The Kent coast offers some of the finest sea angling in the British Isles. Many species are encountered with cod predominant, particularly during the autumn and winter. The great advantage of fishing this coastline is that excellent fishing can often be had only a mile or two beyond the embarkation point.
There is good fishing up the Thames as far as Gravesend and the Isle of Sheppey, but this is estuary fishing. Open sea fishing begins at Whitstable, which can be reached directly from London via the M2 and A299. Boat anglers can expect to find dabs, whiting and cod in winter, and flounders, eels and bass in summer. Shore anglers enjoy beachcasting for the same species from the gentle shelving beach east of the harbour.
Four miles to the east of Whitstable lies Heme Bay on the A299. Several available charter boats will take anglers to the famous Pansands for the excellent bass fishing in the summer, or to the broken ground off Reculver for winter cod fishing. Most varieties of seafish are caught in the appropriate seasons with thornback ray and smooth-hounds especially prolific during the peeler crab season in April, May and June. For the shore angler, fishing from the Eastern Promenade can be very rewarding, particularly in the autumn and winter after dark.
The beach at Reculver shelves gently, and thornback and stingrays are caught during spring and summer and cod and whiting in autumn and winter. Shore angling is good for another two miles to the east.
Several charter boats are on hire from the harbour at Margate. Excellent bass and thornback ray are caught during spring and summer. The North Foreland Lighthouse is south-east of Margate, and the Elbow Buoy is aproximately three miles out at sea from this point. Though one can expect the finest cod fishing to be had in the British Isles, many dinghy anglers favour the Longnose Buoy which is nearer, being a mile offshore, and where similar catches can be made. During the summer, bass fishing is good off the inshore chalk ledges and artificial lures are very successful. In the town itself most varieties can be taken, depending on the season.
Broadstairs, on the A225 about 4 miles south-east of Margate, has a harbour where boats can be chartered to fish the same area as the Margate boats. Shore angling is possible from the harbour arm and from the chalk ledges north and south of the town.
South of Broadstairs, Ramsgate is on a direct route from London via the M2, A222 and A253. With its very large harbour and excellent boat facilities, it accommodates both individual and charter anglers. The boats fish as far as the Elbow Buoy, particularly in winter for cod, at North Goodwins for thornback ray during the summer and at Quern Bank for bass. Pegwell Bay is good for flatfish and whiting. Shore angling takes place from the harbour arms and a large variety of fish are caught, although the ground is rather snaggy from the western arm. Large shoals of mullet abound inside the harbour during the summer months and can be caught on freshwater tackle. Other shore stations in the area include the Chines and Under-Cliffe.
Although Sandwich lies a mile inland from the coast there is a road through the sand dunes to the shore. The chalk of Ramsgate has now given way to sand and shingle and excellent sport can be had by the beach angler from this point. Big catches of cod are made during the autumn and winter and flatfish, including soles, in the summer.
Deal is the Mecca of sea angling. Large numbers of charter boats are launched from the steeply-shelving shingle beaches, and just about every species of seafish has been caught at some time in these waters. A number of wrecks, particularly on the Goodwin Sands, provide good conger fishing, and in the summer tope and thornback are still caught in fair numbers over the sands. There is often good plaice fishing north of the town and south of Kingsdown, but the town’s reputation is primarily for winter cod and whiting. Angling is allowed throughout the year from the modern pier, and night fishing is permitted at weekends.
Known as the gateway to England, Dover boasts a magnificent harbour with several angling charter boats. This is the narrowest part of the English Channel and the tides are therefore the strongest, but on neap tides the fishing is good, particularly for conger, cod and pollack found among the many wrecks. Varne Bank, lying nearly half-way across the Channel, can provide good cod fishing throughout the summer with brill and turbot often a bonus. For the shore angler, the large harbour provides plenty of opportunity, although the eastern arm has been closed to anglers for many years. The Southern Breakwater is only accessible by boat, but a ferry service is available for a nominal charge. Admiralty Pier has free fishing and is famous for the vast shoals of mackerel during the summer.
Approximately five miles west of Dover, Folkestone harbour has charter boats which fish Varne Bank in summer and good inshore fishing in winter. For the shore based angler there is the British Rail Harbour Arm where anglers may fish for a small charge. West of Folkestone, the first mile of shingle beach runs off to snaggy ground, and further westward gives way to sand. This beach extends for four and half miles, and has many species, including bass, conger, plaice, cod and whiting. To the west of Hythe are the Military Ranges, where fishing is normally prohibited except on special occasions.
From Hythe to Dungeness the tide goes out so far that very little beachfishing is possible, but at Dungeness itself, on the B2071, the steep shelving beach of shingle and the deep water make it ideal for the beach angler after cod. In summer, Dungeness and Dengemarsh provide excellent sole fishing and quite often large shoals of mackerel come right to the water’s edge. Nearly all species of seafish are available and even a small thresher shark has been caught from the beach here.