Kent Coast Sea Fishing Compendium
Dungeness, Denge Marsh,
Galloways & Jury's Gap
BBC Coastal Forecast (North Foreland to Beachy Head)
Local Bait & Tackle Suppliers
Fresh lugworm, ragworm and the usual selection of frozen baits can be obtained from the following local bait & tackle suppliers:
Seagull Fishing Tackle
4 The Parade
Kent TN28 8NP
Monday 9am to 5pm Tuesday 9am to 5pm Wednesday 9am to 5pm Thursday 9am to 5pm Friday 9am to 5pm Saturday 9am to 5pm Sunday 9am to 5pm
Kent TN29 9NJ
01797 333012 & 320789
Monday 9am to 5pm Tuesday 9am to 5pm Wednesday 9am to 5pm Thursday 9am to 5pm Friday 9am to 5pm Saturday 9am to 5pm Sunday 9am to 5pm
The Point Tackle Shop
Kent TN29 9ND
Monday 8am to 8pm Tuesday 8am to 8pm Wednesday 8am to 8pm Thursday 8am to 8pm Friday 8am to 8pm Saturday 8am to 8pm Sunday 8am to 8pm
Generally speaking, bass are caught in the summer and autumn. There are also pouting, mackerel, scad, eels, dogfish and soles in summer. From October onwards the whiting, pouting, dabs, dogfish and flounders arrive in bigger numbers. There is always a chance of cod because the mark is close to deep water.
Favourite baits include frozen blacks, peeler crab and ragworm, with a whole squid (or livebait) for big bass or cod. Tip off worm baits with fish or squid to catch dabs and whiting. Prawns can be deadly after a gale.
The top terminal rig is a three-hook, clipped-down paternoster with size 1 Aberdeen hooks, although a Pennell rig is best for codling. Try a live bait rig after dark.
The following popular shore fishing marks in, on and either side of Dungeness beach, are listed in order from west to east and then north up towards St Mary's Bay:
- Jury's Gap: a large, south-west facing storm beach located on Lydd Road at the western edge of Lydd Ranges (50.92761, 0.83090) with wide sands at low water, best fished at high water. When the surf's up fish for bass and on calm summer evenings spin for mackerel or bottom fish for flatties. The Lydd Ranges are part of the Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay Site of Special Scientific Interest - so no bait digging in intertidal areas save where "a consent, licence or permission" for such "Operation 18" activity has been given by English Nature or other competent authority (see "Operations requiring English Nature's consent").
- Galloways: another south-west facing storm beach that uncovers on spring tides. This beach is "codtastic" in the winter on flooding spring tides and, in the summer, mackerel, bass and sole on late summer evenings. However, the mark is located on the foreshore adjoining Lydd Ranges south of Lydd. Because Lydd Ranges are used by the MOD for live firing with a "Danger Area" extending out to sea, you should not approach the foreshore from Jury's Gap Lookout in the west (past Galloways Lookout) to Denge Marsh Lookout in the east when the red flags are flown (or red lights are shown) as access is prohibited along the foreshore and Galloways Road during these times. Firing occurs about 300 days a year including weekends and some public holidays. Normal firing times are from 08:30 to 16:30 hours during the day, and up to 23:00 hours at night. Firing times are available from the tackle shop or Lydd Range Control (01303 225518, 225519 and, out of hours, 225467). Alternatively, click here to view current firing times for Lydd Ranges. When there is no live firing access by the public is possible along a permissive path that runs along the coast. During "firing times" when the red flags are hoisted (between 08:00 and 16:30) fishing is only permitted to the left of Denge Marsh i.e. from the car park back towards the power station. If you fish to the right of the car park you will be moved by the MOD.
- Denge Marsh: a steep, wide shingle beach falling to a flat sand bed (very shallow at low tide) approached via a very rough road with convenient parking at the shore. Famous for good size flatties - particularly sole - and a winter mark for whiting and codling with summer fishing the same as Galloways (mackerel and bass). Productive for sole between July and September although pin whiting can be a nuisance. It's best to fish late into the night and near dawn with lugworms. Hot spots are at the end of Dengemarsh Road (50.913104, 0.936178) and towards the Diamond.
- The Diamond: named after a diamond-shaped day mark erected on the beach 200 yards east of the end of the Dengemarsh Road (to the west of the power station), the mark has deeper water than Denge Marsh but is similar in nature. Be very careful of the high shingle bank on big tides. Arguably the best sole mark on the south-east coast.
- Dungeness Beach: a peerless deep-water mark from which all local species are caught and at its best in a south-westerly blow with a good surf running.
- The Outfall: another popular deep-water mark is the power station cooling water outfall, locally known as the "Boils", (50.909847, 0.959831) where approximately 22 million gallons of cooling water are extracted and returned to the sea each hour after being heated 12° Celsius (22°F), disturbing the sea bed and releasing food and small dead fish (over 30 mm long) from the filter screens which attract the white bait (young sprats typically between 25 and 50 mm long) and bigger fish feeding on them. 119 species of fish are killed during cooling water extraction and occasional massive captures of sprat result in complete blockage of the filter screens and station closure .
 Editor's note: The estimated annual total number of fish over 3 cm long killed on the filter screens at Dungeness A and B power stations is, respectively, 7.4 x 10⁵ (740,000) and 1.1 x 10⁶ (1.1 million). The estimated annual total number of fish eggs passing via the condenser circuits (A and B respectively) is >3.5 x 10⁸ (350 million) and >5.6 x 10⁸ (560 million). The estimated annual total number of young fish (under 3 cm long) passing via the condenser circuits (A and B respectively) is >4.3 x 10⁸ (430 million) and >7 x 10⁸ (700 million): see "Are coastal power stations affecting Northern European inshore fish populations?".
 Editor's note: Dungeness B, Kent's last nuclear power station, has closed early after issues with corroded boiler pipelines were discovered inside the reactors that could not be replaced. Dungeness B shut for repairs in 2018 but had been forecast to begin producing electricity again in August. Owners EDF said defuelling would begin immediately and last several years.
- The Walkway: a wooden walkway (from 50.913424, 0.974267 to 50.912100, 0.975654) south of the (new) lighthouse gives easy access across the shingle beach which drops away steeply so that casts soon find deep water and a variety of fish.
- Dungeness Point: the beach at the Point is east-facing, steep and quickly drops away into deep water with fast-running tides. The tide at the Point is stronger than at the Outfall but a standard 6oz breakout lead should hold the bottom. The end of this promontory used to be the cod hotspot because as the tide swept around the "Point" it created a strong tidal eddy nicknamed the "Dustbin" which accumulated here large quantities of sea-bed creatures and other forms of fish food. Over the past forty or so years this feature has disappeared, which disappearance is attributed to (a) the changing shape of the beach over the years and (b) the shingle defences for the power station. The Dustbin fished best during the flood tide, which runs at its strongest from about -1 hour to +2 hours local H.W. The tide runs towards the east at high water and west during the ebb. During the ebb the current is usually too strong to fish here, and it is best to move further west along the beach. The eddying effect is not so pronounced during the ebb, although it does occur to some extent on the opposite (west) side of the promontory. The ebb is strongest from about -2 hours to +2 hours local L.W. Line up the two lighthouses to fish the hotspot (at 50.9134, 0.9801), but be warned, so many anglers have done the same thing over recent years that the bottom is a nightmare maze of tackle-snagging lost end gear. The Point can provide shelter from the onslaught of strong south-westerlies. Access to the Point is via a concrete road accessible to cars at weekends. Vehicular access can be gained by joining Dungeness Sea Anglers Club.
