Kent Coast Sea Fishing Compendium
Twiss Groyne, Hythe
View Larger Map
Location: Twiss Road (car park), Hythe (51.06768, 1.09396)
Summer for bass, mackerel, pouting, sole, garfish, mullet; autumn for whiting and bass; winter for bass, rockling and flounder.
Twiss Groyne is a large rock groyne opposite the Imperial Hotel marking the boundary between Princes Parade, Seabrook, and Marine Parade, Hythe. A fishing hot spot, popular all year with anglers, is the high side of the groyne on the western side (facing the sea). A steep and fairly deep beach, it produces fish all year. The tide is medium and runs west to east at high tide. Beware of casting close to the groyne marker at the end because the tide will sweep your line around it.
Twiss groyne is a handy low tide access point when plugging for bass in the summer. High tide is the best time for bottom fishing for dabs, flounders, soles, bass, plaice, whiting, pouting and rockling, with the odd codling showing through autumn and winter. During summer there are mackerel during hours, with pouting, bass and soles after dark. The spring tides are always most productive, especially during or after a south-westerly gale.
Blacks and commons (lugworms) are favoured in winter, especially tipped with a piece of squid, clam, fish or white rag. Razorfish and clams can be deadly after a storm in the new year. A live pout or whole squid fished close to the groyne, after dark, tempts bass. Feathers are used for mackerel in the summer. In clear water it's the spot to fish a float for garfish and, in the summer, the odd big mullet. Small whiting near the groyne often attract bass in autumn, so keep an eye on the surface.
Distance casting is best during autumn and winter, although a large bait fished close often accounts for a bass. In late winter scratching for rockling and flounders close in on the eastern side of the groyne can be very successful. The best terminal tackle is a three-hook, clipped-up rig for distance casting, or a flapper with size 2 hooks, using a 5oz breakout lead weight.
Fresh lugworm, ragworm and the usual selection of frozen baits can be obtained from the following local bait & tackle suppliers (listed from north to south):
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
73 Dymchurch Road
Kent CT21 6JN
Monday 7:30am to 6pm Tuesday 7:30am to 6pm Wednesday 7:30am to 6pm Thursday 7:30am to 6pm Friday 7:30am to 6pm Saturday 7:30am to 6pm Sunday 7:30am to 2pm
1 Thirlestane Terrace
Kent CT21 6LB
Monday 9:30am to 6pm Tuesday 9:30am to 6pm Wednesday 9:30am to 6pm Thursday 9:30am to 6pm Friday 9:30am to 6pm Saturday 9:30am to 6pm Sunday 9:30am to 2pm
Littlestone-on-Sea & Greatstone
Greatstone lies between Littlestone-on-Sea (Clark Road: 50.9770, 0.9656) to the north and Lydd-on-Sea (Hull Road: 50.9495, 0.9660) to the south.
Access from the south, leave the M20 at junction 10 (Ashford International) and follow the signs for New Romney and Dungeness. Once in New Romney, turn right into the B2071 (Station Road which becomes Littlestone Road). Turn left when you reach the seafront (at the T-junction of Marine Parade and Coast Road) and drive north along the sea wall. Coast Road becomes a track ("unsuitable for vehicles" but driveable) and free parking is available at the southern end. There is ample parking in front of the sea wall and this mark is accessible to disabled anglers. The venue has cafés and three local tackle shops within approximately a one-mile radius.
Access from the north is via Pirate Springs along Coast Road which is a turning off the A259 at St Mary's Bay (51.0051, 0.9746). The parking is free along Coast Road and you can park behind where you fish. The recent sea defence work at Littlestone has replenished this beach, although some of the old groynes have been thinned out reducing the number of fish-holding gullies close to shore. However, when the tide retreats for half a mile during spring low tides it exposes a large expanse of sand and mud packed with worms and shellfish. This attracts fish from far and wide when the wind is driving the sea onshore. Beware of the mud holes. The sea wall runs along the shingle beach, which edges the muddy sea bed and is separated along the vast expanse of beach by groynes set approximately 100 yards apart. It is worth looking at this mark at low water, because the groynes are not visible at high tide to pick your spot. The red brick water tower on Madeira Road (located at 50.98854, 0.97007) is the venue's landmark, while the best fishing stretches from the tower north-east along Coast Road (50.98845, 0.97118) to Pirate Springs (parking behind the sea wall at 51.00185, 0.97627).
School bass patrol the surf and the ideal time to catch them is in May and June during a south-westerly gale or just after when the sea is coloured and rough. In calmer seas and towards the evening during high tide the venue is increasingly popular with smooth hounds, pouting, flounders, eels and occasional soles and plaice. In winter expect whiting, dabs, codling, pouting, rockling and flounders. Whiting and codling can be caught on winter nights during a big tide just after an onshore gale. Best in daylight because the sea is always coloured. During darkness the region's fish often visit other venues that have clear water in daylight. Fishing times are three hours up to high tide for the bass and over high tide for plaice. Sea conditions need to be calm to entice plaice to feed, but a rough sea increases the chances of landing a good bass.
