Kent Coast Sea Fishing Compendium
Deal & Walmer
BBC Coastal Forecast (North Foreland to Beachy Head)
This section of the east Kent coast includes the following nine shore fishing venues: Sandown Castle (51.238411, 1.401716), Deal beach - Harold Road (51.234700, 1.403782), Horsa Road (the groynes: 51.231428, 1.404148) and Coastguard Station (51.23200, 1.40433) and Walmer beach - the monument (51.211138, 1.402967), Cambridge Road Gardens (51.210211, 1.402760), flat-top tree (51.206778, 1.402712), Walmer Castle (51.202032, 1.402374) and Boundary Road (51.189274, 1.404348)
Deal & Walmer Beaches
The groynes on the section of beach between Deal Pier and Sandown Castle (Harold Road and the coastguard station) are said to be a good place to fish for
- sole, flounder and school bass in summer;
- whiting, codling and dabs in winter;
- pouting throughout the year, especially in the last hour of ebb and the first hour of flood tides;
- mackerel on summer evening high tides which can produce strings of up to six fish per cast to lures, although the sea needs to be clear and calm.
Lidar (also called LIDAR, LiDAR, and LADAR) is an acronym of Light Detection And Ranging (sometimes Light Imaging, Detection, And Ranging). Lidar is a surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating that target with a laser light and is popularly used to make high-resolution maps. The following three Lidar maps show the seabed either side of Deal Pier from Sandown Castle (remains) in the north to Granville Road in the south.Map 1: Sandown Castle (remains) south to Deal Pier
Map 2: Harold Road south to Deal Castle Road
Map 3: Deal Pier south to Granville Road
Hook, line and sinker: fishing in Deal
Fresh lugworm, ragworm and the usual selection of frozen baits can be obtained from:
95 Beach Street
Deal CT14 6JE
Monday 7:30am to 5:30pm Tuesday 7:30am to 1pm Wednesday 7:30am to 5:30pm Thursday 7:30am to 5:30pm Friday 7:30am to 5:30pm Saturday 7:30am to 5:30pm Sunday 7:30am to 1pm
"Angling in Salt Water: A Practical Work on Sea Fishing with Rod and Line from the Shore, Piers, Jetties, Rocks and from Boats" (1887) John Bickerdyke at pages 54, 55 & 72
Chapter IV: Rod Fishing and Hand-Lining
Fish may sometimes be caught from the beach by throwing out a line a considerable distance. An ingenious plan adopted by fishermen at Deal and other places on the East coast, by which many fish are taken; it may hardly be termed angling, but merits a description. The tackle (see Fig. 42) - to begin at the far end of the line - starts with a button; then comes a short piece termed the sling line, then a lead, and, following that, the main line - with a few hooks, either on short snoodings or on the wire chopsticks described on page 57. An essential part of the apparatus is a springy, ash stick, about 3ft. long, tapered, and with a two-pronged fork at the end. The hooks being baited with squid, mackerel, or any bait sufficiently tough, the fisherman coils his line carefully on the shore, except the portion with the hooks, lead, and sling line; these he lays out in a line along the beach. He next places the button, which is at the extreme end of the line, in the fork at the end of the stick, swings the lead once or twice, and then casts it out as far as he can. The lead used weighs about 1½lb. The angler, with light tackle and dressed line, can throw out his sea leger or paternoster just as far as the Deal fishermen can their heavy leads.
Chapter V: The Bass
… Ground-baiting (see page 45), when it can be carried on, is very advisable, the best ground-bait being a mixture of pilchard refuse and pounded crabs … Where no pier is available, and the bottom is not too foul, the paternoster or leger can be thrown from the shore; but (excepting, of course, the mouths of rivers and quiet estuaries), owing to the wash of the waves, so heavy a lead is usually required to keep out the bait that the rod can rarely be used. At Deal, the tackle described in Chapter IV, page 54, is used for this purpose, and some very good takes of bass are made with it. Pieces of cuttle, squid, or strips of mackerel-skin, on account of their toughness, are good baits for use on tackle which has to be cast any great distance. Casting from the beach is often practised when it is too rough to go afloat.
"Sea-Fishing on the English Coast" (1891) Frederick George Aflalo at pages 117 & 122 to 126
The South-east Coast
From an angler's point of view, this commences south of the Thames and extends to Eastbourne. The fishing at this south-east corner is very good indeed, including, as it does, Deal, Dover, and Hastings, while in the size and quantity of its fish, it closely resembles the south-west coast, which is, however, superior. It is very well adapted for fishing, there being, as one advances to the westward, a very suitable combination of rock and sand, in which large bass, mullet, mackerel, pollack, and conger, are all abundant. It presents varied fishing at all times of the year, the best months being, perhaps, July, August, and October.
Deal (3 hours from Charing Cross ; 3rd return, 8 days, 11s.)
This is, perhaps, the best spot for angling on the south-east coast, as indeed one could guess, without going there, from the repeated advice in the Fishing Gazette from Mr. Sachs and others, to go there. Mr. Sachs is well known at Deal, and it is to him that I am indebted, not alone for the idea of originally trying Deal, but also for some very practical advice on Deal Pier a few summers ago. The best months are July and October - January; the former for pout and pollack, the latter for whiting and cod.
There are but few places where the pier affords better fishing than boats, but Deal is certainly an example. The length of the pier, 1000ft., allows the angler to fish very deep water, and the strength of the "race" that sweeps round from St. Margaret's, brings many large fish under shelter on the north of the pier. The charges on the pier are 1d entrance, or 3d on and off all day, and each rod also pays a tax of 5d per diem. There is, in the season, a kind of depot at the end of it, where all the best baits can be had fresh every day. The pier master, Mr. Lawrence, was always a good friend to anglers, and often procured for me bait that was otherwise inaccessible.
For angling purposes, I found the Antwerp Hotel (Mr. G. Ottaway) very comfortable, and as it is just at the entrance to the pier, much time is saved in getting backwards and forwards.
The tackle shop is Frost's (ironmonger), in High Street. I have already mentioned his sea-paternoster. It is customary with the Deal amateurs to leave their rods in charge of the man at the turnstile for weeks, without taking them to pieces. This is surprising, considering what well-known amateurs visit Deal, and it is a piece of sheer laziness that I cannot recommend.
The fish caught here in the summer are pollack, pout, and plaice. The best tackle is the paternoster or the leger. Heavy leads* are required, as the tide is strong. The best summer baits are ragworms or cockles, the former being sometimes rather hard to procure. The capture of lobsters on a hook is by no means uncommon, and in past fishing papers I find no less than seven cases.
* Some of the Deal amateurs, headed, I believe, by Mr. Sachs, esteem a light lead a great advantage. This requires some skill on the part of the fisherman to feel a tender bite, and distinguish it from the motion of the lead dragging the sand.
In November there are plenty of cod and whiting, and the baits are fresh sprats or lugworm. The sprats (which cost about 1½d. for twenty-five) must be very fresh, and, to ensure this, they should be purchased direct from the smacks.
The best part of the pier, as a rule, is either at the end facing Ramsgate, or else facing Walmer, about half-way along the stage; this, of course, depending on the direction of the tide at the time.
Although the cod-fishing from Deal Pier is very good up to the middle of November and often later, yet towards the end of the year the best catches are invariably from boats, the fish generally retiring into deeper water before they disappear altogether.
Deal Pier has some big scores in anglers' diaries; I was never very lucky there myself, but have seen some very fine fish landed, and have read of many more. In Fishing for January, 1889, there is mention of a single rod taking 100lb of fish, including a 16lb pollack. In 1884, a cod weighing 14lb was taken on a hand-line, and in 1885 Mr. Sachs' rod accounted for one weighing 11lb. This gentleman also mentions a lady having taken three lobsters (one of 3lb), and an angler catching a 3lb plaice. So much for Deal Pier.
