The Purbeck area of Dorset is famous for specimen size fish. Whether it be large congers, bass or winter Cod the beaches of the Purbeck coast, with their spectacular scenery offer a tremendous amount to the shore angler. With the majority of the coastline being high cliff tops fishing on to ruff rocky ground fishing can be a challenge. This however is one of my favorite places to fish, and it is of particular interest for my shore lure fishing with marks such as Kimmeridge and Durlston often producing. I have given my top venues below and trust they will be well received.

 

Swanage Pier

Swanage Pier is a diver’s hotspot, but this is due to the areas abundant sea life. The pier like most piers in the country is a tourist magnet, and because of that to fish it there is a charge, approx £3 per rod. This area is the perfect place to take children or for elderly anglers, as it has excellent access and is very safe. You won’t catch to many big fish here, but there are a lot of smaller fish to make up for it.

Summer Species: Bass, wrasse, pollack, blennies, mackerel and garfish

Winter Species: Codling, whiting and plaice

Bait: ragworms, mackerel strips, and sandeels

Tactics: Swanage Pier is ideally suited for those just starting fishing, or looking to get in to it. The fishing is non complicated, and you are almost guaranteed to catch. The key here is to fish as close to the structure as you can so a cast is not often needed, and to fish with small hooks, size 1 or 2. Float fishing is also very successful and popular here, using either worms sandeels or mackerel as bait. To the west side of the pier is the remains of the old pier, and if you avoid the divers this is a good place for pollack and the bigger wrasse.

Getting there: You can get to Swanage using the chain ferry from Poole or by driving on the A35 towards Wareham and then following signs to Corfe, and then to Swanage. Once you have arrived drive down to the beach front, the pier is situated to the west of the town, where there are large pay and display car parks.

Local Tackle Shops:Swanage Angling Centre, BH19 2NT, tel: 01929 550770 or Purbeck Angling Centre, BH20 4LU, tel: 01929 550770

 

Swanage Beach (East End)

Dwarfed by the imperious cliffs of Old Harrys the east end of Swanage beach is an amazingly scenic place to fish. This end of the beach if far quieter than the busier end towards the town centre of Swanage, and the pier. Although a shore mark the relatively deep water in places here means that fish move in to known areas. A great location for PB as a pose to huge quantities, although there are places on the beach where you are able to catch a lot of the micro species in large numbers.

Summer Species: Bass, plaice, rays, smoothhounds, mackerel, pouting, garfish, wrasse, strap conger and dogfish

Winter Species: Codling, whiting, flounders and rockling

Bait: Ragworms, mackerel, squid, lugworms, sandeels and peeler crabs

Tactics: For the smaller fish try flapper rigs with size 2 or 4 hooks baited with worms and fish at about mid range. The larger fish will be picked up at night on large baits such as squid or mackerel at relatively close range, try a pulley rig with Pennell set up hooks size 2/0 or larger. During the winter fish at range here for the chance of codling or whiting. The far corner of the bay turns to larger boulders and these can house some different fish especially during the night and a chance of a conger is a possibility.

Getting there: From the coast road in Swanage park as close to the east end as possible and then you will find signposts for the coastal footpath which runs down to the beach at points, fish anyway along this stretch.

Local Tackle Shops: Swanage Angling Centre, BH19 2NT, tel: 01929 550770 or Purbeck Angling Centre, BH20 4LU, tel: 01929 550770

 

Durlston Ledges

The Durlston Ledges are famous amongst Bass anglers, with decent fish caught here most of the year round particularly on lures and artificials. Situated at the start of the Jurassic coast and very close to the town at Swanage this is a beautiful place to fish. The shallow gin clear water here makes fishing challenging but the rewards can be awesome.

Summer Species: Bass, dogfish, mackerel, strap conger and wrasse

Winter Species: Codling, whiting and flatties

Bait: Lures, ragworms and sandeels

Tactics: This is a classic lure fishing venue. There is a good chance of a big bass when fishing from the Durlston ledges. Be prepared to lose a bit of tackle and get wet as many of the ledges at Durlston are very exposed. Fish with lures or with the fly rod at this venue for best rods, and lowlight conditions always work best when fishing for bass. If you want to ledger fish move slightly west of the ledges and fish at range.

