Kent Coast Sea Fishing Compendium

Isle of Thanet
(Herne Bay, Margate & Broadstairs)

The north-east coast of Kent includes the following 41 shore and boat fishing venues, stations and marks: Studhill Bay, Hampton Jetty, Herne Bay, Herne Bay Pier, Beltinge Bay, Bishopstone Glen, Bishopstone Rocks, Reculver (and Margate Sand, Pan Sand, Pan Sand Inner Bank, Copperas Channel and Woolpack boat fishing marks), Minnis Bay, Grenham Bay, Birchington-on-Sea, Beresford Gap, Epple Bay, Westgate Bay, West Bay, St Mildred's Bay, Westbrook Bay (formerly Infirmary Bay), Nayland Rock, Margate Bay, Fulsam Rock, Walpole Bay, Palm Bay (and Killicks Hole and The Platform boat fishing marks), Foreness Point, Botany Bay, White Ness, Kingsgate Bay, Joss Bay (Joss Gap), Stone Bay, Broadstairs Harbour, East Cliff, Viking Bay, Louisa Bay, Dumpton Point (South Cliff), Dumpton Bay (Dumpton Gap)

BBC Coastal Forecast (Thames Estuary) for Herne Bay, Birchington & Margate marks

BBC Coastal Forecast (North Foreland to Beachy Head) for Broadstairs marks

Bait & Tackle

Fresh lugworm, ragworm and the usual selection of frozen baits can be obtained from:

Ron Edwards
50-52 High Street
Herne Bay
Kent CT6 5LH
01227 372517
51.37119, 1.12389
Monday 7:30am to 6pm
Tuesday 7:30am to 6pm
Wednesday 7:30am to 6pm
Thursday Closed
Friday 7:30am to 6pm
Saturday 7:30am to 6pm
Sunday 7:30am to 12 noon
Bay Tackle and Aquatics
82 Mortimer Street
Herne Bay
Kent CT6 5PS
01227 367526
51.37188, 1.12785
Monday 8:30am to 5pm
Tuesday 8:30am to 5pm
Wednesday 8:30am to 5pm
Thursday 8:30am to 5pm
Friday 8:30am to 5pm
Saturday 8:30am to 5pm
Sunday 8:30am to 1:00pm

Thanet Coastal Codes (revised in 2005 and voluntary)

Bait-digging is permitted by Thanet District Council on the following beaches:

Bait-digging and collecting Code

  1. Always carefully replace stones or seaweed when collecting crabs, to avoid damaging other sheltering animals.
  2. Support a voluntary ban on rockworm collecting and avoid using any methods that damage the chalk reef.
  3. Take care to avoid putting roosting or feeding wintering birds to flight especially towards high tide or at night.
  4. Back-fill any holes that you dig to restore the seashore and make it safe for other users - unless the tide is about to do this for you!
  5. Take care to avoid disturbance to archaeological sites within St Mildred's and Minnis Bays.
  6. Keep away from areas that may cause a danger with other priority users, such as designated launch sites or mooring areas.
  7. Avoid using large bore bait pumps close to the shoreline.
  8. Take re-usable buckets or containers for collecting.
  9. Avoid collecting (or using) rare or unusual bait - such as pipefish or lumpfish.

Shore angling Code

  1. Take care to avoid putting roosting or feeding wintering birds to flight especially when shore angling at high tide or at night.
  2. Avoid shore angling along the shingle beaches adjacent to the lagoons between Reculver and Birchington as these are used by summer breeding birds, and the shingle is the main winter roosts.
  3. Tread carefully on the rocky shore if fishing off the rocks at low tide.
  4. Take all waste home and dispose of it safely including old hooks, line and tackle which can hurt birds and animals.
  5. Take only as much bait as you need and return unused worms to the beach.
  6. Follow the NFSA 'Conservation Code for Sea Anglers'. These include taking measures to reduce tackle loss (eg lower breaking strain for hook length than main line) and use of 'catch and release' methods to help conserve fish stocks, returning the fish in a healthy condition.
  7. Abide by the 'Recommended Retention Size Limits' - as endorsed by the NFSA.
  8. Help conserve fish stocks by returning undersized - or surplus - fish alive and healthy to the sea.

Shore Fishing Venues

  1. Herne Bay: Studhill Bay, Hampton-on-Sea, Herne Bay, Beltinge Bay, Bishopstone Glen & Reculver
  2. Birchington: Minnis Bay, Grenham Bay, Beresford Gap & Epple Bay
  3. Margate: Westgate Bay, West Bay, St Mildred's Bay, Westbrook Bay (formerly Infirmary Bay), Nayland Rock, Margate Bay, Fulsam Rock, Walpole Bay & Palm Bay
  4. Broadstairs: Foreness Point, Botany Bay, White Ness, Kingsgate Bay, Joss Bay (Joss Gap), Stone Bay, Broadstairs Harbour, East Cliff, Viking Bay, Louisa Bay, Dumpton Point (South Cliff) & Dumpton Bay (Dumpton Gap)

Tankerton, Studhill, Herne, and Beltinge Bays

Minnis, Grenham, (Beresford Gap), Epple, Westgate and Saint Mildred's Bays

Saint Mildred's, Westbrook, Nayland Rock, Margate, Walpole and Palm Bays

Palm, Botany, Kingsgate, Joss, Stone, Broadstairs, Viking, Louisa and Dumpton Bays

LIDAR maps

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 three following maps show the seabed in Epple Bay, Westgate Bay, St Mildred's Bay and Westbrook Bay.

Epple Bay and Westgate Bay

Westgate Bay and St Mildred's Bay

St Mildred's Bay and Westbrook Bay

Herne Bay: Boat Fishing Marks

Fishing the Thames Estuary on the Kentish Flats off the north Kent coast can offer exciting summer sport with bass, thornback rays and smooth-hounds, plus some excellent winter cod and whiting. Herne Bay (51.373062, 1.12772), on the southern bank of the Thames Estuary with its shallow waters and fast running tides, provides the perfect venue for light tackle sport and the migratory species provide the perfect prey.

Herne Bay Angling Association ( is located at 59 Central Parade, Herne Bay, CT6 5JG (01227 362127) and the huge car park with trailer parking facilities and two slipways is located opposite the Herne Bay Angler's clubhouse which is huge, covering four floors, with bars, seating, a pool table and entertainment facilities upstairs.

The River Thames at Herne Bay is very shallow and both the Woolpack and Pan Sands are best fished in areas ranging from 20-25ft, as this seems to be the desired depth the fish choose to feed at. Squid is generally the best bait for thornbacks although herring and mackerel are a close second best. Worm and crab will pull the odd fish too. Use simple running rigs with 5oz grippers and 3ft fluorocarbon snoods, leading to size 4/0 or 5/0 hooks. The squid can either be mounted whole on Pennell-rigged hooks, or cut into sections and mounted on a single hook.

Mark 1: Woolpack Banks

This mark is great for spring and summer thornback rays, with fish into double figures common. You'll need to use fresh mackerel or herring for bait, but frozen squid has been working well over the past few years. You can also expect to catch a few cod off this patch during the winter months.

Latitude 51° 25. 600' Longitude 001° 12. 250'
Ebb and flood tide for thornback ray.

Mark 2: Pan Sand

Just like the Woolpack, Pan Sand is another sand and shingle bank, with areas as shallow as 20ft, but the key to success here is to find and anchor the deeper gullies. Here you can catch cod in the winter months and the odd bass during the summer.

Latitude 51° 28. 600' Longitude 001° 10. 000'
Ebb and flood tide for cod.

Mark 3: Copperas Channel

The Copperas Channel is one of the north Kent coast's best offshore marks and is located approximately one mile offshore from the Reculver Towers. Large catches are possible of bass, cod, conger, dogfish, gurnard, ling, mackerel, pollack, smooth-hound, sole, tope, and whiting.

Latitude 51° 23.81' Longitude 001° 11.18'
Ebb and flood tide for most species.

Pan Sand, Margate Sand, Copperas Channel & Woolpack Boat Fishing Marks

"The Pilot's Guide to the Thames Estuary for Yachtsmen" (1960) Commander H. L. Wheeler, R. N. (Retired) at pages 84, 100 to 104, 112, 113, 117, 122 & 124

Section III: Whitstable to Ramsgate and the Overland Route


General Remarks. From the East Swale entrance the Kent coast runs eastwards for about 15½ miles to Margate, then curves around in a southerly direction to the North Foreland and Ramsgate respectively. From Sheppey to Margate this coast is fronted by wide and continuous shoals and sands. For WHITSTABLE see page 88.

COAST. Eastward of Whitstable the coast is indented by the small Tankerton and Studhill bays, and for the 3 miles to Herne Bay drying sand extends off-shore for 5 cables. There is a small pier at Tankerton, and an old oyster fishing pier at Hampton, one mile westward of Herne Bay. At Swalecliff, between Whitstable and Herne Bay, a chimney is very conspicuous.

Buoy. About a mile from the shore and 11 cables in a westerly direction from Herne Bay pier light, is a red can buoy.

HERNE BAY. Landmarks. This watering place will be recognized by the tall clock tower in the centre of its sea front. Other marks are a water tower behind the town, which is a most prominent mark on the skyline between Whitstable and the Reculvers, while a gasholder to the eastward is also conspicuous. The village of Herne, amongst trees to the southward, and Herne black mill with white top, on high ground are also distinctive.

Pier. A promenade pier extends fully 1,400 yards off shore, westward of the clock tower, into a depth of 8½ feet at low tide.

Light. A fixed red light is shown from the pierhead.

Beacon. A red beacon with topmark about ¾ of a mile west of Herne Bay pier and about 1 cable from the shore marks a ruined pier.

Storm Signals. Are exhibited.

Yacht Club. Herne Bay Sailing.

COAST. Eastward of Herne Bay the coast slightly indents, forming Beltinge bay, and consists of clay cliffs, off which sand dries out from 2 to 3 cables which, towards the Reculvers, is mixed with rock.

The Reculvers. These twin towers, the remains of an ancient church, are situated on the edge of the cliff, midway between Herne Bay and Birchington. This is perhaps one of the best marks on the south side of the Estuary. From the foot of the cliffs, rocky ledges extend off-shore, and at 6 cables north-westward is the Black Rock, a drying ledge within the one fathom line.

Reculver Sand, with 1 to 6 feet of water over it, extends north-eastward from the Reculvers, and forms the southern edge of the Copperas Channel.

Coastguard. There is a station at the Reculvers, where Storm Signals are exhibited, also L.S.A. Occasional watch is kept during daytime, and constant watch in bad weather. Past the Reculvers the coast is low to Birchington ; the small River Wantsum, marking the western limit of the Isle of Thanet, emptying itself between these two places. Sand and shelving rock extend 3 to 4 cables off shore, the two large patches, Mussel bank and Minnies, forming Minnies bay.

Beacons. A sewer outfall extends 3 cables from the shore, just eastward of Mussel bank, its extremity being marked by a beacon. There are 2 red beacons about 7 cables to the eastward of this sewer on the Minnies - keep at least ½ a mile to seaward. There is another red beacon in Westgate bay. Eastward of Birchington the coast consists of low chalk cliffs, which extend, with the exception of the small Epple, Westgate and St. Mildred bays, to Margate. The foreshore is composed chiefly of rocky ledges which, together with drying sand, extend out for nearly half a mile in places.

Nayland Rocks and Ledge. This extensive ledge lies off the west end of Margate. The Nayland rocks, drying at low tide, to a distance of 4 cables off-shore, occupy the whole of the east side of the bay, the centre of their eastern edge being about 2 cables westward of Margate stone jetty. Nayland ledge extends a further half a mile seaward: its outer end lies with Margate stone jetty lighthouse, bearing 114° true, S E by E ¼ E Mag., one mile distant.

Beacon. A sewer pipe extends 2 cables from the shore on the western side of the bay. Its extremity is marked by a beacon, which also serves to mark the centre of the east side of the Nayland rocks.

MARGATE. This well-known watering place is conspicuously situated on high ground around a small bay, between two extensive flats of chalk rock, the Nayland on the west and the Fulsam on the east side, both of which cover before high water.

Tides. It is high water +0045 Dover (-0042 Sheerness). Springs rise 14½ feet. Neaps 11 feet.

Harbour. Situated on the east side of the bay is formed by a curved stone pier about 300 yards long, sheltering an area of 7½ acres. It is open to the south-west and dries out at low tide, with bottom of sand and mud. At high water springs there is a depth of 12 feet at the pierhead. A promenade jetty close eastward of the pier extends 478 yards northward over Fulsam rocks into a depth of 9 feet at low water.

