Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Gone fishing

Hampshire, it's not the most spectacular county in the land but there is at least one prominent geographic feature worthy of note. Watership Down is a finger of land that delineates the elevated chalk laden terrain of Hampshire with the plane of the neighbouring Berkshire. I've often travelled along the adjacent route and it's interesting to note how marked the difference between the terrains appears there, much more abrupt than the gentle transition on the A33 via the ever drab Basingstoke. You often find yourself descending from a pleasant day with a moderate level of sunshine into a gloomy damp one, laden with mist or fog.

Even Hampshire's coast is a meagre asset compared to the many beaches of the neighbouring Sussex and certainly inferior to those of Dorset: Bournemouth, the truly spectacular Sandbanks and the ever densely populated Weymouth. Not that Hampshire is completely bereft of coastal attractions, Lymington has a thriving pleasure boating scene and the beach at Milford is a pleasant echo of the shingle banks further west. Southampton too holds a certain appeal, for me particularly because it's one of my favoured venues for Mullet fishing, I wouldn't be venturing into the estuarine waters to bathe there though. So it was with a certain anticipation that I looked forward to my trip to Dorset's Chesil Beach.

The fishing trip had been arranged a few weeks ago but was postponed in the hope our intended quarry, the Trigger Fish, would turn up. Water temperatures are down this year from their highs of the last few years and there had been conflicting reports concerning the presence of these visitors to our shores, that have been turning up in greater numbers. Chesil is the location of a known shoaling spot associated with the wreck of the Royal Adelaide, close to the steeply shelving banks of the beach. We fished there a couple of years ago but were unable to get the spot on the wreck, even so we had reasonable luck, I managed to pull out a nice specimen after several bites that I failed to connect with and my fishing buddy had a couple of nice fish, including a red mullet but alas, he didn't manage to get a Trigger though. This year we managed to get right on the wreck, something that was apparent when my line came back quite heavily frayed after one of the longer casts, the natural shingle of Chesil is quite easy on line, unlike that deposited on the once Sandy beaches of Sussex, it's well weathered with few edges to cause consistent problems with fraying. We did quite well for the first hour or so, pulling out three Black Bream of a good size, sharing rod watching duties between us while we both attempted to temp Bass in the breakers with a lure rod.

After the initial success, things went quiet as the wind picked up and the sun disappeared behind some cloud, a few nibbles here and there with the bait coming back stripped but that was the end of fish for the rest of the day. Eventually the sun came out again it and on the whole it was a pleasant day. I took a break to get some refreshments from the visitor's centre adjacent to the car park, disturbing a hare as I descended the other side of the bank. The visitors centre has received a makeover it seems and the facilities have been upgraded from the simple cafe it once was, so of course the sandwiches were a bit pricey, nice though, Cajun chicken is a step up from cheese and Branston. While I was making my way to the visitors centre I took the chance to query an angler leaving the beach, "Any luck," I hailed, he replied in the muted tone indicative of disappointment, mentioning a token 'couple of Mackerel' as the measure of success, likely to fictional to my mind, at the risk of libelling a stranger.

So our endeavours in comparison to the efforts of others were not in vain, even if the Trigger Fish were absent. We called it day around 3:00, 3:30 not sure of the exact time, I was as tired as dog on Sunday when I got back and I still need to pack the tackle away properly. Didn't take any snaps this time but I do have some around from the last trip, so I'll update this post when I track them down, there is some video we shot this time, I might get a link up of that too.

Unfortuantly I couldn't find a snap of Chesil Beach, I think probably we were using a camera that was my own for most of them, I did find one of the trigger fish though and some others that might be of interest.

A Hampshire beach -- mmm yes!

The salt marsh at Warsash, Southamton


A Sussex beach

A Triggerfish
So do you see what I mean about the Hampshire coast now? to be fair Hailing Island is in Hampshire too so I'm being a little selective and while there is no trick photography involved in the photo of East Head at West Wittering, it really is that impressive, there are some hazards that need to be considered, like the abundant Weever Fish and the quicksands at some spring tides. Wrecks and hulks abound at Warsash and since most of Southampton was flattened during the war, I've occasionally speculated if any of them were wrecked in raids but it seems that most if not all, are simply result of accident or neglect.


  1. I'd like to see the photos and the video if you decide to post it. Is the Watership Down you mention one and the same with the book?

  2. Yes it is the same Watership Down, it's quite beauty spot these days, there used to be a racing stable that used the elevated plateaux for a gallop but I haven't seen neddies there for years so I imagine it's closed or moved. Now on weekends you see kiters and walkers there a lot more frequently although the best view is actually from the road.

    I've going through some snaps, I'm not very organised I'm afraid so that takes longer than it should. The video is out of my hand for the moment but I'll see what I can do about that.

  3. I'm so glad you included the photos. They are very atmospheric - they have a quality of remoteness that I always find very appealing. The second one could almost be Africa - but that's probably just me being fanciful!

    1. Interesting observation about remoteness, we're quite densely populated in this part of the world but you don't have to wander far to find some isolated scenery. The summer particularly offers opportunities for early risers to experience some relative isolation. I see what you mean about Warsash looking a bit like Africa, I would never have spotted that comparison myself. I think this snap is probably around October time, which would account for the slightly arid look to the foliage.