- Back-of-the-Boats: easier to fish in a south-westerly blow on a rising spring tide but don't get in the way of the working boats. Take the turning at 50.918618, 0.97680 on the Dungeness Road bearing right after 100 yards at 50.918164, 0.97804. Follow the road for 400 yards and park at 50.919861, 0.98088.
- The Pilot: opposite the Pilot Inn, at the corner of Battery Road and Coast Drive (50.92909, 0.97391), Dungeness, Kent TN29 9NJ (01797 320314). A summer surf-bass mark, fishable over high water.
- Taylor Road: similar to the Pilot - fish for bass on a rising tide over high water. Convenient parking at 50.94867, 0.96658.
- Littlestone Wall: another high water mark but with the advantage of convenient parking close to the fishing. All local species can be caught here in their season with eels to be caught in the summer after dark. Beware of the groynes.
- Pirate Springs: similar to Littlestone Wall but further north towards St Mary's Bay (51.0051, 0.9746). Like Littlestone Wall it fishes much better after dark but beware of the groynes.
"Sea Fishing" (1911) Charles Owen Minchin at pages 130, 223 & 224
Plaice, Dabs and Flounders
Upon one occasion when fishing just to the eastward of Dungeness Point, my boatman and myself picked up thirteen score of dabs between breakfast and luncheon-time, besides a lot of little ones that we put back to grow bigger.
Some Harbours on the South Coast of England
Except RYE, a Cinque port, which once was on the sea but is now a good way up a narrow, muddy river, there are none but open beaches till we come to NEWHAVEN; but midway between Folkestone and Hastings is found DUNGENESS, a large point of rolling shingle which is ever pushing out more and more into the Channel and, like all the travelling beaches, moving steadily to the eastward. Rye Bay, the east bay of Dungeness, is famous for flat-fish, but is much overworked by the trawlers; however, there are plenty of cod and whiting there in the early winter as soon as the sprats come into the bight, and in summer large shoals of mackerel often approach the shore, and the bass hover round the groynes near the outfall of the Dengey Level drainage system. The best place to seek quarters is at the Hope and Anchor Point, near the old lighthouse site, or at one of the coastguard villages, rather than at the new lighthouse point itself. The tides run extremely strong at the head of the Ness, but much less so in the bays. Lug bait is plentiful and cheap, but, except when sprats are being caught, no other bait is easily obtainable. The bass may be fished for from the beach with a "brit-fly" or other artificial lure.
"Modern Sea Angling" (1921) Francis Dyke Holcombe at pages 264 & 265
South west of Hythe lies Romney Marsh, a very interesting and "old world" part of our country which is not very well known to the average Briton. At Dungeness there is not much boat fishing, for boats are difficult to get; but the beach fishing for whiting, cod and conger in the autumn and early winter is sometimes very good, although it is always rather uncertain. Much depends on the weather conditions, and as a general rule the fish do not bite well during the day, at any rate in calm weather. Long casting is not usually necessary to success, and the angler who tries it will find that if he can get out thirty or forty yards of line this will generally be sufficient. The place is not too easy to get for the Londoner, as the journey is rather troublesome; but a good many anglers from the surrounding district fish this beach at the appropriate season.
West of Dungeness is Rye, one of the Cinque Ports, once on the sea, but now some way up a small river - an old fashioned place reminiscent of some of the delightful stories of Mr. W. W. Jacobs. Rye Bay is a famous place for flatfish, but it is heavily trawled by the smacks from Folkestone, Rye itself and Hastings.
The Daily Express, Saturday 11 January 1964 at page 3
Casting About for a Record Catch
By Clive Gammon
London's sea anglers are a hardy race. In the cold hours before dawn, they leave town to spend the day on a south coast beach, surf-casting for cod.
They have been richly rewarded of late, for Dungeness in Kent has been yielding fine cod including a splendid specimen of 32 lb. which equals the British record set up in 1945 by Sam Hook, of Lowestoft.
Jimmy Trelfer, its captor, is probably kicking himself at this moment, for it was not until four hours after the big cod took his lugworm bait that he had it officially weighed – sufficient time for the fish to have dropped a few ounces in weight from dehydration and loss of blood. Just one ounce more would have given him clear title to the record.
It was clearly time that the Kent coast found its way into the Record Fish list. In the last few years the quality of the fishing there has far surpassed that of the east coast, classic cod fishing ground in earlier days.
If you go to the coast this weekend remember that in many places long casting will bring the best chance of success. This is easy to understand when you look at the physical make-up of a typical cod beach. Most of them are very steep, and made up of shingle right down to the low water mark.
This shingle is almost barren of food, and the cod are much more likely to be found cruising along the line where the shingle ends, foraging for the small marine creatures that the surf has swept out of the sand.
In the early stages of the tide it may be easy to drop your bait in the right place, but later on it will need all your skill to throw it 100 yds. or more into the zone where the cod are feeding.
Incidentally, if you should find yourself catching small rockling do not regard them as a nuisance - they are a clear indication that your bait is in the right spot.
"Tackle Sea Angling this Way" (1964) John Michaelson at page 59
6. Fishing from the Beach
Beaches vary from long expanses of apparently featureless shingle or sand to small bays backed by rocky cliffs with outcrops breaking through the sand perhaps down to low-water mark. Where fish will be within reach of the angler at different states of the tide depends on the nature of the beach, its gradient and the position of 'features' such as sandbanks, depressions and outcrops. The pebbly beach with a steep gradient is not usually good for bottom-feeding fish because it is not rich in fish food. But the beach may level out into a sandy bottom within casting distance. One of the best beach-fishing spots at Dungeness is a depression carved out by currents at a point where the steep shingle slope ends in sand. A bait on the shingle would be useless, but in the depression beyond there are fish which are feeding on the marine life swept in and 'held'. A shingle beach which slopes steeply may provide good spinning or float fishing for bass or mackerel in calm summer weather where bottom fishing would bring no result.
"Sea Angling" (1965) Derek Fletcher at pages 227 & 228
Chapter 17: Coastal Survey
While Rye, Sussex, has fish of many kinds to offer and is particularly renowned for quality plaice, there is very little angling done. A few visitors hire boats during the summer and approach the sport from this angle, while others use lay-lines on the sandy shore which, owing to its character, is suitable for this kind of fishing. A long harbour wall does offer ample opportunity for rod-and-line anglers.
