In summer, one expects two things at Brighton Marina: A surprise species and a man with bad tattoos casting his mackerel feathers over your line.

Word gets around that the mackerel are in, and the walls around Brighton Marina fill up quickly. On this sunny July Saturday, the place was the busiest I’d ever seen. After a long walk, I squeezed into Bay 43 for the last two hours of the flood tide.

Brighton Marina's busy East Wall
Brighton Marina’s busy East Wall

The water was beautifully clear, but a fresh south-westerly breeze put a chop on the water, and sent spouts of water up the ‘V’-shaped gaps in the wall, to catch the unwary. I set up a rod for distance work and cast the ragworm baits as far as I could. My other rod was for more active fishing; scratching around for smaller species and casting for mackerel over the high tide.

The first fish came to the distance rod. I didn’t notice the bite, but the drag on the line whilst winding in, turned out to be a small flounder. This greedy flatfish – the first of this species I’ve caught in Brighton – swallowed two of the three baits.

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Flounder, Platichthys flesus

In rougher weather, I’ve noticed the fish stay a little further away from the walls. With my scratching rod a little further out that usual, I caught a pouting. These fish are common around the marina, but I didn’t get one on my visit last year.

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Pouting, Trisopterus luscus

I’ve never caught (or even seen) a red mullet before, so this next catch was a surprise. Its gorgeous red colouring rapidly fading into a pale blue before my eyes.

Red Mullet, Mullus surmuletus
Red Mullet, Mullus surmuletus

I caught a few more pouting on the scratching rod, but the distance rod was strangely untroubled. The worms were nibbled, but the only creature I pulled ashore today was a small starfish.

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The high tide neared, and a few strings of mackerel came to the nearby fishermen. I switched over to using Mustad Shrimpers. Thirty minutes of casting gave no return; the catches of my neighbours dwindled and I went back to scratching techniques. This resulted in a few more pouting, the catches receding with the tide.

Most of the fisherman I could see around me were concentrating on mackerel so I didn’t witness many other species come ashore today. Pouting were caught a few bays down, and it might have been a garfish I saw up in the higher-numbered bays.

At low tide, the mackerel hunters disappeared. For the sake of variety, I moved to the newly vacated bay to my right. It’s surprising what a difference of a few metres can make. A final half-hour in this new spot produced¬† a couple of Tompot Blennies and a couple of small Ballan Wrasse.

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Tompot Blenny, Parablennius gattorugine
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Ballan Wrasse, Labrus bergylta

Total Catch:

  • 1 Flounder
  • 6 Pouting
  • 1 Red Mullet
  • 2 Tompot Blenny
  • 2 Ballan Wrasse