Lights. Stone Pier Lighthouse. A fixed red light is exhibited from a masonry column at 60 feet above the sea, visible 6 miles. Promenade Jetty. A fixed green light is exhibited from an iron column at jetty head, at 26 feet, visible 4 miles.

Fog Signal Reed. Four successive blasts or bell every 60 seconds. Only used when berthing passenger steamers in the summer season.

Anchorage. Craft can only enter the harbour towards high water, and if intending to stay must be prepared to take the mud. There is little shelter, and yachtsmen are not recommended to enter without special reason.

Storm Signals are exhibited.

Lifeboat. A motor lifeboat is stationed here.

Coastguard. Constant watch kept and L.S.A. established. Lloyds Signal station.

Facilities. Water. From harbour tap, limited amount free. Stores, Petrol, Oil, Etc. Obtainable. Early Closing Day. Thursday. Railway Station. Margate. Yacht Club. Margate.

COAST. From Margate roads to Ramsgate, a distance of about 7½ miles, the coast consists of high chalk cliff, from the bottom of which rocky ledges run out from one to four cables, beyond which the shallows gradually shelve towards deeper water.

Foreness. About 50 feet high, is the turning point for vessels bound to and from Margate roads and the Thames. Palm bay is situated on the western, and Botany bay on the eastern side of the Ness.

Longnose Ledge. This rocky ledge runs out two-thirds of a mile from the bottom of Foreness cliff.

Buoy. Longnose. Can red and white chequered with red can topmark, is moored off the northern extremity of this ledge and should always be passed to the northward.

WHITENESS. Three-quarters of a mile northward of the North Foreland lighthouse.

Landmarks. A white tower known as Neptune's tower and Kingsgate castle are noticeable. Whitfield tower, one mile westward of the North Foreland lighthouse, is also conspicuous. Coastguard. There is a station at Kingsgate, occasional watch kept during the day, and constant watch in bad weather. L. S.A . established.

NORTH FORELAND. The bold chalk cliff is 100 feet above the sea, and the lighthouse as well as the chimney westward of it are distinctive objects.

Light. A group flashing white and red light giving five flashes every 20 seconds, is exhibited from the lighthouse. It shows white from the shore (intermittently obscured) to 138° true, S E by S Mag., white thence to 150° true, S S E Mag., red thence to 181° true, S 4 W Mag., to guide vessels in clearing the east part of the Margate sand, white thence to 011° true, N by E ½ E Mag., obscured elsewhere. The light is obscured in Margate road when bearing southward of 125° true, S E ¼ E Mag. The light is 188 feet above the sea and visible 20 miles. Radio Beacon.

Tides. At the North Foreland it is high water +0035 Dover. About 3 miles south-eastward from the North Foreland the north going stream begins -0120 Dover, spring rate 2.5 knots; the south going stream begins +0440 Dover, spring rate 2.2 knots. In Margate road the west going stream begins -0450 Dover; the east going stream begins +0045 Dover; spring rate in both directions 3 to 4 knots.

With the foregoing information it will be seen that, if a ship be in Margate roads, with a south-westerly wind, sail should not be made, to beat round the Foreland until half-ebb, to ensure taking advantage of the tide which will be going to windward, i.e. the south going stream, through the Gull stream.

Broadstairs. Over a mile south of the North Foreland, has a small pier harbour with about 10 feet at high water, drying out at low water. It is used only by small local boats.

Light. A fixed red light, 23 feet above H.W., visible 4 miles, is shown from south-east end of pier, from an iron column 15 feet high.

ELBOW. This shoal has 20 to 31 feet over it with one patch of 19 feet and lies from 2 to 3 miles off the North Foreland.

Buoy. Elbow lightbuoy, a red can buoy fitted with a radar reflector, double flashing white light every 5 seconds, is moored at about 1 miles eastward of the 19 feet patch on the Elbow.

BROADSTAIRS KNOLLS. These are shallow patches of 9 to 20 feet of water lying immediately off Broadstairs, and rendering a close approach to that part of the coast in a large vessel undesirable.

Buoy. Broadstairs Knoll, a red and white chequered can buoy is moored about 1¾ miles off-shore and with North Foreland bearing 312° true, N W N Mag. 2.3 miles.

Colburn Patch. This dangerous patch may be considered to be part of the Broadstairs Knolls. It lies 3½ cables off-shore and is about midway between Broadstairs and Ramsgate. The least depth at low water is only 4 feet.

The Dike. North-eastward of Ramsgate harbour, is a continuation of the shallows extending from the shore. There are patches of only 2 to 5 feet upon it, and north-eastward of Ramsgate East pier head it dries in places at low tide.

Quern Shoal. The northern continuation of the Brake Sand. It is very shallow, there being a least depth of 1 foot of water over it in places at low tide. Southward of the Quern buoy, at about half-a-mile distant south-east of Ramsgate pierheads, patches dry at very low tides.

Buoy. Quern, a red can buoy, marks the northern edge of the Quern shoal.

THE OLD CUDD. The north-easterly channel into Ramsgate is between the Dike and Quern shoals. For directions see page 107.

RAMSGATE CHANNEL. The channel, with a least depth of 9 feet, from Ramsgate to the Small Downs or vice-versa, lies between the Brake Sands on the east, and the Sandwich Flats on the west. The Cross ledge, least depth 1 foot, lies about one mile south of Ramsgate and close eastward of the leading marks for the Road and Harbour. For directions see page 108.

Buoys. The following buoys are moored in the Ramsgate channel:-

North Fairway, a red can buoy is moored about 3 ½ cables south-westward of Ramsgate harbour entrance. The eastern side of Ramsgate channel is marked by three buoys which mark the west edge of the Brake Sand:- Northern or B3 buoy, conical black, is moored about 1½ miles from Ramsgate harbour.

Middle or B2 buoy, conical black, lies about 1 mile southward of B3 buoy.

Southern or B1 buoy, conical black, lies about 1¼ miles south by east of B2 buoy.

The western side of the channel is unmarked, but there is a conspicuous hotel about 2¾ miles north of Deal pier, and about 1½ miles in a west by north direction from B1 buoy.

Anchorage - Ramsgate Road. This anchorage is good with the wind between W N W and N N E, but not advised during easterly or southerly winds. A good berth lies about 3 cables south westward of the harbour in about 9 feet. Deeper draught vessels should lie a little further out in about 14 feet.

(at page 112:)

Overland Route

General Remarks.

The Overland Route, the name given to the passage from the Nore to Margate, is across the Kentish flats, and thence through the Horse, Gore and South channels. For light draught vessels it affords a convenient short cut, under suitable conditions.


The shoals southward of the Nore and off the Kent coast from Sheppey to Margate are extensive and continuous. They are known under various names, and owing to their intricate and complicated nature their position will be best understood by reference to the chart. From the Nore to Margate the passage across these shoals and through the several channels is marked by beacons and buoys, which are given in tabulated form hereafter.

THE CANT. This extensive bank of under 3 fathoms of water at low tide, fronts the Sheppey shore, extending from 2½ to over 3 miles out to its 3 fathom line. From its outer edge which is steep-to, the soundings decrease regularly shorewards. See also page 84.

(at page 84:)


CANT. This extensive bank fronts the whole of the Sheppey shore to the eastward of Barton Point. Its one fathom line varies between a half to 1½ miles off-shore, beyond which the depths gradually and regularly increase to the 3 fathom line, which is over 3 miles out from the coast. This 3 fathom edge forms the southern side of the main deep water channel of the river south and south-eastward of the Nore. Towards the western end of the Cant, a patch of foul ground is marked by a green spherical buoy moored 062° true, E by N ¾ N Mag., about 2½ miles from Barton Point F.S. A shoal with a depth of 14 feet lies about 1¼ miles northward of the same flagstaff.

THE KENTISH FLATS. These wide flats are a continuation of the Cant to the eastward, and at their widest part extend nearly 7 miles off shore to the 3 fathom line northward of Herne Bay, up to the Girdler lightbuoy. Their south-eastern end merges into the Margate Sand. Upon them are several detached shoal patches of cement boulders such as Clite Hole bank, Studhill, Black rock and Pudding pan, the positions of which will be seen on the chart. The depths vary, there being 2½ fathoms of water at low tide towards its northern extreme, decreasing shorewards.


See page 122.

(at page 122:)

Dangers. South Side. PAN SAND. This sand is situated on the north-east extreme of the Kentish flats. It is almost awash at low water.

Buoys. It is guarded by two buoys:-

The North Pan Sand, can red moored on the edge of the 3 fathom line about two miles eastward of the Girdler light-buoy. See also Queen's Channel, page 125.

The West Pan Sand, conical black with cone topmark, is moored on the flats 1 miles south-westward of the beacon. See also Queens Channel, page 125.

Beacon. Pan Sand, a black beacon with truncated cone topmark, 49 feet high stands on the centre of the sand.

MARGATE SAND. This extensive sand, which includes the Woolpack, Margate Hook and Last Shoals are the south-easterly contin-uation of the Kentish flats.

The Woolpack, at the western end of this area of sand, lies 2i miles northward of the Reculvers. It is almost awash at low tide. From the Woo1pack the jagged one fathom line of the western end of the Last runs in a south-easterly direction to the Margate Hook. This latter sand runs parallel with the shore for about 2 miles at a distance of approximately 2 miles, its western end being 1¾ miles N N E of the Reculvers, and its eastern end abreast of Mussel bank. This sand and the Cliff End banks, the latter with 2 to 16 feet over them, form the north side of the Gore and South channels. The drying part of the Last is north of the Hook, between the latter and the Margate Sand.

From the Last the Margate Sand dries in a north-easterly direction for about 4 miles, being nearly a mile broad at its widest part. From its drying eastern end the 3 fathom line extends a further 22 miles eastward with a drying patch in the northern part of this area. East Margate and North East Spit buoys, about 1 and 2 miles respectively further to the eastward and on the 5 fathom line, guard the eastern end of the sand. Its north edge bordering the Queens channel is very steep-to. From the Margate Hook beacon to the South East Margate buoy the 3 fathom line is steep-to, thence curving away northward and eastward towards the East Margate buoy, thus forming Margate road.

(at page 117:)

Copperas Channel. This narrow channel joins the Gore channel close to the Hook Spit buoy from the direction of Herne Bay. It lies between the Horse Sand and the offshore flats, its centre being about one mile northward of the Reculvers. It is sometimes used by shallow draught craft when coasting, but as it is unmarked, and its navigation requires the utmost vigilance, its use is not advised without local knowledge. Outwards or inwards, Herne Bay pierhead in one with Margate Hook beacon leads roughly through it in about 6 feet of water.

(at page 124:)

QUEENS CHANNEL. This channel is wide and has considerable depths of water over its outer part; its western end is, however, blocked to all but light draught craft at low tide by the Kentish flats. This western end of the channel is rather undefined, but may be considered to start, eastward from the Girdler light-buoy, passing between the Pan Sand, the Ridge and Tongue Sand to the north, and the Woolpack and Margate Sand on the south.

Tides. At the entrance to the channel the stream is rotary clockwise.. Detailed information for the channel is not available but it may be supposed that the west going stream begins between about -0500 and -0435 Dover (+0600 and -0600 Sheerness) and the east going stream begins between about +0125 and +0155 Dover (H.W. and +0030 Sheerness); the streams are about 1 to 1.5 knots at springs. Spring rise 15 feet, neaps 7 to 8 feet.

Dangers. For Pan, Ridge and Tongue Sands, see pages 122, 123. For Woolpack, Margate Sand, see page 113.

Beacons. Margate Sand Beacon, a black beacon, surmounted by an hourglass shape topmark, 35 feet high, stands in about one foot of water, 3¾ miles 330° true, N N W Mag. from Margate pier lighthouse. Pan Sand Beacon, see page 122.

Fishing for Whiting at Margate (Robert Seymour, 1866)
"You'll be sure Sir, to feel when there's anything on your hooks, don't you feel any thing yet?"
"Why yes! I feels werry unwell."

"The Sea-Fisherman" (1884 - 4th edition) James Carrall Wilcocks at page 30


Bass sometimes taken with artificial spinning bait, or by angling from the piers or jetty with lug-worm or cuttle bait. Local name sea-dace, or salmon-dace. Flat-fish and small whiting by line or rod, with boiled shrimp, from the jetty end. Grey mullet also met with. codlings, cod, whiting, and sometimes flat-fish in the offing. For mullet use a portion of the inside of skate, in appearance like sweet-bread.

