LEE BAY: night 1
The chosen venue this month was in Devon at Lee bay a well-known summer venue with boats that come in close for good fishing with wrasse, bass and other summer species it just sits in the middle between Woody bay and Wringcliff bay. Lee bay is a small secluded bay with mixed landscape where cliffs and trees come right the seas edge either side of you there are rocky outcrops and a fantastic beach in the middle with a sand bottom and surf that screams bass!
It's midday and time to go and the weather has taken a massive turn for the worse which wasn’t on any of the forecasts with 40mph wind from the North and gusting more meaning it will be in the face. I packed for a rough day but if it was at all fishable then I would and if it wasn't then I would scope it all out for the little things that I couldn't see or get from google maps for another day. To get to Lee bay the A39 was taken to Lynton and then you have to go through a stunning area called the valley of the rocks its worth going just to see the scenery around this area its nothing short of stunning you have towering rock formations either side in a valley like big rock guardians. So eventually here and all parked up and making tracks down to the beach from the car park it’s a small 5 minute downhill walk which is going to be a horrible walk back up! It is quite steep but all paved so no issues, it’s also worth a mention that there are public toilets here as well at the top of the hill. Getting down onto the beach and the first thing you see is a very diverse beach that can be fished at all states of the tide although I had planned a session LT to HT you have rock ledges either side of you giving some potential fishing platforms but certainly wouldn’t advise it after seeing the sea rough and hitting these I think you would be swept off them if bad weather is due at all.
The first part of the beach is a mixture shingle and larger stones and the odd strewn boulders which leads down to some rock structures and then it opens out in front of you with a clean sand beach which slopes upwards at first then levels out and starts to dip down and grades off getting deeper. because of this I instantly noted that it was something to watch for as the tide comes in as soon as the tide hits the crest of that brow on the flood it will run straight over and down so move well back! The wind is blowing hard into my face and the swells and surf are nothing short of extremely angry whilst being stunning at the same time I figured as I was here I may as well try and see what can be gained so with my crazy boots on and waterproofs keeping most of the weather out as it decided to rain most of the time too I figured the fish gods were seeing just how serious I was with some extreme angling! It was one rod weather so I got the Century WR300 out it’s very good in wind its stays true and doesn’t wobble around and yet isn't a complete poker as it registers bites very well, All set up and opted for a pulley rig of which I Quickly cut and shortened the hook length as it was so rough and churning, whipped on whole squid elasticated to keep streamlined so I could punch the bait out. Stood well back for safety in the lapping reaches of the surf I was punching out around 60 yards max as the wind was making it impossible but it was out there at least if I fired it high to get over the surf the wind sent it straight back and if too low casting into the wind it just hits the surf waves face and goes nowhere. The first thing I noticed was there was a mean rip from right to left I had 6 Oz gripped leads on but may as well have been 3 Oz bombs a quick change to 8 Oz gripped and I was just holding bottom ... good enough!
The weed here is extremely heavy and not helped with the wind and weather pulling it all in after just a few minutes my line looked like an old school washing line fully loaded.
Nothing was biting after trying several areas of the beach and differing the ranges as much as I could I figured I would put a large bait out and use the walk back technique so I could see if anything was beyond the horrendous surfy conditions. I elasticated three dirty squids together and made it as streamlined as possible cutting them three quarters of the way down like you would a crab bait and made them longer and more streamlined to sit behind the lead better. Using the Hatteras cast I fired it as far as I could manage the sea was approaching the crest of the sand beach so I moved well back to the stoney and shingle mix part of the beach and glad I did as it came raging down over the slope. Once again the weed started to collect even though the rod was as high as possible, with nothing happening for a couple of hours using this technique I thought to myself one more cast and I'll call it a day (always one more cast)
so same again but 40 minutes in and I get a great bite slammed the rod down and it certainly woke me up making me stand to I jumped on it and lifted into the rod the line again coated in weed but this time there was a strong fight on the end if this was the only fish today it was going to be healthy judging by the rods bend... pulling the fish in which I was sure was a good bass was coming in slowly but surely then I get to see this silver bar make a jump out the shallow surf trying to shirk my hook thrilling to see and makes you instantly religious you pray to God it stays on! It must be 7 lbs plus lovely! Bringing through the shallows which was a fair distance today when all of a sudden a 8-10ft tree trunk rolls onto my line trapping it on some stones not able to do anything now but wait for the next wave to come and sweep it off for me due to it being too dangerous to wade in that close to the crashing surf but no such luck the 20lb line shears and snaps against the rocks watching the bass swim away back to sea was painful a fair amount of cursing was done turning the evening air blue on the walk back time to think and calm down just re rig and fire another final cast out, re rigged and ready to roll it was sent skywards after about 30 minutes nothing then as I started to clean down and pack a few bits away all of a sudden the rod had a heavy multiple pull downs and line was moving away and being takenoff the reel at quick pace, tightening the drag and lifting into the rod and winding down I felt a solid connection at the end with a few heavy head nods which turned out to be another short lived joy the line went slack and the fish was gone on pulling the rig back in to take off and pack away the hook length had been bitten through which was 80lb mono so guessing it was either a Spur or a Tope. Well I guess that’s life and we all get days like it but decided it was to be a gameshow day blanket blank. I would try again another day after the series of storms forecast had passed over and would fish by night instead but the venue appeared very promising indeed.
