South Parade Pier is one of the main landmarks on the seafront at Southsea. What’s more,

it’s the perfect place for youngsters to grab their first taste of sea fishing.

Situated between Southsea Castle and the boating lake, it affords a stable platform some 400 metres into the Solent. There are exquisite views across the Solent and to the Isle of Wight.

This really is a family venue where beginners are almost certain to catch fish. There are restaurants, toilets, a bar and an adjacent shopping centre. The nearby D-Day museum, Southsea Castle, Sea Life Centre and swimming pools really turn this venue into something special.

The pier is fishable at all states of the tide, but the best prospects are three hours up and three hours down from high water.

This is predominantly a summer venue, offering bass, pollack, smoothhounds, mackerel, garfish, wrasse, scad, bream and pouting. Big, thick-lipped mullet can also be seen here sucking at the algae on the ironwork. There is a good run of whiting and some codling in the winter.

There is a lot of room along the seafront to park up, but the meters are expensive for a  whole day. There is all-day free parking alongside the boating lake (St Helen’s Parade) next to the pier. There is also some parking in the back streets down Granada Road to the left of the lake.

There are toilets at the west side of the pier, and through the pier lounge, which is licensed.

To fish after you need to be a member of the Pier Fishing Club (details are available from the small tackle shop near the pier entrance). Day tickets will be brought to you by a steward and cost approximately £2 a rod.

Under The Pier
This is not strictly a pier mark at all. Approach the left-hand side of the pier, facing seawards, and walk down the shingle beach directly under the Pier Café. At times, the bass seem suicidal here and the surface can become alive with feeding shoals. Shrimps and prawns, available from the adjacent boating lake, are prime baits. Fish from three hours before high water and your baits will be taken under the pier stanchions. A bubble float offers the perfect presentation of small live prawns and pouts. Early morning and dusk are ideal times to target these close-in bass. Lures and plugs could be effective here when the bass can be seen shoaled up.

The Bay
This is the name given to the more open area directly outside the pub bar on the left-hand side of the pier. Feathers, artificial eels and float-fished strips of mackerel can take bass, mackerel, scad and pollack here. Let the baits/lures run under the fairly-clean area of ironwork of the pier. Three hours before high water sees the beginning of the westerly run of tide, and this is the best time to fish this mark. Baitfish form large shoals and the predators are never far behind. Quite frequently the pier can become alive with marauding bass on the surface; truly a sight to behold.

The Ironwork
This term refers to the iron cross-structures, which hold up the jetty at the head of the pier. Beware, as storms have given the pier a pounding over the decades, and countless piles and planks form a natural fish-holding reef in these areas. It is possible to lower small livebaits into the holes of these structures, but be warned, you are bound to lose some gear. Go for 30lb line straight through and use a rotten bottom to save on these losses. Besides the bass, which can run to 10lb, there are large scad, wrasse to 6lb and sizeable pollack to be caught. Youngsters can be assured of good sport here when lowering small baits on size 4 hooks straight down. Wrasse, pollack, pout and bream will be taken.

Top Left-Hand Corner
Go down the steps to the pier-head jetty and to the left-hand corner. Three hours before high water the tide will move quite gently from left to right, carrying float-fished baits into the structures. Float fishing is ideal here and many of the local anglers use a carp or even freshwater match rod, small fixed spool reel and 10lb line. A waggler or chubber-type float taking about 10 grammes is about right. Set the float at one to 2.5 metres deep and have a hooklength of approximately 75cm, culminating in a size 6 carp hook. A tiny strip of mackerel skin closely matches the small fry that can appear as ‘black clouds’ at times. Garfish are the chief quarry here, although quantities of mackerel, scad, smelt, pollack and bream will also be taken using this method. Pollack and bass can be taken using ragworm and strips of squid.

The Front Of The Pier
This is the seaward-facing part of the jetty. If you can cast towards Ryde Church (IOW), then you are in the right spot. There used to be extensive mussel beds 30 to 40 metres out, where giant plaice to 5lb were regularly taken. Sadly these beds have suffered from the effects of trawling, and the sea bed is now rather bare. Standard beach gear with flowing traces and paternosters will still take the odd plaice in spring and autumn, but the plaice fishing is no longer assured. Ragworm is the chief bait here, but peeler crab, razorfish and mackerel strip will take a variety of species. After dark on summer nights some very large smoothhounds are taken from the front of the pier on crab and ragworm baits.

The Right-Hand Corner
This used to be the prime big plaice mark and still produces some good fish in March right through till June. Aim your casts towards the old World War II fort. Bass and smoothhounds can be taken on peeler crab and ragworm baits, particularly early morning and dusk.

The pier-head sees a good run of whiting in the winter and occasionally codling or even larger cod. The best winter bait is lugworm tipped with squid strip or mackerel.

Tackle Shops
Lock Stock and Tackle, 26 Elm Grove, Tel: 02392 812 478.

TF Top Tip
Float fishing with small hooks can produce a whole host of mini-species. Go on… have some fun. Use a strong line; 30lb to 50lb straight through if you’re fishing among the metalwork in search of a bass.

Total Sea Fishing