The Illustrated London News (15th August 1885)
Rambling Sketches: The Isle of Thanet
(1) Westgate-on-Sea, (2) Reculver Towers, (3) Ancient Gateway of Dandelion Castle & (4) St Mildreds Hotel, Westgate

"Sea-Fishing on the English Coast" (1891) Frederick George Aflalo at pages 117, 118 & 119

The South-east Coast

From an angler's point of view, this commences south of the Thames and extends to Eastbourne. The fishing at this south-east corner is very good indeed, including, as it does, Deal, Dover, and Hastings, while in the size and quantity of its fish, it closely resembles the south-west coast, which is, however, superior. It is very well adapted for fishing, there being, as one advances to the westward, a very suitable combination of rock and sand, in which large bass, mullet, mackerel, pollack, and conger, are all abundant. It presents varied fishing at all times of the year, the best months being, perhaps, July, August, and October.

Margate (3 hours from Victoria; 3rd return, 8 days, 10s.)

Margate faces the north. The shore is entirely sandy and the water very shallow. Some deeper water can, however, be got round towards the North Foreland, where it is in parts 40ft quite close in.

Whiting, flat fish, occasionally large mullet, and a few bass, are all to be caught, August being the favourite month. I have already referred to "Salmon Dace" as the local name for the bass, for which, as well as mullet, skate's liver is a good bait. The spoon-bait is also much used in July. Fishing is followed from pier, jetty, and boats, though the latter do not, as a rule, bring in much else than small plaice.

Round by Broadstairs are some small rocks (see Fig. 61), about a mile out, where small conger are taken.

Broadstairs is generally considered to afford better fishing than Margate, and the difference is probably owing to its rocks.

"Hints and Wrinkles on Sea Fishing" (1894) "Ichthyosaurus" (A. Baines & Frederick George Aflalo) at at pages 82, 83, 87 & 88

Sea Sickness &c

Where there is an old wooden or stone pier well encrusted, give it preference over the newer, more comely structure of bright metalwork.

The chief south coast piers from which there is any fishing during July and August are as follows: Deal Pier, pollack and flat fish; Dover Admiralty, bass, pollack and mullet; Promenade, pouting …

Some piers are not open for Sunday fishing later than eight in the morning; on others it is altogether forbidden. Sunday tickets for the Dover Promenade Pier are sold by the boatmen, no money being taken at the turnstiles.

Natural History and Sport

Pollack which with bass and mackerel constitute the sea fisherman's "game fish", feed at the surface during the warm July and August evenings; in October they still take artificial baits at midwater or lower; in the early part of the year they are caught with paternoster tackle, sand eel or rockworm being a killing bait.

But even in neighbouring localities a slight difference in conditions will entirely alter the habits of fish. Take the pollack, for instance, immediately north and south of the S. Foreland. At Deal, they are always under the end of the pier all the summer through, and may be taken with ragworm. You might rail along east and west of the pier all day and all night and very probably catch not one in a week. At Dover, on the other hand, they are not confined to any one spot, but hunt all over the rocks and are caught at the surface, or deeper down, anywhere between Shakespeare Cliff and the Cornhill.

Sea Fishing near London

There are a great many seaside towns within reasonable distance of London; and it is nowadays quite easy to leave town after breakfast, enjoy several hours of sea fishing and return the same evening with a good basket of fresher fish than might even be sold at Sweeting's - no disparagement to that admirable establishment. [4]

… But there are ten times as many places where one can get the whole tides fishing, and only sleep the one night away; and these, being within eighty miles of town, are well adapted to the requirements of a summer holiday.

Kent - The coast of this county extends from the south bank of the Thames estuary as far as just beyond Dungeness. It has some fishing stations of great importance reached by the S.E.R. and L.C. & D.R. trains; [5] and the aforementioned Sea Anglers' Society are therefore to be congratulated at having so soon obtained concessions from both these companies.

There are half a dozen places at which I have taken large fish; Sheerness, Herne Bay, Margate, Ramsgate, Deal and Dover, bass and pollack in the summer, cod and whiting between November and January.

The first two are the least important, though some good bass are generally taken in August at Sheerness, and Herne Bay gives some very fine dabs.

At Margate they use skate's liver for the bass.

The Broadstairs anglers fish off the "Falls", a couple of miles off, where they get plenty of silver whiting.

[4] Editor's note: Sweetings Restaurant in the City of London: 39 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4N 4SF, first opened for business in 1889.

[5] Editor's note: The London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR) was a railway company in south-eastern England created on 1 August 1859, when the East Kent Railway was given Parliamentary approval to change its name. Its lines ran through London and northern and eastern Kent to form a significant part of the Greater London commuter network. The company existed until 31 December 1922 when its assets were merged with those of other companies to form the Southern Railway as a result of the grouping determined by the Railways Act 1921. The South Eastern Railway (SER) was a railway company in south-eastern England from 1836 until 1922. The company was formed to construct a route from London to Dover. Branch lines were later opened to Tunbridge Wells, Hastings, Canterbury and other places in Kent. The S.E.R. absorbed or leased other railways, some older than itself, including the London and Greenwich Railway and the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway. Most of the company's routes were in Kent, eastern Sussex and the London suburbs, with a long cross-country route from Redhill in Surrey to Reading, Berkshire. Much of the company's early history saw attempts at expansion and feuding with its neighbours; the London Brighton and South Coast Railway in the west and the LCDR to the north-east. However, in 1899 the S.E.R. agreed with the LCDR to share operation of the two railways, work them as a single system (marketed as the South Eastern and Chatham Railway) and pool receipts: but it was not a full amalgamation. The S.E.R. and LCDR remained separate companies until becoming constituents of the Southern Railway on 1 January 1923.

"Sea Fishing for Amateurs: A Practical Book on Fishing from Shore, Rocks, or Piers" (1904) Frank Hudson at pages 79, 84, 89 & 97

Broadstairs (Kent) - Fishing: Very fair. Fish: Cod, codling, conger, dab, plaice and whiting-pout. Best Months: August to October.

Herne Bay (Kent) - Fishing: Good. Fish: Codling, dab, plaice, pout, sole, whiting, etc. Best Months: May to September.

Margate (Kent) - Fishing: Fair. Fish: Bass, conger, flounder, mackerel, mullet, pollack and whiting. Best Months: August to October.

Westgate (Kent) - Fishing: Good. Fish: Bass, cod, mullet etc. Best Months: July to October.

The Daily Express, Monday 23 May 1902 at page 6

Margate and its Attractions

… As regards fishing, we are frequently visited by the British Sea Anglers. Within half a mile of our noted jetty is the patch of rocks known as the Pouting Ground, where pouting, whiting, flat fish, and cod are found in their season, while off the Longnose Buoy is one of the finest grounds for the sea angler to be found round the coast.

"The Salt of My Life" (1905) Frederick George Aflalo at pages 202 - 211

Bass and Mullet

How I sought mullet at Littlehampton and caught them at Leghorn, off Mogador, anywhere almost except in England, has been related. The manner in which this elusive fish beat me in home waters until the present year was remarkable. For a long time, particularly since the Devon bass and a miscellany down in Cornwall offered annual solace, such repeated failure did not worry me, and I tacitly gave the mullet best. One night, however, I took the chair at a meeting of the British Sea Anglers' Society, at which Mr. T. W. Gomm, undoubtedly the most scientific and successful mullet fisherman on its list of members, read a paper on the subject. That ruined my peace of mind once and for all, and I fidgeted over those Margate mullet until a few weeks ago, when, during the third week of June, he begged me to visit him at that town and catch a mullet. It seemed too good to be true, for many attempts had hitherto resulted in as many failures, but I gladly accepted and went down on the day that rain drew the second Australian match at Lord's.

For once luck came my way, and, although but four mullet had so far been taken during the season (which opens with almost monotonous regularity after the 10th June), I contrived to catch, two, one just topping 3lb, the other somewhat smaller, on the first day of trying. The total bag to three rods that day was seven fish weighing just over 20 lb, so that, even on averages, my contribution was, for the novice of the party, not wholly to be despised. The other members of the party were Mr. Gomm himself and Mr. Francis Daunou, whose enthusiasm for mullet fishing is a veritable passion at white heat, for surely no lovelorn poet was ever more attached to his fair mistress than Daunou to his mullet, and certainly both Gomm and he exhibit extraordinary skill in the systematic capture of that difficult fish. Their manner of taking it beneath Margate Jetty is best compared to roach-fishing in running water, and indeed the explanation is simple, for Gomm was previously a very experienced Thames fisherman, having learnt most that there is to know of the fishes of that river, from the Thames trout downwards. To Margate Jetty he introduced the methods acquired at Sunbury and Staines. With what admirable results this marriage of sea and river angling has been celebrated may be seen from a glance at their fishing records, from which it appears that Daunou's best fish weighed 8lb 7oz, while Gomm followed with a good second at 8lb 4oz and their highest number in one day's fishing was thirty-three.

I will briefly describe a day's mullet fishing in company of these experts; who, like the sportsmen they are, make no difficulty about imparting their methods. Nor is their own sport likely to suffer by such frankness, seeing that anything like consistent success would call for immense patience and no little skill. Moreover, groundbait plays, as will presently be seen, a most important part in the result, and the additional groundbait used by new recruits would undoubtedly attract, and keep, more fish under the Jetty.

A little before five on a brilliant, if somewhat breezy June morning we walk down to the harbour with rods and tackle and a cloth full of sweet, newly-squeezed bread paste, and are met at the Jetty by Bob Ladd, most excellent of boatmen, who has in one hand a pail of soaked bread and in the other a great bag of bran and barley meal. The boat is run down the slip on wheels, and, as the tide is half way out, we embark from the soft "ross" which conceals the food of the mullet. It is but a few strokes to the Jetty Extension, and there the boat is very carefully moored fore and aft, so that we have a clear run of water in the Cliftonville direction, over which the ebb tide will carry the floats. When the tide turns on the flood, or, to be accurate, a little later, the position of the boat is changed, and it is then moored between two posts opposite, so that the current, now making towards Westgate, carries the floats in the contrary direction over the same swim. As soon as the moorings are fast, Bob sets solemnly to work kneading the ground-bait in great balls, as used by anglers on inland waters, and the rest of the party put their tackle together. The rods are ten feet long and of hollow cane, fitted moreover with large rings, so that the fine silk line (which has previously been treated with boiled vaseline) may run without hitch. The reels are of medium diameter, wooden and Nottingham pattern. These mullet-doctors never use the check, whether from the fear of frightening the sensitive fish or not was not explained. A slider-float is used, and a small rubber band prevents it from running too far up the line. The hook is a number 3 Crystal, and two or three small leads are pinched on the gut immediately above it, just sufficient to cock the float.

The ground bait is now ready, and a large ball is dropped in front of each angler, who, having carefully plumbed the depth and adjusted his float so that the hook swims three or four inches from the bottom, baits it with paste and sets his float adrift on its first swim.

And now we are all busy, letting the float travel nearly as far as the opposite post, then bringing it back to travel over the same ground again. This usually means losing the paste, so that the rebaiting is a considerable item in our activity, and indeed on this first morning there is so much rebaiting for the first hour or so that I begin to fear that my customary luck has followed me to Margate, and that I am not even going to see any of the coveted mullet caught by others. Suddenly, however, the expert wrist on my right gives a flick, and "In him!" cries Gomm, whose cane rod is bending madly to right and left, as a fat mullet, evidently a good fish, tries in vain to plunge towards the piles. The other lines are brought in, so that the landing net may have a fair field, and in a very few minutes a splendid mullet of 4lb 14oz is kicking in the linen bag provided for its reception. An hour later the rod on my left is behaving likewise, and a second fish, half the weight of the first, is added to the inside of the bag. The rod straight before me refuses to bend. Several times I think I see a bite betrayed by the green-and-white tell-tale, but it is long since I did much float-fishing, and my striking is ill-timed. And now, after two hours of it, the tide first falls slack for a little and then perceptibly drains towards, instead of away from, the boat. Properly speaking, we ought to change over and fish the up tide facing west, but it is windy in that quarter and, anxious to get the benefit of lee water as long as possible, we continue fishing, without further result until it runs too strongly to be fishable that way. The new position is then occupied; the remainder of the groundbait is thrown overboard; and no more fish are caught at all, though I just manage to turn one, striking a fraction of a second late, and feel the weight of him on my rod. So far, I stood with the mullet as before, though I had at any rate seen a couple caught in the same boat, which was a step in the direction of a more intimate acquaintance. All that day the wind blew hard from the south-west, and little "white horses" galloped across the water, much to my host's disgust, for such cavalry, he declared, was a menace to our sport in the afternoon. It was not therefore in any very sanguine frame of mind that we returned to our boat at four in the afternoon, a couple of hours before low water, and once more took up the correct position for fishing the down-tide. Again, the rods were put together, and the ground-bait was flung as a sop to the mullet. In future, I think I shall always tempt the Fates to be kind by sallying forth with the conviction of failure, for in the midst of my despondency at having to record yet another misfire, down went the float and I too enjoyed the sensation of a good mullet careering in an arc with as wide a circumference as I dare allow so near the ironwork. Even then they assured me that the fish was not yet caught, as mullet very often, and sometimes unaccountably, break away at the last moment. But luck was mine this time, and a fish of a shade over three pounds, a beautiful, fighting silvery mullet, lay gasping in the landing-net. Such is the importance assumed by a fish that has hitherto baffled all one's efforts, that I doubt whether any man ever thrilled more over his first salmon than did I when at last the net was safely under my first English mullet. It broke ice that had grown too thick with time, and even if I had not caught a second, this time on the up-tide, I should have been perfectly satisfied with the result of the expedition.

