Select Page

Swanage really is one of those perfect venues in the UK. It is a sheltered bay into which you can launch with most wind directions. There is a huge reef inshore and then deep sand just past that. In the spring, for just a few weeks very large Black Bream come into spawn over the reef and Rays come in over the sand offering plenty of target species.

During the week, the forecast was studied and pm’s were sent and as I arrived at the beach after a two and a half hour drive, Cam, Si and Russ were already there. Cam is something of a local legend on these waters and should really write a book on what he knows, so we were in good company to be put on the fish.

A short paddle out and we anchored over the reef to try for the bream. They had been showing earlier in the week up to 4lb but the big ones only stay a short while before they head off to deeper water again. For two hours we all fished hard, with hardly a bite between us. I managed a small but beautiful corkwing wrasse, and lost a multitude of gear on the tackle hungry reef.

A change was in order. I decided to head over onto the sand and try for a ray. What a difference, as soon as the baits hit the bottom there was interest, but it turned out to be the every present dogfish, then a small bream. Things were looking up.

I had a large bait on heavy gear for the ray and smaller baits on a light spinning rod for the bream. What happened next was all too predictable. After a couple of vibrations on the light rod it suddenly bent double and there was a good ray attached. For ten minutes nothing happened. I was seriously under gunned. The ray just sat on the bottom giving the occasional thump. But slowly and surely I started to move it. When it hit the surface I couldn’t believe it, a massive Undulate Ray. These have been one of my targets for a couple of years with no success. They are a rare catch in the UK, a protected species and only found in a small area for a short part of the year. Estimated at 13lb it was photographed and returned.

Not long after I actually caught another slightly smaller Undulate at around 9lb. To get two of these fish in a session after years of not catching one was fantastic.

Chatting with the others it seemed a couple of different ray species had been caught but the bream were elusive and some were heading in.

Myself and Russ stayed out on the edge of the reef as it was such a beautiful evening. We had been there for half an hour when it was as if someone had flicked on a switch. Both rods just buckled as bream hit them. You couldn’t get a bait to the bottom without a fish nailing it. On a flat sea, in a summer evening this was the perfect end to the day. I had twenty bream to two and a half pound in a few hours. Not the monsters of the last few weeks but still good fish.

At six we headed back in both happy that our trips had been worthwhile. I had a great day afloat with legendary company. I had caught a new target species and was going home with an ice box of fish. What could be better?