The locally-dug, gutted black lugworms ("Dungeness black lug") are best all year although, after a storm, the shellfish that wash ashore are gorged on by fish and it is a good idea to look for the shells at the low water mark as the tide comes in after a blow. Eels prefer a small piece of worm or half a peeler crab. Fish can be taken at all ranges, but distance pays on occasions for all but the bass, so a clipped rig is favourite. A standard beachcaster and a reel loaded with 15lb bs mainline and a 60lb bs shockleader will suffice. Use a two-hook paternoster for the bass with 24in snoods and size 1/0 or 2/0 hooks. A two-hooked clipped rig is ideal for plaice. A 5oz or 6oz breakout sinker should be used here. The tides runs west to east during high water.
Specific fishing marks:
- 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.
- Mulberry Harbour Phoenix Caisson: 986 metres (3,236 feet) off Littlestone beach measured from the junction of Coast Road, Blenheim Road and Marine Parade (50.983055, 0.983269 - TR 09496 24638) is an excellent inshore bass mark.
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 LIDAR map shows a Mulberry Harbour Phoenix Caisson on the seabed 986 metres (3,236 feet) off Littlestone beach which, on 8 November 2013, was designated by English Heritage as a Scheduled Monument (List Entry Number 1415588) and described as follows:
"The monument comprises a single Phoenix caisson, resting on the sea bed and exposed at low tide. It is approximately 200 ft (61m) in length, 32 ft (10m) wide. The height is unclear from current information but, depending on the type of caisson, will be between 24 and 60ft high (7-18m). It is constructed of a steel framework with concrete base and walls around 0.3m thick. The interior is divided into nine sections, open to the sky. These are further divided by a spine wall creating 18 square cells. Some of these retain their diagonal steel tension bars. Later navigation lights are mounted at the four corners on steel posts."
Mulberry Harbour Phoenix Caisson (LIDAR map)
Mulberry Harbour Phoenix Caisson at low tide
Mulberry Harbour Phoenix Caisson at low tide (drone view)
Mulberry Harbour Phoenix Caisson at low tide (gull's-eye view)
"Sea Fishing for Amateurs: A Practical Book on Fishing from Shore, Rocks, or Piers" (1904) Frank Hudson at page 85
Hythe (Kent) - Fishing: Good. Fish: Bass, cod, mackerel, plaice, sole and whiting. Best Months: July to October.
"Sea Angling" (1965) Derek Fletcher at page 197
Not far from Dover, this town has its best fishing during autumn months. Main catches are codling, conger, bass, pouting, flats and whiting. Mackerel are sometimes taken in the summer months when conditions are favourable.
Fishing is generally from the beach and favourite positions are the long groyne at the Hotel Imperial  and the eastern end of Princess Parade near the outfall of the Royal Military Canal. A sand bar shows at low water on spring tides. Baits for most species are lugworm, razor-fish and ragworm. Sprats and herring for conger. The ragworm has to be imported, but lug and razor can be dug locally on spring tides or in the Dymchurch and Littlestone area. There is a local angling society.
"Pelham Manual for Sea Anglers" (1969) Derek Fletcher at page 162
Your Guide to Where to Fish
Hythe, Kent. Beach fishing will supply reasonable catches at times and best area is at the end of the Parade where single hook traces make the best terminal tackle. Varieties include bass, pouting, conger, codling, whiting and flatfish according to season. Lugworm and razorfish are dug locally and ragworm and fish cuttings also used. Off-shore boat anglers catch tope, conger and dogfish on leger tackle and fish baits.
"Sea Fishing in Kent" (1973) Hugh Stoker at page 51
Folkestone (with Hythe and Sandgate)
5. Hythe Beach. This stretch of shore is free from rocks and can be fished for its entire length. Catches include pouting, bass, whiting, conger and flatfish. Baits are similar to those recommended for Sandgate Beach. Leger tackle with a flowing trace is popular with local anglers, but nylon paternoster gear is often used in rough weather.
"The Sea Angler's Guide to Britain: Where to Go" (1975) Jonathan Webb at pages 25 & 26
Species caught from shore: conger, pouting, cod, tope, bass, flounder, plaice, sole, dab, whiting, mackerel
Species caught from deep water: skate, conger, mackerel, pouting, cod, black bream, tope, bass, dogfish, sole, turbot, whiting
Shore fishing at: Princes Parade from Royal Military Canal outfall to Hotel Imperial, Hythe Beach, (Firing Ranges to Redoubt is out of bounds when red flag is raised); cluster of rock at Sandgate Boundary is a noted plaice mark. Six miles of good cod fishing where coast road (A259) runs close to promenade
Boat fishing available from: No boat hirers, but the commercial skippers will arrange boats for parties of anglers. Privately-owned boats may be launched from Stade Court, Stade Street, Cannon Gate, 500 yards east from Hotel Imperial
Tackle shops & bait suppliers: *J. B. Walker, Marine Walk Street (opposite Town Hall), Tel: Hythe 66228
*Angling Times Report Station: J. B. Walker
"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 14
To a certain extent Hythe is overshadowed by Dover and Dungeness. This is a pity, for beaches adjacent to Hythe can fish very well indeed. Favourite local areas range from the Royal Military Canal outfall along the Princes Parade to the Imperial Hotel on Hythe beach . There are also miles of good fishing on the Coast Road (A259) which runs along close by the promenade. It is difficult to hire boats at Hythe but anglers who tow their own boats can launch them from Stade Court in Stade Street, approximately half a mile east of the Imperial Hotel. The beaches in this area fish well for cod and whiting in the winter and skate, flatfish and small bass in the summer-time. Night fishing is best.