Ground-bait, then, with tackle as fine as can be trusted, is one secret of success with grey mullet, and how important the ground-bait is may be gathered from the conviction of these Margate experts, that the regular return of the mullet to the water beneath that Extension year after year, and, what is more, their loyalty to those haunts throughout the summer and greater part of the autumn, must be entirely attributable to the great quantity of scrapings and refuse thrown over each day from the restaurant upstairs. Of green peas, for instance, this singular fish is inordinately fond, and the paunch of many a mullet is found to be crammed with that vegetable. Bran is another weakness, and mullet will even wander around and suck it in, a particle at a time, until fat with it.

Yet above the matter of tackle and bait I should personally feel inclined to set the value of close study by regular anglers. If you can place yourself, as I had the good fortune to, under the guidance of residents who have fished under every kind of conditions and over a period of years, success is, if not assured, at any rate very probable.

My memories of those Margate mullet are most agreeable in all but one particular. It has pleased those who cater for the weekend public to run large steamers between these Kentish resorts and the metropolis, with the result that on Sundays at any rate a very fearful collection of semi-human wildfowl is diffused among the coast towns for several hours, massing on the piers and jetties towards the hour of return. A few score of these filthy ruffians gathered on the upper deck of the Extension immediately over our heads, on one occasion and went from unnoticed chaff to more aggressive measures of annoyance. Cigarette ends were the first missiles, and it would have been well had they stayed at these, but unfortunately there is a species of human beast that cannot find itself immediately over the heads of its more respectable fellow-creatures without resorting to a disgusting act, in which the marksmanship of the llama and archer-fish is emulated if not surpassed. The spitting hooligan is so base a coward that he rarely indulges in his bestiality if there is the smallest chance of reprisal, but it will easily be understood that the occupants of a boat moored at some distance from any landing steps are peculiarly helpless. I would suggest to the authorities on the Jetty Extension at Margate that, as other pier companies find anglers worth encouraging, and do what is possible to ensure their comfort, it might be worth their while to make a nominal charge (say, the equivalent of the admission money) for boats moored to the piles and see to it that fishermen are not exposed to such disgusting treatment from above. It would even be right for them to take such steps without any such charge, for the continuous success, year after year, of the few habitués unquestionably attracts others to the Extension itself, some to try their hand from the stages, others to watch the more experienced anglers in their boats. One of the Jetty officials might easily patrol the very small square of deck, from which such expectoration has any chance of being effective, and the sooner orders are given to this effect, the better it will be for the reputation of a very delightful resort, which such practices have long discredited with many who might otherwise patronise it.

"Sea-Fishing" (1911) Charles Owen Minchin at pages 221 & 222

Chapter XVI

Some Harbours on the South Coast of England

… The first place one comes to outside the Thames Estuary is MARGATE, where there is very good mullet-fishing, which, fortunately for the visiting sea-angler, is at its best before the regulation holiday-season commences. The best place is from a boat moored close to the jetty, as the mullet congregate there to eat the fragments from the washing-up at the restaurant. Very fine fresh-water tackle should be used, and the water should be hand-baited with shrimps mashed into a paste with bran or boiled potatoes. In the autumn the fishing for cod and whiting is often very good indeed, provided the weather be calm, and the fish usually make their appearance before they come into the Downs on the other side of the North Foreland.

"Modern Sea Angling" (1921) Francis Dyke Holcombe at pages 66, 263 & 264

Chapter V Bass

An interesting method of catching bass which is practised from the pier at Herne Bay was fully described in an article in the Fishing Gazette about three years ago, so that there is no need to say very much about it here. A fine silk line and light unweighted spinning bait is used, and all sorts of ingenious devices (such as the affixing of small air balloons, feathers, etc., to the line) are employed to get the lure out to the fish, when they are "schooling" at or near the surface some little way from the pier. In its way this style of fishing is the nearest approach which the writer has heard of in this country to the famous "tunaplane" or kite used by American sea anglers at Santa Catalina, and described in one or two of the late Dr. C. F. Holder's delightful books. The present writer has never fished at Herne Bay, so he cannot say anything about this fishing from actual experience, but he is told by a friend who knows the place pretty well that the bass taken in this way are mostly small.

Chapter XXVIII - Where to Fish: The English and Welsh Coasts

Passing over several places … we come to the mouth of the Thames. There are one or two curious things about the fishing in the Thames estuary. One is that although there are at times a fair number of mackerel there, it seems to be almost impossible to catch one on a spinner. Exactly why this should be is difficult to understand, but it is a fact. Another circumstance which cannot be accounted for - at least not entirely - is that the fishing is almost uniformly better on the Kent than on the Essex side. No doubt the nature of the bottom accounts in part for this superiority; there is some rocky ground on the South shore, whereas this is absent on the North. But there must be more to it than this, for the superiority extends to those fish which live and are caught on sand. Dabs and tope alike seem to run larger on the Kent than on the Essex side. As far as Southend, Westcliff and Leigh (all close together) are concerned, the fishing may truthfully be said to be very poor. Southend's speciality is the dab of from 2 oz to 3 oz and fish of this weight are so very much more the rule than the exception there, from pier and boats alike, that "Southend size" has passed into a byword among those anglers who know what sea fishing really is.

Crossing over to the opposite shore, Herne Bay is probably the best place in the Thames estuary for tope, and there a good many dabs there, usually of fair size; while in the summer good catches of bass are at times made from the pier by one or two of the local experts, sometimes in very ingenious ways, although the fish as a rule do not run large. Margate is without much question the best sea angling station in the estuary of the Thames. The tope fishing there is nearly as good as at Herne Bay, while the bass fishing is probably better. Conger, flatfish, whiting, pouting, pollack (not running very large), codling and cod - all of which may be taken at their proper seasons - make a fairly varied list, and the cod and codling fishing in the autumn is often really good.

Between Margate and Ramsgate is Broadstairs. Here there is boat fishing for a fair variety of fish, including bass; and the angler in the summer months has more than a sporting chance of getting hold of a good one.

"The Sportsman's Library: Sea Fishing" (1935) Major D. P. Lea Birch ("Fleur-de-Lys") at page 27

Chapter II: Boat Fishing

Margate, Deal, Bognor, Weymouth, Mevagissey and Ballycotton are examples of well-known fishing stations, where visiting anglers have no difficulty in getting to good places.

"Sea Angling Modern Methods and Tackle" (1952) Alan Young at pages 160 & 161

Where and When to Fish


Bass: May to November. Soft crab. Off rocks on incoming tide. From bays at high water.

Cod: codling: Winter months. All baits taken. Long Nose Buoy. Spit. White Ness. Foreland.

Conger: Summer months. Herring, pouting, mackerel. White Ness. Northope.

Dabs: All the year round. Lugworm, ragworm. Almost anywhere.

Flounders: Rare

Mackerel: July, August. Spinners. Long Nose Buoy, Kingsgate Buoy.

Mullet: Very rare.

Plaice: As for dabs. Fairly rare.

Pollack: coalfish: None.

Pouting: All the year round. Lugworm, ragworm, herring. Almost anywhere.

Skates: Rays: April to July. Herring, soft crab. Daddy's Hole, East Margate Buoy.

Soles: Very rare.

Tope: May to October. Mackerel; small live baits. Daddy's Hole, East Margate Buoy.

Whiting: All the year round. Worms, herring. Almost anywhere.

Broadstairs harbour is tidal and boats can only be berthed three hours each side of high water. There is a slipway which enables one to embark and disembark at low water. The tidal streams are much complicated by the Thames and the Medway. Neap tides are best for fishing as the tidal flow is strong at Springs ... Shore fishing for bass, etc., off the rocks between Broadstairs and Margate is good all the year round and at its best between October and May.

"The Technique of Sea Fishing" (1953) W. E. Davies at pages 53, 64 & 82

Chapter V: Rock, Pier and Beach Fishing

Stations and Baits

… KENT: Margate, Sandgate and Hythe. Fish: Bass, codling, plaice, pouting. Baits (natural): Lug and ragworm, mussel, shrimp, crab and squid. Artificial: Rubber sand-eel and ragworm.

In Detail

Good places for pier or beach fishing include the following:

… KENT: Herne Bay, Margate, Dungeness. In the case of the first named the fishing from both pier and beach is among the best in the country while at Dungeness the shelving beach ensures excellent sport. Fish: Conger, codling, dabs, flounders, plaice, pouting and mackerel.

Chapter VI: Boat Fishing

Make a Note of These

Good stations for boat fishing include the following:

… KENT: Herne Bay, Broadstairs, Margate, Dover, Deal, Dungeness, Sandgate and Hythe. Fish: Conger, tope, bass, pouting, mackerel, whiting and most flatfish.

"The Art of Sea Fishing" (1964) Laurie Robinson at page 116

Sea Angling Stations Around Britain

Herne Bay: Good tope and skate grounds off here, and boats are available.

"Sea Angling" (1965) Derek Fletcher at pages 172, 173, 196, 212 & 251


The fishing-grounds that lie adjacent to the seven sheltered bays of this Kentish coastal town generally provide a good season from June until the end of October. Lugworm, rockworm and soft crab can be found on the shore in the area. The best times and months for fishing are: tope-fishing, June and July; bass, August and September from the shore; cod, skate, whiting, dab, plaice and huss from boats during September and October. Boat-fishing is best during neap tides or after high water.

Herne Bay

The best time for fishing from Herne Bay Pier [1], nearly a mile long, is from the middle of April to the end of May. During a spring tide when the water is in most of the day, thornback skate, flounders, plaice and dabs, are about and plenty of peeler crabs which are the best bait. The only qeuipment needed here is a trace or paternoster with three hooks, and there are no rocks on which to lose tackle.

At the beginning of June the bass arrive and can be fished from the bottom or with rubber eel by spinning, or rag or mudworms. One angler caught a 10lb ¾oz bass and another had 212 bass during one season. Mullet arrive in large quantity during July and best tackle is a float with small shanked hook and mudworms. The far end of the pier is the place to catch these.

There are many boatment who will take out anglers when tope are in during May and June, and the middle or Westlash buoy is the place to catch them with a 6ft stainless steel trace, swivels at 1ft intervals and tope hooks wired with about 1ft of wire, which is put through the mackerel's mouth and out at the tail end and fixed to the trace. The weight is several yards up the line. Tope up to 67lb have been landed here and one angler from six trips weighed in nineteen tope weighing 680lb. Usually small whiting can be caught on the spot for bait and small dabs are also quite good.

Fishing is good from mid-September to end of October, and anglers can find dabs, conger and cod. Beach fishing from Reculver Towers, the ancient Roman station, is good in April and May, the beach being sandy and safe.

[1] Herne Bay Pier - 3,787 feet (1,154 m) in length - was the third pier to be built at Herne Bay, Kent for passenger steamers but was destroyed in a storm in 1978 and dismantled in 1980, leaving a stub with sports centre at the landward end, and part of the landing stage isolated at sea.


The Foreness area is the best fishing point and good bass fishing is available off the rocks. During August and September mackerel are usually plentiful between the rocks and Longnose Buoy. From boats inshore, dabs, whiting, flounders, cod, dogfish and pouting make up most bags. Plaice and sole are not caught so often as before the war. There are many tope-runs in August and September between three to four miles offshore, and fights with skate are occasionally to be had off Minnis Bay, Birchington.

Baits for these fish can be purchased on application to fishermen or boatmen at the Stone Pier, Margate harbour.


On the Kent coast, and good for dabs, flounders and bass. Boat-fishing provides the best sport.
May to July: tope and skate.
May to September: flounders.
June to September: plaice and grey mullet.
June to October: bass and dabs.
September to December: whiting and pollack.

Worm- and fish-baits have proved the most productive.