The River Rother is suitable for angling and large quantities of grey mullet have at times been taken, using ragworm which abound the mud flats on the river bank. Worm can also be dug, and mussels gathered for bait, in the estuary and on the shore.
"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.
"Popular Sea Fishing" (1968) Peter Wheat (editor) at page 98
Cod Fishing (Cyril Precious)
… But there are other venues such as Dungeness made famous by long distance casting expert, Leslie Moncrieff and his fantastic cod catches from the 'Dustbin' mark. Many anglers who visit this venue lack the essential beach casting ability to get the best from the fishing. It is a good idea to buy the best beach casting outfit you can afford, then practise and practise until you can get a good distance time and again without tangling …
"Pelham Manual for Sea Anglers" (1969) Derek Fletcher at page 156
Your Guide to Where to Fish
Dungeness, Kent. This wild stretch of shingle is notable for its catches of big cod. The first are taken in October when they are attracted by herring shoals, and later by sprats. Dogfish, whiting, sole and flounders take shellfish and lugworm. It is a deep shelving beach and a reasonable cast puts baits in deep water. One of the best known spots is the Dustbin where natural food is washed into a gulley. Good casting is needed to reach the spot, more than 100 yards at high water, and a little less at low tide. The British record conger, 84lb, was caught at Dungeness by H. A. Kelly in 1933.
"The Coastline of England and Wales" (1969) J.A. Steers
"Sea Fishing" (1969) Clive Gammon at pages 62 & 63
The beach casting tackle suitable for such beaches as Dungeness is determined by two factors: the considerable distance that has to be cast, and the fairly substantial lead (six to eight ounces) that has to be used to hold the baits out at the feeding grounds. Strong currents parallel to the shore demand this.
The rod is therefore much more powerful than the one used for bass on western beaches, though it shares the same principle of design - double tapered of hollow glass, and with a long grip for casting, the grip being occasionally as long as thirty six inches. The reel is a narrow-spooled multiplier for distance casting, and it is loaded with thirty pound line and an even heavier "collar" - a length of line to take the shock load of the cast and to beach a fish. It is important that the collar be long enough to be wound a few turns on the reel.
The end tackle is a paternoster, with two or three hooks. Some anglers use simple blood-loops to take the hooks; others reinforce them with plastic tubes (often, conveniently, the empty tubes of ball-point pens). The lead (almost invariably one with wire grips to hold it in position) is attached to the end of the paternoster by means of a link swivel. The hooks, looped on, will be 4/0 unless the angler wishes to try for dabs at the same time, when one of his hooks will be a long-shanked No 6.
Baits are, commonly, lugworm and herring. Where big cod are concerned, a really big bait is much more attractive than a small one. Some anglers have had considerable success on shingle beaches by experimenting with unusual ones - including sea mice and razor fish.
There is no objection to trying out new ideas, at least to the extent of seeing whether the new bait attracts.
"Sea Fishing for Beginners" (1970) Maurice Wiggin at pages 20, 22 & 110
First Things First
But there came upon the scene, not so long ago, the truly scientific intelligence in the shape of a friend of mine named Leslie Moncrieff. Mr Moncrieff is a member of a small band of wizards, who foregather in a sort of coven in Hertfordshire, where they have cooked up many profoundly brilliant ideas which have changed the face of fishing … But it is Leslie Moncrieff, leading spirit of the Moncrieff Rod Development Company, who has turned his attention to the salt water, and he who has effected a single-handed revolution in beach casting.
This huge strong man first came into fame, or notoriety, at the famous cod ground of Dungeness, where his prowess in hurling a lure far out into the 'Dustbin', where cod congregate at that point where sand meets shingle, first irritated and then awed his fellow anglers, who were consistently falling short. Leslie did not owe his startling success entirely to his physique, formidable though that is. Using his brains, he had divined the secret of the reverse-taper or 'spring butt' casting rod which makes it easy.
… Now, with the Moncrieff-designed Longbow (and other rods, of which more later, at the appropriate points) they have come strongly into the sea fishing scene. I don't honestly know a better beach casting rod than the Longbow; if I did I would tell you.
Fishing from the Shore
The right spot isn't always 'a mile' out, as at Dungeness with its famous, or infamous, 'Dustbin'. It may be close in: all depends on the steepness of the beach, the underwater geography which is so important, and so interesting, to learn.…
"Successful Sea Angling" (1971) David Carl Forbes at pages 57 & 58
Envisage another situation, this time a deserted beach and only the forces of nature to contend with. The sea has worked a deep gulley out of the shingle, and into this gulley the current has drawn sufficient natural food to make the depression attractive to fish. An angler casts streamlined tackle from the beach, again and again, but does not reach the gulley where the fish are concentrated. Then he gets the feel of his tackle, makes the extra distance, and drops his bait among the fish in the gulley ...
The most dramatic example of such a situation is to be found along the Kent coast, at Dungeness, for there the sea sweeps ton upon ton of shingle against Dungeness Point, and as the fast water moves around this point towards Dymchurch Bay it swings back off the shingle to create a giant eddy. This eddy is very deep, almost a 100yd from the beach, and is known to anglers as "The Dustbin" . To put the bait into the "Dustbin" at full tide needs a cast of 120yd; at low tide, a cast of 80yd.
Those who can make the distance at Dungeness frequently catch cod, those who cannot invariably remain fishless. It was at Dungeness, with its now-famous gulley, that Moncrieff proved time and time again the effectiveness of long-distance casting.
 Editor's Note: Over the past forty or so years the "Dustbin" has disappeared, which disappearance is attributed to (a) the changing shape of the beach over the years and (b) the shingle defences for the power station. This feature used to be fished from shore location 50.9134, 0.9801
"Modern Sea Angling" (1971) Alan Young at page 190
Where and When to Fish
A long pebble ridge extending into the sea to make Dungeness Point. Noted for mixed boat and beach fishing, but particularly famous for its beach cod fishing. Nearest town: Lydd
"Sea Fishing in Kent" (1973) Hugh Stoker at pages 53 to 60
Dungeness (with Littlestone and Dymchurch)
Tides H.W. and Rise similar to Folkestone ("High Water: -2 hours 49 minutes H.W. London Bridge. Rise: 20½ feet at Springs; 16½ feet at Neaps".) Tidal Streams: The tides run hard in the deep water immediately off Dungeness, whilst off the beach on the west side of the point they my attain 3 to 4 knots at times during Springs. This is a localized tide-rip, due to the out-jutting beach compressing the north-east going (flood) tide. In the open sea about 1½ miles south-east of Dungeness the up-Channel (flood) tide begins approximately -2 hours local H.W. and attains a rate of nearly 2 knots at Springs; the down-Channel (ebb) tide begins approximately +4½ hours local H.W. and attains a rate of just over 2 knots at Springs.
Topography. Not so many years ago the flat, low-lying coastline around Dungeness was a remote and comparatively little-known region, inhabited by a community of fishermen and professional bait-diggers - their boats, winches and tarred tackle huts clustered on the east beach, and their simple wooden dwellings lying nearby alongside the windswept shore road.
