HURST Castle has faced out to the Isle of Wight’s famous Needles since Henry VIII had it built in 1544. The procession of rocks was perhaps one of the last views Charles I enjoyed during his imprisonment here in 1648 before he faced the headsman’s axe.
A mile-and-a-half of shingle – Hurst Spit – separates the castle from the town of Milford-on-Sea, where I met up with father and son, Graham and Anthony Inwood. Graham had often spoken to me about the black bream fishing here, so I couldn’t resist his offer of being shown the ropes.
Thankfully he had warned me to travel light, because the shingle bank seemed to go on forever and the castle was a distant blurred outline that never seemed to get any closer.
The good news was, we’d only be walking halfway along it to start with. Soon the children on the footbridge with their orange crabbing lines were left behind, and each step brought our first fish closer.
A 30-yard cast would reach the black bream. Graham explained that a carp rod would be more than adequate. I, however, had lugged along a pair of 15ft Continental-style beachcasters with fine glass tips.
I teamed these with fixed-spool reels holding 15lb E-S-P Syncro XT line and Greased Weasel shockleaders. I was using two-hook paternoster rigs made up on 6ft of 40lb fluorocarbon with three-way swivels gently crimped in place at the 2ft and 4ft marks. I used these
to connect hooklengths of 12lb fluorocarbon and size 4 Cryogen Classic hooks.
As for baits, I could choose from prawn, ragworm segments, squid or mackerel strip – all readily available and cheap. With four hooks at my disposal I decided to use them all and see which the bream preferred.
I was adding to the scent trail by exchanging my leads for 6oz feeders.
To fill these I had concocted a mix of Sticky Krill powders and liquids laced with trout pellets and tuna.
The smelly offerings were cast to the 40 and 80 yard marks, covering the water in front of me, and with rod-tips pointing skywards I waited for a sign.
Anthony was the first to connect and soon all our rod tops were rattling, alerting us to bream attacking the baits. We caught just a handful of modest-sized fish but it was great fun, and when bites dried up we simply moved, making our way towards the castle.
Weed snared on the line by the racing tide meant there were few moments to relax, but despite no big black bream showing I could fully understand the attraction of fishing like this.