"Sea Angling" (1967) Alan Wrangles at pages 138 & 139

10 Sporting Opportunities Around the British Isles

From the east of Brighton the coastline assumes a completely different aspect. From the flat, sandy and shingly beaches of West Sussex the coastline changes to massive chalk cliffs and a rocky foreshore, which to those who know the marks means bass and conger. Eventually these cliffs give way to the flatter land of the Sussex/Kent border and the wide, open beaches of the Dungeness area. It is here that great catches of cod are made, also whiting, flounders, plaice and many other species can be taken. Being a very exposed stretch of coastline, strong winds can rapidly make conditions unfishable.

At Folkestone there is good shore and boat fishing. Those who seek their sport from the deeper marks should return with plaice, conger and, in due season, cod and codling.

At Dover, boat fishing with a good skipper can mean almost certain success, and most species are to be caught. This is an area which is greatly affected by enormously powerful tides which ebb and flow through the bottleneck between England and France. Most of the Harbour installations at Dover are available to the angler, but respect these privileges, and re-member the safety code which should be practised by all sea anglers.

At Deal there is plenty of sport to be had from the pier, and beach fishing at Ramsgate and Margate can result in good catches of bass, flounders, dabs and soles. The big attraction throughout this area is the exellence of the cod fishing during the colder months. From Dungeness right away around the North Foreland and northwards up the east coast, when con-ditions are right, enormous shoals of these fish give sport to the beach and the boat fisher throughout the winter.

"Pelham Manual for Sea Anglers" (1969) Derek Fletcher at pages 148, 161, 168 & 190

Your Guide to Where to Fish

Broadstairs, Kent. A number of large tope are boated on fish baits from June to August. These run from 25lb to 35lb. Legered soft crab and lugworm will lure bass from the shore, best results usually during late August and September. Boats also make 'bags' of cod, whiting, dabs and plaice in September and October. Baits such as soft crab and lugworm are found along the shore.

Herne Bay, Kent. Popular event here is the open pier festival held in May by the Herne Bay Angling Association. Usually catches include flounders, plaice, dabs and thornback skate, and peeler crab or lugworm are good baits used on single trace leger tackle. June is the month when bass are expected and, although many of the school variety can be taken, larger specimens up to 12lb have been recorded from the pier. Float tackle and small worms will lure grey mullet in July and August, with groundbaiting helpful.

Many fine tope up to 35lb are boated when the season starts in late May, and the best marks are the Middle or Westlash buoy. Either joey mackerel or small whiting can be used as bait on normal tope tackle. Other boat catches are conger and dogfish. A useful beach casting spot for many species is Reculver Towers. The local club is helpful with advice to holiday anglers.

Margate, Kent. There are numerous shore spots with fishing from pier, harbour and jetty. Fish expected are grey mullet, bass, mackerel, conger, whiting, codling, dogfish and various flatfish. Similar catches for boat anglers, with the addition of tope and skate.

Catches of bass are frequent around the rocks of the Foreness area, with sandeels, lugworm, mackerel and squid cuttings. They will also fall for a red rubber sandeel.

Tope anglers find sport three to four miles off-shore from July to September, with a freshly caught mackerel a good lure. Mackerel shoals are found between the Longnose Buoy and Foreness Rocks.

Large skate provide bending rods fished leger-style with whole or sliced mackerel and pouting. Most catches are made off Minnis Bay, Birchington. Westbrook is another productive skate area. Occasionally they are landed from shore marks by long casters. Prawns, shrimps, soft back and peeler crabs are found at Birchington. There are reliable boatmen for fishing trips, and several clubs.

Whitstable, Kent. Boat fishing is usually the best method of making the heaviest catches, with tope and skate often providing sport from May to August. Freshly caught small fish are used as baits, and often a small flatfish is productive.

Fishing for flatfish can be rewarding with dabs and flounders most likely, although occasionally good-sized plaice are lured on ragworm and lugworm with reasonable light tackle. There are good-sized mullet around but these are not often fished for. Groundbaiting with breadcrumbs, chopped herring or minced crab will bring them on the feed using bread paste for the hook. Bass will take fish strips and worms, and specimens over 10lb have been recorded.

"Modern Sea Angling" (1971) Alan Young at pages 186 & 187

Where and When to Fish

East Kent

Before dealing with individual places it may be useful to consider East Kent as a whole. Herne Bay and Margate face north on the seaward end of the Thames Estuary: they command the excellent fishing of that area and are sheltered from southerly winds.

The twenty miles of coast between the North and South Forelands (roughly Broadstairs to St Margaret's Bay) face east, opposite the Goodwin Sands and The Downs.

From the South Foreland the coast bears away south-west (Dover, Folkestone) and is well protected from the north.

None of the area is more than 80 miles from London, and many thousands of anglers in that huge complex pick their venues according to the prevailing winds.

Herne Bay (Kent)

With a combination of sand, mud, shingle and rocky sea bed many species of fish are available, and the deeper water of the estuary mouth provides, in the appropriate seasons, good cod, skate and tope. Inshore, from April to September with a little give and take at each end, the standard species are bass, thornback rays, mullet, soles, dogfish, silver eels and garfish. Cod and whiting are the winter fish, and dabs, flounders and pouting can be caught throughout the year.

The water is relatively shallow and there are many areas sheltered from the main stream of tidal currents, so the light tackle enthusiast can fish very light indeed.

There is rocky ground off Reculver that holds bass in summer and cod in winter; Swalecliff Beach has occasional good bass in autumn. The pier provides the best of shore fishing.

Lugworm are plentiful on most parts of the shore; ragworm and mussels on the banks around the Clock Tower jetty.

Margate (Kent)

Like all places in the East Kent area, Margate is noted for its mixed catches of fish. Many good and countless average bass are taken from the beach and rocks at low water. The stretch of sand outside the Newfoundland Rocks is noted for its flatfish. Tope fishing is good and well-catered for by local boats and skippers. Winter cod fishing always produces a run of twenty-pounders and over.

"Sea Fishing in Kent" (1973) Hugh Stoker at pages 17 to 22

Herne Bay and Whitstable (with Seasalter, Bishopstone and Reculver)

Tides. High Water: -1 hour 44 minutes H.W. London Bridge. Rise: 15½ft at Springs; 12½ft at Neaps. Tidal Streams: Off Herne Bay the inshore tidal streams are moderate and more or less follow the run of the coastline. Slack water coincides with local H.W. and L.W., the actual length of the slack period varying between Spring and Neap tides. Further west, off the mouth of the Swale, the tidal streams become more complex …

Topography. Herne Bay is a large and popular holiday resort. The beaches are mainly shingle above the H.W. line, but some areas of sand and rock become exposed as the tide recedes. There is no harbour, but boats are launched from the beach when conditions permit. There is a promenade pier about ¾-mile long. For the motorist-angler trailing his own boat, a useful beach launching area lies at the west end of the front, near a short jetty known as Hampton Pier. Alternatively, there is a public slipway, known as 'Neptune's Jetty' a few hundred yards east of the town pier. Boats may be launched from this slipway for about 3 hours either side of H.W. - but beware of the sharp drop at the end. Boats may also be launched from the beach west of the pier for approximately 4 hours either side of H.W. Car and trailer may be parked on the sea front immediately behind the shingle beach.

Note. Since the first edition of this book was published, the local authorities have built a new slipway with car park at Hampton. Boats can launch here for approximately 3 hours either side of H.W. Also, at the time of going to press, a contract has just been completed for the extension of Neptune's Jetty. This extension should go well out on to the sand, and this should enable trailed boats to launch throughout a neap tide, or for 5 hours either side of H.W. Springs. The contractors hope to complete the work by September 1973.

Whitstable, about 4 miles west along the coast from Herne Bay, possesses a small but busy commercial port and fishing harbour which dries out at L.W. The old part of the town behind the harbour is flanked on its east side by the modern residential subsurb of Tankerton, whilst on the other side lies Seasalter with its caravan camps, chalets and beach huts. The beach at Tankerton is shingly at H.W., but some mud appears as the tide recedes. At Seasalter the foreshore consists of shingle and shell, with an extensive area of lugwormy sand known as Whitstable Flats exposed at L.W.

An unusual feature of the coastline near Tankerton is 'Whitstable Street' - a narrow drying ridge of shingle and shell which extends seawards for 1½ miles at L.W. Springs. Local legend has it that this ancient causeway is part of a submerged town.

Shore Fishing

1. Pier. This pier (over ¾ mile in length) used to be a very productive fishing station for thornback rays, flounders, dabs, plaice, bass, huss, lesser spotted dogfish, mullet, garfish, cod and whiting, according to season. Unfortunately, in 1968 or thereabouts, the structure became unsafe and was closed to the public for safety considerations. However, the first 200 yards have now been repaired, and anglers are allowed to fish from this short section; but (at the time of printing this edition) the authorities have yet to decide what to do with the remainder.

From the short section that is open to anglers some good catches are made during the winter months, but there has to be a north-east gale blowing to make it worth while. Local angler John Garlinge took 19 cod here on one tide while these revised notes were being compiled. It is only fishable for about 3 hours either side of H.W.

2 and 3. Herne Bay Beaches. The foreshore east of the pier is mainly shingle under the sea wall, with rocky ground and some patches of sand lower down. On the west side of the pier there is also shingle, with sand lower down. Shore fishing along this stretch of beach is hampered by bathers during daylight in summer, and in any case it is really only worth trying when the tide is rising. However, at suitable times some good catches of flatfish have been made from a jetty east of the pier (2), and also from the beach a few hundred yards west of the pier. After dark fishing during the summer months may also yield the occasional bass - useful baits being peeler crab, king ragworm and lugworm.

As a general rule, however, the serious shore angler will do much better by travelling a few miles out of the town, and fishing the beaches at Bishopstone (4) or Reculver (5), described below.

4. Bishopstone Glen. This useful shore fishing spot about 2 miles east of Herne Bay is best fished when the tide is making. The pleasant beach and picturesque surroundings make it an ideal picnic spot for the family angler. The angler here casts out on to sand, but it is advisable to begin by surveying the bottom at L.W. because there are numerous rocks not far out. Catches include thornback rays, dogfish, flatfish and bass (some large). After dark is the most likely time for the bass. A free-running leger with a flowing trace does well here; also a two-hook Wessex leger.

5. Reculver. The foreshore here is partly sand and shingle, with rocky outcrops in places. There is good general fishing from the beach west of the ruined monastic church known as Reculver Towers, and catches here include thornback rays, sting rays, bass, flounders, dabs, pouting, dogfish, whiting and codling, according to season. The rays are most prolific in spring. After dark, when the tide is rising, is the best time to try here, although daylight fishing also produces good results. Herring strip is a very good bait for the thornback rays.

6. Hampton Pier. About 1 mile west of Herne Bay pier there is a short jetty with a line of rocks extending seawards from its end. These rocks are, in fact, the remains of a ruined pier. Ground tackle cast out from the west side of this jetty to avoid the rocks has produced quite good catches of flatfish, as well as dogfish and occasional smooth-hound and bass - the latter being taken mostly after dark.

Boat Fishing

General Remarks. The water off Herne Bay is very shallow and even when fishing several miles out to sea the depth at L.W. is unlikely to be much more than 2 or 3 fathoms, and probably less. This means that there is little tide-drag on one's line, and it is possible to use comparatively light tackle.

7 and 8. Inshore Marks. Herne Bay is noted for its tope fishing, and some good specimens have been taken by anglers fishing in small boats only a mile or so from the shore. Also, in winter, good catches of cod are taken just west of Studhill Buoy (see Mark 8A). Ron Edwards, a local tackle dealer, had over 150lb of fish from this spot during one competition.

Tope are likely to be found over a fairly wide area, but two inshore positions worth trying are about ½ mile north-east of the pier head (7), and a patch of cement boulders known as Studhill Bank (8). Catches at these marks also include thornback rays, flatfish, whiting and dogfish. (See also Mark 11 below).

9. Studhill Bay. Flatfish are often present in shallow water only a quarter of a mile offshore. A baited-spoon has yielded good results here.

10. Swalecliffe. Inshore fishing in this area can produce good catches of dabs on occasions. Results are often best during the flood tide. The dabs are sometimes prolific during the winter months, from about late September to February.

11. The Rocks. This rather patchy strip of rough ground, about a mile offshore between Bishopstone and Reculver, yields tope, thornback rays, pouting, conger (smallish), flatfish, dogfish, whiting and cod. Good results are obtained by legering on a patch of snag-free ground close to rocks. Over snaggy areas it is better to use driftline tactics, presenting the bait close to the bottom.

12. Middle Last Buoy. A particularly good area for thornback rays and tope; also dogfish, whiting etc.

13. West Last Buoy. Similar to Mark 12.

14. Inshore Rocks. These are exposed at L.W., and evening fishing on the flood tide has produced large catches of bass, including one in 1963 over 10lb. Sting rays, smooth-hounds and large silver eels often take king ragworm intended for the bass. The best tackle is a single hook attached to the end of the line and a small spiral lead 3 feet up because, owing to the nature of the ground, many hooks may be lost during an evening's fishing.

