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It was 11pm and the three anglers were sat in a car park looking out into the exposed open water toward the distant Channel Islands, the rain ran down the car windows like hundreds of streaks of fibre optic cable catching rays of light as Portland Bill's lighthouse pivoted in the thick mist, they talked between the regular sounding of fog horns to warn people at sea. They deliberated about where they might fish for the night, the unpleasant south westerly and the soaking they'd already experienced walking down the dark track earlier that night to look at the first mark facing east had left them damp and disappointed after the fifteen minute reccy and doubting whether it would be possible to land any fish over the series of rocks and boulders that splayed across the shallow bay. The second mark near Dorset's most southerly point was presenting the same problem but with the addition of swells and white horses hitting reefs and presenting a frantic looking foreshore. Paul talked through alternative options while Nick smoked quietly, Chris sat pensively gazing through the window and had thoughts of marks far afield that could produce on this wholly unpleasant night. After a few minutes he piped up with two suggestions that were roughly forty minutes from their location in opposite directions, marks that neither Paul or Nick had fished before but ones he felt there was hope of a catch. A few moments later he piped up with his recommendation, there was little convincing needed and they were back on the road and leaving the rock for another jagged coastline cut by the elements.

Paul & Nick sipped energy drinks having fished all weekend for just a few hours sleep, their enthusiasm was unwavering, the previously poor fishing had left them needing a good fish or at least to see a few caught, Chris however was now seventeen days without wetting a line and he had been recharging his batteries after a long difficult session on a cliff edge weeks earlier and his decision to join the other two was very last minute it was more about an impulsive urge than a well thought out fishing plan, his gear was still packed from the last trip, reels unrinsed, no idea what rigs were in his wallet or if his torch and camera batteries were charged, he'd bunged two kilograms of herring in his bag and roughly one pound of squid and as far as he was concerned being out fishing was more important than the preparation and planning on this occasion.

The mist just got worse as as the vehicle meandered down country lanes narrowly avoiding deer carrion laying the road as well as the odd one very much alive. They parked up a touch before midnight with the rain still coming down and began trudging down the dirt track disturbing owls in the trees. They lost their way briefly barely being able to see your hand in front of their faces at times and the old tale of a Roman legion vanishing in these parts echoed and resonated in the eerie conditions. Before long though they were following the right trail up to the open cavern and the cliff edge they'd chosen to fish for the night.

They were boiling while carrying the gear in their flotation suits and down gear but glad to find the natural alcoves that would afford them shelter from the rain and a means to keep gear dry as well as take some layers off. Paul was first cast out, followed by Nick and Chris was extremely slow to sort through his gear which resembled a bird's nest of new and old rigs but he eventually got cast out with some patched together rigs. The one thing that he had going for him was his herring looked extremely fresh and still carried all its iridescence from when it had been quickly frozen in March. They all used running ledgers and pulley rigs, Paul & Nick had bluey, squid, lug, sandeel, prawn and live peeler as baits. Nick took no time at all and was quickly into fish in the form of a rockling followed by a lovely pollock of 2lb on the nose, it was bigger than the usual stamp of pollock they were used to and a pretty good fish which was kept for the table.

