’t mean the opportunity to fish is not there and sometimes the results are even more pleasing… it’s certainly a great way to catch bass that’s for sure.

Until next time…