15. Whitstable Street. Very good for bass from May to September. Recommended methods: king ragworm or crab fished on a long trace in the tide race over the bank, or an artificial lure trolled slowly through the choppy water caused by the tide race.

16. Anchored Yawls. This area yields mainly flounders in the spring, using peeler or soft crab bait. Bags of 30 to 40lb of these fish in a single tide are not uncommon when conditions are favourable.

17. Dab Ground. This general area produces good bags of dabs at most times of the year.

18. The Flats. This area is one mass of lugworm beds and cockles and it is a feeding ground for such species as plaice (smallish), sole, flounders, sting rays, thornback rays, bass and mullet throughout the warmer months. However, because the tide goes out so far, the water cools off quickly later in the year and the winter months are not very productive. The setting of long lines is done extensively here for the sole, which are numerous and of good size during the summer.

Boat Hire
Brian Burford, 36 Westcliff Drive, Herne Bay. Tel 3810
Roger Turner, 81 Poplar Drive, Herne Bay. Tel 63876
Brian Turner, Seagull Cottage, Lane End, Herne Bay. Tel 4699

Tackle and Bait Dealers
Ron Edwards, 50/52 High Street, Herne Bay. (Tel 2517). Recommended - a very experienced angler. Lug, frozen herring and squid always in stock, king ragworm and peeler crab when available.
F. J. Whitehead, William Street, Herne Bay. (Tel 2503). Lugworm stocked; also peeler crab and king ragworm when available.
Arthur Boulting, 33 Harbour Street, Whitstable. (Tel Whitstable 3680).

Local Bait Grounds (chart symbols are shown in brackets)

Lugworms (L) can be dug at various sandy places on Herne Bay beach, but one of the best spots lies west of the pier. Spring tides are most productive because during Neaps the tide does not go out far enough to uncover the best worm beds.

King Ragworms (K/R) can be dug on the mussel banks at Swalecliffe, Hampton, along Herne Bay pier, on the Rand and the mussel banks east of Reculver.

Sand-Rag (S/R). These small red ragworms are found at the foot of the beach where shingle meets sand, or near Hampton Jetty in blue clay.

Peeler and Soft Crabs (C) can be collected along the entire coastline during spring and early summer, buried in sand around small rocks, breakwaters, stumps etc. They are also found in soft mud in the bottom of old bait holes.

Mussels (M) can be collected at the king ragworm beds listed above, but they are not much used as bait locally.

Cockles (K) can usually be collected in those flat sandy areas favoured by lugworms, but they are not much used as bait locally.

Local Sea Angling Clubs
Herne Bay Angling Association. Hon. Secretary: R. Tassell, 43 William Street, Herne Bay. Headquarters: New Dolphin, William Street, Herne Bay.
Heron Angling Society, Kent Tavern, Central Parade, Herne Bay.

"Sea Fishing in Kent" (1973) Hugh Stoker at pages 22 to 27

Margate (with Westgate-on-Sea and Birchington)

Tides. High Water -2 hours 1 minute H.W. London Bridge. Rise: 14ft at Springs; 11½ft at Neaps. Tidal Streams: About 1 mile off Margate the west-going stream begins at +6 hours 40 minutes H.W. London Bridge, attaining a rate of 1¾ knots at Springs; the east-going stream begins +0 hours 15 minutes H.W. London Bridge, attaining a rate of 2 knots at Springs. Further west off Foreness Point, where the coastline curves abruptly towards the south, the tidal streams are more complex.

Topography. Margate is a large and lively holiday resort noted for its 9 miles of gently-shelving sandy beaches. These beaches provide safe bathing and are broken up at intervals into bays of varying size by rocky outcrops and small promontories. There is a fairly large harbour, protected by a stone pier, but the moorings dry out for several hours around L.W. Fishing boats can generally leave about 2 hours after L.W. but should return 3 hours before L.W. An extra 1½ hours at sea can be gained by lying in the 'cut', which is a gully near the harbour wall.

Immediately east of the harbour there is a ¼-mile long pleasure jetty that is popular with visiting anglers.

Small car-trailed boats may be launched (tide permitting) from slipways at the following places: Minnis Bay (parking nearby for car and trailer); West Bay (limited parking); St. Mildred's Bay (parking); Barnes Avenue, Westbrook (parking); Harbour, both inside and outside (parking); Foreness - soft sand at bottom of steep slip (parking nearby); Botany Bay and Joss Bay (similar conditions to Foreness). The most practical time for launching at all places is on a rising tide.

Shore Fishing

1. Jetty. Admission and fishing fee: 10p per rod. Fishing permitted all the year, but no fishing allowed on lower deck. The species taken here include bass, grey mullet, flatfish, dogfish, pouting and conger; also whiting and cod in late autumn and winter. In some years there is a good run of dabs around January. Night fishing is not normally allowed, except on Saturday nights in winter (end of October/March) from 6pm to 8am. Night fishing fee (at time of going to press): 40p.

Margate jetty is noted for its mullet fishing which provides good sport during the summer. A well-known local angler describes the jetty fishing as follows:

"For mullet the best period is 1 hour either side of L.W. when conditions are calm. It is possible to use either float tackle or driftline, but first we plumb with a dead line to find out the depth of water. Usually we adjust our tackle to fish about 3ft off the bottom, although the fishing depth may vary somewhat from day to day. Quite often it is possible to see the mullet cruising around among the jetty stanchions. Bait is paste or small red ragworm."

"Bass fishing from the jetty is mostly carried on with ground tackle - popular baits being lugworm, ragworm and peeler crab. One rewarding method is to cast down-tide during the first 1½ hours of the ebb, when the tide is running at its fastest. Let the lead settle on the bottom, then repeatedly raise the rod tip and let the line go as the lead rises from the bottom - thus causing the bait to trot down with the tide. The theory is that the jumping lead stirs up the sand and attracts the fish. Anyway, it certainly seems to work."

"There is no doubt that some good bass and mullet lurk underneath the jetty, but anglers who feel tempted to drift a bait towards them should first note that the jetty extension is in a poor state of repair. Large water-logged beams lie underneath, together with old iron strap bars and other rubbish. All this makes fishing inside difficult for most of the year. Nevertheless, this jetty fishes very well."

"As already mentioned, around L.W. is best for mullet. For flatfish, best results are obtained on a rising tide, from L.W. to H.W. Whiting come best for an hour either side of H.W. Dogfish, like bass, often show up during the first hour or so after H.W. when the tide is very strong."

2. Stone Pier (Harbour). Results here are not so good as from the jetty, but the fishing is free - and therefore popular with young anglers. There is a good chance of taking flatfish from the square head of the wall; also the occasional bass on leger tackle at dusk or after dark.

Note: Fishing from the inner side of the head is discouraged because this can be dangerous to passengers in boats, and sails have been ripped by hooks.

3. Rock Fishing. Several extensive outcrops of low-lying chalky rock become exposed at low tide along the shoreline between Foreness Point to the east and Birchington to the west. These rocky ledges are broken up by gullies and numerous weedy tide-pools, which are inhabited by prawns, shore crabs and various other kinds of small bait creatures. This supply of food attracts bass from about May to September and cod in winter and, in order to get to grips with them, local shore anglers have developed a special form of rock fishing known as 'fishing on the line'. Only one hook is used in order to reduce the risk of tackle becoming snagged among the rocks. The hook is attached 3ft or more above the sinker which is very often simply a piece of chalk of suitable size and streamlined shape picked up from the beach. This is attached to the rest of the tackle by means of a fairly weak piece of line or string. Then, if the sinker gets snagged up among the rocks, a strong pull will break the piece of weak line, enabling the rest of the tackle to be retrieved.

Favourite bait for this type of of fishing is peeler or soft crab which is usually attached to the hook with elasticated thread. The best bass fishing is almost invariably obtained during the ebb tide. When fishing a rising tide the angler must be careful not to get cut off.

Before starting rock fishing, however, the visiting angler would be well advised to go for a walk along the cliff-top at L.W. In this way he will be able to note the various gullies and see how they run. Some of the best are situated between the Jetty and Foreness. Many of these run straight and are man-made. They are, in fact, a legacy of the days when bathing huts were on wheels and drawn down to the water by horses. Apart from these gullies, the best spots are at St Mildred's Bay, Westgate; the Ledge, Westbrook and Nayland Rock. Two good spots for sole etc are on the west side of St Mildred's Rocks. On the east side of the Jetty there is an old derelict slipway which is also worth trying. There is no need to cast out here. This spot is also good for prawning.

Another very good spot for all-round rock fishing is Botany Bay, and all fish in season can be caught here. There is a drop of about 6 to 8ft at the edge of the rocks and a local angler recommends a position in line with the Captain Digby Hotel [3].

[3] Editor's note: Captain Digby Hotel, Whiteness Road, Broadstairs Kent CT10 3QH located at 51.384591, 1.440112

4. Beach Fishing. Whereas rock fishing can be enjoyed whenever weather and tidal conditions permit, beach fishing during the holiday season is mainly carried on in the late evening and at night, after the bathers have departed. Bass are taken on peeler crab bait, casting on to reasonably clear ground alongside rocky ledges. Infirmary Bay and West Bay are two likely areas.

Boat Fishing

5. Foreness Area. During the summer and autumn some good bass are often present close inshore among the reefs off Foreness Point and boat anglers can try for them by trolling or threadline spinning with suitable natural or artificial baits, such as preserved sandeels, a propeller-type spinner with silver paper wrapped around the hook, rubber eel, or a long, narrow wobbling spoon (silver coloured). The best time to try is from 2 hours before to 2 hours after L.W. - Neap tides being better than Springs. Early morning, just before daybreak, is very good. Another method worth trying is driftlining from an anchored boat using the 'trotting' method recommended for bass under Mark 1, with similar baits or a live prawn.

During the winter months cod are also likely to be encountered and may be taken on a flowing trace baited with lugworm or garden snails. Other species found in this area include pouting, conger, dogfish, whiting and dabs. Mackerel may often be found within a mile or two off Foreness Point during July and August. They are taken mainly by trolling and spinning and make a useful bait for conger, tope and skate.

Note: There is a sewer outfall on the north-east side of Longnose Ledge; fishing in this area is not recommended.

6. South-East Buoy. A likely area for tope is situated inside the buoy. Some of the tope run to a decent size and July to September is a good period to try for them. Thornback rays and large whiting may also be encountered here outside the buoy, with a possibility of mackerel shoals in summer. The locals use whiting or pouting for tope bait, mainly because the mackerel are only present for short periods.

7 and 8. Westbrook. About ¾-mile off the Westbrook shoreline there is a chance of catching thornback rays on strips of herring or freshly-caught mackerel. Dabs, too, are likely to be taken on worm baits. From dusk onwards during a warm, calm spell is the best time to catch the thornback rays in quantity, although daylight fishing also produces results. Cross bearings to locate mark: white house by sunken gardens on St James' Church; lighthouse on Arcadia Hotel. Also worth trying - white house by sunken gardens on St James Church; lighthouse on Cobbs chimney.

9. Minnis Bay. Another useful area for thornback rays. Cross bearings: Beresford Hotel on Birchington Church; Minnis Café on St Nicholas Church.

10. Westgate. A useful spot for ground fishing. Cross bearings: Westcliffe House (Blind Home) on St Saviour's Church; lighthouse on Cobbs chimney.

11 and 12. Deep Water Marks. The following are good for general ground fishing: (11) - flagmast of Jetty extension on lighthouse; Cliftonville Bowling Alley on St Paul's Church. (12) - Jetty extension on Nayland Rock Hotel; Kingsgate Castle on North Foreland lighthouse.

Boat hire
Boat bookings can be made through Kingfishers Tackle Shop, 34 King Street, Margate. Tel Thanet 23866.

Tackle and Bait Dealers
Kingfishers, 34 King Street, Margate (tackle, live bait and boat bookings). Tel Thanet 23866
Anchor Chandlers, 18/22 King Street, Margate (boat spares, tackle and bait). Tel Thanet 22467.

Local Bait Grounds (chart symbols are shown in brackets)

Peeler and Soft Crabs (C) may be found near the L.W. line among outcrops of weedy rock, but they are not plentiful. They are most likely to be found in numbers during June.

Prawns (P) may be netted on the ebb tide in the shallow tide pools found among the rocks - the best period being August and early September. Also by drop-netting from the derelict slipway on east side of the Jetty.

Lugworms (L) can be dug around L.W. at Minnis Bay, West Bay, Infirmary Bay and Marine Sands.