There is also some fishing to be had from boats. I recollect the position of a swim that in August, 1887, yielded a good many pout and flat fish. Unfortunately, though, I omitted to put the marks down in my diary - a piece of carelessness of which I am thoroughly ashamed. An idea of its approximate position, however, can be formed by a glance at Fig. 63. The boat's head was kept due east from the pier-head till about half as far out again as the length of the pier, and then turned straight for Ramsgate. The swim was about 200 yards from the pier-head. Boats also take parties out to the Goodwin Sands in smooth weather (charge 10s), where large numbers of pouting, as well as skate and other flat fish, are taken with lug and mussel. A favourite spot is Trinity Bay, where there is, at high water, nearly 60ft of water.
At the back of the Goodwins is some very deep water, much frequented by French trawlers, which often knock up against our Ramsgate boats. In fact, Deal affords every kind of fishing.
I have omitted to mention spinning from the pier for pollack with the piece of parchment (Fig. 48), as well as throw-out lines from shore, which is, I am told, not so good as formerly. Marsh is a good boatman.
"The Badminton Library: Modern Sea Fishing" (1895) John Bickerdyke at pages 52 to 54, 386 & 403
Round the British and Irish Coasts
Deal is the happy hunting ground of the London sea fisher. I have counted eighteen of them, all fishing with rods from the steamboat stage at the end of the pier. The fishing from the pier in summer would be doubtless better if there were not so many steamers touching at the landing-stage. The fishing in the right season is distinctly good, more particularly for whiting; but the best sport is usually obtained during spring tides, and when the water is neither too thick from gales, nor too clear from absence of storms. A south-westerly gale, while it does not much affect the Deal coast, stirs up the Goodwin Sands and thickens the water to such an extent that fishing becomes almost impossible.
A few pollack are caught from the pier in July, sometimes later; but the best of the fishing from that point of vantage is certainly in October and the early part of November. Herrings come to the place in great numbers in early autumn; they are followed by the sprats, and they in their turn are pursued by the cod, which devour them. Later on, when the cold weather begins, the fish seek deeper water. While whiting fishing from boats in the Downs, it is customary to lay out a drift trot for cod or codling. A feature of the pier fishing is a sort of bait depôt, at which one can buy lugworms, herrings, sprats, &c. The best bait to use from the pier for pollack are large ragworms. Codling, flat fish, and whiting prefer lugs, whiting also not being averse to pieces of herring. In addition to the codling and whiting, there are flat fish, conger, and whiting pout, and I have more than once heard of good-sized lobsters being caught on rod and line from the pier. But I must temper the charming picture with just a sprinkling of cold water: there are many blank days both from the pier and boats at Deal, but they should be few indeed if the angler chooses his time well and places himself in the hands of an experienced professional fisherman. During the autumn and winter there is no difficulty in finding the fishing grounds, for there are usually a score or more of boats to be seen out.
The tide runs very strongly in the Downs, and off Deal the sea takes the form of a huge eddy. The tide flows northward towards Ramsgate, and ebbs southward towards Dover. When running fiercely, it is next to impossible to keep a lead on the bottom, and the tide has the peculiarity of continuing to flow towards Ramsgate for about three and a half hours after high water. During the period of spring tides fishing usually begins about ten or eleven o'clock, and if the tide is then running strongly, the first anchorage will be about a quarter of a mile from the shore. As the tide eases, the boat will be shifted further out, and the fishing can be continued until about four o'clock. Four or five hours is about the longest period for fishing during spring tides. If you ask a local man when he fishes he will tell you that he does so on "the ease of the flood and the draw of the ebb". When the ebb draws too strongly men up anchor, make sail, and head for the beach. When the water is clear, the best fishing is at night. From the pier there is fishing all day during neap tides, but for not more than six hours at a stretch during spring tides, unless a very heavy lead is used. The autumn and winter tariff at the Deal hotels is very moderate. For a sailing-boat and man a fair charge is about 6s a tide, or 8s a day.
Cod, Haddocks, Whiting, Bream etc
The largest whiting I have ever taken were from those same sea lochs, but it has been in the Downs between Deal and the Goodwins that I have found them most plentiful. There a hundred or more in the course of a few hours is no uncommon catch.
The TOPE (Galeus vulgaris), another shark, variously known as white-hound, penny-dog, and blue hornless dog fish, is a very similar creature. In an old book, the "History of Harwich," by Dale, this fish is termed the Sweet William. Pennant imagines the name was conferred upon it ironically, its flesh being offensive and smelling rankly; but once, when fishing off Deal, the man with us described a spineless dogfish which I had just caught as a "Sweet William", and said it was very good eating. Possibly it was one of these topes I did not take much notice of the fish at the time. In appearance it resembled a small blue dogfish, but was without that sharp spine which inflicts such dangerous wounds. We caught some of the spined dogfish, also some nurse-dogs, as they are termed locally. These also are eaten at Deal, but the spined fish are considered worthless.
The South Eastern Gazette, Tuesday 13 September 1898 at page 6
Local Government Board Inquiry
A Local Government Board inquiry into the proposal of the Corporation of Deal to borrow £3,000 for the purpose of laying down groynes from Sandown Castle to the coastguard station with the object of protecting the Sandown seawall was held at the Town Hall on Wednesday by Mr. C. E . Meade King, the Inspector appointed by the Local Government Board. The Town Clerk (Mr. A. C. Brown) explained that the work was rendered imperative by the continual encroachment of the sea at that part of the town. There being no opposition the inquiry was over in a very short time.
"Sea Fish" (1898) Frederick George Aflalo at pages 5, 18, 139, 182, 183, 195, 196, 215 & 216
… at Deal, it is usual to try the sprat bait for cod when the water is clear, the lugworm when it is thick. The distinction is merely that between those baits that are found by sight and those others that are traced by scent.
Natural History Notes on the Chief Sea-Fish and Baits
… the cod is for the most part a fish of deep water, though a number approach the coasts in winter, and are then angled for, especially at Deal. This fish is found more particularly, though not exclusively, in cold seas, and has the family beard, the young, or "codlings", being spotted. It is caught on our shores weighing 50lbs; but the amateur will not in all probability meet with any of more than half that weight. Though found indifferently on the sand or among the rocks, the edge of a reef is found to be the best ground for inshore cod.
Cod … This large and important fish is caught from Deal pier between October and Christmas, when, unless the water is too thick, anglers are to be seen almost any fine day either at the end or half way along, their rods projecting from the upper deck. The favourite tackle is the paternoster, some local fishermen being in favour of a light lead only, which drags on the sand. I believe this is a method much used by Mr. Sachs, the veteran of Deal pier. Lug-worm or mussel are always good baits, but sprat or fresh herring will answer as well, indeed few fish are more catholic in their tastes. Cod show but little fight. There is a stately assertion of strength in any fish over 5lbs, but after this first move, the cod soon turns up the game, coming to the gaff like a lost anchor. Codling and silver whiting are also caught on the same tackle and baits and at the same season, but the hooks may be a size smaller.
The cod, caught in some numbers on Deal and other piers, does not come in shore until the fall of the year … and the third week in October right on the end of the year will be found the best time. There is not much to be said in the way of special instructions for this cod-fishing, for, truth to tell, it is all a matter of the fish passing your boat; and I have more than once seen a new recruit catch the finest cod of the week on his first outing, scarcely knowing what bait was on his hook. This does not, however, detract much from the undoubted enjoyment of a day off Deal on a fine crisp November morning, when fish of twelve or fifteen pounds are taking the sprat or lugworm freely.
