Fishing in Sussex

Sussex, with its rolling Downs and wide, level Weald offers an abun-dance of sea fishing and plentiful coarse and game fishing in rivers, lakes and reservoirs.

The slow and stately south-flowing rivers give excellent summer fishing, and in the tidal reaches often offer mixed sea and freshwater fishing free of charge. The banks tend to be crowded in the holiday months, but in winter the angler can enjoy his sport with ample room.

The River Rother enters East Sussex before disappearing back into Kent and joining the Royal Military Canal. It was famed at one time for its big chub, which still present a challenge to the specimen-hunting angler. Fishing is available at Bodiam on a three-mile stretch both above and below the village, and day tickets are issued at the Bodiam Stores. In this region, a good mixed head of coarse fish in-cludes roach, bream, chub, some tench, and the odd trout. Unfor-tunately, day tickets are not avail- able when the water is block-booked for competitions at weekends.

At Rye, the Rother cuts back into the county, and, together with the canal and two and a half miles of coarse fishing from Rye to Wit-tenham, is available on day tickets obtainable in advance from tackle shops in Rye. The Rye and District Angling Society also issues day tickets for short stretches of the rivers Brede and Tillingham which run parallel with the major river and join it at Rye.

To the west lie the Pevensey Levels – marshland drained by in-numerable wide ditches, or sluices, many of which hold fish. The large waters are leased by private angling clubs, but an enterprising angler could obtain permission to fish from local landowners. Fish in the Levels include eels, roach, chub, bream, perch and pike.

The Cuckmere River rises near Heathfield and joins the Channel at Exceat near Beachy Head. Most of the water is private and preserved for trout fishing in its upper reaches, but one or two stretches are available. A most pleasant one is situated at Michelham Priory where the river flows round the buildings and forms part of the moat. Fishing is allowed on day ticket from the opening day of the season to the end of September only, and there is good coarse fishing, especially bream.

Above Alfriston, three and a half miles of coarse fishing are available on day ticket from the Compleat Angler Fishing Club, the tickets be-ing sold from the Compleat Angler Tackle Shop or Eastbourne Tackle Shop. Below Alfriston Lock to the sea, there is excellent free estuary fishing for large mullet with the occasional bass and flounder.

The Sussex Ouse, rising at Hor-sham and flowing through Sheffield Park and Lewes to join the sea at Newhaven, is tidal to a point well above Lewes. It contains coarse fish, but is best known for its run of sea trout, some fish running into double figures. The run begins in May and is at its best during the summer months. The upper reaches are private, but you can occasionally obtain permission to fish in the lower reaches from riparian owners.

Horsham to Shoreham

Another river rising near Horsham is the Adur, which runs coastwards to join the Channel at Shoreham. Although it is considered to be a coarse fishery offering roach, perch, chub, bream and a few dace, there is a run of sea trout that improves every year. The lower estuary reach is a favourite summer bass and mullet fishery.

Three-quarters of a mile of this river at Dial Post, upstream of the weir, is available on day ticket. These are available in advance at the tackle shop at Marine Place, Wor- thing; Lagoon Tackle at the Kings-way, Hove; or the Sports Shop in Worthing. There is also a three-mile day-ticket stretch at Steyning, from Beeding Bridge to Stretham Bridge on both banks, with tickets available at Steyning tackle shops.

Before the last war, the River Arun and its big catches of bream from the Stopham area made headline news in the angling press. The river, flowing through the north of Sussex and joining the Channel at Littlehampton, is mostly private, with a few stretches available on day tickets, offering good coarse fishing with some bream and pike.

At Amberley, two miles of fishing on both banks are available on day tickets issued from the cafe at Amberley Bridge, while the tackle shop in Arundel sells day tickets for both banks of the river between South Stoke and Arundel Bridge – a stretch where the occasional sea trout is taken by spinning. Then from Arundel Bridge to Littlehamp-ton there are five miles of free fishing on the right bank, with fair sport, especially for bass and mullet in the lower reaches.

The Western Rother, a tributary of the Arun joining it at Stopham, offers fishing for barbel, which were placed there from the River Severn several years ago and have thrived. Sea trout and brown trout are present, the latter through the stocking and restocking efforts of various local clubs. Fittleworth General Stores issue day tickets (Monday to Friday only) for a two-mile stretch between Stopham and Fittleworth Bridge. Four miles of fishing are then available from Coulteshaw Mill, where barbel were introduced, to Fittleworth, with tickets issued at the Red Lion Inn at Petworth.