Mussels (M) are present in the Foreness area.

Cockles (K) may be gathered around L.W. west of Minnis Bay.

Local Sea Angling Clubs

Margate Old Centrals S.A.S. Headquarters: 130 Grosvenor Place. Hon. Secretary: J. Bennett, 77 Selborne Road, Margate (membership limited).
Margate A. C. Hon. Secretary: Fred Lamberton, 2 Chilham Avenue, Westgate-on-Sea.
Westgate S.A.C. Hon. Secretary: Les Sutton, 32 Westbury Road, Westgate-on-Sea.
Nayland Boat Sea Angling Society. Hon. Secretary: A. Suckling, 53 Cedar Close, Margate. Club Headquarters: Bull's Head Hotel, Market Place, Margate. (A helpful and active club, with interests mainly confined to boat fishing).
Birchington Angling Club. Hon. Secretary: W. Dawson, 320 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent.

"Sea Fishing in Kent" (1973) Hugh Stoker at pages 28 to 33

Ramsgate (with Broadstairs and Pegwell Bay)

Tides. High Water: -2 hours 22 minutes H.W. London Bridge. Rise: 16 feet at Springs; 13 feet at Neaps. Tidal Streams: The tides run hard at times in the open sea off Ramsgate, and for the most part follow the general north to south trend of the coast - although in places the streams are deflected by the Goodwin Sands, and may then follow more closely the deep-water channels between or around the sandbanks. However, this cannot be relied upon around H.W. because there are then certain areas where the tide sets strongly across the Goodwins, creating at the same time an upsurging mass of water which is liable to result in turbulent conditions. The tidal streams are too complex to five full details here, but as a general guide it is worth noting that just outside the entrance to Ramsgate harbour the flood tide (direction north east going) begins about -1 hour 50 minutes local H.W. and the ebb (direction south west going) begins about +2 hours 20 minutes local H.W. The maximum rate of flow during the flood and ebb is about 3 knots at Springs. During the flood, craft entering the harbour must make allowance for this north east set, otherwise there will be a risk of being carried on to the East Pier.

The tides do not run so hard within the sheltering influence of Pegwell Bay.

Further out to sea near the Gull Stream, on the west side of the Goodwin Sands, the flood tide (direction north-north-east going) begins -1 hour local H.W. attaining a rate of nearly 3 knots at Springs. The ebb (direction south-south-west going) begins +5 hours local H.W., attaining a rate of over 2½ knots at Springs.

Off Broadstairs the tides run hard quite close inshore, attaining a rate of 3 knots in both directions at Springs. Close inshore between North Foreland and Foreness the general tidal trend is north west to south east. The north west tide runs between -1 hour and +1 hour 5 minutes local H.W. This south east stream continues until -4 hours 30 minutes local H.W. when the current becomes irregular until the north west stream begins again.


Broadstairs is a pleasant medium-sized holiday resort, and is fortunate in having a number of sandy beaches and bays, divided from each other by a series of picturesque chalky promontories. There is a small tidal harbour, and car-trailed boats can be launched here, with limited parking space nearby behind the pier. (Note: Strong tides make this coast unsuitable for the novice, and even experienced visiting boat-owners should seek local advice). Small craft can also be launched at Botany Bay (steep slip on to soft sand) and Joss Bay, but here again sound experience is essential, and it is unwise to venture out into the main run of the tides, especially at Springs. (See Mark 6 below for details of a good inshore fishing position inside Botany Bay).

Shore Fishing

4. Broadstairs Beaches. Most of the beaches at Broadstairs offer useful shore casting possibilities, particularly after dark for bass. It usually pays to cast out on to sand, as near as possible to the rocky extremities, using running leger tackle and flowing trace. There is also very good rock fishing at Botany Bay, most local species of fish being caught here, according to season. There is a drop of 6 to 8 feet at the edge of the rocks, and one experienced local angler recommends a position in line with the Captain Digby Hotel.

Boat Fishing

6. Botany Bay. An excellent spot for general inshore fishing is situated inside this bay. To locate it, keep the road open clear, with Foreness Pumping Station on Goodwin House. The tide here ebbs for 7½ hours. This is a useful position for the angler with a car-trailed dinghy, as it is possible to launch (tide permitting) at Botany Bay, provided the boat is light enough to manhandle up and down a steep slip on to soft sand.

Broadstairs Knoll. Good for thornbacks, cod, dogfish, etc.

Local Bait Grounds

Lugworms (L) can be dug on the extensive flats of Pegwell Bay.

Cockles (K) are also found in the sands and shallow pools of Pegwell Bay. They make an excellent bait for plaice, dabs, whiting, soles and many other fish.

Peeler and Soft Crabs (C) are most likely to be found during the warmer months around L.W. Springs, on rocky and weedy stretches of shore. One likely area is the extensive stretch of rocks bordering the west wall of Ramsgate harbour. Also further round towards Pegwell Bay, where the low tide rocks adjoin softer ground, and among the chalky rocks in the Broadstairs area.

Mussels (M) can be found in places on sheltered rocks.

"The Sea Angler's Guide to Britain: Where to Go" (1975) Jonathan Webb at pages 22, 23 & 24


Species caught from shore: pouting, cod, red bream, bass, flounder, sole, dab, mullet, whiting, silver eels

Species caught from deep water: skate, mackerel, pouting, cod, black bream, tope, bass, dogfish, sole, turbot, whiting

Shore fishing at: Tankerton Slopes, shingle beach by Swalecliffe sewer [2] east of Tankerton sea front, Whitstable Street shingle beach, Long Beach east of the Harbour

Pier and/or harbour fishing at: Whistable Harbour wall

Boat fishing available from: very few professional boats but enquire at the Harbour. Private small boats can be launched at Horsebridge. Outboard Motors Ltd will launch and land small boats for a nominal fee

Tackle shops & bait suppliers: *Arthur Boulting, 33 Harbour Street, Whitstable, Tel: 3680

* Angling Times report station: Arthur Boulting

[2] Editor's note: 18" outfall sewer installed by Whitstable Urban District Council circa 1913.

Herne Bay

Species caught from shore: pollack, pouting, cod, tope, bass, flounder, plaice, sole, dab, mullet, garfish, turbot, whiting, dogfish, silver eels

Species caught from deep water: skate, conger, ling, mackerel, pollack, pouting, cod, tope, bass, dogfish, sole, gurnard, turbot, whiting

Shore fishing at: Reculver beach, Swalecliffe beach (when open to public)

Boat fishing available from: Turner Bros., Seagull Cottage, Lane End, Tel: Herne Bay 4699; Mike Hawken, 29 Avenue Road, Tel: Herne Bay 5715; D. J. Noel, 21 The Broadway, Tel: Herne Bay 4244

Tackle shops & bait suppliers: *Ron Edwards, Angling Centre, 50-52 High Street, Tel: Herne Bay 2517; Fred Whitehead, 29 William Street, Tel: Herne Bay 2503; Jack's Tackle Shop, Broadway Building, Sea Street, Tel: Herne Bay 3692

*Angling Times Report Station: Ron Edwards


Species caught from shore: pouting, cod, tope, bass, flounder, plaice, dab, mullet

Species caught from deep water: skate, shark, conger, mackerel, pollack, pouting, cod, angler fish, black bream, red bream, tope, bass, dogfish, sole, gurnard, turbot, whiting

Shore fishing at: Margate is well blessed with good safe beaches, and holidaymakers crowd them during the summer, so night or winter fishing is advised

Pier and\or harbour fishing at: Margate's wooden pier lower deck, only daytime fishing allowed. Day and night fishing on the Stone Pier

Boat fishing available from: book from Kingfisher's tackle shop, Margate

Tackle shops & bait suppliers:*Kingfisher's, 34 King Street, Margate, Tel: Thanet 23866

*Angling Times Report Station: *Kingfisher's

"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.

Good fishing

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 pages 10 & 11

Chapter 1: The South East Coast

Isle of Sheppey to Hastings

Within easy travelling distance of London and many smaller towns, this section of the south coast is naturally very heavily fished. Despite this, the whole area is more than capable of yielding first-class catches, particularly during the winter months when cod and whiting shoals come right inshore to keep beach and boat anglers' rod tops knocking.


During the summer months this area is often inundated with silver eels which make a nuisance of themselves by snatching at any baited hook that comes their way. During the winter these eels disappear almost completely and boat anglers in particular often get amongst the cod in a big way.


Once famous for its excellent oysters, Whitstable also provides shore and boat fishermen with good mixed fishing. Shore anglers take cod, pouting, whiting, sole, dab, flounder and silver eels in good quantities during the various seasons. The shingle beach by the Swalecliffe sewer to the east of Tankerton is a favourite venue. In the winter this beach is particularly good for cod fishing. Other notable beaches are Whitstable Street shingle beach and Long Beach which is situated on the east side of the harbour. The harbour wall at Whitstable, although not always particularly rewarding, can produce the odd good catch and for this reason is well worth a visit. Boats are not easy to charter at Whitstable, although anglers can launch their own boats at Horsebridge [1].

[1] Editor's note: Horsebridge slipway can be found at 51.360999, 1.022891

Herne Bay

Like Whitstable, the Herne Bay area can fish extremely well at times. To a certain extent, beach anglers are limited to Reculver Beach and Swalecliffe Beach, both of which are occasionally closed to the public. Cod, whiting, flatfish, silver eels, bass and pouting are the most common shore-caught species in this locality, although garfish and the occasional big tope can also be caught. Offshore species include skate, conger, cod, tope, whiting and dogfish. A number of charter boats operate in the Herne Bay area, although many anglers bring their own boats.


Although holiday crowds make Margate something of an angler's nightmare, night fishing or winter fishing can produce excellent catches either from the numerous beach marks or from the stone pier. The wooden pier is limited to day-time fishing only and anglers are only allowed on the lower deck. Despite the drawbacks to Margate as a shore-fishing centre, a wide and varied selection of fish can be taken including cod, tope, bass, whiting and flatfish. Boat anglers able to get offshore away from the crowded beaches often bring in fair catches of thornback skate, tope, cod, whiting and the usual flatfish.

"The Sea Angler's Guide to Britain and Ireland" (1982) John Darling at pages 10 & 11


… the beaches in summer tend to be crowded with tourists, sailors and powerboat enthusiasts. The best summer fishing is to be had from a boat offshore, while the shore fisherman is advised to operate early, late, or where the beach is less accessible.

Caesar landed here because the beaches are so flat. The high water mark generally consists of shingle, becoming sandier. Inside the Thames Estuary, and especially around the Isle of Sheppey, the foreshore becomes very muddy and is dangerous in some places. Areas of rock are extensive, patchy east of Herne Bay, but more frequent towards Cliftonville. Rocks are one of the features that attract fish around here. Deeper water near in also persuades the fish to come closer to the beach than elsewhere.

Shore fishing is for cod (but not a huge run, as in south Kent), whiting, dabs and flounders during the winter months; and for small tope, some thornback rays, huss and spotted dogfish, the occasional sting ray, bass, plaice, a few sole and thousands of silver eels in the summer months. Bass frequent the rocks early and late in the summer, spending the major part of their time hunting around the offshore sandbanks.

Much of the very best fishing is from a boat because the beaches shelve so gently. Offshore, there are channels and sand-bars built up from sand and shell and one or two wrecks. Populations of fish out there are similar to those caught from the beach, but better in numbers and quality.

Visiting boat anglers should take care. The very shallow water reacts badly to winds from the north and east, especially when the tide is ebbing hard into the wind. Anything over force four sets up a dangerous, short wave pattern - very unpleasant and not safe for small boats. Weather details are available from Garrison Point (Tel: Sheerness (07956) 3025).

Flood tides fill and ebb tides drain the Thames Estuary. High Water at Herne Bay is 1½ hours before London Bridge. Inshore currents run parallel to the shore.

Club Headquarters: The Isle of Sheppey AA has a clubhouse close to the tackle shop at Neptune Terrace, Sheerness. Herne Bay AA has its headquarters at 59 Central Parade, Herne Bay (Tel: Herne Bay (02273) 62127).

Onshore winds here bring the fish on the feed in both summer and winter. Overcast skies help, too, or dusk and dawn conditions, to reduce the light intensity in this shallow water. Launching is not advised during onshore wind regimes. Those with boats on trailers are advised that there are several public slipways and ramps, few of which can be used at all periods of the tides. Slipways exist at Queenborough (any time); Whitehouse (2½ hours each side of high water); Herne Bay (Neptune Jetty, 4 hours each side of high water); Minnis Bay, Birchington (3 hours each side of high water); Margate Harbour (3 hours each side of high water).

