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Christchurch Harbour to Poole

Christchurch Harbour to PooleThis central southern part of Wessex (Kingdom of West Saxons) is steeped in history. Human inhabitants have been dated back to The Stone Age 10000BC. Hengisbury Head may well have seen the beginning of the Iron Age in Britain as iron diggings can be viewed at this point and may have spawned the beginning of Poole’s world-wide known pottery industry. Were it not for the actions of King Alfred in 876AD, our nationality could have been Danish. The Danish fleet were trapped in Poole Harbour and chased out and down the Channel.

The fishing here is incredibly varied with some marks in Christchurch Harbour as likely to produce sea trout, carp and freshwater bream as well as bass, flounders and mullet.

1. Stanpit Marshes, Christchurch Harbour.

Fabulous fishing, if you are prepared to specialise. A word of warning, an EA coarse licence and day permit from local tackle shops is required.

Access is via the road signposted to Mudeford from the A35 in Christchurch. Drive approximately 2 miles down the Mudeford road and park on the right in the clearly marked Stanpit Marshes car park. Walk the 1 kilometre down a user-friendly public towpath.

There are bass, thin and thick-lipped mullet here and good flounders, particularly in the winter. Coarse tactics work superbly for the mullet, especially the ‘method’ feeders with bread flake on a size 8 carp hook. Bass and flounders respond to small harbour rag on a two-hook flapper.

Thin-lipped mullet respond to a ‘Mepps-type’ spinner with a bunch of harbour rag a short distance behind the blade. Two hours either side of high water is the best time.

2. Hengistbury Head

This ‘mound’ was an Iron Age  quarry. Many died in medieval times, digging the iron ore as ‘Health and Safety’ was not yet on the agenda. Drive to Southbourne from Christchurch and look for signs for Hengisbury Head. There is a ‘narrow-gauge’ railway, which will deliver you near the Head if you ask the driver; otherwise it’s a near two mile hike from the car park.

Hengistbury Head is a 200 metre sea-defence and has a platform at the end. This is not a venue for the faint-hearted and should never be fished in rough weather. Exercise great caution with youngsters.

You are basically rock-fishing over sand and most of the fish are close in on the rocky structure. Bass, mackerel, wrasse, pollack and scad are in abundance.  Float fish when conditions allow with ragworm on a strong size 1 hook. Large bass can be caught at night using fresh mackerel or pout on a 4/0 Pennel.

3. The Kelp Beds

These beds can be seen on low water springs, and it’s worth checking them out before fishing. They are found beneath the awesome cliffs behind Hengistbury Head and start some fifty metres west of the mark. This, again, is rough-ground fishing from low water up. Size 1 ‘flappers’ with rag and crab will produce wrasse, bass and bream  in the summer and cocktails produce winter codling, whiting, pout and huge rockling. Generally, rotten bottom traces are not needed.

4. Double Dykes

This is a favourite with matchmen because the clean sand seems to produce small smoothhounds, bass, soles, pout and scad. Float fishing or using a ‘slider’ down the line produces garfish, mackerel and scad. A 5oz grip with a two hook flapper and size two hooks, should produce with ragworm. Small- eyed rays can show to sandeel baits.

The Double Dykes are clearly marked from Southbourne beaches with a Tourist Information shelter. They are easily accessed from the car parks near Hengisbury.

5. Holesbay Road

This mark is at the northern side of the vast Poole Harbour.

Poole Harbour is one of the world's largest natural harbours and it's extensive sheltered waters provide a magnificent haven for recreational fishing, sailing and water sports. The mudflats and salt marshes are of great ecological value for feeding and roosting birds.

This particular mark is easily accessed off the A 3049 dual carriageway. This is a terribly dangerous road to park on, but there are grass verges and no yellow lines; exercise caution. Fishing is very comfortable off the towpath. Eels, bass and average sized flounders are the mainstay for the summer months. In winter it’s all change. Flounders seem to run up to 4lbs, but you’ve done well to get one above that weight. Strong size 2 hooks on a ‘flapper’ are all that are needed, but try ‘pop-up’ anti-crab floats on your snoods.  Floating beads will work as  attractors and anti-crabbers.  Spring tides seem to produce more fish than neaps.

This is the ideal place to try out the ultra light carp/bass rod with 3 – 4 oz  maximum required.

6. Baiter Park

An apt name for a super mark. Easily found and just east of the Quay. You can fish out of the car for free here, but check local regulations when you park. Big winter flounders to 2 ½ pounds are prolific. Fish spring tides inside Poole Harbour. Crabs are a nuisance, so use pop-ups. Again a superb mark to use light gear. ‘Maddies’ score well here, but so will bunches of small ragworm on size two hooks. No need for more than 4 oz leads.

Tackle Shops:

Wessex Angling Centre
319/321 Wimborne Rd
01202 668244

Pro Angling
258 Barrack Lane
01202 484 518

© Adrian Farley 2010

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