The smaller cod, or codlings, are caught inshore throughout the year, especially in May and June, and one of the best spots for them that I can call to mind is, or was, the parti-coloured buoy outside Ramsgate harbour.
Pouting-fishing is at once the most and least difficult of all inshore sport. The capture of small pouting, creatures going six or eight to the pound, and gorging without demur baits the size of their own head, is child's play, and needs no discrimination in the matter of tackle and baits, and very little skill in hooking the fish. When, however, the fish run about three quarters of a pound, a fair proportion indeed topping the pound - such as one may fall in with any fine September day in the Downs - it is no longer a case of All Fools' Day, but the prizes fall to the best tackle and the most skilful fisher.
There is the modest pursuit of small whiting in a few feet of water … and there is the heavier, more enjoyable work out in the offing, where the water is over 100 feet deep, the leads a couple of pounds in weight, the tide running like a mill-race while the fish, averaging a couple of pounds or more, come up two at a time. That is fishing indeed, and is to be enjoyed throughout July and August on the south-west coast, or somewhat later in the year, say October, further up the Channel, off Deal and Ramsgate … Lugworm, sprat, herring or mussel, these are the baits commonly used on the Kentish coast, and I have had extraordinary luck with squid, only it is not always to be had in the autumn, when one gets the whiting-fishing so near shore.
Deal With its autumn cod and whiting, this place has, particularly since the arrival of the B.S.A.S. on the scene, achieved considerable notoriety among London, and even provincial, sea-anglers.
Though knowing it well, I have preferred to get these notes from one who visits the place regularly, and Mr. G. Read Clarke, of the B.S.A.S., has kindly come to the rescue. Besides the cod and whiting-fishing aforementioned, there is, he says, an earlier season (roughly May to September) for pollack and ground-fish.
There is fishing, of a sort, from the pier throughout the season, and in the autumn some really good cod and whiting are taken here. For boat-fishing, the grounds are many, particularly in the form of wrecks, terribly common on this coast, and small patches of rock. Thus, there is a wreck off Walmer Castle, to find which it is necessary to get the flag-staff alongside the Walmer lifeboat house in line with the land side of the steeple on the house, and the windmill just clear of the Walmer Castle woods. Another wreck off Sandown Castle, an excellent pout-ground, is found by getting the land end of the pier-pavilion in line with the edge of Deal Castle and the first chimney (counting from the centre to the Margate side) of the coastguard-station on the flag-staff in front of the station.
The grounds for flat-fish are not so many, but up to about a couple of years ago very large plaice were caught on a mussel-bank which had formed in line with the pier, some two hundred yards from the shore. There swooped down, however, a couple of Folkestone trawlers, who not only caught all the fish, but also destroyed the bank. Consolation was, however, derived from the knowledge that the raid cost them their nets! Another bank is now forming on the south side of the pier, from which, in the course of a season or two, good sport should be obtained. The baits for Deal fishing are lugworm, sprat, herring and mackerel; and pollack are also taken on the pier on ragworm, which has to be got from Dover. The fishermen charge about 6s per day for their services, and know all the best grounds. It is noticeable at Deal, more perhaps than elsewhere, that the rod has all but superseded the hand-line in sea fishing.
Daily Express, Monday 6th August 1900
Round the Coast
The Shores of Kent
By F. G. Aflalo
When the horses don straw hats and the judges doff their wigs, London is one of the finest cities in the world to get away from. So, just as July gives way to August, the shutters go up, burglary insurances are paid, and servants go on board wages. Their employers used either to go to the Continent, or to say they were going there.
Recent amenities, however, have made patriotism and the truth compatible, and they will this year admittedly repair, according to their tastes and means to the South Coast, to the north of Scotland, or to the west of England, leaving Ostend hotel-keepers to express a fine indifference to the sour grapes of their patronage.
I assume that some readers of the "Express" set store by knowing something of the bathing, boating, fishing, and excursions available at the chief centres of our six Channel counties, or, to be more precise, five counties and a "delectable" duchy, and it is my. ambition to draw on the memories of two yachting trips from Kent to Cornwall, many train journeys in the hinterland of the coast, and varying periods of residence at some of the chief resorts, for hints that may be useful these early August days.
These rambling notes are not addressed to the specialist. The cyclist has his road books, his ordnance maps and his "Danger" boards for his guidance. The yachting man has his charts, his suits of ducks, and his crew to do all the work, while he consumes tobacco in a deck chair. The golfer has likewise his chaste entrees of information as to the most sporting links, and the conditions of temporary membership of seaside clubs. The amateur sea-fisherman can likewise learn through the columns of the "Field" where he has a chance of ten-pound bass bass, twenty-pound pollack, or mackerel by the thousand.
Fresh air, bathing, fishing
And now of Kent. One goes to Kent in August for the bracing climate. It may be bracing. I have fished at Deal before daybreak Christmas week, and was braced almost into eternity. On the other hand, I have received letters from Margate in July, mournful recitals of overpowering sun and breezes that would not blow, and had them blown out of my hand by cool winds in South Devon.
As regards the bathing in Kent, it is, save at spring tides near Deal and the Forelands, quite safe; and the paddler finds the sands of the Margate neighbourhood most agreeable.
The August fishing is not first rate. Guide books say otherwise; but guide books are not as a rule compiled by sportsmen; and their writing is moreover on the principle that every place is best.
A good-sized bass might, or might not, reward a fortnight's close attention to a line baited with squid or herring, and flung out from Margate Jetty or Ramsgate Harbour, and the red buoy off the latter would probably give a mixed bag, sufficient to satisfy the untutored taste, of whiting and dabs to a paternoster baited with mussel or lugworm.
The wreck off Sandown Castle gives pout; Deal Pier offers small pollack; and larger fish of the same species may on good days be obtained at Dover, just opposite the shaft of the embryo Channel Tunnel. But Dover fishing is not what it was for the Government has "improved" the Admiralty Pier in every interest but the angler's; while the Promenade Pier, of which much was hoped a year or two ago, is so regularly denuded of its weed and mussels that the fish avoid it as De Wet avoids Roberts.
Taking these Kentish places collectively, the most convenient course in a limited space, there are two unfailing attractions for excursionists in Canterbury and the French coast. The glamour of the latter, waning on political grounds, is heightened by the prospect, never fulfilled, of being "conspué" back to your steamer.
Hints to cyclists
Canterbury Cathedral is served by a converging rabble of trains, coaches, and wagonettes, and is the shrine of a thousand bicyclists and half as many pedestrians every week. The walk between Deal and Canterbury - speaking from memory, I suppose it is rather more than a dozen miles - takes one along about the best scenery of the maritime part of Kent, vastly inferior to some of the inland districts, and nowhere rising above the level of what is vaguely termed "nice", that conveniently colourless adjective for mediocrity in music, girls, or landscape.
The cyclist will find the flattest roads, the parent or paddler the finest sands, at the Herne Bay end of Kent, both direct results of the outflow of the Thames. The least poor summer fishing may be looked for, on the other hand, between Ramsgate and Dover.
The scenery is nowhere much better than the fishing, for the fact is that, with the exception of a few isolated efforts as at Dover, the Needles, and Lulworth, our south coast scenery is a little painful until we get to West Devon.
It was my highest ambition, when planning these notes, to outline the special attraction of each place, but it is by no means as easy as it might appear to define characteristic attractions.
Some would, though scarcely in August, associate Whitstable with oysters, Margate and Ramsgate with minstrels and donkey rides, Deal with better vegetables than they get at home, and Dover with fortifications that flutter the dovecotes of Paris, with sea sick arrivals from the Continent, and with gentlemen in red coats who interfere with the safety of perambulators and their occupants. Dover is, in fact, at length realising the hopes of those who have for years advocated its claims as a summer resort. It has not Folkestone's Leas nor Margate's "life" but you can boat and bathe and catch a few fish, and play golf; and if it is a little hot in the town so snugly ensconced between the garrisoned heights, there is always a breeze up by the Castle or on the opposite cliff.
