Monday, 19 February 2007

West Bay Harbour, Dorset.

West Bay, East Beach from the East Pier

West Bay is at the western extremity of Chesil Beach and is the Port that used to serve Bridport. There is a harbour that is home to fishing charter boats and angling and crabbing can be enjoyed around the old harbour or the new pier extensions. East Pier is the shorter of the two harbour arms and forms a stop to Chesil Beach. The West Pier is pretentiously named the Jurassic Pier although it is nothing but a concrete eyesore. There are signs all around the new piers stating that hand lining and float fishing only is allowed; they are mainly ignored, or at best a small float is clipped on the line after casting for appearances sake. Casting out into the main channel used by the boats is not necessary, fish will be close in to the wall and can be caught a few feet or yards from the wall. On rougher days when there is no boat traffic is is safe enough to fish the main channel. Some hardy types climb over the wall at the end of the West Pier, scramble over the large rocks and fish the concrete platform. Be aware that an idiot angler fishing there in rough weather last year was washed off by a large wave, lost all of his tackle, and was lucky to survive; he was washed up eventually on East Beach. It is not a place for children.
West Bay, East Pier looking over to the Jurassic Pier.
The rest of the harbour is child friendly although there are sections with no railings.Light tackle can be used, a carp rod or a spinning rod is ideal, an ounce or two of lead is quite sufficient and long casting is not required. Species to be caught are, flounder, pouting, poor cod, whiting, plaice, dogfish, rockling, scorpion fish, blennies and wrasse near the rocks, pollack, eels, bass, mullet and mackerel, scad and garfish in the summer. The venomous Weever is common in the summer, be careful. If 'stung' then hot water, as hot as you can bear, will alleviate the pain. The lifeguards on the east pier know the drill, they do it often enough. 
Ragworm is the favoured bait for bottom fishing but small strips of fish or squid will catch fish. Float-fishing in summer can be good sport, depth at which the fish will be varies but about nine feet is a good starting depth. Best bait for float fishing is a strip of mackerel or squid or a small whole sandeel.
The Prom, West Bay

To the west of the harbour is the Promenade, this gives access to fish rough, rocky and weedy ground. There will be some tackle loss but the rough ground attracts all manner of species; wrasse, dogfish and bullhuss are far more common here than in the harbour area. There is little tidal flow and the fish can be close in, it is possible to fish this section using smooth (non-grip wire type) weights, an ounce or two can be plenty and weights of this size are cheaper to lose. Use a length of line of lower breaking strain than your hook-length or mainline and that should give first allowing you to retrieve the rest of the tackle and any fish. Casting distance is not a major consideration so 'power casting' with the risk of snapping the weak link during the cast is not required.... a gentle lob is all that is required. A slice of mackerel or squid, or a raw prawn on a size 1 or 1/0 hook will attract the dogfish and bullhuss.... although neither species can be said to be fussy eaters, they will generally take any bait offered. Use a soft wire hook such as the Mustad Nordic Bend and it will bend out of a snag but be sufficiently strong to hold the fish. In summer it can be worthwhile float fishing here for gar, mackerel, bass or mullet.

There is a tackle shop nearby, West Bay Angling Centre, plenty of fast food kiosks, cafés and shops. Toilets are near the café on East Beach and at the rear of the harbour-masters office, ( across the harbour from the sluice gates where the river enters the harbour ) . Car parking is expensive and short-term near the harbour, best use the long term car park that adjoins East Beach or the even cheaper area opposite at the old station yard.
There is free parking on the Prom and in the harbour-side car park after 6pm. 

There is an active Sea Angling Club at West Bay, junior matches are held on Saturdays except during the winter and guests can fish the matches, see website for details of the matches.

East Pier and East Beach, rough day
The picture shows the end of the East Pier, it also shows some children playing 'dodge the waves'; a silly game to play here. The sea when it rushes up the beach pushes through the shingle which then acts as a liquid, running away is difficult. A silly game to play as if you win, you get nothing; if the sea wins..... you drown. I had thought I might get a picture of kids drowning to sell to the newspapers but they did realise how stupid they were when they got wetted to the waist..... no fun in February with a bitter wind blowing.

updated 23.03.2011 The Prom photograph and information added
09.05.2011 Toilet info revised, toilets on the green now closed.
Piers and Prom area have access for wheelchairs,
rocks under the Prom wall could make retrieving a fish difficult, help may be required for this

14 comments: said...

I would like to compliment you on the content and thoroughness of your blog. I picked it up through the Southern forum and, as I shall be holidaying in the area during late September, it contains all the information a visiting angler could hope for. Many thanks and good luck.

Tightlines - Abuoldie.

haddock said...

Thanks for your comment, give me a PM through the forum or stick a note here nearer the time and I can update you with a recent catch report

gookey2709 said...

Absolutely spot on mate, I am new to sea angling, live in Dorset and am looking for some good spots to fish along our coastline and this site has given an excellent insight. top marks and good luck with your species target.

tom.a said...

Hey dude, this website is great.. I have a quick question. I am visiting the west bay area this weekend - 5th - 8th March - and I was wondering if it is worth spending a little time fishing around the West Bay harbour. Is there any chance of catching anything or is it too early in the year?


haddock said...

Thanks Tom, at the moment there are only rockling and small flounder, maybe an eel during the day with some pout and small pollack as well after dark. fish small baits, ragworm best, size 4 hook, fish the end of the east arm near the rocks to see if there are any wrasse and blennies.
nothing much coming from the beaches so dibbling for little stuff is as good as it gets this time of year.
ignore the signs saying no casting float fishing only.... you don't want to be the only one obeying them.

have fun....

Jools said...

Absolutely great info Cap'n :-)

Got here via WSF - am joolzred there too - might be off to West Bay this weekend lifts permitting.

Thanks for the great blog

Holidays in Dorset said...

Those are nice photos! I really like 'em..

Anonymous said...

i am in west bay for he next week and would like to do a bit of fishing. only have coarse gear so could you run me through a basic float rig and a basic bottom rig for using off the harbour. would be much obliged to you. thanks, adam.

haddock said...

there is a link to setting up a standard sliding float on the right under baits and tackle, I usually set the float at about 9' at high tide...less at low, mackerel strip about 30mm x 5cm for bait . for bottom fishing a simple running leger is all that is needed.... I use size 4 or 2 hooks.....ragworm works well but fish-bait also catches.
do a search on WSF forum for catch reports/tactics

haddock said...

whoops ....should have typed mm not cm...

30mm x 5mm

Anonymous said...

thanks mr haddock. had a go earlier and although i didnt catch anything, i felt more confidence as i did have a couple of bites. i saw a young lad catch a sole last night on a worm so will try that too. thanks again, adam

Anonymous said...

hi im in charmouth 1st 2 weeks in september im a seasoned angler my wife has started doing a bit of float fishing earmarked west bay harbour area as a good place for her. would i be right and whats kicking around at mo

haddock said...

should be some scad and mackerel about to be caught by float-fishing... evening seems to be the best time... you can catch quite a lot after dark too....and maybe a pollack .

Unknown said...

Hi. Not sure if it's a bit late to be asking but I was thinking of spinning down to West Bay this weekend for some sea air.22/23 sept. Would there be fish about around the pier?