The fishermen of Dungeness still pursue their calling, but the area is no longer remote and lonely. The shingle promontory is now dominated by a huge nuclear power station, whilst every weekend during the cod and whiting season the beaches are lined with visiting anglers from London and the Home Counties.
An interesting aspect of fishing the beaches of Dungeness is the constant stream of ships passing close inshore on their way up-Channel. Many of them, bound for the Port of London, pause off Dungeness to pick up a pilot from the Trinity House vessel which cruises constantly in the area.
Motorist anglers should experience no difficulty in parking behind the east beach, but care must be taken to park on firm ground. There are patches of weed-covered shingle which appear to be firm, but will in fact yield beneath the weight of a car's wheels.
Experienced boat anglers could launch a car-trailed boat from the stretch of beach where the professional boats are kept. It is essential, however, to keep a careful watch on the weather while afloat, and to return at once if the wind begins to freshen up between south and north-east as landing conditions very quickly become difficult and treacherous during an onshore blow.
Incidentally, family anglers visiting Dungeness with young children should bear in mind that an interesting miniature railway, claimed to be the smallest public line in the world, runs for 14 miles along the coast from Hythe, through Dymchurch, as far as Dungeness. It operates (at the time of writing) from early April to late September.
1 - 6. Dungeness. This an ideal beach fishing area because the angler, by choosing one side of the promontory or the other, can avoid the effects of most strong winds - the exception being a blow from the east or south-east. As a general rule, the beaches on the east side (from the Pilot Inn to the New Lighthouse) are fished mostly during winds from a north or north-west direction, whilst the beaches further west are favoured during north or north-east winds. Of course, in light to moderate winds it is possible to fish on either side of the promontory.
Given suitable conditions, "Dungie" can produce some very good catches, particularly in the autumn and winter, when cod and whiting are taken in numbers. Other species include dabs, flounders, sole, dogfish and bass, according to the fishing position, season and bait used. These various factors will be discussed in detail later.
As already mentioned, the flood tide runs very hard along the West Beach (1) and during periods of peak flow it may be necessary to use "anchor" type leads of 6 to 8oz in order to hold bottom. When the current slackens off, however, a lead of half that weight will often be sufficient.
A noteworthy feature of this strong up-Channel tide is that, after passing the tip of the promontory, the current swirls around to form a large eddy, and for a distance of about 50 yards between the fishing boats on the East Beach and the New Lighthouse it is difficult to define in detail. The spot is known locally as the Dustbin (2) because, after a storm, the strong eddying tides accumulate here large quantities of sea-bed creatures and other forms of fish food. Leslie Moncrieff, a well-known sea angler who often fishes at Dungeness, has had many very good catches of cod from this spot.
The Dustbin fishes best during the flood tide, which runs at its strongest from about -1 hour to +2 hours local H.W. During the ebb the current is usually too strong to fish here, and it is best to move further west along the beach.
The eddying effect is not so pronounced during the ebb, although it does occur to some extent on the opposite (west) side of the promontory. The ebb is strongest from about -2 hours to +2 hours local L.W.
The Dungeness beaches can be fished at all states of the tide from the Lifeboat Station on the east side to a point between Denge Marsh observation firing tower and the Galloways tower on the west side. All the beaches are of steeply shelving shingle, but long casts can put you onto sand and mud.
From the Pilot Inn (3) to the Dustbin (2) is a particularly good area out of the tide-rip for flounders, dabs and sole. Whiting and dogfish are also taken here, and at practically every other spot mentioned below.
The beach from the New Lighthouse westwards past the power station fishes well for cod, dabs, flounders and sole - especially behind the paint test screens (4).
Denge Marsh (5) is a favourite spot for sole and flounders, but cod can also be taken.
The beach at Galloways (6) strips at L.W., and is best fished around mid-day tides. It is generally recognized as being the best beach for flounders and sole, and a favourite bait for these is razorfish. Both Galloways and Denge Marsh are capable of fishing well after dark during the summer months for bass and sole, whilst distance casting with suitable leger tackle and fish baits has also accounted for plenty of tope.
These two westernmost beaches, however, are rather inaccessible, and can be very bleak and virtually unfishable when the wind is blowing hard onshore. It is advisable therefore, to check the weather conditions before visiting them.
Now for a few words about fishing methods and tackle. Although the Dungeness beaches shelve steeply and give easy access to deep water, it is advisable to use a shore casting outfit that is capable of placing the baited terminal gear well out where the shingle bank ends abruptly and gives way to a fairly level sandy bottom.
After a spell of rough seas vast quantities of fish food, such as razorfish, slipper limpets, cockles, hermit crabs and sea-mice, are washed out from the sands of Rye Bay. The strong tides then carry all this food in towards the out-jutting beaches of Dungeness, where it becomes trapped at the bottom of the shingle bank - drifting to and fro with the ebb and flood.
Consequently it is here, where the shingle gives way to sand, that the feeding fish will usually be found. Average casters are only able to reach this area around L.W., and from this fact there has arisen a belief that shore fishing is best at Dungeness around L.W. In actual fact the fish are often present, and in a feeding mood, all the time - but to reach them around H.W. the angler must be able to cast out a good distance.
Leslie Moncrieff, who is a firm believer in the foregoing theory, has backed it up with some outstanding catches of cod at Dungeness, and he contends that the average optimum casting distances for this area range between 75 yards at L.W. to a little over 100 yards at H.W. This should place the bait amongst, or very close to, the feeding fish.
A reasonably long rod is advocated for shore fishing at Dungeness, as this will help to keep the line clear of the inshore breakers, whilst at the same time increasing one's casting distance, and the power of the strike when a fish takes the bait. Long casting, in rough weather, also helps to keep the terminal tackle and bait beyond the surge and back scour of the waves, and prevents it from becoming covered up by the constantly shifting shingle.
Terminal tackle is largely a matter of personal preference and depends, to some extent, on the species expected. However, a flowing trace leger is a useful all-round arrangement, and enables bites to be felt strongly even when the bait is a long way out.
During the summer months there are also occasions when the mackerel shoals come within casting distance of the beach. At such times it is possible to obtain large catches by casting out feathered lures with the ordinary beach rod; or, alternatively, a slender wobbling spoon with a light thread-line outfit.
7. Littlestone. With the popular beaches of Dungeness only two or three miles distant, comparatively few anglers fish the shore at Littlestone. Yet Bass can be caught here when, on the flood tide, these fish venture into shallow water. Sole and plaice also visit this area.
Dymchurch Although not an outstanding fishing beach, it can yield bass and flatfish on the flood tide. Running leger tackle with a flowing trace is perhaps best, except in rough weather when a nylon paternoster is often used. Recommended baits: king ragworm, lugworm and razorfish.
