So why am I such an obsessive angler? Where did it come from? Well the answer might lie in the ocean! In and around Poole Harbour to be precise, where a couple of generations of Marshes have wet a line.
My grandad and I shared the same passions in life – camping, caravanning, fishing and boats. He was obviously quite adventurous in his day and maybe that was passed down the line somewhere. I was lucky as during his final years I was in Poole a fair amount. I would take him his shopping and sit in his front room for hours talking about our shared interests and they were always full of fishing stories.
Above: Grandad in his chair, telling stories from his time travelling around in his motorhome and fishing.
The most famous one being the time he caught a 7lb plaice from Poole Harbour, which is a truly impressive specimen and was apparently the harbour record at the time. He caught it near the chain ferry fishing from behind the Haven Hotel a spot I’ve fished a number of times myself.
Above: The spot at the rear of the Haven Hotel, where grandad caught his 7lb plaice and where I’ve caught a number of fish myself.
He was mad about boats too! He would chug around Poole Harbour on his little cruiser fishing for bass, plaice and anything else that would grab his bait. This was something I was happily able to replicate when I purchased my first boat in around 2009. It’s a magical feeling being out of the water on your own boat, sun coming up in the sky, flat calm sea and the odd fish topping – amazing!
Above: From left to right – my great grandad, my grandad. my dad and my uncle fishing in Poole Harbour many, many years ago!
My dad would sometimes go fishing with my grandad as a kid but maybe more keen was my uncle, who still fishes from time to time. He once caught a huge Anglerfish (probably the ugliest fish I’ve ever seen!) off Chesil Beach – again a spot I have fished a number of times. Treading in their footsteps and catching fish from exactly the same spots is something that’s been quite special for me. I’ve enjoyed fishing in and around Dorset and that is where I have enjoyed the vast majority is of my sea fishing however I have cast my rods out into a number of oceans in the UK and overseas.
Like many fisherman, when ever I go on a family holiday I manage to sneak a rod in my luggage. As an angler I am used to getting up early. Whilst the family is sleeping I crawl out of bed and head for the nearest patch of water. We’re often near the coast and therefore the patch of water is nearly always the sea!
Above: a fairly typical rod slung out at West Bay in Dorset. First light – amazing to watch the sun come up over any patch of water but particularly special on the coast.
Above: The West Bay trips saw me catch loads of small flounder. Stunning beaches – where they filmed Broadchurch!
To catch good fish you’ve got to have a good bait. “Rag worm or big lob worms are what you need!”, my grandad would say. “Great! I’ll pop to the tackle shop and grab some”, I replied. Grandad looks at me in a confused state. “You can go and bloody dig them up at Baiter Park or at the bottom of Evening Hill – costs nothing!” I say goodbye and go fetch my spade!
Above: Where my grandad would dig up his worms and where I had a crack at it. I actually quite enjoyed it and even got some cockles too!
The Jurassic Coast stretches for over 95miles. It runs from Exmouth right up to Old Harry Rocks on the Isle of Purbeck (a landmark my family and I know very well indeed). Probably one of the most famous stretches of beach along the Jurassic coast is Chesil Beach. It’s an amazing place. The shingle beach stretches for miles (18miles in fact) and can actually be quite dangerous and wild in places. The beach can be quite steep which makes it a bit dodgy when the tide is coming in – however it’s these steep banks that make the fishing amazingly good. Fish shoal up there, sometime quite close to the shore.
Above: Giving it the biggun on Chesil Beach. Fishing for mackerel on feathers.
Above: JB keeping me company on this trip. Check out the colour of the sea!
Usually at Chesil you can bag up on mackerel but they are only there from about May – August each year. I can’t imagine how many are actually out there! They get fished for quite heavily each year with people taking way more than they should but still there seems to be loads of them. On this particular trip we were there for less than half an hour and after a few casts we were catching 3 or 4 a chuck! A few for the freezer and then we were away. Best way to cook mackerel? Devilled Mackerel where you gut then cook the fish whole with just a squeeze of lemon and a heap of madras sauce!
Above: A decent amount for an evening meal. No need to take any more than that!
Above: The inner angler – trying for something bigger and not knowing when to stop!
It’s fair to say that I stopped fishing for predominantly carp from about 2007 – 2014. The kids were young and carp fishing simply took up too much time. Short fishing trips were order of the day and this often involved lure fishing in rivers or in the sea. I had done a fair amount of shore fishing by now on beaches, rocks and off piers. I wanted to get out there, like properly out into the sea – where the fish grew bigger. I would drive the family crazy by stopping at every opportunity to view boats and dream of owning a cruiser of some description. I even dragged them around the Southampton Boat Show one year. In 2009 I finally got my first boat. It was very modest to say the least and it looked tiny in comparison to the super yachts that I shared the marina with! She was named Nellsey – Nell after my nan (Nelly) and Sey after my grandad (Seymour).
Above: Check it out! I got me a boat!!!
Now, I know it’s not a Sunseeker but the point is I could ‘get out there’! This opened up a whole set of angling experiences for me and it was amazing. I could go to my little boat, moored at Cobbs Quay, at any time of day. I would jump in the boat and be off across the harbour. If conditions were right I would even fly out of the harbour entrance and journey out into Poole Bay – making sure I avoided some of the obstructions that my grandad told me about (the training bank!). On grandads advice I would drift all the way from Old Harry Rock down into the beaches near bournemouth catching fish all the way!
Above: Yeah things did sometimes get a bit rough in my little boat. Weaving between the enormous car ferrys and braving the strong currents at the mouth of the harbour – whilst making sure you avoid the chain ferry!
I went on to catch all sorts of fish from the boat – mackerel, garfish, bream, loads of wrasse and pollock but what I was really after was a big bass. I never did catch that biggun’ so that’s still on the bucket list! Hopefully one day I’ll write on here about the capture of a double figured bass – that would be awesome.
Above: Whilst I did catch quite a few bass I never captured that big one that I worked hard for. Big wrasse on the other hand were everywhere!