Brighton Marina, my default south-coast fishing venue, had severely restricted fishing due to wall repairs. I dropped by the venue’s fishing shop – the Tackle Box – regardless and picked up some bait. In a way, the out-of-bounds east wall was a good thing; it forced me out of my comfort zone into trying new locations. I chose two of the ‘havens’ which run in an almost unbroken strip amongst the famous chalk cliffs of the English Channel.
There’s a convenient fishing spot, next to a pub, at the mouth of Newhaven Harbour. The tide was already dropping as I looked over the railings into the fairly murky water. My plan was to fish for the smaller species, hoping to catch something new.
I set up a drop-shot rig, with a size-10 hook, and used the last few of the pink Isome worms that had worked for me in Sardinia last month. I dangled the baited hook next to the wooden pilings beneath me. The nibbling bites started almost immediately. The fish took the Isome but not the hook, forcing constant re-baiting from my diminishing stock. Eventually, a fish was hooked. I swung the blenny up and over the railing.
A couple of neighbouring fishermen ran over to take a look. The Tompot Blenny is a common catch in such spots (even surprising me by turning up in the Mediterannean) but these chaps hadn’t seen one before. They weren’t having much luck today, so I suggested drop-shotting with smaller hooks closer in.
Using the same technique, I also bagged a brace of small pouting. So far, the results were similar to Brighton Marina.
With the last of the Isomes gone, I switched over to ragworm. I baited up a shop-bought 3 x size-2 hook flapper rig and lobbed it over the rail. I suspected these ‘large’ hooks would be too big for the tiny fish I was catching. I set the rod against the railings and sat down to build something more appropriate. I took another rig from the packet and started swapping over the size-2 hooks for size-6 hooks. Before I could finish this task, the top of the rod started bouncing. I reeled in a sea scorpion, whose wide mouth easily consumed the hook.
The tiny barbels on the side of the fish’s mouth and long spines, indicate that this was (unsurprisingly) a long-spined sea scorpion. A ferocious looking little beast, but not venomous; completely harmless to anything bigger than a shrimp.
I dropped the spiky fish back into the water, re-baited, and lowered the rig into the rapidly diminishing water. I needn’t have worried about the water depth. The Newhaven-Dieppe ferry didn’t as it passed by, barely a rod’s length away.
This signalled the end of fishing at this mark. It would be good to catch something that couldn’t sit comfortably on the palm of my hand. I moved a few miles up the coast, to try for a bass.
A stunning looking location, but the less said about the second half of the day really…
Slippery steps. Heavy fall. Broken Rod. Not happy at all.
Wet feet. Crabs steal bait. Lost rigs. Not that great.
- 1 Tompot Blenny
- 2 Pouting
- 1 Long-spined Sea Scorpion