About Portsmouth are traditions of bass, though very few are caught; but to the eastward, where the sewage of this important naval town empties itself into the sea at Langstone Harbour, there are plenty of flat fish. There is a little indifferent mackerel fishing in the Solent. Occasionally some bass are taken off Spithead.
In Chichester Harbour are found bass, mullet and smelts, and round Selsea Bill is some fair fishing for pollack and bass from boats—the sea is often lively here. Near the Bill is a little accommodation for fishermen ; the place is eight miles from the railway station.
Bognor is hardly worth considering ; but at Littlehampton, where the river Arun runs into the sea, there is fishing for mullet and bass. Occasionally some really good sport is obtained here. Wrasse, which are locally called rock tench, are very plentiful. The best of the mullet fishing is from the pier.
The sea fishing at Worthing is not notable, but Shoreham Harbour, which has of late years been thoroughly explored by Mr. J. C. Wilcocks, the author of the 'Sea Fisherman,' has yielded that gentleman a fair number of bass, though it is a place where a good many blank days must be expected. A few miles out some very large plaice and whiting are caught. Sand eels, which on the Sussex coast are called ' wriggles,' are to be obtained from the fishermen at Brighton, who catch them in whitebait nets. There are plenty of lug and rag worms to be obtained in the harbour.
I have a sentimental regard for Brighton, as being the place where I caught my first sea fish something more than a quarter of a century ago. I remember how proud I was on being told by the fishermen that I had caught the first silver whiting of the season, but I further recollect that our bag mainly consisted of dogfish.
At most of these South-coast watering-places the local fishermen cater for the cockney, who knows nothing whatever of sea fishing, and is well satisfied to be taken out half a mile or so to catch a couple of dozen whiting pout and small dogfish.
This used to be such a general rule that I had begun to regard Brighton and other places on that coast as most undesirable fishing resorts. But during the last few years the fishing grounds have been more thoroughly ascertained, and friends of my own have had some really fine fishing there in the autumn and early winter months for whiting, large plaice, congers, cod and bream ; but these fish are not to be taken close to the beach. Now and again, after rough weather, when the water is thick, large bass are caught from the groynes and piers ; the east side of the chain pier is the best. The general fishing from the piers is of no great account.
Among the fish which are caught off Brighton are bream, whiting pout, silver whiting, plaice, wrasse, conger, gurnards, and mackerel. Occasionally sharks are found. During September 1891 five were brought in varying from five to seven feet in length. In 1893 a large shoal of common dolphins of considerable size passed within sight of the town. Now and again I hear of bass being taken from the breakwaters, particularly the one at Rottingdean. Among the rocks at Rottingdean is a little prawning and shrimping, and occasionally a lobster is caught.
Of Eastbourne little need be said except with regard to bass, which are sometimes abundant off Beachy Head in September ; fishing from the pier is bad. At Bexhill there is some very fair cod and whiting fishing during the autumn and early winter.
At Hastings the fishing is certainly indifferent, except by going some distance seaward ; but here, again, small whiting pout may be caught from the pier. Thence, also, an occasional conger or bass may be landed. Near the stone groin at the easternmost end of the fishermen's settlement are some rocks sometimes frequented by bass.
In years gone by Dover Admiralty Pier used to afford first-rate sea fishing (codling, mullet, bass, whiting, &c), but the steamer traffic has worked evil things for the sea angler here, as in other places ; and though there are still fish to be caught, they are certainly not numerous. A very long rod is required for fishing from this pier, and the best sport is obtained by the favoured few who obtain orders to fish at the extreme end. In the autumn there is fair whiting fishing in the offing. There are various people in the town who sell baits. Ragworms, called locally lugs, are plentiful, and the enlarged ragworm which is found among rocks is also obtainable.
At Folkestone the fishing in the offing is very much the same as at Dover. There is some railing to be done over the rocky ledge near Cock Point, where, too, a few conger and pout are to be found. In Eastware Bay there is a sandy bottom on which flat fish may be caught, and between that bay and Shakespeare's Cliff is a rocky bottom over which the local men rail persistently, but do not, so far as I know, often meet with very great success.
Deal is the happy hunting ground of the London sea fisher. I have counted eighteen of them, all fishing with rods from the steamboat stage at the end of the pier. The fishing from the pier in summer would be doubtless better if there were not so many steamers touching at the landing-stage. The fishing in the right season is distinctly good, more particularly for whiting ; but the best sport is usually obtained during spring tides, and when the water is neither too thick from gales, nor too clear from absence of storms. A south-westerly gale, while it does not much affect the Deal coast, stirs up the Goodwin Sands and thickens the water to such an extent that fishing becomes almost impossible.
A few pollack are caught from the pier in July, sometimes later ; but the best of the fishing from that point of vantage is certainly in October and the early part of November. Herrings come to the place in great numbers in early autumn ; they are followed by the sprats, and they in their turn are pursued by the cod, which devour them. Later on, when the cold weather begins, the fish seek deeper water. While whiting fishing from boats in the Downs, it is customary to lay out a drift trot for cod or codling. A feature of the pier fishing is a sort of bait depot, at which one can buy lugworms, herrings, sprats, etc. The best bait to use from the pier for pollack are large rag-worms. Codling, flat fish, and whiting prefer lugs, whiting also not being averse to pieces of herring. In addition to the codling and whiting, there are flat fish, conger, and whiting pout, and I have more than once heard of good-sized lobsters being caught on rod and line from the pier. But I must temper this charming picture with just a sprinkling of cold water : there are many blank days both from pier and boats at Deal, but they should be few indeed if the angler chooses his time well and places himself in the hands of an experienced professional fisherman. During the autumn and winter there is no difficulty in finding the fishing grounds, for there are usually a score or more of boats to be seen out.