And, one way and another, it is lately noticeable that many folks who go there one August return the next.
Daily Express, Wednesday 7th November 1900
Immense numbers of silver whiting are now to be met with off Deal, and sea-anglers have made some exceptionally large baskets. Two rods upon one occasion accounted for 440 whiting, one rod and a hand-line took 380, and in two hours a couple of anglers caught 74. In one night it is estimated that over 1,000 whiting were caught from Deal Pier. One ½ lb. whiting secured from a boat between two and three miles out had eight partially-digested small fry in its inside, and when pulled in was found to have taken two pieces of sprat and to have been hooked twice.
Daily Express, Tuesday 16th August 1904
What to do at the Seaside
The Growth of South-Eastern Resorts
Places for Anglers
Deal is an excellent centre for deep-sea fishing. The British Sea Anglers' Society have an active branch here. Mr. E. Hanger is the local secretary. There is good bathing from the machines on the foreshore. Mixed bathing is not allowed, although at Kingsdown, a mile or so along the front, bathing en famille from tents takes place. Sea excursions are run daily to neighbouring coast towns, and across Channel once or twice a week in the season. Private apartments can be obtained for as little as 30s. a week.
"Sea Fishing for Amateurs: A Practical Book on Fishing from Shore, Rocks, or Piers" (1904) Frank Hudson at page 80
Deal (Kent) - Fishing: Very good. Fish: Cod, codling, dab, horse mackerel, plaice, pollack, pout, whiting, etc. Best Months: July, October to January.
Daily Express, Monday 22nd October 1906
Triumphant Woman Angler
Miss Allison Wolff carried off all the honours at the two days' pier angling competition of the Deal and Walmer Angling Association which began on Saturday. She caught the largest cod, the heaviest flatfish and the largest pout. There were fifty competitors, seventeen of them being women. The fish were shy and the catches were very light. Miss Wolff's total catch for the two days weighed only 5 lbs. 11 ozs.
Daily Express, Thursday 1st August 1907
Sea Angling for the Holidays
Prospects of Sport for the Amateur Fisherman at Deal
Although the weather during last month has been anything but kind, and the sea has not yielded up its usual complement of finny prey, yet the prospects for August holidays, especially on the east coast, are better than they have been.
The steady increase in the popularity of sea angling has never been more marked than it is at present, and local preparations are going busily forward to deal with an anticipated "rush" of enthusiastic anglers - men and women, for the latter have taken roost kindly to the sport in towns where only a few years ago the average amateur fisherman was represented by a hopeful little boy and a piece of string.
Nowadays the sport of sea angling numbers its votaries by hundreds of thousands, and annually some hundred of thousands, and annually some hundred of tons of fish are taken out of the sea by rod anglers alone. Men and women not only go to the seaside to lounge on the front or parade the pier, but to fish, and thus get the full benefit of both the muscular exercise and the fine life-giving sea air.
Deal, being one of the first angling stations in England, naturally comes in for a large share of this attention.
Nor are visitors this August likely to be disappointed; for among the fish which may be taken are mackerel and there is no more delightful sport than mackerel spinning from a boat, bass (from the Kingsdown Rocks), cod (which are already "coming in", and afford one of the finest specimen fish caught on the coast), conger (out by the Bank Buoy), eels, dabs, flounders (towards Pegwell Bay), herrings, skate (10 to 16 pounders), whiting and whiting, cole or pout, generally in great numbers, with an occasional sole, a fine turbot, pollack, and plaice, to say nothing of crabs and lobsters, which, although they play havoc with one's bait, nevertheless afford compensations when caught.
Nor need the sport prove an expensive one. A half-guinea rod, a sea-winch, a hundred yards or so of good stout line, with a few odd leads from 4 ozs. to lO ozs., and, roughly, the equipment is complete.
Bait - lug worms, mackerel, herring, etc - costs but a few pence a day, and if one wishes to dispense with the expense of a boat, there is always the pier or some rock or groyne from which, at high tide, fishing can be successfully carried on.
Very good sport can invariably be had at Deal from the beach, either from near Sandown Castle or towards Walmer.
This year sea-fishing competitions will be well to the front, and the arrangements for the forthcoming festival indicate that the policy of "Forward", which has been the watchword of the Deal and Walmer Angling Association since its inception, has been well maintained. Of these the principal events take place in September, October, and November.
Good Summer Sport
Some surprise may be expressed that these festivals are not set earlier in the season, but the reason why they are held on this part of the coast somewhat later than those of many angling associations is that the finest cod, whiting, etc., are generally more abundant in October and November, though it is true much good sport may be had throughout the summer, especially among the mackerel, pollack, and flatfish.
Moreover, the fine seaworthy boats and the magnificent seamanship of the famous Deal and Walmer boatmen render the sea angler less dependent on the weather than at other resorts, and act as a continual guarantee for both the safely and comfort of the deep-sea angler.
The splendid fish caught on these occasions (some of the cod taken last year scaled nearly 30 lbs.) prove not only the value of these fine fishing-grounds, but also the wisdom of the committee in fixing these competitions in conformity with the natural features of the sport. The great success which attended the ladies' angling competitions of last year has naturally resulted in a similar fixture being held this Season.
"Modern Sea Angling" (1921) Francis Dyke Holcombe at pages 171, 172, 208, 209, 231, 264 & 265
Fifteen or twenty years ago one of the most famous stations for the autumn cod fishing on the English coast, at any rate within easy reach of London, was Deal, but in more recent times there has been an appreciable falling off there. Various theories have been advanced to account for this, but although the deterioration in the fishing is incontestable, the cause cannot be stated with certainty. One drawback to the Deal fishing is that tides run strongly there, and another is that one has to go afloat from an open beach. The Deal boatmen are probably the finest men for that particular work in the world, but the writer confesses to a decided preference for going afloat from a harbour. It may be perhaps advancing years … but whatever the cause he has come to look upon the absence of a harbour as a very considerable drawback to any sea fishing station. It does not add to the enjoyment of a day's sea angling to start the day with an appreciable quantity of salt water down one's neck … while most sea anglers who know their Deal have more than once seen a galley punt on landing half filled with water before the luckless angler could manage to hop ashore - which is a distinctly uncomfortable way of finishing up the day afloat!
The writer does not know the record rod and line weight for the fish, but the largest whiting which he has actually seen landed by an angler weighed exactly 4lb and was taken at Deal about 18 years ago.
It is well known that as a rule whiting prefer a sandy to a rocky bottom, although they may sometimes be taken on fairly rough ground. They swim in great shoals, usually a foot or two off the bottom, and when the fish have been located and are to be on the feed the fun, such as it is, is usually of the "fast and furious" order, and they may be caught with the greatest ease two and three at a time. Takes of from five to twenty score of fish per boat are not uncommon, but the heaviest catch the writer has ever heard of was made at Deal on October 22, 1919, when two anglers between them landed the extraordinary number of forty five score of fish, the great bulk of which were whiting.
Some Other Fish
Some years ago (a turbot) of about 10lb or 12lb was caught by an angler … who was fishing in the B.S.A.S. Boat Competition at Deal.
