A few miles onward is Dartmouth, a town on the west side of the estuary of the Dart. The extensive harbour is deep and frequently contains large numbers of sea fish, including mackerel. There is fishing for pollack outside the harbour round headlands and rocks well known to the local men ; and occasionally bass are taken round the Mewstone and eastern Black stone. There are extensive whiting grounds off Dartmouth.
Brixham, on the south side of Tor Bay, is of more importance to the professional fisherman than to the amateur, being one of the oldest ports of the deep-sea trawlers. From Brixham across Tor Bay to Torquay there is a good deal of excellent fishing for mackerel, flat fish, pollack, and, in good seasons, bass. Whiting are sometimes very abundant in the bay, but are more often found further out. Bass in immense quantities frequent the rocks west of Berry Head. There is excellent bream fishing off this part of the coast.
At Torquay there is a little fishing to be had from the pierhead, but it is bad during an east wind. A few pollack can be caught from any projecting rocky point, and particularly from the reefs of rocks below Daddy Hole Plain. Pollacking from boats is practised round the Shag Rock and the Thatcher, and occasionally a few bass are caught. Lying between Brixham and Torquay is Paignton, a pleasant little watering-place.
Next comes Teignmouth, on the harbour bar of which bass are sometimes very plentiful during the summer months. The principal sport with these fish is obtained inside the bar of the harbour. A bridge here, from which fishing is occasionally obtained, crosses the river to the pretty village of Shaldon. Sand smelts and flat fish are fairly abundant, as also are mackerel and pollack. There is usually no difficulty in obtaining mussels, sand eels, and other bait. The boat hire is usually moderate, and many of the boatmen are clever at bass fishing.
Passing Dawlish we come to Exmouth, another sea-fishing station on a large river estuary. In the harbour flat fish are plentiful, and, at times, bass. Outside, off Strait Point and other headlands, there is very fair fishing for pollack. The mackerel fishing is good.
A few miles onward is Budleigh Salterton, a pretty little village where there is fair sea fishing ; whiting pout are plentiful close to the village. The mackerel fishing is good, and occasionally there is fair sport with bass near the mouth of the Otter River, up which shoals of mullet sometimes are found.
Sidmouth may be passed by. Beer is a village of fishermen ; there is some pollacking round Beer Head, and the usual sea fishing found on this part of the coast a few miles out. At Seaton, not far from Beer, is very fair sea fishing, and a little trout and salmon fishing in the river Axe. Seaton used to be a good place for bass, but in common with all parts of our coast these fish are far scarcer than formerly.
I rather linger over the west country. The scenery is beautiful ; the climate, if somewhat relaxing, is pleasant ; the manners of the people are charming ; and the sea fishing is generally excellent.
As we travel eastward along the south coast the sport certainly does not improve. Off Lyme Regis there is much the same sea fishing as at Seaton. At Bridport is a harbour where a little bass fishing can be done from the pierhead. There is some pollacking to be had, and flat fish, for the bottom is sandy. Further out is very fair whiting fishing. It is worth knowing that whiting pout on this part of the coast are called blinns or blains.
The watering-place of Weymouth possesses an excellent harbour, and the bay is extended by the magnificent Portland breakwater, from which a good deal of fishing is done. Congers and whiting pout are the principal fish taken from the breakwater, and there is always a chance of a bass from the pierhead, at the mouth of the harbour. Large mullet and bass are caught from the bridge over the Fleet, the tidal backwater which connects Abbotsbury and Portland Bay. In the harbour itself there are plenty of smelts and small flat fish ; and a few bass, small pollack and grey mullet are caught at times from the little weir. The shallow lagoons at the back of the weir are unmercifully netted.
Some miles out the usual sea fish are caught. Mackerel fishing begins in May. The best of the line fishing is during the summer months and early autumn ; boats sometimes catch twelve or eighteen dozen fish. Pollack are medium-sized and plentiful between Ratcliffe Head and Meup Rock, east of Lulworth. This place has often been strongly recommended ; but, so far as my experience goes, it is uncertain, and, as I have said, if anybody wants really good fishing he should go further west.
To the eastward of Weymouth, between Swanage and St. Albans Head, is very fair pollack fishing. Poole Harbour is of no particular account except for eels and smelts, and, it need hardly be said, flat fish ; but occasionally there are plenty of whiting in the deep water between Branksea Island and the harbour mouth.
Bournemouth was once a noted place for bad fishing ; but since the population of the town has increased, the sewage appears to have attracted the fish, and very large takes are now being made every autumn not far from the pierhead, where the drains discharge themselves into the sea. Besides the fishing over the sewer, there are a good many wrasse, pouts, dabs, and other fish to be taken about a mile or a mile and a half from the pierhead. Owing to the steam traffic there is hardly any fishing from the pier; but things are a little better at Boscombe Pier, one and a half mile distant. Bass, pollack, and mackerel are at times fairly plentiful off Christchurch at the common mouth of the Stour and the Avon.
With regard to the Solent and Southampton Water little need be said. Huge steamers, torpedo practice, men-of-war, gunnery practice, and all the other incidents of our present high state of civilisation have driven away most of the fish, sand dabs and plaice (good takes of which are sometimes made in winter close to the Brambles shoal) perhaps excepted. There is also whiting fishing on the north edge of the Brambles, and on the Peel and Middle banks. In the early autumn a good many whiting and not a few flat fish are caught off Cowes, but the tidal currents are so strong that fishing can only be carried on for about two and a half hours between the tides. Bass and mullet are sometimes seen, but rarely caught in the Medina. The Solent is mercilessly trawled.