General Remarks. The nature of the local coastline and tides, and the busy shipping lanes which run close inshore, make it advisable for visiting anglers to have the services of a local boatman - at any rate for serious deep sea fishing. Those who do decide to go afloat by themselves should first make inquiries about areas where ground fishing and anchoring are restricted. For example, a high voltage power cable runs along the sea-bed from the east side of the promontory to the French coast and anchoring near this cable is prohibited. Reference should also be made to the cautionary remarks under the section headed Topography concerning the changeability of weather and sea conditions, and the risk of launching and beaching when these are unsuitable.
The Wrecks. The sea-bed between Dungeness and Dymchurch is littered with wrecks, and some of those indicated here are far offshore. The main species caught at these wrecks are conger, pollack, black bream and pouting, whilst tope, cod, whiting, dogfish and most kinds of flatfish are found in their vicinity.
Strong tackle is essential when fishing for the Dungeness wreck conger because they run to a large size, and it is worth bearing in mind that the record British rod-caught conger, weighing 84lb, was taken in this area. Recommended tackle for these monsters is a very short-butted fibreglass rod about 6 - 7 feet long, a heavy duty large-drum centre-pin reel fitted with a one-way drag and a large counterbalanced torpedo-shaped handle, an 80lb breaking strain braided terylene line and a strong, cable-laid wire trace, adequately swivelled and linked to a large forged steel hook to wire. The lead is usually attached to a Clements boom running on the reel line, thus allowing the bait to be legered on the sea-bed close alongside the wreck. Favourite baits for conger are small whole squid and pouting, a wrenched off mackerel head with the guts trailing, and fillets of mackerel, herring and bream. A tarpon belt, to take the pressure of the rod butt, is a "must" when fishing for big conger.
As accurate positioning of the boat is essential when fishing the Dungeness wrecks, it is most advisable to visit them with an experienced local boatman.
Tommie's Rocks. This is an extensive area of big rocks, rising in places from a depth of 17 fathoms to 11 fathoms L.W.S.T. Owing to the snaggy nature of the ground it is given a wide berth by trawlers, and the fish therefore have a chance to attain a decent size. Many species are taken here, including conger (some very large), bull huss, lesser spotted dogfish, spur-dogfish, pouting, whiting, pollack, wrasse, black bream, tope and mackerel. In addition, on sandy or shelly ground fringing the rocks, there is a chance of catching some nice plaice, together with the occasional turbot.
The black bream usually put in an appearance during late April or early May, and provide first-class sport on a light and lively rod. Drift lining is a popular method, using a long-shanked size 6 or 8 hook on a 4 to 6 foot flowing trace of fine nylon monofilament.
Alternatively a trace of similar length can be attached above the lead, thus making a kind of single-hook paternoster. One advantage of the second method is that it is possible to feel the lead hit the bottom before the hook has a chance to get caught up in rocks or weed. A wide selection of leads should be carried, so that adjustments can be made to suit changes in tide strength.
The bream will usually be located about 4 feet off the bottom, but it may be necessary to try at other levels before contact is made. If the fish are biting shyly, slow reeling in for a few feet may help to make up their minds. A groundbait net filled with crushed crabs or pulped-up fish, and attached to the anchor rope, also helps to bring the fish on the feed. One very good groundbait recipe consists of bran, minced fish and cod liver oil. Recommended hook baits: lugworm, ragworm, mussels; also strips of mackerel, herring or scaled bream cut fairly thin.
This mark lies right in the Channel shipping lane which passes close to the headland of Dungeness, and for this reason, it is unwise to fish here in fog or mist, or after dark.
Local Bait Grounds (Chart symbols are shown in brackets)
Lugworms (L) can be dug at low tide about half a mile along the shore on the east side of Dungeness Point. Both red lugworm and the tougher black lugworm are abundant. Lugworms can also be dug west of Galloways tower right along to Camber Sands.
Razorfish (R) are obtainable at low tide (preferably around Springs) in the sands between Galloways tower and Camber; also east of Dungeness Point in the area recommended above for lugworms.
Shrimps (S) can be caught with a push-net along the sandy shoreline between Dungeness and Littlestone. The net will also yield occasional small flatfish, sandeels and - after a spell of stormy weather - other useful bait creatures such as hermit crabs and sea-mice.
The Daily Express, Friday 4 April 1975 at page 16
A feast from Bill's door
Sheila Hutchins, the Express Cook drops in on one jolly fisherman who isn't bothered by the trawler war.
There was no sign of a fishing dispute at Lydd-on-Sea. It's just a row of houses nestling in the shingle near Dungeness atomic power station and the lighthouses.
Tall pylons run across the lonely Kentish marshes, wild asparagus, seakale and borage are said to grow among the bare stones of Dungeness.
It is a mixture of the very modern and the very old-fashioned. The little train from Dymchurch runs along the back of the houses - some belonging to fishermen, some to weekenders.
I had come to see Dilys Oiller who fillets the fish for her husband Bill. He catches flat fish – dabs, plaice, flounders and some turbot - and sells them to people who come round to the bungalow.
"But everyone calls him Bill Gender round here." she said. "His father was Gender Oiller. There are so many brothers and families called Oiller round here that he uses his father's name Gender instead."
"There is no sole now." Bill said. "I catch shrimps when I can be bothered." Sometimes they have nearly a gallon of them for tea. "One customer makes lovely shrimp soup, but the flat fish are the thing."
"It is nothing to be out there in the back kitchen till 9 o'clock at night, filleting," Dilys told me. "You either like it here or you don't."
She came originally for a seaside holiday from Tunbridge Wells, fell in love and married a fisherman.
She gave me some plaice to take home. I dipped them in flour, fried them in butter and we had them with lemon juice for tea.
Some of the local shops cannot be bothered with the very fresh fish, she said. They prefer to get them from Billingsgate Market. Then all they have to do is unfasten the boxes. I wondered if they smoked bloaters. "Old Gender used to do the bloaters, but after he died my mother-in-law would not allow it," Dilys said. "She said it brought it all back to her."
Now they have got a small Swedish fish smoker instead with methylated spirit to heat it and some special sawdust to sprinkle across the bottom. It is for campers really and very good for smoking sprats for tea. "Smoked plaice fillets are delicious too" said Bill.
Called the A.B.U. Fish smoker, it costs £8-50 from fishing tackle shops. You can buy more sawdust when it runs out.
"Sea Angling Around Britain" (1977) Trevor Housby at pages 15 & 16
Dungeness beach is famous both for its catches and the long-casting techniques which were devised and developed specifically for fishing it. During the summer months, Dungeness fishes well for flatfish, bass, pouting and the occasional skate. The warm-water outfall from the power station is a favourite haunt of bass and local anglers long cast dead bait out to this boil of water in an attempt to catch these fine fish. When the bass packs are on the feed this technique can be extremely deadly and catches of forty or more bass in a single session have been recorded.