The English and Welsh Coasts
Deal has been very closely associated with sea angling for at least a quarter of a century, or longer; and the autumn competitions of the British Sea Anglers' Society, which were commenced soon after the Society was founded, were held there regularly every year down to the outbreak of the war. The fishing is not now so good as it used to be twenty years ago, but the autumn fishing for whiting and cod was excellent; and at one time there were a good many pollack around or under Deal pier. One drawback to the boat fishing at Deal is that the tides run strongly there, and another is that one has to go afloat from an open beach; but there are good boats there in plenty, and the Deal boatmen have a deservedly great reputation for their capability, and some of them (latterly) for their charges! There are one or two old wrecks off Deal which often hold good conger, but not all the men know the marks of these; and in the summer there are generally a good many tope near the Goodwins, although tides run so strongly out there that comfortable rod fishing is out of the question except during slack water, so that the game is hardly worth the candle. Some very good bass have been taken pretty close to the beach at both Deal and Walmer, in some cases by anglers fishing from the shore.
Daily Express Friday, 23rd August 1929
Excitement was intense on Deal Pier yesterday during an angling competition for boys and girls.
Parents were present in force to watch the skill of their children.
Daily Express, Monday 2nd December 1935
"Modern Sea Fishing" (1937) Eric Cooper at page 198
The Cod, Whiting and Pouting
At one time Deal was a well-known place for winter cod, but to-day it is no better than any other town on the Kent coast and does not compete with places north of the Thames estuary.
"Sea Angling Modern Methods and Tackle" (1952) Alan Young at pages 163 & 164
Where and When to Fish
Deal and Walmer (Kent)
Bass: Soleskin lures, kipper, peeler crab. Bass are not numerous, but good fish are occasionally taken in the breakers, and from rocky ground three miles south of Deal. School bass are caught in the mouth of the River Stour, four miles north.
Black Bream: Black bream appeared in the waters off Deal in the summer months of 1950 and 1951, where they provided good sport for anglers using lugworm bait.
Cod and Codling: Winter, spring and autumn. Lugworm, sprat, peeler crab. Anywhere on rocky ground between Sandown Castle and Kingsdown.
Conger: June to September. Fresh brit and small herring, pouting etc. All inshore wrecks, which are numerous.
Dabs: September to February. Lugworm. Sandy ground to north of Deal from inshore to No 1 Buoy.
Dogfish: All the dogfish family are numerous, including the lesser spotted, the spurdog and the bull huss. The lesser spotted dogfish is caught off most marks, but the other two species remain in deep water between the Bank Buoy and the Goodwin Sands. Bait: lugworm or small fish.
Flounders: September to February. Lug and peeler crab. All inshore fishing marks.
Mullet: Grey mullet visit the mouth of the Stour, and red mullet are found by wrecks, but neither species is much fished for.
Plaice: June to September. Lugworm. Numerous in Sandwich Bay area. Not common off Deal.
Pollack: June to September. Feathered hook or baited spinner. One mark only, the wreck of the American transport James Harrod, ¼ mile off Deal Castle.
Pouting: All the year round. Almost any bait. Numerous everywhere from inshore to the Goodwin Sands.
Skates and Rays: May to September, though a few are caught in mild winters. Mackerel, herring, peeler crab and lugworm. Found on most marks to the north and east of Deal out to the Goodwin Sands. Not so numerous to the south.
Tope: April to September. Mackerel, whiting, dabs, pouting. Inside edge of Goodwin Sands. Occasionally inshore to the north and east of Deal.
Whiting: September to December, and in some years remaining until March. Lugworm. All marks, but northern ones usually better.
Note: The lugworms mentioned as bait are a species or variety found only in the vicinity of Deal. They are thicker and longer than the normal lugworm, and are known as Deal Yellowtails. (Deal and Walmer Angling Association).
"The Art of Sea Fishing" (1964) Laurie Robinson at page 116
Sea Angling Stations Around Britain
Deal: Good general fishing here all the year round, noted for the autumn and winter run of cod and codling.
"Tackle Sea Angling this Way" (1964) John Michaelson at pages 109 & 110
12. Where to Fish
On the south Kent coast Deal is an excellent centre for fishing from the shore, a great variety of fish from flounders to skate being taken from the pier and beach. Like all the south coast resorts, this offers tope fishing from boats, and many of these fighting fish are taken every year.
Many of the piers on the south coast provide good fishing for grey mullet when they are in which is likely to be between July and early October, but the shoals come and go without any strict time-table. Mullet fishing is a specialized art, but if you are visiting in this period it is worth packing your coarse-fishing rod and tackle in case you get a chance.
"Sea Angling" (1965) Derek Fletcher at pages 185 & 186
The stretch of the English Channel which borders Deal offers a large variety of fish, making an ideal spot for the keenest fisherman or the veriest amateur. Proof of this is the evidence that one lady angler caught 365lb of fish in one day.
The beach-angler can fish all the year round. During the winter months the locals fish to the north of Deal where there is an eight-mile stretch of sand . Dabs, flounders, whiting and skate are generally to be found. In spring to autumn the fishing is more central, on another five-mile stretch of shingle beach, with patches of rock . From here codling, dogfish, pouting, flatfish and a few bass are landed.
Boat-fishing, when conditions are favourable, can be followed in all months. Late spring brings in the skate in large numbers. Also the tope are on the move and these fighting fish can be caught into late summer. Very deep water is to be found within a quarter of a mile from the shore. During the tope season, which is mostly on the Goodwin Sands four miles from Deal, large bags of mixed fish can be caught by those who prefer general fishing to tope work. Mackerel can be had on feathered lures, also skate, dogfish, dabs, whiting and conger.
In summer months good sport is had with bream, pouting and flats quite near to the shore. Autumn brings in the codling and whiting shoals, skate, dogfish, herring and sprats. Conger enthusiasts will find plenty around the numerous wrecks that surround the area, but it is best to have the services of a local boatman. Boats, rowing or motor, can be hired.
 Pegwell Bay to Sandown Castle
 Sandown Castle, Deal, Walmer and Kingsdown
"Sea Angling" (1967) Alan Wrangles at pages 138 & 139
10 Sporting Opportunities Around the British Isles
From the east of Brighton the coastline assumes a completely different aspect. From the flat, sandy and shingly beaches of West Sussex the coastline changes to massive chalk cliffs and a rocky foreshore, which to those who know the marks means bass and conger. Eventually these cliffs give way to the flatter land of the Sussex/Kent border and the wide, open beaches of the Dungeness area. It is here that great catches of cod are made, also whiting, flounders, plaice and many other species can be taken. Being a very exposed stretch of coastline, strong winds can rapidly make conditions unfishable.
At Folkestone there is good shore and boat fishing. Those who seek their sport from the deeper marks should return with plaice, conger and, in due season, cod and codling.
At Dover, boat fishing with a good skipper can mean almost certain success, and most species are to be caught. This is an area which is greatly affected by enormously powerful tides which ebb and flow through the bottleneck between England and France. Most of the Harbour installations at Dover are available to the angler, but respect these privileges, and re-member the safety code which should be practised by all sea anglers.
At Deal there is plenty of sport to be had from the pier, and beach fishing at Ramsgate and Margate can result in good catches of bass, flounders, dabs and soles. The big attraction throughout this area is the exellence of the cod fishing during the colder months. From Dungeness right away around the North Foreland and northwards up the east coast, when con-ditions are right, enormous shoals of these fish give sport to the beach and the boat fisher throughout the winter.
"Pelham Manual for Sea Anglers" (1969) Derek Fletcher at pages 153 & 154
Your Guide to Where to Fish
Deal, Kent. Numerous specimen fish are landed here and it is regarded as one of the most productive parts of the south-east coast. The quarter-of-a-mile long pier which was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1957 is quite an amenity. Both medium and light tackle is used by pier anglers for the many summer species.
During winter, shore-based anglers prefer to cast from the beach to the north of Deal. Most 'bags' are usually codling, whiting, dabs and flounders. From April to autumn more anglers use the central shore of shingle and rock patches. Bass are taken, as well as pouting, codling, flounders, dabs and plaice. Bunched lugworm is a useful bait for most of the fish, and a long flowing trace which moves around in the surf is favoured. Herring or mackerel can sometimes produce favourable results.