NickPollock.jpg


What happened next they all endured for the next twenty eight minutes, Nick who was fishing right next to Chris and he called out "right rod" in the darkness before drawing deeply on his cigarette which briefly illuminated his face in the shadows. Chris looked up and saw the glass tip lurching over by what had every possibility of being a good fish, he paused, then lifted into the fish as soon as he felt another hard pull and a sequence of events began with his rod thumping which initially looked to be a good conger eel then things got easier for a few seconds and it became clear it had to be a ray turning in the tide. Chris walked along the cliff edge fighting the fish in a controlled manner while calling out to the other two that he was in and needed help initially in moving his other rod of and Nicks two rods which were cast out also, then he needed someone on landing duty which wasn't going to be easy from 30ft up with the waves below. As this was all happening Chris's torch began to blink and go very dim, he had to change his batteries soon, this was a nightmare. Paul grabbed the drop-net and the fish was initially beached by Chris on a reef below with the help of a surging swell, waiting for Paul he then collected his thoughts and eased the rather large looking undulate ray off the rock and back into the water to try and guide it into the net, he did this ever so slowly so not to damage the fish or pull the hooks free. The next part is where things got really frustrating as the fish would not come to the only point they had a straight drop and it wasn't like they could walk left and right to achieve this and they had to hurl the net out beyond ledges below and try to marry up the net and the diving ray out in front of them, a task that became more and more tricky as swells just scuppered every attempt. They took turns in holding the rod and Nick was called to help from watching the other five rods out as Chris darted off to find batteries for his LED Lenser as it verged on dying. He was quickly back with the rod but it was pure murder on arms and back, the stress on the T900 was unreal and the shrink tube was getting destroyed as the cliff edge was being used as a leverage point, Chris was really worried the rod may snap when they ray turned sideways to incoming swells he had to keep it from going under the ledge and Paul could see the concern in his face, this kind of situation is exactly why you need a more powerful blank for rock fishing. The routine of hurling the net out and retrieving it, the undulate going under the ledge briefly and coming back out in a swell was knackering both of them out and eventually Paul went rogue and had enough of this and tried to lift and handline the fish, the rod turned and the braid touched rock snapping it, the reel clanged and really it was lucky Chris didn't lose a few guides in the incident. After twenty eight minutes at awkward angles Chris's legs had the shakes and his back felt like a horse and carriage had just ridden over it, he was a sweaty mess but despite Paul's faux pas he was in good spirits they both agreed it was a great fish, possibly a high double but hard to tell from that height. At least they all knew one of the target species was out there lurking and despite it getting away Chris and nick joked with about Paul and his fish landing sabotage and being a bit of a let down on landing duty it was all with a pinch of salt though, there was no malice. Chris also joked the fish should count as it was temporarily landed on dry land and in control. It was gone anyway and he was over it, deep down he had wanted the other two to catch something decent more than himself. He thought about the fish too and wondered how long it would take to get free of the shock leader and rig, the negative part of fishing and the one that anglers should try to keep to a bare minimum.

Paul was into a dogfish just after that and off the mark while Chris baited back up with another pristine herring bait and cast out into almost the same spot and within twenty minutes there was a certain feeling of de-ja vu as a good fish pulled his other rod right round and he was again in, it fought hard initially but this time the fish was easier to manipulate, another undulate was on the surface within a minute or two like something from Cocoon down there illuminated by torchlight in the green water below. Nick dashed down the crumbly slope almost slipping to which Paul shouted at him to be careful. He was in position with the net and Chris was determined not to repeat history learning from mistakes with the previous fish. Immediately on the cliff edge things were much easier to control the smaller fish, it wasn't nearly as taxing on the back or legs and after 10 minutes or so of struggling about the fish was safely in the net with Nick was now holding the rod and Chris hoisting it up half way up the cliff disaster struck, the worst thing, the net caught on the cliff and seemed stuck and after a minute or two the fish tipped out of the net and went straight back into the water and despite the bail arm on the reel being open (Which Chris had asked Nick to do in case the fish dropped) the rod still banged on the rock. Chris sighed, he was covered in sweat again and wound back into the fish and to his surprise it was still there and fighting, all was not lost. In that moment he made a decision to try and handline with braid and no gloves. The three of them worked together lifting the rod vertically so not to snap it with the weight of the fish and he put his right leg a foot or so off the cliff edge and ran the braid over his climbing boot. A combination of Nick walking back with the drag tightened and Paul and Chris hand lining the braid and shock leader meant the fish was coming up finally. To their delight Chris pulled the fish over his boot and onto the rock, he slumped flat out backwards on the stone looking up at the sky. He was pleased the ordeal was over and happy to be back on solid ground at a natural angle and able to relax his weary muscles.

