IF a variety of species is your bag, then you
really should take a look at this area. Over recent years there have been some spectacular catches made, including stingrays, golden grey mullet and big bass.
Situated between Bognor Regis and Worthing on the Sussex coast, Littlehampton has a real fishing pedigree. Known as ‘Hampton’ in medieval times, it was christened Littlehampton by sailors so as to avoid confusion with the other port of Hampton, later to become Southampton.
It is a laid-back holiday resort, like the old ‘Brighton Belle’ steamer which is berthed here suggests. Its greatest assets for angling are the River Arun and the Kingmere Rocks, a few miles offshore.
You can expect to catch anything from golden grey mullet to bass, gurnards, stingrays and flounders here, so it’s well worth a go.
This mark lies about 2km to the west of the Arun estuary and is well signposted from the A259. Be careful down the narrow lane. There is ample parking at the seafront for a small charge. More correctly, the beach area is named Atherington on maps. It’s a very shallow, sandy beach with one or two patches of weed-covered shale in the summer. You have a better than average chance of stingrays in the summer and take the locals’ advice and use hermit crabs as bait. Peelers and king ragworm are rated close second choices. There are various summer species like eels, gurnards and bass. Flounders are present in winter and they forage on the post-storm limpets.
The Swing Bridge
This is found by looking for the two adjacent pubs as you leave the A259 to enter Littlehampton from the west. From the east, it is 400 metres past the railway station on the left. Light float gear should produce mullet between the ironwork after lots of free offerings of mashed bread. In winter there are flounders to small ragworms. Don’t dig your own, because the banks have been carefully shored up to prevent flooding. Bass can be taken on lures and bait as far up as Arundel on this tidal river. Several locals report shoals of bass up to 3lb surrounding a reed patch! Malcolm at Tropicana recorded an 18lb 8oz bass from the river in 2001.
Anywhere along the east and west harbour mouths can produce bass to lures. Over high water in darkness, a free-lined mackerel fillet and pouting can give great results. There are mullet to be caught all along here in summer and flounders in winter. The thick-lipped mullet can be very timid, so be prepared to groundbait with bread and use freshwater fishing tactics. Bottom fishing is not recommended due to a large amount of snags.
If you do want to have a go for the flounders, try casting short with worm or fish baits, but expect tackle losses to be high, especially on big tides.
The Harbour Mouth Bar
Now this is fun. At low water, boats cannot enter or leave the harbour mouth because of the Littlehampton Bar. This is found by accessing the east side of the beach by the amusements. There is a wall which runs out to the bar. Fish collect above the bar and wait for the flood tide. Fly fishing works well here for the bass in settled, calm conditions in summer. The local tackle shop stocks a very impressive range of sea flies as a result. Spinning and plugging also work here. Early morning and late evening are the times for lure fishing. In winter, it’s mostly whiting and flounders that make up bags.
This small, unspoiled seaside town is found off the A259 from the Body Shop factory roundabout. It’s 2km east of Littlehampton. There is ample parking and the old sewer pipe, which no longer spews its effluent, is right by the swimming pool/leisure centre. There is ‘pay and display’ and a 50-metre walk to the beach.
There are loads of lugworm casts here and bass, flounders and eels are the main summer quarry. Large bass, however, need big mackerel baits presented over high water at night. School bass and flounders are here throughout the year.
Just a short 10-minute ride east from Rustington, turn left at the traffic lights in the town and go down the very narrow approach road. There is a fair-sized car park behind the dinghy club and caravans and camping are welcome. There is a theory that the stingrays move along these beaches from Pagham to Worthing in the summer, so you are always in with a chance over high water.
Crab and large ragworm baits will increase your chances. Bass, flounders and eels are the mainstay here. These beaches are high water marks only, while the river fishes best from low water up.
Tropicana, 5-6 Pier Road, Littlehampton, West Sussex, BN17 5BA, tel: 01903 715190.
TF Top Tip
If you’re fishing at Clymping, try blasting out a hermit crab bait for the chance of a big stingray. A spoon and beads baited with ragworm is a killer method for catching flounders and golden grey mullet.
Article by Adrian Farley