Basically, however, Dungeness is a winter cod-fishing resort and on an average weekend in November and December 500 or more anglers may night fish the beach in the hope of contacting the roving cod shoals as they move inshore in search of food. On a good night, when the cod bite readily, sport comes thick and fast. Big cod, small cod, whiting and pouting all come splashing and struggling through the surf as anglers cast, strike and wind in as fast as they can crank a reel handle. This is exciting fishing, as anyone who has fished Dungeness beach on a good night can tell you. Lugworm on paternoster tackle is the standard Dungeness rig and highly effective it is too.
Like most areas, Dungeness has suffered a drop in catches over the past few years, but it can fish well on occasions and most anglers that fish it regularly still report good overall catches ...
... Boat fishing at Dungeness can be very good indeed, but, like most steep-to-shingle beaches, can be a dangerous place to launch or beach a boat. Once afloat, fishing can be first class. Dungeness produced the 84lb conger eel record which stood for so many years. The same angler also caught the thresher shark record from this area, proof that the offshore grounds at Dungeness are more than capable of holding some monster fish. The boat fishing from the South Foreland at Dover down to Dungeness Point is extremely good, particularly during the winter months when shoals of big cod and fine fat whiting come inshore to feed. This whole area is dangerous for small-boat work, so anyone trailing a boat down to launch it here should seek advice from a local, experienced person before making any attempt to go afloat. Accidents can happen to the best of boatmen and on a steep-to-shingle beach the slightest mistake could cause a fatality.
"Fisherman's Handbook" The Marshall Cavendish Volume 1, Part 9 (1977) Ron Edwards at page 235
The Kent Coast
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.
"Fisherman's Handbook" The Marshall Cavendish Volume 2, Part 46 (1978) Ron Edwards at pages 1278 & 1279
Sole (Solea solea)
… One particularly famous area is the stretch of beach between Dengemarsh and Dungeness in Kent. On beaches such as this, the most productive period is usually one hour either side of low water - when distance-casting is totally unnecessary and is, in fact, very often a disadvantage as most of the fish are lying within 30 yards of the shingle. It is only when the angler is forced back up the beach by the incoming tide that more distance should be given to the cast so that the bait reaches the sand at the base of the shingle. Similarly, when fishing river estuaries, if the edge of the main channel can be reached with, say, a 40-yard cast, it is pointless to cast farther as most of the fish will be found along the shelving bank.
The Sunday Express, 3 January 1982 at page 29
It's the Catch of a Lifetime
There are cod in plenty around our shores and any patient, and persistent angler could pick up a big one like the 33 lb. 2 oz. beauty hooked at Denge Marsh, near Dungeness, by Steve Smith, of King Edward Road, Maidstone (writes REDFIN).
"It's the fish of a lifetime" he says. And no wonder. For his previous best weighed 18 lb. This latest one was taken around 9.30 p.m. and a lugworm he had had for two weeks was the tasty lure.
Steve used a 13 ft. rod, 18 lb. Line and 30 lb. shock leader, 5 oz. lead, 2/0 hook and 3 ft. trace and he was casting between 80 and 100 yards.
Dungeness beach was the place where Jim Birnie and his neighbour Bruce Burton, both of Ash Keys, Southgate, Crawley, Sussex, eventually found the action after a long wait.
Four hours Fishing had brought them just one pouting and a whiting, both of which were returned. But then their patience was rewarded. Bruce hauled in a 23 lb. cod and, shortly afterwards, Jim struck into another of 28 lb., followed by "a tiddler" of 11½ lb.
They used similar gear … 15 lb. and 20 lb. lines with 50 lb. Leaders, standard cod traces and 8/0 and 6/0 hooks.
No other fish were caught along the beach. Perhaps it was because these two were casting between 100 and 140 yards while others were trying at about 60 or 70 yards.
"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.
Summer: large bass are taken on a variety of baits from the Point, and are often caught in large numbers on lures and fish baits from the 'Boil', the power station warm-water outfall. Large shoals of mackerel appear at high tide. Fishing for sole is especially good at night. Sometimes tope and sting rays are taken, as are conger eels and dogfish.
Winter: The area between the beach opposite the offshore structure and the boats on the east beach is probably the best place in Britain for large cod on black lugworms, live pouting and whiting, razorfish and fresh sprats. Much bait is washed up after a big storm, the best time to fish.
Tackle and charter boat bookings from: The Point Tackle Shop, Allendale, Dungeness (Tel: 0679 20049).
12 Denge Marsh and Galloways
Access by road from Lydd. Species and seasons as for Dungeness. High water is generally the best time as the sea bed shallows off from the Point towards Galloways, where sand is exposed at low water. Long-range casting is often essential. Some bass are taken from low-water surf on crab, squid or razorfish. Flatfish are more common from shallower ground. There is a run of plaice in March on shellfish baits.
"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.
Good shore fishing in St Mary's Bay, with catches including bass, flatfish and some rays, with cod and whiting from late summer. Local bait grounds.
Gives access, via the B2075 from New Romney, to Denge Beach and the Dungeness promontory. Long casting here can get a bait into deep water, and Dungeness has produced excellent cod catches. The bass fishing, once famed in the area, with shoals drawn by the warm-water outlet of the power station, has declined in recent years because of off-shore netting. Flatfish are also abundant. Favourite local marks are The Dustbin, Diamond, and the Black Post at Broomham. Some bait locally.
Rye harbour offers flatfish, mullet, eels and some bass. Good mixed shore fishing from Winchelsea Beach nearby. Worm available locally.
"Fishing for Bass: Strategy & Confidence" (1989) Mike Thrussell at page 85
8. Specimen Fish
… I find that open beaches rarely produce fish of above-average size. Your only chance is to fish in very rough weather and heavy surf, for, despite what many anglers say, it has to be a mighty sea before bass will move offshore. Try two rods, one out as far as you can hit it and the other close in. Peeler or mackerel make the best baits, though king ragworm is worth trying. The deeper beaches, such as … Dungeness in Kent, throw up good fish in the autumn. Use only big baits and aim to place them where the shingle of the rising bank meets the level sand of the sea bottom, for it's here the majority of the food will collect (see Fig. 30).
These same beaches in the height of summer see mackerel herding fry close inshore. At such times it pays to use a light rod to capture a live joey and ledger this directly underneath the feeding shoal of mackerel, for big bass are fond of taking up station here and feeding on the stragglers. Again, use the lightest lead that will get the bait down on the sea bed and hold it there …
"Sea Angling: Kent to Cornwall" (1990) Mel Russ & Alan Yates at page 30
The stretch of shoreline from Dymchurch through to Dungeness is very shallow and, whilst the area is excellent for digging black lugworm and razorfish, it offers comparatively poor fishing. Shore results are limited to eels and pouting at the Willop Sluice, Littlestone and Greatstone with an outside chance of bass, smooth hound, sole or plaice in summer and whiting and the odd big cod in winter.
Best results come at night in perfect, flat, calm seas bathed in moonlight, when the big cod come inshore chasing the whiting. Top mark is the Martello Tower, near the Sands Estate. During early spring an onshore wind at Littlestone can stir the bass into action during daylight and I have taken some excellent catches of bass to 7lb on peeler crab. I hasten to add that results are not always guaranteed and fishing Littlestone is hit or miss.