Getting there: Follow signs for Swanage from either the East or the West. Once you have arrived in Swanage, park as close to the sea as is possible. Durlston is to the far west of Swanage so to avoid a walk bear this in mind. From parking head towards the pier and then follow the path around the headland, and from there you can’t fail to see the ledges, on high or low water.

Local Tackle Shops: Swanage Angling Centre, BH19 2NT, tel: 01929 550770 or Purbeck Angling Centre, BH20 4LU, tel: 01929 550770

 

Durdle Door

Durdle Door is one of the most famous natural landmarks in the UK. Most of the year round large numbers of people flock to the area to see this legendary landmark. This means that during the summer months fishing throughout the day is not possible unless you are prepared to walk to the far west of the bay. During nigh time however fishing is possible. This shore mark throws up many species throughout the year and if you dont mind a bit of a walk is a great shiore location for anglers of all abilities.

Summer Species: Wrasse, Pollack, garfish, mackerel, mullet, conger eels, bass, huss, bream and occasional ray.

Winter Species: Conger eels, dogfish, whiting and occasional codling

Bait: Ragworms, peeler crabs, sand eels, fresh mackerel and squid

Tactics: During the summer try fishing live sandeel if you can get hold of it under a bubble float for the bass. Alternativly lures will catch the bass with the best time being at first and last light. Mackerel baits on pulley style rigs fished at relative rage will catch you dogfish, rays and congers. The ground in the most part is fairly clean here although at either end of the bay the ground becomes more rocky. Here you will catch wrasse and many different micro species on floated worm baits. During the winter use 2 hook flapper rigs with lugworm or peeler baits for the chance of a codling but also good numbers of whiting.

Getting there: Follow signs to Lulworth from all directions. Park in the large pay and display car park and walk west over the headland to Durdle Door.

Local Tackle Shops: Swanage Angling Centre, BH19 2NT, tel: 01929 550770 or Purbeck Angling Centre, BH20 4LU, tel: 01929 550770

 

 

Seacombe, Dorset

Seacombe is a typical Purbeck Coast fishing area. With a backdrop of dramatic Jurassic Coast. The area requires a slight walk to get to but is definitely worth it. Whilst the area has a very mixed bottom, with rocks and weed, there is a genuine chance of some very big fish. It is a wonderfully quiet place, close to famous locations such as Kimmeridge and Dancing Ledge.

Summer Species: Wrasse, Pollack, garfish, mackerel, mullet, conger eels, bass, huss, bream and occasional ray.

Winter Species: Conger eels, dogfish and occasional codling

Bait: Ragworms, peeler crabs, sand eels, fresh mackerel and squid

Tactics: For the summer species the best method is to fish a float set up with either ragworms or mackerel strip for bait. With this you will pick up wrasse, pollack, garfish, and mackerel try bread for the elusive mullet. The bigger fish will be picked up relatively close to the shore so a big cast is not necessary. Fish a rotten bottom rig with strong size 3/0 hooks, and heavy mono, baited with fish baits. For the spring codling try casting at various distances, feeling for the features. A two hook flapper rig or Pennell rig baited with lug and tipped with squid, or beating that peelers seem to work best.

Getting there: Seacombe is midway between Winspit and Dancing Ledge. It is approached via one and half mile footpath, starting at Worth Matravers where there is a small car park. To get to Worth Matravers, branch off from the A351 just to the south of Corfe Castle on the B3069. The car park is on the right as you approach the village.

Local Tackle Shops: Swanage Angling Centre, BH19 2NT, tel: 01929 550770 or Purbeck Angling Centre, BH20 4LU, tel: 01929 550770

 

Hedbury, Dorset

Hedbury is a beautiful location although does require a slight walk to get to. The dramatic cliffs, once quarried, around the area attract a lot of rock climbers. Having walked from Langton Matravers find a good platform to fish from. Remember whilst this location offers a great chance of big fish, the bottom here is also made up of rocks and weed, and therefore be prepared to loose a fair bit of gear.

Summer Species: Bass, rays, huss, wrasse, conger eels and Pollack

Winter Species: Codling and rays

Bait: Ragworms, peeler crabs, mackerel, live prawns and squid

Tactics: Due to the amount of snags here fish with a rotten bottom rig. I prefer a simple running ledger rig. For the huss and congers it is probably best to fish with very heavy mono, or wire, with a fish bait. The Pollack and wrasse can be caught on float fished worms, or artificials. In the winter try a large squid bait fished on a Pennell rig size 2/0 0r 3/0 hooks, again be prepared to loose some leads, fish with a rotten bottom.