Arriving at the same point and state of tide only this time it would be dark and feeling confident of the how the beach lays with how the tide comes In and the weather was now much calmer so I decided I would go for a feature this time and decided on a bunch of rocks to the right hand side I set up with just one rod In case I was caught short and needed to move quickly. With the Century WR300 out and a Penn Battle 2 loaded with 30lb whiplash braid I fired out a long range squid and worm bait on a pulley dropper it was slow going at first and with last light approaching I watched a great colour show of reds and dusky orange behind thick grey clouds in the sky again no one was about peace and quiet unlike a lot of marks. Time to get a coffee on the go, no sooner was the coffee poured the rod tip was rattling away furiously as I'm bringing the brew to my lips, quickly putting it down and in the excitement I lost half of it, lifting into the rod the major rattling was rewarded with not a lot of bend on the rod and no feeling on the other end so guessing it was a dogfish then it broke the water 20 yards out sure enough it was that all too familiar shape of a dog fish now curled up, bringing it in to unhook it was only a small dog but a fish none the less already doing better than the last visit! A quick change of rig with a pre-baited pulley dropper, I cast the bait out into the now dark night sky, photo already taken I unhooked the dog and walked to the now closer surf line and let the dog go back home. A short walk back over the stones and boulders and get to finally have that half a cup of coffee another slow twenty minutes pass and figure I'll bring the bait in for a change and get some fresh stink out there as I get up the rod tip starts rattling away again, lifting into the rod again I knew it was another lazy dog on the other end. Another quick unhooking and photo on the box then it was time to go back, the water was at the boulders edges now so released him back.
Back to the tripod for a change of rigs and figured I would try another angle and closer in if the dogs are at range so with the same again squid and worm on size 3/0's and dropped just on the edge of the sand and boulders just 30 yards out. A quick move back of around 40 yards as the tide was racing in now and gaining ground at a very fast rate, I'm not sure if I knocked the rod or had a bite as I was securing the tripod legs, then it goes again giving 3 big nods on the tip a quick strike and it feels different and then I start to feel the vibrations of an eel spinning on the end the weather has picked up and the surf is up a bit with the wind blowing also knowing I need to be careful on the rocks as it was getting slippy with the drizzling rain that was passing over now and then I eased the strap of about 2lb up and over onto the boulders, taking it back to the box to get the hook out and a quick photo although he had other ideas this eel was camera shy it didn’t want to be photographed and kept wriggling between rocks and under them sliming me up when I tried to reposition it, so with that a quick photo on the floor and then a struggle to get it back to the shoreline as he was one very slippery customer, I eventually got him in without hurting him or myself. I got back and went to wipe my hands on the rag and.... it’s blown away! I can't see it anywhere looking around.... marvellous! Covered in eel snot I wiped what I could on the boulders and the rest ... you guessed it on my legs they are due a wash anyway. Altering the range again I pinged it to around 50 yards out which was now just beyond the boulders sat on the sand another brew in the hand and enjoying what would be the last drink of the night not to my knowledge at that point a couple of light nicks on the rod tip just dipping it slightly so leaving it to develop and then it went for it rattling away constantly a typical whiting or pout bite, after reeling in easily it was a whiting and a small one at that but bites were picking up and then it remained this way all night very cast seeing fish all the other fish seemed to disappear and turned into a whiting festival in total over 30! I gave up trying to keep track after fish 30. I decided to call it a night as it didn't show any sign of letting up or changing and was just wasting bait as I couldn't even find a decent sized whiting and felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall with trying different ways to keep them off the bait to no avail but at least it was a good busy evening with only a couple of bites missed which was more than likely whiting as well.
In my opinion I do believe that Lee bay has some great potential with so many great areas to fish in a small condensed area and is a comfortable venue to fish as long as the wind isn't coming from the North.
I will be visiting it again over the winter to see what can be eeked out on more favourable tides. Tight lines till next month