During the 1950s Dungeness was the shore angler's Mecca for cod. Some outstanding catches of cod were made from this shingle outcrop, which is ever growing as the Channel current and winds continuously build the "Point". The end of this promontory is the cod hotspot, because as the tide sweeps around the "Point" it creates a small tidal eddy nicknamed the "Dustbin". Line up the two lighthouses to fish the hotspot (at 50.9134, 0.9801), but be warned, so many anglers have done the same thing over recent years that the bottom is a nightmare maze of tackle-snagging lost end gear.
Dungeness now hosts two power stations and these pump warm water into the sea. Large bass used to be caught in numbers around the outfalls, but now sport is limited to school bass, which fall for artificial sandeels. The warm water does attract eels, sole and bass late into winter. Peak fishing time is during winter, when the promise of cod attracts thousands of anglers. The crowds make Dungeness difficult to fish at weekends and a novice can quickly spoil a lot of anglers' sport because strong tides can sweep tackle along the beach. Casting distance and the ability to hold bottom is the key to finding the Dungeness cod shoals. Dungeness is reached via the B275 which turns off the A259 at New Romney.
Dengemarsh is a continuation of Dungeness situated to the west of the power station. To reach Dengemarsh, and nearby Galloways, you take the Robin Hood Lane out of Lydd. The road deteriorates into a pot-holed track for one mile before you reach the beach. It is an ideal venue to turn to when Dungeness is swept by a south-westerly gale over a spring tide because it offers less tide and weed and is fishable when Dungeness is not.
The beach has one other claim to fame - it's the premier sole beach in the South-East. A night tide in July or August can find the soles feeding well, with a dozen fish a tide possible. My best score over the years was 48, using two rods. I always prefer to fish overnight to a dawn high tide and my favourite sole mark is 200 yards east of the end of the road at the mark called the "Diamond".
Black lugworm or small king ragworm are the top baits with lightweight plastic boom rigs a local favourite. Soles can be found very close to the shoreline at Dengemarsh, so it often pays to fish with two rods, one cast long and one fished short. At other times in the summer it produces eels, bass, pouting, dabs, mackerel and plaice, with cod, whiting and flounders possible in winter.
"Sea Angling: Kent to Cornwall" (1990) Mel Russ & Alan Yates at page 38
Kent Alan Yates
Boat angling guide to the Kent coast
Sandgate, Seabrook, Hythe and Dymchurch are all areas fished mainly by dinghies, although Folkestone charter boats do venture into the area and there are a limited number of small beach-launched charter boats at Hythe. Fishing is mainly inshore for flatfish and bass in summer and cod in winter. The area off Hythe Ranges, between Hythe and Dymchurch, is out of bounds when the Army firing range is in use. Beach launching is available as previously mentioned, with additional slipways at Dymchurch, although launching is tricky because the tide recedes some 200 yards. Marks particularly favoured include the Mulberry Harbours off Greatstone, where some excellent bass catches have been made.
Charter boats fishing from Dungeness, where boats are launched from the beach, are limited. Fishing for cod, conger, pollack and ling takes place over the many war-time wrecks, which are famed for their big fish. Feathers and pirks score well, as does fish bait for conger. Dungeness did, in fact, hold the British conger record for many years and there may still be a record-breaker hiding away in a wreck.
During summer good results are likely over the inshore marks in Rye Bay, where there is some excellent sport with flatfish, especially plaice. Top baits are lugworm on both flowing trace or spreader rigs. In winter Dungeness is equally famed for its cod fishing afloat as it is for its shore fishing. Fish to 30lb plus are regularly hooked within two miles of the shore. As with most other parts of the Kent coast, tides are strong and leads of around 1lb are needed to hold a bait on the bottom.
"The Complete Book of Sea Fishing: Tackle and Techniques" (1992) Alan Yates and Jed Entwistle at pages 48 & 180
6. Beach and Promenade Fishing for Bass, Cod, Rays and Flatfish
The venues and tackle
On the Kent coast, Dungeness Beach is another classic case of the sea and strong tides building up a bank of shingle, east to west, and at Dungeness the shingle 'point' grows approximately an inch a year. It is no coincidence that both of the examples I have mentioned are famous for their fishing, as they both offer access to deep water, strong tide and thereby fish.
17. Boat Fishing around Britain
Several charter boats work off the beach from here. Catches are high quality, much as is the famous shore mark, and include cod, whiting and dabs; summer species will include more dabs as well as turbot, brill, bass and conger.
"Dave's Sole Fishing Blog" (2006 to 2012) David Slingsby
"Bless my Sole" (2012) M. Davies
My favourite fish to target is the Dover Sole and over the past 10 years I have enjoyed a certain amount of success around the Kent Coast, even winning the 1999 Sole Open match at Dungeness.
I much prefer to fish for sole on purely pleasure sessions when I am able to experiment and also when I am alone, as this species requires both still and quiet conditions. Several scores of 6oz leads crashing into the sea do not help at all when targeting this species. So very often competitions fished over venues noted for large numbers of sole do not produce and I believe that noise is obviously a factor.
I find that still, balmy nights or early morning sessions between July and October seem to produce best results but best of all are those times and tides that coincide with the still before a thunderstorm - the high pressure is perhaps a factor. However if you stay and fish through the storm be very careful as carbon-based fishing rods and lightning don't mix. I saw on man get struck twice in the same night on Deal Pier so the saying "lightning never strikes in the same place twice" is definitely wrong.
Let's look at where to fish for this now quite common species. Living at Deal, and within walking distance from the Pier, makes a session easy and, as long as I have bait, I am able to pick a time and tide to suit at a moment's notice. Deal Pier was opened in 1957 and is the only pier that I know that was built with the angler in mind. It has a long 'stem' from which angling is allowed on both sides and a lower deck at the far end from which anglers can cast out into deeper water. However, one of the best marks on the Pier does not need a long walk. The stem has a section where the railings are painted yellow which denotes the area where boats are allowed to pass under the pier, and it is at the end of the yellow rails that you should set up to fish. The seats here are numbered and numbers 80 to 90 can produce good results. Fish two hours either side of the high tide on the south side of the pier (facing Kingsdown.) You do not need to cast far, in fact dropping under the pier can often be the place to be but I have found that you may need to try to find the sole as I believe the sand banks around here move and the fish move with them. Swing your tackle into the water or drop it and try not to make too big a splash. Let the tackle drop to the bottom and let out some slack line. Fishing into the tide allows the flow to push the tackle down so that all the hooks are on the bottom to get best results.
The tackle I use here very often gets laughed at and seems to be 'old fashioned' but it gets results. I use very light rods, usually a pair of Daiwa bass rods, but I have recently been trying Conoflex's Reflexor that was made for my daughter Emma for the World Championships last year in Portugal. It is ideal for fishing light for this species. I use a 3 or 4 oz breakaway lead and three metal French booms set about 1 foot apart. My hook length is made from 15 lb Tritanium line to a size 6 Kamasan B940 hook and is usually only 6 inches long. This set up looks strange but, I can assure you, it gets results from the Pier.
