The fishing here is incredibly varied with some marks in Christchurch Harbour just as likely to produce sea trout, carp and freshwater bream as well as bass, flounders and mullet!

This central southern part of Wessex (Kingdom of West Saxons) is steeped in history. Humans are known to have inhabited the area as far back as 10,000BC. Hengisbury Head may well have seen the beginning of the Iron Age (around 1,000BC) in Britain as iron diggings can be viewed at this point. It is also possible that Poole’s worldwide known pottery industry began here.
Were it not for the actions of King Alfred in 876AD, our nationality could have been Danish! The Danish fleet were trapped in Poole Harbour and chased out and down the Channel.
As far as the fishing goes, you can expect some excellent light-tackle sport with bass and mullet at most of the marks mentioned. There’s even some scope for lure fishing.

1 Stanpit Marshes
A word of warning, an EA rod licence and day permit from local tackle shops is required here. Access is via the road signposted to Mudeford from the A35 in Christchurch. Drive approximately two miles down the

Mudeford Road

and park on the right in the clearly marked Stanpit Marshes car park. Walk a kilometre down a user-friendly public towpath. There are bass, thin and thick-lipped mullet here and good flounders, particularly in the winter. Coarse tactics work superbly for the mullet, while bass and flounders respond to small harbour rag on a two-hook flapper. Two hours either side of high water is the best time.

2 Hengisbury Head
This ‘mound’ was an Iron Age quarry. Many died in medieval times digging the iron ore, as ‘Health and Safety’ was not yet on the agenda. Drive to Southbourne from Christchurch and look for signs for Hengisbury Head. There is a narrow-gauge railway, which will deliver you near the Head if you ask the driver – otherwise it’s a near two-mile hike from the car park! Hengisbury Head is a 200-metre long sea defence with a platform at the end. You are basically rock fishing over sand and most of the fish are close in on the rocky structure. Bass, mackerel, wrasse, pollack and scad are in abundance.

 3 The Kelp Beds
These beds can be seen on low-water springs, and it’s worth checking them out before fishing. They are found beneath the awesome cliffs behind Hengisbury Head and start some 50 metres west of the mark. This, again, is rough-ground fishing from low water up. Size 1 flapper rigs with ragworms and crabs will produce wrasse, bass and bream in the summer, and cocktails produce winter codling, whiting, pouting and huge rockling. Generally, rotten-bottom traces are not needed.

4 Double Dykes
This is a favourite with matchmen because the clean sand seems to produce small smoothhounds, bass, sole, pouting and scad. Float fishing or using a ‘slider’ down the line produces garfish, mackerel and scad. A 5oz grip with a two-hook flapper and size 2 hooks should produce with ragworms. Small-eyed rays can show to sandeel baits. The Double Dykes are clearly marked from Southbourne beaches with a Tourist Information shelter. They are easily accessed from the car parks near Hengisbury.

5 Holesbay Road
Poole Harbour is one of the world’s largest natural harbours. This particular mark is easily accessed off the A3049 dual carriageway. This is a terribly dangerous road to park on, but there are grass verges and no yellow lines. Fishing is very comfortable off the towpath. Eels, bass and average-sized flounders are the mainstay for the summer months. In winter it’s all change. Flounders seem to run up to 4lb, but you’ve done well to get one above that weight. Strong size 2 hooks on a flapper rig are all that are needed. Spring tides seem to produce more fish than neaps.

6 Baiter Park
An apt name for a super mark, easily found just east of the quay. You can fish out of the car for free here, but check local regulations when you park. Big winter flounders to 2lb are prolific. Fish spring tides inside Poole Harbour. Crabs are a nuisance, so use floating beads on your rigs to help combat them. Again, a superb mark to use light gear. Maddies score well here, but so will bunches of small ragworms on size 2 hooks. There’s no need to go any heavier than a 4oz lead.

Tackle Shops Poole
Wessex Angling Centre, 319/321 Wimborne Road. Tel: 01202 668244.
A C Angling, 4 Victoria Road, Parkstone. Tel: 01202 734451.
Castaways, 78 Ashley Road, Parkstone. Tel: 01202 739202.
Sea Fishing Poole , Fisherman’s Dock, The Quay. Tel: 01202 679666.
Poole Sea Angling Centre, Rear of 5 High Sreet. Tel: 01202 676597.

Tackle Shops Christchurch
Pro Angling
, 258 Barrack Lane. Tel: 01202 484 518.
Davis Fishing Tackle,
75 Bargates. Tel: 01202 485169.

Total Sea Fishing