Boat anglers are fortunate in having a long season which runs for about eight months of the year. In Spring numbers of skate start to move in and large 'bags' of thornbacks are made near the Goodwins, about four miles from Deal. They take various baits, often lugworm is very successful, fished straight down from an anchored boat using one-hook leger gear. Plenty of specimen tope from 30lb to 40lb are boated during the season. They start running in June and, according to the weather, remain until late summer. Large mackerel catches are made and other fish around the Goodwin Sands include conger, dogfish, dabs and whiting.
There are several other inshore boat marks where summer fishing provides sport with bream, pouting and flats. Large conger keep around the sunken wrecks of the area, but a local experienced boatman is necessary for the marks. Care is needed not to snag tackle.
"Modern Sea Angling" (1971) Alan Young at page 188
Where and When to Fish
All the usual Channel species of fish can be caught from boats and from the pier, which gives access to deep water. Angling is strongly encouraged here, and boatmen, tackle dealers, bait merchants, the Corporation itself and, perhaps even more important, the two angling clubs set out to help them.
"Sea Fishing in Kent" (1973) Hugh Stoker at pages 11 & 12
The following is a list of fish commonly caught on rod and line along the Kent coast, with details of the periods during which they are most likely to be encountered. It must be stressed, however, that these periods should only be regarded as a rough guide. Fish are influenced by water temperature, food supply, and various other factors, and their movements usually vary slightly from year to year.
Bass. Mid-spring to late autumn, but September and early October are often regarded as the best months for the large ones.
Black Bream. The period varies slightly from place to place, but bream can be expected over deep sea marks from about May to late July - the peak period for large specimens being late May and June. The fish arrive somewhat later inshore.
Cod. The bulk of these fish are caught in late autumn and winter, but in certain areas a few may be taken as early as September. Catches vary considerably from year to year.
Conger. May be taken all year round by deep sea boats, and also by inshore anglers in a mild winter. Normally, however, big conger are most likely to be caught inshore from late spring to late autumn.
Dogfish. The various species of dogfish may be taken all the year round, when food is available. Spur-dogfish are most likely to be encountered inshore during summer and winter, but may also come in after the winter sprat and whiting shoals.
Flatfish. The various species of flatfish can be expected during most of the year, when weather conditions are suitable. On the open coast, especially near estuaries, flounders are usually most plentiful in winter, when they are gradually working seaward to their spawning grounds. After spawning in late winter or early spring they remain out of condition for a month or two. Later on, during summer, autumn and early winter, flounders are plentiful in suitable tidal rivers.
Garfish. June to early September. These odd-looking beaked fish often arrive with the mackerel shoals.
Grey Mullet. June to late September, with August often a good month.
Mackerel. June to September, with July and August usually the best months.
Pollack. Not usually very large at inshore Kent marks, but some quite large ones are taken when fishing over deep sea wrecks. The best period is late spring to mid-autumn.
Pouting. All the year, but they tend to move out into deeper water during cold spells in winter.
Skate. May be encountered by deep sea boats throughout the year, but most common inshore from late spring to early winter. September and October are often very good for thornback ray.
Sting Ray. Usually come inshore during summer and early autumn, but they are rather localized.
Tope. Mainly taken by inshore boats during summer and autumn, but they may turn up almost anytime - even in mid-winter when they are hunting whiting shoals.
Whiting. Large silver whiting ("silvers") may be caught at suitable deep sea marks for much of the year, including the summer months, but anglers fishing from beach, pier or inshore boats are more likely to catch them in numbers during the autumn and winter."
"Sea Fishing in Kent" (1973) Hugh Stoker at pages 33 & 34
Deal and Walmer
High Water: -2 hours 32 minutes H.W. London Bridge. Rise: 17 feet at Springs; 14½ feet at Neaps. Tidal Streams: In the open sea off Deal the tides run hard at times, and for the most part follow the general north to south trend of the coast, although in places the streams are deflected by the Goodwin Sands, and may then follow more closely the deep-water channels between or around the sandbanks.
However, this trend cannot be relied upon around HW, because there are then certain areas where the tide sets strongly across the Goodwins, creating at the same time an upsurging mass of water which is liable to result in turbulent conditions.
The tidal streams are too complex to give full details here, but as a general guide it is worth noting that between the inner (W) side of the SW Goodwin Buoy and Trinity Bay the flood tide (direction NNE going) begins -2h local HW and attains a rate of 2½ knots at springs, and 1½ knots at neaps. The ebb (direction SSW going) begins +4h local HW and attains a rate of 2¼ knots at springs and 1¼ knots at neaps. Elsewhere in the vicinity of the Goodwins one is liable to encounter tides with a springs rate of 3½ knots or more. The slackest tides, on the other hand, are to be found in the bay formed by the coast between North Deal and Ramsgate.
Topography. Although there is no harbour at Deal, this small town has always been noted for its fishing and boating activities. For centuries the shingle foreshore between North Deal and Walmer has crunched beneath the keels of a great variety of beach craft, ranging from the fishing luggers, smuggling galleys and pilot cutters of earlier times to the modern motor boats engaged in the more mundane task of taking rod and line anglers out to Trinity Bay and the Goodwin Sands.
Facing east, Deal beach is pleasant and unpretentious, and the busy stream of cargo vessels and large passenger liners passing through the Downs only a mile or so offshore is a constant source of interest to visitors. Like the shipping, migratory fish passing between the North Sea and the English Channel also tend to come close inshore between the Goodwin Sands and the Deal coastline - a point worth noting by anglers.
Incidentally, the sea-bed off this very treacherous coast is littered with wrecks, and because of these obstructions no trawling is done in the area. This is yet another reason for the excellent local rod and line fishing.
2. Walmer Beach. Ground tackle cast out from this stretch of beach is likely to yield bass (not very numerous), pouting, dogfish, and whiting. This area also produces cod in winter, and catches are sometimes best after a gale. Leger tackle with a flowing trace is recommended, using baits suggested for pier fishing.
3. Sandhills. North of Deal the shoreline becomes progressively more sandy and gently shelving. There is useful shore-casting in this area between Sandown Castle and the 6th green of the adjacent golf course, particularly during the autumn. Catches include codling, whiting, dabs, sole, plaice, dogfish, pouting and occasional flounders in season. The sole are mostly taken after dark. Local yellowtail lugworm is a good bait here …
"Fisherman's Handbook" (1977) The Marshall Cavendish, Part 9 at pages 231 to 235
The Kent Coast
Map showing the sand banks and wrecks where fine cod and conger are fished
The Kent coast offers some of the finest sea angling in the British Isles. Many species are encountered with cod predominant, particularly during the autumn and winter. The great advantage of fishing this coastline is that excellent fishing can often be had only a mile or two beyond the embarkation point.
The North Sea, ebbing and flowing through the Straits of Dover, gives rather fierce tides, but the relatively shallow water compensates for this. Rarely is it over 14 fathoms deep, and is on average 7-10 fathoms. There is good fishing up the Thames as far as Gravesend and the Isle of Sheppey but this is estuary fishing. Open sea fishing begins at Whitstable.
Whitstable is reached directly from London via the M2 and A299. The sea around this town is shallow for the first five miles out, and on average less than three fathoms deep. Boat anglers can expect to find dabs, whiting and cod in winter, and flounders, eels and bass in summer. Shore anglers enjoy beachcasting for the same species from the gentle shelving beach east of the harbour.