Getting there: Travelling from Swanage take the A351 west towards Corfe, or travelling East from Corfe towards Swanage. Approximately a mile from Swanage see signposts for Langton Matravers, and turn left. In Langton Matravers there is a south turn about 100yds west of the King’s Arms. At the end of this lane there are a couple of places to park. The rather damaged lane continues with a lot of holes and ditches to a national trust car park. From here follow a wide path past Spyhead farm, through two fields, and to the top of the hill. A well worn path leads down to the sea. It is signposted dancing ledge. When you reach the stile before the descent into dancing ledge quarry, follow the coastal path right for a quarter of a mile to a stile. Beyond the stile a path leads off right along a ridge then down into Hedbury quarry. There is a large area of seasonal restrictions east of the main quarry all the way to dancing ledge.

Local Tackle Shops: Swanage Angling Centre, BH19 2NT, tel: 01929 550770 or Purbeck Angling Centre, BH20 4LU, tel: 01929 550770

 

Kimmeridge Ledges

Kimmeridge is a famous beach in the heart of the Purbeck coastline. It attracts people throughout the year looking for fossils and also has an army artillery and training range behind it. The area has long been famous amongst fisherman for one reason, the incredible bass fishing. This is one of my top locations in the county and is definitely worth a try.

Summer Species: Bass, wrasse, mackerel and garfish

Winter Species: Codling, plaice and flounders

Bait: Lures, fly’s, mackerel, squid and ragworms

Tactics: As far as I am concerned the only way to effectively fish this area is with lures or with a fly rod. You have to fish this area on a high tide in low light conditions, as the water is very clear. Make sure to take some waders and be prepared to move around a lot, looking for the gullies and ledges where the bass are likely to be. Shallow diving lures such as the Tackle House, or Maria Chase are ideal for this area. You can of course ledger fish but again this has to be done during low light conditions. Large baits such as mackerel and squid will work for the bigger fish.

Getting there: From Wareham follow signs for Corfe. As you reach the castle take the right turn signposted Church Knowle and Kimmeridge. Follow this road for about three miles until you arrive at a right turn signposted Kimmeridge. Take this small road for about 2 miles which leads all the way down to the beach.

Local Tackle Shops: Swanage Angling Centre, BH19 2NT, tel: 01929 550770 or Purbeck Angling Centre, BH20 4LU, tel: 01929 550770

 

Mupe Bay

Mupe Bay is situated very close to its more famous acquaintance Worbarrow Bay. Both are very good fishing locations. Mupe is a location where big fish are caught, but to reach it you have to be prepared for a big walk, from Lulworth or Tynham. The area has a mixed bottom with rock and shingle, which in turn attracts a lot of different species. Big tides are best, as are low light conditions, for this area.

Summer Species: Bass, rays, conger eels, pouting, pollack, mackerel, wrasse and garfish

Winter Species: Cod, Congers and whiting

Bait: Squid, sandeels, mackerel, ragworms, lures and peeler crabs

Tactics: This is a big fish venue. The anglers who fish at Mupe Bay are interested in catching big Bass, eels or rays. The best time of year for this is in September and October. Big baits fished at night are key here. Use a simple rig like a pulley set up with Pennell hooks, size 3/0 or 4/0 with a whole squid or mackerel as bait. There are smaller fish around and these can be caught using conventional beach fishing tactics. During the evening and early morning give some lures a go here, as the bass tend to patrol the gulley and ledges of the bay.

Getting there: To get to Mupe Bay you will need to get to Lulworth, which is well signposted from Wareham. Having parked in Lulworth, you have to head east and follow the coastal path along the cliffs. There are a lot of ups and downs in this walk so be prepared. Mupe Bay is the next bay west of Worbarrow, and from the image should be easily recognised.

Local Tackle Shops: Swanage Angling Centre, BH19 2NT, tel: 01929 550770 or Purbeck Angling Centre, BH20 4LU, tel: 01929 550770

 

Worbarrow Bay

Worbarrow Bay has long been on the angler’s horizon and yet many are put off fishing here by the walk. This is a picture postcard bay and has some awesome fishing to go along with the amazing views. Be prepared to move around the bay if you are not catching, and fish dusk and dawn for the best results. The area is steeped in history and is worth a visit for that alone.

