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LittlehamptonLittlehampton lies at the foot of the South Downs at the mouth of the River Arun between Bognor Regis and Worthing. Its award winning, safe, clean, sandy beaches and record sunshine levels makes it an ideal family destination. The foreshore is of firm sand, with safe bathing except near the river mouth where the rising tide is treacherous.


These are the well known marks in the area:

  • River Arun: Species present for much of the year are Bass, Flatties, Eels and Smelt. March to November sees greater numbers including Mullet.
  • Swing Bridge: This spot is well known for shoals of Mullet during the summer. Fishing is normally with freshwater tackle, small hooks, self-cocking floats and bread fished at a depth where the bait is just lost from sight. The location is found by looking for the two adjacent pubs as you leave the A259 to enter Littlehampton from the west. From the east, they are 400 metres past the railway station on the left. This is ‘mullet heaven’. Some local coarse anglers use ‘poles’ to good effect when tidal conditions allow. Light ‘wagglers’ should produce between the ironworks after lots of free offerings of mashed bread. In winter there are flounders to small ragworms. Don’t irritate the authorities here by digging your own, because the banks have been carefully shored up to prevent flooding. Bass can be taken on lures and bait as far up as Arundel on this tidal river. An interesting observation is that as the river becomes increasingly brackish, bass seem to show their sophisticated predatory instincts. Several locals report shoals of bass up to 3 pounds or so surrounding a reed patch. One of their number darts in and sends the shoals of small dace and roach scattering from their cover. The rest of the shoal complete the ambush! I have seen this as far up river as Pulborough on big flood tides. The late Malcolm Pearce, former owner at Tropicana, recorded an 18-8-0 bass from the river in 2001. Bass, like mullet, seem able to tolerate near freshwater.
  • Inner Harbour: Both east and west sides of the harbour may be fished wherever access can be had. Spinning or legering for Bass, float fishing for Mullet.Anywhere along the east and west harbour mouth can produce bass to lures. Over high water, in darkness, free-lined mackerel fillets and pout can give great results. There are mullet to be caught all along here in summer and flounders in winter. The thick-lipped mullet can be very timid, so be prepared to groundbait with bread and use freshwater tactics. Bottom fishing is not recommended due to snags.
  • Harbour Mouth Wall: At low water, boats cannot enter or leave the harbour mouth because of the Littlehampton Bar. This is found by accessing the east side of the beach by the amusements. There is a wall, which runs out to the Bar. Fish collect above the Bar and wait for the flood tide. Fly fishing works well here in settled calm conditions in summer. The local tackle shop stocks a very impressive range of sea-flies as a result. Spinning and plugging also work here. Early and late are the times for lure fishing. In winter, it’s mostly whiting and flounders. The wall is alo ideal for catching Smelt for use as bait for Bass. Fish tiny feathers tight to the wall.
  • Climping: Climping lies about 2km to the west of the Arun estuary and is well signposted from the A259. Be careful down the narrow lane, but there is ample parking at the Sea Front for a small charge. More correctly, the beach area is named Atherington on maps. It’s a very shallow, sandy beach with one or two patches of weed-covered shale in the summer.  You have a better than average chance of sting rays in the summer and take the locals’ advice and use hermit crabs as bait. Peelers and king ragworms rate a close second choice. There are various summer species like eels, gurnards and bass. After a blow, try slipper limpets close in for bass. Flounders are present in winter and again they forage on the post-storm limpets. Occasionally, in August, you may locate Golden Grey Mullet. 2 hours either side of high water only here.
  • Elmer: 10 minutes to the west is Elmer where recently constructed sea defences have produced deeper pools where fish are often clearly visible. Bait fishing or spinning methods are used.
  • Felpham-Middleton: Just 6 miles to the west of Littlehampton is Felpham and from here to Middleton the beach is similar to Climping.
  • Rustington: Less than two miles east of Littlehampton is Rustington which provides deeper water than Littlehampton giving a longer fishing time. This small, unspoiled seaside town is found off the A259 from the Body Shop factory roundabout. It’s 2km east of Littlehampton. There is ample parking and the old sewer pipe, which no longer spews its effluent, is right by the swimming pool/leisure centre. There is ‘pay and display’ and a 50 metre walk to the beach.There are loads of lug-casts here and bass, flounders and eels are the main summer quarry. Large bass, however, need big mackerel baits presented over high water at night. School bass and flounders are here throughout the year.
  • East Preston: Three miles to the east of Littlehampton, East Preston has a small bay and rocks. This mark is favoured for Channel Whiting and Cod around the turn of the year. There is a fair-sized car park behind the dinghy club and caravans and camping are welcome.There is a theory that the sting rays move along these beaches from Pagham to Worthing in the summer, so you are always in with a chance over high water. Crab and large ragworm baits will increase your chances. Bass, flounders and eels are the mainstay here. These beaches are high water marks only, while the river fishes best from low water up.

Type of Ground

Mostly clean sand with occasional rock outcrops. Due to the clear and shallow water all marks fish better at night unless there has been a blow to dirty the water. Fishing is also better each side of the high tide when the water is deeper.


  • Bass: Most of the year but a better chance with the arrival of warmer weather.
  • Channel Whiting: December – March.
  • Cod: Same as above but longer casting required.
  • Smooth Hound: April – August.
  • Sting Ray: Occasional caught when fishing for Smooth Hound in August.
  • Golden Grey Mullet: For a few days in August a shoal appears at Climping.
  • Dog Fish: February – April.
  • Flatties: Winter and Spring.

Top baits

Live ragworm/lugworm catch most fish but for bigger fish try: Mackerel for Bass. Crabs for Smoothhound. Squid tipped with Black Lug for Channel Whiting and Cod. Slipper Limpets, the smellier the better, for Flatties and Bass.


From the A27 take the A259 to Littlehampton. Then follow signs to the seafront. Numerous pay and display car parks.

Nearest tackle shop:

5 Pier Road
BN17 5BA
01903 715190

Sporting Fish recommended retailers in this location:

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