Herne Bay lies 4 miles to the east of Whitstable still on the A299. Several available charter boats will take anglers to the famous Pansands for the excellent bass fishing in the summer, or to the broken ground off Reculver for winter cod fishing.The town was famous for its tope fishing before the war, but this species seems to have declined since then. The average depth here is about 3 fathoms until one reaches the shipping lanes nearly 7 miles out.
Most varieties of seafish are caught in the appropriate seasons with thornback ray and smooth-hounds especially prolific during the peeler crab season in April, May and June. For the shore angler, fishing from the Eastern Promenade can be very rewarding, particularly in the autumn and winter after dark. Unfortunately the ¾ mile long pier was closed as being unsafe in 1968.
The twin towers of the ruined church known as Reculver are 3 miles east of Herne Bay. The beach here shelves gently. and thornback and stingrays are caught during spring and summer and cod and whiting in autumn and winter. Shore angling is good for another 2 miles east of this landmark.
Several charter boats are on hire from the harbour at Margate. The water here is 5-6 fathoms deep and the bottom, except at Margate Sands, is of chalk and flints, unlike the sand and gravel bottom at Herne Bay. Excellent bass and thornback ray are caught during spring and summer. The North Foreland Lighthouse is south-east of Margate, and the Elbow Buoy is approximately three miles out at sea from this point. Here one can expect the finest cod fishing to be had in the British Isles.
Many dinghy anglers favour the Longnose Buoy which is nearer, being a mile offshore, and where similar catches can be made. During the summer, bass fishing is good off the inshore chalk ledges and artificial lures are very successful. In the town there is a stone jetty and promenades from which most varieties can be taken depending on the season.
Broadstairs, on the A225 about 4 miles south-east of Margate, has a harbour where boats can be chartered to fish the same area as the Margate boats. Shore angling is possible from the harbour arm and from the chalk ledges north and south of the town.
Ramsgate, south of Broadstairs, is on a direct route from London via the M2, A222 and A253. With its very large harbour and excellent boat facilities, it accommodates both individual and charter anglers. The boats fish as far as the Elbow Buoy, particularly in winter for the cod, at North Goodwins for thornback ray during the summer months, and at Quern Bank for the good bass fishing. Pegwell Bay, which is a shallow water mark, is good for flatfish and whiting. Shore angling takes place from the harbour arms and a large variety of fish are caught although the ground is rather snaggy from the western arm. Large shoals of mullet abound inside the harbour during the summer months and can be caught on freshwater tackle. Other shore stations include the Chines and Under-Cliffe.
Sand and shingle
Although Sandwich lies a mile inland from the coast there is a road through the sand dunes to the shore. The chalk of Ramsgate has now given way to sand and shingle and excellent sport can be had by the beach angler from this point. Big catches of cod are made during the autumn and winter, and mainly flatfish, including soles, through the summer.
South of Ramsgate, and accessible via the M2, the A257 and the A258, Deal is the Mecca of sea angling. Large numbers of charter boats are launched from the steeply-shelving shingle beaches and just about every species of seafish has been caught at some time in these waters. A number of wrecks, particularly on the Goodwin Sands, provide good conger fishing, and in the summer tope and thornback are still caught in fair numbers over the sands. There is often good plaice fishing north of the town and south of Kingsdown, but the town's reputation is primarily for winter cod and whiting. Angling is allowed throughout the year from the modern pier and also night fishing at weekends.
Known as the gateway to England, Dover boasts a magnificent harbour with several angling charter boats. This is the narrowest part of the English Channel and the tides are therefore the strongest, but on neap tides the fishing is good, particularly for conger, cod and pollack found among the many wrecks. The water here is deeper than the rest of the
Kent Coast and the bottom is very hard chalk with fissures. Varne Bank, lying nearly half-way across the Channel, can provide good cod fishing throughout the summer with brill and turbot often a bonus. For the shore angler, the large harbour gives plenty of opportunity, although the eastern arm was closed to anglers many years ago. The Southern Breakwater is only accessible by boat, but a ferry service will take anglers for a nominal charge. Admiralty Pier is free fishing and anglers will often be shoulder to shoulder feathering for the vast shoals of mackerel found here during the summer.
Folkestone Harbour, approximately 5 miles west of Dover, has charter boats which fish Varne Bank in summer and supply good inshore fishing in winter. Several of the inshore marks have 14 fathoms of water, and the sea bed is very rocky particularly off the Warren. Conger to 30 lb are not uncommon near the British Rail Harbour Arm where anglers may fish for a small charge. West of Folkestone, the first mile of shingle beach runs off to snaggy ground, and further westward gives way to sand. This beach extends for 4½ miles, and the road at the top known as Princes Parade enables one virtually to fish from the car. Many species are caught here including bass, conger, plaice, cod and whiting. West of Hythe are the Military Ranges, where fishing is prohibited except on special occasions.
Dungeness is reached via the A259 to New Romney, then the B2071 out to the point. From Hythe to Dungeness the tide goes out so far that very little beachfishing is possible, but at Dungeness itself the steep shelving beach of shingle and the deep water make it ideal for the beach angler. Many years ago Leslie Moncrieff made this station famous for its cod fishing during the winter months. With the right conditions, anglers catch more cod than they can carry, and many of them are over 20 lb. In summer Dungeness and Dengemarsh provide excellent sole fishing and quite often large shoals of mackerel come right to the water's edge. Nearly all species of seafish are contacted; at one time there was even a small thresher shark caught from the beach here.
"Sea Angling Around Britain" (1977) Trevor Housby at page 11
I always think of Ramsgate as the start of the Channel cod grounds. I can remember many trips down from London in bitterly cold winter weather when boat marks situated only a few hundred yards offshore have produced a seemingly endless stream of cod and codling. Ramsgate cod never grow to a vast size but what they lose in quality they certainly make up for in quantity. Lugworm always seem the best bait in this area and a bunch of big black lugworm fished on leger or paternoster usually produced a flurry of good bites, seconds after getting down to fish level. On days when bad weather made boat fishing impossible, I used to fish from the shore at Pegwell Bay, again often with good results. Ramsgate, like Margate, is basically a holiday resort, which means that during the summer months the beaches are jam-packed with swimmers and sun-worshippers. Under conditions like this, fishing is out of the question but at night or during the winter months Pegwell Bay, the Western Undercliffe, or the Marina Slopes can fish well. The East and West Piers are worth fishing, the West Pier in particular fishes well after dark for fair-sized conger eels. Deal has steep-to beaches and is very much fished by the professional boatman, and is not therefore very suitable for the angler wishing to launch himself.
"The Sea Angler's Guide to Britain and Ireland" (1982) John Darling at pages 12 & 13
There are some dramatic changes in the shore line as one works south along this section of the Kent coast. The rocky ground north of Ramsgate contrasts sharply with the shallow sands at Pegwell Bay. The water deepens slightly south of the Stour estuary, round the broad sandy sweep of Sandwich Bay, a place many anglers visit if sou'westerlies at Dungeness make fishing impossible. Around Deal, the beaches are steeper still, of shingle, mixed rock and sand below the water line, which in turn becomes very reefy if the South Foreland area. This continues round to Folkestone, becoming sandier at Hythe, and more shallow again at Dymchurch before the dramatic depths and tides at Dungeness Point. The water is deep along Denge Marsh but is shallower again at Camber and towards Rye Harbour.
The main fish species caught from the shore are cod, flounders, dabs, pouting and whiting in winter; bass, conger eels, small tope, mackerel, scad, garfish, small pouting and whiting, plaice, sole, some cod and some dogfish in summer. Many of the locals fish for sole and bass in summer, big dabs and large cod in winter.
Mullet are common in the harbours at Ramsgate, Dover, Folkestone and Rye and in the Stour and Rother estuaries. These are mainly thick-lipped, but thin-lipped mullet are found in the Rother and a few golden grey mullet are taken from the beaches.