Summer Species: Bass, wrasse, rays, plaice, strap conger and mackerel

Winter Species: Cod, plaice, whiting and rockling

Bait: Ragworms, mackerel, squid and lugworm

Tactics: You have two options here; 1. To fish the snaggy ground to the far east and west of the bay and go for the bigger fish, or 2. Fish close to the middle of the bay on the cleaner ground and pick up smaller but more plentiful fish. The best option is to take a couple of beach casting outfits and fish at range. The water shelves fairly quickly so a cast of 100 yards is adequate. Fish Pennell style rigs for the big fish with big baits, and 2 or 3 hook flappers for the smaller fish. You can also try working lures from the rocks, although you will need to catch the tide right to avoid catching up with the weed.

Getting there: To get to Worbarrow Bay you have to get to Tyneham, the nearest village to the bay. This is easily done by driving from Corfe or from Wareham. Look for signs for Steepe, and from there signs for Tyneham. You can park in the car park at Tyneham and then follow the coast path down to the bay, about a half mile walk.

Local Tackle Shops: Swanage Angling Centre, BH19 2NT, tel: 01929 550770 or Purbeck Angling Centre, BH20 4LU, tel: 01929 550770

 

Chapman’s Pool

Chapman’s Pool is situated close to the village of Worth Matravers and is a relatively unfished location. This area of outstanding natural beauty requires a decent walk to get to and expect it to be fairly busy during the summer months. A common bay for small boat anglers with good mixed bags of fish most of the year round, this is a great option when weather dictates where you can’t fish. The bay at Chapman’s Pool has many options from fishing over the clean ground in the middle of the bay or the rocky areas towards the edges of the bay.

Summer Species: Bass, bream, congers, rays, plaice, mackerel, wrasse and dogfish

Winter Species: Whiting, pouting, flounders, codling and rockling

Bait: Ragworm, lugworms, mackerel, sandeels and squid

Tactics: Many tactics and options work well at Chapman’s Pool. During the summer try lures and larger squid and mackerel baits for the bass. Fish at first and last light on big tides for the best results. The rocky ground in the bay will produce wrasse and other micro species on worm baits during the summer. The clean ground in the center of the bay will catch you bream on mackerel strips and rays and plaice on worm and fish baits. During the winter try lug and peeler for the codling although you are bound to receive interest from the pouting and whiting trying these tactics. A large squid bait fished in one of the gullies close to the rocks can pick you up the bonus fish.

Getting there: From Swanage head west towards Corfe. Worth Matravers is well signposted form here. Park at the large pay and display car park in the town and head down the footpath signposted Chapman’s Pool.

Local Tackle Shops: Swanage Angling Centre, BH19 2NT, tel: 01929 550770 or Purbeck Angling Centre, BH20 4LU, tel: 01929 550770

 

Dancing Ledge

As with most of the locations along the Purbeck stretch of the coast this is an area of outstanding natural beauty. An area famed with walkers and climbers this is also a place where beach fishing can be explosive. An area not advised for the comfort angler more someone who doesn’t mind walking a good distance to find good fish. The boats that fish these coastal waters often have good catches of rays and bass during the summer months, something that can also be achieved from the shore.

Summer Species: Bass, bream, huss, congers, rays, plaice, mackerel, wrasse and dogfish

Winter Species: Codling, whiting, congers and pouting

Bait: Mackerel, sandeels, squid, lures and ragworms

Tactics: This is a very rocky area and therefore the appropriate measures should be taken with both tackle and attire. Be prepared to lose a good number fo leads and rigs at this location but don’t let that put you off. Large huss and conger are the main draw with fish taken on mackerel and squid baits typically. Large 7/0 or 8/0 hooks are advised with heavy mono or wire traces, fishing this way will also catch you rays. The bream fishing in the summer on squid and mackerel strips can be very good particularly through September. Try Lures and flies for the bass at first ansd last light. During the winter big baits on large pulley style rigs give you a chance of a cod as well as late huss and congers.

Getting there: From Langton Matravers follow the coast path footpath signs for Dancing Ledge. Although a longish walk this is a very popular place most of the year round, particularly for walkers and climbers.

Local Tackle Shops: Swanage Angling Centre, BH19 2NT, tel: 01929 550770 or Purbeck Angling Centre, BH20 4LU, tel: 01929 550770


 

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