Guide to fishing on the Isle of Wight

We’re an Island, so naturally we are surrounded by sea and the water is full of fish – in fact the Isle of Wight’s 64 miles of coastline has some of the best fishing in the country. Nearly all the sea and freshwater fish that can be found in UK waters can be found on the Island's record lists. 

The Island has one of the most varied shore lines in the UK, with everything from steep shingle at beaches such as Blackgang and Freshwater; to sand at Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor; rocks such as those at Freshwater and Bembridge Ledge; and muddy harbours at places like Newtown and Yarmouth.

When to Fish

Although a year-round fishing destination the Isle of Wight’s slowest months are February and March with flounders being the best bet from the shore at this time whilst Blonde Ray and late Cod can be taken from a boat.

Spring and summer brings good shore sport for Smoothhound, Bass, Rays and Dogfish, whilst many spots for lure fishing for Bass are easily accessible for the visiting angler. Boat angling picks up through spring with inshore Bream, Bass and Ray.

Boats venturing out to the Mid-Channel wrecks will find excellent spots with Pollack, Summer Cod and Conger. Winter sees the start of the Flounder season from the Shore, and, if you're lucky, Cod, however, for the best chance of a Cod you need to be afloat.

Bembridge boats usually see the first Cod of the year but the Yarmouth boats usually get the bigger specimens. Yarmouth hosts the annual British Cod Championships in November, hosted by the West Wight Charter Skipper's Association.

Where to Fish

Chale Bay is the best beach for ray fishing on the Isle of Wight and you can catch thornback, blonde and small eyed rays, but is best fished during the day as access is via a steep cliff path. Specimen small eyed rays can be fished with frozen sand eel from late March through September, especially after a storm when the sea is coloured. Other species from this mark include bass, conger and mackerel in summer. Pouting and dogfish can be a pain.

A number of record fish have been taken from the Atherfield stretch, and the shingle beach, scattered with rock is easily reached via path alongside Atherfield holiday camp. Fishing after dark produces bass, rays and pout to mackerel, squid and cuttle baits and crab bait produces smooth hounds. Ragworm fished over the drying ledge to the far left of this mark produces large wrasse and bass to fish baits. There are large cod here in late autumn.

Brook has a shallow sandy beach and is a favourite for bass and smooth hound with the odd ray. It has a very shallow water mark which fishes best when the sea is coloured. Other species taken from this mark are conger, bass, pout, plus cod in autumn/winter.

Ventnor hasgreat fishing but if you don't survey the mark at low tide expect heavy tackle losses. The beach consists of a series of rocky ledges and gullies best fished with a rotten bottom rig. Expect bass, conger, pout and rockling when night fishing and wrasse and mullet during the day.

Freshwater has very easy access and produces pouting, bass, small pollack and few conger, but be sure to fish from the middle of beach when it is rough. You can survey at low tide and then fish after dark.

Pier Fishing

Fishing from Ryde pier, which at 681m is the longest, can produce a wide variety of species; bottom fishing will account for flounder, plaice, bream, smoothound and the occasional cod. Spinning or float fishing can work well for pollack, scad and bass. The tide at Ryde recedes along way so fishing is limited to either side of high tide and there are restrictions on which parts of the pier you can fish and a permit is required.

Sandown is the largest of the piers and can only be fished in the day time. Although the pier is 360 feet long you can only fish from the end, and must carry your gear through the attractions and arcades found along its length. Known for its excellent bass fishing with many high double figure fish caught each year, a UK record bass was caught from Sandown Pier in 2007 weighing 19lb 12oz. Other fish from this mark include mackerel, garfish, plaice, rays and smooth hound.

Yarmouth pier is far smaller but can be fished at night unlike Sandown. Flounder and mullet and school bass can be fished in the harbour and bass, smooth hound, rays, mackerel and bream from pier in summer. This is a notable cod venue in late autumn/winter. Note that the tide can be strong and grip leads maybe necessary. During late summer weed and spider crabs can be a pain.

Taking a Fishing Trip

Cachalot Charters in Bembridge offer great fishing on the ‘Robert Mark’, a 34ft Starfish charter boat, skippered by Chris Solomon, which islicensed for 12. She’s fully equipped for angling and has toilet and galley with all rods, tackle and bait available and beginners welcome – tuition given. The booking kiosk is located in Bembridge Marina, just off the Embankment Road. Trips start from £25per person for a two hour mackerel trip.

Departing from Yarmouth harbour, Black Rock Charters and Fishing’s boat ‘Alaminta’, Skipper Rob and crew member Nathan will take you out fishing to one of a number of fishing locations that produce various species of fish depending on the time of year. Fishing equipment of Penn braided multiplier reels and Penn 30+ class rods and Terminal tackle and bait is also included in their package. A two hour mackerel trip starts from £20 per adult.

Fishing in Fresh Water

We also have rivers, ponds and reservoirs for freshwater anglers that hold most species including Trout, Carp, Perch, Rudd and Roach with the exception of Barbel, Zander and Salmon. There are a number of private ponds and lakes, whilst the Isle of Wight Freshwater Angling Company (IWFAC) also has day ticket and membership waters. Visitors may join by contacting the local secretary Mr Will Skeldon.

Sites for Freshwater Fishing

Arreton, Hale Manor has a 2 ½ acre lake with a good head of Carp, Perch, Chub, Roach and Rudd.

Gunville Lake (IWFAC members only) is a 2 ½ acre lake with Tench, Carp, Pike, Roach, Rudd and Bream.

Nettlecombe Farm Whitwell has three ponds with some big Carp as well as small fish.

River Yar is well stocked with Carp and Roach. Contact IWFAC for details, as some stretches require permit or permission from landowner.

Rookley Country Park has a 2 acre lake well stocked with Roach and Carp.

Thorley Brook, Yarmouth can be accessed via road or footpath for Perch, Roach and Eels.

Island Farm and Meadow Lakes, Yafford has 2 acres of well stocked coarse and Trout fishing. Tel 01983 740941

Merston has three course lakes with all species.

Holliers fishing lakes are opening in June 2017 and has good disabled access and Bream, Roach, Tench, Carp, Rudd and Eel

These two camping grounds offer private coarse fishing: The Orchards Newbridge: Tel: 01983 531331 The Camping & Caravan Club, Adgestone: Tel: 01983 40343


Many thanks to www.uk-hooks.com and www.isleofwightholidays.com both really useful resources in finding out about fishing on the Isle of Wight.

Jo Macaulay

12 June 2017

By Jo Macaulay in Articles

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