Several lakes can be enjoyed in Sussex, the largest complex of which is the Southern Leisure Centre of Chichester. Here, Peckham’s Copse Trout Fishery has two trout lakes of 20 acres each, and there are five lakes for coarse fishing, containing bream, carp, perch, pike, roach, rudd and tench. Trout tickets are issued daily, and boats are available for hire. Day and season tickets are also issued for the coarse fishing, with reductions for juniors and OAPs. The lakes are situated at North Munham, south of the A27 Chichester bypass. There is also a bar, cafe and an outdoor heated swimming pool.

Near Petworth, Burton Mill Pond has fishing controlled by the West Sussex County Council and is available on day tickets obtainable at the site. Also in the Chichester area, the Chichester Canal can be fished on a day ticket obtainable from the Chichester Canal Angling Association or from Dunnaways Stores in Hunston Village south of Chichester on the B2145.

Reservoir anglers are well catered for. The famous Weir Wood Reservoir, 25 miles from London along the A22 road, has nearly 250 acres containing brown and rainbow trout, together with coarse fish. It is an all-ability fishery set in wonderful scenery in the Ashdown Forest and the reservoir is carefully controlled.

Arlington Reservoir, near Eastbourne, was formed five years ago by damming the Cuckmere River to form a 150-acre basin. Framed along its south bank by the Downs, it offers trout fishing on day tickets, with boat hire optional. The water is well stocked and the fishery is run by a resident bailiff.

Fishing is permitted from 7am to dusk, and anglers should remember that there is a size 10 hook limit on the water. Reservations must be made by telephoning Alfriston 870815. The water can be reached by train from Victoria to Berwick Station which is ten minutes from the reservoir bank, or via the A22 Eastbourne road, turning on to the B2108 at Lower Dicker.

Two reservoirs on the eastern side of the county contain trout and issue day tickets. They are especially useful for the holiday angler staying in the Hastings area. Darwell Reser-voir (155 acres) at Mountfield, and Powdermill Reservoir (54 acres) at Sedlescombe lie off the A21 just a few minutes outside Hastings. They are leased by the Hastings Fly-fishers’ Club, which restocks the water regularly and allows fishing from boats and banks. Reservations should be made by telephoning Robertsbridge 880407 for Darwell, and Sedlescombe 248 between 9am and 10am daily for Powdermill.

Hastings also has three reservoirs in the town controlled by the Hastings, Bexhill and District Freshwater Angling Association. Wishingtree Reservoir is a tench and carp fishery with a ban on keepnets and only ten day tickets issued per day, while Buckshole and Hamers Pond are general coarse fisheries. A day ticket covers both Buckshold and Hamers Pond and is available on the site. For Wishingtree Reservoir, tickets must be purchased in advance by sending s.a.e. To T Barton, 51 St Helen’s Park Rd, Hastings.

There are just three areas of free fishing in Sussex; a part of the River Arun at Arundel on the right bank to the Ford Railway Bridge, with tickets obtainable from the Southern Water Authority, and Pilt-down Pond near Uckfield. The third, and very popular place, is the large Heath Pond on the south-eastern edge of Petersfield – a good fishery which offers roach and perch with some double-figure carp.

Sussex sea marks

For the sea angler, there are a succession of marks and shore stations along the coastline that can, even at this present time of lean sea sport, give a good day’s fishing. At Hastings, anglers fishing off the beach between the Harbour Arm and East Groyne catch species that include bass, cod, conger and dogfish in season.

Eastbourne offers varied sport, ranging from fishing for flatfish in the Pevensey Bay area, to bass and cod fishing from the beach at Langney Point. Catches off the pier include red and black bream and mullet, while further along the coast at Beachy Head, the shore angler may meet with conger and bass, depending on the state of the tide. Offshore marks – especially around the Royal Sovereign Light – provide angler fish, bass (especially towards Beachy Head) cod, conger, dogfish, tope, sole and the occasional turbot. Newhaven is a boating centre although there is some fishing available in the harbour. Most boats are equipped for reaching deep sea marks, and are fitted with echo- sounders, two-way radio, and all possible comforts. They get to grips with the offshore wrecks some 15-20 miles out, and are noted for their catches of big Channel cod.

Fishing from Brighton’s Banjo, Medina and Russel Street beaches, and from the pier and Worthing pier, offer sport with bass, conger, cod, mullet, plaice and whiting, with similar species coming to the boat on offshore marks. Littlehampton is naturally renowned for its catches of black bream, which are taken several miles out in boats that also find bull huss, bass, conger, dogfish, gurnard and ling.