Boats from Ramsgate, Deal, Walmer, Folkestone, Dungeness and Rye Harbour all provide good fishing in winter for big cod until late December when huge sprat shoals move in and blot out everything but small bottom feeders. Offshore grounds provide good tope, spur dogfish, flatfish, some rays and black bream and smaller species in summer. The wreck fishing can be very good for medium pollack and ling and for good cod in summer. The Straights of Dover have several large sandbanks like the Varne, which also provide good cod and infrequent turbot fishing in summer.
Slipways are available for those with boats on trailers at Broadstairs (4 hours before and after high water); Ramsgate harbour (not at dead low water); Deal Rowing Club; Dover (all states of the tide); Folkestone (all times); Sandgate, behind the rowing club; Princess Parade, Hythe, and at Rye Harbour (not at dead low water).
The tides, especially to the north of Dover, run hard and in a confusing pattern. The visitor is advised to obtain expert advice for setting out. High tide times are 2½ (Deal) and 2¾ (Dover) hours before London Bridge. Tidal Streams are very complex.
There are thriving sea angling clubs at: Dover SAA, 14 Priory Road, Dover (Tel. 01304 204772); Deal AC at 13 The Marina, Deal; Deal and Walmer AA at South Toll House, Deal Pier.
A Plenty of blow-lugworm at Pegwell Bay. Dig it by trenching, but moat diggings to keep out surface water. Keep an eye open for hovercraft. Lots of good black lugworms which should be dug individually with a proper lugworm spade. Dymchurch and Dungeness, Galloways and Rye.
B Plenty of peeler crabs among the rocks in spring and autumn, also piddocks and rock worms here.
C Small harbour ragworm from the Stour and Rother estuaries.
D Storms often wash in large numbers of razorfish etc at Hythe and Dungeness.
4 Sandown Castle
Good low-water area, especially in winter and after a summer blow for bass. Local yellow-tail lugworm, a variety of black lugworm, produces the most fish, though crab scores for spring cod and summer bass.
A very long pier, ideal for angling, that produces plenty of fish when conditions are right. Mullet, bass, conger eels and cod are the most talked-about species there. Some nasty snags to either side among the rocks, so obtain advice first. Night fishing is restricted. The beaches to either side of the pier are quite steep, shingle going on to rocky ground with a few sand patches. The Deal charter fleet - some 50 boats to around 27ft - is kept to the south of the pier and launched straight off the shingle. There are several good tackle shops, one such, from which boats can be chartered, is Channel Angling, Deal Pier, Beach Street, Deal (Tel: 03045 3104).
Species as for Deal. Plenty of car parking - and a pub - within a short walk of the beach. Deepish water close in produces the best results after dark. For charter boat bookings, bait and information contact The Downs Tackle Centre, 29 The Strand, Walmer (Tel: 03045 2811).
"The Penguin Guide to Sea Fishing in Britain and Ireland for Shore and Boat Anglers" (1983) at pages 29 & 30
Four: The South Coast and the Isle of Wight
Ramsgate to Lyme Regis
It is difficult to generalize about the Channel in fishing terms, save to say that it is blessed by lying between the North Sea, noted mainly for its splendid winter cod fishing, and the warmer waters of the Western Approaches, where, besides ling, bass, pollack, coalfish and conger, there are numbers of the larger sharks and, from time to time, stray exotics like the sunfish. A mixture of North Sea and South-West species spreads throughout the Channel, but there is a marked influx of winter cod towards the eastern end, off Kent and Sussex, from October onwards. If the Channel has any one speciality, it is the shoals of bream which move to offshore stations during summer. What they lack in size, black and red bream make up for in spirit, quantity and edibility, and their arrival is eagerly awaited.
The coast, with its famous resort beaches, is broken by numerous ports and harbours, and a huge choice of boat fishing exists. For the beach fisherman, night fishing, rock fishing and the remoter beaches give refuge from summer holiday crowds, as do the harbours and breakwaters. Tackle shops are numerous, and most supply bait in some form.
Inshore trawling has made inroads into Channel fish stocks in recent years, with bass particularly suffering, but in general fishing is very rewarding.
Fishing methods vary according to the location: harbours and jetties lend themselves to paternoster ledgering and float fishing, while spinning can be rewarding in both locations and from beaches and rocks. When mackerel shoals are close in, a trace of feathers thrown well out and drawn swiftly back near to the surface can sometimes give dozens of fish in minutes. On the gentler beaches long casting gives the best results, but there are good steep shores, like the immensely long Chesil Beach, where deep water lies close in. On most beaches, night fishing on a high tide is usually best. A range of baits is useful, lugworm and ragworm being the universal first choice, followed by fish strip, squid strip, peeler crabs and shellfish. Most of these baits are available at coastal tackle shops, with some worm grounds for digging your own (although this resource is diminishing as some grounds become worked out by professional and amateur diggers). The fish-monger is a useful back-up but catching mackerel for a boat trip is usually no hardship.
Similar summer fishing to Ramsgate, with excellent winter cod fishing with fish to 20 lb. Good spots are the pier area of the beach, Sandwich Bay and Walmer, just to the south. Bass and flatfish will often stay into winter. Best baits are cod and squid, with sprats a favourite for whiting. Boats, tackle and bait available locally.
"Sea Angling: Kent to Cornwall" (1990) Mel Russ & Alan Yates at pages 22 & 23
Deal is always wet and windy; perhaps that's why it's such a good place for shore fishing. I live there and conditions are always ideal; overcast, pea soup sea and a stiff breeze. Its situation on the corner of Kent must be to blame for its weather and, unlike many of the other Kent towns, Deal lacks sheltering hills. It's bleak in winter with its steep shelving beaches offering little protection for the angler - even the wooden groynes are few and far between. But what it lacks in comfort it makes up for in cod and codling.
The complete length of the shore between Sandown and Walmer, to the west, offers cod, especially in darkness over a peak ebb tide. Top bait is peeler crab, which has a certain magic compared to other baits in the region. It is so good that I will not fish Deal without it. Frozen peeler is as good as fresh in winter. Deal has its popular fishing marks, although they tend to be close to car parks or landmarks, and indeed the beach is excellent anywhere.
My favourite mark is at Boundary Road, at the Walmer end of the seafront, near Kingsdown. Other marks include Sandown Castle, Walmer Castle and the Kingsdown Butts.
"Sea Angling: Kent to Cornwall" (1990) Mel Russ & Alan Yates at pages 34 & 35
Kent Alan Yates
Boat angling guide to the Kent coast
Deal, with nearby Walmer, are both home to a large charter fleet of craft launched from the beach. Positioned in the lee of the prevailing south-westerly winds, boats in the area are very seldom prevented from going to sea, although beach launching can be difficult in a strong south-westerly swell. Excellent fishing is enjoyed during the winter, especially with cod. Marks are within two miles of the shore, whilst during the summer months the Goodwin Sands are easily reached. Fish the Goodwins during an ebb tide run-off with a flowing trace and hook baited with fish to attract tope, thornback, dogfish and bass. Winter cod respond best to yellowtail lugworm and large squid baits, also fished on a flowing trace.
To the west of Deal, marks off Kingsdown and Fan Bay, near Dover, are known for their good cod and plaice fishing within one mile of the shore. There are a considerable number of wrecks within easy reach of the Deal and Walmer boats, and hauls consist of cod, conger and pollack with feathers, pirks and artificial eels all scoring well, especially for the cod. Dinghy anglers should head for the Kingsdown SAC, where there's excellent launching facilities close to the Zetland Arms at Kingsdown. Inshore dinghy fishing under the White Cliffs of Dover is excellent for cod in winter and bass and plaice in summer.
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