"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.
Plenty of small fish are caught from Princes Parade in summer when holiday makers take over the beach. Some good bass are taken here on dark tides. The best time is after a winter gale for good cod and large flounders, especially when razorfish are washed in. Access to the forshore in front of the army ranges is restricted.
"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.
The beach and rocks off Sandgate give good catches of bass and flatfish, with cod and whiting in winter. The Military Canal outfall is another favourite spot. Boats from Folkestone take black bream, cod, conger, rays, tope and flatfish on grounds off Sandgate. Tackle and bait available locally.
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.
"Sea Angling: Kent to Cornwall" (1990) Mel Russ & Alan Yates at pages 28 & 30
Hythe's Marine Parade offers very similar results to Seabrook's Princes Parade, although at Hythe a broader and more sheltered beach offers comfort for the angler during the biggest storms. After a strong south-westerly gale or storm shellfish are washed up the beach as the tide starts to come in - look in the western end of the groynes. Top spots include behind Hythe swimming pool and Yacht Club, Ocean Eleven and close to Fishermen's Beach, where the local fishermen keep their boats. 
Hythe fishes best during October to March with January excellent in some years for codling and flounders. At the end of the Fishermen's Beach, Hythe Army Ranges begins. This stretch of Ministry of Defence beach is open to angling when the Army is not firing. Notices showing firing times are posted at both ends of the range. The Ranges stretch for two miles to Hythe Redoubt Corner, which offers excellent cod and codling fishing in the winter. During summer silver eels, pouting, sole, dabs and the odd smooth hound are taken, with the best results at night. Black lug can be dug during long spring tides throughout the Range to Dymchurch and during the spring tides shellfish can be collected from the sand bars.
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.
 Author's Note: Hythe Swimming Pool, South Road, Hythe CT21 6AR (51.06766, 1.09149); Hythe & Saltwood Sailing Club, Marine Parade, Hythe CT21 6AW (51.066256, 1.08654); Fishermen's Landing Beach, Range Road, Hythe CT21 6HG (51.06419, 1.07756).
"Sea Angling: Kent to Cornwall" (1990) Mel Russ & Alan Yates at page 38
Kent Alan Yates
Boat angling guide to the Kent coast
Launching facilities for dinghies are available at Folkestone harbour. Slipways are also situated at Sandgate, behind the Folkestone Rowing Club, at Seapoint, Seabrook and at Twiss Road, Hythe. All of these slipways are subject to beach movement which can make landing and launching at high water difficult.
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 Harbour off Greatstone, where some excellent bass catches have been made.
"The Sea Angler's Guide to Top Marks" (2003) Mel Russ, editor Sea Angler at page 70
Marine Parade, Hythe, Kent
Hythe seafront is a good winter mark where you can fish from your car at half of the venue, while the other half requires a short walk to reach the promenade. Some good catches of flatfish are made in the New Year close to the various groyne ends, although weather distance is an advantage at other times and in calmer weather. Best results come at the top and just after high tide with westerly storms; coloured water or darkness being most likely to produce fish. Low tide fishes occasionally during or after a south-west gale. Spring tides are best with high water between 9pm and 2am.
SPECIES Codling, whiting, pouting, dab, flounder, poor cod and rockling in winter. Pouting, sole, eel, bass, dogfish, mackerel, plaice and scad in summer.
BEST BAITS Black lugworms and common lug. Fresh yellowtails have their day for whiting, pouting and codling, while slightly stale blacks are excellent for dab and sole, and in February the rockling. Herring or mackerel-tipped worm baits work for whiting, while a small live pouting is an excellent autumn bait for bass.
TACKLE Two or three-hook paternosters and size 1 long-shank hooks are preferred with a 5oz breakout lead sufficient to hold the strongest tide, which travels west to east over high water. The ebb tide flow is minimal.
GETTING THERE Hythe is on the A259 between Dymchurch and Folkestone and you get to Marine Parade by turning seawards at the town centre along Twiss Road, Stade Street and St Leonard's Street.
TACKLE SHOPS Marsh Tackle, 17 Littlestone Road, New Romney, Kent, Tel: 01797 366130.
"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.
Copyright © David Ramsdale 2010 - 2020
All rights reserved