spinning from the rocks
In the early 1970's, the huge rocks, deep water and strong tides along the west side of Portland gave it the reputation as one of the best venues for catching specimen size bass on soft lures along the south coast. Since then many of the old goat paths down the steep grassy slopes to Mutton Cove (in the foreground) and Walls End Cove (in the far distance) have disappeared through natural erosion. But there are plenty of other places on Portland to spin from the rocks which in many instances is no different from rock fishing elsewhere.
The problem with rock fishing on your own is the constant danger of falling, but even that risk has been greatly reduced since virtually everybody has a cell phone.
The rocks starting at Chesil Cove are much easier to reach and just as productive. The old footpath from the end of the prom goes as far as Tar Rocks and from there it is possible to scramble over the small boulders to Hallelujah bay.
The trick when spinning from rocks in deep water is not to try and cast the lure as far as you can towards the horizon, but rather to search out where the bass may be lying up amongst the rocks by bringing the lure as close as you can to other rocks along the shore.
Tides at Portland Bill
Now I tend to spin mostly from the rocks ledges and promontories around Portland Bill where the action of the tidal stream creates an eddy on the opposite side of the Island. This makes the direction of the tidal stream on both sides of the Island flow almost continually in the direction of Portland Bill.
The tidal range dictates the characteristics of the eddy; how soon it will appear before high or low tide and how strong it will be. The greater the tidal range, the more dramatic the eddy will be on the opposite side of the island, whilst on the days of the smallest tidal range it will be almost non existent. For detailed charts showing the direction and strength of the tidal stream around Portland over a 12 hour period see; Admiralty Tidal Stream Atlas, Approaches to Portland. NP257
In truth Portland Bill it is one of the simplest places to spin, but as with any other venue, it is best visited at low spring tide to make a few notes about where the big weed covered rocks are. In some places the water is remarkably deep, looking no different at low tide than it does at high tide.
LRF -light rock fishing
Portland Bill is perfect for LRF from the middle of summer to early winter. My preference is to spin a flooding tide in the morning with plenty of white water breaking over the ledges. Once again, my first choice of rod is dependant upon the wind, choosing between my very light Tronix Rockfish Revolution or heavier Savage Dropshot and Mitchell reel loaded with 10lb braid line. Spinning with these light rods makes a landing net essential as the bass and pollock at the Bill always seem be particularly lively.
The promontories each side of Boat Haul beach with Mugley's ledge and Red Crane in the distance. As the prevailing wind is from the south west, the wind assisted casts along this shore make it particularly easy to fish with very light tackle.
The large rocky shore on the East side of Portland begins immediately north of the Sandholes crane shown in the top right of my map of Portland Bill. As with any of the rocky shores around Portland, the rocks are big and difficult to climb over.
Having fished the ledges between Broadsands and Elberry Cove at Paignton in South Devon, I found them to be much the same as Portland Bill with plenty of deep water gullies.
On this particular early evening session, after enjoying some good sport with the mackerel an a few wrasse I was really surprised to pull this mullet out of a shoal splashing on the surface. The lure is a size one Black Minnow with an off shore head, the rod is my Savage Gear Dropshot.