8 Herne Bay: Outcrops of reef provide good bass fishing all along this stretch of coast right round to Ramsgate. Spring tides in May, June and September see the best results at night with peeler crab. A few cod and whiting can be taken in winter; otherwise flounders, dabs, small tope and smooth hounds, and lots of eels in spring. Tackle and Biat from Ron Edwards at 50 High Street, Herne Bay (Tel: Herne Bay (02273) 2517).

9 Reculver to Birchington: Cod and whiting are caught during night tides from October to February, fishing around high tide. It is necessary to cast a fair way. There are bass in summer, some flatfish, and eels in abundance. Sometimes thornback rays come in here; long casts with very fresh herring produce a few early in the summer.

10 Margate: Plenty of rocky bays in the area around Margate and round towards Ramsgate. Joss Bay fishes well, has a large car park and less dnagerous gulleys than others like Dumpton Gap, Kingsgate, Botany Bay and Foreness. Visitors are advised to go with locals until they know the layout of the reefs. Cod are taken from October through to June here, also bass in fair numbers throughout the warm months. Peeler crabs score best for both species - and the inevitable eels.

The harbour at Margate has silted up badly so that there is now no charter fleet there. Most of them have moved south to Ramsgate. For bait and information contact Kingfishers Tackle Shop, 34 King Street, Margate, Kent (Tel: Margate (0843) 23866).

Bait Areas

A: Plenty of lugworm at Seasalter and Whitstable. Large brown blow-lugworm generally dug by trenching and a few cockles. Lugworm beds extend round to Margate.

B: The north Kent coast, wherever there is some rocky or bouldery ground, will produce good numbers of peeler shore crabs from April to May but fewer during the main summer months. Crabbing improves in September.

C: Plenty of harbour ragworm on mudflats at West Minster and Queenborough. Beware of soft mud while digging on the Isle of Sheppey.

"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.

Bait Areas

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.

1 North Foreland

This is reefy ground interspersed with sandy bays, backed by cliffs. The best fishing is from the ends of rock fingers, especially where they give on to sand. Local knowledge is vital. Bass and cod are taken in May and June on peeler crab, bass and cod in September and October on crab, fresh squid etc and small congers on fish baits and edible peelers.

"The Penguin Guide to Sea Fishing in Britain and Ireland for Shore and Boat Anglers" (1983) at pages 24 & 28

Three: East Anglia and South-East England

The Humber to Margate

… From East Anglia southwards, the summer fishing improves and there are more and more opportunities for boat fishing, where species taken further south in the Channel can often feature in catches - bream, conger, and various kinds of dogfish. The whole of this area can produce tope, some very big, which are most likely to be taken from boats.

Worm bait suppliers are abundant, although it is usually practical to dig your own from the many productive grounds unless weather or time dictate otherwise. Mackerel are normally plentiful during summer.

One of the most welcome features of fishing in the South-East is the effect of the campaign to clean up the River Thames. Year after year the fishing in this area improves, and several species are re-establishing themselves.

Herne Bay

Reculver and Swalecliffe beaches offer the best shore fishing, and bass, mullet, flatfish, dogfish, pollack, eel, tope, turbot, cod and whiting are taken. Grounds a mile off Swalecliffe, Pansands and Copperas Channel give consistently good returns for boat fishermen. Herne Bay Pier can be very good for winter codling. Boats for hire and charter; tackle and bait locally.


Access to nearly ten miles of beach, although this can be crowded during the holiday season. Minnis Bay can give very good catches. Cod, whiting, bass, mullet, flatfish and tope are taken from the shore, while boats give access to red and black bream grounds, rays, turbot, dogfish, gurnard and pollack and good winter cod fishing. On shore, the rocks sometimes produce the larger cod. Boats available in Margate, also tackle and bait. Worm can be dug at low tide.

"Sea Angling: Kent to Cornwall" (1990) Mel Russ & Alan Yates at pages 20 & 21

The Tankerton to Margate stretch of shoreline offers comparatively limited fishing from the shore and is better known for its abundance of different types of bait. Tankerton, Whitstable, Herne Bay and Reculver offer eels and flounders in summer with the occasional bass or the odd stingray at Bishopstone Rocks. Herne Bay Pier is only a shadow of its former self with the short stumps left after the original pier was demolished. It has, however, yielded double-figure cod in the depths of winter following onshore gales as well as whiting, dabs, flounders, plaice and the odd stingray.

Reculver, and its famous Roman remains, is fished regularly with its Towers landmark and car park more of an attraction than the fishing. Results are limited to flounders, rockling, eels and pouting in summer, with the odd stingray, bass or thornback over the low water to peeler crab or ragworm baits.

In winter, codling and whiting are taken from the promenade over the high water at night with the Cold Harbour Sluice end of the venue best. Birchington to Margate offers similar sport in winter and summer with Birchington a noted eel mark during spring. Much of the previously inaccessible cliffs towards Margate are now bounded by a promenade and offer easy-access eel, bass and flounder fishing during spring and summer. There's bass and eels in summer and cod in winter over the low water up period from marks at Minnis Bay, Beresford Gap and Epple Bay, although results vary from year to year. Throughout the area between Tankerton and Margate peeler crabs are plentiful through the early spring and can be found alongside the groynes in the mud and under every rock or in every pool.

Whilst not a true island, Thanet is Kent's 'nose', which juts into the northern end of the English Channel. Thanet is where Kent's fishing 'proper' begins, for here we say goodbye to flounders and eels as the main species and meet bass, cod and a host of others.

Thanet offers rock fishing galore, with lots of chalk rocks and ledges from which to cast a peeler crab or lugworm bait. The mass of kelp and chalk boulders is a haven for the fish, which are within easy casting range. In fact, there are occasions when you to do no more than lower your bait into a gully. The area around Thanet hosts seven chalky bays and each offers a different angle to the wind, which means there is always a sheltered venue to fish, no matter what the weather. Palm Bay, Botany Bay, Kingsgate Bay, Joss Bay, Stone Gap, Viking Bay and Dumpton Gap are all favourite angling marks, although not for the faint-hearted. Expect to lose tackle, while the danger of stepping into a deep gully or hole in the chalk rock is ever present.

At the Botany Bay end of the venue is Foreness Point, where a longfall sewer pipe stretches out to sea, giving anglers a vantage point to reach the bass shoals. This is also an ideal area to collect edible-type peeler crabs during July and September. The most productive fishing time is two hours either side of low water, although with new promenades being built around the base of the cliffs the previously unfishable high-tide period can now be fished and does yield results. In recent years the bass have declined around Thanet because of the number of monofilament gill nets; now a single bass is a prized fish.

I remember catching six bass for 29lb when an onshore northerly wind saw the bass feeding in earnest on peelers. I took the fish in consecutive casts from a rock outcrop at Botany Bay, and the secret of my success was casting accurately into a gully into which the fish were funnelling to feed. Such marks as Killicks Hole and the Platform offer unique cod fishing at close range, although there's an element of danger on the rocks.

"Sea Angling: Kent to Cornwall" (1990) Mel Russ & Alan Yates at pages 33 & 34

Kent Alan Yates

Boat angling guide to the Kent coast

Charter boat fishing is limited along the north Kent coast, with only a few boats operating from Gravesend, the Medway estuary and Whitstable. However, the area offers miles of calm and safe inshore water for dinghy angling, especially around the Isle of Sheppey and Herne Bay. In fact, Herne Bay is considered the centre of dinghy fishing in the county because it has excellent launching facilities, including the Neptune Jetty situated to the east of the pier. Other slipways in the vicinity include those near Hampton Jetty and Whitstable harbour.

During spring, dinghy catches include eels, flounders, bass, smoothhounds and thornback ray with the inshore sandbanks within 5 miles offering the best of the sport. Later in the summer the bigger bass are caught from the Pan Sands and Margate Sands, with fish of 10lb common in some years. Feathers, Red Gills and pirks all take their share of fish. At the end of the summer and into autumn the bigger bass fall to large mackerel and squid baits fished on flowing trace close to the seabed.

The most famous of the bass marks off Herne Bay is the Pan Sands which holds the current British best for bass at 19lb 9oz 2drms. The Pan Sands inner bank fishes best during the first hour of the flood tide and during the last two hours of the ebb tide. Another favourite mark is the Woolpack Sandbank some three miles off Reculver's twin towers. The bank is an excellent dinghy mark for thornback and bass in the warmer months.

Inshore fishing for flounders is excellent from marks off Hampton Jetty, Herne Bay Pier and Reculver, whilst the long shingle bank off Whitstable called the Street offers bass, flounders and eels for dinghy anglers fishing in less than six feet of water on the tide side of the bank. During winter cod, whiting and dabs are taken by the dinghies with the North-West Shingles the top mark.

Dinghy fishing between Minnis Bay and Margate includes inshore fishing from the Pan Sands and Margate Sands for bass, smoothhounds and thornback in summer, with winter cod inshore to the south-east of Margate, off the Thanet chalk ledges and from marks off the North Foreland. The inshore reefs around Margate hold bass, which take spinners during June and July. Try trolling an artificial eel 150 metres behind a slow-moving dinghy, although calm, clear conditions are of paramount importance for this method to work. Slipways are situated at Minnis Bay and at the bottom of Beach Avenue, Birchington.

A large and well-equipped charter fleet operates out of Ramsgate harbour with boats not restricted by tide except during very low springs. Boats find fish all year with cod inshore from the North Foreland marks throughout the winter months and during spring. In summer the main venue is the Goodwin Sands, with its many wrecks and sandbars holding thornback ray, tope, bass, plaice, smoothhound and dogfish. The inshore area of the Stour Estuary in Pegwell and Sandwich Bays holds flatfish for much of the year, with some good catches of plaice recorded in spring and summer. Limited launching facilities are available at Ramsgate harbour and at the Eastern Undercliff.

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 Hampton Jetty and the location of rocks to the east of its storm-ruined seaward section.

Hampton Jetty (LIDAR map)

"The Sea Angler's Guide to Top Marks" (2003) Mel Russ, editor Sea Angler at page 67

Beltinge Promenade, Herne Bay, Kent

The stretch of promenade at Beltinge is best fished over high water or during a rising tide. The hot time for eel is during the ebb. Low water fishing requires boots because there is mud close to the groyne ends. A long mussel bank, called the Rand, which is situated at the base of the Beltinge steps, offers a vantage point for low tide bass anglers.

SPECIES You can catch flounder, eel, bass and odd stingray in spring and summer. Most whiting and some codling in winter.

BEST BAITS Peeler crabs are best most of the time, although lugworms and fish baits score for winter whiting. Ragworms catch some of the summer species.

TACKLE Two hooks cast at distance are most likely to produce fish in summer and winter. Short range casting alongside the groyne can produce the odd bass, but distance improves your chances, due to the shallow nature of the area. Wading produces fish at low water. You will need a breakout lead, although the tide is only medium strength at Beltinge promenade. Despite the shallow water, bass get close to the shoreline here between June and October with an edible peeler or a large ragworm the top bait.

GETTING THERE From the M2 motorway, take the A299 at Junction 7 towards Herne Bay. Take the roundabout after the Herne Bay town centre. There is parking on the cliff above the shore, followed by a long walk down steps to the shoreline and promenade.

TACKLE SHOPS Bowlers Angling Centre, 2-3 Cinema Parade, Dagenham, Tel: 0208 984 7533; Mark 2 Angling, 24-26 The High Street, Crayford, Tel: 01322 554545.

"The Sea Angler's Guide to Top Marks" (2003) Mel Russ, editor Sea Angler at page 71

Reculver Towers, Kent

The remains of a Roman fort lie at this popular mark. The venue is weedy after a storm with the hour after high water almost impossible to fish on some spring tides. Good catches come from the sand at low water; especially from the bank north of the towers.

SPECIES Eel, bass and flounder are caught in summer and there is a chance of stingray, thornback ray and smoothhound. The venue produces plenty of whiting on calm winter nights and occasional cod to 201b.

BEST BAITS Peeler crabs are the only bait worth using in spring and summer, with a half crab fished on size 1 hooks. In winter, black lugworms, crabs, mackerel strip and white rag will catch whiting, flounder, rockling and cod.

TACKLE Most anglers use two or three hooks fished paternoster style. Although the venue looks rocky, tackle losses are limited.

GETTING THERE Take the A299 towards Ramsgate. The Reculver turning is signposted after Herne Bay. Turnings to Beltinge and Hillborough lead to Reculver and the car park.

TACKLE SHOPS Bowlers Angling Centre, 2-3 Cinema Parade, Dagenham, Tel: 0208 984 7533; Mark 2 Angling, 24-26 The High Street, Crayford, Tel: 01322 554545.

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