Guide to Fishing and Angling in Southern England

For those seeking the peace and quiet of nature, or looking for the ideal family-friendly activity, fishing can be the perfect way to spend parts of your holiday. If visiting Southern England, there are so many great opportunities to take part in the sport – and with the help of local angling clubs, even beginners can get the right advice about how to get started.

There are dozens of great cottages across the area that will help fishing enthusiasts take full advantage of local fishing spots. If enjoying a holiday cottage in Hampshire, the New Forest or Dorset then take a look at our best fishing tips.

Although it always is best to check local signage, regulations and restrictions, you generally need a fishing rod licence to fish for trout, freshwater fish, salmon, smelt, and eel England. For more information, consult the government website.

Many of the local fishing clubs will help visitors find the best fishing spots in the area. Andrew Walker from the Christchurch Angling Club said the group sells “holiday memberships” and these can last from a week to a fortnight. The membership gives visitors the opportunity to cast their lines into the club’s variety of stocked fisheries in the area.

Now, with rod and reel in hand, all you need is the bait and you’re ready to fish. But where?

Image credit: Wapster

There are a number of brilliant spots to fish along the sea coast. From spots from as far west in Weymouth, across Dorset past Christchurch into Hampshire locales such as Portsmouth, the New Forest, Hurst Castle and the Solent, there are many great places to catch fish. And as any fishing enthusiast knows, there is great areas both along the coast and throughout inland lakes and streams.

Here are some places you can enjoy:


Shore Fishing

Big fish are known to swim around the entrance to the Solent and around Portsmouth harbour. British records for bass and smooth-hounds have been caught in the closing weeks of the summer. There are plenty of options for shore fishing in and around the city’s coastline.

A particularly nice place for great shore fishing is off Hayling Island. Extremely popular with tourists during the summer months, the island is well-known for its abundance of schoolie bass, mullet and flounder. Local anglers say shore fishing is best during the evening and night when the beach is less crowded.

In Southampton, the coastline is dotted with estuaries, creeks and small harbours. In these locations, there will be flounder, bass, eel and mullet waiting. Weston Point, Chilling Spit and other places are all popular shore fishing destinations.

Inland Fishing

There are a number of inland stream and pond fishing opportunities in the area. Many of the ponds in Hampshire are kept stocked with fish to ensure a healthy and thriving environment. Be sure to take notice of local rules and regulations as it relates to inland fishing.

The Andover Angling Club controls fishing on two Hampshire lakes. Anton Lake in the nature preserve and Foxcotte Lake in Charlton are both great places to catch carp, crucians and pike. There is free fishing on the River Blackwater, and Broadlands Lakes in Southampton provide great access to amazing fishing. This 26-acre fishery has produced some of the biggest fish in the south of England.

For those looking for trout, the Dever Springs fishery offers some great chances at catching rainbow and brown varieties. And finally, there is the Fleet Pond, the largest freshwater lake in the county. Permits, boats, and tackle are all available on the site.

Image credit: Gareth Williams

Local Hampshire Fishing Clubs

Andover Angling Club
Armfield and Ringwood Sea Fishing ClubBasingstoke Canal AAEastleigh and District Angling ClubFarnham Angling SocietyGosport & District Angling ClubMeon Springs Fly FisheryOakhanger Angling Club Petersfield & District Angling Club Portsmouth & District Angling SocietyRingwood & District Anglers AssociationThe Wey Valley Disabled Anglers Association

New Forest

In the New Forest National Park, fishing is possible under strict control. Visitors will need a New Forest fishing permit to do so. They are available from the local Forestry Commission and can be bought as day, week or even season tickets. The forest also has a Code of Conduct that must be followed if fishing in certain areas such as the Little Hatchet Pond.

The New Forest is best known for its lush woodlands, ponies and great nature walks, but where the Forest touches the sea, it also offers some great shore fishing opportunities. There are some perfect fishing spots near the seaside village of Lymington and Calshot. There is good fishing around the Lepe Country Park and around the amazing Hurst Castle.

Local anglers tend to move down the various beaches because although they may look the same, each one is often known for being home to different species during different times of the year.

Image credit: David Martin


Shore Fishing

Christchurch is situated on the eastern border of Dorset with Hampshire. It has a rich fishing heritage, and has the Royalty and Throop fishery very close by. It also boasts excellent sea fishing, especially for bass, mullet, sea trout and flounder. Bournemouth, Poole, Swanage and Purbeck are also great fishing spots.

As Poole is home to one of the largest natural harbours in the country, it is stocked with a vast variety of fish and wildlife. According to local experts, the bass, mullet and flounder fish in Poole are some of the best you can find anywhere min the UK.

Locals say Purbeck is great for big fish. In the past, large varieties of congers, bass or winter cod have been caught off the coastal beaches. As you fish farther west, the rocks off Weymouth, Portland and Chesil Beach make for great fishing as well.

Inland Fishing

One great choice in Dorset is the Moors Valley County Park. A lake fed by the Moors River, it is shallow and lined by clay creating a unique habitat for roach, tench, rudd, pike and dace. Near Dorchester, there are more than 14 miles of river and lake fishing. The rights to lakes Kingcombe, Warmwell, Buckland Newtown and Luckfield are all managed by the .

In the northern part of the county is where the Todber Manor fisheries are based. This fishing destination includes four lakes with a diverse collection of fish including rudd, roach, gudgeon, barbel, tench and ide. More importantly, it includes some of the best views of the Dorset countryside.

For fly fishing, Wessex Chalk Streams offer a great introduction to the sport. They have day passes and provide assistance along the Frome and Piddle rivers and their side streams. Qualified fishing guides are available too.

Local Dorset Fishing Clubs

Blandford Sea Angling ClubChristchurch Angling ClubDorchester & District Angling SocietyPoole Bay Small Boat Angling ClubWeymouth Angling Society

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