Undulate14lb12.jpg


The relaxing ended in a moment as they weighed the fish twice, it was exactly 14lb, which was incredibly bittersweet as it meant the previous lost fish was likely a 16lb plus undulate and would have been a PB for Chris, Paul remarked that the first fish was way heavier and the jokes began again about Paul's sabotage with the first and the he had redeemed himself with the second one. Chris photographed the fish and lowered it down in the net and it swam off strongly which was a very pleasing thing after the struggle.

Undulate14lb1.jpg


They all fished on, with bait ups becoming more and more regular, the one thing that was clear was that herring was dynamite as bait and the bites just kept coming right through most of the night but eventually things slowed through a period when the tide was running at it's hardest and all of them were nodding off on the muddy floor and were all finding it very hard to keep focussed on rod tips. The sea calmed as the night went on, that hint of light in the sky came far too soon signalling dawn. Despite fishing it a few times Chris had never seen this place in daylight before, neither had the others so it was all new. They could see the cliffs for the first time and the full extent of the obstacles below us, Nick and I were just sharing a few mint humbugs when his rod went with a good take and he paused to strike. He was into a fish too, but we weren't sure exactly what it was as Paul dashed to the net and Chris moved the rods already out so Nick could walk to the landing spot without catching them as he played the fish. Nick had never had an undulate ray before, his blood was up seeing this great fish in daylight elegantly gliding just beneath the translucent sea and we all shared his excitement but something desperately unlucky happened when the fish was less than a foot from the net, the hook just came free and it sank back down into the depths and the opportunity was lost. The other two didn't know what to say to Nick, there aren't words, but Chris did share a subtle joke referring to Paul as the saboteur striking again though the truth was it was nobody's fault and just one of those things. They thought the fish looked a double but they'd never know.

Purbecks1.jpg


They all began to try for wrasse, some of them float fishing and some on the bottom, they saw sizeable bass and pollock following lures up close to shadowy reefs and caught a collection of ballan and corkwing wrasse during that first part of the day.

corkwing1.jpg


A massive seal appeared on the surface and it looked every bit as tame as those ones at the sea life centre and it actually looked directly up at them as if to say "throw me a fish" like it had been domesticated or trained. The feeling was not good for the fishing with this creature hunting and things would likely take a downturn anyway in broad daylight anyhow. An hour or so later Nick & Chris were throwing their bait cast offs into the water while Paul had wandered off to try luring another spot closer to the water. As the strips of bait were on the surface and starting to sink a remarkable thing happened, an undulate gliding up to the surface, turned and dived back down in broad daylight like a figment of Nick's imagination it had happened so quickly and he called out to me, but he was too excited for it not to have been genuine. In fishing you just see remarkable things at times and more so in the more remote locations.

They slowly packed down, the three of them physically in pieces and headed for the car after a thoroughly enjoyable fishing session, not everyone had been lucky but they all agreed it is a place they'd return to in a heartbeat to try again, what an experience it had been.
Undulate14lb.jpg
 

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A most enjoyable read and a good? report thanks
 

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Great effort lads.

Bet the pollack was a nice surprise at that size. Great eating!

Lovely looking ray and fully deserved after your efforts to land the first!
 

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Great report as always.
What did I tell you about those herring.
"What goes in the freezer fresh as can be will come out in fantastic condition ".
Catch up soon
Chris
 

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Stunning report Chris - you b*ggars must be fecking mountain goats!!!
 

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Well lads brilliant read.just a question on how do gather info on these marks like what's the ground like and what species that a liable to catch.iam more interested in how you find info on what the ground is like.yes I no check the mark at low water but iam more interested in marks that are deep water is it word of mouth and that these marks are well knowing or is it just trail and error and you just fish them and put in the time and hope to best that it's a mark that produce fish.all info on what do yee look for in a mark and if there is apps that you use would be great help cheers
 
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Great report bud absolute pleasure to read
Thanks mate wrote this one a bit differently as the 3rd person.

A most enjoyable read and a good? report thanks
Cheers - I'm still recovering :)

Great effort lads.

