We've recently seen a large number of small bait fish washed up on Cheil Beach.

Thousands of sprats washed up at West Bay and‘thousands’ in the shallow water on the beach side of the Weymouth Pavilion were confirmed to have been there because of larger marine life.

It's thought that larger fish such as mackerel and bass were chasing fish into the shallows.

Dorset Echo:

 Thousands of fish recently washed up on Chesil Beach   Picture: Will Salter

With this in mind, we thought it would be timely to look back at when this kind of event happened in the past.

And many thanks to West Bay Discovery Centre for sharing this 1899 photo with us.

This report from the Bridport News tells us: "On December 15, 1899, good hauls of sprats were made off Burton and West Bay. On Monday afternoon just at dusk a tremendous lot was just seen off Burton Freshwater, and Buckler’s crew cast off, but the weight of sprats was so great that it broke the gearing and what would have been an immense catch was lost. The net was lost at sea for a time, but a big roller fortunately carried it inshore, and it was then hauled in with 30 bushels* of sprats."

Another occurrence was on October 25, 1918. A Western Gazette report says: "For the last week the sea at the bay has been alive with sprats. They have swarmed in such numbers that they literally pushed one another out of the sea on to the beach. On Sunday the harbour was busy as boat load after boat load of sprats were bought in. Some 1,200 bushels of fish were landed during the day and they were packed ready for Billingsgate Market on the Monday morning."

And on September 29, 1936, the Western Morning News reported: "Nearly 700 bushels were caught in the harbour basin. This has been known to occur for years past, and fishermen are at a loss to explain the reason. The water was black with the shoal and thousands of sea gulls appeared. Throughout the week 1,000* bushels were caught. Yesterday it took 30 men to haul a catch of 2,000,000 weighing over a ton."

*(1 bushel is equivalent to 8 dry gallons or a small fishing basket.)