As the tide eases I sometimes connect a small round lead between 1 and 3 oz at the top of the trace. This helps to keep all three hooks in contact with the seabed. My bait here will vary and, like the sandbanks, you may need to experiment to see what the fish are feeding on. I would always take ragworm but blow lug and wrapped yellow tails or combinations also work well. Keep the bait small and neat, half a worm will be enough to take fish up to 2 lb here.
The other noted place on Deal Pier is the far, front, left or north corner facing Ramsgate. There is a sandbank 30 to 40 yards out and in line with Ramsgate Harbour. Similar tackle or a standard 3 hook flowing trace, again with light hook lengths and size 6 hooks, cast out here can produce results. The best tide is often over low water. This mark will also produce large numbers of Dabs in the spring.
My other favourite venues for sole are at Hythe behind the swimming pool and at Dungeness. At Hythe the low tide is often best and darkness will always be the best time. Fish very light again and don't be frightened to cast your tackle into the water at just a rod's-length out. Again, try to be quiet and don't make too big a splash. I recently fished a species competition here and caught six sole. I was using the Conoflex Reflexor and I went down to size 10 hooks with small pieces of ragworm and bunches of maddies (harbour rag). The fish were taken at about 15 feet in on a very calm night. I discovered here that, if I cast further out I found rough ground for about 20 to 30 yards on the low tide but I did catch fish when I found the softer ground. On the high tide you therefore need to cast either in front of this rough ground or over it.
At Dungeness park your car near the gate to the road that goes around the back of the power station but be careful not to leave valuables in the car as there has been trouble with thieves. Walk to the end of the fence and turn around the back of the power station about 50 yards. Here there is a hut on the beach (I think bird watchers use it). Fish anywhere here for excellent results. Use a 3-hook trace with one of the hooks dropping below the weight. The hook length again I prefer to be light and clear and about 21 inches long. I use a size 6 or 4 Kamasan B940. The size 4 hook is probably needed as here the fish can be up to 3 lb and when they coil their body into the tide like a sail they can easily pull themselves off the hook. Here I have had best results with black lug and lug tipped with ragworm. Don't be afraid to fish close in here but be prepared to experiment and try again to find the distance at which the fish are feeding - normally a cast of 40 to 50 yards will be sufficient but if you are fishing with two rods vary the distances. Best times to fish here are over the low tide up and night-time, and early mornings can produce large numbers of good fish.
Sole, when feeding, tend to settle over the bait and suck it into their very small mouths. Your rod tip may quiver and twitch but be patient as the fish needs time to get the bait into its mouth. When the bait is taken and the fish moves the rod tip may lurch forward as if taken by a cod and may drop back slack. You can reel in now and may be rewarded with two or three fish for your patience. Don't forget to be quiet. Cast your tackle into the sea with care. Don't make too much splash when casting your weight into the sea and be patient when you see the rod tip quiver and rattle. I hope these tips will help you when it comes to catching sole. They are now common around the English coast and with a little thought can be easily caught. Use small hooks, light tackle and small ragworm or lug baits and your results should improve.
"Sea Angling Magazine" Issue 506 (5 June 2014) Dave Lewis at page 21
10 Top UK Sole Venues
① Dengemarsh, Kent
Productive between July and September although pin whiting can be a pest. It's best to fish late into the night and near dawn with lugworms. Hot spots are at the end of Robin Hood Lane (Editor's note: Dengemarsh Road) (50.913104, 0.936178) and towards the Power Station Diamond.
The Guardian, Monday 10th August 2015
Trustees of 468-acre Dungeness Estate hope new owners can breathe life into unlikely tourist hotspot on south Kent coast.
It has been described (wrongly) as Britain's only desert - a sparsely populated, shingly promontory, home to a power station, a nature reserve and the cottage where film-maker Derek Jarman spent his final years. And some of it, at least, could be yours for £1.5m. Dungeness Estate, which has been in the hands of a family trust since it was established in 1964, is up for sale, with the hope that new owners could "breathe new life" into the barren spit of land on the south Kent coast.
The 468-acre estate is formed largely of a shingle beach that shields the low-lying land of Romney Marsh. Now on the market with Strutt and Parker estate agents, it includes 22 properties that are mostly converted railway cottages, which are subject to 99-year leases. The deal does not, however, include the power station, pub, lighthouses and narrow-gauge railway. Maurice Ede, one of the trustees, said:
"The estate has been in a family trust for many years and it is with some sadness that the trustees have decided it is time to sell. The family trust that owns the estate was created by the late Tim Paine in 1964. During his and the trust's tenure, management has been aimed at preserving this unique and spectacular property. It is often said that this distinctive and undisturbed landscape is unlike any other part of the United Kingdom. I have known it intimately for 40 years and never fail to be moved by it on my regular visits. Now is the right time to pass it on to someone who can breathe new life into Dungeness."
The area has been designated as a site of special scientific interest due to its unusual shingle ridges and is home to 600 species of plants, a third of all plants found in the UK, conservationists say. A spokesman for the Met Office told the Guardian it was not a desert, though the land has been described as such in the figurative sense. He said:
"The standard definition of a desert is that is has very little rainfall and that can be for various reasons - such as being in an area of persistent high pressure. Another characteristic is that we see large differences between day and night temperatures, neither of which (conditions) apply to areas in the UK."
The estate generates an annual income of more than £130,000 from ground rents of long-term residential leasehold properties, commercial fishing agreements and licences allowing the movement of shingle to protect the power station and nearby coasts. Mark McAndrew, from Strutt and Parker, said:
"Dungeness is one of Britain's most important and spectacular landscapes. There is simply nothing like it. I can safely say, that in my 25 plus years at Strutt & Parker, I have never sold, or will ever sell, anything quite like the Dungeness Estate."
The desolate landscape has become one of the country's most recognisable landmarks and has become an unlikely tourist hotspot attracting around a million visitors a year. Famous past residents include Derek Jarman, who lived in Prospect Cottage until his death in 1994. The property is now privately owned.
In its brochure, Strutt & Parker describes it as a "shingly desert". But the suggestion that the Met Office had bestowed Dungeness with the official title of a desert was scotched on Monday. The barren backdrop of Dungeness also featured on the cover of Pink Floyd's 1981 album A Collection of Great Dance Songs, released a few weeks before bassist Roger Waters quit the band. The arid area, marked with random shacks, also appeared in music videos for Lighthouse Family, the Thrills, the Prodigy, Athlete, Aled Jones and Turin Brakes, and in the cult 1981 film Time Bandits.
Editor's note: an early reference to "the shingly deserts of Dungeness" can be found in The Watchman, Wednesday 18 September 1839 at page 311 in an article about smuggling ("illicit importation") entitled "A Coast Blockade Adventure":
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