Bet the pollack was a nice surprise at that size. Great eating!

Lovely looking ray and fully deserved after your efforts to land the first!
Cheers Dave I actually lost another one where I think I picked it up just as it had sat on the bait, similar weight in daylight and reeled it in 30 yards before it came off, seemed to be lots about.


Nice read over breakfast Chris….All the best,Rob.
Was it one of your special fry up brekkies with those funny potatoes. Man those brekkies were good on holiday.

Superb read as always mate, great effort guys
Thanks a lot mate, will try and churn out some more in the coming months.

Cracking fish and a great read as ever! Well done mate
Be interested to see how many you get on the yak today. Cheers

Cracking read as always Chris ............ unlucky on the first undie.

Cheers,
Dave
Cheers Dave - Almost time I am over your way fishing.

Great report as always.
What did I tell you about those herring.
"What goes in the freezer fresh as can be will come out in fantastic condition ".
Catch up soon
Chris
In your debt, I am sure some of that herring was still alive when you gave it to me Chris - ha

Great effort and nice undie Chris.
Cheers Pete - I have a few marks I want you to try now I know that one is fishing.

Stunning report Chris - you b*ggars must be fecking mountain goats!!!
Quads are ruined today, it's an unhealthy relationship with a sheer drop. Cheers Kev.

well done ,great read
At least the rocks are starting to fish, I am sure you'll be over there soon to polish off the few species Hampshire don't have so far!

Well lads brilliant read.just a question on how do gather info on these marks like what's the ground like and what species that a liable to catch.iam more interested in how you find info on what the ground is like.yes I no check the mark at low water but iam more interested in marks that are deep water is it word of mouth and that these marks are well knowing or is it just trail and error and you just fish them and put in the time and hope to best that it's a mark that produce fish.all info on what do yee look for in a mark and if there is apps that you use would be great help cheers

Cheers


So many factors I guess.... but here are a few that spring to mind.

  • You can be lucky like I was and a couple of people have furnished me with marks and accompanying info, however I find Dorset's rocky coastline can be very unpredictable, you think you have a mark figured out (weather, tide size, wind direction, casting range, bait for that time of year) and then it disappoints you.
  • The reccying in daylight helps, walking along the coast. Some anglers dive or know divers that can give them info on a stretch of coast.
  • You can walk the coast with a bunch of leads and cast out and bounce a lead to see if its clear or snaggy.
  • In Dorset we can look at Doris which has information about the sea bed. An App called navionics can tell you depths and how far from the shore they are and you can work out casting range.
  • It maybe the charter boats collect in certain areas and those areas are very close to casting range or within it. It maybe a buddy who kayaks can give you info.
  • Your target species will probably mean you want a certain type of ground, maybe sand, kelp or boulders and reefs.
  • It maybe you can bring the fish to you by ground baiting.
  • You also want to check there is somewhere to land a fish with a net or gaff or perhaps you can fish the waters edge.
  • Safety is a big factor too, swells and certain conditions may make a mark lethal and heavy rain may mean you can get up or down the cliff.

Make no bones about it though, the people who found these marks 30, 50 or 100 years ago earned their corn without all of the modern technology and detail to be found on the internet today and i'll bet they were pretty secretive about marks and tides back then. A lot of these types of marks are often a 30min-1hr walk so that puts most people off and they give up after a couple of sessions or just stick to spinning or float fishing in daylight. It's a whole lot safer to go with two of you or more to some spots too, it's not for everyone that's for sure but for some of us its the only type of fishing we crave.
 

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Thanks for the quick reply and the info have only recently found out about navionics and iam very impressed.thanks
 

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Always liked reading your reports m8, but sorry just couldn't get into this one,
but a good night by all accounts.
 

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Blink ell Chris what an epic report, there are many authors who couldn't give such description.......epic couldn't put it down read.......,and fantastic fish to boot......."the rain ran down the car windows like a hundred fibre optic cables" brilliant descriptive language. You should write a novel with that use of our fine language
 
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